Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Christmas is chaotic and amazing in our home. There are eight children here and one of them may be a teenager but he has never had a real Christmas in his life. He went from West Africa to a cult that shunned Christmas almost entirely. So, it was an honor to see him experience his very first real Christmas this year. It also added to the chaos.

In this time of our grief, I really did not expect much out of II. I had been careful and oh so grateful that for the first time in years I had my own income to buy gifts for him. These last three Christmases, I have taken joy not only in buying Christmas for this man but actually WANTING to do so. I no longer take it for granted after 2009 when I only bought what was necessary for the children to not understand that I prayed for his death every night when I went to bed.

II has been hit hard by grief for Micah, and since I have been working a tremenous burden of accomplishing Christmas also fell to him this year. I did not expect much for me.

Instead, this man I almost turned away from, this humble soul who put himself back together and won my respect and my love all over again, this man inducted me into his own personal Bad Ass Chick club this Christmas.

He gave me Kali, the Hindu Goddess of rebirth, among many other things. The more I read of this Goddess, the more honored I am that he would compare me to her. Funny how four years ago I would have taken deep offense at any non-Christian symbolism when comparing me and today I am speechless that my husband has honored me with both the necklace and the comparision.

Today we focus mostly on the joy and hold the tears for when the children are not surrounded by their Christmas. We do not forget where we have been, nor who is missing today. We have simply choosen to keep this holiday focused on these children. In the midst of that, II honored where *we* have been and his admiration for where I am going.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Precious moments

To work in nursing, you are required to undergo an orientation period. Every nurse is required, whether they are trnasferring within one location, or starting at new location, whether they are a new graduate or a long-seasoned nurse. We must orient to where we are working AND we most demonstrate competency in our nursing skills.

Where I am working, I did two weeks of formal, classroom orientation to employment at this hospital. For those two weeks, I worked full-time, and frankly I nearly rethought my decision to go back to work. Since then, I have been orienting in a preceptorship situation. I follow another nurse and work side by side with her. She signed off on my nursing skills (and actually she signed off on those within two weeks of my getting to the unit) but continues to monitor me and mentor me.

I don't know if I like this part of the training per se. Once I acclimated to the unit and their procedures and protocals, I much prefer simply being allowed to work and ask questions myself. However, my opinion was not asked nor sought out and I have no choice.

The ONE thing I was able to do was negotiate my work hours in this time period. Normally, this part of training is still done full-time. However, I had a personal connection the manager of this department and I had called her personally to inquire about the job before I applied for it. I had asked her then if it would be possible for me to work no more than three days per week after the initial company-wide orientation of two weeks. She hired me with that agreement in place. Not all of my co-workers were happy about this. In fact, one of them was quite bitter. I suspect the fact that she was just hired in August and required to do two full months of full-time hours before being permitted to drop down to the part-time position has much to do with her hostility. I didn't negotiate my orientation to upset, nor to humor anyone else. I did so because while I made this choice to work and keep my children's lives stable, I couldn't do two months of full-time work, or I would fail to keep their lives stable on that front instead.

I started my job first of November and I have two weeks left of my preceptorship before I formally, officially, come off orientation. Thye are intending to continue me for three more weeks of 3-8 hour shifts and as a third nurse in the unit instead of merely one of two. However, I will NOT be orienting and thus will not require permission to breath.

This orientation has kicked me in the rear-end. First, I have been reminded of why I left nursing, why the rumor is that nurses eat their own. I have had to adjust to being out of communication with my family at work, difficult to reach even in the case of an emergency. I have adjusted to the work hours, to the idea that II must to the bulk of the on-call and afterschool parenting on the days I work, which is three days per week still at the moment.

This week and next week, the scheduler gave me a precious gift. She scheduled me to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of this week....and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday of next week. I have six precious days off with my children for Christmas. I honestly nearly cried when she did it for me. I didn't ask for it. I had hoped to have Chistmas Eve off but assumed I might not even have that necessarily.

I took J to the dentist to repair some badly decaying teeth yesterday. He was supposed to have them repaired in February, the second time Micah went inpatient. We moved the next month. Getting him to a dentist here took three months. That appointment fell as Micah was dying. Getting it rescheduled took another three months. Incredibly, the wait time to get the actual repair work done was another three months! I started with the family dentist we all see but they wanted to do 3 year old pulpectomy with nothing but lidocaine and a papoose board. Eventually, the best I could find here was apparently sedation but still using a papoose board. So, that took all of yesterday and it felt nothing like a Christmas break.

This morning, we have worked on homeschooling the two homeschoolers. This evening, we will do our long tradition. The kids will drink hot chocolate and watch a marathon of Christmas movies. II and I will lock ourselves in the bedroom and wrap presents....far too many presents in spite of a 3 gifts (plus the Christmas Eve PJs that we don't count) per child from mom and dad. Tomorrow, we will do our other tradition. We will take the littles (this year that means J, L and R) plus whomever did not finish making/buying all of their sibling gifts to shop. Normally, we take them to Goodwill but I'm not sure that will work this year. We may take them to a dollar store but I'm loathe to give up supporting Goodwill in the process if we do. Our local Goodwill opened this fall and the inventory is still very shoddy and mostly corporate infused (with insane price tags attached).

