Saturday, November 13, 2010

रेस ऑफ़ सुन्शिने

I have NO idea why my title is converting to a non-Arabic based language there. It should say "Rays of Sunshine." Obivously, it does...not in English.

I'm realizing that my life is becoming easier to live. There are still hard times, to be certain. Yet, I'm not crumbling quickly. Sometimes I find I can even stand strong and survive when normally I expected to shut down.

II and I have had several long conversations about the Cub Scout lady. He really and truly does not desire to have an affair and has put lots of safeguards into place. Initially, I didn't trust he really intended to stand by them, but he has done so anyway. I feel less insecure as times goes on and he continues to stay on his guard with her. Its lead to some really honest discussions about his focus on entering medicine and the surgical culture specifically. He's not naive that the world he is trying to enter will have temptations for someone with his addiction. He feels so strongly about his desire to work with sick children and their families that we're both willing to work on safeguards an accountability. Besides which, traveling alone is a far bigger trigger for him and if he returns to the business world he will be rquired to travel alone. I still think he would fall down if he were to travel on business alone at this point.

II's contract IT job messed up his invoices. They misplaced the invoice that was supposed to be paid in November and accidentally paid the one due to be paid in December. That was supposed to cover December's rent. We're thinking we'll pay all of the bills forward a month, use the subsidy check to cover rent and by the time the bills come due/late again we'll be at the end of December and coasting into January. Plus, II starts his part-time job next Saturday so he'll have paychecks coming in before December which means we'll have a small chance of staying current on the bills instead. The company did find the missing November invoice and will pay it in December, so we'll also have that for bills in December. That's all good news since II failed the vein screen to sell plasma. Two technicians couldn't get the massive needle into his arm so he couldn't donate plasma afterall. They told him to drhink a ton of Gatorade and come back next weekend.

I have Christmas almost completed. However, the kids were going to be getting 2 gifts this year instead of their normal 3. An old high school friend offered to help with Christmas a few months ago. I was grateful but didn't want to push. She contacted me again this week because she's putting things together. That will bring the kids to 3 gifts afterall. We still cannot swing the sibling gifts. Several of the kids have been working on gifts they have made for each other. I'll help the others make gifts this year so they still carry the spirit but not the $150 price tag of shopping at Goodwill for them. Now, if I can find some way to swing buying several yards of flannel and t-shirts, I can sew their Christmas PJs and they won't know there's anything amiss for their Christmas afterall.

We have two birthdays to navigate in December, C and J. J turns two. He's easy. Daddy is going to make him a set of building blocks. They are actually quite easy, the biggest challenge is sanded the rough edges adequately. I'm a tad nervous. J has taken to throwing things, including seriously heavy things. I'm afraid wooden building blocks might turn out to be a dumb idea until that stops, but its still a good gift for a two year old.

That left C. In previous years, we did a HUGE blow-out birthday celebration for double digits. For A's 10th, we went to Medieval Times as a family, plus he got several games for his DS as well. E went to the American Girl store for her 10th and got to blow a lot of money on a shopping trip. C and Ch have been looking forward to their double digit birthdays for a LONG time. We have already negotiated that we're going to go on a camping trip to DC next summer as their big thing. We can do that on a shoestring budget and everything for entertainment in DC is free. That won't happen until summer, so at least they still get something big. However, a present worthy of double digits and in my budget...yeah, really not happening.

Untl this week. The same friend who offered to help with Christmas happens to have an ipod Nano. Its the old style, but trust me my homeschooled boy-o isn't going to know that difference. What he WILL know is that a Nano will allow him to put his audio books on it, and retrieve one book and a specific book. He'll no longer be tethered to a computer to work on his reading skills. He'll quickly discover he can put podcasts on there too, and I expect we'll have an equal balance of audio books and college podcast lectures that will populate his Nano. Its perfect for him. I could never afford it for him. In fact, I have no idea how to come close to matching that for Ch's double digits in May, but I'll worry about that when we get there.

