Tag Archives: Parenting

Parenting: Mischievous Two’s

Our little angel is still tucked away, hard asleep this morning. I normally feel grateful for these quiet mornings while the rest of the kids are at school, but today I am clinging to every last second of peace and sanity. Angel? Amelie is the sweetest, most loving little button alive. Lately, however, I’m concerned her two year old psyche has been hijacked by demons!

Terrible two’s? Probably. She came home at 11 months old, delayed in all areas due to institutionalization, so it makes sense that her terrible two stage isn’t starting until almost three years old. She’ll be three in a month. At two, she went through all the usual stuff, including getting into everything in sight. She has always had to be watched closely, but when she did something naughty she willingly put herself in time-outs. She was always so eager to please. She still has a bit of that looming in her head, but the screaming and crying has started (albeit the spells are short-lived, thank God) and yesterday she was lying on the floor and kicking her bedroom door.

Mischief or terror? How about walking into the living room to find she’s holding a pair of scissors, has a sofa pillow unzipped, and she’s starting to cut the fabric? How she got hold of the scissors, we have no clue. The boys keep craft boxes, and it’s possible she knows how to work the latches, but I have never seen her do that. Then there was the time, two days ago, when she was under the sun room table licking the cement floor… don’t even ask me what she was licking because it makes my stomach turn a thousand times… all I’m going to say is that we have dogs.

Yesterday was insane. She was grabbing every single object off the kitchen counters, from knives to scissors, to pens to salt shakers and dishwashing soap. She’s gotten a lot taller, and while I’m preparing things she keeps grabbing everything she can. When my back is turned for even a second, she’s done something crazy. She took a large popcorn bowl, filled it up with what appeared to be spit bubbles, and then proceeded to scrub the sun room floor with our dish towel. That all happened when I stepped out to use the bathroom. Next thing I know, she’d gotten the Windex (which I was using earlier, so it was sitting on a shelf I mistakenly assumed she couldn’t reach) and was spraying it on everything, including the pets, and used pieces of clean laundry out of a nearby laundry basket. She’s also been taking items, like dish towels, silverware, and edible items, and just tossing them into the garbage. God only knows how many things we’ve lost that way.

It’s not so much what she’s doing that has us loopy (although she has upped the ante considerably, and is really testing boundaries, bigtime) but the rate in which she’s doing these things. Yesterday I made sure to remove all pens, markers and crayons from the sun room. Poor girl can’t even draw alone any more because of what she does with them- eats the crayons (normal for this age, I know) and uses pens and markers anywhere but on paper. I was getting dressed yesterday for 5-10 minutes, and the next thing I knew there were crayon scribbles all over the sun room windows, all over a large glass cabinet, on the tiled kitchen floors, and I even discovered marker scribbles on the sofa. All of that happened after she’d been told no markers and no crayons for the afternoon. She’d seen me put them all away, and even uttered a little “Okay, Mama.” My point is that she seems unstoppable! We’ve been hyper-vigilant about putting things away, but we live in a small house where stuff ends up under couches and sofa cushions, and Amelie seems to know where everything is. She thinks, “Take away my crayons or scissors? I know exactly where we’ve stashed extras.” Of course, she gets reprimanded and put in time-out. If she’s tantruming in the chair, she’s sent to her room to cool down. She cools down within seconds, and it’s all over. Not much of a consequence, when I think about it. No wonder she isn’t deterred from having so much fun!

Bottom line: Amelie is testing her boundaries, seeing what we’ll do, what she can get away with, and making sure she’s safe and taken care of within those boundaries. I get that. It’s completely exhausting, and I felt it last night when I hit the mattress.

For now, before the tornado of Amelie awakens, I’m going to be cleaning out every nook and corner, every single box and cubby hole, under every sofa cushion, and behind every cabinet. I’ll make sure nothing is within reach. How to do that is beyond me. I’m often asking the age old question that all parents ask, “Why can’t she just behave?” We could say that about all our kids. Oh, life would be so easy… far too easy, not to mention boring. Daniel and I find ourselves laughing about these antics at the end of the day, and they will make for some interesting stories when Amelie is older. She keeps life fresh and interesting. Of all our five children, Amelie has definitely won the Mischief Award!

