I am dizzy today (I think it’s hormone-related – gotta love this stage of life!). But I’m also well-rested. I slept for 10 hours straight last night. I was so tired I didn’t even hear Will when he arrived home in his mufferless car (“It’s not that bad, Mom” he always says. Um yes, yes it is, really). Some of that’s because I had to get up at 5:15 the previous morning. More on that later (PS: didn't get to it this post - next one). But I think I finally got my mattress topper situation figured out.
I ordered one that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I ended up returning it because I discovered that memory foam makes you hot at night. Well, I can’t have that, right now especially (reference my earlier comment about this particular stage of life). I really liked that pad because it also came with a fluffy topper. But I sent it back – in two boxes because memory foam is impossible to squeeze into small areas once it’s been set free. They must have machines that wrap them for distribution. Then, I was going to buy one I found at Kohls but decided against it because I thought it was too expensive. So, I ordered another one, but while it was fluffy, there wasn’t a whole lot of base to it. My old bones need more of a base layer. So, then I discovered that the one I had been interested in at Kohls was still half off, but I had several coupons that I could also use that brought the price down even more. So, Friday I went and bought that. It’s perfect. It’s a Serta, “cooling gel” mattress topper. Oh, it is nice! It’s memory foam, but it definitely does not heat you up like regular memory foam. I gave David the other topper because he’s been complaining for some time that his mattress is no longer comfortable. My new bed gets delivered and set up tomorrow afternoon. After that, I should be sleeping pain free. Oh, and I was able to exchange my Sleep Number pillows that were hurting me – and I saved $18 in the process. They should arrive this week sometime.
Well, the election is over. Last Monday night Sam came to me in tears, sniffling because he was afraid Hillary Clinton might win. I am not as vocal about elections as Paul was, but he had picked up on some afraid feelings somewhere. But then he sniffed, “But David said that no matter who is the president, God is still king – right?” I assured him that was definitely the case and sent him off to bed. Which, was probably was he was crying – not enough sleep. As much as I detested Hillary, I had gotten to a point in my thinking where I was going to be ok if she won. I had done some good reading recently reminding Christians that they put too much stock into who wins these elections and that neither candidate is bigger than God. That was one thing that really concerned me regarding Christendom the longer this election went on. I sensed this attitude of many Christians as looking to Donald Trump as their only hope. I would see articled popping up on FB claiming that Donald was “God’s elected” and others touting his conversion. A lot of people seemed to operating from a foundation of fear where the election was concerned. All that said, I did vote for Donald Trump and I was awake to see him make his acceptance speech. I absolutely loved the fact that the liberal media was blindsided by the election results. My fallen heart chuckled to think of how devastated Hillary Clinton must be at the loss of her coronation. She’s an evil woman and could have done a lot of damage to the country. But you know, as Will and I talked earlier on election night, it’s kind of the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. Donald Trump talked a good game during his campaign, but time will tell if he’s able to turn back the tide of progressivism or if his presidency will be viewed as a lame, ineffective one. He is not a Christian man, has never claimed to be one, and it’s pretty clear that he probably won’t be asking for divine help during his presidency. Because of this, the scope of his influence will be limited. He may end up making some terrible decisions, in fact. We don’t know. But we do know God. And we know He’s got this – as He would have if the votes had swung the other way, too.
The other day David got really mad and was sputtering to me about how he had been lying on the couch when Lizzie sprinkled sand all over him. He couldn’t believe she’d be such a jerk, but I immediately knew what had happened. Apparently, somewhere she’d heard the song or story of “Mr. Sandman” and decided to play it out. Not that I was real happy about her bringing sand in the house and throwing it on my loveseat. But – I understood. It kind of made me laugh, actually.
Late last week she was being a real pill – lots of attitude, some defiance. In the end, I made her stay home with David and I just took Sam and Ben to see the school musical which was on the agenda for the evening. David put her to bed at 7 and said she didn’t wake up the next morning (I was out of town – craft fair in Omaha with Kathy) until after 10am. That’s 15 hours of sleep! I’ve always known that she seems to need more sleep than the average kid – this proves it. And it’s a good reminder that when she gets to being sassy and naughty that it might be fueled by tiredness.
Last week Lizzie asked me if Paul had been left or right handed. I told her he’d been right handed. “ I knew it!” she exclaimed. She was reading something in her Bible – it must have been in the notes section or something, and she had come across the meaning for the name “Benjamin.” She said, “See – ‘Benjamin’ means ‘son of my right hand’ That means Dad HAD to be right handed!” Now, that was funny – even though she didn’t have a clue why I was laughing so hard!
And now, on to Miss Ellie. When I wrote last, I felt defeated. Now, I’m not feeling that way so much. I’m starting to feel hopeful. What has changed?
