Sunday, May 10, 2020

Things that I have learned from being a mom...

If you know me, and have known me for any amount of time, you will know that I never wanted to have children.  It was never my desire.  Marriage sure, children, not so much.  If you do not know this about me, and wonder how I ended up with not one or two, but seven...well, I'll get to that in a bit.

As another Mother's Day is upon us, I want to first and foremost say to all of you moms that do this alone, for you I have the utmost respect and admiration!  Even if you have had great help along the way from your siblings, parents, neighbors and friends; it is just you that the school calls, it is just you at 2 am when your child has a fever or a nightmare, it is just you that soothes their broken hearts, their physical hurts... Hats off to each of you out there that are single moms!  You are doing great work, you are making an impact not only your children, but on people like me who see your strength and applaud you!

For the moms that have impacted my life over the years of whom I also respect and have been or am encouraged by...

  • The moms of my friends who's homes I would hang out at on the weekends growing up, that made time to sit and talk with us and listen to our silliness.  Thank you, I still remember you! 
  • The moms of my children's friends, that over the years have impacted my parenting by challenging me, walking beside me, and be-friending me.  Thank you, you all have a special place in my memories! 
  • The women to whom I am related to by marriage, who are the truest and most authentic examples of what a sisters should be.  You ladies rock! I look forward to growing old with you and enjoying sister time when our kids are grown. 
  • The women in my life that are moms, with whom  I have the privilege of calling friends and sisters in Christ, who not only love me for who I am, but love my children for who they are, provide accountability without criticism and have walked through the fires of life with me.  The fires are inevitable, your wisdom is my source of encouragement, you all know who you are, I I love you!  

Then there are my moms...

  • My biological mom that made the choice to give me life, and let another raise me.  There are no words to describe how valued this makes me feel every day.  I know that was not an easy decision 50 years ago.  Thank you! 
  • My mom that loved me as her own, raised me, taught me life skills, how to be kind, how to be generous all through the example of her life.  I miss you much!  I know that I will see you again someday, and look forward to that day! 
  • My mother in law who raised a son that was kind and compassionate like herself, to share my life with and to grow old with.  Your son is my constant anchor, cheerleader, friend and best partner in crime that there ever could be! I would be lost without him! 
  • My step mother, who while she entered my life when I was an adult, gifted me with a great sister and cares deeply for my father and has been faithful in kindness and encouragement to me over the years.  Thank you for your willingness to join our crazy family! 
Each of these women, ALL of them, are shining examples of grace, kindness! They have been and are authentic and genuine beings! Thank you!   I would not have been able to become, or to be the mom that I am now... the mom that I never desired to be, without your influence and love.  

Yes, back to that.  I never really saw myself as a mom.  I wanted to do more, be more and not be confined to the space and years that it would take to raise children.  Which back in the day,  I foolishly thought was about 18 years plus gestation each.   How did I get to this place?  I have no other answer than simply put, the Lord who created me, knew me better than I knew myself.  

My first, and she knows this, was an opps... Medication interaction that resulted in the most amazing and incredible experience of my life.  In 1993 her arrival taught me that no matter how hard you wish or pray,  that baby will not turn out to be a boy if it is supposed to be a girl!  

However one look at her sweet and tiny over baked self, had me awestruck.  The Prince and I were both head over heels in love.  While reality came at us fast, and as new parents we knew that we could not do this alone, family stepped up and stepped in to help us settle into a new normal.  I was blessed to be able to share with my own mother, who was never able to have children, the process, including having her in the delivery room and holding a newborn in her arms.  My first child was spoiled by everyone that knew us.  Her milestones taught me how to look at all things through a different lens, the lens of exploring, learning and growing.  She taught me to see things from a small person's perspective with awe and wonder.  To slow down, and to experience her wonder anew with each of her new discoveries. 

Nonetheless, I was sure that this was a once and done situation.  As Doc progressed through her stages of development, we would pass down that items that no longer did she need, with the bold assumption that she would be a one and only child. 

Years passed.  Life was good. However, with the passing of the Prince's father,  and as we were making arrangements for all the things that he left behind, our hearts softened to the consideration of perhaps adding one more dwarf to the kingdom, so that our eldest would never have to face a hardship of this magnitude alone.  

In 1997 the world was introduced to Dopey.  If you think having one child is something, when the second arrives you are astounded that there is just as much space and love for the new addition as there was for the first.  Dopey has taught me how to stay alert and on my toes.  His wit and whimsy from an early age was infectious to all that he met.  His temper was a mirror to my own hearts sinfulness, and often he and I would indulge in significant battles of the will.  At the end of the day however his heart is soft and kind, and he could always sooth out any issues that we had with a great big hug. He has shown me how to be fierce, yet loving in ways that were unknown to me prior to his arrival.  He also tried to show me, however it would be many many more years until I learned this lesson, about not having to die on every hill.  Sometimes compromise is a good thing. 

It was not much longer after his arrival that the Prince made a deal with me.  The Prince had always wanted 6 kids, I none.  HIs offer, if we could just have one more, we could consider it a compromise and a full house.  

Two years and one week later, in 1999,  an impatient and rambunctious bundle arrived in our lives.  Sleepy (her dwarf name is spot on) was the only of the Lingle dwarf that taught us that prayers can and are answered.  I remember praying for her to be a baby that would sleep. My other kids were not fans and I was starting to feel the stress of sleep deprivation.  Sleep she did!  Alot!  Then I panicked and doubted.  We poked and we prodded her, we kept trying to wake her.  Until someone wise said, "that baby will wake up when she is hungry or uncomfortable.  Let her sleep! "  

Once I recognized her sleeping patterns were an answer to (an all be it selfish) prayer, she taught me in her arrival to be grateful for answered prayers. During this time I also had learn how to maximize my time while she slept those early days away.  She also showed me how to be persistent, as she relentlessly pursued walking at an early age, as a way to keep up with her older siblings I saw a determination and drive in her that showed me I needed to be a bit more like her in that way.  Like her momma, I doubt that she has ever met a stranger , and the whole family considers her my mini me, which I think is amazing because I do not believe that I was ever as task oriented and resilient as she. In addition she has an amazing selfless streak that puts me to shame, and her compassion for others has been a lesson to me, that I still work at daily.

