We’re Dealing…Sort of…

Trying to at least.  Life with a kid who has experienced a load of trauma in her short life, has to deal with the impending arrival of a biological half sibling and all the repercussions of feeling like “the unwanted one”,  a parent who is more absent than she and of course being 7, is not in the least bit easy. Actually, it’s pretty freaking hard, and this past month and a half has been damn near unbearable!

Mary has been exhibiting pretty normal behavior as far as the developmental milestones go for a 7  year old. Challenging authority, trying to prove her independence both socially and emotionally, developing better self-control, identifying emotions, and things like that.  She has also been exhibiting the traits of a child who is 7 that has ALSO experienced severe, early, and chronic trauma. Disregulation of affect, behavior, and/or cognition, as well as problems with trust, shame, self-esteem, and interpersonal relationships.  And even though I know that all of this is technically normal for “a kid like her” (I HATE when people say that, but here in this post it’s totally valid for making my point), I can’t help but be so damn frustrated and annoyed, and just at my wits end, and even thinking things that on a normal day I wouldn’t think.

Mary has been on and off of “punishment” or losing her privileges for the better part of a month and a half.  She’ll lose her freedom and choices for a few days at a time, and then gain them back, but no sooner has she had a day or two of her privileges back, she does something to totally and completely fuck it up again.  It’s been a continuous cycle for the past 6 weeks or so.  Just recently, she’s been lying so badly and consistently, that it was recommended (hesitantly) by her therapist to lie right back, and we did, and it was effective, and she hasn’t lied since, but as soon as she started to get her doggone privileges back, she failed to do the right thing again, and now, after having had a carnival, a fun party to attend, a field trip at camp (we weren’t sending her on trips for about 2 weeks), a day at the pool, and her toys back all in the course of 3 days, she decided that it would be really freaking cute to be rude and sassy to the basketball coach at her camp on Monday.

Callie’s dad went to pick her up at camp.  As he’s leaving the building, the counselor and the basketball coach chased him down to let him know what happened.  Apparently, when they were playing basketball, the coach asked Mary to give him the ball.  She adamantly refused, gave him the stink eye and said, “NO!” So, of course, he asked her again, and she repeated, “NO!”, at which point she finally gave up the ball by just dropping it to the ground and giving the coach a face that was just super fresh (you know the one with the dead stare and almost eye roll that makes you wanna smack them and the arms dangling at the side?  Yeah! That face!).  Then she stood there for the rest of the time, no effort, not moving, and when it was time to leave, the group filed out of the gym, and Mary was called back in by the coach, and she blatantly ignored him, and kept walking, knowing very well that she could hear him.  So the counselor marched her right back into the gym, and they both had a conversation letting her know that her behavior was unacceptable and that she would be in big trouble if she did it again.  Callie’s dad relayed all this information to Callie when he dropped her off at home after camp, and added, “Honestly, Honeypie, I don’t think she’s ever gonna learn!”.  Then Callie sent me a text, and I. WAS. FUMING!!!

I figured, I’d do my best to keep calm, walked through every possible scenario on my train ride home as to why in the world she would think it was okay to be so damn disrespectful (can you tell I’m still angry about this whole situation?!), and figured, since Callie had already suspended her choices YET AGAIN, that when I got home from work, we would sit at dinner and I would ask her calmly, what happened.  What had transpired during the day, or during basketball that made her act that way towards an adult?  What was going on with her emotionally that made her act so fresh?  So at dinner, we all set the table, washed up, and started to eat.  So I asked how her day went (we pretend that Callie hasn’t told me anything initially so Mary can make the choice to tell me the truth about her day, especially when she gets in trouble).

“It was okay.  But I got in trouble today at basketball.”

Why did you get in trouble?”

“Because I wasn’t listening”

Well, why weren’t you listening?”

“Because I didn’t want to play basketball”

Why didn’t you want to play?”


But what was your reason for not wanting to play?


“So you thought it was okay to be fresh and rude because you didn’t want to do something that someone asked you to do?!” (Now I’m getting a little more animated and a little more aggravated because we have had this conversation a dozen times about “The Mary Show” and her doing what she wants to do and not was is required or asked of her)

She gives me a blank stare and that damn smirk, so of course, now I lose it!  Like seriously lose it!  Hands down my most shameful parenting moment ever in life.


