Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The worst parent.

I have decided that being a parent is absolutely the worse job in the world when your primary love language is words of affirmation!

I have been aware of the love languages for a long time (5 love languages Gary Chapman), however other than being able to discount a couple I have never really understood which is my primary one.

However the other evening when I was having tea witht he family, which I had cooked from scratch (a fairly recent phenomena) - all was quiet.  Now I know that is a good sign really, but for some silly reason I needed some confirmation that it was alright in words - so I said - 'Hows the food?'.  Now obviously at 8 and 10 my daughter and son told me the truth - they had had/prefered better.  It was at this point that I pointed out to my husband that, that sort of response must be like when he is at work and gets told his communication at work is just okay, but he could do better.

I have also decided that having a perfectionist streak in you is also a terrible hazard to parenting.  I find it very difficult to consider that I will not be able to do it all 'right'.  When the wrong things I have done are laid bare it hurts so badly. 

So where is my faith? as often seems to happen with me I let things spiral far to far before I suddenly remember that it is not just about me.  I cannot parent without God at all and only He can be perfect in his parenting of me and those I care for....... so I try and let go..........and let God.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Monday again.

My mondays are just coming round way to quickly at the moment - next Monday I will have a 9 year old and a 13 year old under my roof as both my girls will be having their birthdays on Sunday 28th.  This is the real reason for being so busy, I am 'making' for the pair of them, a cardigan for my daughter (9) and a scrapbook for my neice (13), hopefully I shall post pictures later in the week.  For now I continue to count my many blessings:

164. Children being willing to clean up after a puppy still learning to get outside on time.
165. Walking 4 miles for the first time in a very long time.
166. Friends who are happy to listen and understand that an ear is often all I need.
167. The sickness bug that hubby has suffered with most of the week, so far not spreading to the rest of us.
168. on the same note - for the en-suite bathroom!
169. a small saving made on our home insurance!
170. Time to 'make'.
171. A cold glass of wine after a hectic day.
172. Buying a pair of jeans that are a size smaller :o)
173. My eldest being 'willing' to get on with homework with no fuss.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Life Long Learning - Mothering Sunday.

I have been a Christian for 18 years this year and yet there are things which I feel I really should know that I find I don't!  Yesterday was Mothering Sunday, a festival which I can recognise as being a Christian festival day.  I am aware that there has always been a deal of disgruntlement (is that a word? if not it should be!).  The majority of this being by those who are always correcting business and folk (and churches) that it is not Mothers Day.  However what I have never been away of is exactly where the festival comes from.

My neice for whom I am a kinship carer, told me in the week that she did not want to think about Mothers Day at all (they had done something at Guides that evening).  I felt that this was fair enough, I had already organised to celebrate her birthday early with her friends over this weekend which also meant my husband and youngest were away from home.

However as the day approached I found myself getting more and more grumpy and depressed.  The voices in my head were moaning about never being able to have a 'normal' mothers day again.  I felt really agitated by all the facebook/ twitter posts about Mothering Sunday/ Mother's Day.  I understood that Mothering Sunday was about more than Mums being spoilt, however I could not put my finger on exactly what it was all about - God mothering us?  Showing respect and gratitude to those that mother us?  I certainly know without a doubt that God tells us to look after orphans and therefore would be appauled at the church purposefully or not causing great pain to orphans, which is what my neice and myself is feeling.  When you do not feel mothered even if you still have a mother it hurts. (I can't imagine how bad it might feel if you have lost your mother).

It was therefore a complete revelation when I started to look at the history of this festival, this site was the one that I particularly liked for it's simplicitiy.

I never knew:

  • about it being a time when you went back to your 'mother' church.
  • it being a time in the past when servants would be given the day off to go and see their parents (and go to church as a family).
  • it also being known as 'refreshment' day - when you were given a day off from Lenten fasting.
  • it being a time having 'simnel' cake as a focus for thinking about and celebrating the feeding of the 5000.
So at least I can now tell my children some more of the reality of what 'Mothering' Sunday is all about.  On a brighter and God-incidental note, my husband did go back to his 'mother' church this weekend with my daughter and spent some time with his step mum with my daughter and they were told about the 'mother church' aspect of it.