We settled into life. While hectic, it was good.  My dwarves taught me to be more selfless.  To make choices and decisions that would be for their good, even when I was afraid, or concerned that I had made the wrong ones.  

They were forgiving.  I was not the best mom, especially in the beginning.  I could be short tempered,  frustrated, irritable, and over all just too busy to always stop and do or say the right thing that could potentially have been used for a life lesson or for their growth and edification.  

Raising kids that mirror who you are at your core is a very hard way to see your short comings.  It is also a painful way to realize that you have to make adjustments to who you are, especially when they start manifesting your poor attitudes and words in their day to day life.  

In 2005 we were presented as a family with a unique opportunity to add to our family through adoption.  By this time we were settled into a routine, with our eldest dwarf being 12, the middle being 7 and the youngest being 5.  As an adoptee, I knew first hand the benefits of a life with a family that loves you and cares for you.  Since I was already entrenched in this thing called parenting,  what difference could two more make?   A bit more in groceries, a lot more organization, and if you can love three as much as one, certainly the same applies to four and five, regardless of if you birth them yourself or not.  Children need love.  Children need stability.  Children need families.  We could provide all that.  

While we were not sold 100% at first on the idea of adopting, we did pray about it and ask others in our circle of church and friends to join us in praying for the potential of expanding our family.  About this time I remember a sermon point from our pastor that said, "Sometimes when the Lord presents you with an opportunity to do something, He may not actually have you follow through, but instead is measuring your  hearts willingness to serve Him."  In the process of moving forward through the uncertain waters of fostering and adopting we chose to trust the Lord and wait on Him to open or close the doors.   

At this point, you all know how this turns out...  after two years in our home fostering to adopt, we were finally able to add Sneezy and Bashful to the ranks of the "little Lingle's".  The addition of two dwarfs that I did not have the privilege of birthing or raising "from scratch" placed me on a huge learning curve as we navigated waters of uncertainty in regards to the needs that accompanied them to our home.  

Trauma, anxiety, vision issues, medication, asthma, social and cognitive delays were amid the top contenders.  I learned with their addition to the ranks,  that I needed to be patient, I needed to explain things that we took for granted or accepted as normal.  Their being part of a family was a relatively new concept to them. We were after all strangers to them in a strange land.   

I also learned, that up until that point, I had been incredibly blessed with the health and abilities of my first three children.  While they each had their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses,  I foolishly thought that I knew exactly how to make things work for our new additions, because the first three, in my mind, were doing so great.  

Here is where I learned to eat humble pie.  I had to admit I knew nothing. The world of special needs was a foreign land that I had been thrust into.   I had actually no idea what would help these children reach their full potential.  I learned to search out resources, to be crafty in my requests for information about their past, to be an advocate for those two, who did not yet have a voice.  

I also learned about how your past, no matter many years you live in it, has repercussions that last a very long time, good or bad.   In these days there was always something to do, to be done, or to be preparing for so I often  had to bow to selfishness,  and embrace interruptions, and become more flexible in some regards in our life, and more strict in other areas of our life.  

It was thirteen months after the arrival of Sneezy and Bashful, that the state of West Virginia asked us if we knew that they had two brothers.  We had heard rumor of this, but it was not verified until that moment.  Of course as the case working was finalizing the adoption of two children to our home, that opened her case load for two more, that just happened to be their brothers.  

At this point I do not remember there being much discussion about what the right thing to do was, or if this was something that we wanted or would consider doing.  I do remember saying "no thank you",  to that wonderful caseworker Judy, signing the documents that she had brought that day,  and waving good bye as she headed back to West Virginia.   If you fast forward two months, the arrival of Happy and Grumpy rounded out our family of nine.  

As I look back on that inclusion of two more children to the home, I think that there was a part of me that had a bit more confidence than I should have had.  While the initial stages (we know this is called the honeymoon period) were not horrible;  they sort of just rolled in, started getting acquainted, and learning to adjust to routines and life in a busier home than where they came from,  there were some small cracks showing that we were unsure about.  

This again sent me back to learning about these already formed small humans in my care that I had to piece and puzzle together their specific and yet different special needs. Here is where I learned about FAS, intellectual disabilities and heart problems.  I had to learn even greater flexibility in regards to my daily and long term expectations.  I had to be more diligent in following through and making sure things and small people got where they needed to go, and I had to really dial up my skills of food purchasing, prepping as well as other organizational skills such as laundry and routines.  

Fast forward to this year's Mother's Day.  This is my 27th celebration of being a mom.  When I think about the Lord's sense of humor, I shake my head.  Clearly,  the orchestration of this process had to be all from Him, as if it had just been the Prince and I,  we would have made a big (or bigger) mess out of this child rearing thing. While it has not been pretty at times, I am humbled that the Lord has chosen me to be all their mothers.  For in His wisdom He has shown me my constant need for Him, and has allowed me to minister to many other parents in ways that allow them to know that they are not alone in their journey in motherhood or parenthood.  

Here are my final thoughts on some other things I have learned over the years as a mom.  

