Category Archives: Trauma-mama


Dear Friend,

IMG_0585I’ve been writing and re-writing this Thank You note in my mind for days and the truth is, I can’t quite figure out how to write it yet. You see, there is no way I can explain what your kind deeds have meant to me without first telling you all the negative things that have been going on in my life and I think you know me well enough to know that I’m not a negative person. So, in the interest of trying to explain and in the hopes of being vague enough to not cause more grief, I thought I’d let you know how important your kind acts have been!
This spring there has been a war raging in our home. Nothing big enough to make the papers, but it has been a constant deluge of bad situations. Every day, I was confronted with something, figured out a way to handle it, and the next day it was a new surprising event. God is good and continued to show me grace and favor in the midst of the chaos. (Note: I said “in the midst” He did not shield me from the chaos but was beside me!) My son had some major trauma that was not in his control. No one should have to deal with what that boy had to deal with and all of it during his senior year. You know, that year that is supposed to be full of rainbows and dreams? His was full of doubt, trauma and an ugliness that I can’t even begin to imagine. Not knowing how to cope, he acted out with bad behaviors of his own which caused him even more pain. And, as his pain increased, his parents’ pain increased. And though his trauma took center stage there was a lot of other things going on in our lives too that we had to contend with.
That’s where you come in. You will never know what your kind words meant to me. The note, the card, the meal, the call, the hug, the plant, the text, the shoulder to cry on, the idea,  and the desire to lessen our pain in any way did not go unnoticed. Now, if you friend, were unaware of the struggles we were facing, you helped simply by being you. You made me smile, you encouraged me by assuming that everything was “normal.” You went for a walk with me, sewed a costume, mentioned mimosas, rolled your eyes, gave me a pedicure, shared an empathetic nod, and changed back into clothes to go out with me after you had already put on your PJ’s. You showed up for no reason and just were there for me. You asked me to do something and thought I was capable when I didn’t feel like I was capable of anything. If I eluded to some struggles you lifted me up in prayer. (I know you did, because I could feel it!)
I desperately want to share more with you. I want you to know how bad the details are so that I can then tell you how good my God is, but I don’t think that would serve Him well. I want to tell my side of the story to counter what may be being shared around town, but I won’t. I’ll simply thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my lifeline and helping me celebrate spring and all of it’s successes. I refer to this time as the season of Blessings and Burdens and I’ve had my share of both! You have been a blessing.  Thanks again!


Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.      

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.                                                                         –1 Kings 19:3-7

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I Think the Emotion is: Hurt


Confusion. Frustration. Pain. Anger. All emotions I feel way too often regarding my RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) kid. Today I feel hurt…utter hurt.

Last evening, he rushed into the room and asked if he could go for ice cream with a friend of his.  He seemed surprised when my answer was “yes” and he rushed out the door full of excitement.  We had just spent a couple of hours having dinner and meeting with someone from his Independent Living group discussing how he could earn the right to move from his upstairs bedroom to our basement apartment. All natural steps for this season of transition.

He returned from his trip to the ice cream shop, tossed his empty milkshake cup into the garbage can and gave me a good night hug. He said, “Can you feel me shaking?” and I answered, “Probably too much ice cream.” As he left the room he quoted what he quotes every night as he heads up the stairs:

“Good Night. Sleep Tight. Wake up bright in the morning light to do what’s right with all your might. Good Night. Don’t let the Bedbugs bite.”

I stopped him and told him that he had to mean what he says more often.  “Make good choices; do what’s right.” He went up the stairs and got a bath.  An hour passed and I realized his phone wasn’t in the charging station like it should be.  He is not permitted to have his phone in the bathroom as he has had more than one  phone “fall” in the tub(maybe 8?). (Only RAD parents/therapists would understand this phenomenon of intentionally ruining possessions because you feel you are unworthy of actually owning them.)  Anyhow, his phone was missing.  When I asked him about it, he assured me it was in his pants pocket. It wasn’t.  Must be on the dresser. No. Maybe downstairs? No. Lies, lies, lies.  I calmly suggested that he had it in the tub with him and he said, “I had to call a couple of people because I was in a car accident.”

Yep. He was in a car accident and he returned home and didn’t mention it. Why? Only God knows for sure, but we can speculate.  His mental illness makes him want to handle things all by himself.  His neglect until the age of 22 months makes him think that his parents won’t respond appropriately to his needs. His needs weren’t met when he was a baby, so they probably won’t be met at the age of 18. He doesn’t want parents and he will spend a lifetime proving that to himself and others.

