"NORMAL"….

Carlos Esteban Joaquin Hamann (Charles Steven Joaquin Hamann) is a boy filled with so much life and filled with extreme emotions! He has been this way since he was born on Father’s Day Weekend in 2005! He did not want to come out into the world. He kept going back into the birth cannal but finally out came this beautiful, witty, passionate, aggressive, brilliant, hyper, impulsive bundle of joy. No one knew the direction of his life. I had no clue what it would be like to be his mother and his advocate.

I knew that he was special early in his pre-toddler years. It all started with cars being lined up in a straight row. He had patterns that he would do with his cars and don’t dare step on them, move them out of place or there would be price to pay. Usually at that age it was just a lot of screaming and such.

The older he became the clearer it was to see that his mental illness was very prominent. I have been around mental illness all my life so it did not surprise me to know that my boy was who he is. We have come along way from 3 years old up to 14 years old. The battle is real. There are many ups and downs. The roller coaster ride is tiring. I am learning a lot about self care and support but as much of a control freak that I am, its hard for me to let things go. So this coming year I need to really practice more self care. Its just hard because I trust no one with my son. He is so unique in so many ways. I am blogging this blurp because of the word normal. He has told me, “Mom I want to be normal.” I look at him and then say this, “Carlos, there is no normal. Normal is being the person you are meant to be. Normal is not being who you think others want you to be.”

He is 14 and although he is a teenager and on his way to manhood, he still plays with cars, trains, planes, and so many other fun toys. I am not a believer of “age” appropriate toys. I feel that toys inspire imagination. When we “grow up” its a sign of paying bills, and so many other responsibilities. So I just accept his passion of transportation. His favorites are police and fire. Either way my son’s normal isn’t there yet. I feel like he is fighting himself daily. He has met some new boys his age and they really seem to accept him for him. We have real battles on a daily basis. I am exhausted on many days. Then there are those days of great quality time. Other times there are days where I can actually breathe and think, “Wow! This day really went that smoothly?!”

Every day is unique. Living with mental illness keeps me and my little family on our toes. A day in the life of my son is a day in the life of my daughter and I. We take it a day at a time. Our hopes for Carlos is that he can have more emotionally controlled days. We hope for the days of tranquility. For now we take the minutes that we can get.

A Mother Continued….

She made me hers. She told me the story so let me retell it after I describe who this beautiful soul was. She became an angel on February 8, 2019. The hardest days were yet to come for me.

This woman had beautiful ivory skin. You just wanted to caress the beautiful face of hers. She had beautiful slim pink lips. She loved all shades of pink for her lipstick. She had the most beautiful hazel eyes…I called them cat eyes. Some days they were green and some days blue and when she was angry they would be hazel. Green and blue were her happy colors.

So this beautiful step grandma told me the story:

“Little Bug (that was her name for me another story for another day) I saw you in the shower. You had no clue what to do in there. Your mother had left you in there. I came in and helped you. The water was cold. I thought to myself, this beautiful little dark girl is going to be mine. I am going to make her white.” She giggled. I laughed. I had never had anyone want to claim me like this. It was very foreign.

After a time my biological mother who had been very mentally ill ended up relapsing and went into the hospital. She went in sometime in December of of 1980 and did not come out until April of 1981. However I honestly don’t remember missing her because this beautiful Kentucky Southern Angel took over. First thing on her list was to go get my hair fixed. She said it was just a mess. Well what she did not know is that not too long ago my biological mother and step dad had decided to make me bald because I had kept contracting lice. All she had to do was clean the house correctly and wash everything correctly instead of making me bald in the second grade! How mortifying of an experience! (again another story for another day)

She took me to someone she knew to fix my hair. I got a short hair cut but it was all even. Then she took me to thrift stores to get me the most beautiful clothes I had ever seen! I only wore three sets of clothes to school every day and I had this one beautiful blue ruffled dress that I felt like a princess in. However things were about to change with this beautiful angel. She bought me shoes and purses and hair accessories.

I began transforming to be hers. I started to adore this woman. I can remember I would enter her bedroom and she would be reading her Bible. I would quietly give her a kiss, say good morning and walk out. I can remember wanting her to come out to have conversation. She began to teach me things like making mashed potatoes, and prepare salads. Every Sunday we used to have Sunday dinners. She would wake me up bright and early on Sundays and I would be washing veggies, peeling potatoes, and washing dishes. I hated this task and yet at the same time I appreciated the fact that she cared enough to teach me life’s lessons. She would show me how to wash clothes.

