Sunday, July 22, 2012



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mom's Toughest Challenge: Raising A Boy Into A Confident Man

Approximately 3 weeks ago, my 17 year old son ended his 1 year relationship with his girlfriend.  The news of the break up caught me by surprise, as just 2 weeks before “Diji” had been eagerly anticipating celebrating their 1 year anniversary.  This was his first long term relationship, and he was so proud that they had made it this long.   He had been planning the celebration for at least 2 months, and had a carefully scripted plan of how the day was going to go.  He really liked this girl and so did everyone in the family.  She’s very intelligent, has a great head on her shoulders, gets good grades, she’s respectful, and has a lot of self respect.  I don’t know how she did it, but she always brought out the best in my son.  

The week after the break up, my son sank into a downward spiral as he tried to fill his time with as much activity as he could.  He suddenly wanted to be out with his friends all day every day and he started talking about hanging out with girl’s we had never heard of.  I quickly pulled the reigns in and took control of the situation setting limits on how long he could be out, and who he could go with.  One day I walked into the room and overheard my son’s friend telling him that he was “better off without the ball and chain”.  He proceeded to tell him that all his girlfriend ever did was “hold him back”, and “keep him from having any fun”.   He then went on to say that “ever since he started dating her, he had become a sissy, that he was whipped, and that he was a punk for always listening and doing what she said”.  According to his friend, my son needed to “MAN UP”! The more I listened, the bigger the pit that formed in my gut. 

I looked at both my boys as they sat there, bobbing their heads up and down, listening to the garbage coming out of this other boys mouth.  Suddenly it hit me, could my son’s break up have something to do with peer pressure?  Was my son being made to feel that because he had respect for the girl that he was dating, it meant that somehow he was less of a man?  Could it be that the pressure from society and his peers were making him feel as though his good choices, were putting his masculinity at risk or into question?  My son was always very attentive to his girlfriend’s wishes.  He was sensitive to her feelings and was always very responsible not to do anything that could potentially harm their relationship.  She in turn, reciprocated and treated him the same way.  I often complemented both of them for the mutual respect they showed one another, which made their relationship a strong and healthy one.  However, I remember many instances where his friends would make comments telling him he was “whipped”.  They would tease him, and even go as far as to tell him “you better go ask your wife” whenever he expressed that he wanted to hang out with them.  The more I thought back, the more I realized that not just his friends, but society criticizes young boys and young men for doing the right things. 

For reasons that I cannot explain, a boy who gets good grades, is kind to others, shows respect to his peers and adults around him, is thought to not be “manly enough”.  Having 2 teenage boys I can tell you that there is nothing more important to a teenage boy, then how their peers perceive them, especially their male friends.  Being “manly” is something that is built into a boys make up.  From the time that they are small, little boys look to their fathers and imitate those traits which they believe make them “a man”.  Society, as well as parents, reinforce to young boys that they need to be tough, that boys aren’t supposed to cry.  As they get older society teaches boys that they need to be strong, both emotionally & physically.  Movies and TV shows often depict young men as reckless and violent, often showing them drinking, doing drugs, mistreating women, committing violent acts and taking unnecessary risks.  Hollywood and the music industry are riddled with young men making terrible decisions.  These young celebrities then move on with their lives, showing little to no remorse and a blatant disregard for how their decisions affect their lives and their fans.  

I am a mother raising 3 boys, and although I am not a single mother, the male role model in our home is not their father.  My children’s biological father is in their lives, however, he too has fallen victim to “street culture” and society, and is not the kind of man I want my children to become.  As a mom, this has me extremely concerned.  Although I try to teach my boys good values, they take their que on what it is to be a man from their friends, their TV/Music idols, and their own father. In this society where a great number of boys are being raised by single mom’s, where there are so many absentee fathers, so many terrible depictions  of what it means to be a man, how do we help our boys to become the men that society needs them to be?  How can we as mothers help them to change their views on what they think are acceptable behaviors? 

How do we lead our boys to the realization that being a man has little to do with what they see in the media, and everything to do with the values by which a man should live by?  Values which include putting your family first.  Being a provider for your family, whether that means going out to work every day to put food on the table, or being a stay at home dad if that is the decision you and your spouse come to.  Being a good role model to your family and children by teaching them respect, responsibility, honesty, and the importance of having good character.  Protecting your loved ones should the need arise, but also being there and supporting them through emotional situations.  A good man does cry when he needs to, and should teach his kids and especially his boys that feelings and emotions are real and allowed.  Crying doesn’t make you less of a man, it only makes you more human. Being a man means that you are strong for your  family, but at the same time sensitive to their needs.  Most of all a man should be proud to be who he is.  He should be proud of his values and beliefs, regardless of what the outside world thinks, or says. 