Friends, this was just, ugh, so out of character for me, and I just, I don’t know!  Totally lost it!  I scared the crap out of her, and Callie, and even myself.  I had a brief moment where I saw my mother, and heard her voice, right before she beat the crap out of me and my siblings.  I couldn’t even believe that I actually did that.  But at the same time, it was totally liberating and almost like, she needed to hear it and see me angry and not just kinda flighty about the whole situation.  We have tried to address her lying and all of her behavioral issues in the best ways that we can (by the book, with the therapists help, with being in tune with the fact that she has loads of issues that your average 7 year old doesn’t have), and we have not even come CLOSE to fixing half of them.  And I know that it takes time, and I know that she isn’t going to be open to changing if this is how I am communicating with her.

And the worst part is (and this is real deep y’all) that at times like this, it makes me wonder if we are even ready to take on a kid that is so damaged.  What is this gonna look like in 5, 10 years.  Am I going to be taking a 15 year old to a clinic for an abortion, or bailing a 17 year old out of jail?  Am I gonna have to send my 16 year old off to rehab? Am I gonna have the authorities banging on my door at 2 am to tell me that my kid was caught doing something that she shouldn’t do?  Am I gonna worry about the wrong crowd and the unimaginable happening?  Do I have to worry that she is going to be a terrible influence on her younger siblings?  What is her behavior and poor choices going to do to our family, because still at times, Callie and I stand quite divided on how we should handle some of the issues that we face with her.  At times like this, I think, “No matter which way this adoption situation goes, I’ll be fine!  If she stays, cool.  If she doesn’t, cool.”  And that makes me feel like a horrible person, and I know that I only half way mean it when I’m angry.  And even though I know that we are doing the best we can, and we are trying our best to build her self confidence, and her self esteem and allow her to make mistakes so that she can learn from them, there is only so much we can take.

Every day, we lace up our boots, trudge through all the BS that parenting brings, and work together to do the best we can, when and while we can, to help change Mary’s life.  I know that I should have been more proactive than reactive at dinner, and that’s something that I am more aware of now that it’s actually happened.  I’ve made a promise to Callie and myself (and silently to Mary) that I will walk away BEFORE the explosion.  I didn’t do the right thing friends, and it’s been sitting with me for these past 2 days…I feel like a horrible Mamà….

46 thoughts on “We’re Dealing…Sort of…

  1. First, I am pretty sure EVERY single parent loses it at some point. Sure, you yelled, but you didn’t hit. You walked away. And that makes you different than your mother. And yes, the teen years will likely be intense and scary, but you have many years between then and now to get her the help she needs. I really wish I was closer to you because I know a tool that does help significantly with just about anything, but especially with abuse. It’s called Access Consciousness, the Bars. It’s a set of points on the head that when touched lightly releases the energetic and electromagnetic components of everything that happens to us. That stuff from abuse that we store in our minds and bodies? It releases it. And with ease. no rehashing the abuse like in therapy, which for many makes it worse. I’ve seen it work dramatically with my wife who was raped more times than we can count as a child. She has night terrors and in the past they would last for a month or more sometimes. Now when they get triggered (which only happened when her mom moved in with us) we simply run part of the bars for as long as she can stand it (15 minutes or so). Within two nights the night terrors stopped completely and they were less severe after the first session. It’s that powerful. It would likely be good for you to get your bars run, as it’s called, but just starting with her would help a lot. There’s a site to look up people in your area, or if you want I can ask in the facebook groups and find someone who wants to work with her. Since it’s not therapy it should be ok for her to do it. And it goes really quick with kids. I can probably/hopefully find someone willing to do it for free even.
    Here’s the website, hopefully already filtered to NY. Feel free to toss me an email or something if you want to discuss more. http://www.accessconsciousness.com/facilitators.asp?posted=ok&home=yes&countryid=6&stateid=43&name=&SUBMIT=Filter&F_LEVEL=CF#top_form

    • This sounds really interesting… I would be interested in trying this, because honestly, at this point, we’re willing to try anything! I’m gonna check out the site, and see, but I’m not 100% sure if it’s something that we would be able to do with Mary…not that I would have to say anything, but she has free will to communicate and not sure how the foster care system in my county would take to that…but I’ll look into it…thanks for that…

      • I get that. 🙂 What you can ask her is, if there was a way to reduce the pain of everything she’s going through and make it easier for her to make good choices and earn privileges back, would she like to try it? Especially if it doesn’t involve talking about it all?

        it would be nice if she could try before tpr is finalized, for everyone’s sanity, but if not, once the adoption goes through you don’t have to worry about the system anymore.

