Sunday, November 22, 2009

I <3 4-year-olds

For the first few months after we came home from China, I held my beautiful, healthy, and sweet nine-month-old and thought, "I can't wait until she's four." I felt terrible about having such a thought; I had asked for a baby "as young as possible," and not only was Sergeant young, she was gorgeous, healthy, good-natured, smart, and attaching beautifully. Even so, it was hard to go back to bottles and diapers and cooking with a baby on my hip. And it was really hard to go back to frequent night wakings. With time, I stopped wishing for time to pass and got used to my "new" life with a baby, and then a toddler. Time marched on, as it always does. The terrible two's kinda sucked, and the attachment difficulties this fall really sucked.

Sergeant will be four next month, the most magical age. We've (mostly) moved past the attachment issues of the past month and she is turning into the sweetest, funniest, smartest little creature. Every morning when she wakes up, she asks to "snuggle" in bed. She cracks nonsensical jokes and feels likes the world's funniest comedian because you can't help laughing at her. She knows all the lyrics to all the High School Musical songs and sings them - in tune. She makes a trip to the grocery store an adventure - insisting on pushing the cart, even though she's not tall enough to see where she's going. She's circled everything in the toy catalog and yells, "I want that" at most of the toy commercials. Unless, God forbid, it's a "boy toy." She thinks the Christmas lights I put up (I know, prematurely) are the most beautiful she's ever seen. While I tried hard to enjoy each of her ages and stages (and did), I was right to daydream wistfully about this time. Four-year-olds rock!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Schools are evil cesspools

My kids have been in school for six weeks...and we're on our second round of pukey flu (not to be confused with H1N1). I've bleached everything I can bleach, but I've reached the conclusion that the only solution is to quit my job, go on welfare, and home school. I'm only half-kidding. Anyone pregnant or with a weak stomach is warned that the following contains much TMI. Our timeline over the past few days looks like this (keep in mind, this is the second go-around in six weeks):

Thursday - Sergeant wakes me up at 12:30 because her tummy hurts and then vomits in the bed. I clean it up, go back to sleep, and it happens again at 3:30 - but this time, I'm prepared.
Friday - Sergeant runs a fever and has the most horrendous gas. Seriously, she stunk up the whole house - who knew such a small body was capable of producing such a stench.
Friday night - Sergeant wakes in the middle of the night to go "poopy." We go back to bed, and ten minutes later, she tells me she's peed in her pull-up. I rip it off her, toss it into the hall, stick another pull-up on her and go back to sleep.
Saturday morning - Sergeant tiptoes out of my bed (we co-sleep) to go watch TV, so I can sleep in. 10 seconds later she's back with poopy on her toe. Turns out she hadn't peed in her pull-up, she pooped in her pull-up and when I carelessly flung it into the hallway in the middle of the night, said poopy splattered throughout the hallway. Thank God for hardwood floors.
Saturday afternoon - Sergeant informs me that she's gone poopy in the toilet, but her poopy "melted." "Melted" poopy continues throughout the day.
Sunday - still some "melty" poopy, but almost back to normal.
Monday - a normal day, no foul excretions
Tuesday evening - Smartie starts vomiting at 7:00 PM and continues every 20 minutes until approximately 3:30 AM.

Poor sweeties. Sunny is almost certainly next....but I sure hope I get a night "off" tonight, cuz, dang, I'm tired.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I am clearly terrible at updating my blog, because my last post was about Sergeant's attachment therapist, and she's already graduated from said therapist! Once we identified what the issue was and had a plan to tackle it, things got better fast. There is still no doubt in my mind that insecure attachment was behind the issues. She is no longer having "fits," and has accepted that Mommy is in charge and therefore, she doesn't need to be. Her blog name, Sergeant, doesn't really even suit her anymore...maybe I'll have to come up with something else!

Aside from Sergeant's issues, the transition back-to-school has been pretty rocky. Over the summer, when I wasn't working and Sunny and Smartie were not in school, I thought the whole single mom thing was a cinch. Now that I'm working nearly full-time and we have homework and activities, it is brutal at times. At least a couple times a week, I feel like I'm just not meeting everyone's needs. Sunny is in fourth grade and has much, much, much more homework and studying than she's ever had before. And with her ADHD, she needs someone to sit with her and keep her on-task during homework. The other night, I decided to let her do her math on her own because I was busy with the other girls. She sat at a table in my bedroom where it was quiet and relatively free of distractions. Pretty soon I heard her singing loudly. I went in to check on her and she was sprawled on my bed with her homework. I thought, "Oh well," and let her be. She finally finished the assignment after 40 minutes or so. When she got the assignment back, she had nineteen wrong (out of maybe thirty problems). And she's and A/B math student. Luckily, her teacher made her correct it - in school, thank God.