The challenge for us mothers is how do we teach our boys to go against what they see, what they hear from their friends, and what they have been taught by society.  After much thought, I’ve come to the realization that my boys will make their own decisions and interpretations on what being a man is about.  However, I will do everything I can to guide them and let them know that it is okay to not always feel so strong.  During moments when they are sad, I will let them know that it is okay for them to be sad.  During times that I see that they are speaking about young ladies in a way that is inappropriate, I will remind them of their sisters, and ask them to consider how they would want a man to treat them.  I will do everything that I can to be a constant supporter of my  boys when society tells them they are not being “manly enough”, but will be quick to bring it to their attention when they are behaving in a way that is not acceptable per our values.  I will do all of this while showing them unconditional love & respect.  In the absence of a positive male role model, it is my responsibility as their mother,  to guide my boys towards becoming good men.  I know that this task is far easier said than done. As I give thought to this next year with my 17 year old son, I hope that in the end he will learn to be confident with regard to who he is.  I pray that he will choose to live by the values that I taught him and in the end live the life of a good man.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dead Beat Parents - Why are they protected by the system???

Disappointed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel today.  After 4 weeks of imagining, dreading, worrying, and thinking about this day, it turns out that it was all for nothing.  Today was supposed to be the day where the court system entered a child support order on behalf of my children, so that they would begin receiving support from their father.  Instead, at about 9:30am, while in my car on the way to the hearing, my attorney calls to inform me that "Ex's" attorney filed for a continuation, citing that he had just been appointed to the case and had not had enough time to prepare.

So I'm sure you are all wondering when this "Request for Continuation" was submitted.
As it turns out, it was submitted this past Friday at 3pm!  So late in the afternoon, in fact, that my attorney and I were never notified.  Instead the only one's who were notified, were my innocent kids.  As I was getting ready for the start of my work week yesterday, my children informed me that their father had shown them paper work showing that our hearing was being postponed.  Not once since this hearing was set 4 weeks ago, did I ever mention to our children, the day that we were going to court. Why, because they are kids and they get no benefit from worrying about when or where their parent's, who cannot get along, are going to end up in court.  They are children, and for this reason, I don't want them worrying, or even thinking about any of this.  I don't want them feeling like they have to take sides, or feeling as though this is their burden to carry.  It angers me to know that my children have to hear about all of this from the one person in the world, who has no idea what is best for them.

I am even more angry at the court system, for allowing and granting a continuation to someone, who had known about this hearing for 4 week, and chose to retain representation 2 days prior to the hearing.  How is that my fault, or my children's fault.  Why is it that this man, who by the way has filed for joint split custody so he can escape his child support obligations, and in the mean time is paying nothing towards their care, allowed to have more time to prepare!!!  Was 4 weeks not enough?  For gods sake, I'm the mother of 5 kids, I work a full time job, and also own my own business which I do after putting in 8 to 10 hours at my full time job...and still, I had time to obtain legal representation.  I had time to put in my paper work, do my research, and still take care of all 5 of my kids.  How can a court system allow that???  Is it really that easy to be a dead beat parent...can it be that the legal system has more protections in place for the dead beat parents than it does for the children they are supposed to be looking out for???

In any event, I guess it doesn't matter what I think, or that he's not spending a single dime to support my kids.  The continuation was granted and our hearing has been pushed out another 4 weeks, to August 16th.  It doesn' matter that I had to pay my attorney to prepare for my hearing on Friday, or that she and I had to call each other 4 times this morning, as we sorted through all this, and it doesn't matter that she and I drove down to the court house for a hearing that was postponed.  All of this which comes out of the retainer that I paid my attorney, who charges me $250 an hour to work on my case.  All money that is now wasted on a hearing that never even happened.  All so that a man who refuses to pay support to his children can have more time to prepare for a child support hearing!

Who is protecting my rights, or the rights of my kids!  I am a parent and by no means do I expect a medal for doing what I am supposed to do, but here I am, the only person ensuring my kids have food on the table, that they have clean clothes on their backs and I'm faced with this tremendous financial hardship because of a man, a father, who is not stepping up and taking care of his responsibility.  Why is it okay for him to not provide for his kids, and worst make things more financially difficult for the person who is carrying the financial burden in the first place.  The system I'm afraid is extremely flawed.

I'm trying to stay positive throughout this process, but I'm afraid that I'm quickly losing faith in the justice system.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Why Am I Still Up???

The time is 1:37am here in beautiful Audubon, Pennsylvania.  As I sit here looking at the clock, I feel my eyes getting heavy, and my body craving sleep.  I'm a working mom of 5 who gets up every morning by no later than 6:00am.  I am currently, not by choice but by necessity, co-sleeping with a nursing 20 month old who spends all night attached to me, while I lay in some strange uncomfortable positions, afraid that any movement might wake her.  On an average night, I probably get only about 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I spend a good deal of my day running from one task to the next, doing anything I can, to not slow down enough to let the sleep monster catch up with me.  So what in the world am I doing still up????