Every family has it's own language.  We make up sayings and phrases that keep simple ideas,  simple for young minds.  Some of my favorites over the years have been, (and I am not saying I made them up per say but we used them heavily) :
  • Brush and Flush: which indicated you had 30 minutes to bedtime, and you needed to brush your teeth, use the bathroom, and get in your beds.  
  • Back to the Back, Crack to the Crack, Seat on the Seat, Feet on the Floor: the proper guidelines for sitting at the dinner table, or in the pew at church on Sundays when your dad was preaching. 
  • Hard is not bad, hard is just hard: when trying to encourage or console a dwarf going through a challenging or tough time. 
  • Last out of the rack, makes the sack: reminder to turn around and make your bed daily. 
I have to understand that they are just mine for a short while.  I have just as many days to influence their lives as they have had to influence mine.  How we influence one another is based on mutual unconditional love,  mutual admiration, and mutual respect for one another.  If any of those components are missing there becomes a disconnect in your ability to influence and impact one another in a positive way.   

Because my kids are now all almost grown, as a mom, I have learned that no matter how much you want better for your kids, at some point they are going to make their own choices and write their own story.  Sometimes that story is not at all what you would have chosen for them.  Be encouraged, God loves them more than you do and is not at all surprised by the fork in the road that may be separating or distancing them from your family at this current time.  He has a plan.  Trust in that plan!

In regards to others, their plans, again while may not look like what you would have thought or desired for them, you are still proud of them for working hard, being true to themselves, and being tenacious enough to go after what they desire in their hearts.  

I am and have always been, the middle part of my children's stories.  Regardless if you have adopted kids, raising grandkids, or have your own biological children, we as moms (and parents) are just the middle of their stories.   It is my hearts desire that I have instilled a legacy that will linger beyond my lifetime, influencing them when they are no longer wanting or needing my care and supervision. Most likely we will pass from this earth before them, and  it is my hope, prayer and desire they will continue on their chosen paths without us but with the memories of a life filled with love and grace.  

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in my life that often feel like they are overlooked, overworked and under appreciated .  May those that call you mom, actually take the time to call, text, send a gift just to say they love you and to say thank you!  If they do not, try not to take it personally, and remember all the rest of us in the trenches with you - love you, appreciate you, and see how hard you are working on their behalf!!  Happy Mother's Day one and all!!  

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

This blog brought to you by yet another...

Never thought as a mom I would have to be doing this!! 

Today I sent a photo and dental information to the sheriff's department so that they can keep a file for my dwarf that has run away.   This information will come in handy should they find him in a ditch someplace on the side of the road and he is unable to identify himself.  Good to know, right!?!

Bashful ran away on March 10, 2020. He has been gone for almost an entire month, and has had only one direct communication with any of us, and that was the Prince. Bashful sent a text to the Prince to see how he was doing the weekend after he ran away.  Any other communication he sends through a brother.

Bashful, the youngest of the dwarfs has had a very complicated and troubled life.  Mostly, at his own hand because he is unwilling or unable to make good choices.  I will conceded, not necessarily all his fault,  but he is however, slow in owning his choices in life.  Yes, he has bad genetics, is predisposed to mental illness, has low cognitive functioning, is on the spectrum, and suffers from FAS, RAD, ODD, and a host of others uniqueness, all of which have made him basically a ticking time bomb. 

The last two years of his life (he will be 18 in July) his "ticking" has increased.  We as his parents have been aware of this and have been working at intentionally trying to bring him back around to his ownership of  the situations that he finds himself in.  His go to is always blame others, blame us, make excuses and create diversions about why he did what he did.  We have invested hours of time during and after incidents in attempts to walk him through how the situation could have gone differently and how initial decisions could have changed the entire outcome.

We have, with the help of therapists given him tools for navigating when he feels angry, threatened, frustrated, happy, sad etc.  However, even through therapy, medications and piles of grace and kindness (which often times was not easy on our part) he just did not put into place the things that were needed for him to be successful. On the occasion that did make a small change, which we would acknowledge, it was a once and done situation and almost immediately he was back into his old habits and patterns.  His refusal to take instruction from anyone also impedes his ability to be successful.

We have said, that he follows that path of least resistance.  On this path he has told himself he is not worthy, that he has no value, that we do not love him, or even like him for that matter, and similar to his brother, feels that this whole adoption thing was a huge mistake.  He was supposed to be adopted by someone wealthy and potentially famous.  Not by "Jesus loving freaks" like us, that provided him with all he needed and then some, kept his sibling unit together, and that tried to instill a work ethic, common kindness, and good character traits into the make up of who he would become.

We have lived a life of chaos with him, walking on egg shells around him as he struggled with depression, anxiety, and an extra large dose of laziness, in addition to all of the issues related to the above conditions that I mentioned.  He has spent 18 months in group therapy home with others who have similar struggles, in the 5th grade going forward, but was released without graduating because he was causing others in that group to regress.  Even in the simple day to day things, like doing chores, cleaning up after himself, hygiene and self care issues, there was a constant lack of compliance on his part.

In the past year I mostly stopped making conversation with him.  I never approached him about anything that he needed to do.  If he did not brush his teeth (and he refused) I schedule dental cleanings in between the scheduled check ups in an effort to help preserve the gums and teeth that the had.   If he did not do chores, take his medications, or clean up after himself,  I told the Prince and the Prince would follow up with him.

It is hard to understand from the outside what it looks like to parent such a child.   How can I express what it is like not to have the basic freedoms of conversations with a child, the lack of being able to find joy of spending time together, because just one thing (and it is and was never the same thing) can set the dwarf off.  Poisoning the moment, the event, the holiday or just your average Thursday commute home from school.

Likewise, it is hard to put to words how it affects your relationship with your spouse, other children in the home, and your personal ability to live a life where you are not a prisoner in your own home.  Simple things like going to work,  running errands, going to church, going to dinner with friends, or taking a trip become complicated maneuvers based on who is home, what needs to be locked up and or taken with you when you depart,  how long you will be gone etc.

