What Makes Up a Family?

Please accept my apologies for writing my Family Friday post on Sunday! I have been battling a two-day migraine. And I’ve spent big chunks of the last couple weeks teaching middle school (maybe a connection?) But interestingly, my time teaching gave me much of insight for this post and got me thinking. What makes up a family?

This is not intended to digress into a political statement about rights of minority populations or anything like that. But since you asked, I do believe that any couple who has the capacity to love a child should be allowed to parent. However, we all know that families are made of many more combinations than mothers and fathers. And this is where my time in middle school came into play. There was a student who had to stay home one day and watch her nephew. And a teacher who is co-parenting her grandchildren with her daughter. There were many students who referred to step-parents.

And it got me to thinking about how the make-up of a family affects children both positively and negatively. August spent his first year with his birth mom and grandmother. After that the grandmother moved away. The birth mom didn’t have reliable child care and routinely left him with friends or neighbors, sometimes for days at a time. At the end of the second year was when his situation caught the attention of the Russian social services and they removed him. But what if his grandmother had stayed? What if they had made that unconventional family? Would he have had a stable enough life? Hard to know.

There’s no doubt that there’s never enough people in a child’s life to love them. So making up a “family” that includes more than the nuclear family can be a wonderful thing. Particularly for a child who suffers from early trauma. But that only is the case if everyone is on the same page regarding how the treatment of that child is handled. Aunts and Uncles and grandparents have to know that consistency is key when working with a child with reactive attachment disorder. And that child will exploit any holes in the grown up “armor” no matter how small. So it requires a lot of communication and patience to be an extended family under one roof with a RAD kiddo!

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Like I said, it makes total sense to give a RAD kiddo as much love as your family has to give. And caring for your RAD kiddo can be exhausting. Having some more relief hitters would be excellent! And whether your kiddo is adopted or a birth child, family is whoever is in that child’s life who loves them.

Here is a wonderful article that really drives home the point about what makes up a family. Because while we talk about our families in the context of our RAD kiddos, families really take on so many different forms. And we need to celebrate all of them!

Hopefully there are always “family” of many types in your and your child’s lives.

Until next time,

Shannon

What’s in the News?

As I started searching for this month’s appearances of reactive attachment disorder in the news, two items jumped out at me. One a column from a man named John Rosemond. In it a couple who was turned down for approval to adopt asks him for his opinion on the agency’s decision.

See Mr. Rosemond has some particularly pointed theories on child rearing which go against the adoption agency’s and the couple agreed with his ideas. You can read the story here. He mentions in his answer that he is somewhat suspicious of reactive attachment disorder and that his experience has shown that children who are parented with firm boundaries never exhibit any of those behaviors. A “Nancy Thomas” type camp but even a little more extreme in that it can include spanking and other fairly harsh punishments.

I remember when we were preparing to adopt August we had to sign a piece of paper promising we would never spank him. As any parent of a RAD kiddo can attest, that can be a hard promise to keep. They can push all the buttons, be the last straw, whatever cliche you need to use to mean getting you to your breaking point and keeping you there. Mr. Rosemond disagreed that RAD kiddos or adopted children in general should be treated differently because of any past abuse and that his parenting styles would work just fine. Not sure I’m buying that.

The second article was shocking because it happened right here in Terre Haute where I live! And I’d heard nothing about it! I applaud the family for being able to keep it quiet in my sleepy little town where everything seems to make the news…this morning National Potato Day was part of the morning drive bulletin.

But the summary is a couple’s biological children were grown so they decided to adopt. One boy through an agency then two more over time through a different agency. When the first and third boys started having behavioral and physical problems they started to investigate and came to find that the middle boy had been molesting them. You can get the full story here. The couple had been misled by the adoption agency regarding the boy’s sexual history and even his age (he was several years older).

So now they have two boys with PTSD, have had to leave Terre Haute to try and help them heal and the other boy is a ward of the state. All because the adoption agency lied. Haven’t these boys been through enough?