The three youngest kids have been in bed since 9pm.  The older boys pretty much fend for themselves so I don't have to worry or take care of them. So again I ask myself, "Why am I still up?"  Instead of seeping, here I sit, reading emails, catching up on blogs, checking what my friends have been up to on Facebook, Pinterest, etc., etc.; I'm sure you get the picture.  So WHY am I still up???  Really, I'm not doing anything productive at all.  I have dishes in the sink, and the living room floor is covered with toys, but here I sit at my computer browsing the web completely exhausted, yet still I don't want to go to bed.    

Every night, especially week nights, I find myself in this same exact predicament.  And worst yet, every morning that I wake up, after going to sleep at such a late hour, I curse at myself under my breath for yet again, not giving myself the opportunity to catch up on some zzzzzzz's.  I crawl out of my bed looking and feeling like a zombie, and then promise myself, "Tonight, you WILL finally get to bed on time.  (Note: I'm not very good at keeping the promises I make to myself! Lol)  And why???

The answer is simple, and I'm sure every mom out there knows what I am talking about.  From the moment I awaken, I throw myself into taking care of kids, a house, a man, a job, and countless of other tasks.  Every day the To Do List is longer then there are hours in the day!  I eat while doing chores, make phone calls while changing diapers, I cook dinner while making sure the kids aren't killing each other.  I take bathroom breaks with a 20 month old in the bathroom while a 5 year old, 12 year old, 14 year old, and 17 year old, sit outside the bathroom door because they have something so important to tell me that it cannot wait the 5 minutes that I need to go to the bathroom.  Literally, my entire day is spent running around in circles trying to meet the needs of my family.

Then suddenly, the end of the day draws near.  I tuck the last of the kids into bed and carefully shut the door behind me. I pause for a second or two to listen...then what do I hear???  The wonderful sound of nothing....quiet...relaxing nothing!!!  It is by far, next to the first cry of a newborn baby of course, the best sound in the whole world.  After soaking that lovely sound in for a few moments, I find myself prancing through my upstairs hallway like a giddy school girl!  I prance down the stairs (quietly of course) with such a sense of excitement!!!  Finally...the moment is here...time for some adult time...time for some "Me Time"!!!  And the best part of everyone being asleep, is that I can actually start a task without any interruptions.  I can read through the news, Facebook updates, catch up on my blogs, without a single "Mommy" being screamed out!!!  I can even hear myself think, and then I can take those thoughts and actually turn them into ideas!!!  Crazy, right???  I can actually relax and look through my favorite websites without having to look up every 2 minutes to make sure that the kids aren't getting into trouble.

So why am I not sleeping??? Because this time is my "ME TIME".  Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom, and I love the craziness that is my life, but man I love the quiet that comes with the end of a day.  Only trouble is, I wish I wasn't so tired....

I'm sure there's a whole lot of mom's out there tonight, feeling the same way!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Our First Mini Vacation: Ocean City, NJ

I signed onto my blog this morning, with the intent of discussing my fabulous weekend with the family, and instead went off on a rant regarding a situation that doesn't deserve any more attention from me.  After all, that is what I hired my lawyer for, so I think I'll let her handle it so I can focus on my family.  I do want to apologize to anyone reading my prior entry, for letting myself get side tracked, discussing the issues I'm having with "he who should remain nameless", Lol.  Anyways here is the run down of our wonderful weekend! : )

At our last session with our family counselor, she asked "Daddy" and I when was the last time we went on a vacation.  To our amazement, we were both shocked by the question and had no idea how to respond.  I remember that he looked at me at the same time that I looked at him almost as though both of us were hoping that the other would remember when the last time was.  It was as if we had some sort of brain cloud that prevented us from remembering our last vacation.  Surely we'd been on vacation as a family, right??? One would think, right???  I mean, doesn't everybody go on vacation sometime???  Of course, so surely...wait...oh no...crap.  No, in the 3 years daddy and I have been together, we've never gone away on a vacation.

I can only speak for myself, but man was I embarrassed.  I still don't know why I was embarrassed, but I was and still am.  When she asked us why not, I immediately defended myself by running down a list of all the "To Do's" in my life that prevent me from even thinking about peace and relaxation.  Not to mention how much work it is to pack 5 kids and 2 adults just for a day outing, much less what it takes to pack up for several days!  As I went on my rant I suddenly found myself wondering the same thing...why haven't we ever planned a vacation???  Don't daddy and I deserve a little fun???  I know the kiddos do.  Wouldn't it be nice to get away from it all, even if only for a day, so we can concentrate on spending time and enjoying each other's company.