Perhaps I can list the things in the last month that I have not had to do, that had become part of my normal everyday life.

I do not have to worry if my greeting in the morning or at afternoon carpool pick up would be responded to with a grunt or an F-you.   

I no longer have to lock up all electronics, keys, money, medications or food in my bedroom when I leave the house, to ensure it will be there when I return.  

I do not have to work hard, in my own home, to stay out of his path.  The only time he would be socially appropriate and approach me, is when he wanted something from me; money, a gift or a ride.  He also could never understand why I would often times say no, or ask your father.

I no longer have to "plug in" to work, in an attempt to ignore him, while he verbally abuses me when he was upset about something that I said or did or  something he perceived that I said or did.

I do not have to get in my car and leave my home for hours until his ranting ends, or it is safe for me to return home because the Prince is home.  (He never behaved as poorly when the Prince was around.) 

I no longer have to field calls from the school regarding his bad behaviors, suspensions, expulsions and failing grades.

I do not have to call the sheriffs to my house to restore order because I made the mistake of asking the dwarf to complete a chore the correct way.   

I no longer have to worry about him sneaking on to the internet and social media sites without permission and being completely inappropriate. (sending graphic text and photo messages) 

I do not have to be responsible for making him brush his teeth, take his meds, or attempt to correct his poor behavior and attitudes towards others on a daily basis.  

I no longer have to take him to therapies and doctors visits,  dental visits or to work, where appreciation was very little, and often times was just a hostile experience for all involved. 

I do not have to worry about him threatening and bullying his brother or other siblings when I am not home. 

I no longer have to listen to all his lies and feel that somewhere I failed him, because he was unable to speak truth or show good moral character traits. 

I do not have to check his back pack upon his return from school each day and every time he would come in from being at a friends.   

I no longer have to do random bedroom checks for contraband such as drugs, lighters, and electronics.

I do not have to worry about how to juggle services for his future to ensure his success. Setting up school meetings, IEP sessions, planning for intensive services, funding for services, and job placement for after graduation.   

I no longer have to worry about waiting until everyone is asleep to go to bed myself when the Prince is not home.  An attempt to prevent sneaking out at night.  

I do not have to lock myself in my room, only to listen to him pounding on the door, the sliders or the windows in an effort to get my attention.

I no longer have to keep track of and juggle different sets of keys for all the spaces in our house that we had to lock up.  Siblings bedrooms, guest rooms, pantries etc.

I do not  have the feeling that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It was not until the shock wore off, and the dust settled from this last incident, that I realized I am 218 pounds lighter and feel almost normal again.  

His running away was proceeded by being removed from his high school for drug possession, starting at the alternative school, loosing his job, (even though the Prince and I checked in frequently with management to make sure he was doing well) getting suspended from the alternative school, and breaking and entering into our master bedroom and stealing electronics while I was at work and the Prince was out of town on business.   

When something that you have lived with for a long time, that has become normal to you, is removed from you, the relief that you feel is indescribable and somewhat unsettling.

I won't lie.  I have been enjoying my home and my children and my spouse more. I now have free time, since the hours each day that were spent in the above activities have ceased.  Everyone that is at home, wants to be there and  has mutual respect and love for one another and enjoys being in each others company.  No longer are we on edge wondering if or when said dwarf is going to present with an issue, or refuse to do something, or randomly go off like a loose cannon.

There is peace in our home.  There has not been peace in our home for so many years.

Understand, none of this is to say that we as his parents have not been diligent.  That we are not concerned about where he is and what he is doing.  Of course we are.  However, the choice was his.  We did not kick him out, we did not give him an ultimatum to change or leave.  As a matter of fact the night that he left, I begged him to come back in the house and sit and talk things out.  He refused stating it was his time, "to get the hell out of here". 

We have contacted the authorities (hence their follow up paperwork requesting dental information and DNA) and reported him a run away. We have informed the schools.  We have an attorney so that we can be assured that we are doing the best that we can can protect ourselves and his brother Happy of whom we have legal guardianship of, should Bashful re-appear in our lives out of the blue.  There are 95 days until he turns 18, and a lot can happen in the next 95 days.

Our hearts are sick in many regards. Regardless of how you become a parent, never do you enter into parenthood thinking that any of your children will turn away from unconditional love, grace and the creature comforts of a home, and make the conscious decision to be a run-a-way.  It is hard for me not to think back to the early days of his time with us.  His smile, his joy at having a dog, and a dad.  There are times when it is hard not to doubt, or accuse myself of not seeing a sign or doing the right things as he grew that may have prevented this from happening. When those moments come I refuse to camp out there! Instead I remember this little guy, and the joy that he was when we first met him.

There is a brokenness in this dwarf that goes beyond what society or our culture says can be overcome with love, compassion, consistency, and structure.  Because if those were the fixes, we had them in spades.

No, we were not the perfect parents.  No, we did not have all the answers. When we started this journey of parenting special needs kids, we were told they special needs because they were a sibling unit, not so much because of all their diagnoses, which were not ever registered for some of the younger ones, Bashful included.  I am sure there were missteps along the path.

I can stand before the Lord, knowing that what He called me to do, be the momma to Bashful, I did with gusto and abandon.  I threw all I had into being his momma.  I have been his biggest advocate, his cheerleader, his cook, his dry cleaner, his tutor, his chauffer, his ATM, his sounding board... but in the end, to him, in this current time, none of that has mattered.

Over the years his treatment of me could have broken my spirit, or made me not care, but instead it helped me work out in advance of his running away, that as with all my adopted kids, I am just the middle of their story.  I was not there in the beginning of their lives, and I may not be there in the end of their lives, but for the season in the middle where they needed to be loved unconditionally, nurtured, advocated for and kept safe, I filled that gap.

