Tag Archive | comfort

Guilt free mummy time

*Stop the press*

I have managed to find myself in a position where I can write a complete post and upload it in time for this weeks’ #WASO link up – Okay maybe I should make a confession. The only reason I have a little time to myself is because I have had a toddler style tantrum over the fact the males in the hive seem to struggle lately with the basic concept of picking up after themselves, let alone helping out with minor household chores without spending double the length of time doing it because they are so busy attempting to annoy me so much that I take over the task myself (which I will admit is what usually happens in the end), however much to their dismay, their regular tactic backfired on them and mummy declared that she was going on strike and the 3 of them would have to fend for themselves.

Definitely not very therapeutic but miraculously the jobs were suddenly completed with little or no fuss and an hour later Bumble drew the shortest straw and carefully peeked around our bedroom door to waving the white flag.

I have been longing for just ‘5 minutes to myself’, so having a whole hour to myself was pure luxury (well it would if I hadn’t been so worked up about the males in the house).

The last few weeks in all honesty have been more than a little difficult and relationships with Waxy and school have been pushed to our absolute limit and Bumble and I are finding ourselves raising concerns and exploring painful questions about our family’s future if the current situation doesn’t change and support from Post Adoption and ASF is not forthcoming very soon, and as a result I have struggled to find opportunities to indulge in any form of self-care for myself and in the rare moments when I have found some space and time, something has managed to derail it.

Okay that is not entirely true. Last September as a birthday present, Bumble gave me a gift voucher for a whole day 1:1 photography lesson with a local photography studio in a picturesque National Trust village. Recently I have finally managed to make use of the voucher spent an entire day focusing on something that I enjoy and being able to switch off from being mum for a few hours safe in the knowledge that the boys were safe at school/forest school and Bumble has organised his work day around their timetable.

I had for the first time in I do not know how long, spent a complete day without any ties to ‘planet adoption’ and it felt wonderful. For one day I wasn’t someone’s mum or wife and the only person I needed to focus on was myself (oh and the wonderful lady who was providing my 1:1 lesson).

I surprised myself during the lesson by realising how much I already seemed to know about getting the best out of my DSLR camera and I lost count of how many times I sat listening to the tutor explain this, that and the other and my mind drifted off thinking about random photos I have taken with my camera over the time, while listening to a little voice in my head saying “oh so that is what happened, I didn’t even realise I could do that”.   Apparently each time I did this, the tiniest of a ‘shy’ smile kept catching the tutor’s eye.   At the time I passed it off as being amused at being “jammy so and so” and blindly blundering into lucky shots but in truth, the reason was so much deeper and more personal – I am not sure I can really explain it very well without coming across as wet or self-absorbed but I supposed after the rejection I experience day in and day out with my boys and the negativity that is projected at me from every direction over the years, my self-confidence and self-esteem has been all but destroyed and I now struggle to ‘sit with’ or believe positivity or praise that is directed my way (see I told you it would sound wet) but on the day for some reason my guard was down and my confidence was receiving a much needed boost (even if it was just for a few hours).

While the morning was focused on theory and a little bit of practical practise in the studio with my camera making exciting discoveries about the true extent of what it can really do and how some of the functions in it can do a WHOLE lot more than I could ever have dreamt it could.

buttonI don’t mind admitting I let out a little squealing of excitement to discover that a button which I had believe was only a zoom feature for viewing photos already taken, can in fact be used to take incredibly clever photos (I am still working on perfecting the skill of creating a decent photo using it for now).

The afternoon was spent strolling around the village and visiting the Abbey putting what I had learnt during the morning into practise and discovering that my amazing telephoto lens which only ever comes out when I am taking photos of the boys at the beach or when we are visiting the safari parks, can in fact produces absolutely stunning close up photos that even I would be mistaken for believing were taken with a macro lens.

blooming lovely

During the day I managed to get a few lucky shots, some that I didn’t quite achieve the composition that I had hoped for, and some…. Well let’s not talk about these ones and then we have the photographs that are still haunting me days after they were taken of a sweet elderly couple who I was mesmerised with as they walked through the cloisters together. I couldn’t help wondering about their story. Who were they? How had they met? How long had they been together? What had brought them to the abbey that day? – Okay I know I am a nosey devil but there was something about these two that was pulling at my heart strings and evoking bittersweet memories of my dear depart grandparents and the love and unconditional devotion they had for each other for nearly 60 years. In all fairness when they would come for a visit they did insist on taking an afternoon drive over to this village for a cream tea and a stroll around the abbey, so I supposed the place already holds special memories for me and the sight of this couple reignited them for me. (I really hope they won’t mind me including them in this post)

cloister

Listen to me jabbering on! What I have neglected to say is…… while the course was wonderful and I got so much out of it physically and emotionally. It wouldn’t have mattered if I didn’t manage to take one single usable photograph because the biggest realisation of the day was not the fact that I can actually take some nice photographs.

