Things I Don’t Tell You

Me in sunglasses
Me today…and how I look 98% of the time.

The other day on my Facebook page, I commented something about having a bad day.  A reader replied, saying she was relieved I was having a bad day because it seemed like I always knew what to do…or something like that. I laughed out loud…shook my head…and started to type.

It’s so easy to appear, in the world of the internet, as if we’ve got it all together. But the reality is, there’s much, much, much more to my life of dysfunction that I don’t share. Not because I want to come across as some super-parent who knows all the answers…but because my kids deserve SOME privacy. And honestly, so do I.

And so I don’t tell you every time I screw things up. I don’t sign on here and say, “Hey, I just lost it on my kid and I feel like shit now.”  But trust me…every…single…day…I screw up.  Just like you. I’m here to entertain…not to depress, and so I keep much of my life to myself and only share what I think will either A. be helpful or B. entertain.

Here is a list of some of the things I don’t tell you:

I cuss.  Not a little. A lot. Like when I stub my toe for the sixteenth time, or bite my tongue. Watch out. Sometimes, ‘Oh Fudge’ just doesn’t cut it.

I’m a yeller. Ask my kids.

I don’t like to cook. I have no idea how my family is still alive.

Anthony is one of 9. One died from abuse and one died of bone cancer. Three of those remaining have severe mental health issues resulting in long term residential hospitalization…as children. His odds of ‘normalcy’ are not good.

I don’t tell you when my kids do really, really, really stupid things. Which happens OFTEN. They deserve SOME privacy.

One of my kids will live with me well into adulthood, if not forever. I’m terrified of that commitment.

We almost didn’t adopt Robin because her voice was so high pitched; it was painful to listen to her. Only dogs knew what she was saying. Adenoid removal saved her.  Plus, she’s cute.

I have a double chin I hide in all photographs.

The things I can’t tell you…are really the most entertaining.

People who don’t know me think I’m patient and kind with my children. People who know me are laughing right now as they read this.

I wish I could get a do-over with my first couple of foster kids…I had no idea what I was doing and probably did more damage than good.

I hardly ever cry over anything.  My kids say I’m dead inside. This morning I lost it, like heaving, sobbing, lost it.

I left high school half way through my junior year because I was pregnant.  That sucked.

I’m afraid of the water. But I love to boat. Go figure.

My whole family is sarcastic and sometimes people think we are rude…but really we are just hilarious. To us.

One of my kids, on their first day in my home said, “I don’t let nobody under my blankets anymore…” I will never forget that sentence.

Mya’s mom was my foster daughter. She was fourteen when she had Mya and left us at eighteen.  I don’t talk about that either.  Someday, with her permission, I will. It will be a best-seller.

When people tell me they understand my life, because they have kids too…I secretly want to smack them down.  They have no clue.People raising adopted fosters are nodding their heads…those who are not may be offended by that statement. That’s okay. I don’t know what it’s like to be you, either.

Billy is my favorite even though he makes me crazy. I think it’s because he needed me the most. Don’t tell the other seven.

Sometimes I wish I had never adopted any children.   

Sometimes I want ten more.

I sleep with multiple stuffed moose and my husband has individual voices for each one…they wake me up in the morning.

I would love to live completely remote. I don’t really like people.

I had an abortion when I was young. I live with that. Maybe that’s why I take in kids…to right the wrong. I don’t know…

If I could never step into a mall, department or grocery store again in my life, I would be immensely happy.

I know every detail of every episode of ‘Friends’.

Destini and I have non-stop witty banter. We never stop. We crack ourselves up. The rest of the kids just stare at us.

I parent my kids with a sort of military commander style. I have to…if I don’t they’ll take over.

The year I was eighteen, I went a little crazy. Divorced, two year old daughter…I went into party mode and my mom raised my kid for a while. I’m not ready to talk about that yet.

Statistically, three out of four foster children have been sexually abused.  I don’t talk about that here.