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Surviving the Week

Six days. I’ve survived six days straight, alone with four kids in the home, and I didn’t lose my mind. Not once. It’s a complete miracle. I’ve never stayed home this long while Daniel was away, and it wasn’t as difficult as I imagined.

Maybe I’m speaking too soon, considering I still have about 18 hours remaining before Daniel gets home. He’s been on an inspiring, week-long  spiritual retreat, and it’s helped immensely that he called me at least three times a day to share all the peace and joy. It also helped a great deal to see a friend’s pictures of him on the pilgrimages and outings. (Thank you, Mei!) Since I’ve been there many times, I was able to re-experience it all with him in my mind and heart. He’s really glowing, which warms my heart. The main feeling I have today is a deep joy and gratitude for the fact that he was even able to go; that he could miss work, and that I could hold down the fort for him without ending up in a straight jacket.

The kids have done reasonably well, too. They’ve all spoken to Dad at least once a day, and I kept updating them on what he was doing each day. We’ve all felt very connected to Daniel. Amelie started saying “Coo-Roo” for guru this week (super sweet). Behavior-wise, I had a few challenges with Sky (very up & down), but nothing new and no surprises. The key seemed to be keeping him very busy with peers, outings, and a basic schedule. Liam had outings 5 hours/day M-F, which was a Godsend. I haven’t lost my mind, and if anything I am doing better than ever. God gave me every ounce of strength and endurance I needed, and then some! Now, I can’t stop counting down the minutes until I get to see Daniel’s face.

This picture really made me smile. So much happiness at a dinner gathering! Left to Right: Joey Moore, Amy Davis, Daniel, Annie Jablonski, and Mei Ling Moore

Blessings from Br. Achalananda, Vice President of Self-Realization Fellowship

Daniel on the grounds of our guru's home (Mother Center at Mount Washington)

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RAD Parenting: Just One Day of Truly Unconditional Love

