Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing Directions

I have been at my current job for one year now. In some respects it seems like just yesterday I was slaving away at the firm. Said firm has self-destructed over the past year. My mentor/senior litigation partner passed away; the senior partner became "of counsel," another partner left, and the attorney they hired to replace us all, left too. Also gone are five assistants. Looking back, the timing of my escape was definitely in the knick of time and I have zero regrets.

When I started this job, the program managers for my area joked to the child welfare (abuse, neglect, dependency) folks that they needed to stay away because they could not "steal me to their side." No issues there, I thought. I'd never be able to handle that stuff. I'll just stick to numbers (child support) and old people.

Because I still had some spare hours, I was asked to help with some legal pleadings. A few months later I started hanging out in juvenile court. Mainly I go to court one day a week and listen to review hearings. Then I draft the Orders that talk about whether parents are doing what they need to be doing in order to regain custody of their children. Sometimes I go back and read the underlying trial notes to gain some perspective.

I've not met these children. I didn't attend the trials. I see the parents for a few short moments in court for their reviews. I read the reports of social workers, psychologists and others. However, in the year I've been at this job, I've got to know certain families. There are those whose stories are so horrible that I can't help remember. There are those where I see parents doing in 180 and making such progress that I can't help but be hopeful. There are those families that bounce between juvenile court, support court and jail.

I've become friends with one of the juvenile attorneys. We scrapbook together now. She is a trained social worker who went to law school. We bounce ideas off each other. We discuss policies and philosophies in handling cases. Our boss, who is also new to this position, has now decided to form us into a "legal team" which requires some cross-training. So now I'm attending trainings and meetings on juvenile law. It started out as being just enough to allow me to cover for the other attorneys if necessary.

In law school I loved my family and juvenile courses. My first year out of law school I clerked in a probation related field and worked with the younger offenders. My second summer I clerked as defense counsel for juvenile delinquents and mentally ill juveniles. I thought family law was the best place for me, although I did briefly consider education law.

I've fought against going back to juvenile law. Me? Deal with abuse cases? No way.......

The other day I was writing an Order and typing our usual language -

It is apparent that further efforts to reunify the child with the Father would clearly be futile and inconsistent with the child’s need for a safe and permanent home within a reasonable period of time and such efforts should therefore cease.

These words that I have typed hundreds of times before leaped off the page at me.

Such powerful words. With them, the social workers are no longer required to work closely with the Father. His rights were being stripped away....slowly but surely. It occurred to me how powerful this simple, 41 word sentence is. How much impact it will have on the life of this child.

I've been asked to serve on a juvenile committee. I've been asked to see a juvenile case through from start to finish - the one that has arisen involves burns to a three year little child that appear to arise from being "dipped" into scalding water. Instead of getting bogged down in the emotions and horror as I might have done not long ago, I find myself excited about the opportunity to make a difference. The pangs of emotions I feel toward this child are being channeled into making sure it doesn't happen again.

I've talked with my friend, the other attorney, who, if things go according to plan, will be the lead attorney, and therefore my superior. I explained, without detail, my desire to avoid sexual abuse cases for now. She thinks we can arrange that.

I'm not sure what the future holds. I know that I am being pulled strongly in this direction. It is where my heart is. I feel God is leading me this way. Perhaps, I can use my experiences and struggles to do some good for other children. I hope and pray I can keep the passion and not become numb to the details of cases, while at the same time, maintaining enough objectivity to do a good job. For now, I will still be working with my main areas of focus. However, the next several months hold much training and observation for me. I'm excited to learn more.

As I embark on this journey, I'm reminded of this quote and resolve, all the more, not to be a bystander ----
"Thou shalt not wish or deserve to be a victim. Thou shalt certainly not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt never be a bystander." -Holocaust Memorial, Washington DC

That's My Girl

One of my main goals is to teach my daughter to stand up for herself. I want her to be self-assured and confident. She is now 6 years old and since starting school there have been lots of opportunities to teach her how to assert herself.

My FIL is a kidder, always picking on people. He repeats the same one-liners over and over. For instance, he'll say to Munchkin, "Let's just skip the party and go take a nap." Then he'll say, "Oh yes Munchkin, it is nap time." Over and over and over.

