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Over the last few days, even weeks, I have been trying to find who I am.

When I was in high school I was goth/punk.  I had friends, I had a social life.  I went to concerts.  I went to movies.  I had a boyfriend.

Once I entered my 20s, I settled down and had babies.  When that first marriage didn’t work, I dated around.  I didn’t know who I was anymore at that point.  My social life got flushed down the toilet when I gave birth to my first baby.  I didn’t go out and do anything anymore.  I stayed home with my kids and did what I could to give them a good upbringing myself rather than have a child care provider raise them.  I didn’t even go out or do anything, as family wouldn’t even keep an eye on the kiddos long enough for me to do anything.

Once I reached my 30s, I found a guy who would be my 2nd husband, and my boys were old enough to leave alone while I worked.  I found identity in my work and marriage.  I was a wife, a mom, and a veterinary assistant, which I LOVED.  I gained a couple friends so I had more social interaction again, and became slightly wider known and respected in my community.

Then due to physical limits from a slowly progressing disability, I lost my job at the vet clinic.  Then my husband left me.  I ended up dating someone who should never have been anything more than an old friend, and abuse ensued.  I lost a lot of my identity again.  I pushed away friends and family.  I neglected the emotional needs of my children.  I neglected all of my own needs.

When I finally snapped out of that pit of despair I found the love of my life, Jarrod.  He threw me a rope, so to speak, and pulled me out of that pit.  We got married, had surgery to be able to expand our family, and had our baby.  The older boys are teenagers now, and my husband’s daughters are also teenagers.  The boys and girls had very different upbringings, and clash with each other.  The rules the boys were raised with were very different than what the girls were accustomed to when they moved in, so things got lessened and a lot of slack was made for everyone to adjust to the new arrangement.

Now, 2 years later, its IMPOSSIBLE to tighten up rules to fit everyone.  We have tried and tried, and no one follows any rules.  Our house is a lawless wasteland.  No chores get done by kids ever, no matter what punishments or rewards, so if I want this house remotely tidy or sanitary, I have to do it myself.  Being a stay at home mom again, you’d think I have all the time in the world to get the house at least somewhat tidy.  But no, my baby is extremely demanding of my time and energy.  Most days I’m lucky to be able to feed myself supper, let alone scrub a toilet or mop a floor.

So since I had our baby, I’m having a crisis of identity again.  I’m a wife.  I’m a mom.  And that’s where it ends.  And I have a hard time even calling myself those two things…

To me, being a wife is being able to be my husband’s companion.  To talk to him, support him, enjoy time together with him (and him reciprocating those sentiments), and being a team when it comes to parenting and all the big and little decisions in life.  But instead, I feel like it has become an odd partnership, where he works and busts his ass for this family, and I’m at home not accomplishing anything that needs done, while the kids do whatever they want, whenever they want and I cannot keep up or enforce any sort of order.  When he comes home from work he is annoyed by kids’ behaviors.  When we do get a chance to talk, rather than text, its mostly made up of he and I both venting about our frustrations, and not really having much else to say because frustrations aren’t exactly conversation fuel. Also, by the time he gets home from work in the evening, I may have just laid down the baby and he will likely wake up and need put back to sleep 10,000 more times before I give up and just go to bed for the night.  Therefore leaving no time for us to just relax and watch a TV show, talk, or anything else married couples do in their time alone.

To me, being a mom means understanding the needs of the children and doing everything I can to meet those needs within reason, teaching the older kids life skills that will help them survive and thrive on their own such as cleaning, cooking, money management, appropriate social interactions… but this is where I’m failing miserably.  Every single one of the children who live in our home have serious issues with several of these things.  None of them follow rules.  None of them are motivated to do well in school.  None of them have any inkling of what should be a priority.  They have zero respect for adults, especially Jarrod or me.  And they do pretty much whatever in the fuck they feel like, all of the time.  The baby is just a baby, so I can’t be upset with him… but he is very needy.  A “Velcro” baby if you will.  He wants to be held, and when he is on the floor or somewhere playing, he wants me nearby and giving him attention still.  In the evenings, he gets fussy because he doesn’t nap during the day and doesn’t typically sleep well at night.  So I cannot make supper most nights due to trying to console a fussy and very overtired baby that fights sleep like it is the worst thing in the world. So the older kids end up fending for themselves for supper.

So yes I’m a mom, and I’m a wife, but I don’t feel like I’m doing well at those two things.  And that’s all I’ve got.  I don’t have any control over my household or my life.  I don’t have me time anymore.  I don’t get to watch TV.  I don’t get to watch movies.  I don’t get to listen to music.  I don’t get to go for a walk.  I don’t get to hang out with friends.  I don’t get to pursue any interests, passions, education or career.  If I did, this household would fall further and further down this spiral of chaos.  The only reason I even had time to sit down and type this is because I am on the brink of a nervous breakdown and I got pissed, screamed, stomped to my bedroom and slammed the door, like the teenagers do.  Honestly, due to all the difficulty with everything I attempt right now, I’m feeling like a failure as a human.