Mother = Unconditional Love, correct? That’s what I’ve been taught, but it isn’t always that easy, nor is it realistic when we’re all flawed, imperfect, and unenlightened human beings. In my nineteen years of motherhood I’ve been close, and I only mean close to giving unconditional love. The only true unconditional love in this world comes from God, saints, or truly enlightened beings, but mothers are very, very close. That said, I’ve had my challenges with a child who is determined to push me away, never tell the truth, deceive the whole family, and cause us to feel completely unsafe in our own home. I experience hourly knots in my stomach, have become hyper-vigilant, and was diagnosed with PTSD. The whole experience is a massively painful boulder God/the Universe/my guru has thrown at my head.. ouch! Instead of throwing it back at him or running away from it, I’m embracing the boulder because it’s from Him; chiseling away for the hidden diamonds inside. I’m determined to master the art of unconditional love in this lifetime, so what better stage to be on than with a RAD (Reactive Attachment Disordered) child.
Unlike most days, this day was filled with harmony. I should say, rather, that I myself was filled with a harmonious acceptance about life. Could it be that I awoke refreshed after a long night’s sleep and meditated for almost an hour, or that my husband is on a spiritual retreat and he keeps calling me with incredible insights, or could it be that every time I observed Sky’s negativity, constant deception, and problematic ways I immediately forced myself to think “MY GOD is in him, MY GOD is there.” When I think “MY GOD”, I get an image in my mind of my guru. It’s not a thought, necessarily, but an overpowering feeling. I feel such heart-melting affection for my guru when I see him in a specific scene in my mind, and I can feel his great Love for me as well. His sincere sweetness is beyond any description, and the closest to God’s Love I have ever experienced. To shift into that feeling when I have observations of negativity in Sky causes all of what’s happening in this dense, physical world to disintegrate… to melt into Love. Maybe that is why I was filled with such harmonious acceptance today. I’m hoping so, because it’s an easy practice for me. If not, maybe the harmony and calmness came from my therapeutic time with Prasad…
Prasad is doing extremely well today. I’ve noticed that, due to an hour long conversation this morning (intimate 1:1 attention), he is less nervous, less scattered, more focused and present, and most of all extremely joyful and more affectionate than ever. My presence is medicine to him, and his is to me as well. We spent a lot of time together without Sky today and had the opportunity to ‘be ourselves’ together, which doesn’t present itself often. We feed off of one another in positive ways, and I can always feel my inner child adoring him… he’s the brother she never had, but always wanted. We were both in such a heightened state of joy by the time we picked up Sky from a play group today, I’m sure Sky noticed. He became very withdrawn and shut down in the car and at home, which is what he always does when Prasad and I are very happy, playful and alive. He wouldn’t speak much, but it didn’t affect me at all like it usually does. Normally, I’d get dragged in, try cheering him up to no avail, all the while realizing I was robbed of my previous, very positive state of mind. Instead, today my level of joy remained stable the whole day through, despite Sky’s various attempts to drag us down.
At one point when Sky walked into the kitchen he was slouching, heavy, angry, glaring at me and obviously depressed. Nothing triggered it, except that we were happy (close to ecstatic). This is how he gets when he wants to drag everyone down. It’s complicated, but if no one shares in being miserable, he feels alone, isolated, and out of control. I observed his face and heard my own inner voice saying “MY GOD, MY GOD… MY GOD is in there. MY GOD is in him.” I felt deep affection; a vast ocean of love, not necessarily for Sky personally, but for the beautiful image of God I know is within him. He would not be living and breathing without it. I saw his sulking, angry face as the mask it really was, and literally felt the presence of God hiding deep inside of Sky and all his self-centered ways. All was well. The whole evening after dinner (Sky’s most difficult time of day) was more smooth and drama-free than it has ever been. My thoughts alone can transform a situation.. Sky was not healed, nor is that my intention, but he did not even attempt to engage in any sort of conflict. That’s a huge “Wow” in this family.
This day was miraculous. I know these spiritual lessons are why I chose to be a mother. They’re extremely difficult to learn, but I’m determined to get it, one day at a time. Unconditional love for all people, regardless of what they do, their mistakes, or how they treat us, is what we are here to cultivate on this planet. Sky is my greatest teacher and catalyst in that regard, and I thank him. I’m realizing that great, unswerving, unconditional love in the face of misunderstanding, pain, and ugliness is the only way out of our suffering, both individually and globally. For the first time I’m seeing that I am capable of it, if only for today.
  • On a last note, I couldn’t help sharing this extract from St. Francis, since it is so applicable in my own life. I was reminded of it by a friend, and I didn’t fully understand it in the past, but it makes complete sense to me now:

Brother Leo asked [St. Francis] in great wonder: “Father, I pray thee in God’s name tell me where is perfect joy to be found?”

And St. Francis answered him thus, “When we are come to St. Mary of the Angels, wet through  with rain, frozen with cold, and foul with mire and tormented with hunger; and when we knock at the door, the doorkeeper comes in a rage and says, ‘Who are you?’ and we say, ‘We are two of your brothers,’ and he answers, ‘You tell not true; you are rather two knaves that go about deceiving the world and stealing the alms of the poor. Begone!’ and he opens not to us, and makes us stay outside hungry and cold all night in the rain and snow; then if we endure patiently such cruelty, such abuse, and such insolent dismissal without complaint or murmuring, and believe humbly and charitably that that doorkeeper truly knows us, and that it is God who makes him to rail against us; O Brother Leo, there is perfect joy.

“And if, compelled by hunger and by cold, we knock once more and pray with many tears that he open to us for the love of God and let us but come inside, and he more insolently than ever shouts, ‘These are impudent rogues, I will pay them out as they deserve,’ and comes forth with a big knotted stick and seizes us by our cowls and flings us on the ground and rolls us in the snow, bruising every bone in our bodies with that heavy stick -if we endure all these things patiently and joyously for love of Christ, write, O Brother Leo, that in this perfect joy is found.