Smartie doesn't have as much homework, but she has to read aloud to me nearly every night. She's required to read for ten minutes, but she prefers to read for much longer. We're reading a chapter book together and she loves the story and the quiet time with me. There just isn't enough time in the evening to fit it all in. The times that Sergeant has been a real stinker have been the nights that I've been busy helping with homework from after dinner until bedtime. She finds a way to get some negative attention when that happens!

Anyway, we're starting to get into the swing of things and figure it all out...but single parenthood is just as difficult as it's been made out to be.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Houston, we have an attachment therapist

Well, Sergeant officially has an attachment therapist. Happily, the therapist thinks things are going to improve rapidly. She showed me how to do "holding time" - in fact, we did it in her office. I still have a lot of questions, but luckily, we're going to visit on the phone on Wednesday. Sergeant's reaction during the holding time was sooooo much like her typical "tantrum" or, as she likes to call it, her "fits." While Sergeant was screaming and yelling her head off in the therapists office, Sunny and Smartie were mere feet away in the waiting room. I had warned them that Sergeant might get upset, but I was really worried that they were out there flippin' out - at one point, I think they were right outside the door. But, when we were finally finished, they were much more concerned with how bored they were in the waiting room and how we'd been there, like, five hours, and they were ready to go swimming. So, typical kids - torture my sister, if you must, but please do it quickly and don't let it interfere with my day. Then, in the van on the way across the city, they did ask exactly what I was doing to Sergeant in there. I told them I was just holding her. One of them said, "I hope you don't ever hold me like that! How were you holding her?" And Sergeant piped up, "Like a baby!" I told Sunny and Smartie that they would like it if I held them that way and offered to show them how I held Sergeant when we got to the hotel. As "big kids" who don't get much baby cuddling anymore, they did like it! Anyway, I tried holding time later yesterday evening when Sergeant tried to insist that I was sleeping on the side of the bed without the lamp and started melting down when I didn't comply with her instructions. It went okay, although I kept expecting a knock on the door from a social worker or the police, asking what I was doing to the poor child. She did eventually calm down and we snuggled and she slept on the right side of the bed. I slept great! This is completely off-topic, but I love the Hilton Garden Inn - the beds are so comfy and it's so blessedly quiet. But the holding time wasn't the most exciting part of our trip. This morning, I took the girls to swim in the hotel pool. I was dressed for the day, with hair and make-up done, so I put Sergeant life jacket on her and let her swim with the big girls. She's done this quite a bit and I'm always right there watching (you know where this is going, right?) After an hour or so, Sergeant decided she was done and took off her life jacket and was bopping around on the pool deck. I told Smartie and Sunny they could swim for 15 more minutes and we would leave. So, Sunny decided she would do an IM before we left (that's a race where you do each stroke, successively). So, I'm watching her and thinking how awesome her breast stroke is, when I realized that Smartie, who was also out of the pool, was yelling, "Sunny - get her! Sunny - get her!" And I realize that Sergeant is in the pool, head submerged, little hands flapping. I yelled, "Sunny, get her!" But she couldn't hear me. So, I jumped in the pool and scooped her up. She was fine - I don't think she was under the water for more than about 8 seconds, but it seemed like forever. I have to qualify that the hotel pool is tiny - it took Sunny on two butterfly strokes to make it across. And I was sitting right there and I didn't notice that she had jumped in. Smartie said she jumped in on purpose because she thought she still had her life jacket on. Thank God Smartie was watching her. I'm sure I eventually would have noticed, but Sergeant was so, so silent. Which is what I've always heard about drowning. Kids make very little noise. There was a guy sitting eight feet away in the hot tub and he didn't notice either, until Smartie started yelling. Anyway, Sergeant was fine and I tried to make light of it so she wouldn't be forever afraid of the water. I joked about how I'd jumped in the water with all my clothes on, but then emphasized several times how Mommy had saved her and how she needed Mommy to jump in and help her. She really was not upset about it - she just said she couldn't get to the ladder to get out. It happened so fast that I didn't have a chance to get scared. I saw her struggling in the water and then I was in the water and she was clearly fine. But, I had brought only one change of clothes and was wearing the only bra I had. So, I dried my undies with a blow-dryer, ironed my dirty dress from Friday, and went bra-less until I picked up another one at the mall. So, now we're home. The girls went to have dinner with their dad, and I'm having a dark beer. I'll go pick up Sergeant in a little while - we'll see how bedtime goes tonight.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two in a row...