When push comes to shove deflection, excuses and depression are the means by which they deal with whom they are.  Often times an unhinged reality pushes them to act or do things that because of their brains' limitations, seem like a good idea in the moment, but in the end rarely work out in anyway except poorly.

Relationships are fleeting and only are for that moment in time in which you can serve them.  Aside from the times when they are manipulating you to get something from you, you are disposable to them.  If they are forced to see you, live with you and interact with you on a regular basis (family/school ect)  and they deem you not important in that moment, they are aggressive, disagreeable, and nasty, in the hopes of  increasing the distance between you and them.

If they can manage to make you angry enough, they can convince themselves that you have stopped loving them, or they can force you to ignore them, then you reaffirm in their minds that they are unwanted, unworthy, and unloved.   The cycle is vicious. It is painful and it leaves you repeatedly scratching you head in wonder.

There is also NO ability to speak to them with common sense examples, or to motivate them to do better in the moment or even plan to do better for the long term goals, because of their untethered reality.  Many of the phrases that Bashful has repeated in regards to his poor choices and actions, and his future plans have included but are not limited to:

"I don't act like this with my friends."  When pushed back and asked about friends, he can't give names or details about any friend, because typically he is a loner.  Logically I would also assume that he has treated many people poorly over the years. He was not social on the regular, including having people over or doing things that other typical teens engage in.

"When I am on my own, I will do my own ____ ." (fill in the blank dishes/laundry/etc) When pushed back regarding why wait to start doing those things, the answer is always, "You just don't understand, why would I waste time doing them now?"  Gee I don't know, maybe because you create good habits by doing daily activities repetitively...

"This year I am going to do great at school."  We diligently set up binders and solutions for him to keep his work straight, and in a week or two, everything is trashed. No ability to organize thought or objects, much less lessons and facts, and so starts the trend of failing grades again.   Also, no desire for self advocacy.

"This year I am going to play (insert sport of your choice)."   When it is time for practices, he is too tired, he forgets to get the physical paperwork, or has failing grades by that time and can't play according to policy.  When given the chance (because we paid recreation league fees) he made excuses including but not limited to  rotator cuff surgery at the age of 15, for the reason that he could not get the ball infield far enough.  When provided with glasses to help correct his vision issues and hit the ball with the bat, refused to wear them.

"I'm going to work and save money for a _____." ( fill in the blank new shoes/car ) And when he lived with us and we controlled his funds, he was trending in that direction. However, he never stayed on a budget, always over spending his allotted spending money for the week.  He also could not understand the concept of going without for the benefit of the greater good, and after her ran away and was "on his own" blew through $1,700 in less than a week.

I am learning in this process that mental illness is not only a far reaching and painful disease for the one that suffers, but even more so for those that love the one that suffers.

I, of course, am not a professional, however, my observation is that the one that has the disability tends to be either unaware, or in denial about their uniquenesses. Is this self preservation?  Is this pride? Is it just that mentally they are unable to process ?

This makes life for all very difficult. I keep thinking that life should not have to be this difficult for this dwarf (or his siblings).  At some point we all have things in our life that we must take ownership of and either determine this is who I am, or nope, I am going to make some changes.   Bashful is not there yet, and may never be.

Again, our hearts hurt for him. For the things and people that he walked away from.  For the choices that he is making.  My only solace is that through this all,  none of this is a surprise to the Lord.  He loves Bashful more than we do.

Mental health issues are real, they are overwhelming at all levels.  It is our prayer that Bashful finds those things that he thinks he was missing here in our home, that he is safe, and that he will be able to someday mature, find his motivation, and become the man, that the Lord has protected and safe guarded since birth.

You Can't Make this Stuff Up...

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

When life is in a constant state of crazy, you can be overwhelmed, OR.... (Part 2... applying the word)

As my follow up to my post regarding my "constant state of crazy", I ask that when reading these accounts (and I will be as brief as possible in my examples) to hear my heart regarding putting in place the use of my word of the year, OR.  

I am being intentional after years of self induced stressors and very clear and intentional abuse from some of my children, to gain some control in my life, and begin making decisions that will bring me joy in the midst of the crazy that seems to happen with or without my permission.  

If you did not read my March 2nd post about OR, I would encourage you to do so, as it can clearly be a stand alone blog, that I hope will absolutely encourage you to find balance in your life.  

We live in a society that say multi-tasking is king, we have to fill every moment with some more and some more and some more!  This is a lie. The truth is the word OR, gives us the freedom to stop mentally, physically and financially taking on burdens that we have never been designed to handle or bear up under the weight of.  

Until the first of the year and my realization that I have been missing this very small word, OR, from my vocabulary and had actually been excluding it from my life entirely, I can now see that with the use of this word, a host of possiblities open up for me without shame or guilt for not being the "end all be all" to so many.

Rest easy, this will not be a replay of my life's should have's, could have's and would have's.  Just January and February of 2020 in light of my discovery of OR, my word of the year. I just want those of you that follow our journey to find hope that in practical ways, while not easy, about how freeing it has been to be intentional about not adding more, but in finding the balance between just two things!   This OR that...

So here we go!!   

The Prince, as many of you know and love, has a grandmother, also well known and loved,  that is 95 1/2 years of age.  If we lived in the same state as she, my guess is I would be her primary care giver, as she is no longer deemed able to live independently.  

Earlier this year, we were faced with some tough decisions about her care, and what we would determine to be the best course for her physically and mentally.  At this stage in discussions about her care I could have chosen to become overwhelmed with the thought of transporting her to Florida to live out her days with us OR I could choose to trust that the Lord loves Nan more than we do, and He will guide us in this process of caring for her.  