For the next 2 days, I could not get the thought of a vacation out of my head.  Considering the amount of stress going on in our lives right now,  getting away from it all was sounding sooooooooo incredibly wonderful!!  On Saturday morning, I woke up and the first thought that rushed through my head is the day!!!  We are leaving and getting away from everything...just for a day!!!  As soon as the thought made it's way into my sub conscience, I felt a huge sense of relief come over me.  I felt so happy and all the tension and stress were pushed into some far corner of my mind...just until after our mini vacation.  I was at peace and excited for the first time in a long time.

When I shared the news with "Daddy" and the teenagers, I knew right away that this was not going to be easy.  All of us have a different definition of what is fun and what isn't, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to make clear to everyone what the goal of this outing get away from everything that is normal and usual to us.  We were going to do something that we had never done as a family.

We packed ourselves up, and were out the door by around dinner time.  Yes I know...from morning to dinner time is a long time, but if you have ever packed up 5 kids, you would understand.  It was a crazy couple of hours and I felt like a director of a bad movie.  Let's just say that packing was by far the worst part of our trip, and I'll leave it at that.

We headed out to Ocean City, NJ were I was able to find a wonderful hotel that accommodated all of us in 1, yes I said 1 room.  It was a Days Inn hotel and the rate for a Saturday night was only $258, so I wasn't sure in what kind of condition the hotel/room would be in.  When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised by how nice and clean the hotel and room was.   The room was actually more like a suite, with 1 full bath, a living room area, a small dining area with a microwave and fridge, and a separate bedroom with 2 Queen Beds.  We set up the teenage boys on the sofa couch in the living room and then put "Desibelle", "Bugsy", "Lilly", "Daddy", and I in the bedroom.

After setting up the beds for the night (we knew we'd be coming home with at least 2 sleeping little kids, and 3 very cranky older kids), we headed out to Ocean City to explore the town.  The hotel was conveniently located about 10-12 minutes from the beach.  By the time we got to the board walk the crowds had died down, but it was still quite lively and fun.  I remember feeling completely relaxed, with not a care in the world.  It's the most relaxed that I have felt in a long time.  After about 2 or 3 hours of walking the boardwalk and visiting the shops, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel.

When we arrived, the kids were still in great moods, and we were able to get everyone into bed and asleep within about 20 minutes.  The next morning, we went downstairs to enjoy the complimentary breakfast buffet, then headed back upstairs to get ready to check out.  I remember feeling sad that I was leaving such a wonderful space.  A space where I was not responsible for cooking, cleaning, or making the beds.  : )

When we left the hotel, we headed back to Ocean City to enjoy more of the board walk.  We shopped, ate, spent lots of money, and "BINGO"...enjoyed each other tremendously.  No heard right...not a single fight amongst the siblings!  They were being kind to one another, laughing at each other's jokes, they looked out for each other, and there was not a single unkind word spoken!!! What??? You mean to tell me my children do and actually can get along????  Here I am, 3 days later and still in shock!

This mini-vacation was exactly what we needed.  It brought us closer together and showed us just how much we love spending time with each other.  Everyone of the children made comments like, "Let's do this again soon!" and "Can we come back before the end of summer?".  Let's just say, I'm sold.  I will make it my my get at least 1 family vacation in every year.  I'm now making plans to get my kids back to the beach in August for a full 7 days of fun in the sun as a family!!! : )

Here are some memories from our mini vacation.

Sunday Morning and "Lilly" and "Bugsy"
can't wait to get everyone up.

"Daddy" being awaken by our precious
babies, "Lilly" & "Bugsy".

"Desibelle", just after being woken up by her baby brother and sister.

The 3 little kids riding on a ride at the Ocean City Boardwalk.

Another ride! : )  This was "Lilly's" first time on rides, and let's 
just say...she wasn't too impressed. Lol

Here the older boys, not wanting to be left out, also get on
the baby rides.  They are too funny!
"Daddy" and the little kids.

Here are my little ones at the beach in Atlantic City.
We had so much fun in Ocean City, we decided to stop
by Atlantic  City on the way home!  We had a blast!!!

Here are my 5 babies and I.  This is definitely not one of
my most flattering pictures.  Let's just say, I joined a gym
 2 days ago, and started a new diet program.  I'll probably
 be blogging about that too in the near future! : )  

Here is my 14 year old "Doodle Bug", with his
baby sister "Lilly".

My two handsome boys, "Doodle" & "Diji".  They don't let
me take too many pictures of them, so I was thrilled
when they posed for this picture! : )

Our two oldest, and "Daddy".  In the background are some
of the Atlantic City Casino's.

Children Do Not Belong In The Middle!!!