LC

lc2

Residents of the village including the most adorable puppy

 

It was the realisation that all this time, the answer to my self-care prayers has been under my nose all the time.   I have something that I can and already do uses as an excuse if I need 5 minutes to myself.

I can lose myself in my photograph and refill my tank before it reaches empty. We live in a beautifully areas, adorned with rolling hills, woods, rivers and meadows so while If I am lucky my four-legged and 2 legged muses will oblige and not run for the hills at the sight of the camera (okay maybe not Buzzbee, he only needs to spot the camera in my hand and he is posing away), I still have plenty of opportunities to find an excuse to escape the trauma and destruction that often fills my days living on ‘planet adoption’, for a few short guilt free minutes or hours.

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Let them eat cake

For this weeks’ #WASO, I will be guest posting for Honey because she is …… Well, maybe once you have read my post you will have an idea why I am writing a post instead of her this week.

Oh, where are my manners? I should introduce myself. I am the infamous and extremely geeky Bumble.

Honey has just celebrated her XXth birthday – it would be more than my life is worth to reveal her age and anyway she may take away my privileges (I know she has told you I love online role-play gaming).

Honey’s Birthday is a tricky event in our household. As is Mother’s Day. Unfairly, our boys are only too happy to celebrate my Birthday and Father’s Day, but the idea of a day dedicated to their mum seems to fill Beeswax in particular with pre-verbal memories of children’s needs being sacrificed for their mother’s desires.

As a result we try not to make too much of a fuss over what should be an opportunity to thank a very special woman for all she does for the three of us. This and having her birthday on the transition from Summer Holidays, which have been tricky for the last three or so years, to the new school year has meant that she can’t really celebrate her birthday the way our family and friends do, and it has been a while since I have got Honey a Birthday Cake – bad Bumble! If I manage to remember to wrap her birthday present and have the boys sign her card in time, then I am onto a winner.

So this year I volunteered to make a Birthday Cake for Honey. Somehow I managed to convince her that it would be healthier for all if she baked the cake, and I then iced it. Buzzbee helped me choose the design and insisted it had to be a chocolate cake with pink icing. I even did a practice run a couple of days before.

The final result didn’t quite look like the picture I was working from but nevertheless it brought a much needed smile to Honey’s face. I’d like to think it was a smile of happiness and not an attempt to stifle hysterical laughter at the pink iced mountain placed in front of her.

husbands love

Every year, I watch Honey go about the day on her birthday, doing what she does and trying her hardest to avoid drawing attention to the day and making the boys’ comfort and happiness, her priority, but it is all for show and self-preservation. Honey grew up in a family that celebrate special occasions with a big fuss and I know it kills her every year to know she can’t have that anymore – we have tried so many times and it is just to distressing for all, even when we have planned an activity which is centred around the boys’ interests.   I live in hope that there will come a time in the years ahead of us that the boys can finally learn to be comfortable with celebrating their mum’s birthday and not be afraid that she will forget about their needs.

But for now, Honey will just have to seek comfort in my culinary masterpiece.   Eat our heart out, Great British Bake Off!

cakeie

What makes the perfect diet?

Recently my parents made a whistle stop trip up to visit before heading off on their week’s holiday and Buzz was, well…… let’s just say ‘the Whackadoodle express had left the station and was heading for Crazy Town at a rapid rate. During this visit my mum tried to help Buzz calm down (which usually works for a short while), but she wasn’t prepared for Buzzbee’s response to her question and my dad DID NOT in any certain terms fall about laughing at both Buzz’s response or the look on my mum’s face – Waxy on the other had was in complete hysterics and refusing to hide his amusement.

Nanny-bee: ’“Wow Buzzbee, you are super lively today.  What can nanny do to help you feel safer and slow down a little?”

Buzzbee:  “I don’t know. Maybe we should both go on a diet, Nanny!”

To an outsider, reading or even listening to this brief dialogue between Buzz and my mum, they could be forgiven for thinking Buzz was being cheeky to his nanny. However the type of ‘diet’ Buzz is talking about is in fact a ‘sensory diet’, more commonly known as ‘SMS time’ (save mummy’s sanity).

