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".



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