The first was something I stumbled on to Thursday night. Since Ellie has to be with me all the time she ends up doing extra housework. The cat had thrown up so I asked her to clean it up. This request was met with dragging feet and a lot of complaining. I had to keep having her come back and do the job again. Then, I remembered something I had read in one of my FB RAD groups. One mom had commented that RAD kids hate to be called “weak.” I remembered that so I finally said to Ellie, “Oh, I am so sorry! I didn’t realize you were just too weak to clean the floor!” Her back straightened and she snapped, “I’m not weak!” And then she scrubbed the floor so hard I thought I was going to end up with a hole in the concrete. So ever since then I’ve been casually pulling out the words “weak” and “strong” and using them in the context of “bad” and “good.” That same evening she came to me and showed me her clean dinner plate, announcing that “only weak people don’t eat all their supper.” As long as I don’t overuse the terms, this may be a key part of my arsenal. Isn’t that terrible when you have to view things as arsenal against your own children? It’s like when Paul and I were talking about buying the first trampoline for the boys and he commented that if we bought it then we’d have something to take away from Ben when he was bad! What a horrible way to have to think!
I saw the new therapist on Friday and I really, really like her. She seemed so caring about me and I’m not even the patient! She said we’re going to be talking a lot about self-care and commented that I was carrying a very large load. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I started crying right there in her office – how embarrassing! I had brought her my list of recent infractions by Ellie. She read them, photocopied them, and told me that it’s obvious Ellie is very angry. Her guess right now is that it is actually a combination of rage and grief from her babyhood when things happened, like the loss of her foster mom, not being cared for well in her second foster home, losing Paul, and she had no way of processing those feelings because she was so little. She also pointed out that while I was probably a good mom (I was!) in those early months after Paul’s death there was no way I could fill her emotional needs when I was grieving so intensely. This lady is not a Christian, as far as I can tell. But nothing she said raised any red flags in my mind. As Will pointed out later, the therapy may serve a real purpose. However, until Ellie comes to Christ, we’re going to be limited in how far we can get. I understand that. Trauma is a sin problem. Even trauma inflicted by others is a sin problem, of course. And sin can only be “fixed” by the blood of Christ. At the same time, though, we need to be careful to not give people the message that says any and all problems can be fixed if you just rely on the Lord and read your Bible. The help of people trained in your area of dysfunction can be a key to working through a lot of stuff. The therapist is having me a read a new book, called The Connected Child. It’s explaining a lot of the brain chemistry that happens to a child when trauma occurs early on. This therapist that we’re seeing has over 30 years of experience and works almost exclusively with foster and adopted children. Ellie’s first session is this Thursday. I’m hopeful.
And here’s the thing that I am finding stunning. Actually, I’m trying not to get too excited because it may not last. I hear that when it comes to healing RAD children it’s often a step backward for every two you go forward. Ellie has been beyond good since I had the meeting with the therapist last week. And she didn’t even go with me! But I am handling things differently right now. The therapist gave me a stress ball to give to Ellie and so I explained to her that when she gets the mad feelings she needs to go squeeze the ball – instead of destroying things. I honestly don’t know if she’s tried that yet or not. But, she hasn’t wrecked anything, either. I pretty much gave her all her privileges back with the admonition that she had to be “strong enough” to handle them. Cindy (therapist) said that when Ellie is naughty that is when I make her follow me around like I have been, telling her that her actions show me that she needs to “be closer to Mom right now.” I’ve always thought Ellie was pretty artistic but she hasn’t had much time to practice because of her penchant for coloring on things that are not paper. She’s pretty much been grounded from crayons and pens since she was three years old. Ever since Friday she’s been drawing me all kinds of pictures of herself and me and sometimes Lizzie that read, “I love Mom.” Now she keeps asking when she’s going to get to “go see Miss Cindy.” I don’t know what to think. This is NOT the Ellie I know and I am fearful it won’t last. I don’t know how I’m going to handle myself when she destroys the next thing because I will be so disappointed after the good run we’ve had! Or what about the next lie she tells me?
But there’s a part of me that’s gotten so beaten down that is beginning to raise its head and it’s called hope. Maybe Ellie isn’t headed for jail. Maybe she won’t trot off to birth family the first chance she gets. Maybe she won’t be pregnant or doing drugs by 15.
Maybe she will be ok.
I want that more than anything. For her. For me. For my future grandchildren. For our entire family.
And I remind myself – I am not called to be successful. I am only called to be faithful. Part of that faithfulness is getting Ellie the help she needs. The rest is up to her, mixed with a certain measure of God’s grace.
Today is World Adoption Day. I didn’t even know that until I turned on the Today show while cleaning underneath my bed (my new one gets delivered this afternoon). As an 11 or 12 year old God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. It grew there until it finally bloomed the day I picked these girls up. Some flowers are hardy and can survive onslaughts of rain, wind, and temperature extremes. But others need more tending. Right now Ellie needs more tending. It means changing my approach with her and taking her to therapy and helping clean out the yuck that got buried in her heart. But I can do that.
Because I am her mom.