We've had two tantrum-free days in a row! Woo Hoo! We came close to a tantrum last night. Sergeant hit her sister with a toy. I calmly took it from her, put it on top of the fridge, and told her she is not allowed to hurt people and she would have another chance to use the toy correctly tomorrow. (I have to say, it was really really hard for me to do that, because it was 8:30 PM and I didn't want to trigger a tantrum, but I did it anyway - yay me!) Anyway, she started to "wind up" and I said, "Sweetie, you have a choice. You can have a fit, or, we can go lie down on my bed and read some books and snuggle. It's up to you." She thought about having the fit, but chose to go read books instead. She did tell me tonight, via her stuffed dog, that I'm a "bad mommy." I played along, and told the dog that I'm a good mommy and listed some of the things I do as a good mommy. Then I asked the dog to tell Sergeant what a good mommy I am.

We have an appointment with an attachment therapist on Friday. The closest attachment therapist is a 4.5 hour drive away, but the girls and I are making it into a fun, overnight trip. When I told Sergeant about the upcoming trip and all the fun things we could do, the first thing she said was, "I won't have a fit." Interestingly, she's never had a fit in public (so far) and she's never had a fit with anyone but me. In the past, she's done great on overnight trips, so hopefully that will be the case this time. I'm so looking forward to getting some professional input.

Monday, August 31, 2009

And not enough beer in the world, either...

Just kidding - I've never been one to use alcohol to cope with stress. Although the ice-cold dark beer I had about 6:00 this evening following Sergeant's 50-minute meltdown sure did hit the spot. She is continuing to have one huge, drag-out, knock-down fit each day. But she hasn't had one at night since Saturday. I decided she needed to sleep in my bed until we get back on track and it seems to be making a difference with the nighttime tantrums. Our older daughters co-slept until they were four-ish, so this is not a new thing for us. I'm perfectly happy to have her sleep with me for the next year, if that's what she needs to do. It is just so, so much easier to cope with the meltdowns when they happen during the day. Unfortunately, she seems to try harder to hurt me when she tantrums during the day - more energy, I guess! But, we've been working through the tantrums and when she's not having one, she's been pretty awesome. She's getting cuddlier by the day. We are working on compliance and on her understanding that she's not the boss, I am. And that I am a good mommy who takes good care of her. She doesn't get to order me around and tell me what to do. I find it incredibly ironic that her blog name is Sergeant and her Sergeant-like tendencies are actually a sign of attachment issues. Even with all the preparation I did and the reading I've continued to do since we arrived home, this kind of blind-sided me. She did so well for the first 2.5 years, that I never expected attachment issues to crop up now. I'm so glad I recognized them before they got any worse. I've seen improvements already in just a few days, so I think we're on the right track. I'm doing a lot of little things to promote a feeling of security. She has a little book she takes to daycare that has a picture of me at work, so she can look and see where I am. There is also a spot to put a picture of whomever will pick her up and a picture of her back at home. The last picture is she and I together and the caption is "Mommy always comes back." She seems to enjoy the book. For the past several days, I've also put the same yummy-smelling lotion on the two of us and told her she can smell her arm at daycare if she misses me. I've been talking a lot, in an off-hand way, about what a good mommy I am and how I'll always take care of her. When she tries to boss me around, I reiterate that I'm a good mommy and that little kids don't have to be in charge. I've also been making more time to snuggle with her and have tried to change my attitude to be more upbeat and playful. When she has a meltdown, I tell myself that it will only last 30-45 minutes and then we'll get on with our day. I know we're just starting this journey, but I believe we are on the right path.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Not enough caffeine in the world

