It will all be fine, but right now I am sad and worried and I made my kid sad and worried. ALL change is hard even if it is for the better.
Wish things could just be the way we hoped they would be.
What if I'm right and he would have a new teacher next year? What does that change? Do we trust a new teacher? Do we start again with nothing but hope after putting in three years of hope for change already. How do we even begin to think about this?
I hope I'm right because Every One of those kids deserve a new start. Not just mine.
I hope I'm wrong because we already made this huge decision. We already told the kids and made them feel big horrible things. I hope I'm wrong because I don't want to start the deciding part over again. I don't want to have to decide if we start all over again.
And I want to STAY. But not at the expense of my kids education. Not at the cost of his exposure to such an unkind adult.
And I'm SO MAD about these changes that don't have anything to do with my kid and his experience. Is that enough to make a change?
I think I'm right. I really do.
What does that mean for us? How do we make this decision over again? How do we know what the best choice is?
We already TOLD them. They tell everyone they know tomorrow. I hope I'm wrong.
You know how when you are trying to learn something, or you have a really big problem, your whole system is constantly working on it in the background until one day you wake up from a good sleep and suddenly have the answer?
I am working on a really big problem. My brain, my body, my emotions are ALL working on it so hard that it is always in my idle thoughts. I can't plan. I can't get excited about the holidays and birthdays that are right here upon us. Because I can't solve this one. It is entirely out of my hands. There is nothing I can do. But the problem is so big. And the consequences are unacceptable. And I can't fix it. And I can't stop working on it.
My sister-in-law has decided that I am trying to drive a wedge between my little family and my partner's family of origin. This couldn't be further from the truth. I love his family. I love to be with them. I love how much they love my kids. We don't go on family vacations by ourselves. We use our time off to visit family. Most of the time we spend visiting family is with his family. In fact, for the last two years we have happily invited his parents along on our vacation with my parents and all had a wonderful time. I can't figure out how my behavior has sent the message that I am trying to alienate my partner and kids from his family.
Still, this is how she feels and she has felt that way for years. So many years that I can't even count them. Fifteen to twenty years.
Every interaction she has with me, every thought she has about me, everything I do, everything I say, everything at all that has to do with me is viewed through this lens. Instead of looking at my life, my actions, my relationships and letting them tell my story everything is distorted to fit her view. No matter what I say or do, she is able to use that to reinforce her opinion of me. She will literally tell me how she wants me to behave with her and then when I do she will complain about that behavior.
Twenty years of evidence against me has convinced her that I do not deserve to be treated with respect or civility. She treats me with derision and contempt. And aggression. She will come unexpectedly right into my space, put her face in mine and speak to me with open hostility. In front of my kids. But never in front of adults. She says terrible things to and about me in public, but always in such a way that the people who hear it won't understand or will believe they must have misheard. This is constant. I never know when to expect it. When I share space with her I am constantly looking over my shoulder.
For years nobody knew this was happening. Years. And again, what could I do that wouldn't reinforce her view? If I told then I was turning people against her. My partner didn't believe me because she was so good at hiding her behavior.
Eventually, someone noticed and I had an ally. Or at least someone who helped me feel like I wasn't totally crazy. Because how could someone create this kind of idea with all of these huge feelings if I hadn't played a part? There had to be something I could do to fix it because there must have been something I had done to cause it.
But there isn't anything I can do. It gets better and it gets worse, but it never goes away and I never know when it is coming for me.
Eventually my partner understood. He had seen enough of the aftermath: crying, worrying, fight or flight shaking and mania. Or he finally saw some of the behavior. Or it helped that I had an ally.
And HE said we couldn't share space with her. HE said we couldn't stay in his parents' house with her. And I fought him. Because if he cuts her off, she wins. I become the person she believes I am. How fucked up is that?
So we kept going. And I kept exposing myself to her. And sometimes I engaged. And sometimes I ignored. And sometimes there were attempts at reconciliation. But nothing ever changed.
Except this last time we were together, something changed. This time she was physically aggressive with me. This was the time she put her body in my space, her face in my face. This was the time she shut the door and put her body in front of it when I tried to talk to her privately.
This time I tried to talk to her. This time I decided to tell her that her behavior was unacceptable. I tried to tell her that she wasn't allowed to treat me this way. I tried to do it privately and she put herself between me and the door, she clapped her hands at me, and waved her hands around her head like an exaggerated boogie man when I complained about the situation. And I had to leave because that wasn't safe.
