Hard Day

April 26, 2010

How can I describe this day?  I spent the day talking with doctors about my son.  Hallelujah, I finally found a psychiatrist who would see us urgently and who understands the particular issues we are dealing with.  It is harrowing to encapsulate my son’s life and experiences into a one hour session.  I’m so grateful I met with our therapist first.  He has been working with us (and I mean–In The Trenches) for 1 1/2 years and I didn’t have much good news to tell him today. The last 2 months have been really bad.  I really can’t go into details and also I don’t want to.  Its too private and too painful.  But believe me, it has been a struggle in just about every way you can imagine.  Prayerfully, this dr. I met with today will have some new solutions for us.  At the end of our very difficult session today, Bob, my therapist, told me something that stopped me in my tracks for a moment.  He has lots of experience in adoption issues and is an adoptive father himself so I feel like he really knows of what he speaks.  And he always has nice, encouraging words to me at the end our our session, and today as he was encouraging me, he said he didn’t think most families in our situation would have made it as far (meaning lasted as long) as ours.  In other words, most people in my situation would have disrupted the adoption or put their child in a facility.  Most people outside of the world of adoption probably think of those solutions as heartless, but to many of us, they are sometimes the best option for the child and the family at large.  I personally have never considered disruption (that’s when you work with your agency to “send the child back” to their orphanage or to a foster family) but I have no judgement for those that do (in a loving, careful way–not flying them back to Russia with a note).  Traumatized children are challenging in ways you literally cannot imagine.  And as a single mom, I bear the weight alone.  And man its heavy.  I’m exhausted.

But always hopeful.

 

 

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Little by Little

April 14, 2010

I had a dream last night that I was having a conversation with my tax preparer. (If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I had been really disappointed by the way my last preparer handled a major tax credit I am eligible for. Well, I switched to a highly recommended CPA and am confident that she knows what she is doing, but found out yesterday that I will still owe the government a little money. So much for the large tax refund I was counting on!) I haven’t actually met her in real life; because I came to her so late in the season, I had to just drop off my papers and we’ve spoken on the phone a couple of times. Anyway, in my dream, she was asking me why, since clearly I had been beaten up my life so much lately, I didn’t take that as a sign that I should move out of NYC. And I was really taken aback that she would step into my life so objectively and ask the question which I have been asking myself so often as of late. Why, when I am getting nowhere with doctors, money or Rahul’s education do I continue to stay here? Is God really directing me to leave New York and move in with my parents until I can get my family on a better track? In my dream I answered her emphatically, NO. I am sure that I should stay here. I told her that there is a big difference between God shutting doors (which to me signifies that its time to move on and change direction) and a person falling down over and over and being called to rise up again.

I woke up and lay in bed pondering this idea. Actually, I marveled at my unconscious self’s wisdom! I can’t tell you how, exactly, but there is a definite difference between a door being closed and stumbling through trials. And I know I am meant to press on in my present circumstance. There are just enough positive signs to keep me fighting. Every Wednesday morning I get to talk and pray with my dear friend Jenny, who calls me without fail at 6am. I told her about my dream and as I did, I thought of a phrase that I’ve seen in the Bible, “little by little”. I told her that I really believe that my blessings will increase little by little. I am not going to get a big tax refund this year that will cover all my outstanding bills. I will continue to work and grow my business (which is growing quickly!) and earn the money to pay things off, little by little. Rahul will learn to read little by little. We will find mental health solutions and adoptive family resources little by little. Something about that idea really comforts me.

I was curious what the context of the phrase “little by little” was, Biblically, so I looked it up. In one instance it refers to Israel’s conquest of the promised land. God told them He would drive out their enemies little by little, rather than all at once, because otherwise the wild animals would multiply around them (Deut. 7:22). In another context God states that “he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Prov.13:11) Something about that principal makes sense to me. Maybe we value things more when we work for them. Maybe we view God differently when He aids us in helping ourselves, rather than pouring blessings in our lap. Not sure exactly, but I think I’m about to find out!