So, basically, my first week back at work SUCKED. Work stuff was fine, but Sergeant is not doing well with it. She will have been home for three years in October, and I really thought we were past the point where any significant attachment issues would appear, but clearly, I was wrong. She had another "fit" last night at 3:00 AM, and another one mid-morning. These tantrums are pretty obviously attachment-related, from the reading I've been doing. She's angry with me, but she wants me. She tries to hurt me and then she cries for me to pick her up. But when I do pick her up, she tries to hurt me again. She often complains that I've hurt her when I try to comfort her during these episodes. She has a comfort blanket that has never failed to bring her comfort, but during these episodes, not even the blanket helps. In fact, sometimes when I hand it to her, she won't even take it. That. has. never. happened. before. She's a thumb sucker and she doesn't suck her thumb during these episodes, either. I've decided I need to let everything go but work and kids until things get better. Cutting back my hours is not an option, but I am going to cut out my twice a week workouts and come straight home after work every day. Luckily I'm done at 4:00, so that gives me a pretty big chunk of time with the girls in the evenings. I'm also considering hiring someone to do some cleaning a couple times a month, at least until things calm down. And I've decided not to start Sergeant in preschool next week as I had planned. I think adding another transition/change to her life at this point would be very ill-advised. I'm hoping to find an attachment therapist who is willing to do some phone consultation. We live in a very rural area, so there is no one locally. Trying to do this alone sucks and I would like to know if I'm on the right track.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Well, I've nearly finished up my first full week back at work (I work for a school and have summers off). Because of the divorce, I've increased my hours to virtually full-time. To say that things have sucked this week would be an understatement. Sunny and Smartie are back in school, so it hasn't affected them, but Sergeant is struggling. I haven't worked full-time since Sunny was born, way back in 1999. The most I've worked has been 28 hours per week. Now I'm up to 36 hours and Sergeant is having a very hard time adjusting. She's very obviously quite pissed at me and letting me know in some extremely unpleasant ways. Last night, at 11:00, when I was just about to turn off the light and go to sleep, I heard her crying in her bed and yelling, "no, no, no!" I went to her room, but she wasn't really awake. I tried to comfort her, but she just kept getting more and more upset. At some point, she was awake, but then she continued to tantrum - kicking, screaming, hysterical. She was yelling, "I don't want to go to daycare!!!" Which scared the crap out of me, thinking she'd had some big trauma there that I don't know about (I checked it out today, and I don't think so). This went on for about 45 minutes and there was nothing I could do to calm her down. She was quite combative toward me, but when I would put her down, she wanted me to pick her up (hmmm, ambivalent attachment?). She woke up Smartie, who was crying because she was tired and Sergeant was kinda scaring her. So, I finally put the two of them in the vehicle (Sunny was at her dad's - lucky her) and we drove around for about 20 minutes and Sergeant finally calmed down. So, I put her back to bed and read until 1:30, because I was too wired to go to sleep. Then, she started back up with the same behavior at 3:00 AM. Only this time, she seemed even more pissed at me and I was quite a bit less patient than I was the first time. It went on until nearly 4:00 AM. I finally got her to go back to bed and tried to lie down next to her, but she wanted nothing to do with me. It broke my heart and scared the crap out of me. So, I dug out some of my adoption and attachment books and did a little reading (and crying). I think the transition of me going back to work, probably coupled with the divorce, has triggered some attachment-related anxiety. But even though I understand where the tantrums are coming from and I feel horrible that Sergeant feels horrible, I have a really, really hard time coping with such difficult, nasty behavior in the middle of the fucking night. Then I felt really bad, because I started comparing Sergeant with her sisters at her age, and, of course, they did none of this. Because they didn't spend the first nine months of their lives in an orphanage and I didn't have to work full-time when they were smaller. So, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. On so many levels. So, now Sergeant is asleep. In my bed. Because tonight she did want to snuggle with me and said, "Mommy, I wish you could sleep in my bed with me." But, my bed is bigger, so there you go.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Despite having graduated from toddler to preschooler, Sergeant still has the occasional meltdown when she doesn't get her way. They usually involve yelling, crying, screaming, and a combination of hitting me and telling me to get away, but at the same time, wanting me near. Over the months, I've tried many tactics to stop the madness, including holding her and rocking her, but nothing has been very successful. Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a meltdown, I laid Sergeant down on a fleece blanket and swaddled her like an infant. She stopped instantly. I sat in the rocking chair with her for a few minutes and cuddled her, then we discussed the issue at hand and worked it out peacefully. Since then, I've tried it twice more with the same results. It makes me wonder if some of her meltdowns are attachment-related instead of just three-year-old stinker-related.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've spent a lot of time thinking about the myriad of losses our little Sergeant has faced in her short life. Loss of her birth parents, before she had a chance to know them, loss of her birth country and culture, and loss of her caretakers at the orphanage, just to name a few. But, although I feel strongly that "open" adoptions are in the best interest of the child (although not possible in the case of China adoption), I can see some benefits for Sergeant in not being our biological child. You see, I had a set of expectations, both positive and negative, for our biological daughters based on genetics. I have none of those expectations for Sergeant - I have no idea if her parents were athletically gifted, or very intelligent, or musically inclined, or learning disabled, or hyperactive, or prone to allergies. It seems like she may be "more free" to develop into her own little person free of the "box" we tend to place children in based on their parentage. I know my parents had that "box" for me, and I spent my teenage years trying to bust out of it. I try not to place my biological daughters in that "box," but it's harder than it is with Sergeant. Sergeant, who is just such a little individual and a bit of a mystery. When she's "telling you how it is" she will do a kind of head shake that reminds me of Claire Huxtable on the Cosby show when she was pissed off with Cliff (I know, I'm dating myself). This is not a gesture I use, nor have I seen anyone else in Sergeant's life use it. So where did that come from? I have to wonder if there's a beautiful, smart, stubborn, opinionated woman in China telling off her husband with a Sergeant-like head shake. I wish I could meet that woman. I wish Sergeant could meet her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I was "catching up" with an old friend last night after not speaking with her for nearly a year. Of course, we talked about my recent separation and impending divorce and how the kids are doing, yada, yada, yada. I mentioned that I'm increasing my work hours to nearly full-time when I return to work this fall and I'm worried that it will be difficult for Sergeant. My friend gave the usual response about how kids are resilient, etc, but then she drops the bombshell and says "she's better off then she would have been in the orphanage!" WTF - like it's somehow more okay for her to be in daycare full-time because she spent her first nine months in an orphange. My "friend" clearly thinks that Sergeant would still be in an orphanage, had we not "rescued" her. She clearly doesn't understand that, had we not adopted her, there were, oh, 30,000 people in line behind us who would have gladly taken her home. I think I feel more guilty about the divorce and my increase in work hours on her behalf than I do on behalf of her sisters. I feel guilty that we adopted her and now she is not going to grow up in an intact nuclear family. Not that I would ever change it in a hundred million years. I'm grateful every day for her presence in my life...but still....maybe she'll be pissed someday that we adopted her and then 2.5 years later, broke up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First night as a "single" mom