I’m sorry that the first couple wasn’t approved to adopt, I’m sure they’re lovely people. But there’s a reason corporal punishment isn’t recommended with adopted children. August wouldn’t have been able to tell me if spanking him triggered some horrible memory of something he’d endured with his birth family. He didn’t speak English for the first few months.

And as for the second family, those boys who were hurt had finally gotten the chance at a happy, normal life only to have it stolen by a greedy adoption agency only focused on numbers and profits. They should be ashamed. These children have enough hurdles to overcome without adding unnecessary ones on top.

Until Next Time,

Shannon

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh…

 

“Humor is to get us over terrible things.” —Ricky Gervais

I wrote about this a few months ago, but I find myself wanting to revisit it. Because it’s true. Laughter really can be the best medicine. And sometimes you just have to laugh. To keep from crying or screaming. Maybe to keep from giving up or giving in when you know you need to stand firm. Sometimes what your RAD kiddo thinks is the most horrible, awful thing they can say or do is really just hilarious in the big picture of everything that’s been done. As time goes on in parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder your perspective changes a lot.

When August was little we tried to find humor in his actions as much as possible. It got harder as he got older and more aggressive but some of the earlier behaviors were just hysterical. Before we recognized it as hoarding, watching him walk around the house with an old cell phone charger attached to a hair brush, a hanger, a small plastic truck, another old cell phone charger and a toy phone all dragging behind him was delightful. He’d have intense conversations on the phone in a language known only to him (not even Russian) then bring the whole mess to a chair in the family room and pile it on. That was his stuff and his chair and you touched it at your own peril. 

A couple years later for some reason he got scared about someone breaking into his room. Again, not funny but the way he handled it made it hard not to giggle a little. He set up booby-traps on the window ledges of his room which were a variety of miscellaneous things that any intruder would knock over on entry. He also had a bag of Doritos and a spork (yes, a spork) on which he had drawn faces. These were protectors. They had names and they stayed by the bed always to guard against anyone coming in to snatch him. And then there was a prolonged period of sleeping in his closet. We never figured out what triggered this period but eventually it subsided and he went back to sleeping in bed and I believe the Doritos got eaten.

The point of these couple of stories is that our RAD kiddos are always throwing us curve balls. Each child is different due to what they have been through and how they react in different situations. Their triggers are different and we spend a lot of time in “trial and error” parenting, not always knowing what the outcome of our decisions will be. A sense of humor can be one of the best coping mechanisms we can use to get us through when one of those curve balls hits us right between the eyes. It can diffuse a tense situation; it can also help us remember that maybe that situation isn’t as bad as we may think.

So, I jumped on the Internet and searched for “Funny RAD stories” to find other examples from other blogs or sites of when RAD kiddos had done things that made their parents or grandparents giggle. Not surprisingly, that’s not what people who write about Reactive Attachment Disorder devote any time to. Which is unfortunate. So instead, you get a site of funny parenting moments which shows that all parents have times when their kiddos do things that make you tear your hair out. But you just have to laugh. For a little laugh break, click here.

So bad…

My recommendation is find the funny. August is hilarious. And frustrating, aggressive, explosive, impulsive and exhausting. But as all parents do, we try to find the best in our children; make the best of the bad situations. And laugh!

Until next time,

Shannon

Vacations with RAD Kiddos

So you have a sweet, adorable boy of let’s say, six. And while he’s charming and fun and hilarious and lovable in so many ways, he’s also prone to impulsive actions. Like he’ll push any button that he sees. And he grabs at things. And he can’t figure out “inside voice”. He doesn’t like transitions, so making him pack up or stop a movie or move is an ordeal. In addition, he’s got a quick temper which doesn’t mean he just gets angry. He rages. Red-faced, screaming, hitting, cursing, throwing things fits if things don’t happen like he wants. And you can’t calm him down because he won’t let you. He blames you for not giving him what he wants and doesn’t trust you. Let’s get in an economy middle seat with 200 other passengers for a four-hour plane ride.