Munchkin mentioned to me several months ago that she didn't like Pop-Pop picking on her all the time. We talked about how she might handle the situation. I also mentioned it to Husband and asked him to mention it to his father. Of course, he didn't. He can't say anything that might be perceived as negative or critical to his father. So I worked with Munchkin.

This last visit, Pop-Pop was picking on her again and again. This time he kept rubbing her head with his fist, messing up her hair. The first few times she laughed. Then she said, "stop." When he did it again she said, in a very loud and stern voice, "Stop Pop-Pop. I said stop and stop means stop!" He stopped and said, "Munchkin, I'm sorry." I gave her a thumbs up and went in the other room to dance for joy.

How can such a simple thing bring me such pride and joy? Because I never would have said such a thing. I would have been accused of being overly sensitive. I am so proud of her for sticking up for herself. I'm glad that Pop-Pop respected her setting a boundary. It's a small lesson in the scheme of life, but an important one nevertheless. One that I am so grateful she learned.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day all !

This weekend has been good. We got some more snow Friday night. My husband and daughter went to the annual Father-Daughter dance. This was their third time in attendance. Munchkin loves getting all dressed up and dancing with her Daddy. Bugaboo started running a fever that day so he and I just laid around on the couch and watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Saturday morning I woke up to see snow everywhere. So much for the forecasters' predictions of "just a dusting." Munchkin and I went out sledding where I took this picture. It was a fun time but wicked cold.

Husband took Daughter over to a friend's house where they watched ---- you guessed it - more racing. Later that night the sitter came over.

I have to give credit where it is due. Husband did good for Valentine's Day. He took me to a very nice restaurant where we dined upon shrimp bisque, salad, duck (him), crab stuffed lobster (me), the best rolls and peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake. He also gave me a gift certificate to a spa to get a massage and pedicure. I was very surprised.

Munchkin and Daddy ran to the store for donuts which we had for breakfast this morning. We opened Valentine's cards. Then Husband and Munchkin went to church, while Bugaboo and I stayed home. After lunch Husband left for his friend's to watch the Daytona 500 race while I took Munchkin to a birthday party. I really wanted a nap, but that wasn't happening.

Tomorrow starts another week. Many have a 3-day weekend due to President's Day but around here we're making up a snow day. Fingers crossed we will all be healthy and can go to school/work.

Friday, February 12, 2010


TWLOHA - To Write Love On Her Arms

To Write Love On Her Arms Day is a day where anyone can write the words love on their arms, to support those who are fighting against depression and those who are trying to recovering. On this day, just write love on your arms, and show it off, other people will ask why you have love written on your arms, and you tell them you are supporting to write love on her arms day, and how its benefiting a non profit organization helping stop depression, and make love the movement ♥

Here is my picture !!!
(with marker this time)

Monday, February 8, 2010

A New Season


The seasons are changing here. Hunting season is over and we have moved on to Nascar season. The twist this year is that due to Husband losing his job, we cancelled all but the most basic of cable. So we no longer get the Speed channel. No fear though - husband has friends that have the Speed channel. And he has discovered the power of the internet -- where he has learned how to watch every race in the history of Nascar online.

You may recall that last year I won a scrapbook trip. When I went to book the trip, the best weekends were this upcoming weekend and a weekend in march bordering spring break. Those are the two weekends which were free and which we would have the place to ourselves. I ruled out spring break because we may try to take a family trip. I ruled out this next weekend because it is Valentine's day. It never occurred to me to be gone with the girls over Valentine's Day. So we're going another time in March - we'll be there with another group but that's okay. It will still be fun (and free).

Husband asked me if I preferred to go out Friday or Saturday night to dinner. He made plans for Saturday. After asking me (again) for the sitter's name and number, he called her. Bad weather postponed the annual father-daughter dance from last week to this Friday. Weather permitting, I planned a family outing for Sunday to celebrate Valentine's day. So it looked like a pretty full weekend.

Apparently Husband assumed I would not make any plans and that dinner out was enough. Because he made plans to go watch..........the Daytona 500 race with some old work friends. He'll leave right after church lest he miss the pre-race festivities and be gone all afternoon to early evening.

This last week he went out to watch some other Nascar pre-event. He's spent hours online watching nascar races on youtube and googling crashes. He came home from his friend's whining about all the rule changes and how boring the race was. Not one ounce of gratitude for a night out. Not one remark about how nice it was to get out of the house. Not one positive remark at all.