She took me to church EVERY Sunday and I would go every Wednesday. My faith became strong because of this beautiful woman. My faith is what has kept me positive and believing in the future. I had a lot going on in my head and in this environment. Nothing was perfect but when Roberta was there I felt safe and at peace.

A MOTHER

It takes more than giving birth to being a mother. I honestly didn’t see myself ever having children. See in my life there was abuse, abandonment, dishonesty, all the dysfunction you can imagine it was in my family. Not saying that ALL my family is dysfunctional but those that know me understand what I mean. I have always loved kids. I just loved everyone else’s kids. So having kids of my own? Are you kidding. I was married once and did not have children. Then my second marriage I chose to finally go ahead and let it happen. Sort of but that is a longer story for another day. Let me take you into a time of one of the most beautiful mothers ever…..

I have a mother that gave birth to me. I didn’t know for many years later that I grew up in a foster home. I began living with her once I was 9 months old. It wasn’t her fault that she had a mental illness. Raising me and her two sons did not go well. Which was a lot of heart ache, pain, bruises, tears, moves, and so much more.

However I believe in God’s grace. At the age of 8 years old I ended up in Detroit, MI. I had no clue where in the world I was. I remember being placed in this bathtub and under some “rain” (the shower). At that point this beautiful angel came in and helped me out. She had beautiful red hair, green, soft, kind eyes and the softest hands ever. What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was already planning on making me hers.

A Day In The Life of My Son-Easter

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The holidays are always hard especially as a single mom. I am not sure about any of the other single moms but for me holidays mean money. I have tried my hardest to teach my children that holidays have a deeper meaning than the gifts, and the commercialized things but they fall into the sentiments that all kids fall into.

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Today is Easter and thank God it is over. It’s been a mixture of emotions. I think part of it has to do with the fact that my son is locked away at behavioral unit. He is a small 12 year old getting ready to hit the BIG 13 in a matter of months. So he is in a unit with teenagers. I got to see him today. I had to ask if I could bring in his Easter basket. I had to ask three times then I get to the hospital and I am being told no he cannot have the candy. Here I am with my daughter having to fight for the opportunity to give my boy his basket. That is one of the things he wanted. Of course one thing is maybe I should have kept it at home. I mean after all he is there for the choices he made. He put himself in crisis right. Then on the other hand everyone deserves compassion. I went with the compassion side. I always do. Finally there is another lady who is older and more seasoned. She informs the other front desk representative that we will be in cafeteria. I get permission from her and the unit and my daughter and I are sent to the cafeteria.  I have many emotions running through my mind, one for sure is that I would rather be home in bed. These kind of hospitalizations put a huge hole in my heart. BOTH my kids complete me. It does not matter how hard one is being than the other. I want them BOTH home. I am thinking about the fact that he told his teacher that he is tired of being “this” way. He is tired of being “different”. I can only imagine his struggle because I am not in that mind of his.

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We walk into the cafeteria, and of course there he is standing waiting anxiously but for the first time I saw this little soon to be teenager, he was so badly wanting to run to me and hug me but he had to be cool. However he was so ready to sit down with us. It was a bit awkward because he is so used to running to me and saying, “Mommy!” but not today. He stayed cool, calm and collected. It saddened me a bit because I thought, “Oh look this is what it feels like when our kids won’t hold our hands, kiss us, hug us,  in front of others because they are trying to be cool. So he is eating his spaghetti and meatballs and he gets German chocolate cake because since the second day he was admitted he has been on green level which is amazing! Usually it takes him several days to get on yellow and he has been on green for five days. It is very significant to me but then again I am his mother. He looked into his basket. He looked so happy and the jump he has always done since he was little was happening. My roommate calls it the fish out of water. It is super cute to me but to most it either annoys them or amuses them.

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I am starting to wonder how many got Easter baskets there. I asked him and he says no one got any baskets just him. my thoughts are I am hoping he doesn’t get teased but I know that my boy is happy. Now the hour passes. He gets to eat a few pieces of candy. I and my daughter hug my son and we grab the basket. He lines up with the rest of the teens. He looks so small in comparison. My heart aches but I put on a happy face. I know that because he is doing so well he should be released soon but its another holiday and I have to leave one of my pieces of my heart there. I mean what really happens behind the scenes? Do they treat my boy with the dignity and self respect they say they are supposed to do? Instead I have to rely on faith that they are doing what they are supposed to do. I rely on my boy’s perspective of how he was treated.

