Sunday, March 6, 2011

For Crying Out Loud

Picnik collage

Lately I find myself saying, "it's not always like this" and immediately hearing a little voice in my head speaking up and saying, "um, yeah, it kinda pretty much IS like this".

I realize it is significant that I'm trying to convince so many people that the level of noise and chaos they have suddenly encountered when near me, or my home, is something out of the ordinary for us, when the truth is, I can't escape the truth revealed by the sheer number of times I find myself making the statement.

It is my well-delivered explanation line to the neighbors, grandparents, Fed-ex man, anyone who calls me on the phone, and the older children who assure me they are within the danger zone of suffering a nervous breakdown. How can a teenager possibly get enough sleep to be healthy when sounds that put the haunted mansion to shame start up at the break of light every day!

I have realized my little girls do not have inside voices. They have one voice, and it is often too loud for use even in the great outdoors. How many people have to tell their children to be a little quieter when playing outside?

But still there is a difference in their loud playful voice and their loud wails of displeasure. These wails are the noises that often start early in the morning. And I regret to admit I haven't been able to prevent the wailing. It can be caused by many things. For Delilah, if she is not the first person to get to the potty, then the seat is too warm, and don't you know that you can't expect her to pee while sitting on a too warm seat. She likes her seat cool. Princess complex anyone?

Yet I have learned to deal with the general noises over nothing, even before coffee in the morning. What disturbs me are the rages. Yes, my girls still have rages. They are deep, primitive things that take us all back further than we want to go on any given day.

They come out of nowhere lead us to nowhere. They are just suddenly there, like a rainstorm unexpected.

Cami has a mantra that she repeats while crying loudly. It is usually, "Mama, I want to tell you something", a sentence she repeats over and over while she cries inconsolably. And she never tells me the "something". Some days I can see a rage on the horizon and I know that no matter what I do to change the weather, it will come. This clue tells me the storm is coming from inside of Cami, rather than a reaction to things in her environment.

Delilah is often triggered by being reprimanded or not allowed to do something she wants to do. She is more physical, bringing full force kicking and flailing which prevent me from getting too close to her until she wears herself down.

So I wait it out. I've learned not to say, "It's okay" in the seemingly harmless way we placate our babies. Because Cami told me No, it is NOT okay, and she is right. So I mostly sit quietly. Or I whisper "You are safe. Mommy is here. I will always love you". I can't be sure my words are heard. Maybe I say the words for me as much as for them.

Eventually, and often the eventually is a long time coming......eventually, I am able to touch, then hold and comfort them, and chase the the demons of rage out the door, or under the rug, or wherever they hide.

I don't read about such things on other blogs. And I often feel I'm the only parent spending so much time sitting by a screaming child who wants to lash out or bang her head on the floor. And yes, this is the same child who just posed for the lovely photos yesterday.

In terms of parenting (though it's really not about me) these incidents might be dealt with better if they were few and far between. But lately I feel battered. Rages take me to a place of extreme patience.......patience stores I had no idea I even had. They are button pushing extravaganzas and I have to remember not to react in ways not productive to healing. I have learned to sit without speaking, which is a far cry from growing up in a time where the tag line was "if you don't stop crying I'll give you something to cry about". (Trust me, I've had to choke back that line many times). I've learned what nerves of steel really means and I will come closer to have those in my lifetime than their counterpart.....the "buns of steele".

Yet sitting in the foyer while one child lies crying on the floor, another child wants to sit on my head, and the last light of day feathers through the small windows on the sides of our front door, I sometimes feel so alone. Adjusting the ice pack on my thigh where I didn't dodge a strong kick, and wiping away tears, I can get dangerously close to thinking it must be me. What am I doing wrong?

Other blogs show me families who have incredibly organized color-coded-for-each- child lives, homemade Chinese food, and children who help run a cottage business. That's why I decided to write about the other side. The dark side of loving someone who may still think, on some level, that you kidnapped them.

It is clear my children are living with pain. I feel helpless to stop it. I feel guilty to speak of it. But it seems to come with the territory of trauma, institution, and adoption. I hope it is a season. When all the tears are cried and all the anger spent, will we have been elevated?

I like to think we are being molded and I tell myself we are not alone.

If you happen to meet us on a loud and stormy day, I will probably say to you that it is not always like this........ and you will believe me and smile......and remember that I'm thinking to myself, "it's not always like this.....sometimes it is worse".


Marjorie said...

You are not alone Sherri. You are right, it is not blogged about much. I'm guilty of that myself. I often try to present my kids in the best light, but I see that might not always be the best thing for other parents.

Amy said...

We have rages here too, though mostly from Landon who has SPD. I definitely think Presley has some sensory issues too (which would make sense since at 13 months she couldn't crawl). Presley doesn't rage like Landon, but cries over something silly that I won't do for her and she is STUBBORN. It goes on, and on, and on, and on!! The days when Landon would try and attack me and poke at my eyes and scratch my face really tested my patience. I can really understand now how some people are driven to abuse their children. I have never spanked my children, but definitely have had to walk away as I feel the anger building up. Thankfully, his raging is really starting to lessen. He had a meltdown last week and my husband and I realized that it had been at least a month since his last one. I no longer burst out into tears once a week like I used to. I so hope Cami and Delilah will someday be able to talk about it instead of rage. I know that unlike Landon, my bio child, they have a past to deal with. Thanks so much for posting this. Hugs to you Sherri. You are NOT alone!!

Holly said...