        By the way, Access Consciousness is working with a neuroscientist and doing a rigorous study of how the bars affects the brain and it’s mind blowing. In the small study they did they saw the same type of results from one session as a person who has practiced meditation for years. Totally chills people out. I can’t wait for the full study to be published because it’s a game changer for the scientifically minded folks. 🙂

      • Yeah, I’m on a site right now, reading up and watching videos..it’s tough because I’m at work, but I’m going to take a good look and share with Callie when I get home tonight. I think that the 3 of us would benefit from this actually. So far, it’s pretty interesting!

      • It’s totally changed our lives. There are some things that are so hard to change because our cognitive mind can’t get to it. The bars gets beyond the cognitive mind and can change anything. Some things still take time. Like money. lol That’s my big thing, but it’s changing slowly. 🙂 Anyway, toss me any questions later if you want.

  2. All parents do and say things they regret. It’s hard to always be perfect, and no-one expects you to be.
    Maybe it’s worth sitting down with Mary and telling her how you yelled was wrong and apologize, and then maybe encourage her to apologize to her basketball coach because what she did was also wrong? Maybe there is a way to turn this into a learning moment for her? I dunno, just a thought.
    Also, the future adoptive momma in me say, you have no idea how she will grow up or how your other children will grow up. Who knows, maybe one of the boys will be the reason you are dealing with the police at 2am. We do not have a crystal ball on the future, no-matter what we tell ourselves. Yes, Mary has some known issues due to her past, but her history does not have to dictate her future. And, with love and support it may well not.
    I firmly believe that while we don’t know the future, we do have is the ability to do our best in the here and now, and I can promise you, the effort you are putting in now will only benefit Mary. And, I suspect the rest of your family as well, as you and Callie learn to be better parents and your other children learn how to be compassionate and loving.
    Sending you love my friend. Please, try to stop beating yourself up. Learn from it and move on. Tomorrow will be better.

    • Thanks friend. And you’re right. Callie and I talk about it all the time. ‘Watch Mary be the easy on! It’s that Noah that’s gonna give us a run for our money!”, and I totally agree with you on that. No one knows what the future will hold. I was the toughest for my parents growing up, but I’m the only one to not get arrested or do anything stupid like my much better behaved siblings.

      I did go into Mary’s room that night when I tucked her in to bed and apologized for yelling. That I was rude and fresh to her and that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I also made her write a letter to her coach and her counselor expressing her apologies and how she would do much better for the rest of camp and follow directions and be a good helper (all her words, not ours). I know (deep down somewhere) that pretty much everything we do for her is the “right thing” (at least more right than her bio mom) and that she IS learning, because she is a completely different kid than she was a year and a half ago, but the level of frustration that I have reached with her just not “getting” it took over, and I totally lost my cool. I know that this is a tough month for her (being away from school and her friends, dealing with mom and this baby that’s due any day this week, feeling left out with her mom missing visits to take care of herself and the baby, knowing we went to court for TPR stuff, and also the unbearable heat) and hopefully when school starts, she’ll get it together when there is more of a normal routine in place also. And tomorrow will def be better…i feel it already!

  3. Last weekend while camping Carter and Dylan refused to go to bed. They were wrestling and yelling and everytime i tried to separate them and get them to sleep they would SCREAM at the top of their lungs…in a campsite with 3 other babies who were trying to sleep. I was furious. Carter wouldn’t put his PJs on or use the potty. He was standing at the tent door screaming “i want to leave the fricken tent! let me out of the fricken tent” (language courtesy of my equally frustrated wife). It was bad and I had no patience. I was embarrassed and all my tactics including bribery were not working. Carter let out a scream followed by the sound of one of the babies crying and that was the straw that broke my back. I put a kid under each arm, ripped them out of the tend, huffed across the site, angrily threw them in their carseats and drove away with them yelling. As i turned the car on my friend asked if i was okay and I just swore a lot. It was a tantrum for all of us. Shit happens. Kids have their own ideas. I think you are totally reasonable for having those thoughts but keep in mind that there are kids that are “perfect” until teens and then go off. I think the more time, love and support she has with you guys the better things will be. You are going to end up worrying about the wrong crowd for all your kids and you’re going to question their company.