Buzz is almost permanently in an elevated state of hyper-arousal and it comes as no surprise to Bumble and I, that most people who know him or witness his ‘buzzing’ automatically assume that he has ADHD. Well!!! Certainly people who are only seeing the tip of a deeply submerged trauma iceberg.  Maybe he is! Maybe he is not! I believe the later of the two and only time will tell, what conclusion his paediatrician will come to about what is going on for Buzz, but there one thing we do know for certain, and that is….Buzzbee is extremely sensory and that alone poses challenges each day – okay! His sensory seeking needs pose LOTS of challenges each and almost every day, but over the years we have slowly adopted tricks and tools to support him and which have slowly fitted into our family routine to a point that it has become almost instinctive and more recently some of our extended family have also begun to use them themselves when with Buzz.

So what is our definition of a ‘sensory diet’ and what does Buzz’s ‘homemade’ one look like?

My parents found http://www.sensorysmart.com’s description the simplest to understand, so rather than reinvent the wheel and completely mess up the description. This is what they have to say – There are so many other fantastic sites that could are equally as good at describing it, I have just chosen this one as an example.

Just as your child needs food throughout the course of the day, his need for sensory input must also be met. A “sensory diet” (coined by OT Patricia Wilbarger) is a carefully designed, personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input a person needs to stay focused and organized throughout the day. Just as you may jiggle your knee or chew gum to stay awake or soak in a hot tub to unwind, children need to engage in stabilizing, focusing activities too. Infants, young children, teens, and adults with mild to severe sensory issues can all benefit from a personalized sensory diet.

Buzz’s sensory cookbook is constantly growing and we are almost daily adding new ‘homemade recipes’ that help give Buzzbee the sensory breaks/input that he needs.

Although the list of tricks we use to help Buzz relax is long. There a several ‘recipes’ that are used pretty much on a daily basis and are firm favourites with Buzz.

  • Bear hugs
  • Footbath/massager
  • Listening to music on his Mp3 player
  • Stretching/tug of wars with his resistance band
  • Playing with his sand pit or water tray
  • Dancing (street/hiphop)
  • Potion making in a warm bubble bath will light-changing floating toy
  • Sausage rolling in quilt or blanket (swaddling)
  • Drinking from different sports bottles or straws

And, so many more…… but, there are two favourites which, are polar opposite sensory stimulations for Buzzbee but have the ability to achieve the same end result – A calmer Buzzbee!

bouncybouncy

doughboy

This post is written as part of ‘The Adoption Social’s’ Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO

Tiger Feet

First of all. No! I am not about to break out into a song.

When Bumble returned from visiting his dad and brothers, bringing with him a dusty old pair of tiger feet slippers, which had belonged to my late mother-in-law. Nobody could have imagined these orange and black, fluffy fellows were going to bring about a complete emotional meltdown for Buzzbee that would reduce Bumble to tears also (Yes the tears were flowing for me too but there is nothing new there – if my boys are in pain, it breaks my heart).

Ok let me take a couple of steps back. When Bumble arrived home from work yesterday afternoon, he brought in with him from his car a pair of Tiger slippers which his dad had found while going through boxes of at home and they believed that had been Bumble’s mum’s at some point. Bumble and his dad thought that Buzzbee would like them for his dressing up box as he already owns a Tiger onesie – absolutely wonderful idea, I thought and Buzzbee was delighted with them.

Throughout the day Buzzbee had been….. Well, let us just say. I suggested to Bumble that it might be a good idea to meet up at lunchtime as my therapeutic mummy juice was rapidly running out. So when Buzzbee volunteered to read in the evening with his dad (NEVER happens) and did so while wearing his new “feet”, I couldn’t help but let my guard down and believe that his dark mood had lifted and bedtime would be relaxed and positive before our babysitter arrived.

Silly mummy!!!!

Once Buzz had finished reading with Bumble, the nervous, fizzy energy came out to play. He had done such a wonderful job but struggled with one word and he began to fall apart. He couldn’t tolerate any suggestion that he had done really well considering on how difficult he finds reading and all he could focus on was, the one word he struggled with.

Beedog picking up on his energy began to join in with his ‘bubbling’ and herself begun to get over-excited. In the process of the chaos and madness, Beedog tried to remove the Tiger feet from Buzzbee’s feet which Buzz was finding oddly funny, considering how close her teeth were to his toes. In an attempt to prevent the slippers getting damage or Buzz’s feet being chomped. I slipped the slipper off Buzz’s foot, with the intention of retrieving it from Beedog before putting it back on Buzzbee’s foot.