Everytime I think we've hit rock bottom and we're going to drown, things start to look better again. One more time, we're still standing. When we get to the tax return, we'll be pre-paying the bulk of our bills through August, so the monthly funds we bring in will help give us breathing room instead of just keeping us from drowning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The sweetest heart

C is a child who must have his rituals and routines. His doctors have long pointed out that he has OCD and offered medication. However, he has always been able to overcome his anxieties and insecurities with his high mental capacities. As long as he can control the anxiety and it doesn't control him, we are not doing meds.

However, he feels everything so intensely, and one of the biggest things that helps him cope is his routines and rituals. Of those, the holidays are THE most treasured by him. October is Halloween, then comes Thanksgiving and lastly his birthday and Christmas, and now his baby brother's birthday tied so closely into his as well.

When we moved, he spend months devestated and barely functional. Not only did he lose the home he loved, but all of his siblings went to public school and left him home alone. He didn't really start to get better until Ch and R came back to homeschooling.

Ever since we entered the holiday season, C has been talking about his birthay celebrations. The only problem is that C has a very specific way he celebrates his birthday. Every year since he was three, the family has gone to Red Lobster. Until last year, this was not really a big deal. II made good money. It wasn't the only time of the year we went to Red Lobster, but it was special because it was C's celebration.

Last year, we managed to pull it off. We had cashed in II's retirement funds to remodel the house. We had funs last Christmas. This Christmas, I don't even have enough presents for them. Red Lobster will cost $160 for the entire family to eat there. We just don't have that kind of money right now.

This very moment, both II and I are without health insurance. I have until the end of this month to find $210 to renew my health insurance, or my thyroid and clotting disorder become pre-existing conditions. As of this weekend, II is selling plasma to make ends meet. This is temporary. Mid-January, we get financial aid to live on. Shortly after that, we get a substantial tax return, plus once we file our taxes I can file an ammendment to my financial aid and will get substantial grants as well. So, once we make it to mid-January everything gets better quickly. We'll parsel out those funds to cover living expenses at least until August. Most importantly, II finishes his pre-reqs for medical school in May. He'll take his MCATS before June. At that point, he will get a full-time job. He'll give it until the next spring to see if he got into medical school. If he doesn't, then he'll launch a nationwide search to re-enter a career track position. Either he gets into medical school, where he'll have a living stipend that will help us live, and I'll be in Graduate scholol with another stipend. Or, we'll go back to where we were before all of this started. We won't be living in this abject poverty any longer.

That is not today. Today, we are coasting by on fumes. We've got to get to mid-January, and to get there, we have to make it through the holidays. There's no way we can pay for Red Lobster this year. And, even if we did find the money, there's too many other things that are higher priority. We cannot justify spending that kind of money for his birthday, and we don't have it anyway so it doesn't matter.

Today, when he started talking about how many days until his birthday and his Red Lobster meal, I finally took a deep breath and told him.

I felt awful. It broke my heart. Even worse, it hurt SO badly to watch him. Most of his siblings would wail and scream. Some of them would call me ugly names. C just silently listened with a look of the deepest sadness I have ever seen. Of all my children, he has embraced this season of poverty, accepted the limitations this has brought and tried so hard to be cheerful and not angry about this. I hated every moment of having to break this child's heart today.

He never got angry. I know he cried, but he hid it. We were heading to a friend's house for a playdate. He requested to be allowed to be alone and in private. So, we set him up in her master bedroom with Spider-man 3. He spent the afternoon there alone. I had offered that he and one parent could go to Red Lobster for his birthday, or we could wait until Spring and take the whole family--his choice.

When we headed home, he informed me that he didn't want to celebrate without his whole family so he'll wait until spring.

I hate this. I hate being unable to give my kids the basic things they have had their entire lives. There will be no trip to a habachi grill for Christmas this year, no trip to see a lights show, no trip to Goodwill sibling gifts, not even their annual PJs most likely. To have to take away this birthday tradition is heartbreaking. To watch C handle this with grace and love I doubt I would have in his shoes was probably my lowest point as a mother.