    All this being said, I understand your feelings about not being sure it’s the right family option. It’s healthy to evaluate things.

    Sending love.

    • Carter screaming “The freaken tent” made me LOL at work. Not so funny, but funny. Yeah, those days are the worst. I think as parents we ALWAYS worry about out kids doing the wrong thing and hanging with the wrong people or getting in trouble, and that’ll probably happen for the rest of my life (when i introduce my mom to a new friend even at 32 years old, occasionally she’ll say, “I don;t know about that one there!”). For the most part, we are very supportive of her and her feelings and try our best to give her language to express herself as best she can, and I feel terrible for losing it! Truly terrible, but you’re right, sometimes, we all lose our shit! It’ll get better, and I think deep down I know that, because even though we’ve had a few hiccups these past 2 months, in truth, she’s completely different kid from the first 3-6 months that she was with us, and the changes have been pretty incredible. So we’ll just keep doing the best we can and hope that things continue to change/improve…thanks friend!

    • We’re taking our almost 7 month old camping for the first time next weekend. Lately she’s fighting sleep pretty hard so the screaming thing has me concerned. I hope we have better luck than you do.

      • We’re taking the kids camping 9/11-13 and it’s gonna interesting! It would be pretty damn funny though if the boys said, “Let me out of this freaking tent!” I would find that hysterical! Callie would lose her shit!

  4. Oh, losing your shit happens sometimes. I’ve lost it with Ali, and screamed at her a couple times. I’m sure I will again at some point, but seeing yourself cross a line is eye opening, and I’m much more aware of myself now.
    This could totally be off base, but the smirk face caught my attention. I have the smirk fave problem, and although I know it’s infuriating, if she’s like me it doesn’t mean she’s laughing at you or something. Quite the opposite actually. It must be some coping mechanism I learned in my crappy childhood, but in intense, confrontational situations, I have an almost overwhelming urge to laugh. It’s a totally inappropriate emotional response that I can’t help.

    • You know, we thought about that. About the smirk. Mary said to us once, that when her mom used to hit her, that she wouldn’t cry, that she would laugh, and it would make her mom hit her more. Callie and I wonder sometimes if it could have something to do with that. BUt i also remember my parents saying, “If you don’t wipe that damn smirk off your face!!!” and we would put it away. We haven’t used those words, but we have said, “Do you find this funny?” to which she replies no, but smirks any damn way! It’s infuriating!!!

      • I did the same thing as Mary, my dad would beat the hell out of me and I refused to cry, I would just stare at him and smile. Made it worse, but he never did ‘break’ me of it.
        I totally feel her.
        She will likely have trouble with her emotions for a long time. For me, I’ve done lots and lots of work and I still have a very flat affect, people close to me have a hard time dealing with that.

      • I could see that. The first time she cried (at about 7 months of living with us) Callie and I rejoiced! Like seriously, gave her cake and ice cream because finally, FINALLY she was emoting! Therapy has been working for her, but I could see how that would be a difficult thing to break out of.

      • Kayrosey, checkout my information above about the Bars. They are incredibly healing for abuse. Won’t repeat myself here though. 🙂 I have a separate comment thread.

      • My brother would smirk and laugh at my parents when he was spanked. He was a compulsive liar and stole things all the time until he was a teenager. Then he became this shy awkward dude. My parents screamed, grounded, tried everything. He just had that “let me test you” personality. Hopefully she also grows out of the behavior and learns other ways to express her displeasure and feelings.

  5. Honestly, I thought your tirade sounded right on point! She needs to hear it from you. It’s not pleasant, and it’s certainly a last resort, but expressing your emotion and letting her see and hear it is better than bottling it all up and developing more resentment. She may have been frightened, but you didn’t hurt her and she probably learned from the experience. You showed her that expressing oneself at a time of extreme frustration needs to happen.

    • That’s what Callie says too. It was appropriate because I was expressing my frustration, AND I didn’t hit her, which is what she is used to, so it shows that you can still communicate what you feel without putting your hands on someone (which had been an issue with her before). I still feel terrible about it, because her big green eyes looked so frightened!

