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Method to My Madness

Wow. I am certainly not handling this day very well.

I have troubles with a family member who doesn’t seem to care about me or my family. I have a step-daughter who blatantly disregards the simple boundaries I give her on a daily basis. There are people on soap boxes every where I look (yup, I have one of my own).

So, today, my mind and my heart are at an unrest. I am praying. I am reaching out to friends. Now I am writing.

For today, I am going talk about that step-daughter of mine. The who has down syndrome, is going through puberty and doesn’t respect given boundaries.

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A Broken Gift

Disclaimer: I understand that all kids (and people, for that matter) dabble in rebellion and don’t always want to abide by the rules. That is not the point I am making here. Marie is 13 and has down syndrome. She is 13 and can’t (or won’t) follow simple instructions. Please don’t comment comparing her to all the other kids out there who are “normal.”

When you walk into my house, our computer desk is one of the first eye sores in the room. Like any used work space it quickly becomes cluttered with mismatched items who don’t seem to have a home of their own. Every once in a while I spend time de-cluttering and organizing piles of crap. This time I came across one of Marie’s Christmas gifts.

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Homeschool Roller Coaster

For my birthday (which was yesterday) Mr. Sexy sent me to my girl friend’s house for a night of some R&R.  (More to come later because I have amazing friends and family.) The visit was much needed and while I got to hang out with her beautiful girls, my kids were nowhere to be found.  I missed them – sort of.  But then when their baby wouldn’t sleep or their toddler happened to throw a tantrum I remembered what I was getting a break from.  This meant Mr. Sexy was home dealing with all that mess.  By himself.  It was fun for him- I think -sort of.  But it also had it’s difficulties as Mr. Sexy saw firsthand many of the difficulties I face with Marie every-day-all-day.

We are getting off the homeschool roller coaster.

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Notice the Fear

I have noticed that I don’t write much about Marie these days. I write about general things.  But I have shied away from my thoughts and feelings about being her parent.  I think that’s a disservice to me and to those who read my blog.  My dealings with her are a large part of my daily life.  For me not to talk about those struggles is as if to omit them.  And for what purpose? To make my life appear as if it were happy and good and shining bright like the sun?  Not that my life isn’t good or happy.  But still, my family is a daily fight for all of us.  Simply being together in the same room can be a struggle.

I believe I have not spoken so intimately about my struggles with Marie out of fear.  In fact, I still get butterflies when I get a comment notification waiting for approval.  But acting out of fear is not the way to live.  If I choose not to write about a particular topic, it should be based off of something tangible.  Not the elusive concept of fear.  The “what ifs.” That is just Satan trying to get into my head.

My struggles with Marie are real. And tense. And I know I am not alone in those moments that are most difficult.

 

I got smart this time and set a timer on my phone so I could officially write for 5 minutes!  It only took me a few years to notice I could do that.

Click the link to join the party.

 

The Day She Left Us

Today is another post written by Mr. Sexy.  He is such a hoot and I hope you enjoy reading his perspective of what happens when I leave him and the kids.  Alone.  For two whole nights. 

July 23, 2011

Mrs. Sexy and I haven’t spent much time apart since we’ve been married.

About two years ago I had to spend three weeks in Hawaii for the Navy Reserves. But besides a night here or there, we have pretty much been at each other’s sides…

Until this past weekend.
Let me explain:
Our church’s annual women’s retreat came around and for the first time, the Sexy family budget and the Sexy family schedule worked together so Mrs. Sexy could go.
I was stoked. Not because I wanted a weekend without the wife, but I knew that without her there to distract me, I would get things done on our house. (and of course I thought she would enjoy it)

Yes, that meant I would be taking care of all 3 kids for the weekend, but come on, how hard could that be?