Honestly, if they hadn't been raised that way, they wouldn't feel the lose. They had addyllic and pampered lives. I enjoyed making their lives magical. Today, I can't do that. I have to be realistic and make it through this rough time to the other side.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My mother is dead

I'm not sure if she ever was truly alive. I cannot truly say I had a mother. I had a sister calls her an egg donor. She raised us. She submerged herself into the Patriarchal movement early in its inception. I'm 34. The movement was only beginning when I was a child. From the time I was ten, she begged my father to allow her to homeschool us. He did not give into this point until the second batch of children began schooling. I was nearly homeschooled for my senior year of high school. Except, I was raped and became pregnant. I had to be tossed out to hide her shame, so she abandoned the idea of homeschooling me and instead shipped me across the country to hide me.

When I tell people I have homeschooled for twenty years, they are greatly confused. They do not understand that by the time I was 18, I was the primary teacher of my younger siblings. I was still homeschooling them when my own children came along and I began refusing to be my mother's slave any longer.

My mother was a Narcissist. She entered the world of Patriarchy, dragging my Feminist father with her. He loved her. He did not believe who she was, and thus allowed her to do almost whatever she wanted with the family. I was her golden child. I was the one choosen and groomed to be her heir apparent. Everything she wanted and was denied by my father, I was to be. I was to be the perfect daughter. I was groomed to enter the world I entered from my earliest moments. I was isolated from any family member that might whisper disent from her teachings. I was truly alone.

After she stole my firstborn child, I realized who and what she was. However, I was still alone...and desperate to have some contact with my stolen baby. When I met II, I knew exactly what she was, but had no idea how to get away from her. II was my hero. He lifted me up, he supported me, he encouraged me, he believed me, he held me while I processed, grieved and ultimately healed. He took me away, became my sheild and protected me from her. He helped me find my voice and my strength and gave me unconditional love for the first time in my life. I didn't want rescued. I told him to take a hike if he thought he was going to rescue me. Yet, he did it anyway.

Last week, I faced the monster who calls herself my mother. I faced her for the second time in open court. Under oath and before all the witnesses present, I spoke of her abuse. I spoke of her behavior, her words, her deliberate manipulations. I spoke clearly and though timidly, I also spoke with strength. The lawyer for my minor siblings said my testimony was superb. She said that I showed my courage and strength but also the scars which are still healing.

As I drove home, secure in the knowledge that my father fully understands who this woman is now, and that my minor siblings are forever protected from the abuse I suffered, I realized it was time to bury her.

My mother is dead. My brother and sister reached that point of acceptance a year ago. I realized several years ago, after I cut all contact with her, that she would never be a decent mother, that my desire for her to be a good mother was my own dream and never based upon reality. This time, I realized her influence upon my life is gone. She is dead and I move forward motherless. Its a better place to be than letting her have any part of who I am. I am who I am now in spite of her, certainly not because of her. Though, I nearly lost myself down the path she groomed me to walk, with a husband as broken as myself hurting beside me and niether of us able to move towards each other and fully heal.

Life is different now. She is dead and I am alive. Henceforth, I remain vividly alive for myself and for the family I have created.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Too much work???

I swear, I am DONE with public school education!!!! I don't have a CLUE how to continue to build a future, but I won't have my children destroyed in this process.

E is failing Language Arts. E, who reads books voraciously, who has never struggled with language arts and who had a perfect A in her first grading period, before she was transferred to a new teacher, has a mid-70s in this class. And, her teacher thinks that is a perfectly acceptable grade for her.

She isn't doing the homework. E was honest when she told me that. However, the teacher will NOT do ANYTHING to help this situation for E. I asked if she would be willing to check that E is writing down the assignments correctly so we can know. Nope, that will make TOO MUCH WORK. She is not going to do anything that requires more work out of her. Yes, she said that--though when I called her on it she then denied it.

Why the F*** are you a teacher if you don't want more WORK???????? Last time I checked, teaching was HARD WORK. Get over it, or find a new professional witch.

