Parenting Posts

The DEVIL travels in a polka dotted suitcase

There has been one child I haven’t written about as of yet because I really didn’t know what to say or even how to get my feelings out to the blog page. I have not yet written about my beautiful stepdaughter, Bailey. Even now as I sit at my writing table inside the camper while Liam sleeps on the camper sofa, I see Bailey running and playing in the yard. She looks lovely with beautiful tanned skin and sun-kissed blonde hair. She appears so carefree and innocent from a distance.

Every few minutes she stops playing and pokes her head in the camper: “You still writing a story. What is happening in it?” I must say that she is the most inquisitive child. For every action, there is a set of questions in Bailey’s mind. 🙂 I remember the first day I laid eyes on her: she was the sweetest, cutest little Bailey I ever did see. Chris had, unbeknownst to him, named her after my grandfather: Bailey Carroll Greene. My stepdaughter’s full name is Bailey Caroline. I knew from the first moment we met that I was destined to love her.

The journey of love has been ragged, jagged, and tiring, yet it has been one of compassion and understanding nevertheless. She has serious learning disabilities, and I found myself in denial for many months. The teacher in me believed that I could tutor the disability right out of her. I just knew that the more we worked that the more she would learn, but I soon understood that the more we worked the less fun she had. The more tired she became. I cried so hard that day that we left her IEP meeting, and I had her IQ written in the report in my hands.

Denial broke housekeeping that day. A new stepmother grew out of denial’s leaving. We still played and worked, yet we focused on other concepts. The concepts would be to help increase her adaptive life skills so that she would be better prepared for the working world. Twelve year olds probably do not think about jobs and careers very often, yet Bailey does. Her dream is to become a cashier at Walmart, and I plan to ensure she achieves that dream. Unfortunately, I cannot say how much time I will have to work with her because my time with her may soon be limited.

Her mother and mother’s father decided in December 2016 to begin working on a custody suit that they filed in December 2017. We have spent most of 2018 dealing with lawyers, worrying about court dates, and trying to raise a young woman who cannot fathom the severity of this situation. Some days like today, I steal away from the others and cry. I ask myself questions like: what will become of our family? how will she make out away from Liam and the girls if custody changes? what will I do with myself? how will Chris handle things?

I search for someone to blame. Someone to hate. However, blame and hate are not welcome in my heart or my house. Bailey is still the same loving, caring beautiful young woman she has always been. She deserves all the love and support I have to give her regardless of these sad circumstances. Thus, I will blame it all on the pink polka dotted suitcase in the back of our Ford

Focus. 

pink polka dotted suitcase

The polka dotted suitcase arrived at our house at 2 pm today, and at 2:02 pm I escorted it outside and banned it to the back of the Focus. Bailey asked a million questions: why can’t I have it? can I just get my things out of it? where’s it going now? Ultimately, the bag has done nothing to Chris nor myself. Have mercy–it is simply a bag.

On the other hand, the bag represents all the hurt, abuse, and miscommunication that we have had to endure for the last seven months. Her mother packed a bag for her to take with her on our vacation next week despite of the green polka dotted bag that sits on Bailey’s bed right now filled with clothes from her drawers or toiletries from our house.

The “Indian Giver” sent a bag that must be returned, which insinuates that we cannot provide clothes and toiletries for Bailey ourselves. A text preceded the bag which stated: make sure that I get the bag and all the stuff in it back after vacation. The Indian Giver also insinuated that we do not provide clothes for Bailey in a previous argument with my husband. Chris takes such pride in his ability to provide for his family; in fact, he doesn’t even complain much when I ask for money to make a clothes or shoes run to Target. Believe me these children can outgrow clothes and shoes like the wind. A man, a father, or a husband deserves to be treated with respect, and it is a basic principle of why a man works to support his family. When someone belittles a man who works hard and supports his children well, it is disrespectful, hurtful, and never forgotten.

With all this background information in mind, I must leave my feelings in the trunk with that damned bag. I am the angel of the home; (eighteenth century women would scoff at that remark) I am the voice of reason; I am the MOTHER. Motherhood already demands that I remove my own feelings at the front door along with any bad habits, mood swings, or personal desires. I may not always succeed at motherhood, but I attempt to get it right weekly, daily, and hourly.