I chose to trust that the Lord loves Nan and has a plan for her.  A plan that while was extremely taxing on the Prince (and continues to be) is one that allows her to be in a place where she is getting excellent care, in spite of herself, and is able to receive visits from her grandchildren, church members, friends and neighbors.  Where things, while are different, are much the same.  A move for her here to Florida would have been manageable, but hard for us all, and it would not have provided her with these blessings !   (Shameless plug: if you know and love her send her a card c/o of Dot Coburn at the Jewish Home, 4000 Linglestown Road, HBG 17112 or pop in for a quick visit.)

In October 2019 my eldest son moved back to PA.  While the discussion had been on the table for awhile as a potential option, things moved very quickly, and before we knew it he and his dad had loaded up the UHaul and were headed north.   Things seemed to be progressing well for Dopey, until they were not.  As a mom, you can recognize the signs, job hopping, burning through financial resources, lack of communication, etc.  

In desperation and with the desire to "fix" this situation, I again came to the place where I needed to be reminded about OR.  I could fixate on Dopey's bad choices, his potential financial ruin, his lack of motivation  and the fact that his back up plan was the Prince and I and how I could help (enable) or fix him ... OR I could join forces with his roommates mother and we could leave it in the Lords hands.  

Almost without fail, daily, we pray over the phone for our boys.  We pray that the Lord would protect them from their stupid, and be merciful to them as they figure out how to adult.  
You know what, Dopey is not there yet, but he is making huge strides!  While we all have to write our story, it is hard as a parent to see the story unfolding with the potential to go sideways. By not fixing, not fixating, and being okay with the fact he may have to learn some hard lessons on the way, I have found great peace in again trusting that the Lord loves him more than I do and that things will be okay.  Maybe not great, maybe not the way I would desire, but the way that the Lord needs them to be so that Dopey's story is his own.  

We were informed in mid December that our second oldest daughter was pregnant.  She sent the information to us, unsolicited via text message, and then fell off the radar.  She was the only missing family member for the holidays, did not communicate with us, even in our attempts to contact her. In January, basically wrote us all out of her life.  

While Sneezy has always been independent, and desires tons of space and minimal communication with us, our door is always open to her when she has a need.  

I will not lie, her situation is not ideal.  On many levels.  The Prince and I started praying for her and our unborn grandchild. This is no longer just about her, and since she was blocking my attempts to reach her, I had to get creative in my efforts to reach her. 

I sent a message to the other potential grandmother in an attempt to just let the other family know that we existed, we are able, and have the desire to be involved in all their lives.   This made Sneezy extremely mad.  Mad enough to un-block me and give me a piece of her mind about how stupid I am, to not understand that her silence means that she wants nothing to do with any of us, ever.  

Now this is where OR gets very hard.  At this point I am in the familiar, but unfamiliar territory of mental illness. How do you respond, or do you respond?  

In the angry tirade sent to my phone via text, the phrase, and "don't bother to respond to this text" was the valediction.  The great thing in all this is that after 15 years of parenting Sneezy, I know that the end is not the end, because she would be too curious to see if I actually ended the stream of texts there without response. 

I thought through my next steps.  I could walk away.  I could be ugly and respond to the nasty with nasty,  OR  I could choose to be gracious.  

When I chose to be gracious, (with a small side of snark) I now have been able to take whatever lies she has been holding on to in her mind about how horrible we are, and have started to be a reminder of the truth.  

The truth is that people who care, do try to maintain communication and contact.  The truth is that families can be in disagreement about something and still be a family. As an update, we are supposed to have dinner Sunday after church. No guarantees, but there is hope.

Our son, Grumpy, who has been homeless for the last 2 plus years, is once again, living outside the structure of a community program.  He chose to leave a housing situation because he no longer wanted to follow the rules.  When he left this 5th program, he knew exactly what decision he had made.  He walked away from our assistance.  (Side note: I am not saying that we are hard hearted towards him.  We are just not freely jumping to assist in the ways that we have or do when he is in a program and working hard himself.) 

While we love our son, and we want what is best for him, his bend towards disillusioned thought, risky life choices, lack of foresight and planning, place him in bad situations over and over again.  We have (and could continue) to be overwhelmed each time he calls and rush to try and fix his situation OR we could meet him where he is, accept him and his illness for what it is, and understand that we do not have the resources to "fix" him or his situation.  In love we can and will continue to minister to him, but there will be no cost to us financially, physically or mentally. 

My most recent example of putting my word of the year into play happened last week. It ended up being a double OR!  Bashful ran away from home.  In an intense whirlwind of hate spewing, mean spirited nastiness (of course all while the Prince is traveling for work) resulting in us not having seen or heard from him since. 

My options were that I could allow him and his mental illness to affect me (wont lie it did for a hot minute)  OR I could continue with the plans already made for a visit with Sleepy, knowing that I didn't create this dwarf and his issues and that it is outside my wheelhouse to fix him/them.  
In continuing with the plans already made, I was able to witness two college PR's in shot put, and Sleepy's 7th place victory at the last indoor meet of the season. 

If I had let the other emotions and options rule my decisions, I would have been weighed down in the chaos and crazy, and missed these blessings.  Knowing that I could either  continue to subject myself to Bashful's mental instability, and his toxic presence in our home  OR I could let it go.  I chose to let it go. 

I was only called to be the middle part of his story, really all of their stories. It is not my job to find, fix or in any way bring back home the level of chaos that he brings to our life.  I can pray for his protection and I can be intentional about protecting myself, but I no longer have to live in fear or constant worry over what he is going to be like at any given time.  

Those of you that know us, and have journeyed the road of life with us, know and understand the kind of commitment that we have for our family, for all our children.  You know the ways that we strive to minister and care for others outside our home, in our community, our workplaces and our church.   