That hurts! Soon we will be attending his graduation ceremony and baccalaureate and we will be sitting next to parents who have tears in their eyes as they think about separating from their children in this phase of life. We, too, will have tears in our eyes as we doubt that there ever was any connection to separate from. We have spent 16 years trying to create a bond and though we’ve had glimpses of hope that it could happen, we’ve seen evidence of the fact that it hasn’t.  We’ve certainly tried.  And, we need to accept that the separation we will be mourning at graduation will be the separation of our dreams from our reality. Even with our best efforts, we have been unable to get our son to trust us. We have been unable to repair the damage created by his first set of parents. We have never been the one he’s called out to in a time of need….and we probably never will.

It hurts. It hurts to realize that I am not alone. There are many hurting parents raising hurting children. Children who may never accept a parent’s love. It hurts. Yet, to those of you who my son has called instead of me when he needed a parent, I thank you. I pray you haven’t judged me or thought that I didn’t want to be the recipient of the call and I continue to pray that you will give him good advice. Thank you for being someone he can trust.disegno-floreale-con-bordi-arricciati_318-45888“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”                                                                        —     2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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I Am An Adult!

unnamedPosted on the door of my studio was a sign that I scrawled out on a piece of paper.  It says, “Screaming, “I am an adult” means that you are NOT!!”

I took it down because I felt it contained a negative message and the fact that I saw it every time I entered the room did not put me in the positive mood I try to maintain.  SO, the note came down, but the message still rings true in our house.

Our son turned 18 in October.  It has been a journey since then.  He has battled with us and probably with himself over if he truly is an adult or not. We should’ve expected this process to involve more than the date on the calendar. Though we celebrated his birthday with family and friends the Sunday prior, he celebrated his actual birthday while my husband and I attended a church meeting.  A typical Thursday night, we return home from the meeting and our house smells like cigar smoke.  WHAT?!  We don’t allow cigar smoking in our house.  But, his reply was, “I’m allowed.  I’m 18!” We’ve been trying to teach him the difference between being legal and being allowed ever since.  He’s taken up smoking, enjoys R-rated movies even more and buys an occasional lottery ticket. He does all of these things for the thrill of showing off his state ID (He doesn’t have a drivers’ license.) He loves to show others that he truly is an adult.  That’s what the laminated card proves!

I wish it were that easy.  I wish we knew what stage in life we were in simply based on our chronological age.  It would sure take the guess work out of things.  We would enter school at age 6, no wondering if we should send kids on the younger side of the cut-off date.  School would be entered at 6. Three would be the age that kids were allowed to view television, potty training would be successful at 2, iPods could be gifted at 12, iPhones at 14, ears pierced at 10, learners’ permit at 15.5, license at 16.5, dating at 16, etc.  I think it would be wonderful if maturity simply matched actual age.  It would save me from quoting things like, “You are acting like a two-year-old,” and “That looks like it was done by a toddler.” Not to mention, “I don’t care if she has a cell phone or not, you aren’t old enough to have one.” There is definitely a lot of gray area in all of this.

So, my son is an adult.  The government says he is.  (He is, however, an adult who is still not able to consume alcohol.) I think instead of a State ID to deem this, though, we should have a Maturity ID.  I read a great definition of maturity.  Maturity is: The ability to stick with a job until it’s finished; The ability to do a job without being supervised; The ability to carry money without spending it; and The ability to bear an injustice without wanting to get even. When he can achieve that I’ll get him the laminated statement of his adulthood.  Heck, I’ll even engrave it on a medal for him to wear around town.  I am so looking forward to him becoming an adult and a mature adult at that!

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  –Hebrews 5:14



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My fifth grader brought home her class picture last week.  It’s so fun to see the different kids in her class.  I pointed out one boy and said, “He’s a cutie,” and she said, “Well, he’s gone.” Gone? Gone where?  She went on to say that this boy has been expelled.  When I asked her for how long, she said he wasn’t coming back. Ever?! A boy who has been a classmate for 6 years is just “gone?”

My mind immediately went to the possibilities of why he was expelled.  Obviously, the school wasn’t a good fit for him.  Does he have a diagnosis? ADHD? ODD? Something else – NOS (Not Otherwise Specified?)  Poor kid.  Poor parents. I am sure this decision wasn’t made lightly and the school has an obligation to keep all kids safe so I’m not saying that this child shouldn’t have been expelled, I’m just saying that it is truly sad that he was. Again, poor kid, poor parents.