The past few weeks have been pretty tough for the entire family.  About 3 weeks ago, after 3 years of getting a measly $450 a month in child support for 4 kids, I decided to take "Ex" to domestic relations.  After hearing about this, "Ex" then made it his life's mission to make my life as complicated as possible.  He stopped paying support all together, and then turned around and filed for shared custody of the kids...a complete 50/50 split.  He's always warned that if I took him to court, this is the step he would take so he wouldn't have to pay anything.  He even explained to the children, that by he and I sharing 50/50 custody, I would then have to pay him support, since I make more than he does.  Let's just say, I have not been a very happy camper.

Being a parent is a very complicated role.  Kids do not come with instructions, and every kid and circumstance is different.  The one thing that I have learned through my 17 years being a mom is that I don't have all the answers, and that I will make mistakes.  However, as long as I keep my children's best interest in mind, things will always work themselves out. I have never let my feelings for "Ex" interfere with the decisions regarding my children.  Even with knowing the kind of man he is, because my kids love him and want to spend time with him, I have NEVER denied him access to his kids.  Every time he does something stupid and gets into arguments with my boys, I have worked relentlessly to bring my boys and he back to the table so they can talk it out.  I have always, regardless of what has transpired between he and I, encouraged my kids to continue their relationship with their father.  If not for me, he would likely not even have a relationship with the older kids.

Even so, now that we are headed to court, he has made it his personal mission to speak to the kids about court.  He's told them that I am trying to get him sent to jail, that this is all my fault and I started this, I'm a snitch for going to court to seek additional support, and basically he is the victim and I'm just taking advantage of the system and of him.  Worst part is, that since I have not talked to my children regarding the specifics of why and how we got to this point, they believe him and are angry with me.  As of this weekend, I had to sit my oldest 2 down and explain to them that what is happening between me and their dad is not something they should be involved with.  This isn't their burden to carry and it is not their place to be in the middle.  Quite sternly I reminded them that they are only hearing what their father is telling them and that there is more to the story then what they know, and will not know, because they are kids and I will not drag them into the middle by discussing details.  I reminded them how much I love them, and that they needed to trust that I have always looked out for their best interests, and will continue to do so throughout this process. At the beginning of the conversation things were very tense.  By the time the conversation ended, the atmosphere was much more relaxed.

I am so angry that he is manipulating my kids.  I'm so angry that as usual he is not thinking about them.  He's always been selfish but I am honestly shocked by the lengths he will go to, to make life difficult for me at the expense of his kids.  He even had my 14 year old serve me, with the custody hearing order.  Per the law in our state/county he either needs to serve me via certified mail, or have the sheriff and/or process server do the serving.  By having my son serve me, he didn't follow this protocol, so my attorney has advised me that I have not been officially served.  Even so, I am so angry that even when it comes to serving me...he had my son do it.  How can a biological parent not feel bad placing their child in the middle of something like this.  This man is obviously so out of touch with what being a parent is.  Let's just say I will fight this custody arrangement with everything I got.  My children may not understand right now, but how can they?  They are kids, and they just want both of their parents.  They love us both.  It is up to me however, to protect them and do what is best for them.  Especially since their father, is obviously so out of touch with what is best for them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meet My Children

Given how many of us there are, I thought it would be a good idea to give a little background on my family and introduce my kids.  My children are all different and wonderful, each in their own way.  I am proud of each and everyone of them, and love them more then they will ever know.

Meet "Diji" - 17 Years Old

My oldest son "Diji" when he was 11 years old.  This was
taken about a year before his downward spiral began.
I will always treasure the one on one time that I got to spend with my first born.  The first time I saw him was the greatest moment of my life.  I remember his smell, and those big blue eyes that stared up at me during those mid night nursing sessions when he was just a few weeks old.  He was such a wonderful baby boy.  Growing up he was a loving, and kind little boy.  He loved animals and books, and his favorite...books about animals.  

Growing up for him was by far the hardest.  He was born to two 18 year old parents who thought they had all the answers.  We were very young and basically kids ourselves.  I have many regrets, over things that he witnessed.  He had to deal with the immaturity of his teen parents.  We put ourselves, and him, in situations that looking back as an adult, I would never put my younger kids through.  Even so he was resilient and happy most of the time.

Around the time he turned 12, things began to change with my boy.  He became angry, and his grades started suffering.  As time went on he became more distant and defiant.  I started reaching out to school counselors, family members, friends and they all warned me that it was the dreaded teen years looming their ugly head just a bit early.  I tried everything to reach me son during this time period but he was so angry with me.  ONLY me????  He seemed fine with his friends and with family, and he was okay with his dad.  It was me that he was mad at.  At that time I had no idea what I had done to my sweet boy to make him so angry.  It broke my heart and sent me into a whirlwind of despair.  (It wasn't until just a year ago, that I finally found out why he was so angry with me.  I will discuss that topic in more detail on a later post.)