And while I’m going on about all this other shit, I might just throw in there that when I got pregnant, supportive people came out of the woodwork.  Family, friends… everyone was so happy and couldn’t wait to meet the baby and play with him.  And when he was born a few people showed up at the hospital.  But since then?  Nothing.  Literally even those I was closest to just vanished.  So yeah, I can’t even turn to anyone for emotional/moral support.  Jarrod and I are really on our own.

So, what is this blog post going to accomplish?  Is it going to make the teens or anyone at all give a shit about anything?  Is it going to make the house clean?  Is it going to make the baby sleep?  Is it going to make me feel better about myself as a parent, wife, or human?  Nope.  There is no point really.  So if you made it this far, I’m surprised.  Sorry to say, there’s no point to any of this.  It’s just one big long ramble of a woman with a missing identity, purpose in life, and support system.

Cars, Kids and the Concert

I just wanted to follow up my previous posts with some updates. First of all, it turns out we were fully insured. Insurance deemed the car a total loss and paid us out. We were able to find a minivan at a reasonable price and are getting some repairs done Friday to make it last us a while. Felix continues to do amazing at physical therapy except for the last couple days, when he just wants to be held all the time. I’m sure a big part of that is the fact that he’s teething. He’s gotten one tooth and the second one isn’t far behind.But anyway, Felix can roll front to back and back to front now, and when he does the exercise when he’s on his tummy on his boppy, he’s getting strong enough to push himself off and over it. He’s also really been studying faces lately. I’m so proud of his progress.

Andy got his braces off today! He had them for 3.5-4 years, with a jaw surgery during that time. He said it feels weird and a little sore. But he’s happy.

Evan had court today to review his court ordered outpatient committal. The judge dismissed the case, saying Evan was no longer a threat to himself or others. But he’s gotten 2 criminal charges and has violated his probation (recently). I told him the ruling may seem like a good thing, but what it really means is that now when he decides to act a fool, he can’t hide behind mental health. He will just be treated like a criminal. He faces a judge about his second criminal charge soon.

Jarrod had a really good time at Riot Fest despite his shitty adventure on the way home. He got to see a couple bands in particular he was very excited to see: Guided By Voices and Ween. I’m glad he was able to go and enjoy himself, even if I was unable to join him. Hopefully I get so fortunate as to be able to go to a concert soon.

Left: Guided By Voices — Right: Ween, photos by Jarrod

I finally saw a doctor about a few things I had been avoiding and/or putting off. Nothing too serious. I’m not going to go into any of that right now because Felix is starting to wake up from his mini nap and I don’t have time to type about it. I’ll update again soon.

We NEED Help

Update 12/6/2019
We are still struggling, but I think we have things under control.  Many of you made very generous contributions, not only on GoFundMe, but in person, in supplies, and in support.  I cannot express the deep gratitude Jarrod and I both have.  Thank you so much to everyone, from the bottom of our hearts.

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WE NEED HELP. PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR GOFUNDME PAGE.

Felix has seen a specialist and is in need of lots of therapy. Details on the campaign page. Please help. And share, share, share, far and wide. Thank you for your help.

Year By Year

I came across this Instagram photo the other day and it got me thinking about all the changes I’ve gone through in the last few years.

2016 (April): In the pic on the left I had just started on my journey to becoming healthier, and had already lost about 25 lbs. In this picture, we were in Florida (with my ex-husband) as a family on vacation. It was the first time the boys or I had experienced the ocean or even gone on a family vacation, ever. I thought my life was going well, even though my relationship was on the rocks. I figured we’d work it out. I was working full-time, as was my husband. We were financially stable for the first time in over a decade. We were renting a house, and after we were done on this vacation we went home and bought a new vehicle. I had no idea what was in store for me in the future.

2017 (May): A year later, in the pic on the right, I had lost 60 lbs. and had a Panniculectomy (surgery to remove loose skin on my belly). Pictured here, I’m showing off my new, leaner body. My husband and I had split up and divorced. I had moved twice since the beach pic. At this time I was dating a life-long friends but he was incredibly verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt because of our history, and I wasn’t thinking much about myself. I had been fired from my full-time job due to performance issues, which, looking back, probably had a lot to do with that abusive relationship. I wanted to be home a lot because not only was I worried about being cheated on, but I was worried about the safety of my children.