The weekend has now passed, I have learnt a lot and I have an awful lot to be thankful for:

154. My family, nuclear and extended.
155. My puppy dog, bringing me hours of endless fun and companionship.
156. The most generous friends, on-line and physically around me bouying me up and keeping me going.
157. The many gifts that have been sent down to us with my husband from Manchester from 'Granny' and friends.
158. The teacup pictured at the top of this article, a belated birthday present, which I am overjoyed to have received.
159. A Happy neice who enjoyed her early birthday celebrations.
160. The first narcissi opening up this morning.
161. Time to blog.
162. Knitting in the garden.
163. Life.

Monday, 8 March 2010

My ever growing Attitude of Gratitude.

Beach Huts and Boats at Hengistbury Head, Dorset, photo by Brian Duxbury.
142. Getting down my 'to do' pile so that there is only nice things left (like letter writing)  for this week.
143. Managing to get to a church on Sunday and being reminding about the 'journey' that we are all on when we step out with Jesus.
144. Walks at the beach.

145. My younger two childrens excitement at meeting author Ali Sparkes last week at school.
146  My eldest getting the opportunity to go on a church weekend away at very last minute.
147. Thoroughly enjoying my latest 'fairtrade' knitting project for my youngest.

148. A well attended 'fairtrade' evening set up by friends in our Parish.
149. My 'fairtrade' bedding flapping in the breeze on a beautiful sunny day.

150. Lots of narcissi buds poking through in the garden.

151. For 15lbs of weight loss since mid January.
152. For greater fitness building, still off all painkillers!
153. For my living/dining room ceiling NOT falling in after a leak!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Kinship Care Journey - Part two.

You can read part one on my blog here.

When we initially set up the three week trial for my neice to come and stay with us it never crossed my mind that it might turn out not to be just a trial.  I did not anticipate that it wouldn't work (ever the optimist that I am), neither did I consider that she would not be going back to my parents for a while so that we could get organised (physically and emotionally).  As it turned out, at the beginning of week three my neice announced that she didn't want to go back to my parents, was enjoying school and didn't want to go back to her old school.  What could we say?  What would we have gained by sending her back for a few months (we had been thinking of making it permenant in September when the new school year started after having her here during the August holidays)?  The question that seemed most appropriate to consider was, what harm might be caused by sending her where she didn't want to be and felt very unhappy?  It was therefore discussed between the seven of us, my two children, my husband, my neice and my parents.  The decision was that we would have to decorate and rearrange rooms around the children but we would manage - so we went for it.

The social worker who became my neices 'key worker' was happy with this decision, she felt it was the best way forward.  At this point she was seeing her at least once a week and was very concerned about her mental health.  Now the decision was made that she was staying she referred her on to the child and family guidance clinic to get more emotional help (at this point it was not clear who the help was for).

It must have been very difficult for my parents, I cannot imagine how rejected they must have felt, though I know there was alot of relief as well.  My mum started to take her mental health more seriously and started on medication and counselling and they also offered my husband and I all the support that they could.

After several months I was finally told that we would be getting our 'Kinship' application processed, however this involved 4 or 5 interviews with ourselves, our children and my neice (this took a couple of months), fortunately the lady that was doing the report for our application was very pleasant to chat with.  When we finally received the report it was one of the bizarre out of body experiences.  There we were reading about someone elses interpretation of how we lived, brought up our own children, disciplined our children, how we had been brought up ourselves and whether we were doing things the same or differently (and why).  The final paragraph was all we were really interested in - yes we were being accepted as the most appropriate care for our neice and could become her Kinship carers.

