31 01 2014

It is 6.15 in the morning and GM finds herself sitting on a child’s chair in the kitchen. She feels a slight breathlessness, resulting in regular sighs and explores that feeling of teetering on the edge. She checks out the physical signs of stress and takes some deep breaths, trying to calm her heart and relax the tense shoulders, to still the slight trembling in her guts.

She doesn’t know if she has dropped any balls .. Suspects that she has. It’s been a busy week at work, and she knows that although she has achieved much, she is not as organised as she needs to be, is likely to have missed something that will rear its head at a later date.

GM’s gut drops as she remembers … being late to pick Lolly up from after school club was definitely a dropped ball. She has been tearful and clingy ever since, GM having to provide lots of cuddles and support. GM doesn’t know how long it will take to repair, with the busy weekend ahead.

It’s the weekend of ‘the wide a wake party’, a celebration of GM’s father’s life, where her nearly 90 year old dad can bask in the warm glow of his loving family and friends. It is a happy event, which her children are not invited to. LML they would be too disruptive at the day time meal, taking attention away from the star of the show, so CD will be home with the girls whilst GM attends the meal.  She will then dash home for a short while and return to the evening ceilidh with CD, leaving the LML and Lolly with a good friend. The whole day fills GM with a confused mix of feelings, including the anticipation of the fallout they will be dealing with for who knows how long. Sunday will have to be a calm walking day with nobs on.

GM starts the washing up, thinking about the long conversation she had with the head teacher the day before. LML is not coping at school at the moment. Not at all. Her behaviour is increasingly challenging and difficult for Lovely TA to manage. She is being more oppositional than ever before, push push pushing Lovely TA away, before she disappears again.

Later, sitting on the bus going to work GM tears up, swallows past the sudden lump in her throat, as she thinks about her mum. So so poorly. Back at home from the hospital, but still experiencing hallucinations; a frightened, confused old lady, in the final stages of COPD, becoming rapidly more frail and dependent over the past few weeks. Her heart aches with the recognition that her mother may be approaching the end of her life, in a difficult and traumatic way. She feels guilt and regret that she can’t ‘be there’ more, for her mum or her amazing sisters who are providing so much of the support and daily care. GM takes another deep, calming breath, as she gets off the bus, forgiving and blaming herself simultaneously.

At lunch time GM calls Big Sis to see how she and her 3 day old, tiny 4lb 10oz baby son is doing. GM and CD are excited to be grand parents for the second time, but also desperately worried. Although Big Sis’s partner does not appear to be physically abusive he is certainly controlling, and comes from a tough background, having an extended family with a history of involvement with the police and social services. GM thinks about how hard it is to judge what is happening from 200 miles away. She wants to be reassured by what she is being told by Big Sis, but she and CD worry about what might have happened to baby Jim in utero. The call that GM makes goes straight to voicemail, so she leaves a loving message and hopes to hear from her step daughter later in the day.

GM leaves work early, relieved that the working week is over, and makes her way home. Lolly greets GM with enthusiasm and spends the rest of her day following GM from room to room, rarely letting her out of her sight. LML is feeling tired and is close to taking herself off to bed at 5.30, so GM gets the paints out, which entertains the girls for the next half hour. The family have a lovely evening, playing, laughing and loving. Throughout it GM is aware of how deliberate their parenting is, how little true spontaneity there is. The mostly functional parents cuddle and comfort, are playful and directive, and so so mindful of what is happening with their daughters. The girls go to bed, CD cooks whilst GM prints something off for the party the following day. By the time they have eaten they are too tired to do much more than watch the TV.


Role on the weekend

24 01 2014

Message to GM from CD – “So, LML escaped from school twice, once out of the grounds at the front. Exposed herself, shouting look at my Tilly. Did very little work and did lots of shouting.”

GM sighs. It has been a very tough week for LML and lovely TA. She isn’t sure what else they can do to help get things back on a more even keel … She believes that LML is feeling confused and terribly insecure following her TA’s absence last week and has no other way of expressing how unsafe she feels the world is, than by her behaviour. She tries to explain this over and over again at school,  but can see that it isn’t really understood or even accepted.

GM and CD suggest strategies and ideas to help, but it all feels insignificant in the wake of the chaos that LML is currently inhabiting at school.


22 01 2014

The mostly functional parents took the girls to big city park on Sunday. They met with Aunty P, who was visiting GM’s elderly mum for the weekend.


LML and Lolly always enjoy the freedom of a wide open space, and with head to toe water proofs were able to indulge in plenty of hill rolling and free roaming.

The highlight was bumping into big and little cousins (with their dogs, much to LML’s delight!) and finishing the walk with 3 generations of the GM clan …


The week that was

19 01 2014

GM sits on the sofa. Its ten past six on a Sunday morning. LML has her first breakfast and juice, GM her cup of tea. Cbeebies is on, LML mesmerised by the Teletubbies. GM thinks about the day ahead, about what she needs to do to have a better day, for them all to have a better day. Stay calm, remember PLACE, be playful and spend a chunk of the day outdoors .. Its a plan of sorts.