“And now, Brother Leo, hear the conclusion. Above all the graces and the gifts that Christ gives to those who love him is that of overcoming self, and willingly to bear other pain and buffetings and revilings and discomfort for love of God.”

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A Child’s Love Note

One of the highlights of parenting is when my kids write love notes. This surprise note was hidden under my laptop today. It reads:

“Dear Mom,

I am very happy that you are my mom and I am your son. it is my Love to do a garte (great) job and mom you are the most Fun mom ever in my life yay 🙂

Love, Prasad

P.S. you forgot to get my walktalks ysterday  thank you”

The last part had me laughing out loud. Yesterday, he kept asking me for his walkie-talkies since they’re in storage. I promised to get them out, and forgot. I have yet to get them out, but he’s not complaining. He gave me a huge hug after I read the note, and ran off to do some drawing.

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Sane Parenting in a Crazy Nest

Parenting children with severe disabilities has been the most difficult, trying experience of our lives. Daniel and I have been going through a lot lately, especially with our child who has serious emotional/mental health issues. Liam’s autism alone has been challenging, and at times completely overwhelming for me, but there is nothing like the stress of parenting a child with a silent, psychological disability. Yes, it is far more difficult than autism, and I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around that. People on the outside see this child as normal, well behaved, and almost perfect. What they don’t know is how much turmoil he experiences and attempts to transfer onto those closest to him, especially me. It forces us into a constant state of hyper-vigilance, and drags the entire family down.

My mistake this Summer was in choosing not to enroll this child in a 5-day a week, full day camp for the entire Summer. A part of me refuses to acknowledge this as a need, considering most families have no problem keeping all their kids home for the Summer. ‘It would be nice’ just to have them all home, building family memories, right? A big, whopping no. I’m a stay-at-home mom and therefore have spent nearly 24/7 in the presence of negativity, opposition, and constant manipulation for the past three weeks. Last evening I realized just how much I need the long, full-day breaks we have when school is in session. I also realized  the toll it’s taken on my mind and body over the years

For those without severely handicapped children, I’m not sure how to describe the state I’ve been in for the past fifteen years. I say fifteen because it all began with Liam and his autism diagnosis. It has been such a long time, and become such a normal way of life that I haven’t noticed what it’s been doing to me. It’s a gradual toll, slowly building up, year after stressful year. There is the emotional aspect, and how we are helpless to change the painful conditions with our children. Then there is the physical toll of caring for a child who cannot take care of himself, combined with the psychological drain of coping with another extremely manipulative and often frightening child. I sat last evening in a car, quietly noticing my body. Alone, away from the house and all the activity, my body remains in fight or flight mode. Unless I deeply relax into a long meditation period, my body is flooded with adrenaline and nervousness. I shudder to think of where I’d be without my meditation practice.

With the kids home 24/7, I have found myself wondering how a family like ours is supposed to do this. I’ve reached the end of my rope, and have already let go. Maybe we’re not supposed to do it. Maybe we’re supposed to fall apart, lose our minds, become lost in helplessness and sorrow so we can come out at the other end of it. I was listening to a talk by our guru last evening, and he said “We cannot know joy without sorrow.” The truth is, we wouldn’t even notice joy without it. Is this why I find myself bursting into massive waves of spontaneous joy in the midst of everything? At times the waves of joy are overwhelming, and I literally feel like I’m going to burst. Is it the deep sorrow that enables me to experience joy in such an overpowering way? If so, it far outweighs every ounce of turmoil.

The ultimate goal is to remain in  that state, despite everything, trusting that all is exactly as it should be. When we are fully present in the moment, not concerned with past or future, we find peace and joy. Easier said than done, especially when I can’t seem to find a moment away from the draining spears of negativity. Our guru also says the company we keep is stronger than our will. No amount of will is going to get me out of this state if I’m in the presence of it 24/7. So, as a parent devoted to my children, what’s the answer here? At the very least I need to take much better care of myself next time (put Me first), and plan Summer according to my own needs. July will be a better month since we’ve enrolled our child in a full-day, all month camp. It’s a painful reality needing distance from your own child, but one I need to acknowledge fully if I’m to be here, completely present for myself and other children.

