First things first... I know that so many people are wondering how our daughter is doing in residential treatment. That's a really hard question to answer. The process is painstakingly slow and progress is not linear. It comes in small crawls forward and is usually followed by giant leaps backwards. Before she went to treatment, based on our phone calls and records reviews with the facility, we thought she'd be in treatment for about a year. After a few months there, it was starting to look more like it would take 18 months for her to work her way through the program. She's now been there for 6 months and her team is now saying they think it could take her two MORE years to learn all the skills she needs to be able to come home and function successfully in a family, and (hopefully) be safe toward herself and others.
That is such hard information to swallow. On one hand my heart grieves at how a child could be hurting so badly that it takes years and years to undo the damage. At the same time it is so validating to what we've been through as a family. We kept most of what was happening in our home to ourselves (except to our closest people) because we never wanted people to think badly of our child. In fact, she swung so far the opposite in public that I frequently heard from people "Your daughter is the sweetest, most kind child I've ever met. We love having her in class/ Sunday School/ spend the night/ come over to play." The difference in her "at home persona" and her "public persona" was so stark I began to wonder if I had lost my mind. Or that maybe I really was just an awful mother. For professionals to wonder how we hung on so long without residential treatment and for her issues to be so extensive that it will take years of intense residential treatment for her to function in a family makes me know that I wasn't crazy.
At the same time, we don't live in a perfect world. While we know that she needs two more years of help, we also know that at any moment insurance could suddenly stop paying. With most all residential treatment facilities costing more than $10,000 a month, we may soon find ourselves between a rock and a hard place. This is the reality of mental illness in America.
The pictures from our most recent visit look happy though, no? Bless.
We are flying across the country almost monthly to spend time with her and participate in family therapy. Visits are hard and necessary and heart breaking and PTSD inducing (for me) and exhilarating and cathartic all at the same time. There are many, many Skypes and phone calls and lots and lots of letters. She is doing amazing in her school there which is such a source of pride for all of us. And she's trying her best at therapy. She especially loves equine therapy and helping care for the animals on the campus.
We lived so many years being hypervigilant... monitoring video cameras, keeping everyone in our line of vision at all times, trying to anticipate rages or shutting down triggers. It took a toll on all of us. It took us months to figure out how to relax and be "normal" again, but we are finding our groove. There is a peace permeating my house now. The kids have let down their guards again and it's incredible to watch them be carefree and thriving. At the same time I am struggling with a lot of guilt. It feels a bit like how you feel when you go to a funeral and you talk to someone you haven't seen for a while and have a laugh together. Funerals and laughter don't go together. I almost feel bad for enjoying the peace and calm and happiness. It doesn't feel quite right. While my brain knows that I could not fix this on my own, my heart still feels guilt that I couldn't. It's not logical at all but when your kid is hurting and you can't be the one to put them back together, logic goes out the window. But we are all healing more and more each day.
The other kids are just doing phenomenal right now. We spent so much time and energy on her big emotional needs all the time when she was at home, that many of the other kids' needs went by the wayside. It wasn't intentional- it was survival. It feels so good to be able to be present in what they are doing and give them the attention that they deserve. They have so many cool things going on!
Sadie has been playing fastpitch softball for a couple of years. She is now full on obsessed. She took pitching lessons all winter and has even gotten to pitch a game or two. It has done so much for her confidence. She suddenly looks all grown up (hold me!) and does things like write teenage romance short stories and texts friends. She's still the same sweet Sadie and I love spending time with her. She loves working with me in the garden and watching TV shows together. We currently never miss an episode of This Is US or Designated Survivor. Some things I never want to forget about this stage with Sadie: How she still walks on her tippy toes sometimes just like she did when she was a toddler. How even though she's old enough to put herself to bed now, she still comes and gives me a hug before she goes upstairs for the night. How awkward and hilarious sex ed homework is: "Mom, the other kids just fill this out and don't ask their parents. We are supposed to ask our parents and I know you'll just know if I don't ask you... how old should you be to have sex..." FIX IT JESUS. How there are days when she seems like such a grown lady putting on mascara and then the next day she is out wrestling with her brothers with her messy bun flying everywhere. I love this phase.
Little lady got braces
Noah is all about baseball again this year. He suddenly has this urge to be stronger than his brother and they wrestle on the floor day in and day out. He's madly in love with his 4th grade teacher. She is so on Noah's wavelength and he can't wait to get to school each day. He is 5000% a mama's boy. He's always asking me to cuddle and sometimes asks if I'll carry him "baby style" which he knows makes me laugh hysterically. Some things I never want to forget about this moment in time with Noah: waiting with him at the end of the driveway for the bus in the mornings having conversations like " what would be in the egg if a dog could lay an egg?" Then, as the bus pulls away he stands up and waves and blows me a kiss from his seat. How he flings the door open every afternoon when he gets home and says, "Maloha (like Aloha!) Mommy! I'm home! Give me love!"