Maybe you decide to drive instead.

Now this same child is also fearless. Since he doesn’t trust you, he also doesn’t feel like he needs you. Except for money which he wants all the time for everything because he does feel that his love can be bought. Which is the source of constant conflict even with an 8-year-old. Because he’s super smart and manipulative and sometimes if his love is for sale, you’re buying if it’s the only way it can happen because you’re so desperate for it. Then you try and be the good parent and instill some values and say “no” so the conflicting signals aren’t helpful and you’re back at square one. But the fearless, control-freak child isn’t phased and he’s just as strong-willed as ever and could carry on whether you’re there or not. Except for the money. Let’s take this child to Disney World.

Maybe we’ll just go to the pool.

Yes, of course what I have just described was my own story. And the trips didn’t go quite as horribly as I described but they had their moments. The plane trip was heading home from visiting back East when we lived in Oregon. We flew out of Indianapolis and it involved a short hop to Chicago then a long flight to Portland. We got stuck on the tarmac in Indy for over an hour on a small-ish commuter plane. My younger son was not quite two so we were waiting as long as possible to pay for a seat for him but he was a big boy and a walker. We weren’t all seated together so he wanted to walk back to his Dad and August and while doing so fell and busted open his lip. Blood dripping down his sweatshirt. When we finally got to Chicago, we’d missed our connection and had to wait for the next flight which we weren’t sure we could get on. We were wait-listed. So we had two small children, one with blood on his shirt. August, because he didn’t like transitions, peed in his pants twice. And because I’m the ever-hopeful mother, all his meds were carefully stored in our checked luggage. We even tried to go get them from the baggage guys. He was the one guy who assured us we’d get home that night.

Disney was after we’d moved back East. We were smart enough to drive! We went to the park every day plus the other parks. We blew it out! And everyone got tired, and cranky. And then it started. The boys fought. Their dad got mad at the fighting. I got mad at that. August has an endless amount of energy and when we all ran out of steam he was so mad that we couldn’t keep up. His brother didn’t like the big rides and August got mad that those weren’t the only ones we rode. It was all about him. And then trying to keep up with him. He didn’t understand how scary it was there. His fearlessness was terrifying because he didn’t need us around (except for the aforementioned money). He did want company on the big rides which was nice but honestly he would have be OK either way.

The points of these stories is that vacations with RAD kiddos can be rough. So you need to consider what they are capable of and more importantly what you are capable of. Here are the best tips I can share:

  • Be Realistic: You know what you can manage. And you know what they can manage. And they may be seeing all their friends going off to Disney but if that’s not going to create a good memory for your family, don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Keep It Simple: Even if you do go to Disney, you can do it in a way that minimizes the stimulus and chaos. You don’t have to do all the parks. You don’t have to go every day. You don’t have to go all day every day. Make sure you are taking your child’s issues into account when you are planning your vacations so that things like transitions, medication times, schedules stay as close to normal as possible. This makes for the best possible outcome.
  • Invite Extended Family: Ok, for some of you I might have said the thing that would make your vacation horrific! But, there is also the “many hands make light work” philosophy. Especially if you have other children. Asking grandma to come along so that she can take the other children to the zoo one day while you take the RAD kiddo to the pool can help everyone have a good time.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy. Mentally, physically, spiritually. Remember you are taking yourself out of your comfortable space as well when you go on vacation. Take some quiet time to read or meditate, bring essential oils or candles, whatever will keep you calm and centered during this hectic time.

I’d love to hear your ideas for how to handle successful vacations with your RAD kiddos or your funny travel tales!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer Reading List

So yesterday we talked about how to get your children to keep the learning going all summer long. You know what is one of the best ways to keep them interested in learning? Modeling the behavior you want to see. And that’s never more true than with reading. There are so many ways to encourage your children to be better, more informed readers by reading yourself. So to help with that, I’ve put together a list of some of my and my friends-courtesy of Goodreads favorite books of the moment to get your summer reading habit started off right!

  • Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
    This book won’t be for everyone. Amazon describes it as “A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.” And the New York Times compares Jacob with the likes of David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling. It’s profane and blunt so if you have weak sensibilities it might not be for you. I put this one first because I’ve known Jacob for years and they are one of the most amazing people I know. You want to get to know them too.
  • Do It Scared: Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love by Ruth Soukup
    I’m not suggesting that you do work over the summer. This book isn’t work. Though it does rPerfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.equire some thinking and maybe getting out of your comfort zone more than a little bit. But the summer is always a good time for reflection and that is a lot of what this book is about. If you have always wanted to start something new or are stuck in something old that just isn’t fulfilling anymore, this book is for you. If you need to understand why you have taken that step to make your big dream a reality, this book is for you. This blog is my big dream and reality is scary, let me tell you! But it’s better than not pursing that dream at all.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
    “Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.” – Goodreads
    I like this book because it is set in North Carolina and because it deals with childhood trauma. Two things I know a lot about!
  • Bless Your Heart Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark
    I have read absolutely everything Celia Rivenbark has written. She is hands down hilarious. And this one is the best. If you want an inside trace on the perfect eccentricities of being perfectly Southern, this is give you all you need to know. From why the word snow make a family of four buy eight gallons of milk and 12 loaves of bread to many more secrets revealed. It will have you laughing out loud at the beach!

So this will give you a good start on your lazy summer days while maybe actually getting some motivation to make some change for good! Have an enjoyable cozy reading time!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer “School”?

Ahh summer break. Brings joy to the hearts of school children everywhere and terror to the already weary parents who’ve endured a school year of homework supervision, lunch packing, carpooling, classroom parenting, reading prompting, field trip volunteering, awards ceremony attendance and now have their precious littles all day every day for 10 weeks and counting…

But the reality is that students lose 20-50% of what they learn in the previous school year over the summer. Isn’t that incredible? And when you add on that in this day and age that the last 3-4 months of most school year’s anymore are teaching to standardized tests I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t more than that. So maybe we want the summer to be more productive? Maybe we want to keep some momentum through to the next school year? But maybe we don’t want to go crazy in the process?

The idea of “teaching” your own children is probably daunting for most parents. The idea of “teaching” your own children over the summer probably doesn’t sound like much fun. If you’re a parent of a RAD child, the idea of combining those two probably sounds like the worst idea imaginable! I don’t blame you. When my boys were little, and before some of the ideas I will share in this post, I got workbooks and all sorts of tools to keep them learning through the summer. And getting August to do a few workbook pages and spend half an hour reading every day was like asking him to pull out his own fingernails. He would do almost anything rather than schoolwork. He would do chores, that’s how much he hated it!

So the key is to find ways to make learning happen while “hiding” it in plain sight. Luckily, the technology world is here to the rescue! The following is a list of some of the best ways to get your kids, RAD or not, to do some learning over the summer and head back to school without missing a beat!

  • Freerice.com
    If you only find one place to go this summer, this is it. This site has question to answer on language, geography, humanities, science and math. You can select the difficulty. But here’s the best part: for every correct question, the sponsors donate 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme. You can watch the bowl fill up and see your progress. You can work as a team! My boys loved this one!
  • playkidsgames.com
    This site was developed by parents for children in grades 1-8 to enhance learning in math and reading. The games are fun and interactive. You can set up an account and your children can pick the games they want to play.

While websites are certainly easy and most children would love to spend the day on a computer or a phone, that’s of course not the best way to spend the summer! Here are some other creative ways to get your children to learn without them even knowing!