Oh dear. Bad mummy. Buzzbee suddenly feel completely apart and raced hysterically out of the room and into his bedroom in floods of tears, completely inconsolable.

What had I done that was so wrong? Why was he throwing a wobbly?

Although it took me a minute to realise it. It wasn’t that I had taken the slipper off his foot that upset him. It was that I had taken ‘Granny’s slipper’ off his foot and in doing so I had taken Granny from him again in his mind.

All the grief and loss that he had experienced over the years was suddenly coming crashing to the surface and he had become overwhelmed by it all but he couldn’t let me near – painful as it was to see him in such distress, I needed at the time to remember that he wasn’t trying to reject me. The pain was just too much for him to accept comfort.

In the meantime, Bumble was conspicuous in his absence (usually he is great at stepping in when Buzz is in this state). Again, I didn’t need to think too hard to know the reason why. Bumble was trying his hardest to hide his pain at the realisation of Buzzbee’s connection to the slippers.

Buzzbee needed Bumble and no matter how much Bumble denies it, at that point he needed Buzzbee too. The boys haven’t really seen Bumble cry when it comes to losing his mum (they saw him cry more when our old cat died). Bumble’s has been quite stoic when the boys have been around (Neither of them cope well with seeing myself or Bumble upset. It really upsets their equilibrium and over the years we have subconsciously reined ourselves in when they are present).

Last night was different. Bumble couldn’t hide from it and he knew that Buzzbee needed him at that point and needed to know that it was OK to miss his granny and that Bumble misses her too.

So what started out as an innocent pair of old slipper being brought home to be put into a dressing up box and have some fun with, actually turned into an important but emotional evening, where Bumble had a rare opportunity to be the one to give Buzzbee the support and emotional connection that he needed at that time and strengthen their attachment just that little bit more.

tigerfeet

Many of you will think I am completely crazy but I have long believed that our loved ones are always watching over us and send us what we need, when we need it.

And, boy did they both need it.

Light Relief

I started to write an opening sentence for this post and realised that what I had written was beginning to sound like the beginning of a very bad joke with a really bad punch line – “What do you get if you cross a hormonal teenager with a fractured wrist, a hyper-aroused anxious 8 year old and a school filled with brainless professionals?”

I will leave you to guess the punch line, but suffice to say, this mummy is not on top form and trying to do something as simple as write this post is taking what little brainpower I have at the moment.

I am not going to bore you with the latest goings on with Waxy’s “delightful” school at the moment. They are not worth my tears and if I start writing it down here, that is exactly what will happen. Add to this the fact that I am sick and tired of feeling so terrible, I have decided this post is going to be light in more than one way.

Bumble has been away this weekend and, like many other times, I am aware that this usually is a flash point for the boys, and I was right. Bumble left 2 hours later than he had intended to, but eventually he managed to and, after a brief spell of bedtime silliness, my monkeys finally settled and went to sleep.

Not wanting a repeat of previous weekends lately, I decided that I would take the boys out for a trip to their favourite safari park and pray that the Monkeys (not my pair) leave my car in one piece – Ok I also had an ulterior motive of wanting to visit the parks’ seasonal special ‘Chinese Lantern’ event (I had intended to take my camera but that is a whole other story/gripe/rant).

The weather was absolutely perfect and the animals were taking full advantage of the gorgeous December sunshine. Result – happy boys (well most of the time) + happy mummy = a fun day for the best part of it had by us all.

The tricky time came once the sun had begun to set and the lanterns were lit. Over the years we have begun to pick up on the fact that Buzzbee struggles with the transition from light to dark and can become very ‘fizzy and dysregulated’ for a period of time, and he is a handful, unless he allows you to support him by using the skills we have found that help him relax quicker – to the untrained eye he just looks like a ‘naughty, hyperactive child’ who is not being parented properly, but for me, while I have become quite skilled at helping him regulate himself, seeing my little man in such distress is heartbreaking.

To add to Buzz’s distress, the evening was incredibly busy, unlike the daytime had been, and so he had the added stress of being pint-sized and in a busy crowd of strange faces as well as a stroppy teenage brother who was rapidly losing his patience with Buzz’s ‘fizzing’. Poor Buzzbee was quickly unravelling, verging on a full panicked state and none of the usual tricks were working, so I found myself in a potential lose, lose situation. On one hand I had one child who was very keen to see the lights and on the other I have one child who was about to flip into ‘fight or flight’ mode any second. If I left I would have an angry teen to deal with as well as a hyper 8 year old, but if we stayed Buzzbee could completely fall apart if I couldn’t find something to soothe him.