Posted by: Jill

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Devoted Child, Humbled Mommy

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything personal about our kids, and it’s mainly because they’re older and I’m respecting their privacy more. However, today I learned a great deal about myself as a mother, and just how infinitely loving Prasad is. I don’t just mean the usual affection a child shows to his mother, but it’s a deep reverence, respect, and a love so powerful that it requires expressing. He is so devoted to me as a son that I often find myself wondering if I’m worthy of such a child. I also learned that, as a mother, I need to loosen up!

I still have tears in my eyes as I rummage through words of explanation. Yesterday, Mother’s Day, Prasad brought me a single blade of grass. I assumed he was just being goofy, considering he’s also a very a humorous boy. I looked at the grass stem and wondered what he expected me to do with it, and then I just chuckled lightheartedly. Daniel took a look at it and told Prasad not to bring any more grass into the house, and told him it was silly to hand people grass. That was that. Prasad hopped off and seemed fine.

This evening after dinner when I was relaxing on the sofa, Prasad carried in another tall stem of grass along with two wilted, closed white Dandelion buds. It was a very sad bouquet, but I smiled at it. Daniel mentioned again that he was handing me grass. I didn’t take the bouquet… the single blade of grass wouldn’t even stand up in a vase, and I found myself wondering what I’d do with it. I smiled and brushed it off lightly, but I regret that now.

In an instant, Prasad felt deeply rejected, tears flowing. He poured out his feelings of not feeling good enough. He said that he looked and looked for flowers and couldn’t find any. He said those were all he could find. He then raised his voice to Daniel, saying that he noticed the roses Daniel has given me for Mother’s Day, and that he wasn’t able to give me anything like that. He was quite emotional about it, and I was amazed at how important it was to him. Most boys his age aren’t concerned about it, especially after Mother’s Day is over.

We had him calm down, and I went off to relax in my bedroom. I sat there thinking, and kicking myself for not fully accepting what he’d offered me. I thought about Divine Mother, our guru, and how anything we offer them they accept completely, with unconditional love. I was ashamed of myself. It was just a single blade of grass, but in his hand he held a symbol of his love and appreciation for me. How could I be so uptight?

After Prasad calmed down, Daniel allowed him ten minutes of computer time. After a few minutes, I overheard Daniel say “Would you like to go back outside and get another bouquet for Mom? You can stay on the computer, or you can go back out if you want to.” I thought FOR CERTAIN Prasad would stay online playing kids games considering it’s a limited activity he really enjoys and looks forward to. Nope- he didn’t even have to think about it. He got right up and went outside to pick another bouquet. My stomach dropped in amazement… I swear time stood still. From my bedroom window, I could see him walking in the yard and looking so hard. I began to cry… he chose me over computer time? He chose me? In that moment I realized just how much he loves me, and how blessed I am to have a child who thinks so much about me. He came inside and handed me the sweetest bouquet I’ve ever seen. Grass stems, tiger lily stems, and some little white wildflowers (yes, he finally found some flowers). We had a very healing talk with apologies. I told him that anything he has to give me I will love with all my heart, and that I never knew what an incredibly loving son I had. Like his father, he’s someone who balances out all the negative experiences I encounter in my life. He’s one of those people who inspires and uplifts me, and makes me work to be a better person. Thank you, Prasad. I learned a great lesson today.

Posted by: Jill

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Parenting: Floating on a Raft of Community Support

I don’t write these types of posts often. Mainly because they pertain to some very private issues with our kids, and we like to respect their privacy as they get older. That said, I know there are readers who have been following us for years (you know who you are) so I like to do some basic updating. This post pertains to Sky and the help we’re receiving. I’m wishing, for the sake of other adoptive parents, that I could be more open about our experiences. For their sakes, I’ll share as much as I can within our comfort level. If you’re going through similar experiences and need support, please feel free to contact me privately at jillpeebles@yahoo.com.