We all have a different story to share.  Some of our stories have the "chaos" for a season.  Some of our "chaos" is self induced.  Some of what each of us partake in and partner with, are most certainly for the enrichment and betterment of others and the world in which we live, but end up stressing us out and damaging our emotional, financial, and physical beings.   

I share my OR stories with you so that you can see, regardless of what we are facing,  something as specific or unusual as a "word of the year" can bring a well timed,  revolutionary (even radical) change to our thinking and how we conduct ourselves day to day.  If we open ourselves up to new ideas, and consider doing things in a different way, often times the Lord is already working ahead of us to make these ideas and thoughts something that we will be needing in a practical way.   At least so far this year, this has been my personal experience.  

As with most of my blogs and my tales from Lingle-land, you can't make this stuff up.  However, if sharing touches one person in the midst of their "chaos" then I am happy to share.  

Now on to my next big decision...  a 16 oz hot coffee OR  16 oz iced coffee!   

Monday, March 2, 2020

When life is in a constant state of crazy, you can be overwhelmed, OR.... (Part 1; the explanation)


  1. 1.
    used to link alternatives.
    "a cup of tea or coffee"

This is my word of the year.  OR - two letters.  O. R.

Rewind to the beginning of the year. As I listened to the radio on my morning drive time, the local personalities were discussing the trend of selecting a word for the year.  One of the personalities after much consideration selected his word to be OR.  

At first my hand moved to the dial to change the station.  My thought was, "what a crazy choice".  Why would one select the word OR?  As he started talking about his reasoning behind this word, I started to buy into his idea and soon my hand fell away from the dial.  I was hooked, and for the first time, thought, I am going to do this too (pick a word for the year), and I am going to steal his word, OR, because it now makes so much sense to me.  

As I listened to his reasoning for the selection of his word for the year, thoughts started to flood my mind of the past year, my life in the last 5 -10- 15 years, and suddenly, I realized OR is a word that has not only been missing from my vocabulary, but in so many instances could have made a huge difference in my decision making processes, my responses to others and in my overall sanity.  

When the option to pick up someone else's stressors and make them my own, if the word OR had been part of my frequently used vocabulary, I would have immediately had an alternative solution for running myself ragged, shouldering others chaos, and creating stressors in my life, that didn't need to be present. 

As the calendar turned, January into February, my word of the year still present, but on the back burner of my mind, did come in handy a few times.  I remembered occasionally that I could either add one more thing to my already busy schedule, OR, I could say no thank you to the opportunity at hand.  I could either agree to assist with your situation, and get sucked into your crazy, OR, I could walk away knowing that I did not create that mess and I do not need to fix it.  

In the past, my thoughts would be similar to this.  I can, and people expect me, to add this extra responsibility to my "to-do" list AND while it will cause me added stress, I will get it done, I always do!   I also have voluntarily picked up others burdens, and made them my own in an effort to try and fix the situation or the person.  Now I am asking myself, "why does any sane person do this?"   

A lifetime of actions and responses that have included adding, adding and adding, have created in me a refusal to acknowledge/understand/regulate my own limitations.  That somehow in my mind, I have then elevated myself to  someone that can, and will, do any or all things, and be the solution to others issues.  I am your "go to gal", the "git 'er done gal".  

This is an exhausting way to live life.   When I think I need to fix, or do, or work out situations for others, my focus is frayed, my actions are less than 100% for any given item, and I lack intentionality.  At the end of my day, my week or my month I feel like I have accomplished nothing and my personal goals and desires are left unmet, and unfulfilled.   

I also understand that as a mom, a wife, an employee, a friend, a church member, a committee member or a neighbor sometimes we do have to add that "one more thing",  but I would like to encourage you (and remind myself) that there needs to be balance.  That the additional things can not take away from our mental, physical, spiritual or financial fortitude. If we can't meet others without depleting our afore mentioned resources, that should be cause for pause.  Multitasking is not this great accomplishment that the world makes us believe that it is.  We are better personally, and to our immediate family and loved ones, when we are more singularly focused.   THIS OR THAT, not THIS AND THAT. that I have explained my word of the year, I will share soon, how this year, OR, has been a good choice for me, and while such a tiny word, is the perfect word of the year for me to wrap my head around as life has been and continues to be crazy.   God's timing is everything! 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

It is hard to live so far away

This is the Prince's grandmother.  The mother of his father and his Uncle.  The great grandmother to 14.  Living in the same neighborhood for 30 years.  Friend and good neighbor to all those around her.  Do not forget faithful church member, prayer warrior, and worrier to the list of amazing Nan attributes. 

This is what 85 looks like.  

This is what 93 looks like.
 (just a new kind of necklace) 

 There have been some challenges in recent years, but for the most part 95 has presented about the same. Independent living, with the assistance of others to get her to appointments and to the store. She however, is still maintaining her tidy living space preparing her own meals, and keeping up with her own schedule.   Until a few weeks ago.  

She (and we) because of the distance we live from her, are remarkably blessed to have family and friends that call and stop over to make sure that she is doing ok with regularity.  Of course anytime one of the kids or ourselves are in town, Nan visits are always one of the top things on our list. 

This is what 95 looks like.
(this past August )

Thanksgiving this year! 
(still 95 looks pretty good!) 

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, my brother called to say that she was struggling with her tv and remote, and if you know Nan at all, you know this is a pretty regular occurrence.  So he popped in and got things working for her again, but by the time he got home, she had called to say it was not working again.  He and I  talked that evening and he indicated that she seemed a bit "off" but could have just been having a bad day.  

I told the Prince.  

The prince, since forever, that I can remember, calls his grandmother every evening. Monday through Friday, on his drive home from work to see how she is doing.  The last year or so the calls have been a challenge because her hearing is very poor, so he spends a lot of the conversation repeating himself in an amplified fashion.  She spend a lot of time saying "ok".  