Well, my soon-to-be ex-husband is officially moved out. He's spending his first night in his new apartment. It feels anti-climatic - we decided it would happen over a month ago. I wondered how the kids would take it when the actual move happened, but they, um, didn't really even seem to notice. We got home from swim team practice at 7:00, had dinner, went to buy some drops for Sunny's "watery" ear, came home, watched some TV and I tucked the kids into bed. Not one of the three even mentioned that their dad is not here! I guess my feeling that he had been involved in our family in a purely peripheral way was relatively accurate. I know he loves the kids, but family life seems to be a bit "much" for him. I think he will probably spend more quality time with them now that we are separated. At least I hope so. So, onward and upward.
Smartie had a great swim team practice. The coach had her swim with the older kids, and she did well. After practice, Sergeant ran out into the street after her sisters (who, thankfully, had checked for traffic before stepping off the curb) tripped over her flip-flop, and had an unfortunate encounter with the asphalt. When I picked her up, my focus was on her nose, which had a bit of road rash. But when I buckled her into her car seat, I realized that her mouth was bleeding quite a bit. By the time we got home, she had a huge fat lip. Then, while I was icing her mouth (ha- I just read that back and it sounds like I was putting frosting on her, like a cake - she would love that), she complained about her tooth and I realized that her top front tooth is loose. I called our dentist at home (gotta love a small town) and he said it will probably "tighten up," but if not, she'll just have a gap until her permanent tooth comes in. I'm working on a post about some behavior issues that Sergeant has been having - today was a great day, though, because I changed my own behavior. Funny how that works.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sink or Swim