It’s hard to believe Daniel and I have been parenting solo for so long, even though there is a huge support system out there in our community. We had a very important planning meeting this morning with Sky’s Case Manager, Service Coordinator, Therapist, and our Parent Support person… it was the very first time we’ve ever felt completely validated and understood by so many people. This is the first time that the eyes of others are not all on Sky, and not only worried about him. Now there is support happening for the entire family as a whole, which ultimately is what’s best for Sky. They’re considering everyone’s best interests. It’s all provided by our local mental health center, and paid for through the State’s Waiver program; a major life-saver. It’s looking like we’ll even have respite care for times when things get very difficult or stressful on the family, which means we have options. One choice could be having the Case Manager come over and talk with Sky and the family, or take him out of the home for a few hours to give us all a break. Another option would be an overnight or full weekend visit to another family’s home (they’re trained in handing kids with Sky’s issues and it would actually be a very therapeutic environment). Of course, we’d meet the family, talk a while and assess for ourselves whether this is something we want to do. Currently, we don’t have the need for this, but have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before more difficult incidences arise again. It’s extremely helpful to know we have these types of options out there, and they’re in place, ready to utilize as soon as we need them.

Interestingly, as soon as Sky got wind of the fact that he was beginning family therapy (a few weeks ago), he has been on his best behavior at home. He despises therapy. For several reasons he will not be doing 1:1 therapy, only Family Therapy. 1:1 does not work with kids like Sky. Home and family are the only areas he has serious problems with, which can be typical for children with attachment issues. It’s taken me a very long time to come to terms with this, but we do have a child with serious attachment related behaviors so he may have full-blown Reactive Attachment Disorder. Don’t even Google the disorder unless you want to be really freaked out. He’s getting a full psych evaluation to determine this over the Summer. Why has it taken me so long to acknowledge this very obvious possibility? RAD does freak me out, but that’s not why. It’s because, as mothers, we are supposed to love and nurture our children enough to help them feel rooted, grounded and secure in the world. We are supposed to be the most connected beings to our children, and when it doesn’t happen we blame ourselves. I haven’t done it consciously, but over time I’ve noticed my extreme aversion to any such ‘attachment’ related diagnosis. I’ve always felt deeply connected and attached to Sky, even though it hasn’t been reciprocated. The guilt of sensing non-attachment from Sky has probably kept me from seeking more support outside the home. When I reflected deeply on how I was handling everything, I saw clearly that I was acting as if I deserved every behavior issue, or punishing myself in a huge way. How many other parents do this without even knowing it?

What I’ve learned recently is that it has nothing to do with anything I have, or haven’t done. I’ve been as loving as possible with my child, and I’m equally as loving with all of my very attached children. Parents don’t need to blame themselves as if they have all the power in the universe to create disorders in their children. That idea is just as ludicrous as blaming a mother for having an autistic child (something they used to blame mothers for up until the 70’s). I’ve also learned that attachment issues are not isolated to adoptive children.. they are also found in children who stay with their biological families. I know of two families personally who have biological children who did not attach well. Whatever the case, however the families are created, it can be a horrible state of insecure limbo for the child (leading to severe control issues, lack of empathy, and behavior problems), and cripple the family dynamic.

Our Parent Support worker told us she is so relieved to know we adopted two more children so that we can see it’s not necessarily about ‘being adopted’ as it is varying temperaments, possible unknown past trauma, brain chemistry and such. Just because a person adopts a child does not mean they will have a child with attachment issues, and we have confirmed that through our other children. Most adopted children do not develop these issues. I cannot imagine how much more difficult this would be had we not adopted another child… the self blame, guilt, confusion, and false beliefs would be overflowing.

Finding well-rounded support is only part of the solution, but it feels like more than half of it. A whole team is standing by our sides, we’ll be getting tools, and attend a support group with other local parents going through what we’re told sound like identical issues. It’s hard to imagine having that many people who fully understand this process and why we have to parent the way we do. We’re going from feeling zero understanding to a giant mountain of it. It’s grace, I just know it. God may never give us more than we can handle, but when things feel bigger than we can manage he sends a helping hand (or several of them).

Posted by: Jill

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