I bought Gingerbread House kits. I haven't done that in several years (before the poverty years) and I'm not certain how that will go, but we'll give that and baking a try tomorrow and Sunday. I had imagined I would be in church this Advent season, finally having found a church this fall for the first time since the church threw us out over Micah. However, I find the emotions of trying to tolerate church to give the church community to the children AND deal with our first Christms with Micah too much. We'll return to church after Epiphany and avoid that part of the church calendar this year.

I'm so grateful that I get nearly a full week to just be a mom right now. As conflicted as I am over working again, we're not to a point where I could consider quitting. So, I must accepted the current circumstances and being here with the kids is a precious gift for my soul at the moment.

I have made some HUGE decisions. The choices that have tormented me for the last several years have been clearly answered. I have a mile marker for when I *can* quit, as well as one for when I would *like* to quit. I know where I go from here and what career path I am headed down. Working has been an AMAZINGLY positive choice for this family and myself, even though I hate going every day and those feelings can raise their head at work if I don't stay busy as well. Actually, that feeling contrasted to how I felt doing Sociology was a BIG part of what finally answered the question of where I wanted my future to go.

Today, none of that matters. I still have Barton to work on with my sixth grader, and 100 Easy Lessons to do with my Kindergartener. I have lots to do in this week I have off, lots of moments to just *be* with my babies and as a family again. Today, that is what matters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Manchild, hold your promises

Racism. It's an ugly word no one wants to admit. In America, it's a state that far too many want to believe we have overcome.

When Trevon Martin was killed, I didn't blog. There's just no words to describe the fear in every mother's heart who has black sons when you hear a woman's precious child was killed for wearing a hoodie. I am well aware of the risks of a DWB. I'm aware of the safety rules and lessons I must teach my sons. I am not a person of color. I cannot make myself a person of color. I also cannot change that my sons must face this world as men of color.

I've seen parents in transracial adoptions where they truly believe they can become the same color scheme as their children. To everyone around them, it just looks bizarre. I've seen more than one child with a look of fear over it as well. Conversely, I've seen families who believe they can be truly colorblind and there is no reason to worry....that the world will simply fall in step with their progressive mentality.

I cannot create a situation where I can either change my ethnicity nor ignore my sons ethnicities. I have never presumed to try to do either. Instead, I attempt to offer my sons what I learn from those who are of color, especially safety rules for interacting with this world. I then offer my sons a safe haven. The world will always see their color. My home will always be an unconditional safe haven of love where color, ethnicity nor how we entered this family is what binds us but what makes us each unique and wonderful.

Yet, I had to sit down and explain to my newest son what racism is. Sadly, while I do not see his tone in a negative light, we live in a tiny school district where some do. The school officials let this son be bullied and initially missed which child was actually the aggressor. The bully proved his lack of ingenuity by bullying repeatedly in the months after he first picked on my child. However, some of the damage to this already hurting child was already done.

These days, when someone wants entertainment at school, they start by trying to get a fight started between this son and the bully again. My son is scared that people continue to think he is not a good kid. His background involves those who were supposed to love him forever always assuming the worst in him and he's terrified people will still think that way.

I was forced to teach this child was racism is because the basic fact is that I believe some of the struggles he is facing is that people don't always assign positive intent to this child first. I cannot say this is a certainty. However, it has now happened often enough, despite his desperate efforts to not let people believe the worst in him when the rumors start swirling yet again, that I had to explain to him that sometimes people see more than just what is before their eyes, even when it's wrong. This is the part of my job that I hate. It is, however, a piece of safety that this child has got to understand and given the extreme isolation and neglect he experienced previously it's not something he has grasped on his own.

Today, I failed

Today we had a patient in our center that was not normal for us. We had a 10 year old child with a progressive disease that will shorten this chid's life. She has been treated several hours away from here in the hospital, but her doctors set up so she can get her monthly medicine locally instead of having to drive.

I wanted to be reassuring to this mother and child. I wanted to remember what it was like to BE her, and to help her feel empowered. I wanted to reassure her that they will learn to live with this and will understand everything that is happening and how to put one step in front of the other....eventually.

Instead, I cracked. I didn't cry. I did that once at work and swore I would never be that vunerable again, no matter how shattered my heart might feel. However, I had to step away from this mother as I watched her shake, to refer to a piece of paper where the doctor had written down for her what was going to happen. I watched her struggle and nearly panic when her child's blood pressure was sky-high. I did explain to her that the blood pressure was because the little girl was scared about the needle required to start her IV line for her medications.

After they were set up and and I had taken time to acclimate myself, I forced myself to do the paperwork process with them. I didn't want to run and hide from a sick 10 year old. I need to be stronger than that and I need to be courageous enough to show this mom she CAN find her courage.

I walked this mother through nearly 20 minutes of paperwork. It's the standard CYA protocals in medicine. However, it can be confusing. Several times, the mother nearly flipped out as I tried to educate her on the process of getting treatments. I explained. I answered her questions. I took my time and I was gentle with her.

She thanked me when we were done, but I could have done better. I should have done better. All I can promise myself is that next month I WILL do better. Sadly, they will be there every month. I have more opportunities to learn how to help other mothers without being pulled back into my own pain and grief by touching it to help others.