By the time he was 14 it was clear to me and everyone that something was very wrong.  My son spent most of his free time in his room sleeping.  He stopped hanging out with friends, and became distant from everyone, including family.  He was getting F's in school, and he was downright rude, mean and difficult.  It was clear to me that my son was in serious psychological trouble.  I confronted him one morning because I found cigarette butts inside of a trash bag in his room.  I told him that we would discuss his punishment later that afternoon, when he got home from school.

That afternoon, my son never came home.  I was frantic!  I called the police, his friend's, and his friend's parents.  I then went from house to house, driving to all his friends homes, his hang outs, the parks and then finally just drove around hoping to catch a glimpse of him.  It was by far the worst night of my life.  He actually spent two nights missing.  I remember trying to sleep the 2 nights he was gone and every time I closed my eyes I pictured him in a field, crying, cold, and hungry.  When I would finally fall asleep, I was plagued with dreams that would end in unimaginable horrors.  The absolute terror that a parent feels when they cannot find their child is a feeling that I would never wish on anyone.

After two nights of him being missing, we received a tip from one of his friends and finally found him.  We were so happy to have him home again.  The blissful feeling lasted only as long as it took us to drive him home.  Once there we realized that a new fear had set in for us.  How the heck were we going to keep him from leaving again.  After much thought, given the mental and emotional state that he was in, I decided to take him to the hospital for a mental evaluation.  That night my son agreed to be admitted to a mental health center.  He wanted help, and said this repeatedly during that hospital visit.  During his two week stay at the hospital, he was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Attention Deficit Disorder.

Fast forward to today, my son is in a much better place.  He still has moments where the negative thoughts resurface from time to time, and it is an ongoing battle.  His grades are back up to A's and B's and he has a lot of friends.  It is still an ongoing struggle, as he still displays very little patience and has a lot of issues with anger.  Some of it relates to just typical teenage behavior, but some of it goes back to some of the things my son has experienced in his short life.  We are still in counseling as we try to piece together the events that transpired and turned my happy boy into such an angry and sad adolescent. 

I love my son more than anything in this world, but I've come to the realization that I have let him down and disappointed him many times.  Since his diagnosis of depression a few years ago, he and I have become closer.  We have a very open line of communication, and he has been painfully honest with me, many times, regarding the mistakes that his dad and I have made as parents.  He keeps me honest, and makes me face the realities that for so long I have been trying to forget.  Because of him, I have become a better parent, and a better person. He has overcome so many obstacles and I have faith that as he enters adulthood, he will grow up to be a wonderful man.

Meet "Doodle Bug" - 14 Years Old

"Doodle Bug" holding his baby brother.  He was about
9 years old when this picture was taken.
My sweet "Doodle Bug" was born just 2 and half years after his older brother.  My entire pregnancy with "Doodle" was riddled with pain and uncertainty.  The kids dad was about 20 years old at the time and had begun hanging out with the wrong group of people.  He quit his job about the time we found out we were expecting and began neglecting all responsibilities at home.  He would leave the house everyday to hang out with friends, and would come homes at wee hours of the morning, and sometimes not at all.  It was a very depressing time for me.  Their father and I had been high school sweethearts.  We had always had the same goals and dreams for a family, but for some reason something had changed for him and he no longer wanted the responsibility.  Without his income, we quickly got into financial trouble, and had to leave our apartment.  His mother's friend had a home right next to hers that she was willing to let us live in until the baby was born, and I could get back to work.  I was 9 months pregnant and already 11 days overdue with our son on the day of our move.  Everything was packed, the truck was there, his mom and my friends were there, but "EX" was nowhere to be found.  Between the help we had there, and myself, we loaded the truck and basically moved without him.

After the move, he came home to our new place and told me he wasn't moving in with us.  Instead he would be living with friends, and that I should "feel free" to give him a call after the baby was born.  That night I went into labor, and although he was there, he refused to take me to the hospital.  I called his mother and she took me to the hospital.  By the time I got to the hospital, my son was already crowning, and he ended up being born in the ER.  It was both one of the worst and one of the best nights of my life.

My "Doodle" came home from the hospital on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14th, 1998.  I had just given birth to a beautiful boy, and I had my oldest son who was 2 at the time.  I was very happy to have them, but was devastated by what had happened between their dad and I.  I was completely broke, living by myself with 2 babies, no job, no furniture, no food, and felt completely hopeless.  Somehow, with the help of his mother, I got myself and my boys on State Assistance.  Four months later I was back to working a full time job, off of assistance, and supporting my family all on my own.

Given the amount of stress at that time of my life, I feel as though I missed out on so much of "Doodle's" baby days.  Even so, he was such a mamma's boy.  From the very beginning, I knew he was going to be very laid back.  He was quiet, but very silly and funny.  He was also very active and showed signs of being very athletic from a very early age.  He walked by 9 months and never stopped moving.

