Zoo Camp

It is just an email for something fun for the kids, but it reminds me of my former squalor, the way you might try to love someone who treats you like the bars, the cage, the meal set before them.

I could tell you all the symptoms and all the chaos, I could tell you the inadequate advice, the befuddlement of friends, the tragedies of children, or the strange calm caused by heavy psychotropic drugs, doctor’s office fish, surely unaware of the storm of a girl in this office by the sea.

I wake up from nightmares feeling that way again–mornings of dread, a low-grade fear of all our tomorrows.

What will become of them? Children without possessive pronouns

To guide them home.

Swept out to sea

I can’t help but stare at the picture of this family swept out to sea. I know what it is like to attempt to parent children from “hard backgrounds.”

And yes, I have often tried to assuage my deep grief about the damage caused by my adopted children by telling myself that we have survived (so far).

None of this is fun to talk about, but I did talk–sometimes unsparingly, because I hoped that if people heard our story they could do something to prevent tragedies like ours.

More than the average mama, I can put myself in the shoes of these mamas, and I have two things to thing to say–

  • Why weren’t the children removed from the custody of the Harts in 2011 when there was a child abuse conviction?
  • And when a mother chooses to murder her children all the rosy adjectives no longer apply.

Just: a story of the lost and found https://www.amazon.com/dp/1468123459/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_JPNWAbDZT3TR5

The Winter Swimmers

They are out there somewhere still, three, sometimes four, figures and a dog who has long gone, gone past the snake on the path, gone past all the wounds of time, leaving snapshots of a good dog all the while the children howl full wind

They knew no shelter from the start

Miles of lonely nothing

No stones, bread crumbs, or birds to

Guide them back


Weighted Blanket

in a fit of unease 

she has an out-of-body experience 

Rising above the squalor

Imagining what it would be like

To live inside the perfect house

Instead–she dusts the counters and all the edges

with cinnamon to deter the sugar ants

Beats the air with questions

Washes and re-washes clothes, stones, teeth 

Delays bodily functions  

To search for

-The weighted blanket-

Surrogate mother/synthetic comforter


of a lullaby sung softly by the

Real One

Chinese Box

some stories hold

Such trauma

That in order to 

Tell them

You have to use a Chinese box

What, you ask, is a Chinese box?

A Chinese box is a 


Within a story

Within a story

Not to be confused with 

Chinese handcuffs

(Which is a very different thing indeed)

For example:

Once there were some children who lived in an apartment with their (biological) mother and father.  They did not always eat.  Sometimes they were left alone.  The father beat the mother.

The loss was unbearable, said their foster mother.  The boy was mute.  The girl was cagey.

So small.  So damaged. So angry.

They called her bad mommy, bad mommy, bad mommy.

Because there was only the one.

One room, one closet, one subterfuge, one million wrongs

In the circuits of his mind

He tells the story of the bad mommy, who was (he says) too much drama.

As she pieces together the past she neglects the symmetry of hearts, circles, and peanut butter sandwiches among the survivors

Because, as an ordinary prophet once said–every trauma has its own story…

Within these concentric 

Chinese boxes.

Attachment Parenting/attachment disorder

The descriptions are eerily familiar–children acting out violently and relentlessly, tearing at the fabric of the home they have been placed in. Making life hell for years on end.

No cure in sight.

I think about this–the things we find cures for: flabby skin, erectile dysfunction….

But I doubt anyone is even looking for a cure for RAD.

Anyone who matters, that is.

Sure, there are the people impacted by RAD children. But we are not exactly powerhouses of charitable financing.

It is hard to raise support over the din and chaos.

Like so many scourges the easiest, simplest cure is prevention–babies need to be held regularly, fed regularly, nurtured consistently.

There are places we say this out loud. But often we don’t. We don’t have the guts to break through the uncomfortable silence that surrounds the abuse and neglect of children.


Hypothetical Mom

First you have to
Believe she believed
In mom-hood–

The theoretical belief that sacrifice and love can change children’s lives

And that this
belief led to
Lost opportunities
Abandoned careers
Messy hair
And chaos

Then you have to
Ask yourself
Has her belief has been tested
For its tensile strength?

Next you must
examine the specimen herself

Does she look and smell like a real mom?

Finally you have to ask
How much does it cost?
How much did it ever cost?

And is there a real