Inside and outside these walls

Here is one I bet you never considered:  My daughters from Ethiopia, here in the US for three months now, were raised by a strict and loving mother, who like many mothers in Ethiopia, the US and all over the world enforced consequences when her kids acted up. I won't pussyfoot around it: they have admitted they would appreciate if I would hold down the fort a little better by spanking them and the other kids when they are disobedient. My discipline style, to them, is hilariously ineffective much of the time. They actually feel better, more secure when I come down hard on them everyone. This therapeutic parenting thing, on the surface anyway, seems a joke to them. One time, in exasperation with one of the girls I jokingly asked What do you want from me, spankings? I kid you not, eyes perked up, smiles, Yes Mom, that is what we need.

My girls were told by their nannies at their orphanage as we left for those doors for good, Watch out. You have a baby mother. (As in, That woman there is not old enough to be your mom). And though they show me a great deal of respect, I can see that sometimes they doubt my ability to control the chaos because I don't use corporal punishment. But here is the thing, I will not tell them it's a bad way to go, because their mother used it and they are obedient, respectful, motivated, good girls. They feel like it worked. And obviously it worked. I will never say anything that speaks ill of their mom including her capable parenting.

I was starting to actually doubt myself on the no-corporal-consequences-thing until tonight the woman who helps me tackle the mess a few evenings a week said the sweetest thing: When I am a mother, I want to do it like you. You talk to your kids, in Haiti, we don't obey right away, beating, not words. I like your way.

I know now for certain hindsight is not 20/20. Rather, it is generously tainted by current circumstances and perspective. For example, today my brain is attempting to tell me that the Golden Yesteryear of Four Children was "easy."  I know my brain is lying. I know it was actually not that different than it is now with two more children. That time had really sick hospitalized babies and feeding tubes and breast pumps and terrible sleeping from the kids. That time wasn't any easier. That time was Falling Asleep on the Toilet Tired. This, now, is complicated. Every moment of the day is orchestrated. It is mentally exhausting. But that was too. Hindsight is trying to make me fret and I am not going to fall for it.

Speaking of a few months ago, I can barely remember what it felt like when the girls weren't here, but sometimes I still have that nagging feeling we all do when nieces and nephews or friends' kids are over: so fun, but watching the clock for their mom to come so things will go back to normal. I am not saying I don't love them and want them here. But I look forward to a time when it feels more solid. I think all the children have melded beautifully. I mean, it's like a Fairy Tale Adoption ad every time we sit down to read stories. The toddlers sitting on the laps of their older siblings, everyone holding hands or snuggling and laughing together. They feel and look very cohesive together. But me, pathetic little me, seems to be taking some time setting up. Like a bad batch of jello that just keeps wobbling even though it's been in the fridge for three months now. I have to keep reminding myself that if I am feeling wobbly in my attachment to the girls, they are feeling it too. So thus, I have to excuse and forgive all three of our inconistencies and weirdness and sharp edges. It's like we got married and didn't know each other yet. We are committed, there is no pre-nup. But, well, it's not easy. It's awesome. I will preach it 'til the cows come home, but it isn't easy. And man, feeling not securely attached exposes my worst behavior. Thus, Scoopy learneth the painful and obvious lesson that when her children are showing their worst behavior, there is a strong chance they are doing so out of feeling insecure and lost in their relationships. Just like their mom.

My little brood had the pleasure of being models in an African fashion show several weeks ago. All the other models were college students, but my kids took their turn on the runway and (obviously) I think they stole the whole show. They practiced their walks, debated what they would do at the end of the catwalk. They were ecstatic about this gig. Their grace under pressure was astounding and I loved seeing them push through nerves towards the beckoning promise of ice cream when it was all said and done. Hubs said that Mimi almost couldn't make herself go she was so nervous, so he literally shoved her out on the the catwalk through the curtain, where she beamed and strutted and gave a few little esksta shoulder pops as a nod to her traditional Ethiopian look. The place went wild for all my beauties. And speaking of attachment, when Fikir came out on the runway, strutting like a pony, grin her face, completely owning the place, I cried a little: it was one of the first moments where I felt that strong maternal That's my baby feeling. Look at them, I tell you, just look at them.

getting ready

back stage


Why time outs don't work in our family: The person who helped land you in Time Out continues to engage in activity that resulted in Time Out. Minus actual stockades to separate them, it's completely pointless. Please note the classic "I'm not touching you" flailing hands.