I will lock all my aggression, sadness, confusion, and emotional responses inside that bag before Chris drives it back to its owner. Bailey deserves an impartial stepmother who focuses on her best interests, not my own.  Even my thoughts as Chris’ wife must take a backseat to Bailey’s best interests. So, I will stand in the driveway and wave farewell to the pink, polka dotted suitcase. I will send my feelings, thoughts, and prayers with it when it goes. The devil may be inside that suitcase, but I refuse to let him out. My Bailey is more important than symbols real or imagined. My Bailey is more important than the chaos that surrounds us. She is my child, real or step. The love we share overcomes a multitude of sins so my grandma would say. Pray for us. If you can’t do that, then think positively because the devil went for a ride in the back of a candy blue Ford Focus while zipped inside a pink, polka dotted suitcase. That is where he will remain.

The End.

**Indian Giver is used as a pseudonym to protect the innocent :-).

 

October 6, 2018: the Day Three of my Children Could Have Died

I have tried to write in my blog since October, yet no courage could I find. Since January, I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. I noticed that as soon as my second child, Sophia, went back to school after her injury on October 6, 2018, I lost it emotionally. Post Traumatic Stress found me, and I cannot seem to write and to suffer PTSD at the same time. However, today, the day before Spring Break for my colleagues and my students, I promised myself that our family has a story to tell. I swore  that I will attempt to tell it. Regardless of how it feels to process it, I must think about that day and recount the tragedy and the terror.

Sophia often takes risks, and she then has to face the consequences. She has abused privileges and acted out in anger, which led to her being grounded for several months prior to October 6th. Finally, the weekend of our Fall Break, her restriction time had ended, and I allowed her to have a friend over for the weekend. It was also the annual weekend of my husband’s family reunion. That Saturday was an ALL day reunion excursion. However, I found myself with a very cranky and loud two-year-old, and I was determined for him to nap before that evening’s auction and dinner. So, I took Bailey, Liam, Angel, Alley, and Sophia home with the intention of returning later.

After returning home, it became apparent that Liam would not nap, so Chris fueled up our Polaris Ranger for the children to ride in the yard while we helped the movers deliver our oven that we ordered. In less than fifteen minutes, Sophia disobeyed us, switched drivers, and left the yard with the Ranger. What happened next would change us all forever. My sister-in-law texted me to get to the end of our dirt road. My babies were all in the road beside the Ranger that was lying on its side. All looked at us except Sophia. She stuck her leg out as it tipped over. Her tibia and fibula were snapped like twigs and were forced through her skin. She was screaming, “MAMA” at a ear piercing levels, and I quickly ran to her. I wanted to know why she left the yard. I wanted to know why she wasn’t driving. I tried so hard to calm her, yet how does one do that exactly?

First responders came. EMTs came. Ambulances came. Helicopters came.

Angel and Sophia were airlifted to the medical center in Macon. I had to tell one of my former students that her child was injured while under my supervision. We never made it back to the reunion. Family members took Liam, Bailey, and Alley back to enjoy the festivities, yet I know they must have felt shock and fear.  Sophia and Angel’s health and recovery were my new objectives. I knew surgery was coming, but I did not grasp the length of recovery. Angel and Sophia spent the first night in the Pediatric Unit at The Medical Center. We parents waited and prayed. Sophia would stay three days; Angel went home after a day.

She received a rod and four pins. The wound even now five months later has not completely healed. I can still see a layer of adipose tissue. It still bleeds. She limps.

sophia's leg
One week post-op

Chris still takes her to see the surgeon each month, and we measure the wound’s progress. The necrotic tissue did fall off. So, she has had to heal and regrow the tissue from inside the wound. Sophia has suffered the most from emotional trauma and guilt from her poor decisions that lead to the accident. Her doctors continue to change medications to help ease her PTSD, and she receives psychotherapy when needed. We talk about her nightmares each morning on our way to school. She returned to school in January and looks almost normal in a group of her peers.

I hope she has learned from this experience. There are many lessons to take away. I am a better person and mother since this experience. I don’t take anything for granted. Chris and I increased our bond over it, and our relationship is stronger. The emotional trauma may not get better for awhile. There were three different families represented in that Ranger accident. I am so grateful and humbled that we all have our children at home to love. Sophia’s military career ended that day; however, I never believed she would have gone into the military anyway.

Unbeknownst to us that Monday in October, Sophia dealt with recovery, and  Hurricane Michael was headed straight for us from the Gulf. His wrath will be my next topic of adventure!