About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

October 23rd... Best Day of the Year

     You don't realize how much you need a purely lovely day until you wake up and it's right there, staring you in the face, inviting you to join the festivities. And today was that day. Despite having our family birthday party for him last weekend, Isaac's birth father suggested that we take Isaac for his actual birthday, which is today. Grateful for any extra second we get to spend with him, I promptly took the day off of work so that I could enjoy some needed one-on-one time with my little guy, doing the things that he loves to do. To top things off, today is not only Isaac's 1st birthday, but it's also the 1-year anniversary of Taylor's adoption. So, after sleeping in (just a little), I leisurely made my way downstairs and began prepping dinner and dessert for this evening... Taylor's favorite food is spaghetti, so I made a delicious spaghetti bake with glazed lemon pound cake to enjoy afterward. I felt very maternal and (gasp) organized as I did my prep work in the kitchen before the sun was yet awake. I EVEN multi-tasked by practicing the piano and choosing this week's worship songs as the meat browned the the smell of lemony goodness wafted towards me from the oven. I felt like writing, I felt like reading, and I didn't even feel like I needed a nap first! Having the house to myself, taking time away from work, and feeling productive doing things that I actually wanted to do, I realized an important thing: I was starting to feel like myself again. Actually, I was starting to feel like a better version of myself. (Afterall, that lemon cake was starting to smell way better than my old self! The aroma was so delicious, it had to be that of a Shivonne 2.0.)
     The next stage of this truly fantastic day was seeing my sweet boy's face as he came through the door in Pat's arms. Not having to wait an entire week to see him again was like magic. His big, toothy grin and slobbery kisses were all I needed to know that this day was going to keep getting better. As he crawled around, laughing at everything and playing with the balloons left over from his birthday party last weekend, we got our bags packed to head to the YMCA. (No, we had no intentions of working out... that's a task for Shivonne 3.0.) Instead, we headed to Isaac's favorite thing in the world.... the pool. If all babies like water, then THIS baby is a maniac for it! He'll splash anything he can from the shower, to the dog's water, to the toilet. Give this kid some water and you'll watch him go bonkers! And that's exactly what he did. We enjoyed 3 hours of splishing and splashing as Little Man made his way from pool to pool, saying "hi" to everyone he met, and laughing so much that he was easily the main attraction at the Y today. Chubbiness aside, I think he may actually turn into an excellent swimmer... he has, literally, no fear of the water, and he is willing to shove his face straight under without bothering to cry.... he pops his little head back up and there's nothing but smiles all over his wet face. He even naturally began to paddle his arms when Pat was holding him on his belly, moving him across the pool. Isaac was in his glory and so was this Mama.
     After a short nap, the kids arrive home from school and it was time to get the rest of the dinner finished. We had grandparents arriving to help us celebrate, so we tidied up while the kids entertained the baby with his new birthday toys. Together, we enjoyed a lovely meal as Taylor gobbled down her spaghetti bake and Cameron gagged down some salad. Even Baby Isaac discovered that spaghetti may very well be his new favorite food, just like Sissy! We scarfed down our dessert and then remembered something.... our beautiful day was ending. It was time for Isaac to go back home.
     Taylor began crying and I began getting irritable once again. As I shoved pots and pans back in their places and busied myself with the task of cleaning up from dinner, snapping at Cameron and Taylor as the arguing began once again, I realized that the gratefulness I had felt earlier this morning was being replaced by bitterness. If Isaac was ours, we wouldn't have to say goodbye week after week... we would know that we would get EACH birthday with him and not just hope for a weekend at a time. If I didn't have to go back to work tomorrow, I wouldn't have to do all these stupid dishes right now... I could sit down and do something to help me feel better about Isaac leaving. If this... If that... If only life were perfect... If only I were perfect...
     Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones. Maybe it's just the stressors of life. Whatever it is... it has to go. I am helpless to change these circumstances I feel so burdened by, which I know is part of the problem. (Feeling helpless is soooo Shivonne 1.0.) The circumstances will never be perfect, my life will never be perfect, and I (most certainly) will never be perfect. So once again, I find myself reaching for that hope that sometimes gets lost under piles of laundry and in tearful goodbyes. And I remind myself that today was a purely lovely day, and that each day must come to an end. Tomorrow may be more lovely or less lovely than the previous day, but it is still another day where hope will find me (because sometimes I'm too weak to do the searching).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Moments in the Sun