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So there I leave him until I find out that he can come because he is ready to come  home but the holidays are always the hardest to have him there. Don’t get me wrong every time he is there is hard. I know he is in the right place. I have to have faith he is in the right place. I know that God is protecting my child. I know that every time he has left this particular hospital he is getting better and better. I am praying for a miracle. I am going to keep believing that my boy can conquer his mental illness. It is either going to be as though it was none existent or he is going to be able to cope and be as though he has no illness at all.

It is Easter. It was a roller coaster of a day. My emotions were all over the place. Church service was about miracles. I am going to believe in the fact that there are miracles. I am going to keep believing in the positive. I may not hear it from others but I have to keep believing that my boy will succeed.

HAPPY EASTER!! HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY!!!

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A Day In The Life of My Son

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I get a text at about 10ish. I tend to glance and see something about somebody threatening or something to that extent…. of course that catches my eye because it is my son’s special education teacher who by the way is an amazing individual. Usually she can redirect my son but not today. He has found out that his best friend of two years will not be with him in 8th grade. Change?!!! CHANGE!!! HOLD ON A MINUTE!!! You see that is just it, LIFE DOES NOT HOLD ON!!! Changes happen ALL THE TIME. I take it for granted that I am adaptable. I take it for granted that I hate change but life goes on and it doesn’t matter what the change is LIFE GOES ON. I wonder if at that moment he found out about the bad news,  did he expect the world to mourn with him and expect the world to stop? Did he expect everyone to be as sad, angry, afraid, confused and just plain discombobulated as he was. His world fell apart in seconds. The hardest part of this is he cannot deal with his emotions because he avoids them. Then to top it of his hormones are raging. How unfair is life for him right now.

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Ok back to that text, it caught my eye and I call the teacher. It is now what she confirms. He has done another out cry. However you see in the climate after Parkland, Florida children like him and out cries that he makes are no longer even something you play with. Remember the days that we would get so upset with a friend and we would say, “I’m gonna kill you!”? Well not even those comments are taken with a grain of salt and I cannot blame anyone for feeling that way.

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I am at my desk trying to finish all my tasks and now my nervous energy has grabbed ahold of my neck. It’s like a strangulation that no one can stop. My mind is racing! I can’t leave my job?! What am I going to do with him? He is profusely using his sailor mouth that just came so naturally to him, he is throwing chairs, the children in the classroom are CRYING–yes crying. He is licking the bottoms of desks. Finally the teacher calls the officer. He should arrest him right? He doesn’t. However right at that point the officer is what brings my boy back to the reality of the event. Now what? I can imagine that the he is thinking, “Oh shit! I did this again!” “I went over board!” “Now my mom is going to take me to the hospital.” “Now I need to figure out what to do to get myself out of this.”

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As the mom that I am, I make a few calls. My roommates are beyond amazing right now. One takes off work to go and get the other and they go to his middle school to get him. They text me to tell me he is home and all is safe but in her hand is a note. Her question, “Do you want me to read it to you?” NO!! I don’t want to face this yet. I have too much to finish up in just one hour. She understands and now I have to make another phone call to get someone to pick up my daughter. My very first and best friend since I have been in San Antonio says she will do it. She and I have been friends since the 2010. (a story for another blog) I now have to finish my tasks as quickly and proficiently as I can. Finally I make the call to the boss. Thank God I work for a company that is family oriented but how long will that last? I get in my car and poof—tears! Now time to face the inevitable, the admission that’s another adventure.

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A Day In The Life of My Son

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I decided that instead of defining my son by his disorder I would just write about him as who he is a brilliant boy who has to battle with mental illness on a daily basis. He is now in junior high. He is so handsome. You look at him and you would think he is only nine or ten but once you start talking to him, he blows you away. Hahahaha- catch him on a bad day- which are many- he will embarrass or piss you off. A friend of mine once said that he is the only child she ever wanted to hit. This was when he was three. I didn’t take it offensively because you see this child will test your patience. He will push EVERY button until he finds the right button that makes you tick the way he likes you to tick. He cannot stand it when he cannot read you. Another person said to me when he was three, “He is too smart for his own britches.” Yes mam he sure is. I again was not offended. Instead I knew this was true because my son also has this charisma that can charm the pants right off you. (just metaphorically ok)

Since he was six he has battled a mental illness. I am not proud of the illness. I wish the illness would just go away but when reality hits me square in the eyes I just know that his illness is something we ALL have to cope with. Whoever we live with, wherever we go, or anything that happens in our lives, adjusting is a must. He is now 12 and in just a matter of months he will be the BIG 13! TEEN!!!! WTH!! NO!! IT CANNOT BE!!! Where did my little boy go. Hahahahaha— just wait depending on his mood you will get to see the 3 year old, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, or whatever age he decides to impersonate depending on the fit he is having. Remember I told you my son is battling with mental illness. They say his diagnosis as of now is schizo-effective. He does not deal with emotions very well at all. If he is angry, sad, anxious, fearful or any negative emotion,  someone usually will get his wrath. He will gravitate to his immediate family so if you are a stranger you are lucky. You just get to either feel really awkward or angry or sad. Sometimes I will get advice that I am not disciplining him correctly. Because you see, I have dealt with him for so long, I have already found my nitch to survive with my first born.  If he is happy the whole world will see his spontaneous outburts , well anything impulsive….like licking walls, floors, and you! There is never a dull moment with my boy. I love him to the moon and back.

