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2005-07-25 - 5:23 p.m.

I realize right now that I INDEED have been marred by the whole custody battle.

It in fact has shaken my confidence in some ways. I hadn't written about this before, but last SEPT I had to bring the girls all with me into the hospital when the baby had fallen ill with a virus. She was seven weeks old at the time.


Westley came to meet me after work that day and he was concerned about my state of mind. I was REALLY PARANOID and AFRAID to leave her in anyone's care.

I had this IRRATIONAL FEAR of someone taking the baby away and not giving her back to me.

I never in my life had such a moment of an irrational emotional response. But I REALLY had it then.

Raitlin was feverish and sick and needed to be checked out. It took alot for me to even bring her into the hospital that day. It took Westley coaxing me and calming me and identifying that I was tramatized by what I had just gone through about one month before when the older kids hadn't returned home from their visit with their Dad.

We had her checked out and then went back home with her at 1AM rather than admit her. The doctors were great at doing all the necessary testing and respecting that we didn't want her to be admitted despite their RECOMMENDATION to do so. (We all were also just over a bug so we knew it was a viral illness anyway.... and none of us had any menengitis symptoms so it really didn't seem necessary for her to be admitted anyway. The Dr. agreed with that in the end!) yet although my reasons were not ALL irrationally based on fear, but I have to admit that I was ALSO expriencing that fear of losing the baby-- not to illness, but fear of someone taking her.

Today I had a moment of that fear again. And sadly it is not really all that paranoid.

Here we are on a busy street.
Raitlin is still SO NOT used to the confinement of NOT LIVING in the country on acres of land where SHE SAFELY had more freedom. When she'd wander outside unattended (which she did often since she knew how to unlock and unlatch any door) the house alarm would go off and she wouldn't be far (relative to the house and the main danger of the pond which was often where she was intending to go!) I would catch up with her and bring her back inside and try to impress upon her how I have to be with her when she goes outside.
We also installed a lock REALLY HIGH out of her reach on the porch doors so she couldn't go out there unattended.

We got a house alarm with door chimes HERE in this NY house as well.

This morning I was so proud of my parenting as I went to Target READY for the non shopping trip, but another behavior modification practice session for Raitlin. I figure the only way she'll learn to not run off is if we LEAVE wherever we are, WHATERVER is going on, THE MOMENT she starts her antics of trying to run off unattended. I did that last week at the library and it seemed to be effective, as when we went back on a different day it was the first time SHE DID NOT try to run off by herself there. So this morning I was pleased thinking I was going to break the shopping antics. WE entered Target, returned a shower curtain Westley bought last night for Sadie's new bathroom that I wasn't crazy about (as Sadie wasn't thrilled with it), and then in about two minutes of trying to shop-I reigned in Raitlin who had started to take off and told her "We're leaving now"

The other girls we VERY cooperative as I carried her kicking and protesting out of the store. I had started to look at belts on Clearance.... and hope the decent ones for $3.50 are still there when I go back, but in the end RAITLIN's safety and her LEARNING socially safe behavior is more important than finding a belt or anything else that could ever be on the shopping list!

After lunch today we all went for a walk a few blocks to the mailbox where Sadie and Katie mailed a few postcards to Katerina and Soren. Its a nice walk for us. On the way back the girls were delighted at discovering a crab apple tree, and the fallen green crab apples. They all picked one up. As we arrived home, Raitlin, who happens to be ATTACHED to me with this strap that is on the stroller (intending to not lose the stroller when running as it is technically one of those strollers for runners), started to have a full blown tantrum. She pulled back away to go back to where we came from. I told her "WE're home now" and she wailed
"NOOOOO!!" and dropped to the ground crying and screaming. She was so clearly overtired.
I soon however realized that she wanted to go back as SHE LOST HER CRABAPPLE.

I asked "Did you drop your crabapple?" and she wailed "YES GO GET IT!"

KAtie then did the potty dance, accompanied by the OH SO GRACEFUL crotch grab.