From the moment our kids are born (or adopted), we begin to "let go," in small ways and in big ones. The major moments are obvious - giving up nursing (or bottles), potty-training, going off to kindergarten (or, gasp, college!), that first sleep-over, and on and on and on... But we had a smaller "letting go" moment this weekend at the first swim meet of the season. Sunny swam last year, but this is Smartie's first year on the swim team. There are swim meets every weekend for about eight weeks. Smartie's first meet was this weekend. Due to terrible weather and pool maintenance issues, she had only had a total of two hours of practice prior to the meet. And she's seven. And she's never swam competitively before. The night before the meet, she had a major melt-down, after Sunny told her (in a not-so-"sunny" moment), that she's "stupid, and she'll never make finals in the swim meet." Then, Saturday morning, prior to her first event, she cried and cried and cried and said she wasn't going to swim. The first event was a relay, with three other girls, who could not have competed without her. And I knew that I couldn't let her give in to the fear and back out. So, I gave her a hug and lots of encouragement and walked away to the bleachers. I asked some of the older swimmers to talk to her, crossed my fingers, and sat down with a Texas-sized lump in my throat. One of the other parents on the team is a stroke-judge, and was standing by Smartie while she got ready to swim the relay. She later told me that Smartie told her, "I'm not ready! There's no way I can swim all the way to the other side of the pool." She kept repeating that sentiment until it was her turn to swim. Then, as soon as her team-mate touched the side of the pool, she dived in and swam like hell to the other side. She was awesome! She wasn't the fastest, but she surely was the bravest. Because the definition of bravery is not the absence of fear, but facing fear and plunging forward despite it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mental Exhaustion

So...we told the (big) kids this weekend that my husband and I are splitting up. I am completely mentally exhausted. We have a rental apartment that my husband will be moving to, but, of course, we had to give the tenants notice. So, he let them know last Monday that they needed to move out within 30 days. He didn't tell them why. The only people we had told of our impending divorce were my parents and the lawyer who handles our small business. But by Friday, news that we were splitting up was all over the flippin town, because the tenant "guessed" what was happening and proceeded to tell people. I can't even describe how angry I am with her. My brother and SIL heard this rumor before we had told them, and of course denied it. Sergeant's babysitter also heard it, as well as Smarty's best friend's sister. Our plan had been to wait until a week or so before their dad was going to move out and then break the news so they would have some time to process it before it actually happened. Now they have way too much time to process it, as he won't be able to move for another month. They need for it to happen so they can see that it's going to be okay. They don't need to spend the next month wondering and worrying. Sunny seems to be doing well. We talk about the logistics of it and what is going to happen, but she doesn't talk about her feelings. So that worries me. Smarty talks about her feelings constantly. She also is asking lots and lots of questions and processing like crazy. She's having some mild anxiety attacks, as well. After talking with her school counselor, we've decided to let her wallow for another day or so, but then she needs to continue with her normal routine and try to help herself feel better. We're going to make a menu of ideas for her to use when she's feeling sad, such as getting a hug, jumping on the trampoline, or taking a bike ride. The really freakin' ironic thing about the way this has gone down is that it's made the kids' dad and I even more committed to work together to make this as easy and possible for the kids, now and in the future. We're united in our pissedness (is that a word?) at the tenant! Sergeant doesn't know what's going on yet, although I'm sure she senses something is up. We can't talk to her until the move is imminent - a month in 3-year-old time is like a year in grownup time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Changed my title

It appears that I am soon-to-be a single mom. This is a place I never thought I'd be and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Ironically, when I started this blog, I had no idea what I would write about, or who would be interested in my low-key, boring life. Well, I guess life handed me a "topic." The split is a mutual thing, and the reasons for the break-up are not scintillating or scandalous. We probably weren't a good match from the beginning. My greatest desire, at this point, is to do this in a way that is the least devastating for our children. My soon-to-be ex thinks we can work everything out without lawyers and file paper-work online. We're basically in agreement on the financial aspects and the child-care/custody stuff, but I'm still a bit skeptical that we're not going to need professional help. I would welcome comments.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Why I hate silly putty

Prior to this weekend, I hadn't allowed Silly Putty in my house for 2.5 years. The last time we had silly putty, Sunny went to sleep with Silly Putty in her bed and woke up with pajamas covered in blue (blue!) Silly Putty. Silly Putty was smooshed into her sheets, her pajamas, and her beautiful quilt that I sewed during our wait for Sergeant's referral. Several days earlier, I had painstakingly removed Silly Putty from our sofa upholstery (I don't remember how - Sergeant was a baby and I was sleep-deprived). So...we've had no Silly Putty in the house until this past weekend, when I caved, and allowed Sunny (who's nine, mind you) to buy some Silly Putty, with her own money. Well...Sunny woke up this morning with big globs of Silly Putty smooshed into her long, thick, blond hair. Apparently, going to sleep with Silly Putty in her bed once wasn't enough. Most of the Silly Putty was in the hair on the nape of her neck, close to her scalp - ouch! For anyone who might someday need the information, a google search revealed olive oil to be the best method of removal. Needless to say, the Silly Putty ban has been reinstated.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The issues are arising