She's changed how she's doing the homework stuff and that's solved the problem. Except, it certainly has NOT for E. Well, that's just not her problem. Okay, so can you please explain to me why an 11 year old who reads at a 10th grade reading level is making mid-70s in your class? Do you really think this is reflective of her capabilities?

E is distracted. She's told me so. And, having taught her for her entire LIFE, I'm well aware how easily distracted she is. Ever seen the dog on Up? Yeah, its squirrel EVERYWHERE for E. Trust me, she's distracted.

No M'am! I run a tight ship so children are NOT distracted in my classroom. She is NOT distracted. Okay, so again tell me why a child with her intellegience and capabilities is pulling off a mid-70s grade in your classroom? I'm asking if you will work with us to help E succeed.

Gee, isn't that what teaching is supposed to be about? Helping children succeed. Nope, not if it requires more WORK out of her.

She hung up on me! Literally. Declared she was using HER cell phone minutes to call me and she would not talk to me if I was going to be aggressive to her. I pointed out that I didn't get aggressive until she flat-out stated she would do no extra work, no matter what performance my child is having in her classroom. Told me to take this up with guidance cause she's DONE.

That's not even mentioning that I've been trying to communicate with HER for nearly a month now on this issue. Seriously, the first letter I sent her, the response she sent back with E was, "Well, she didn't put any contact information on here, so I'm not going to talk to her." Right, because writing me back a NOTE, as I wrote to her, would be more WORK. Yeah, now I get why E's failing her LA class. Totally, totally get it now. Trying to call the guidance office but no one is answering.

Honestly though, we were talking about pulling her at Christmas anyway. I'm ready to pull her NOW. You do NOT start a conversation with, 'I'm not doing any extra work.' Yeah, got that already--that would be WHY my child is failing a subject she should be able to do with her eyes closed, thank you very much for nothing there!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Breaking point

I knew when I started this journey that trying to balance family, a sick marriage, family of origin still in crisis and full-time college that the balancing act was going to be difficult. This week I am completely overwehelmed.

I had a major research paper and accompanying oral presentation due yesterday. I have another six page major paper due tomorrow. Then, yesterday I recieved two assignments in another class, both due tomorrow as well.

The problem? I have to drive to another state today. My parents ugly and contentious divorce culminates on Thursday. I have to be there to testify, just like I was 14 months ago when I came home to discover my world had fallen apart. The two homework assignments, the professor instructed me to email them to him.

My original plan was that I would turn the second paper in today before leaving town. However, the research paper took longer than I anticipated. Or, I should say I flat-out had to step away from it on Sunday because my children's need to have a mother participate in their lives and Halloween. That meant I didn't get the head start on the second paper that I needed.

In the middle of all of this, E is destabilizing. She failed English her first term at school, and what we can determine is that she isn't getting her homework done, none of it. Her attention focusing meds wear off in the afternoons and she absolutely cannot focus in the evenings. We've noticed that issue. What I didn't realize soon enough is that apparently a 6th grader has the same burden of homework as an 8th grader. So the reality that she wasn't working as much as her brother was not that she had less, but that she was not capable of accomplishing it.

I decided to test whether her mood stabilizer was contributing to her afternoon problems. It makes her drowsy and unfocused so perhaps her two meds contradict each other. Since her mood stabilizer took her from a petite little girl to the obesity category, I also hoped that the main hunger it triggers would happen in the night and would help stabilize her weight issues. All I did was switch her mood stabilizer to bedtime instead of mornings.

She does fine at school. And, homework is a breeze now. Provided she gets it done before the nightly freak out. Sigh. Going to have to call her doctor. What I didn't want to do was add an afternoon dose of her attention meds. I'm giving her until first of the week, but I'm guessing we're going to have to do exactly that.

Meanwhile, in the worst week I could be having, she assaulted me one night, and threatene to kill herself another night. Careful evaluation of the threat led me to believe it wasn't a serious threat...yet. Its only a matter of time with her.