And then she approached me in public. In front of her family. In front of my kids. And yelled at me and berated me and told me how awful I was and called it a conversation. And in the end I realized that I had to be done.
Because that can't happen again. I can't be a participant in that kind of incident in her parents' home. I love them. I respect them. They don't deserve to have to deal with this.
Because I can't expose my kids to that again. I handled myself as best I could and better than I expected, but they don't need to hear the things she said about me or the way she said them. They don't need to see that kind of behavior modeled by anyone.
Because there is nothing I can do. There is no place to meet her. I can't compromise. I can't apologize. I've done that. There isn't any more. And it never worked anyway. And even though all that is true I still racked my brain trying to come up with something I could claim fault for in order to even up the playing field.
And I can't argue and I can't defend myself. Because what can words show that hasn't already been shown through my behavior? I'm not unimpeachable, but her basic understanding of my motivation is absolutely backwards. It is the opposite of the way I actually operate.
And I can't ignore it. I've tried that too. We tell kids to ignore people who are deliberately trying to get a rise out of you. If they can't get one, they will stop. She doesn't stop. The more I ignore her behavior, the more it escalates.
So, I'm giving in. I can't be there with her. My kids can't be there with her. And it kills me. Because that is me doing exactly the thing she is accusing me of doing. But mostly because I love all of them and don't want to hurt anybody and they didn't do anything and it really isn't fair at all. Not to any of us.
Except I can't do that. So my brain doesn't stop. My feelings don't stop. I can't stop trying to figure out a way to fix this.
Shit is about to get Really Hard.
How the fuck do you find support for this?
I'm not mad at anybody.
I don't think that earlier intervention would necessarily have prevented this.
I think everybody is going to be okay.
But we still have to go through it.
We still have to make it right.
I have exactly the family I always wanted. A whole big bunch of kids who love each other and deserve each other and who wouldn't even know each other if we hadn't chosen to parent them all. It was such an improbable thing I wanted. I'm not used to getting what I want. These kids are together because they are mine.
Today I caught myself saying to my sweet little baby, "Don't blame me. I didn't bring you into this world."
I didn't. And I was reminded of all of the reasons I never thought I wanted to make a baby of my own, until I did and the world turned upside down. But that was only my world.
And now my world is right side up again, but the rest of the world is still upside down.
Today she is six months old.
Today her parental rights were terminated. She is officially adoptable.
Today, six years ago, was the first day I was ever a mom.
Please wake up so I can put you to bed.
1. Today I met a random oversharing mom who told me a Whole Lot of Things. One of them was that her kiddos (similar in age to my oldest two) were born when she was in her mid to very late forties. She's got schoolagers and she's in her fifties. Made me feel a little bit better about a billion teenagers in my fifties.
2. I just completed a word puzzle where the clue and answer were- "The youth of old age: fifties"
He thought we'd made a decision. I had NO IDEA he thought that. If it is settled for him it is settled for me.
This is totally fucking insane.
Those rumors were true.
Now what do we do? Spend our 50's raising ANOTHER teenager?
Now a baby isn't a big deal, but we will be old when the hard part comes. Can we do it? Do we want to?
It is only one more year. We are only one year older. Forty was our cut-off for babies and here we are: 40. But two? Two babies?
They are Fourteen months apart. My baby is still a baby. How can he be a big brother? I don't want to share my attention! I don't want to be unable to carry him around because I have another baby that needs to be held. I want him to Be The Baby. HE is MY baby.
But she is theirs and they are hers.
How are we even allowed to make this decision?!?! Can someone else make it for us? Please?
There is a baby. She belongs to our kids. The court wants her to be a part of our family. She IS part of our family.
We don't want a baby. We like our family exactly how it is.
But I know we could do it.
Can we say no? How can we say no? How can we say no when she is theirs and they are hers? How can we say no when she NEEDS a family and WE are her family? Can we say no?
We ARE her family.
I don't think we can say no.
Yes doesn't feel right. No doesn't feel right. I can talk myself in or out of yes or no.
I think I can.
I think I probably can't say no.
She is theirs and they are hers. We are her family.
These things are True.
Can we say no?
How do you make a decision like this? How do you KNOW? Shouldn't we KNOW???
I love my kids so much. I want them to have everything. But not all the things. The kind of Everything that means a full heart and an exploring mind and a compassionate soul and I want them to be WHOLE.
This is hard.