One of my good friends had a baby a few weeks ago. Her pregancy, followed by her baby's birth, has raised some issues for Sergeant. She knows that she didn't grow in my tummy, but in her birth mother's, and she also knows that she spent her first nine months in an orphanage and was cared for by nannies. I swear she was "bothered" by my friend's pregancy and by seeing her tiny baby. I think she has some sort of three-year-old concept of herself as a tiny baby, without a mother. I can already see that a time is coming when she's gonna be pissed about the situation (arising out of hurt, of course). I'm not sure exactly how to handle it all. So far, I've tried to be matter-of-fact, while empathizing with her loss. I can honestly say that I don't wish I had given birth to Sergeant, because then she wouldn't be Sergeant - she'd be someone else. I know that many of the wonderful qualities I love about Sergeant come from her birth parents.

When we began the adoption process, I really believed that the child we would be matched with was meant to be our child. Since then, I've struggled with that belief. Sergeant fits in with our family like she was destined to be our daughter, but to say she was "meant to be ours" means that another family was meant to suffer. And, more importantly, it means that Sergeant was meant to suffer the loss of her birth family, her birth country, and the experience of growing up with people who "look like her." I think I was a fairly prepared and realistic adoptive parent. I read the books, I considered the issues, but in the glow of impending motherhood, I don't think I really felt the issues. Or maybe I'm feeling them now because they pertain to a person for whom I would step in front of a train.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


We're making progress. Last night I tucked Sereant in for the last time (of the night) at 9:45 - I had a whole hour of quiet time to read! Woo Hoo! I've learned that in order to be a competent parent I need two things: One hour of time to myself before bed and a reasonable amount of sleep. I've tried to make the time before bed quieter and have been keeping Sergeant up and reading to her for 20 minutes or so after her sisters go to bed. It seems to be helping. The picture is Sergeant smelling my beautiful peonies two springs ago...a few days after this picture was taken we had a huge hailstorm and they were pummelled into the ground. Not even the bushes were left - they were leveled. They still hadn't recovered as of last year - we'll see what happens in a month or so!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Better?, okay.

Well, last night Sergeant finally settled down and went to sleep sometime after 10:22. Then she called out for me six (six!!) times during the night. Each time, I sent to her room, covered her up, and went back to bed. She really doesn't need anything, she just wants to know I'm there. But the good news is, I stayed calm, patient, and loving for the most part. I figured I don't have any control over the situation, but I can control how I react. We had one incredibly sweet moment...Sergeant called me for about the third time of the night (I can't even remember what she wanted that time), I went into her room and she was snuggled into her bed with her niney (comfort blanket) and her thumb in her mouth. I praised her for snuggling into bed and trying to go to sleep, stroked her head, and gave her a kiss. She looked up at me with her little thumb still firmly in her mouth and said, "Happy!" I melted and decided I would sit by her bed and stroke her head for a few minutes. Well that totally backfired and got her all wound up again - crap! I've been reading "The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddler and Preschoolers" and am going to come up with a "sleep plan" over the next couple of days. I'll let ya know what I come up with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I suck

Sergeant won't go to sleep at night. Since the arrival of daylight savings time, she hasn't drifted off until between 10:00 and 11:00 every night. My patience is shot and I'm not being a very good mom. I tuck her into bed at 9:00 and then trek up and down the hall every three to ten minutes until she finally goes to sleep. She has every excuse in the book to call me to her room - she needs to be covered up, she can't find her niney (comfort blanket), she's done with her sippy cup of water and she wants me to take it, she's hungry and wants a snack, she's done with her snack, and on and on and on. Finally, last night I completely lost patience, angrily put both our coats on and drove around for about 30 minutes. This was my alternative to "losing it" with her. I haven't been responding to her in a loving manner at night. I'm angry and pissy and resentful when I stop back to her room for the 14th time of the night. I don't know what to do. I'm not a single mom, but I could just as well be. My husband goes to bed at 9:00 and is no help. I feel like a horrible, crappy, mother, but I'm also getting pretty resentful about having NO quiet time in the evening. And spring is a horrible, stressful, busy time for me at work....HELP!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mommy Brain