He agreed after talking with her that she did indeed seem a little off, maybe a bit more confused than normal, but again, it is hard to assess when she can't participate in typical conversations due to hearing loss. Which if you asked her, she does not suffer from. 

Within days of my brother calling me, a family friend stopped by and indicated that now there was something significantly "off" with Nan.  She was trying to use her phone as a tv remote, her words were a bit slurred and her medications were spread out around the house. 

 The ambulance was called and she was admitted to the hospital.  She was very confused.  Dehydrated and had an infection of which the source could not be tracked.  

Over the years Nan has had some falls, and broken her collar bone and banged herself up significantly, but always rebounded to the appropriate levels for her age, to continue her independent living.  

After the fall that caused her to break her collar bone, the Prince went to PA, as she was being released from a stay in rehab, to outfit her apartment with all the safety features that the case worker recommended so that she would not have trip hazards etc.  
Boy was she mad about loosing her throw rugs and that blue chair... 

Throughout her current time in the hospital, they treated her infection, and worked with her on her strength and mobility.  This time she was not rebounding so quickly.  She was still a good bit confused, and was not able to get her strength back to sustain her own weight.  

She was released to the rehab facility, a local nursing home.  Her progress was updated many times a day in direct communication between the Prince and her nurses.   We were told that they would be running tests and taking her to physical therapy. 

However, before the New Year, it was determined that she is unlikely to make any more progress and was being discharged from physical therapy (rehab) care.  

What does that mean?  We are 1100 miles away.  She can not live alone, but what do we know, since we have been saying that for years!  There is not a suitable option for her there of someone that she can live with, nursing home care/assisted living is financially not possible for her on her deceased husbands railroad pension, and what do we know about in home care?  

Off flies the Prince the day after New Years, with a one way ticket, and a ton of questions that have no suitable answers.  Upon being told of her pending discharge, he has been working on a mountain of paper work to attempt to get financial medical assistance so that she can continue to stay in the nursing home. He began to investigate in home care providers, and we began considering the pros and cons of just packing her up and moving her to Florida. 

Oh wait, but those of you who know Nan know, she does not want to stay in the nursing home, she just wants to go home to her apartment, and Florida would not be suitable because in her words it is "too cold here"!!  

We began praying about what the Lord would want us to do.  How can we make her comfortable, yet safe, and help her see her need for much more assistance in life than she is accustomed to, or that she thinks she needs.  

The Prince has been gathering paperwork, he has been working diligently to advocate for his grandmother, and even was considering discharging her, taking her home and monitoring her on his own over the next several days to see what her true functions were limited to.  To assess the situation and see if in home care would suffice.   

I think he and I both knew however that if Nan was discharged from care, which the doctors are clearly at this point discouraging, then she would end up coming to live with us.  Not to mention that she would be forfeiting her "spot" or bed in the nursing home.  To say the Prince has been struggling with major care decisions for Nan would be an understatement.  

Yesterday he had a meeting.  The meeting went well and the Prince got a lot of answers that he needed including but not limited to the fact that it seems like Nan will be able to stay on at the nursing home, as a resident as they are not seeing any reason for her medical assistance request to be denied.  

A collect of sigh could be felt, as that news makes it easier for all of that know and love her to relax knowing that she will be well cared for and in a safe place.  As you know - she is a spunky one, and even while in care at the rehab, told that she may not get up on her own, she had to try.  Of course the result was a fall, which only surprised her, not her care givers, but was a much needed consequence to make her understand that she is not as well as she thinks she is.  

So we immediately started praying that the Prince could persuade her, explain to her, why she needs to stay in the care of the nursing home.  That she would not be adamant about returning home to her apartment.  You all that know Nan, know when she gets something in her head, boy she won't let it go!  

Last night when I talked to the Prince he shared with me that she knows she is not ready to go to her apartment yet, and has agreed to stay in the nursing home.  "Until she gets better"... 

Asking for prayer the next couple days for the Prince as he navigates and plans for her care in the nursing home, figures out how long we should/can hold her apartment,  as he pays her bills, plans the mail for, gathers documents that we need here to make decisions for her while she is in care, and makes his plans for a return trip home.

Most importantly, please pray for Nan.  She is one of a kind.  She has seen more life than many.  She has buried two husbands and both her children.  Many of her life long friends have already passed from this earth.  Since I met her over 30 years ago, she has been ready to go home and be with Jesus.   
Which I will not lie, used to sort of freak me out.   All departure greetings went something like this, " "See you Tuesday honey, unless the good Lord takes me home."  Along with countless conversations in her older years about being tired, and just wanting to die at home, and meet Jesus.  

Now that I am older, I get it.  Now that some of those around me that I have loved, have passed away, I understand the void left behind and how much you miss them.  I see that it is her faith in the Lord and her hope of eternity spent with her husbands and boys and all those dear to her that have gone on ahead of her that fuels her hearts desire to be with Jesus.  

But today is not the day.  God still has her here with us!  In this time, it is our desire to love her and honor her, and help her transition into this "not so independent living" time of life.  

As soon as we have detailed information I will share it with you, who also know and love her, so that you can encourage her too.  Not that you need ideas, but ....

If you are local and can find 30 minutes to pop over and say hello, she would be thrilled for the company, as one of her laments once she had to give up driving, was no one comes to visit.  
(Which again, if you know Nan, and have ever tried to stop in for a visit, there is a 50/50 chance she would be out and about!) 

If you are not comfortable with the face to face of visiting elderly in a nursing home, send a card. Make a phone call (but be prepared to repeat yourself, loudly) 

If none of those options are ideal for you, then join us as we pray for her.  For the Lord, who loves her more than we do, to allow her comfort and peace and grace in her new situation.  

As she works on "getting better" so that she can go home...