Well, LET…ME…TELL…YOU…
First off, let me say that I am not the kind of man that comes home from work and slouches down in front of the television waiting for dinner to be served. I pride myself that I don’t spend all of my energy at work. So, when I come home, it’s time to turn on the overdrive and see where I can help out. Cooking and cleaning are not far removed from my everyday life.
The weekend began with a drive to Mrs. Sexy’s meet-up point with a little excitement and hesitation of what the weekend would bring.  Even though the kids didn’t say much as she departed, the 20 minute drive home was a somber one. The usual loud music and ‘singing’ at the top of our lungs was not on anyone’s mind.
As we pulled up to the house, spirits changed a bit with the promise of Mac-n-Cheese and corn dogs for dinner. (Only healthy eating when dad is in charge!)  While I cooked, Michael and Marie made themselves busy outside while Denai patiently waited for dinner and made it known every five seconds through her lovely wailing how hungry she was.
 Dinner went off without a hitch and only half the kitchen was covered in Denai’s dinner.
Off to bed they all went.
I spent my night restless with all the things I planned to do the next day. I knew Mrs. Sexy would be shocked about how much I got done and would love the progress made on our house.
Not much sleep that night.
Because it was Saturday the lovely little ones decided to sleep in until 6am.  I was determined to start the morning right and promptly got the kids up and dressed for the day.  I broke the news that our normal Saturday routine of free pancakes at a local restaurant would not be happening so Michael decided it was a good time for a breakdown. I didn’t handle that well.
I should have started with coffee.
By 8am the kids were enjoying my version of free pancakes and eggs.  The miniature critics approved.
Now, it was time to get started with the projects.
My goals:
        Detail clean the Kitchen
        Setup up Living and Dining areas and remove all boxes
        Setup kid’s room with bunk beds, crib, dressers and move in all kid stuff from garage
        Clean up outside of miscellaneous stuff that accumulated during the move
        Organize garage so we can park in it
        Make butter
        Find other small projects with my free time…
I sent Marie and Michael out to explore after breakfast and put Denai down for a nap.
This was going great.
I started organizing the kitchen for cleaning and put the cream in the Kitchen Aid to get the butter going.  I randomly heard cries from Denai’s room protesting her nap. With the butter going and the kitchen organized I set out to get the living and dining room cleaned out and setup.
After about 2 hours of wailing and no napping, I decided that it was ok for her to miss one nap and brought her down to ‘help’ me.
With a 17 month old running around, the heavy lifting had to stop, so I tried to entertain her and clean up at the same time. You should know, at work I am the multi-tasking king, but I guess at home that is limited to 2 things at a time…ok, maybe one.

Cleaning and entertaining her didn’t go well.

It was finally lunch time and I got the kids setup for lunch. Instead of eating with them I figured I would take this time to move in the dressers and get the heavy lifting done.
Meanwhile the butter was still churning. Halfway through my Saturday and 0 tasks completed.  But it was ok. After lunch the older ones would continue to play and Denai would take a nap.
It amazes me how we can lie to ourselves.
After lunch I tried again with the nap and Michael and Marie went back outside.  I knew this was my only chance to eat so I threw a sandwich together and ate it in less than 5 minutes.
Denai wasn’t having it.  The afternoon nap was a failure.
I told myself that it was fine and this would just make bedtime easier and I could get the kids room setup.  So I got Denai up and invited Michael and Marie to help with their room and bunk beds.
Spirits were high, but I was starting to get exhausted.  Every few minutes Denai was angry about something, so I put Marie on Denai duty and had Michael help me carry drawers upstairs. This worked well for the time being.  We got the dressers upstairs and started to put the bed together.
Michael wanted to help, but his way.
Denai was no longer happy with Marie.
Marie was done with helping Denai.
I was about done with the whole day.
Then, Denai fell and Marie watched.  We have seen this before and have tried to work on this with Marie, but this day I felt losing my temper was a better idea.
So, Dad was upset, Denai was upset, Marie’s feelings were hurt and Michael just wanted his bunk bed put together.
Finally, with the bunk bed put together I moved to Denai’s crib.
MISSING PIECES!
I was done. The kid’s room could wait.
The smell of sour milk and no butter after 8 hours helped me decide it was time to give up on that dream, so I just stopped the mixer and decided to clean it up later.  As dinner was rapidly approaching I realized I hadn’t even thought about what to do.  So I checked the bank account, whew! We had just enough for pizza.
With a quick run to Papa Murphy’s dinner was taken care of.
We painfully chose a movie to watch and enjoyed dinner.  I fell asleep 5 minutes after finishing my pizza although Denai made sure I didn’t miss a single movie moment.
After dinner, bathing and bed time commenced with no real incident although Michael couldn’t understand why he couldn’t sleep in his bunk bed with no mattress.
It was 8:01 PM.
On the Friday Mrs. Sexy left, I figured my evenings would consist of working hard and getting wrapped up with the day’s projects.  However all I could think about was how nice the bed sounded.
Sunday morning came too soon. I wanted to get the kids ready for Sunday school, but with the progression of the morning, I knew I would be lucky to get to the main service on time. I frantically put the house in the best order I could and got the kids ready to go.

Marie was wearing her normal everyday clothes with her hair in a quick pony tail.

Denai was wearing the same Sunday dress she wore last week.

Michael was wearing the shorts he wore on Saturday and was covered in dirt. (This I discovered as we entered the church)
I don’t even know what I wore.
During service I got a text from Mrs. Sexy saying they were headed back.
2 thoughts…
YAY SHE IS COMING HOME!