To the parents of this child who wasn’t able to stay in this classroom for whatever reason, I want to send you a hug.  I want to tell you that when I saw your son, I saw a cute kid.  He may have had a little twinkle in his eye which I recognized and thought was cute. That very twinkle that makes him unique is probably also the twinkle that causes the trouble in the classroom.  If your child truly was forever expelled from this classroom, you have my sympathy.  I doubt you are sure where to turn next. You are probably faced with many educational options and decisions. You are probably very angry and very frustrated. If we met, I would like to comfort [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[you and say that everything will be alright, but I’ll be honest….I can’t be sure that it will.  Your child being identified as a “challenge” at this age will probably lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and he may be headed down a path of self-destruction.  I will pray that this isn’t the case. I will pray that your family will survive this disruption in placement and that you will get the help that you all need to weather this storm.  I pray that the twinkle in your son’s eye will make him resilient and will help him rise to this challenge in a positive way. And I will also pray for you at home.  I’m assuming that the problematic behaviors at school are also problematic at home.  It takes huge effort to raise a child like this at home day in and day out and I know you get weary of dealing with it.  You get weary of dealing with the behaviors at home and you get weary dealing with the calls from the school and other parents regarding the behavior outside of the home.  It’s a tough road you are traveling.

Be strong parent. The next time you heave an exasperated sigh and throw up your hands and say, “Oh, god” recognize that it is a true prayer.  It’s not a sigh of defeat, it’s a sigh asking for help and God is truly there to help you. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121:1-2) and even the maker of this child with the twinkle in his eye.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

—Psalm 121:1-8

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“No Scone for You!”

If you would’ve told me that you can have part frustration and part laughter when raising a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, I would’ve told you, you were crazy.  That is if you had told me that during the frustration part and before I learned to laugh.  Or should I say, choose to laugh?

OH, I cry….a LOT.  But so many times when I attempt to tell of the events that made me cry, it makes me laugh.  The things we live through are stranger than fiction and only others who are raising similar kids can understand.

It starts early when the little ones are literally caught with their hand in the cookie jar….I mean literally.  He is standing there with Oreo crumbs on his face, the cookie jar on his lap with his hand in the jar.  “Did you take a cookie?”  “No, I did not.” Many kids may do that same thing, but kids with RAD take it a step further.  As they hone their gift of lying, they will fight this fight to the death.  He did NOT take the cookie and you are a fool to even consider the possibility.  He will take any and all punishments necessary, but he will not back down and admit the obvious truth.  It’s who he is. Frustrating? Yes.  Laughable? Eventually.

This week was a real struggle for our family.  Lots of real, sad and frustrating moments when the light of laughter hit me.  After two days of battles and tears, we were still implementing a punishment for some major bad behaviors.  Our son came home to see if we had forgotten the trauma he had caused our family and asked if the punishment had been rescinded. When I told him that it hadn’t he exclaimed, “Well, no scone for you!”  I burst out laughing!  Seriously, you think you can win back my affection with a day old scone that you received from Panera bread for free when they donated it to your school?! But, the scone story doesn’t end there, it turns out I wanted the scone.  I mean, some days, it feels like I don’t get any treats at all and I  knew the scone was in his backpack and I love Panera Bread Scones.  After he left for his basketball game, I convinced myself that I did indeed deserve the scone and I took it out of the bag.  I left it on the table to enjoy later. In the meantime, our kittens thought that they deserved the Scone and while I was out, they drug the Scone containing plastic bag onto the new carpet in the living room to enjoy. Just my luck! No Scone for me. The best part, though, is that when my son came home and asked “Hey, where is that Scone?!” I could honestly reply, “The kittens got it.”

Does a Scone make up for the pain? No, it doesn’t, but a boy with a heart that thinks it might may a little.


By the way, if you are having a “No Scone for You” kind of day, you can make your own!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Tender and crumbly, these simple cinnamon chip scones taste like cinnamon rolls and are packed with sweet cinnamon chips! Don’t leave out that heavy cream; it’s imperative to their rich taste.



  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (plus a little extra for brushing)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cups cinnamon chips1
  • optional: coarse sugar for sprinkling on top before baking


  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) black coffee (or milk/half-and-half/cream for a plain vanilla glaze )
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Adjust baking rack to the middle-low position. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Grate the frozen butter (I used a box grater; a food processor also works – here is the one I own and love). Toss the grated butter into the flour mixture and combine it with a pastry cutter, your fingers, or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the cream, egg, and vanilla together. Drizzle it over the flour mixture and then toss the mixture together with a rubber spatula until everything appears moistened. Slowly and gently fold in the cinnamon chips. Try your best to not overwork the dough at any point. Dough will be a little wet. Work the dough into a ball with floured hands as best you can and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Press into a neat 8″ disc and cut into equal wedges with a very sharp knife. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers!) brush lightly with a little bit of cream and then sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Separate the scones and line them on the baking sheet with a little space between each one.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. During this time, make the glaze by whisking all of the glaze ingredients together until completely smooth. Drizzle over scones right before serving.
  5. Make ahead tip: Scones are best enjoyed right away, though leftover scones keep well at room temperature for 2 extra days. Scones freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up to your liking before enjoying.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I use Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips, pictured in the post above. If you can’t find them: I usually see them in Walmart and grocery stores in the fall-winter months. Or sometimes year round! But no fret if you can’t find them– they’re sold on Amazon for relatively cheap for a pack of 6. If you do not want to buy them, feel free to make my chocolate chip scones which is the same recipe but uses a little less cinnamon, chocolate chips, and a simple sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar instead of glaze.