  6. I know you’re beating yourself up for losing it, and believe me, you’re not the first to lose your temper. You have sime extenuating circumstances and pressures, never mind that pregnancy brings emotions up and sown as well.

    I just want you to know, that you are NOT a bad mom…i think you are doing a wonderful job, and in my opinion, are doing better than most considering you are taking somone elses child and are trying to undue alot of hurt and disappointment that this little girl has been subject to. Losing your temper was ok…and maybe an apology to Mary would make you both feel better. I know in time things will get better. Just hang in there and remember there are many people who love you and are th ere to support you.

    • I’ve never lost my shit like that with a kid before, let alone MY kid. It’s NOT easy fixing someone else’s mistakes all the time (and someone who is still somewhat in the picture and making demands and putting things into Mary’s head). We talked it out, but it’s just hard to know that I could have handled it differently but I didn’t. Every day I learn something new…thanks for the love and support Gay…you’ve always been a second mom to me…Love you!

  7. I am not a parent. Let me be clear that, I am not a parent but I want to be and I hope to be a good one. However, I don’t think you should feel bad or feel shameful or anything. Maybe that was enough to spook her into doing right. And your fears are legitimate. You’re willfully putting yourself and your family in a vulnerable position trying to do good for somewhere and there are risks. Don’t feel bad for considering them. You didn’t have the pleasure of naturing Mary from the beginning. You just have to do your best with what you have and right now that’s a angry, hurt, and traumatized 7 year old. Maybe explain to her that when she’s angry and she acts out it upsets her family and others around her. Just like when you were angry and acted out it probably upset her bc maybe she’s not used to seeing you in that light. Maybe that was enough to make her not want to see it again, therefore not displaying those negative behaviors again.

    There’s no book to parenting. No right or wrong way when everything is done out of love and good heart. Don’t feel bad! You’re doing your best!

    • Thanks friend. We think about that all the time. We are picking up where someone left off, and they left off with a shitload of pieces missing, frayed or lost, so it’s been a challenge getting it together! But she’s thriving and (for the most part) is doing the right thing, and I had a moment, and I feel bad about it, but pretty much, from what I’m hearing, almost every parent loses it at one point or another, and it’s ok. It’s tough to NOT think about the future and how our kids will be affected by all the nonsense that not only us as the parents do, bu also what their siblings do! It’s a lot to take in! But we’re doing it, one day at a

  8. You can’t really know how any kids will turn out. My boss has a son who lived in a middle class family workout a high level of trauma who just finished up being involuntarily committed after making threats.

    My wife had a traumatic childhood, she doesn’t see it, but she’s still very angry about it. I can cope with it and talk her down the mountain, but I seriously worry about having to deal with a foster kid going through that too at the same time. They have so much to be angry about, and younger ones don’t have good accessible outlets for it.

    • It’s true. I think that now that she is going to therapy and going through CBT (trauma based therapy) she has been better about showing her emotions. She is definitely angry (we see it and her therapist sees it) but it seems since we told her that we may end up being her forever family, a lot has changed. Sure enough her mom reappears, and it’s back to square one. I honestly can’t help but feel like I want this whole TPR thing to be over so we can end all these damn mandated visits and get back to normalcy! And it’s true that you never really know how kids will turn out, but I can almost guarantee (by the fact that I have 36 first cousins, all of whom are successful with the exception of 2 because my uncle wasn’t there for them and my aunt was mentally ill) that if we stay involved in our kids lives, are present parents and do right by them (and also keep them as busy as possible) they’;ll be good kids. There is always the exception to the rule, that’s for sure, but I won’t allow it be my kid (that’s a harsh statement, but it’s true!)

  9. Oh, mom guilt. It’s a bitch. But I want you to know that every mom loses her temper and every mom has a moment they’re ashamed of. But you – just like Mary- learned from this. I wish I could give you a giant hug of comfort and help you feel less bad about what happened.

    Been there, done that. Love you friend.