  • Let your children pay for groceries or other items during shopping trips. Give them a few dollars and a small list and let them figure out if they have enough money.
  • When driving, let your children practice reading by asking them to look for street signs to help navigate.
  • Do multiplication with spaghetti or sticks in the yard. Go pick 3×5 sticks; show me 3×2 pieces of macaroni.
  • Have your child write a dinner menu
  • Open ended questions are great for building vocabulary.
    I am happiest when…
    My favorite TV show is…because…
    When I feel angry I…
    A trip I’d like to take is…
    This is especially helpful with RAD children to get them talking!
  • Have your child retell a movie you go to see from beginning to end over dinner

There are lots of ways to incorporate learning into the summer that won’t drive you OR your child crazy! I will share more tips and tricks over the next few weeks every Tuesday so stay tuned for more fun ideas!

Until next time,

Shannon

Re-re-tooling

So it’s a new month and that means a new blog design, right? Yep. I did it. If you haven’t heard from me in a while that must be why. Well, of course it is! Much more of course than that has happened over the last few weeks so sit back and as Ricky Ricardo would say, “I’ve got some ‘splaining to do!”

I started this blog as mostly a labor of love. A catharsis for my own heart and mind. It then evolved as I wanted it to become a place where parents and extended families of children with Reactive Attachment disorder could come for comfort and resources and connection. Most of the RAD sites I found had been live for a few years and then fizzled out. I imagined the parents stopped either because the children healed (hopefully!) or it got overwhelming or they just got older and the topic got harder to write about. But I couldn’t find anything newer than a couple years ago. But I am interacting with families going through this daily right now and children in the foster care system (one of the primary producers of children with RAD) aren’t going anywhere.

So I doubled down on my efforts to create this site, this space for those families. I started a course to learn how to blog successfully. I am creeping through it but I am learning how to write more effectively to my target audience, how to get found through the chaos of the great world wide blogosphere and much more. Not to say that I do not love the continued support of you all who have been with me since the early early days as I have built this chrysalis. But I am now ready to become a butterfly!

A couple of changes I am planning to make. First of these Monday posts will be changing from “All About Me” to “Mindfulness Monday”. This is for a few reasons. First, self-care doesn’t have to be just about yourself. It can be about helping others. It can be about learning how to communicate with your partner. It can be about finding ways to get motivated to get things done. It can be about caring for something you care about. Anything that brings you peace and calm is self-care. Also, I hope to invite some friends in to write more posts. Not because I don’t like to write or don’t have a lot to say. Anyone who’s met me knows that! But through my blogging course and other networking I have met some amazing folks with some amazing talents that you all just have to get to know!

So where has all this great new boldness come from? Well, the same person who wrote the blogging course, Ruth Soukup, just came out with a book called “Do It Scared”. And the message of the book is…well, the title. But the beginning of the book starts with an online analysis of what kind of fear predominantly drives you to avoid doing the big things in your life. Mine was procrastinator. Not the kind of procrastinator that puts off things till the last minute (though I certainly can fit that description too). But the everything has to be just right, research over output, needs to be perfect before it starts type of procrastination. Which explains why I’ve redone this blog so much. I just can’t get to where I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I’m jumping in anyway and I’m going to keep going regardless. I highly recommend the book. You can find it at bookstores, with your prime subscription or your Target addiction.

Keeping this in line with the theme of this blog, last Monday was “Gotcha Day”, the 18th anniversary of the day August’s adoption was legal. I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing in the courtroom in the run-down building in Monchegorsk while a lot of people talked very fast in Russian and then WHAM! I was a mom. Then two days later, a child I had spent all of fours hours with who didn’t speak the same language as me was placed in my arms to be my child forever. Talk about doing it scared.

This week I will go visit him. It will involve a pat down and metal detectors and walls with metal bars and locks and thick steel doors and guards with guns. I can give him one hug and kiss and I have to wait while he’s strip-searched before and after our visit. Talk about doing it scared.

But I did and will do both of these things for my son who is my forever child now and always.