Bang Your Head

April 9, 2010

Today I sat for a few hours in a mental health clinic in the Bronx.  And when I say, the Bronx, I don’t mean Riverdale, where I live, which is very middle class and almost suburban.  I mean The Bronx–the way most people picture all of the Bronx to be.  And it really made me examine myself.

I was there as another leg in a long journey to get my son the mental health assistance he needs.  I never imagined it would be so difficult to find decent doctors and counselors that help children with mental health issues.  I’ve been holding on to our psychiatrist for dear life for one and a half years, even though he sucks and never calls me back, simply because I cannot find anyone else!  I have called pages and pages of doctors, met with some that made me want to run out the door screaming, and gotten nowhere.  Finally, last week, one called me back.  And they take my insurance.  And they scheduled an appointment with me.  Already they’re 3 points ahead of everybody else.

I realized what type of clinic it was, but I didn’t think too much of it.  I was just grateful someone was willing to help me.  Honestly, I am a person who is pretty comfortable in almost any neighborhood.  People are people.  And the people I spent the morning with probably have more in common with me than the families in my neighborhood.  I am poor.  I am a single mom.  I am dealing with mental health issues in my home.  These are the things that bound me to my fellow patients today.  Most of the people registering for services today were referred through the court or through Child Services and didn’t necessarily want to be there–they had to be there.  They were agitated, talking to themselves, mumbling obscenities, and I had several moments where I thought–really, is this the best care I can get for us?  And I had to check myself.  Because I don’t really know anything about the care there yet.  I just registered today. I didn’t meet with a doctor or discuss a plan of action for my child.  The facility was clean and looked new and the staff was friendly and helpful.  My moments of doubt were based only on the other patients there and their socio-economic status.  I had to remind myself that just because I was not sitting in a beautiful, private waiting room in a non-descript office building in Manhattan with several other well dressed mid to upper class people who were waiting quietly reading The Economist did not mean I didn’t belong there just as much as everyone else.

Friends are great.  I love being able to just spill my guts to my friends and its so empowering to me to just have them share in my sadness, embarrassment, joy, etc.  I would say that over the past couple of years there are friends who have literally kept me sane and been an absolute lifeline.  Its so great to just have someone listen and empathize. I don’t feel like I always need them to actually SOLVE my problems, just be by my side as I go through the challenges.

But every once in a while I long for someone to swoop into my life and just magically make my problems disappear.

About a month ago, I interrupted a mouse who was speeding into my room on his way somewhere, and began the Plague of Mice (appropriate for Passover, no?).  Apparently they began fumigating the garbage room, which is right below our apartment, and all the mice were desperately seeking shelter, so they began eating through all our walls and making their homes in my stove, my closets, my couch, even my bed.  I desperately tried to wage war with caulk and steel wool, but every time I thought I had closed up the last hole another mouse sauntered by me.  I was daily tearing apart my closets and furniture on a hunt to find where they were coming from and clean up their messes.  I am desperately afraid of mice and began to constantly feel sick to my stomach and was so jumpy that everywhere I went I thought I saw mice (in my car, in my clients’ homes, on the street…).  Finally, I realized I was going to have to bump up to the next level of attack and borrow someone’s cat to send a message to my invaders.  And as I thought through all of the cats I know, I had a revelation.  I wanted a cat of my own.

I have been longing to adopt another child, and that reality is several years and several thousand dollars away from happening.  So the idea of having another member of our family really appealed to me.  Also, I have met the most amazing cats lately at my clients’ homes, and it has made me realize how cool cats can be.  But really what I wanted–what I NEEDED–was an ally.  Someone to swoop in and solve my problem.

Sport came to live with us a little over a week ago, and since he arrived I have not seen any mice or evidence of mice in our home.  Problem solved.  And he’s really cool. He’s black (my suggestion for his name was Spooky Mulder, but Rahul’s “Sport” won out) and has an amazing personality, somehow meeting all our needs in the household.  For me he’s a mouser, for Rahul he’s a playmate, and for Baby Fish Mouth, he’s a buddy.

Just somebody please tell me if I start to smell like a cat.