2018 (April): Jarrod and I had traveled to NC and I got a tubal ligation reversal. During that year, I started a new job delivering pizza at Pizza Hut, I kicked my abusive boyfriend to the curb for the sake of my kids, Jarrod and I found each other (at work) and fell head over heels for each other in a matter of days, we ran off to Colorado and got married, I got a panniculectomy revision and breast reduction, we merged our families into one home, and we decided to expand our family.

2019 (April): The final picture in this series… Jarrod and I and our new baby, Felix. In the course of the year, Jarrod had a vasectomy reversal, my middle teenage boy, Evan, had some serious mental health issues that needed to be addressed throughout the year, two of Jarrod’s girls went to live with their mom, I fought a serious infection from my breast reduction resulting and 2 extra surgeries to clean out the infection and a lot of antibiotics for several months. I went through an entire pregnancy resulting in a healthy baby. Jarrod lost his job at Pizza Hut after Felix was born, and I’ve been staying home with Felix, which has caused us financial turmoil. But he has since found a couple new jobs and things are finally starting to look brighter.

So many changes year-by-year, it really makes me not take anything for granted. I never imagined back in 2016, that I would be where I am now in 2019. In fact, if anyone would have told me, I would have thought they were a fool. I am so very grateful for what I have now, who I have become, for my amazing best friend and husband, and for my growing family. Here’s to seeing where we are in another year.

Birthdays

On May 6th, Andy, my first baby turned 17! We didn’t have a party this year for him, for the first time ever, but he got a few small gifts and cake and ice cream, after making him a supper of his choice (pancakes). He’s about to start his senior year of high school this fall. I plan to take his senior photos myself sometime this summer. Time really has flown by with him! He is the only one who was my “only child” for the first 2 years of his life. And it’s hard to face that he’s almost all grown.

Yesterday, July 1st, my 2nd baby, Evan turned 15. He’s living with his dad now, but he asked to come spend the night with me the night before his birthday. I had cancelled plans for his party when he moved out, but we ended up with a very small impromptu party after all, with just one friend and my mom invited. He got a couple gifts, and had cake and ice cream after we grilled burgers and hot dogs for lunch. It ended up being a pretty fun day, and I really enjoyed his visit. I really do miss having him at home full time, but this arrangement seems to be working much better for us all. And I get to see him whenever he or I want.

Cory’s 14th birthday is in the first part of August. I am focusing all the party-planning energy on him this year, because he usually doesn’t have a big party after his brothers take all the attention. So there will be another post for his party after it happens.

Also, Autumn turned 14 in March. She has gotten her driver’s permit and completed driver’s ed already! And Willow turned 12 in April. They both live with their mom and were at their mom’s for their birthdays.

School Is Out

It’s officially summer for the kiddos!

Andy just finished his junior year in high school. He’s been messing around so much that he is not on track for graduation with his class, so he starts credit recovery with the start of his senior year. He can either go to the alternative high school to finish up, or he can take extra online classes in addition to his full classload. But he must pass everything. He’s fully capable of passing, even with exceptional grades. He’s just not willing to put in the work. I’ve been having conversations with him about it quite a bit, and I’m hoping at least some of it is sinking in. Also, I’m requiring him to get a job this summer. He’s 17, and it’s time for him to start preparing for adulthood. I can’t believe I have a baby who is nearly an adult!

Evan spent most of his school year at Orchard Place, where he refused to do much school work at all. When he came home he did very, very well for about a month, until I expressed how proud I was of him. Then he stopped doing work and eventually got expelled for the remainder of the year with the option of finishing online. He didn’t take that option, so he will now be required to repeat his freshman year. It’s really too bad because he proved he’s capable of getting As and Bs. He just refuses to do it, for whatever reason. It may be a part of his mental illness. Or it may just be defiant adolescence. Or both. But I sure hope he can pull himself out of it.

Cory finished his 7th grade year! He was trailing behind on a couple of classes until the day before the last day. He and I sat down and I told him (for the millionth time) that he is nearly 14, not 6, and he needs to start being responsible for himself. And that the only one he’s hurting by not doing his work is himself, and he was about to have to repeat 7th grade. He pouted for over an hour, then got some work done that night. The next and final day at school he was able to find the motivation to get caught up.

Zoey, Autumn and Willow all did much better than the boys, as they don’t avoid their schoolwork, and are all moving onto the next grade.

The boys definitely had a lot of struggles with school this year, but we made it through. Here’s hoping next year isn’t quite the struggle for them… and congrats to the girls for doing well!