What does this remind me of? Hunting. He pours 100% of his time and energy into nascar. Spends hours looking at nascar on the internet. His attitude is determined by the outcome of the races. Has he spent any time figuring out where we are going for dinner Saturday? Nope. Has he made reservations? Nope. There is no way we'll get in anywhere in town without reservations. Guess we'll be eating at McDonalds.

So while the hunting season is over, the Nascar season has just begun. It ends in the fall -- just in time for hunting to begin again. Over and over.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Brick in the Land of Denial

So I met with T last night. I knew she was the right person to talk too. She knows me very well and has this uncanny ability to tell me straight without making it harsh. She can be honest and direct but loving. She totally acknowledged my frustration.
She told me that she sees some Asperger-type traits in DH (which if there is some genetic link to autism traits would make sense since his brother is autistic). She said she isn't sure DH is capable of "getting it" because he is so super concrete but we are going to try.

She said that the Love Dare may not be a great fit for me. But that I should do it as best as I can. She thinks it is great for DH though. Basically it is a specific set of tasks he does - like "say something kind" or "consider how you greet your spouse in the morning and make it nice" or so on. She said he needs specifics and concrete tasks.

She also suggested we write down agreements and post them. That I make lists of the routine we will follow for Bugaboo and put them on the fridge. She said I shouldn't have to do these things and that yes it can be frustrating. But if DH's can't get beyond the concrete details, putting it in writing will help. He can go to the list without having to come and bug me and re-debate everything.

I guess I need to look at this as "his" thing - I'm quirky too with what triggers me. Some of which others might consider bizarre or strange. So I'll try to write things down and trust that counseling will help us work through some of the rest.
We talked about the incident Saturday night and my fear. She told me that if DH gets like he did on Saturday night then I am right in needing to leave or lock myself in the room again. And if he picks the lock or breaks it down, to call the police. She said that I really don't have Biblical grounds for separation or divorce although Saturday night comes close.
It was helpful to vent to someone who understands my frustration. And that has spent time with both DH and I and knows us pretty well.
I tried to talk a bit with DH last night. Mostly about the fact that I needed to clarify when I discussed separation with him I was more meaning time apart - not legal separation. And that I needed space in the moment and he had to give it to me. We talked some about Saturday night and I told him that I would call law enforcement if it progressed. He is in total denial about the matter and blames it on being "half-asleep."
So I'm the picture on the left, trying hard not to keep putting up bricks in my wall to keep myself sane and protected. And DH is the picture on the left, living in the land of Denial, convinced that if we can just solve this short-term concrete issue we'll be fine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Panicky before Meeting

I've got butterflies in my tummy. I've been working on court orders for a few days, which involves reading a lot of reports. I realized that if someone else had told me about an incident similar to my post here, that I would caution them to be careful.

I know some of my feelings and turmoil relates back to the times of locking myself in my room as a child, and seeing my mom and dad slam doors to keep the other out. I do not think my Husband will ever do that. I know it is not to that level yet. However, I am also cognizant of the fact that every person who has ever lashed out in anger starts somewhere, whether it be by cursing, following, intimidation or name calling. I also recognize that while my alarm bells are triggered often, I am quite capable of telling the difference between panic and fear. It was fear I felt the other evening.

The fact that Husband is so dismissive of his actions raises the alarm bells a bit. But I'll reserve judgment on that until after our group session.

I started to think that a session just for me would be good in helping me to gain some objectivity on things before our group session. So I called yesterday and got no answer. Re-called today and got in today. After the appointment was made, I started feeling butterflies in my stomach and the unmistakable signs of a panic attack. I haven't had a panic attack before a counseling session in a long time - a year or more. Which tells me that I'm onto something big here and I need to muster up the energy and strength to go in and face this issue head on.

Part of me hopes my concerns and thoughts are validated. But a large part of me hopes that T will (nicely) tell me I'm overreacting. I'll keep you posted.

January 2010 Carnival Against Child Abuse

Paul has the January 2010 Edition up here. As Paul says, "The purpose of the Carnival is to be a place where important posts are shared with others who may not be frequent readers of an author's blog. I, myself, have realized that I cannot follow all the blogs I want to follow, so the monthly Carnival gives me a chance to see what else is out there."