Sending you big hugs for being brave enough to be real. you are NOT alone, but I understand how it sure feels that way sometimes. I have had seasons that were so difficult and I felt that for my child's privacy I could not blog about this child's severe behavior/struggles. That particular behavior has passed, however, each new season shows me that old wounds have left scars. I have felt at times that if not for blog friends I wouldn't have a soul in the world who understood my world.
One day at a time my friend.

Suz said...


You are not reading the right blogs! But yeah, I know, everyone else has Chinese kids who seem to float through a life of straight A's, soccer teams, gymnastic tournament, and yes, of course, home made jiaozi. Yes, and this is while the kids are recovering from their official "sn" brilliantly.

Cami looks too much like Julia is your pictures not to startle me. I know each and every one of those faces intimately.

I send hugs for today and tomorrow and the next day too. You are not alone at all. I only wish that a whole bunch of us could live in the same neighborhood.

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Sherri, you are such a wonderful mama. No, it is not you. And it is not JUST you. Sending you big hugs.

JShannon said...

Sherri, This was very beautifully written. I cant say that I have experienced this "yet". But I will pray for both of your girls healing. It would be a positive thing for AP to be a little more honest about how life really is.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh my dear, you are not alone. It's just that people don't often talk about this side of it. We adopted our daughter as an almost-one-year-old, but we still struggled so much more than others we knew. She raged for ages. We barely made it through. Even as a two-year-old, she would physically harm me. Our SW called almost every week to check in. It was so very difficult.

We've been home six years now (she just turned seven) and things are so! very! different! The hardest thing about the whole process was keeping my faith in myself. You ARE a good mom. You are sticking it out in very difficult circumstances. Hang in there.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Came back to share a link - (a post about attachment with an attachment blog carnival - lots of other moms sharing their attachment stories this week)

Our House of Five said...

Funny-thought you were writing about my life! You are right-I know I do not write enough about this side of adoption...I wonder why? Perhaps for me,I write to escape-I write to remind myself of the good-I write...but maybe now every once in awhile,you will not feel alone. My nine year old rages with hurtful words-scathing, awful, demeaning words that no child should ever think,let alone say. But from her deep dark world of pain,she let's them escape whenevr she feels wronged...which some weeks can be every few minutes. What hurts even more,is to survive those moments with her and see her snap into some incredible loving,generous person with complete strangers. My baby truly does have the sweetest,kindest,giving,loving and gentle heart-but when the dark side bekins,she easily falls...and it is ugly. I too have learned to sit and ride it out and I NEVER thought I would be able to do that-but after,when I am alone,I too break and the pain and hurt she feels, fills me and it seems to much to handle. I love her and I cannot free her from her pain...and that is what breaks me.

DawnS said...

I can tell you for myself, writing about the good helped me focus on the good. By pointing out the good on my blog, it was forcing me into seeing the good in my child at a time when I really needed to see the good. I always recommend ear plugs for the entire family - it may be what saved me... It took about a year of soft talking to my daughter, but eventually she did learn that she can control the loudness of her voice. She is still louder than many children, but she no longer has just has one volume.

I am not sure how long your girls have been home but I will share what seemed to turn a corner for me with my daughter. When she started to rage, I would grab her and wrap her around me so that her legs were wrapped around my waist and then I would sit in a chair (so she couldn't kick my back) and I would wrap her arms around me under my arms so I could hold them down, from hitting me, with my upper arms while gently stroking her back, arms, hair... with my hands. I would talk softly to her telling her that I was with her and no matter what, I would love her and be here for her. She probably couldn't hear a thing I was saying, nor could she really comprehend since she had to knowledge of what it meant for someone to love her. Once I started this, the raging lasted less amount of time and became less frequent. I should mention that she did not want me to touch her during this time, but after the rage was over I noticed that she started gently stroking my back and imitating the way I would touch her during her rages. Somehow touching seemed to get through to her in a way that nothing else did.

It's hard to even go back mentally to that first year because things are so very different new. There is no trace of the rage that once was such a big part of our life. Now she is sweet and gentle and loving and spirited and joyful... and bossy.

You are definitely not alone, thank you for sharing your heart.

thewonderfulhappens said...

You're not alone, and you now have a new reader in me. I want to read the truth and sadly I want to read about others who are living my reality. I write about the good and the bad on my blog. My son's first year home, it was almost all bad....and I still don't think I said EXACTLY how bad it was. We are beginning some play therapy this week with our son. Even though I know it is normal and legitimate for him to feel the way he does sometimes, I am hoping he can find a healthier way to deal with his emotions.
I'm sorry. I hope it gets better for you soon.

lmgnyc said...

My DD has fits of rage. Though she is home for five years now, the rages are less frequent now than say a year or so ago but they continue none the less.

I am one of those people who is not quite as private as she probably should be and I have written openly about my DDs rages, in fact, one of her "episodes" is in the link on attachment that Tonggu Mamma posted above. Plenty of times I have questioned whether I should write as openly as I do, but ya know, it's not all rainbows and lollipops and one day maybe I'll shut my blog down but for now, there it is.

Just know you are not alone, and if you want a book to help you understand the raging, try Patty Cogan's book "Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child From the First Hours Through The Teen Years" It's a life saver.

Good luck.

RamblingMother said...

we have the rages too, G is almost 7. I do lose patience too easily (still learning) through them until we figure out the trigger and usually it has absolutely nothing to do about the rage itself. Then and only then I can feel the compassion I really needed before the rage started. Something I am still personally working on.

Kerrie said...

I came her from the Togginator, and I concur: wrong blogs. It's definitely not just you. Here, it's a good week if there's only one day-long rage. My doctor commanded me to report EVERYTHING to her so she can protect our family from the inevitable DHS investigation. I spent last summer covered in bruised and bite marks: because we were moving. It's not just you.

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