That was the clincher in deciding we HAD to go in the house just then.

I told Raitlin we'd GO BACK and walk more and she could find her crabapple AFTER Katie used the potty. She wasn't pleased and I basically ended up carrying her wailing atop the stroller I was pushing while rushing to the back door and opening quickly so as to make it in time for Katie for the potty.

All the girls were inside, except the baby who I left outside in the now locked parked stroller. Raitlin seemed to understand the plan. She accepted a cold drink as did all the other girls. I told them to all go potty then wait outside and we'd be off in a minute. I went potty, I re-armed the house and locked it

She was butt naked. I re-dressed her by putting the dress on her, and she waited while I ran in for clean underwear. Sister Katie had spilled water on her - which is her real point of contention. Any wet or even slightly soiled clothes MUST BE IMMEDIATELY removed.

So we got prepared to go again, I come in and set the alarm and lock the house and turn around to see EVERYONE BUT RAITLIN.

Now I have to admit that true to my ADD self I am not necessarilly THE FASTEST at my exiting preparations. And I Have to admit that I DID leave the girls unattended outside for a brief period. I assumed RAITLIN got it- that we'd all be going together momentarily. I assumed she wasn't inclined to go off WITHOUT me. I assumed the fact she isn't even allowed IN THE DRIVEWAY AT ALL but only in the back, gated yard, would mean she was safe momentarily. So I was lax in not keeping her inside with me THE WHOLE time.

She of course had taken off on her own to find her beloved crabapple. I double checked by opening the house door and calling in the house JUST ONE LAST TIME (just to make sure se hadn't snuck back inside) before we all took off looking for her. Then we locked up and headed down the driveway to walk toward the mailbox. AS soon as we were in front of the house I saw two vans stopped at the corner and thought "She's right there. Someone stopped as they saw her!" And I was relieved. Sure enough the one van was empty and there was Raitlin hand in hand with the mom who had stopped and called the police. They were standing on the sidewalk and the view of them was blocked by the vans until we walked close to them. The lady greeted me and I thanked her and she said "Sorry I called the police already"

I said THANK YOU and told her not to apoligize.

I am GRATEFUL that people are concientious and pay attention and ARE CONCERNED for children's safety!

So I said I'd wait for them to come. And I stood there with the girls and waited. When they came the other lady was still there. The cops told her she could go and said to her "your not in trouble you can go" (I think she had actually driven off but came back when they arrived.)

They asked what was going on. I told them we were getting ready to go for a walk and that she had taken off by herself before we were all ready!

They asked where we live it and I pointed and said "three houses down- the white one"
They then asked for the address and I told them

Then they asked me my name and date of birth. I told them
They asked Raitlin's name and date of birth and I told them

They asked my phone # and I am sure I sounded dumn saying "I don't know"

I think I finally memorized it but at the time I didn't have it on the top of my head and would have had to REALLY think about it, and I didn't have my book to verify it-- so that was my blurted out defensive answer as I was thinking "WHAT DO YOU NEED THAT FOR?"

I then asked"What do you need all the information for?"
and they said "For our report"
and I said "Oh I see- you fill out a report for this"

Little girl unattended three houses from home.

But of course it won't read like that.

Can you imagine a report of that nature being written twenty years ago?? WOW things change! Of course she is two and this IS A VERY busy road so we get petrified and yell at her when she goes IN THE DRIVEWAY as the girls ARE ONLY ALLOWED in what we thought of as the SECURE GATED BACK YARD. And we don't even leave them out there unattended for more than the few minutes it takes to lock up the house and grab the last of whatever I need.

Apparently now I can't even do that as she has figured out how that gate lock works.

But I couldn't help but feel like I was SUSPECT in their eyes. I couldn't help but have that FEAR creep in. And this time I think it is rational.

So I told Raitlin we WERE NOT going on the walk. I told her WE WOULD HAVE CONTINUED and found her crab apple but couldn't since she wandered off alone.