As he got older I realized that unlike my oldest, who is very talkative, outspoken and not afraid to say what is on his mind, "Doodle" was different.  He never cried, never complained, and never told me when he was sad.  I remember that as a little guy, whenever he got upset, he would run to his room and cry by himself.  There were so many times that I found him up there, and he never really told me what was wrong.  He has always dealt with his feelings by bottling them up and never speaking about them.

My second born, just like my first born, also had to endure far more than my other children.  Their father and I made a ton of mistakes, and had terrible judgement.  "Doodle" too saw far more than any child should have, and given his quiet introverted nature, things were even tougher for him, although he never complained or even talked about it.

Today he is still very quiet and reserved about feelings.  He is funny, loving, patient and caring, but he too is plagued by the terrible things that happened to him and his brother.  (This is the topic that I will be discussing at a later time).  He also is undergoing counseling and is doing well.  He is an B student, and is entering high school this year.  As an adult, I see him growing up to be a wonderful father and husband, based on his kind heart and the love he shows his little brother and sister's.

Meet "Desibelle" - 12 Years Old

"Desibelle" feeding her baby brother.  She was almost 7 years
old when this picture was taken.  She became a big sister for
the first time and was so proud of her new baby brother.
My oldest daughter, is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day!  She is the sweetest, kindest, and most loving little girl that you will ever meet.  She came into this world about a year after "Ex" and I got back together.  Our relationship was healthier than ever, we were both employed, and he had recommitted himself to me and our growing family.  We were so excited to find out that we were expecting again, and couldn't wait to see if we were having another boy.  Our wonderful little girl kept us in suspense the entire pregnancy, never revealing her identity until the day she was born.  When  the doctor said "It's A Girl", I was filled with so much joy that all I could do was cry!  I loved my boys with all my heart, but here before me was my little girl!!!  A little "Mini Me"...a daughter.  I finally had someone to go shopping with, someone who wanted pretty things, clean things, pink things!!!

She was a wonderful baby.  She was always happy and willing to just go with the flow.  She crawled late, walked late, and pretty much took her time with all her milestones.  She was a cuddle bug from the beginning and was so content no matter where you put her.  She was such a blessing.

My "Desibelle" had it much easier than my older two boys.  She came into the world during a time where things were better than they had ever been.  Financially we were doing well, and "Ex" and I had developed some maturity by the time she came along.  As a mom, I was more focused on my kiddos and more aware of the things they should not be around.  "Ex" still struggled with the responsibility of having the kids and I, but for the most part he was there and was providing for them.  Still, the primary parenting responsibility, fell on me, which I was okay with.

As a 12 year old girl, my daughter has still not hit the "tween" faze.  She is still very much a little girl and very loving and sweet.  She looks at her teenage brothers and gets disgusted by how miserable they are, and tells me she will never be like them when she is a teenager.  We shall see!!! : )   She is very maternal and loving with her baby brother and sister and loves spending time with them.  So much, in fact, that at 12 years old, she is begging for us to let her share a room with both of them. She is indeed a true blessing from god.

Meet "Bugsy" - 5 Years Old

"Bugsy", when he was 9 months old.
It had been almost 7 years since our daughter was born, when "Bugsy" came along.  He was the biggest of my baby's weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs 8 oz, and measuring 23 inches long!  He was literally the size of a 3 month old baby.  We were so excited when we found out we were pregnant with him.  Once again, "Ex" and I were still at a good place financially, although our relationship was still hot and cold.  Sometimes we were doing great, other times we not so much.  I think that at that time, we both thought that having another baby, would bring us closer together.  There was a void in our relationship that I think we were trying to fill with this innocent child.  Even so, we were happy with his arrival and things were going great.  About 2 weeks after "Bugsy" was born we bought our first home and moved in.  It was one of the happiest times of my life.

"Bugsy" suffered from a lot of Gastro-Intestinal problems as an infant so he was quite colicky.  He was actually quite miserable most of the time for about the first 4 months of his life.  Shortly after the colic went away, the chronic ear infections started.  Taking care of a colicky, sick baby puts quite a strain on any parent.  I was exhausted and feeling quite depressed after he was born.  The high of having a new baby and buying our first home quickly faded, shortly after we moved.  It was followed by a deep sadness that I just couldn't shake.  I didn't know what I was sad about, I just knew that I was.  With the sadness came long periods of anxiety that would last hours.  I felt like I was trapped and the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  Looking back I'm fairly certain that I was suffering from Post Partum Depression, but while you are in that depressed state, you just don't see it.  Around this time "Ex" began to revert back to his old habits. I think that my mental state probably had a lot to do with his desire to be away from the house.  I don't think he understood, or knew what was going on with me, but with my increased anxiety and sadness, his response was to run away.  So there I was, alone with my 4 kids, a sick baby, and depressed.  It was a very low point in my life.