Until next time,

Shannon

Spring Cleaning…Episode Two

It continues to feel like Spring around here so maybe last week wasn’t a fluke. I actually got some seeds started in the greenhouse yesterday. Might need to bring them inside as it might get a little too cold later this week, but I remain hopeful. Still has been too wet to get the big garden tilled, but it’s looking like the grass will need mowing soon which is a weekly chore and competition between me and my neighbors that I routinely lose. My neighbor to the East is retired and she mows twice a week which I just can’t do. My neighbor to the West has a zero-turn mower which mows twice as fast as my John Deere. In my defense I have twice as much property. But I’m also lazy. But to this week’s Spring Cleaning topic…Appliances. Don’t worry, we’re not covering everything, just the kitchen. And the neat part is these are great chores to involve the kiddos; even the RAD kiddos. There are a lot of easy jobs and even some fun things to do which they will (might!) enjoy. And if it still happens to be raining or if you’re in the part of the country where the huge snowstorm is still blowing through and your Spring is a ways off, will keep you occupied till you can get outside again. Dishwasher

  1. Clean the Interior: To remove buildup, mix two Tablespoons of baking soda with 16 ounces of water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a spray bottle. Spritz the inside of the appliance, the door interior, and the rim. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Dishes coming out grimy? Soak the filter (inside the dishwasher’s base) for an hour in a sinkful of hot water plus a scoop of dish powder. Scrub the mesh with a small brush and rinse. 
  2. Clear the cutlery container: Shake the basket upside down over a trash can to jostle out any debris. Okay, this tip sounded nasty to me because hopefully we all see this stuff in our cutlery containers when we empty them and deal with it then but here it is…
  3. Flush out impurities: When the dishwasher is empty, pour 1/4 cup baking soda into the detergent dispenser and run a rinse cycle on the hottest temperature.
  4. Remove residue: Use a vinegar-dampened cloth to clean out the detergent dispenser and wipe down the spray arms.
Oven Range
  1. Disinfect: If your oven is self-cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s how-to. If it’s not, wipe the interior with a damp cloth. To soften caked on gunk, fill a casserole dish halfway with water, add the juice of 3 lemons plus the rinds, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes, then apply a paste of baking soda and water to all sides with a non-abrasive sponge. Wet the sponge in the lemon water, then scrub. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel.
  2. Vacuum up debris: Pull the unit away from the wall and, using the hose attachment, remove the crumbs and dust from the floor. Push it back in. This is always a scary one!
  3. Scrub the stove top: Apply a paste of equal parts baking soda and dish soap plus a few drops of water. (This is safe on any cooktop, electric or gas-check manufacturer’s instructions on ceramic). Let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe thoroughly with a damp cloth. Buff dry.
  4. Refresh the racks: Place the racks and grates in a plastic garbage bag, spray generously  with a degreasing cleaner (like Simple Green), and tie the bag closed. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse each piece in a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  5. Wash the exhaust: To degrease the overhead filter, remove it and soak it for 15 minutes in a sink filled with hot water and scoop of OxiClean. Rinse and dry. Next, clean the piece on the wall: Apply a paste of baking soda and dish soap and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft sponge and buff dry.
Refrigerator
  1. Empty it out: Remove all items and toss any that have expired. My boys always loved finding the really nasty things in the way back of our fridge!
  2. Sanitize the drawers: Take them out (shelves too, if detachable) and scrub every side with a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. Sprinkle baking soda  on any stubborn spots and scrub again. Rinse and pat dry. If your refrigerator has a removable drip pan, soak it for a few minutes in hot, soapy water, scrub with a sponge, then rinse.
  3. Deoderize: Get rid of odors by wiping the inside walls with a microfiber cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner. Wipe again using a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted vanilla extract.
  4. Remove dust: Using the brush attachment, vacuum the coils, which may be behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the grille (typically at the base) with a dryer sheet.
  5. Clean the gaskets: Use the soapy water from the shelf-scrubbing to wipe down the refrigerator gaskets (door seals). When they’re dry, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking and tearing.
  6. Restock: Insert the clean shelves and drawers. To avoid gunking them up with anything sticky or dusty, wipe the bottom of each item with a damp towel before putting it back.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying (and calming!) than seeing a clean refrigerator. But for some reason that’s not enough motivation to clean it! But I promise next Spring Cleaning Episode, I will show you a picture of my clean fridge as motivation. Feel free to send me yours! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Jealousy…