My husband is convinced that I have a terrible memory. He'll bring up a conversation we had six years ago and express mild annoyance when I don't remember the incident. It's true that he remembers much more than I do about our shared past, but what he fails to consider is all the other, seemingly unimportant, minutia that is stored in my brain. Like, for instance, the respective shoe sizes, clothing sizes, and underwear sizes for our three daughters. Or when our oldest girls have library or a spelling test, or what day someone is bringing a friend home from school. Or the contents of the downstairs freezer than must be recalled at the grocery store when I'm planning the night's dinner as I shop. And that's just the "mom stuff." I also work part-time as a school psychologist, serving an entire small school district. I don't think mothers get enough credit for the incredible amount of planning and organization that is required to raise even one child, much less three. So, yeah, I don't remember that offhand comment I made six years ago, but I do (usually) remember who's signed up to bring cupcakes for the school Valentine's party.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Good Enough Mom

Before I had children, I was sure I would be a better mother than my own mother was. Not that I had a bad mother. Quite to the contrary; in most areas she was probably far above average. She didn't work and was always there for my brother and me (not that you can't be "there" for your children and work as well). We knew, without a doubt, that we were important and valued. We had family dinners every night, we took family vacations...I had a picture-perfect childhood. But my mom grew up in a stoic German family where feelings were not discussed, anger was rarely expressed, and tears were never shed. So, as a relatively emotional child, I felt a little misunderstood. And my parents never said, "I love you." And by never, I mean never. Okay, they said it once, in church, when instructed to do so by the priest during his sermon (but they were clearly uncomfortable). So, I was certain that I would be much more effusive and expressive with my children. And I am. But, on my best days, I'm not a better mother than my own mother was. Now that I'm a mother, I'd be grateful just to equal her. My children hear "I love you" daily, both from me and from their father. I don't need to repeat my mother's "mistakes" because I've come up with plenty of my own. I'm much crabbier than my mother, and probably more house isn't nearly as organized and my kids' hair is much messier than mine was as a child (and that's just a start)! I often wonder if my children are looking into their futures and imagining that they will be a better mother than I am...and in what particular area they hope to "better" me. I know that my children feel empowered to express their emotions without undue judgement or censure, so I've accomplished (or rather, am accomplishing) one of my greatest goals as a mother. And perhaps one of the greatest joys of motherhood has been to hear my children tell their grandparents, "I love you" and watch as my parents, so reticent for so long, comfortably reply back, "I love you, too!"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Before we brought our daughter Sergeant home from China, I had given a lot of thought to the fact that she would never know her biological parents. I know some who choose China adoption as a way to build a family feel this is a plus. For me, it was a distinct negative. First, I like to "know stuff." When I was pregnant with our biological daughters, it never ocurred to me not to find out their genders prior to birth. Of course I wanted to know. If I had been able to know at conception, I would have wanted to know then. Not because I really cared one way or another (although, truth be told, I secretly wanted girls - not a secret now, I guess) but because I just like to know. So, not knowing anything at all about our third daughter's biological parents, and really, the first months of her life, was disconcerting for me, and I knew, not the best thing for her. But I didn't realize the depth of her loss until a couple of months ago. Sergeant had been requesting to look at her life book and her scrapbook frequently and I, of course, obliged every time. We would read the story and look at the pictures and talk about her months in the orphanage and how she came to be in our family. Then, one night, just after her third (!) birthday, I read the page about her birthmother. She said, "Where is the picture of her?" I explained that we don't have a picture of her birthmother, because we don't know who she is. My sweet, smart, precocious child, looked up at me with her beautiful black eyes and said, mournfully, and near tears, "I don't even have a picture of her!" My heart about cracked in two. I acknowledged how sad she sounded about not having any connection with her birth mother and tried to empathize the best I could. Of course, being three, she moved on to another, blessedly minor, crisis within a few minutes, but I realized what a long road we have in front of us as she faces adoption and abandonment issues, one-by-one. I never dreamed she would begin to process these issues so early. I only hope I am a good enough mom to help her through these issues the best I can and to maintain her currently rock-solid sense of self.