About 9 months after "Bugsy" was born, I found out that "Ex" was cheating on me.  I was absolutely devastated.  This was the beginning of the end for "Ex" and I.  I ended up forgiving him, and warned him that I would not be so forgiving next time.  About a year later I discovered that he was cheating on me again.  Right around "Bugsy's" 2nd Birthday, "Ex" and I were over for good.

At 5 years old, "Bugsy" has no memory of his parent's ever living together.  Given his young age at the time of the split, he was not affected at all.  He is very sweet, and definitely a mamma's boy.  He is funny, witty and so smart.  He is a very active little boy, and requires a lot of structured activities to keep him out of trouble! : )

Meet "Lilly Pie" - 1 Year Old

"Lilly Pie" on her first Easter.  She was
6 months old.
Several months after my split with "Ex", I reconnected with an old friend from high school, whom I will refer to as "Daddy".  We started dating, and after watching the way he was with my kids, I quickly fell in love with him.  Here was a man that had no biological connection to my children, but yet he cared for them and spent more time with them then their biological father ever did.   He would change my 2 year old's diaper simply because it needed changed.  He would cook and clean not because I asked him to help, but simply because he saw how overwhelmed I was.  Here was a man who had no children of his own, stepping up to take care of my babies.  Most of all, he was taking care of me!  Something that "Ex" had never done for me.

It wasn't long before we decided to add to our family.  Initially the pregnancy caught us by surprise, but we were ready and excited.  During the entire pregnancy, "Daddy" took care of the cooking, the cleaning, the groceries...just about everything.  I had some medical issues and had to spend most of the pregnancy on bed rest, and I was actually able to spend that time taking care of me and my baby because the man I loved, was taking care of everything else.  I am so blessed to have found this man.

Two days after my due date, my water broke.  We knew our baby was on it's way so we quickly got ready and headed to the hospital.  "Daddy" was so loving and supportive throughout, only taking his attention off me, when he saw his baby girl for the first time.  He was so in love, I could see it all over his face.  Our sweet girl came into the world with two loving parents who are willing to sacrifice anything, including themselves for her.  This is something that I regret that my other children didn't have.

Since her birth "Lilly Pie" has amazed us with her brilliance.  She learned to crawl at 4 months, learned to stand at 5 months and was walking by 8 and a half months.  She started talking at about 13 months, and although not yet talking in complete sentences, she is very close.  She is very active and into everything.  She adores her siblings, her mom and most of all her "Daddy".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Coming Full Circle

My 2 oldest, "Diji" and "Doodle", 
Christmas 2001.  Things were so 
much simpler back then! : )
I am the proud mother of 5 healthy, beautiful children, ranging in age from 17 to 1.  I started out the road to parenthood quite unexpectedly, when I became pregnant and gave birth to my oldest son, "Diji", at just 18 years old.  At that time, I had this unrealistic expectation that I was going to do everything right!  I was not going to make the same mistakes my parents made with me.  I was not going to be unreasonable with him, I would understand him and where he was coming from.  I planned to be open and honest with him so that he would always feel like he could come to me if he had a problem.  I was going to teach him right from wrong, to get good grades, and make good choices.  However, I planned to be understanding with him when mistakes were made, and I would never treat him as though he should be perfect all the time.

I was only a teenager when he was born, and at that time I didn't have the ability to understand what it was my parents were doing.  I knew they loved me, but I always felt as though they wanted me to be smart and perfect all the time.  I felt like I wasn't understood, that they never listened to me, and never took my feelings into consideration.  Looking back, they were just being good parents.  It wasn't that they weren't listening to me, or didn't take my feelings into consideration.  It had everything to do with the fact that they were watching their oldest daughter make terrible decisions, and because of this, they no longer trusted her judgement.  As a teenager, I knew my decisions weren't good, but I felt as though it was my life and I should be able to make my mistakes, learn from them and move on.  I didn't understand how my decisions and my lack of good judgement hurt my parents and family.  I was selfish, stubborn, and naive.

Fast forward to 17 years later, I am now aware of exactly what my parents were going through.  I am now raising 2 teenage boys (17 & 15), and a preteen girl (age 12).  Of the entire 18 year period that it takes to raise a child, adolescence is by far the most challenging stage.  I now look up at my two boys, who both tower over me at almost 6 feet tall, and I see them looking back at me with the same anger and disgust that I used to show my parents.  My boys are going through a stage where they are asserting their independence, constantly reminding me they are no longer babies and that they know what their doing.  All the while I know better.  They may be almost adults, but they don't yet have the ability to understand how the world works, much less understand how the choices they make today can affect the rest of their lives.  Teenagers think in terms of today, and figure they'll deal with any repercussions later.  I was there once, so I understand what they are going through but at the same time the more I explain to them what I have learned though my life experience, the more they dig in their heels and remind me that it's their life...

Amazing how life has come full circle!  Let's just say I have apologized to my parents for what I put them through.  At least now I know that someday, my kids will understand.