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High School-Speaking Out

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I had finally spoken out to my mamma, my PE Teacher, and my counselor was now aware of the situation. So now what? My life got better right? Nope actually it got harder. Now my grandfather was really not letting me out of sight. He lectured me regularly and continued to tell me that I had a big mouth and that he couldn’t comprehend what he ever did to me to come up with these hurtful lies. Funny thing is there were times as I was dealing through this without therapy if maybe I was lying. Maybe this was all in my imagination right? Wrong, it really did happen. Mind you my grandfather was not the only perpetrator but honestly not sure if I will ever blog about them.

My uncle came from Texas to Michigan to see my grandfather and myself. He is my absolutely favorite uncle. He is just so smart and loving and he listens to me. He really listens to me. He came and I got to stay with him while my grandfather went to the clinic job. I got to spend one on one time. My uncle sat with me and finally asked me the question: “Mija this is hard for me to ask you but I really need to know, did my dad ever touch you or do anything to you that he should not be doing?”  Wait wait wait…. are my ears deceiving me? Did my uncle just ask me straight out this question? What do I say? What do I do? Well by this time my survivor mentality is up and ready to figure out how to get out to survive this living hell I was going through. I told him the truth. I told him EVERTHING. I even went to my grandfather’s closet and showed him the Playbook magazines that my grandfather would drool over and masturbate with. No I never had the scary pleasure of watching him do this thank you God. By this time my grandfather was becoming afraid of me and very angry with me because I was becoming very vocal. I was never disrespectful but I was starting to get strong and stand up for myself.

My uncle was very sad. He was upset. I didn’t know what he was going to do. I was super nervous. He confronted my grandfather. I honestly do not remember what ever really happened because a day later my uncle left. He told me that I would be fine. However to call  him if I needed anything. I never called him though. I figured out that I was going to have to rely on God and that somewhere there was a plan specifically for me.

As I said I was very vocal. I was becoming very tired of this prison feel in my life. I was a good girl. I needed freedom. I needed to get away from my grandfather who now was making me leave my door open and his door would be open and he would be sleeping NUDE!!! I was having dreadful nightmares. It came to a head. I wanted to go to a concert. The Cathedrals Quartet in Toledo, Ohio with my youth group from church. Oh my grandfather hit the roof. My mamma got into a huge battle with him. It was pretty loud. It came down to I was not going. I was so angry. I stayed that way for the week. Then my grandfather started in on my mamma again with me. He would tell me how she is not my blood and that she did not love me. That she only was buying my love. He would tell me that the love he had for me is a love that my mamma could not understand because she is not blood related. He would then talk badly about his step son and I just could not stand it anymore. He said the words I needed to hear.

He said: “As long as you are under my roof you will obey everything I tell you to do.” “When you are out of my roof, I don’t give a dam what you do.” By this point I was sooooo angry. I was just done with all this bologna he was trying to feed me daily. He was grasping at straws trying to control me but it was not going to happen. I was done. I had told my mamma that I was talking to my youth directors and that if ANYTHING ever happened I would go live with them. They gave me permission to come and stay with them. I had my plan. I had a bag packed in my closet as well. I also babysat every Tueday with out fail. Except this one Tuesday there was no babysitting. However I did not tell my grandfather that. I had already told my youth director when I was going to go. My best friend was actually at the church babysitting. It was her turn that day.

This was the hardest day of my life. I had told my mamma I was leaving. I left a note on the bar for my grandfather: It said:

Grandfather,

I have gone. Please do not bother looking for me.

Tammy

Then I took the 2 minute walk to my church that felt like an hour. I was weak kneed. I thought I was going to throw up. I was so scared. I made it to the church where my bestfriend was. She knew the plan. I called my youth director. They came to get me. I got to their home. By the time my grandfather came home, I was already in my safe place. I felt numb, nervous, and free and scared. This was a complete change in my life. What have I done? I am proud to say I never turned back and I never returned to my grandfather’s home. This was now my turning point.

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