This tiny one loved the limelight and the fun. He has always enjoyed a crowd. Sadly, he didn't end up on stage this year (last minute Tsega nerves where Hubs had to help him out and Brady was stuck backstage) but he can't wait until next time.

Under the lights





So much fun. So proud. I know, I am gagging you a bit.

Mine. Putting them on. In a crappy twist of events insurance is back pedaling in the attempt to deny coverage for a therapy (remember the hippotherapy discussion?) I and at least three other professionals believe Tsega needs. And I have been taking it slow, figuring out my best strategy to fight this. I think I have everything I need. They still may say no. I am praying. My kiddo needs this therapy. I believe it down to my pinkie toes. If insurance gets away with the Great Escape, I am gonna need to take on a few more violins students because Mama is paying out of pocket which is sobering, barfy feeling. But I don't even care that much. That is how much he needs this. It makes me crazy because he could have started two weeks ago but we are in a little holding pattern. Did I mention I am praying we can push this through? I won't make any dramatic sweeping statements about society here, I am not a position to do so, but my kid needs help. My entire function right now as his mom is to do my darnedest to get it for him.

In the event you could not stomach this insanely long post and wished I had given you a Wordless Wednesday installment instead, here you go, maybe my favorite picture of 2012. These boys who get into so much trouble love each other so much. In between the breaking and punching, of course.


findingmagnolia said...

I really hope the hippotherapy is covered by insurance, because lady, you have enough to do already without having to do extra work to pay for it. Being in a similar situation currently with a therapy that we think will be effective for Z (it's group therapy, but technically a class, thus not eligible for coverage), I get that it is worth it to work extra to make things happen, but seriously: insurance just needs to get this for you.

Barb Aloot said...

Do you have any kind of state insurance commissioner, ombudsman, etc? State rep? If you can call on anyone official, do it. It's been more than 15 years and everything has changed since then, but once upon a time I did billing for a clinic and it was not unusual for insurance companies to resist paying until I quoted state law at them and threatened to file a complaint. You may have done this already. But AARGH! They often won't pay until they think there is a consequence for not paying.

Carmen said...


As always, love the posts about your beautiful family. :) Forget Wordless Wednesday, I LOVE words, especially yours. I will be praying Tsega gets the therapy he needs. I don't think I believe in spanking either, but I LOVE hearing about how awesome the girls' first mother is. And finally, could you maybe post a video of you playing the violin one day (in all your free time, haha :) ) I love the violin.


Jessica said...

For the record, Wordless Wednesdays drive me INSANE!!! ;)

Deborah said...

My husband grew up in a culture where spanking was the norm (in West Africa) and while he doesn't want to do that to our son, I can sense he has trouble thinking of what else to do. He'll threaten things that are too big to actually enforce or that will happen too far in the future. Maybe you & the older girls can talk together about what else would be good consequences?

The Lost Planetista said...

Maybe the insurance company is dragging its feet because they think you want hippo-therapy for your kid. Maybe they don't know it's horses. :)

Also- your kids are ridiculously cute. Sheesh. How you can stand it I will never know.

Sharon said...

I hope the therapy stuff gets figured out. For most of our married life we have had our own crappy, very expensive private insurance and quite a few battles over things...some we have won and some we haven't, so I can sympathize with you on this. Hope, hope, hoping it will work out!

Love Mimi's hair in the fashion show. What fun for all of you!

Sharon said...

p.s. Oh, the attachment stuff. I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

My best friend became a foster mom to 3 gals from Burma and they would get frustrated with her when it came to disciplining them. She would take away their phones...they were highschoolers seemed like a logical thing to do. They told her to just hit them! She obviously was not allowed to do this by law and wouldn't dream of it with this age group. So even though her and I have both spanked our children at young ages we wouldn't dream of past probably 6 years of age. Not so in the Burma culture. Weird how we all handle discipline in different cultures!

Cindy said...

Hope your insurance comes through!

Kyra said...

Before our kids came to us, I thought a lot about how they would attach to us, but not so much about the other way around. I've learned a lot since then.

Melissa said...

Good luck with all the parenting issues. We all have them (even if we only have one kid) and have to do what you're doing and figure out what works best for each child. I'm sure things can get crazy, but I'm sure you're not doing as poorly in that department as you think/feel sometimes. So I say keep up the good work and keep learning from your lovely kiddos. Love the fashion show pics! Those are good ones!