I didn’t even come close to completing my project list.

Who cares?

YAY SHE IS COMING HOME.
Before we picked her up we had a few more temper tantrums by all, but when we saw her again it was a big sigh of relief.
I prefaced this blog to say that I am not the typical lazy man and I do quite a bit of work around the house.  This weekend I realized how much work Mrs. Sexy does every day and how important it is to be a team without your spouse.
It may not be clear to all, but I can see the hard work she does each day and the fact that she has any energy for me when I come home is a miracle in itself.
Babe, let’s have another kid.

Disclaimer:  Mrs. Sexy did some line editing and is responsible for the pictures in this post. 

Finding the Source

I’m hoping that today doesn’t involve a diaper full to the brim with stinky, mushy feces.

I’m not talking about baby Denai.

Marie has been wearing depends full time for over one month now because she has been having “accidents” throughout the day.  I say “accidents” because I can’t believe she is having accidents.  But then again, I seem to be learning not to be surprised by anything Marie does.

She has down syndrome.  I have known her for four years and I still can’t figure it out.  The down syndrome part, I mean.  And since I can’t figure out the down syndrome part, I can’t figure out the Marie part.

This makes for difficult care-taking/parenting moments.

Every once in a while I have been referring to myself as more of her care-taker than her parent.  While she still calls me “mom,” I’m not sure I’m too happy with the title.  That might sound messed up.  I don’t really get it either.

So, we are in weekly counseling. It’s been really great for me.  I love the counselor.  She makes me feel validated in my feelings – even the really huge ones.  She asks probing questions to get me to think about where my feelings may come from.  She gives me homework that I can accomplish but if I don’t get it done, it’s no big deal.  She is firm with me in some areas, gentle with me in others.

Ciena is wearing depends today – just like yesterday.  But yesterday she had an “accident.”  She pooped.  Was it on purpose?  A true accident?  I don’t know.  Nobody does.  You may ask why she didn’t use the bathroom?  I asked her that same question.  She didn’t have an answer.

I think ever kid/person has a safe spot they like to retreat to.  Marie is like that.  In our new house, the stairs have become her safety zone.  I can’t say I mind because I know where she is and she only gets in the way when she sprawls out and doesn’t move when someone needs to use the stairs.  So, she sits on the stairs unless directed otherwise, and from the stairs she can see the bathroom.  Does she use it?  Well, she didn’t yesterday.

I do think I am the source of the problem with Marie’s behaviors.  As I work to accept that, I can start working towards fixing myself.  And that, my friends, was my conclusion from yesterday’s counseling session.

My (failed) Expectations

Today I read a post at City Chick in the Country where she spent a few lines talking about expectations about her family.  This got me thinking.

My family is still young.  Yet my expectations of my family have already been squandered.

For instance, Marie rarely – if ever – meets my expectations.  Mr Sexy tells me all the time to adjust my level of expectation for her.  Yet I don’t do that.  I don’t feel like I can.  To me, it seems like that would mean she will never be good enough.  Good enough for what?  For who?  Good enough for me?  Is that my problem?

When we were getting to know each other, 2010.
Sometimes I think we need to figure out how to get
back to that place because we aren’t there anymore.

Do I want Marie to be good enough to be “allowed” to be a part of my family?

As a Christian, I understand where I’m in sin.  As an imperfect Christian, I’m not quite sure how to get out of it.

I also had expectations of the family I grew up with.  My parents, my three younger brothers.  All have failed me.  Every singe one.  Over and over and over again.  (Sound familiar?) But then again, I failed them, too.  Every single member of my family have been let down by me – more than once.  We are imperfect people, after all.

The family I grew up with. 2010

I also had expectations of the picture my family would look like.  The picture in my head and the one I currently have do not match.  That was my choice, though.  I had sex and didn’t use protection.  On purpose.  No, I wasn’t trying to get pregnant.  I was “trying” to stop having sex with my boyfriend.  But I was a lonely, horny teenager who was too prideful to go the drugstore.  Again.  But hey, he’s cute right?

Michael, 2 months old.

So I suppose, in many regards, I have failed to meet my own expectations. 

Perhaps my expectations need to change.  Not for Marie, or for my family or for the friends I have around me.  (Let’s face it, friends – best friends – have not always met up to my expectations.)  Maybe my expectations need a shift toward what God expects first.  And maybe if I practice leaning into Him instead of worldly things, I will have more of a cleared up heart to accept people for who they are, where they are, even when they fail to meet all my expectations.

My family, 2014