  10. Your emotions are validated. We all loose it sometimes. Sometimes children need more of a harsher way of going about things. Maybe she felt your “done-ness”. I know it’s no reassurance, but I totally commend you two. I do not have patience like you gals. I’m very strict and need order in my life, she seems like she sure does stir things up for your family but it’s part of the deal. Part of the package. Your truly amazing, you can Callie for taking on a such a huge task. I think good things pay off

  11. Oops it sent before I was done. So good things pay off. I honestly think you two are doing EVERYTHING right, and by this continuing pattern Callie’s dad is wrong. She will change her ways. She’s young and like you said she has been through the loop. She needs consistency. Don’t give up just yet. I really feel like things will get better. Maybe not today. Tomorrow, in a year. But if you guys do adopt her expect within five years for her to be a completely different little girl. Watch your boys give you more trouble than her:)

  12. P.s I think you honestly is a great example for ALL parents. Not one of is perfect, and whoever said they have never lost their temper would be flat out lying. Parenting isn’t all rainbows and butterflies I hate when people only post the good things in life. It’s not a true reflection of parenting. Good job my friend !!

  13. Oh honey, what a rough time. We have another child in our lives (he lives with his other mom) that I haven’t talked about in our blog yet, but just got permission from him to do so. We have mostly watched as he has ups and downs depending on all sorts of circumstances, it can be so stressful, and he doesn’t live in our home. Something that has recently helped him a lot is the new kid’s movie Inside Out. It seems to have given him some ideas about how to safely access more of what he’s feeling. I don’t know if that kind of thing would help or not but thought I would mention it.
    We all lose our shit sometimes, it’s not getting physical and how you respond afterwards that makes the biggest difference though.

  14. Oh swipply, kids need to get yelled at to show you mean business. Sure it’s not the best way, but please, who does things the best way all the time? She needed to hear it and you needed to say it. But as far as your concerns with how she will grow up with bad characteristics and get in to trouble and all that, that could happen to the twins too. And the baby on the way. We can shape and mold children but sometimes the mold doesn’t hold its shape. Anyone can take the wrong path in life. Look at me and my sisters. Look how different our lives turned out. So, just food for thought. Don’t be up on yourself. Love you swipply!

  15. I’ve been reading for awhile and just needed to send you a mom to mom hug. Just like the others have said, every parent looses their shit once in awhile. Know that it will happen again, we are human, the fact is, you are doing fantastic. You lost it and you have just proven to yourself, that you have broken the cycle, you did not lay a hand on her. Mary needs to know that even if she pushes you to your limit, that you will not hurt her, you will not walk out on her, you will not make her feel that you don’t love her. Going in to her room after you calmed down apologizing and letting her know what happened and talking about it more, just showed her that no matter what she does you will be there and love her, (something it seems her mom has never shown her). She is testing you guys, she is pushing the limits, she wants to know if you will leave her too. It’s not easy…but you are doing the best you can. Put you hands out at your sides…and wrap them around your shoulders and give yourself a hug.

  16. I love the pointed fork action! Seriously, lady, don’t beat yourself up. The girl is lucky you didn’t slap her into next week like back in my day. 🙂

  17. Girl, I hear ya! Until our daughter came to live with us she had a horrible life. No food, no home, no clothes, no stability, no rules, no love. She was 7 years old when she moved in with me. The adjustment was so hard. She was hateful and resentful. Her biological parents were crap. They did nothing for her yet she craved their attention. She felt like I took her away. Her “Mom” actually dropped her at my house and moved over 1000 miles away and didn’t tell me until 3 weeks later. Anyway, I am here to say there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The little girl who was so hateful is now a 13 year old with an amazing heart. It was a long road but so worth it. You are doing an amazing thing! —-B

  18. I don’t have any advice, but do want to reassure you that your yelling at her won’t damage her. In fact, I think it created an authentic moment where she can see how her actions negatively affect people that she loves. I imagine that you and Callie keep your cool most of the time when she is being disciplined, and Mary probably thinks that she’s just getting in trouble because she’s break the rules, but not connecting it to the impact on other people. In any case, you expressed how you feel, and in doing so, didn’t say anything verbally abusive to her. You just made it real.

  19. Oh gurl….on new years day Hope and I got into a fight and she dropped the F-bomb on me….I essentially yelled what you wrote and then some, cussed her to Egypt and back and was so ragged that I actually damaged my vocal cords and was whispering for nearly a week. I remember calling my agency’s help line, actually shaking, barely able to speak because my throat was so damaged. It happens. It happens to every parent. Mary will be ok and so will the rest of the family. And frankly, I don’t know if Hope will ever try to cuss me out again (I can run circles around her in terms of potty mouthing). Don’t beat yourself up about it. I don’t punish Hope as much as I know my parents punished me, but I know that sometimes it’s just not as effective as the hug she really needs to get back on track.