Tag @sallysbakeblog on Instagram and hashtag it #sallysbakingaddiction.

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Missing Money?


I rush upstairs to grab some ones out of the bankers’ envelope that I keep in my studio.  It was an envelope with some ones and fives that I could have on hand for the kids’ school needs.  A book order, new pencils, snacks for an after school activity.  Using my credit card for most of my purchases, I never have cash in my wallet.  SO, the envelope.  It was always there to meet the need.  Until today.  Today it is missing.  Did my Reactive Attachment Disordered son steal it?  Probably.  Yes, he steals often, so I bet he did.  However, there is this slight chance that I just mishid it.  Yep, new vocabulary word, “Mishid.”

See, living with a RAD kid means hiding all sorts of things, all the time.  His hypervigilance will note an extra $20 in his dad’s wallet when his dad opens the wallet to pay for parking. His darting eyes will spot a pack of gum in your purse. He will know where all the extras are that you are hoping to save for a special occasion.

So, the money is missing, but it may have been mishid. I may have thought he noticed the day when he asked me for $3 and he already knew that I didn’t have cash in my purse. (Cash in the purse is never an option with a RAD kid in the home!) I said I would get him the money and he noted my every move.  Though I thought I snuck into the studio and put the money in my back pocket and then opened and closed drawers and doors along the way, opened the coat closet and pretended to get things out of the pockets of winter coats….all in the hopes that he wouldn’t know where the money was stashed.  BUT, he beat me at this game again.  Or at least I think he did.  In reality, I may have at one point thought that he knew where it was and moved it to more inconvenient location.  This scenario happens more than I care to admit.  Twinkies will be eaten a box at a time OR they will be found where I hid them (in the china closet) way past the “Best used by” date. Packs of gum hidden in sock drawers are found after they are dry enough to crack each piece in half. Christmas presents are found when they no longer fit and small toys that were supposed to be prizes for good behavior may be found in rafters in the basement long after the child outgrew them.  That is the life we live.  Not to mention, the bacon hidden in cottage cheese containers in the fridge, the bag of change hidden under the cabinet where the cookbooks are, the bullion cubes hidden behind the cereal and the cell phone in the glove compartment of the car.

So, the money? Yeah, he probably stole it, but there is a chance it will surface again.  It doesn’t matter, the money was not able to be spent on the treats at school and the day was not spent doing anything but looking for the money.  For that, I am truly ticked!

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He has stolen again.  Not my money, not any of my possessions and still not my joy.  (I vowed a long time ago to not let that happen.) But he has stolen again, let me explain.

Pizza squares are in the oven and he’s in his room.  I want to share them with him, instead, I am eating them out of vengeance. They were a treat that I thought I would surprise him with, but his behavior today has reduced me to eating them all myself.  Do I want to be this person? Do I want to eat chocolate in the closet and cry in the shower? Do I want to spend every waking hour scheduling appointments to see how we can best serve him? Do I want to rehash the argument we had this morning with every professional therapist we know? Do I want to send him to his room just because the sight of him frustrates me? No, I don’t want to, but I do. He’s in his room.  I’m eating Pizza Squares. The joy that resides in me is deeply buried by the pain and frustration of the morning, but I still know on a head level that it is there.  He can’t steal my joy!  He can, however, steal the dream I had of being the mother I wanted to be.  I will have to resolve to be the best mother I can to a child who rejects my mothering. I will have to be a mother with a much stronger heart.  One who can function with a heart broken in a million pieces…daily.

Today I got an introduction text from a mother who may be in the same shoes as I.  I will be called to encourage her when she thinks she is surprising me with all the things that her daughter does to her.  She will think she is shocking me with her tales of lying, stealing, cheating and hoarding, but I will laugh a bit and tell her it is to be expected.  “These kids do that.” I will tell her that she may never feel the warm, fuzzies that she was hoping to feel.  I will tell her that though her parenting style may never feel “normal,” she will survive it.  And, I will tell her she is not alone.  Just as someone told me in the past.

Oh how I wish I could be the mother I want to be, but he stole that.  I guess I’ll just be the mom who eats all the Pizza Squares and shares the love she has in her heart with other moms who are picking up the pieces of theirs. I may not get to be the mom I want to be to this child, but I can be the friend I want to be to other moms.  And, I will do it all with the true joy that will always remain in the bottom of my heart through faithful prayer.

When Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” I think he had Pizza Squares in mind! (Nehemiah 8:10)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. –Romans 12:12


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