Miles is just Mr. Happy 24-7. Child just gets faster and faster. He's on the running club at school and they tease him all the time that he'll be the next Olympic gold medalist. He's also playing soccer. He's not super aggressive at getting the ball, but he could run circles around every other kid there. He has become so creative and imaginative over the last year. He will spend hours and hours making up stories with his toys and getting lost in his own fun little world. Some things I never want to forget about this stage with Miles: How he started sleeping underneath his bed. He cleaned his room up one day and put a car race track on his bed and then when night came, he didn't feel like moving the track, so he put a pillow and blanket under the bed and made a cave for himself and he slept like a rock. He has always been afraid of the dark and has slept with the light so I think for the first time in his life, having some darkness has helped him sleep. He puts on his school uniform (shoes and everything) after he gets tucked in and so when I go wake him up in the mornings, I have to crawl under the bed to get him. He wakes up so happy to see the world in his little Catholic school boy vest. He also sets up all of his Transformers like a fortress around the bed each night to protect
Miles had his 4th set of ear tubes put in. His poor ears have always been in terrible shape and his eardrum is severely scarred from multiple surgeries as well as untreated infections when he was a baby in the Congo. We think hearing aids will be in his near future because he loses a bit more hearing each year. We follow up again with the audiologist in a few months. Doesn't phase him a bit. He's just too cool for the rest of the world!
I am having so much fun doing a weekly podcast, with my friend, Rachel, and we've actually had a bit of success with it! More than anything it's been good for me to have something positive to focus on during these months of adjustment. The show is lighthearted and hilarious and we just have a blast together. If you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it on iTunes! I also had a birthday and turned the big 3-6. We celebrated with Cuban food, a baseball game and fireworks at Thunder over Louisville.
This is 36...
This is also 36. So there's that...
My dad got married last weekend! It was a lovely wedding. He is so incredibly happy with his new wife, Tammy. She is such a positive force in his life. It's just amazing so see him be so happy. Sadie and I were bridesmaids. Kamron was a groomsman. Miles pulled the baby cousins down the the aisle in a wagon and Noah was the ring bearer. It was entirely too much precious for one day. My brother and his family came to town for the wedding. We hadn't seen them in over a year. Spending time with them and watching the cousins all get to be together and play and have fun is one of the highlights of the year for me.
My brother, dad and I about to walk down the aisle!
A hodgepodge of other randomness:
We are all about nighttime snack nutrition... ice cream and tortilla chips. Yikes.
While my brother and his family were in, we got all of my bonus brothers and sisters-in-law together at my mom and David's house for a backyard baseball game. This may be my favorite family picture ever.
We struggle to be serious.
Easter. This may be the only time in years we haven't worn jeans to church.
Making cream candy with Granny Sadie over spring break.
They started out hugging. It turns to full on WWE style stuff very quickly.
Kamron took a quick weekend trip with his dad, stepmom and sister to Florida!
The boys have decided that one of their favorite things to do on the weekends is pull out the sofa bed and fall asleep at night watching movies.
My mom. I'm her clone. Except somehow she legit has fewer crows feet than me. I can not figure out how that happened.
Noah's academic team won their regional competition!
I took a trip to Austin and Waco, Texas with Rachel to have some business meetings for our podcast and to attend a conference. We, of course, had to spend some time at Magnolia Market and Silos (of Fixer Upper Fame!)
We've been doing a fun little triple date night with some of our besties. We try really hard to make this happen monthly because it's so good for us and we love these peeps with all of our hearts. When you live in Kentucky date night frequently is code for "bourbon tasting". Also, the men in our life have a thing for plaid.
Curling up with Maggie in the dog bed is one of Noah's favorite activities. Sometimes he falls asleep in there.
Middle school dance. Where did my baby go?!?!?!
Oh snapchat. Thy cuteness overloads me.
Kamron's job has been crazy stressful this year. On one of our trips across the country to see Scarlett he decided to drive across 3 billion states because time in the car on the open road is a good way to destress. (I flew because I don't hate myself) He made a pit stop to the Cadillac graveyard.
We had one night where we played pictionary and I swear to all that is holy, everything my kids drew looked like a hot dog. I must have screamed "IT'S A HOT DOG!" at least 45 times.
The kids asked if we could make a "romantic Valentine's Day" for Daddy. So we set up candles all over the house and ate carryout on a table cloth with fancy glasses. Mission accomplished. Romance all over the place.
I think this different season of life we are finding ourselves in makes me ever more grateful for the people surrounding me.