Instead I put her in time out inside the house promptly upon return home and gave them all a snack and put on HEIDI which we got out of the library the other day and I sat to write to clm my paranoid fears of seeing CPS at my door !

Raitlin is sleeping now. The other girls are relaxing as the movie is almost over. I am feeling calmer now too.

I am a bit shaken though. I KNEW EXACTLY WHERE RAITLIN Was walking- To the crab apple tree which is a block and a half up the street. SO REALLY my biggest fear was not of her getting lost or hurt, but rather the fact of a POLICE report which creates anxiety and fear in me of the kind that cause my chest to tighten.

The mom had said "You must have been frantic" and I answered her honestly "Not really because I knew EXACTLY where she headed- but yes it is scary"

And I have to admit it wasn't REALLY scary to me. I wish sometimes I COULD be the emotional wreck when the kids do dangerous things. I KNOW the fact I am calm and not emotionally responsive in the typical hysterical manner comes across AS WEIRD. And I am sure too my DEFENSIVENESS comes across as SUSPECT.
But I couldn't help that. I swear after having kids not come home and then having to go through the custody crap DOES make me a bit paranoid when it comes to the question of whether someone thinks ME A fit parent.
That creates a defensiveness that wouldn't otherwise be there.

And I congnitively KNOW that defensiveness makes things WORSE. It in some ways makes other people feel like THEIR fears are validated.

I also didn't want to go screaming for Raitlin down the street as to do so ANNOUNCES that a child is lost. I feel like that is THE BEST way to REALLY lose a child! I feel like a lost child is SAFER before it is known there is a child wandering around unattended! I wonder if that instict is weird or wise in this world. But when we realized she was first lost SADIE started to call her name and I said not to - lets just go to the crab apple tree. I ALSO didn't want to call out and have her RUN from us in her GAME of cat and mouse she likes to play! But most of all I didn't want SADIE to call out and CALL ATTENTION to the fact she was off alone- because I hoped WE'D find her BEFORE anyone else caught wind of it! I was fearful most of CENSURE of those assuming it was through neglect that she wandered off! And I feel like had she grown up here her whole life IT WOULD BE DUE TO NEGLECT if she wandered. But I feel like the fact we recently came here from the farm and the fact the fact this is such a huge change for RAITLIN are unique factors that make her More difficult to manage in this change of environment and that EVEN THE BEST most attentive parent would be challenged by her! And I'd venture to say she's manage to sneak off away from EVEN THE BEST PARENT! She really iis the expert at unlatching ANYTHING... be it a strap, a lock or a door latch.

So what am I to do?

When we re-entered the house I blurted out "THATS IT -WE are NOT GOING ANYWHERE AGAIN! UNTIL YOUR TEN!"

As if that is the solution! HA HA!!1

At least I can laugh now! Its a much better emotion than fear and embarassment and questioning my competence!

Westely is out of town tonight until WED. We didn't go to VA this weekend as his boss insisted he wanted him in the office this morning. It was silly micromanaging ... and in part I think jealousy as his boss TOO has two houses, one in LEESBURG and one here. I think his boss was getting jealous of Westley's incredible ability to schedule key meetings in Herndon for Mon morn and Fri afternoons thus getting the business travel taken care of with the added bonus of extra personal time in VA over the weekend. We were going to drive together Sat but that plan was changed when Westely's boss wouldn't confirm meeting plans. His boss basically left him hanging and said he wanted him in the office HERE MON MORN. HE then went in to find the meeting he hoped to have MON MORN in VA was re-set for MON evening and he had to work on a presentation in the office to present today then catch an afternoon flight.

Interesting.... Hmmmm.... Hope the ideal job doesn't start to get frustrating. I wish the guy wouldn't be JEALOUS but would just get as CREATIVE with his own scheduled meetings!

Time for dinner now. Serving leftover Eggplant Parm as I don't feel like cooking now.

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