Mother’s Day

All I ever wanted was to be a mum.  I can remember as far back as my early teens knowing I wanted to be a mum.  I probably didn’t really understand all (or even a little part) of what was and is involved in being a mum, but it was a desire that never wavered.  

Skip forward about ahem years and here I am; mum to my two gorgeous girls who came to me through adoption and we have Mothers Day approaching us at the weekend.  Should this be a time of celebration? A time for being kind and thankful to mum?  A time for showing mum just how much you love her?  Well that’s all gone a little skewed in our house, as it probably does in many an adoptive household.  Each child and family will have their own mix of experiences, relationships and situations.  In our house, the girls have a very difficult time with Mothers Day and that difficult time does not just affect one day.

I noticed last weekend that things were tense and even the smallest of instruction or request was being met with difficulties, strops and unbalanced emotions.  I initial thought it was about the current changes of new school, new routines and tiredness.  After a couple of days I had mentioned again to dear hubby that situations seemed to be more difficult and that it was much harder to calm them down and get back to them being able to function safely.  That stayed with me, mulling around in my head until I needed to focus on something else.

Later that day, out of nowhere, I had one of those lightbulb moments.  You know, the ones where you it seemed so obvious, yet you didn’t realise that you end up speaking to yourself and even insulting yourself for not realising sooner!  Mothers Day!  It’s Mothers Day at the weekend!  Oh silly me!  Oh brilliant me!  Now I’m quite sure that’s what this is all about.  Great.  I can make a plan now (I like to have a plan!)

When I collected my biggey from school that day I took some time to have a gentle chat with her about whether there was anything deeper going on that was making her wobble.  It took time – the gentle coaxing, wondering, noticing – to get underneath how she is really feelings and what she is thinking. 

My birth mum said she will come and get me…

Now, on the face of it, that sounds like something a birth mum will say who didn’t want to lose her daughter and this is often the case.  However for my girls, sadly, there has often been a very different connotation in the messages they were given from their birth parents.  So I explored a little more.

She will come and get me to make sure I don’t talk, don’t tell and remember the hurting.  

Ahh, so actually this memory and very clear reminder has been used as a threat and quite probably an intended promise too, but not a promise in the kind and reassuring way that we use promises.  Their birth mum left them with extremely difficult and often terrifying memories of her.  

I’m scared.  Does she know where I am?

So we talked through (again) about how she doesn’t know where she is; we walked through all the things we have that help to remind and reassure her she is safe; we remembered how long it is that she has been with us and so how long it is since she was hurt and that they are unable to hurt her anymore.  We did some symbolic work with noticing the scared feeling, where it is in her body, what it might look like if she draws it and then an imaginative way of letting go of the scared feeling.  

Sounds simple.  Takes ages.  It is very tough (for us both) and really helps.  She has been so much better for the rest of the week.

This is really not what I thought I would be doing as a mum.  Not in my teenage dreams of being mum.  Not even in my adoption mum prep courses.  Definitely not when I was told “the children just need firm boundaries”.  Yet this is the reality of my mummy job description.  Do I want to do it?  No, of course I don’t!  Will I continue to do it?  Yes of course I will!

So back to Mother’s Day itself.  I really don’t want to do anything, mainly because I can’t be bothered dealing with more upset, strops, shouting or rages if or when they happen. Yet, we will do something.  It will be flexible, it will be small, calm and definitely involve eating (because food regulates them).  Most of all, we will do something because I am not about to leave them with those old impressions of what Mother’s Day is all about.  We will continue to chip away and change their view of themselves, events and the world to something much more positive and kind.

Happy Mother’s Day to all those mummies out there who went the extra mile to be a mummy and go the extra marathon every day.

So Far, So Good!

So we are at the end of the first week of my Biggey being introduced to her new school.  We are still waiting on the Local Authority to sort out the formalities of the arrangements in regards to the Statement of Needs, yet the school were still comfortable to begin the process – whilst we wait.

Biggey, Dad and me all traipsed along on Monday for her to have a look around the place.  It didn’t take long – there are only two classrooms, a games room, breakfast room and toilets!  It is a special support unit attached to the school and for now, that is where she will be based.  There is a teacher and teaching assistant based there all the time and many of the lessons take place in this unit with teachers from main school coming into the unit where possible.  All classes are small, perhaps up to 6 children, sometimes only one child.  Sometimes children are in there full time, others part time, others as needed.  It may sound a bit like the “naughty children’s” unit but in fact it is very small, patient, nurturing, caring and understanding.  Exactly what she needs.  Not only to meet her ever expanding needs, but also to repair the damage done by the other school and improve her perception of what school and support is all about.

Whilst we were there the Head teacher came across to say hello and welcome her.  He chatted to her for a few minutes and asked if she had any worries.  She tearfully said she was worried about not having any friends.  He reassured her that they will help with that and hoped that she didn’t worry for too long about it.

I have to say, I really wanted to hug him, or just rub his arm or do something insanely touchy feely at this point!  He was just so nice!

Introductions to people took place and then she was invited to go in the next day to join their cookery class.  She agreed readily (since she loves cooking and baking) so the TA took her across to the main school to show her the cookery room.  Now here’s the difference – they showed her the exact route she would take, the cookery room, introduced her to the cookery teacher and gave her a typed list of ingredients.  None of the old stuff of figure it out, write it down, go with flow, be independent and “you’ll be fine”.  She was smiling. Normally.  None of the manic-too-big smiling that she does when trying to cover her anxieties.

I wanted to kiss these people!  Of course, I refrained (you’ll be pleased to know).  Yet I was delighted because they had thought all this out, I didn’t have to ask and nudge and suggest.

Tuesday came and I dropped her off at the school with her box of ingredients and plan to collect her again in two hours.  That is when I posted briefly about being alone.  It was amazing, for her and for me.   When I collected her again she talked animatedly about the whole experience.

The Headteacher came to see the cookery class.  He wanted to taste my cupcake so I had to take him one when they were finished.  I met my Head of Year.  She teaches PE and asked me if I liked PE.  I said I love it.  She said we will have to try and get me to go to some clubs.  She said that she will come with me for a few times because I might not know anyone and so she will stay with me until I feel more comfy about going.  She seemed nice … I’ve had a good day… blah blah…”

I was crying at this point!  After so many months of intense difficulty, the fights, the phone calls, the emails, the lack of understanding, thoughtlessness, no empathy.  The tears were happy tears of relief.  Thank goodness for a bit of kindness, compassion and understanding. 

She went for two hours each day and then a bit longer today, Friday, so she could join a PE lesson.   There is check in each morning and feedback at end which we are all involved in.  It’s like taking your child to nursery (or so I imagine – I never got to experience that because they were both older when they arrived).  So far, so good.  Everyone (School, Head, Senco, Support and us) agree we need to take it slowly to ensure her success; she is going to get very tired; we cannot put a timescale or deadline on exactly when she will attend full time.  When she does eventually attend this unit full time, there will eventually be another transition, little by little, to main stream schooling and classes with the unit there when needed.

She’s absolutely shattered tonight although she still had enough energy to have a little strop about the fact she didn’t want to go to bed!  She quickly went off to sleep.


Illness and Insecurity

Littley has a vomiting bug. Whilst these are not nice for anyone – child or adult, it is interesting to notice the wider areas that are affected in our children. She sits near one or both of us and has a needs to chat (as ever); yet as we listen it is clear that she has a need to process what is happening to her. So we get questions that are sweet and funny and cute and also show how she worries and has regressed to a much younger age. Things like: Continue reading