When Harry Met Sally. And if you haven’t seen the whole movie, what’s wrong with you? But it’s the scene in the restaurant where Sally convinces Harry that maybe, just maybe, not all of the girls he’s been with have had actual orgasms. That maybe some of them were faking it. She proceeds to show him how they might have done that. Right there in the restaurant. Now that part of the scene is hilarious but immediately afterward, a sweet little old lady-played by the director Rob Reiner’s mother in case you didn’t know-delivers one of the best lines of the film. To give you a little Monday giggle and make sure you read the rest of today’s blog, here’s the clip. The point of that little story is jealousy. We’ve all felt it. That little (or big) green monster has reared its ugly head probably more times than we want to confess. There’s always times when it seems a relative or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker has it all together and you just can’t measure up. When you’re a parent with a RAD kiddo, it seems like it’s happening ALL THE TIME. When August started having school trouble, my jealousy stayed in check pretty well. I mean, shouldn’t people feel sorry for me and my sweet injured boy who is struggling so? Then we had to hold him back a year in school and then the run-ins with the law started and somehow his sweet injured self wasn’t so cute anymore. And as much I tried to keep myself from it, I started to feel jealous of parents in church and in my neighborhood who didn’t have to worry about taking their child to his probation meetings on Saturday mornings or the alcohol diversion program at 13 years old. And fast forward to today, I have just in the last month shared with my new church family that August is in prison. I’m watching friends from high school become grandparents and announce their children’s college graduations and weddings. And here creeps that large green monster once again who robs me of being able to feel true joy for them in the midst of my grief. Not surprisingly, today is again an attempt to provide you all with some helpful tips that just maybe by typing them I will get some help for myself in the process. Here are five ways to handle jealousy when it whacks you upside the head (which may not be what it feels like to you, but does to me!)

  1. Be a copycat. When something wonderful happens to a friend and you are immediately jealous, use that. Follow your friend’s example. Maybe you walked into your friend’s house and she’s completely renovated her kitchen. You may not be able to do that but you can change something that will make you happy. Buy new hand towels or a new curtain. If a friend is going on a luxurious cruise, plan a fun weekend getaway. Do something similar enough to make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude on social media. Holy moly do NOT compare your life to someone’s life on Facebook! That is for sure a recipe for disaster! Studies have shown a direct connection between depressive symptoms and the longer time people spent on social media. So use social media, but spend some time using it to be grateful, do some “Today I’m grateful for…” posts. It might lighten your perspective and you might enjoy the responses!
  3. Focus on your strengths. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself through everything with August is that he’s alive. And he’s healthy. Everything else feels like a hug parenting fail, yes. But now I’m trying to turn my experiences into something useful for other people and hopefully over time I’ll have more lessons to share as August and I continue to grow and heal. Spend time doing what you are good at and what makes you feel good when you don’t feel like you measure up in some other way.
  4. Wallow-briefly-then move on. Be a good friend to yourself. A friend wouldn’t let you stay in a negative space; so follow your friend’s advice. Have a little pity party then get up off the mat and get back to thinking good positive thoughts. Thinking positive is a much better space to operate from and it will serve you much better in the long run.
  5. Don’t hate, congratulate! There’s enough happiness on the planet for everybody. My favorite saying is, “It’s not pie.” If you stay jealous and angry you will miss all the good things waiting for you. And you will miss out on good times with those friends and your kiddos and they will miss out on the wonderful that is you. Let them have their moments and be first in line to applaud.
I’m not for one moment going to say this is last time I’ll ever be jealous now. I will say that even writing this makes me feel lighter about how I feel about my own situation so I hope it might be helpful to one or two of you. If so, let me know in the comments, that’s what they’re for! Till next time, Shannon    ]]>