     To be quite honest, I'm not sure if our family is in an up or a down.... are we cycling back upwards after several months of horrible anxiety, behavior problems, and tears? Some moments I think we are. (How long do you consider a moment? If you say "seconds", you're about right.) Then there are moments where I think to myself, Oh no.... here we go again!!  I've long ago decided that I am no longer Bipolar Mommy, but that I just live in Bipolar Family.... guilty by association, I suppose. The ups and downs are pretty normal, I get it, although they are a bit extreme in our house. Emotions fly like kites in May around here, and behaviors change as frequently as my daughter changes outfits per day. It's all I can do to keep my head up some days (literally... this Preggy Mama is T-I-R-E-D!). So, as suggested by my dear friend, I am trying to find one positive thing about my family members per day. (And sometimes one is REALLY hard, so don't judge lest you walk a moment (seconds) in my shoes (which are going to soon be extra-wide at the rate I'm "blossoming"!)
     Some classic positive moments from this week:
     Let's start with the hubsters.... afterall, he's the easy one! One of the many positive things my husband has let me do this week is this: REST. He has seen my exhaustion, frustration, and near-psychosis and he has taken over many days of cooking, cleaning, homework duty, and Officer Dad patrol. There have been days when I came straight home from work and this man, God bless him, let me go to bed... for the entire night. He brings me medicine (the minimal amounts I can take), chocolate, and beverages. My sweet guy even jumped on phone-duty, calling my doctor and Rite Aid to help me get my prescription filled. Although I think the pharmacist was being extra helpful, as I was standing at his counter sobbing the day prior when they told me I was only eligible for one Zofran tablet. ONE. The kind man gave me three, accompanied by a gentle hug, and told me just to come back tomorrow in hopes that my prescription would come through. I feel blessed that my husband, and our pharmacist, have my back.
     Cameron.... well, despite the increased tears over everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink, he had a moment that made me think "Upswing!". As I picked songs for church this week, Cameron took it upon himself to clean the house. I use the word "clean" very loosely, because he did wash the dishes without soap, and he dusted by blowing on the furniture with great force, and he swept the entire floor via the tiny shop vac hose instead of the sweeper. But he made an attempt to do something that would make me feel happy instead of mad (these are two of the only emotions he comprehends at this point, so it was a big deal for him to choose "happy" for me). Kudos to Cameron for his extended moment in the sun!
     Taylor.... this one was a bit tricky. She made attempts to be nice, but ended up being mean in the process, so it was difficult to choose a positive moment for her, sadly. In the end, I decided to be happy with the fact that she made me laugh this week. Despite flawed behavior, she caused me to crack a smile as we drove down the road on our way home from gymnastics. Taylor announced very matter-of-factly:
     "Well, it looks like the road people are trying to catch mice again."
     "They're trying to catch mice??"
     "Yep, see all the mice traps on the road?"
     "Tay, those aren't mouse traps, those are reflectors on the center lane."
     "Well.... I don't know what those are, so I'm gonna just keep calling them mice traps."
     Alrighty then.... you do that! Goofball. And there was a brief moment in the sun.
     Isaac.... my little man is still coming to see us on the weekends, although I find that I miss him more and more with each passing day. The weekends that I was so grateful for in the beginning have become a reminder that I don't get to hold and kiss my baby every morning and every night. There are times when I see his biological dad while I'm working, or I hear something I wish I didn't about him, and my heart sinks to my stomach as tears flood my eyes. In one unexpected moment I go from "I think I'm ok" to "Oh my gosh, I'm dying.... yep, pretty sure I'm dying!" In these moments I let myself look at our pictures and videos of Isaac from the previous weekend... him learning to shake his head and make himself dizzy, him saying "No" with finger pointed and brow furrowed, him attempting to blow kisses. Each one makes my heart heavy and light at the same time. So, I busy myself by planning his birthday party. He turns One-year-old next week. October 23rd. Last year at this time, I remember sitting in that hospital room, holding his teeny-tiny self, and wondering what the future would hold for all of us. This year, I feel a solemn resolve deep down.... he's not mine, but he's not gone either, and I plan to have the best 1st birthday party for him, complete with all our family and church friends to pour love onto the little/big fella. And what was my positive moment for him this week? The open-mouthed slobbery kiss he planted on my face while he held my cheeks. I'm pretty sure he bit me too, but he's still getting used to his teeth, so I won't hold it against him! He IS my moment in the sun.
     Baby Bean.... So, Bean is apparently no longer the size of a bean, but is actually now a Kumquat. (However, Baby Kumquat doesn't roll of the tongue, so I'm sticking with Baby Bean for now.) This little tyke is giving me a run for my money already! What, with the puking and nausea, headaches and exhaustion and all... BUT, I have found peace inside of my belly. For the first month I was pregnant, I was terrified I was going to miscarry. Every other day, I was sure that something had gone terribly wrong. PS, don't read the internet while pregnant.... to find out that Mama's with PCOS have a super high miscarriage rate is soooo not a good read at bedtime! In order to ease my mind and heart, God chose to give me moment by moment pregnancy symptoms.... which sounds horrible, but is really an answer to prayer. With each dry-heave I gag on, I know my Bean is still in there, swirling around like a good little kumquat. And good news from my doctor.... apparently my uterus is much larger than an average woman's at this stage in the game (along with my everything else), so my kiddo is not only in there, but growing like a stinking weed! Go, Bean, Go!! Grow to the sun!
     Have I figured out today's positive moments yet? Uh.... nope. However, I'm positive that a moment will occur... even if I have to look really hard to find it. And if I still can't find one, I'll just re-read this post (through tears) before bedtime to relive the moments from earlier this week. Happy moments to all of you tonight, as well!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Officer Mom

     WARNING: This post is not for everyone... it is for people who can appreaciate a mother at her wits end and understand the desperation that leads her to the state she is in. It isn't for the judger or the Perfect Mom or the "Love is the answer" person. It IS for the parent that can't see straight, who doesn't know where to turn, and who pleafully wants to know he/she is not alone.