    Go easy on yourself. You can do this and Mary ain’t the boss of you. You got this. Chill, mama. The sad irony is that you probably reacted in a way she understands.

  20. You have so much on your plate right now it is totally understandable that you would lose your shit. You are a wonderful mom and sometimes a little tough love is needed. Mary is lucky to have you both and I can’t imagine all that she must feel and struggle to process on a daily basis but she also can’t use that as an excuse for being disrespectful and you are doing right by her by teaching her that. I know you all will figure out what works best for you and get through this bit of static as a family. Xx

  21. Girl, that breakdown didn’t make you YOUR mom, it made you A mom. You can’t hold it together 100% of the time. You’re only human. And you are pushing all of your limits with everything you have going on right now. It doesn’t change the fact that you are an amazing mom. The fears you have about Mary and her future are totally real and valid, and you deserve to be able to give voice to them. How else will you move past them? Hang in there. Sending lots of love. I am totally in awe of you & C!

  22. You didn’t hit. That was a win.
    The ‘smirk’ can be a nervous tick that she learned for reason and now doesn’t know she actually does. take a picture of her doing it. LATER ask her how she was feeling at that time. Ask her how that ‘defense’ worked for her. Ask if she is interested in trying something else.
    She literally may go mentally into outer space and not hear despite the sounds being audible etc due to her emotions. Ask her when the world is calm and you are peaceful about what she thinks happens and what she thinks would help. Then listen really carefully and tell her you need to think about her ideas and then follow up with questions or trying her ideas and then go back and check in with her again. Remind her how hard it was for you to do the lying thing and talk about why it got through to her and made her understand something she hadn’t understood before.
    PILES of good luck. Parenting is hard and even harder when the child is from the bleak nasty hurt places.

  23. Oh, hon. I’m sorry! This is such a tough parenting situation. Especially for you guys and Mary’s situation. I’m sorry you are beating yourself up. You probably could have handled it better, but we have all been in that breaking point moment. We all do things we regret later or even in that very moment. Take a breath, forgive yourself and move forward. You are an excellent Mama. I just know it! Hang in there!

  24. I totally, totally get why the smirk drives you nuts. It’s like, do you not take me seriously? Do you have no respect for me at all? STOPPIT.

    Tweens are tough. But she is really not as “damaged” as you think. I think she’s acting out in a reasonable way for what she’s been through. Sassing back and being rude are normal things to do when you’re trying to get attention at that age (I know she does it to the extreme, but they are still from a set of normal 7-year-old behaviors). My first kid was smearing feces on the walls to show that she was mad. I had no idea how to stop her. It was so disturbing and the worst part was that she would grin at me too, like “Ha, clean this shit up now!” But I did. Every day I went in there, put her in the bathtub, and (later) washed the sheets in hot water and bleach, scrubbed the walls, and steam-cleaned the carpet. Again. That was after she had ground feces into every toy and book in her room so they were all destroyed. She had nothing left but her bedding and I we had to replace it weekly because it wouldn’t stand up to all the washing!

    My point is, that was horrible, and I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, ever day. And then we found our magical solution: complicated footie pajamas put on backward so she couldn’t unzip them (“Look at these SUUUUPER cool jammies we got you! We are going to be SUUUUPER silly and put them on the WRONG WAY!”). On her worst days she still had the strength to rip them off (because I guess she was The Hulk?) but then we bought a new set and kept going. And if I kept a calm face and voice, I got to go out and buy a bottle of wine once my wife came home from work, lol.

    Try to find something that makes you happy and reward yourself every time you respond “the right way” (that’s just however you want) to Mary’s attitude. If you flip your lid once, oh well, you don’t get your reward, maybe next time. It’s positive behavior reinforcement for grown-ups! And call the foster agency to ask for counseling services (more if she already has them) if you need help. The county took her away from her mom, so they are responsible for the fallout, right? : )

    Hang in there! You can do it! Sorry for the TL;DR comment but I wanted you to have an example to say to yourself next time Mary is driving you up the wall: “Well at least she’s not smearing poop!” I actually used to say that to myself whenever our kid was biting me, haha.

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