GM sighs. It’s been a tough week. Lovely TA has been off sick all week. GM purses her lips as she thinks about LML’s teacher waxing lyrical about how well LML has dealt with the changing TA’s, how much more compliant (GM’s word!), focused .. It feels like the list goes on. The teacher doesn’t see the anxiety, stress, anger, confusion that comes out at home. LML misses Lovely TA desperately, but doesn’t speak of it. She talks a lot about missing her lost Cheeky Monkey (that is a whole other sad tale), hits out at Lolly and generally finds self regulation impossible without significant support from the mostly functional parents.

All week LML has been enjoying the challenge of getting into the mostly functional parents bedroom early in the morning, the focus to ensure that both parents are awake and available. This means that whichever parent has got up first has to be hyper vigilant to stop her going upstairs. Any lapse has resulted in a bolt for the stairs and a early awakening for the parent who is supposed to be getting a lie in. They are tired, feeling stretched thin. Everything seems a little more brittle, a bit more precarious. Really it’s the same as always .. Just more so, thinks GM, as she sits LML on her knee for the fifth time that morning. “Feel your heart racing sweetheart, drop your shoulders. Take a deep breath and blow out slow slow slow ..” She instructs and explains and hopes that one day LML will understand what it is to be calm.

Measures of success

12 01 2014

OK, so the first “can I get off mum?” came at 2.42 .. but that is 12 minutes into the half hour lesson, nearly half way! GM did have to put LML on to the wide, stubby legged Bumble, struggling and grasping at her mum, shouting “No, no, NO!”.

This weeks trainer has some interesting games for LML to play, which hold her attention intermittently, and LML is asking her the odd question by the 20 minute mark. They do the occasional trot, some figures of eight. LML finally gives Bumble a surreptitious pat, unprompted and spontaneous.

The session ends and LML runs towards GM. When asks if she has enjoyed ridding bumble she says yes. GM is still uncertain.


The need to know ..

11 01 2014

LML seems to have arrived at the asking stage of development. The Ed psych would probably say it is emerging. The mostly functional parents gladly answer the questions that keep on coming. They do wonder though, how ‘normal’ her questions are .. are her questions the same sort of questions that any child at her developmental stage would ask?

As LML and GM walk down the stairs, early in the morning, GM responds to the questions that are being asked. She explains who bought LML her quilt, her PJs, various teddies, her coat, her remote control racing car. The list goes on.  “Who bought Kitty Cat mummy?” She asks. GM smiles, always welcoming the opportunity to talk about how a member of the family ‘arrived’. “We didn’t buy Kitty Cat, he didn’t have a home or a family and needed somewhere safe, so we let him move into our house” she explains. “Who bought my slippers mummy?” The conversation moves on!

Drip. Drip. Drip.

7 01 2014

It’s a conversation that GM has become familiar with over the past couple of months.  LML goes through her teddies “Monkey? Who gave me that?”, “Betty bear?”, “Stripy Cat”. She lists her soft toys as GM confirms the gifter .. “Mummy & daddy”, “Aunty J”, “we did”.

Today is slightly different .. “Who gave me this” she asks, holding up a white teddy that usually lives in a  box under the bed.  “That was a gift to Lolly from your birth parents LML.”

“Do I have one?” she asks.

“Of course you do, look the gifts from your BP’s are here, safe in this box”, GM pulls the box from under the bed. The girls have been playing with the clothes and toys inside it for weeks. “We keep them in here to keep them safe”.

Lolly goes to bed half an hour later snuggling up with the teddy her birth mum gave to her.

Music to his ears …

4 01 2014

CD is sitting in the passenger seat, a look of disappointment on his face. “It’s empty” he says of the CD case he is holding “I was really looking forward to that!”

GM glances to her side to see what he is holding and snorts with laughter .. He is holding Lolly’s Christmas CD … Disney Princesses Sing!

Update #2 – Little Miss Loud (LML)

2 01 2014

GM thinks about how she thinks about LML, what she tells people. It’s very easy to tell the funny stories about the eggs in the garden centre, the streaking incident, Marmite hand prints … It’s not so easy for the mostly functional parents to talk about LML’s continuing daily assaults on her sister, and Lolly’s unsurprisingly aggressive response. There is no humour in LML’s reasonable resistance to her ADHD meds on school days. Friends don’t really want to hear about LML’s emerging understanding of her adopted status, and her sadness and longing for ‘the other mummy’.

GM realises that when she thinks about her daughter, she is often thinking about LML’s brain. About the missing and damaged neural pathways. She thinks about her tiny 2lb daughter laying alone in an incubator, having lost her twin, her mum and dad, her older brother who was already adopted. GM wept in a conference as Dr Rennes Marks described her daughters start in life and the impact that has had on her brain development.

All the excitement, all the bizarre or difficult or challenging behaviours, all the anxiety and meltdowns, all the sticky sloppy smearing, the hitting out and self harm … It is all made easier to cope with and manage due to the beautiful happy unselfconscious intrinsically joyful little girl that is LML. This child wakes up every day filled with joy and wonder. When CD or GM get home from work she shouts with love and excitement. She is excited by rainbows. She sings songs about how she is feeling when she is happy. GM has always felt that it is a great honour to have this amazing child in her life.

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