All I am going to say is “Thank heavens for my mobile phone!” It saved the day as well as the evening. Buzzbee often likes to take photos with my phone so in a last ditch attempt to prevent a nice day turning into a disaster, I suggested that he become my secret spy and take photos of the displays for me to “study” later for ‘evidence’ (N.B. I have no idea what a spy mission should sound like, but hey I tried and he liked it).

So for this weeks’ #WASO post, I leave you will some of evidence of his espionage.

animallaterncollagechineselanterncollage

Return to ‘Hushabye Mountain’

 “Sing to me mummy like I’m your baby” Buzzbee demanded this week at bedtime.

“You will always be my baby even when you are married with your own children! Why do you want me to sing to you tonight? I thought you said you were too big for lullabies anymore!”

Ok not my most sensitive response but the request came so out of the blue and I was a little confused about why he was asking now. He hasn’t wanted or been able to tolerate me singing to him since he became a ‘big boy’ and started school.

(Baby voice) “I really need to hear you sing me ‘Hushabye mountain’ like you did when I was your ‘Cuddly Koala Bear’” “Can you sit on the floor beside my bed and stroke my hair at the same time too?”

At this point I feel I need to state that I do not consider myself to be an exceptional singer and in my opinion I have a voice that only Buzzbee could love but I didn’t need asking twice to fulfil his request. I spent the next 30 minutes singing to him and stroking his hair and listening to him make gentle humming (self-soothing) sounds and for the first time in months Buzzbee settled quite quickly to sleep, but still at the time I was feeling somewhat confused about where this was coming from.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Buzz asking me to sing to him and wanting to be my ‘cuddly Koala’ again is fantastic.  He has always been very avoidant and extremely self-reliant, so anytime he allows us to get close to him, we take full advantage of the opportunity to strengthen his attachment to us (Oops, I better keep going because I am starting to get very soppy and welling up thinking about how much of both my boy’s life I have missed out on and how much I wish I could turn back the clocks and fill in all the lost and precious moments).

Buzzbee has always acted at home much younger than he really is and we have learnt to live with it (go with the flow), and school are slowly learning to respond to his emotional age and not his chronological age when dealing with issues during the day. But, this week his need to regain the years he lost seems so much more important to him.

So, why is it so different at the moment?  What is making him feel so vulnerable at the moment?

I have probably tied myself in knots this week trying to understand what is troubling him. Last week was the 4th anniversary of the boys moving in, so at first I thought maybe this could be playing on his mind, but when I thought back over this: Beeswax usually regresses at this time of year, but Buzzbee usually “claims us” by being helpful and a “big boy”. We knew that there had been changes at school which he was coping with pretty well and being very open about how he was feeling about them. No doubt in some way these were adding to his anxiety, but still I wasn’t convinced that I had got to the route of his need to take a step back in time.

I began to over-analyse every aspect of his usual regressed behaviour to see if anything had changed, but it wasn’t until I collected him from school yesterday and he started talking about Beedog and how she will never have puppies that it dawned on me.

We have had Beedog spayed and she has needed extra care this week.

Bad, Bad Honey. How could I have missed it?

Buzzbee adores Beedog and she is a very soothing influence on him at times when he is feeling at his most vulnerable and I guess this week he is feeling helpless and lost, seeing his ‘true best friend’ not feeling quite herself, add this on top of everything else that is going on for him at the moment and it is not surprising he is feeling so fragile. I cannot believe I missed it! In his mind Beedog is his source of unconditional comfort and affection but at a time when he really needs to snuggle up with her, he can’t because of the risk of accidently hurting her.

I cannot say whether his sudden need for babying is because he is feeling fragile because Beedog is fragile, or if taking away the opportunity for Beesdog to have puppies is stirring up something primal in him about his birth mum. I could spend all evening hypothesising about what is driving this behaviour/need and yes, it is important to understand what is going on for him, but far more important for me is to help him work through this in the most comfortable way for him and if in the process of I get to have extra snuggles, hugs and kisses with my ‘cuddly koala’ then I am not going to complain and for those time when I cannot be with him I will give school the link to the YouTube clip he likes (he is not keen on the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ version because of the child snatcher).

Earlier in the week I started writing a completely different post for this week’s #WASO about what the future holds for our family and how both boys were showing signs of regressing into old behaviours to help them cope with future changes but somewhere along the way, the regression that was happening for Buzzbee here and now took over. So I guess all I can say is watch this space.

Adoption Badge photo BADGE7_zps59df311c.jpg