     After two months of out-of-control behavior from my children, I've resigned myself to the reality that I am no longer a mother, but a correctional officer. I'm so good at it that it makes me question my current occupation with fresh eyes. Perhaps I missed my calling? Instead of spending so much energy over the last year-and-a-half trying to empathize with my new kids, trying to help them with their emotional and behavioral issues, and trying to get them to love me, I'm realizing that I could've used half the energy and just let the kids hate me right out of the gate!
     Despite my frustrations, believe it or not, I can still look at my situation "therapeutically", recognizing  they just lost their baby brother who was supposed to be adopted to us, and now we're going to be gaining a new baby in the family. All this change throws kids like this for a loop. But when I am truthful with myself, the problems we're facing now are really the same problems we've faced all along.... I am just now ladened with morning sickness, pregnancy fatigue, and a whole heap of hormone changes to boot! It seems that in order to make it through this alive (not even sane... I think I may have given up on that one!), I need to wear a uniform, carry a loaded weapon (just for effect... no shooting of children... today), and stop trying to have a relationship with the inmates. You want to carve words into the hood of my car (large AND misspelled... I'm not sure which I find more offensive)? Then meet Officer Mom. You want to take my deceased grandmother's jewelry after I've told you repeatedly that it's not for children? Then prepare for your bunk to be stripped and searched. You want to pee all over your room because you're upset with a decision I've made? Get ready to scrub that floor on your hands and knees.... with a toothbrush. Feel like hiding from me at 6am, making it look like you ran away in the night after ransacking the house? Prepare for a whole lot of time in your cell.... which will be complete with nothing but your bed and your clothes. Toys are for children, not criminals. Don't like what we're eating for dinner and want to complain repeatedly after you've been told to stop? That's fine. A mother would argue. But Officer Mom will tell you goodnight and that you can try again at breakfast time.
     My favorite is when people tell me, "Aren't you being a little rough on your kids? They're only 5 and 7, and they've been through so much already." But when your 7-year-old takes a threatening stance in your face with his fists balled as he screams bloody murder at you, and your daughter weilds weapons out of school supplies to destroy the window in the living room, you start to recognize your place. Your house is no longer a home and you are no longer in charge when you're a parent. The only way to gain back control is to buckle down and enforce the law. In the last week, I tried the loving approach (very heartfelt, tearful, laying myself out there in such a real way) and then was stabbed in the back with even worse outlandish behavior. I WILL NOT BE THE PRISONER! I'm tired of sleeping with my door locked, waking at every sound because of what things of mine they're breaking. Coming home to bad news and bad attitudes every single day. Perhaps a little juvenille detention is just what the therapist ordered.
     I read an article months back that said when you can't find it in you to be a good parent that day, just try to be a good babysitter. And on some days, that was relief enough. But on days you can't find it in you to be a good babysitter? Then let Officer Mom come to the rescue. Emotion-free living mixed with the simplicity that comes with it.... Except.... feelings do come with it. Feelings of failure as a parent, therapist, and person. Feelings of rage that my life has come to this. Feelings of deep sadness that children I wanted so badly hate me with a passion. Feelings of fear that these vindictive beings will harm me, my dogs, or my Bean. When I'm not busy feeling numb, these are the things that haunt me. These are the things that make me cry myself to sleep at night. Normal children have some sort of end point... a line they won't cross, a move they won't make. Sadly, my kids are just warming up. Not only that, they don't care. I asked my daughter why she ruined my car. Her answer? "Because I wanted to." I asked her if she thought about how that would make me feel.   "Very angry." Good... she knows the right answer. So when asked why she did it anyways? She responded with, "Because I didn't care."
     I'm torn between honest worries that my children are either demon-possessed or sociopaths. I don't know that I believe "human" describes them accurately, so I feel forced to look outside the box. I don't remember pods in the backyard the day they came, nor do shining UFO lights ring a bell. What I know? I'm terribly and fearfully unhappy. (And therefore, so is my husband.) Therapy, medicine, church, prayer, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, behavior charts, time outs, incentives.... nothing is making a dent (visible dent anyways... I know God is always moving and moves quite mysteriously at times, so don't take my rants as wonderment at his Soverignty.... once again, I am just a desperate Mother that wonders if she made the wrong choice at times... ok often.... ok DAILY.... HELLPPPP!!!) But until the invisible becomes visible, I'm going to keep my official badge and hat and pray till bedtime each day. Pray that we all make it there, alive and unharmed, and that those few hours of rest each night will be enough to get me through the next shift.