Then, because my life wasn't spiced up enough, my mother, a diagnosed Narcissist, has leveled grevious but false allegations...again. Big surprise. Except, she's good. You have to get her credit. She may be bat-shit crazy but she's highly intelligent and knows how to play her manipulations to the very best she can. I've spent a great deal of the last week talking with my father, talking with various siblings and talking with the children's attorney.

I told my siblings' attorney that the behavior my mother was using to justify her claims was at least two years old. That's how long I was aware of it, and have spoken to little sis about it. However, I told her to talk to other sis who shared a room with little sis because she would know exactly when the behavior started. When did the behavior start? Well, start appears to be a misnomer. Its been going on since little sis came home from the orphanage. Supports my theory that it sounded like adoption related issues--a subject I'm extremely well versed in. Mom claims she JUST discovered this behavior last week.

Really, crazy dingbat, where have YOU been in the 9 YEARS you've supposedly called this child your daughter? Either you're lying now, or you're just a stellar example of motherhood that you never knew your youngest child was displaying some extremely disturbing but common adoption related behaviors.

Remember though, I still have a six page paper due today.

So, after a second night of no sleep, I knew something had to give. My arm still hurts from E's attack. My neck is locked up from the stress of dealing with last night's meltdown. This morning, my father called to let me know he called the police on my 15 year old brother. Little bro has similiar issues to E, kinda funny since there's no biological tie between them, but that's the reality. He too went manic last night and threatened Dad. Took runner bro and a cop to talk him down this time.

Oh, and because manipulation isn't working on anyone else, dingbat is now targetting runner bro. Last night, she informed him if he doesn't come to court tomorrow to "protect" her from Dad, that he's no man. And, he'll cause her to lose custody of the minor children.

Cause her to lose custody????? She already LOST custody of them. And, sis is going to be in court to testify tomorrow. Runner bro doesn't want to be there. Dad is by far the better parent. But, mom is paying him spending money while he's in college and working on a professional track career. His track scholarship pays for his college, but not spending money. He can't get a job and still run track. He doesn't run track and he has no scholarship. Mom gives him $90 every two weeks.

DUDE, runner bro---get some student loans. For $2k per school year, you can break her power over you entirely, have slightly more spending money and still have a managable student loan debt when you are done. But, of course, we came out of the ultra conservative Patriarchial movement. Student loans are the tool of the DEVIL. Its EVIL to take out those loans. Same morality apparently doesn't apply to the $100K she has in credit card debts, the two houses she deliberately put into foreclosure this summer nor the $25K she just has to reveal she stole from joint marital assets in preparation for court last week.

Still following me on that paper due TODAY??? Yeah, niether was I.

I emailed my professor. I very embarrassingly had to explain a lot of the situation to him because we had a test tomorrow that I was going to miss. He postponed the test for the entire class, but already had the details of my drama filled life. He actually offered to let me turn the paper in late and originally I refused. I HATE asking for special consideration and turning something in late.

Today, I've reached my breaking point. I cannot write this full paper. I can do the summation of the material. I can do the personal reflection. I cannot do the highly technical and academic portion of the paper that requires I relate the material to sociological concepts. Just can't do it.

I asked for an extension until Friday on the paper.

My professor's response was one of those moments that reminds me that I am not forgotten, nor forsaken.

I've been FORBIDDEN to write this paper until I return from court. He wants to discuss what a reasonable due date after I return.

Oh, no fear there. I'll have it finished before Monday, no questions about that at all.

It was his other comment that brought tears though. He informed me that I was the most mature student he had ever encountered and that he has never offered leniency to the level he's given me, but he has no qualms about offering me this, as he knows not only will I get the paper done but I clearly have a full handle on the subject matter in the first place.

Praise the Lord for mercy, even when it comes from my own embarrassment of having to be open about my life in a settign where I would prefer to be judged by my merits and not my history and experiences.

I'm now doing the two short assignments due, which I can email and packing to leave. I have a parent teacher conference at 3:30 today and will head out for a 6-7 hour trip after that meeting. Going to be a LONG night.