The main door that this now opened was the financial one - this is means tested and very very thorough, fortunately being the folks that we are, we keep a good breakdown of our monthly outgoings all the time so being able to show exactly how much we spent on food, petrol, eating out, socialising, etc, was relatively easy for us.  We didn't get our first payments until December 2009, 7 months after we had taken on this care role.  Fortunately for us we will be getting some back pay - however 10 months on we are still waiting for this.  At least there was some money to buy stuff for Christmas!

I now receive regular (6 weekly approx) visits from a Kinship Care Support worker (from social services), this is helpful, as she is the one doing the chasing for my back payments.  She is also able to listen to me offload all the daft situations that we have been through.  I say daft because they are probably quite normal but when you do not know a child like your own and you have not yet been through the age that your kinship child is - everything seems most bizarre and daft most of the time!

I have found however that their role is in quite a period of 'flux' at the moment.  They have been moved departments and no longer have any funding, so cannot send us on any training (which their advert had indicated they did).  In fact I found out last week that they do not even have any funds to purchase materials, like books, from groups like the 'family rights group' to lend out to kinship carers, this seems ridiculous.

There is therefore some emotional support set up for my husband and myself.  My neice also now has fortnightly appointments with the child and family guidance play therapist which seems to be really aiding her ability to communicate with us.  We have regular reviews with the therapist and the team social worker which we all find very helpful.  My two children have had some support from their school - this has helped but I do worry that they need more, especially for my daughter.

As far as how we are coping with this role - we take one day at a time.  There is a new challenge of some sort or other most weeks.  I'll write some more about these challenges next week in part three.

I hope this blog helps to explain our role a little, please feel free to ask questions, thanks for reading x.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Monday monday.

The business I have been involved in is good familyand health building business, but that does not make it any less tiring.   In fact on the health front it has made me very very tired,  I have now had a diagnosis of pes-anserine bursitis in both my knees, this pain unlike my oesteoarthritis in them can be treated - so I was immediately injected with painkillers and steriods right into the painful bursa - ouch!  I am not usually much of a baby when it comes to treatments but this made me yell out and then I had to have the other knee done!!!  I was told to expect them to feel worse for a few days before they started improving and by golly they have hurt!  However I am now starting to feel a little bit of relief creeping in so heres hoping and praying for lots more improvement to come.

We have also had a very turbulent weekend after our dear little puppy was attacked by a pit bull terrior on her first walk out last friday.  Fortunately she came off with just a bitten tail but has been very unsettled all weekend ( 3 nights of hardly any sleep!).  She was the most definately the fortunate one though as the dog attacked again about 10 minutes later and got another puppy which it threw around like a rag doll and almost killed.  So the children have experienced having the police come round to our house to take a statement, which has prompted a great deal of learning!

Pippin went back to the vet this morning and is doing fine, she is starting to eat properly again as well so hoping that her nights might settle down.  It is one of the many things which make me most definately search for a never ending attitude of gratitude.

128.  My wonderful spiritual director who encourages and nurtures me, so much love in an hour every few months.
129.  Finding and being able to afford to buy some fairtrade cotton yarn to make my daughter a lovely cardigan for her birthday.
130.  Protected Pippin from serious injury during the attack.
131.  The lovely walks and lovely folk with dogs we have met on our later walks.
132.  My continued weight loss, the last few weeks have been a lot slower but I am now only 2lbs off hitting my third of the way there target!
133.  A fabulous evening out with my hubby yesterday to see an amazing lecture/concert.
134.  A growing appreciation for the complexities and 'craft' of music making.
135.  The hospitality of friends.
136.  The offering of an olive branch.
137.  Friends who care.
138.  My GP writing to my consultant and getting my appoitment brought forward by a month.
139.  A consultant willing to take me on and take me seriously and seek the best way forward for me.
140.  An immediate reaction to the injections in my knees (even if it was bad!) as this indicates that it may well work very well.
141.  The growing circle of 'kinship' carers that I am meeting via facebook and blogging, discovering I am not alone in my circumstances makes a difference for me.