Mental Illness Is A Bitch

Evan came home from Orchard Place, an inpatient psychiatric facility for kids, on April 1st. He was there for nine months after attempting to kill me. He freely admits that. When he came home, he’d been home nearly full-time for a few weeks prior to that and seemed to be adjusting quite well. He was doing very well in school, managing emotions well at home, and overall seemed to have gotten quite a lot of anger control and beneficial results from being at Orchard Place. Once he was completely discharged from their program, things started slowing going downhill.

The first time he had a blowup, he threw an end table before running out the door and walking off his anger. The second time it was just yelling (mind you, when he yells it’s “f*ck this, f*ck that” etc). Then he started staying with friends of mine because he was becoming unmanageable in my home and refused to go to school anymore. The couple he was staying with are experienced with troubled kids, and used to be foster parents. That went somewhat okay for a few days until Evan adjusted and decided to behave the same for them. And the third time Evan had a blowup was last Thursday.

One week ago today, Thursday, Evan was upset over school and the friends who were graciously helping with him. So she brought him home to stay for the afternoon (after he decided to act up in school resulting in his expulsion for the rest of the school year). Once he was home, and I told him video games would not be played that day, so he stormed out the door to go for a walk. I was okay with that and left him alone. When he came back around the block he was swearing and screaming at the neighbors. So much so that someone down the street called the police. While the police were talking to the neighbors and myself, Evan found a piece of fence and threw it towards the neighbors house, hitting very close to a window. The police then decided to stop him, but he fought the police and ended up being arrested. While in the back of the police car, Evan was trying to hurt himself, and talking of suicide. He was taken to the local ER for psychiatric treatment.

While he was getting settled at the hospital, my mom and I were at the courthouse filling out paperwork for Evan’s committal. Once we got that completed and filed, I went to the hospital to sign forms for Evan‘s treatment. While I was there, Evan had a teleconference with a psychiatrist over a computer (Skype-style). She was saying stuff to him that he didn’t like, such as the fact he had to help himself and get the treatment he needs, and agreeing with him that he may be in a treatment facility for a very long time. Since he didn’t like that, he destroyed the computer. The police had to come to the hospital and file a report for destruction of property.

Evan being goofy once the anger passed.

Four days passed, and the hospital staff could still not find Evan a bed in a psychiatric facility. He had remained calm after that first day, so they decided to send him home. I explained to them that he could not be in my home with the baby and other children coming and going. But they refused to keep him there or continue to look for a facility, though a judge agreed that was what he needed. I spoke with the psychiatrist about him, and she agreed he had to go home as well. She told me that as a last resort I could relinquish my parental rights to DHS and they could help him. So I told the hospital staff to call DHS.

When the social worker showed up he told me he was investigating me for child abuse for denial of critical care. I sat down with him and explained the whole story, and while he claimed to understand my concerns about Evan being in our home, he explained to me that by leaving Evan in the hospital and not taking him home, I would be charged with child abuse. He also told me that even if Evan was in state custody, there was nothing more they could do for Evan than I was already doing.

So I was left with no option, I was to bring Evan, who was clearly unstable and unsafe, back home with the rest of the family. While Evan was calm before I brought him home, I explained to him that anymore blowups or temper outbursts would not be tolerated whatsoever. And that the next time it happened, I would find him a shelter to stay in rather than staying in our home and putting other people or himself in danger. He understood and agreed.

Then today, he had a moderate temper outburst again. The Mobile Crisis unit would not help because Evan was beating against the wall. The police would not help because Evan is a minor. I was advised to make sure everyone was out of the house until Evan calmed down. So I called Evan’s dad, who has not been involved in Evan’s life much over the last seven years or so. I told him that he needed to take custody of him. As of this evening, Evan is with his dad. I will help his dad set Evan up for success by continuing therapy and medication management, and then I’m leaving it up to him.

I can no longer care for a teenager (or anyone for that matter) that does not want my help and does not want to help themselves. Especially when that person can be violent to those who love them the most. I have tried for a decade to get Evan the help he needs, and now that he has gotten well into puberty, his mood disorder is so severe that I can no longer handle the behaviors that go along with it. I have been struggling with this emotionally for a very long time, and I finally had to put my emotions aside and do what was best for the rest of the family. I love all of my kids very much, including Evan. But his dad doesn’t have any other kids around, and I think being an only child and having that one on one attention just may help Evan. I hope.

These last few months in particular have been some of the most challenging I have ever experienced as a parent. I would not wish it on anyone. Evan is bipolar, even though he’s too young to have the official diagnosis. And every day is a struggle for him. I can only hope and pray that he can find what it is that helps him, the coping skills that he needs, and the wake up call that he needs, to want to help himself.

Also, this is in no way the entire story. This is a very short and trimmed down version of everything that has happened recently, and lacks a lot of details. So before you start judging Evan or myself or anyone else in the story, don’t.