I cautiously believe in the phenomena of psychic ability. I’ve had some experiences that leave me wondering.

I smoked enough pot when I was eighteen to medicate the state of Colorado.

I graduated magna cum laude from a top private college at 34 years old and wish I could go back and do it all again. I’m proud of that.

I rarely put my laundry away. It travels directly to my bed, to the floor, to my bed, to the floor….

I wear contacts and am pretty much legally blind without them. My vision is like 20/525.  I want surgery.

Luke speaks so quietly that nobody can hear him. Like that girl on Pitch Perfect.

Two of my kids have the same RAD diagnosis. If you’ve parented RAD you are cringing right now.

My older brother is awesome at everything he has ever done and I hate that he’s so nice I can’t even hate him.

Destini’s name came from the Eagles song, The Last Resort.  “In the name of Destiny, and in the name of God…”

I have played, and completed, every Zelda game since the first Nintendo came out.

I provide birth control for my kids because I was a mother at sixteen and I don’t wish that on them.

Adopted kids and biological kids do not evoke the exact same emotion. It’s not the same. You don’t love them less…you’d still throw yourself in front of a bus for them. It’s just different.  That sounds bad. But true.

I am obsessed with old books. Any old book. It doesn’t have to be valuable…just old. (Keri Riley, PO Box 39288 Ninilchik, Alaska 99639 for those feeling the urge to send me old books. Or money…)

I was married from sixteen to eighteen to Heather’s dad.  I have some really good memories mixed in with that horror of a marriage.

When I was seventeen years old, I attended ten weeks of Nail Technology School and learned to do acrylic nails. I barely passed.  I don’t know who that girl was…

Heather, Destini and I sound exactly the same when we speak.

I can’t write on command. This is why I rarely blog.  When it comes to me it pours out of my fingers and I don’t care if I’m using proper grammar. I write, how I think. And I rarely edit. That’s what makes my words real.  Like this.

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35 Replies to “Things I Don’t Tell You”

  1. You said the thing that nobody understands but those who have lived it. The feeling towards biological and adopted kids is different. Not bad. Not neglectful. Just different.

    Thank you for saying it out loud.

  2. I can’t wait til you write your first book! Love your honesty and everybody doesn’t need to know everything. YOU deserve your own privacy! ♥

  3. Keri, it’s awesome that you can be blunt about bits & pieces like this. I only have three kids, but I use the drill sergeant style too– it’s the only way I can get all of them to comply at the same time. It’s okay if you yell… they still know you love them.
    My oldest has Asperger’s, but he seems like Anthony in some ways… they’d go for the same science books. Despite the RAD, he sounds like a really bright kid, so I hope things work out for him (and for all of them, of course).

  4. I have enjoyed reading all your posts and I drool over the pictures. I never thought you were living a fantasy life, especially as a mother of a large family, and most of those children being adopted foster children. Both of my children are adopted, but we have been with them since their birth. I admire you for what you have done. Right or wrong moments, you are there trying to make a difference in their lives for the better. Thank you for sharing this post. I admire you more.

  5. As a misanthrope with social anxiety issues I’ve always been a fairly private person. Not that I intentionally keep things from anyone, actually I’ve never had a public/private dichotomy, its just that I didn’t like most people enough to be around them long enough to let them get to know me.

    And then I got a divorce from a horrible sociopath who spun stories about me that, in my mind, were so ridiculously far-fetched that I did not even deign to address them. I took the “high road,” did not engage in the silly “he said/she said” game. As it turned out, those stories were gobbled up, hook, line, & sinker, by the majority of people because so little was actually known about how I lived my life. I was blown away that people, even family members, who had known me my whole life would believe that I was a secret heroin addict, that I had sex with a police officer with my toddler in my bed, that I starved my own child because of my secret eating disorder.

    Towards the end of a 7 year custody battle, MySpace and then Facebook hit the net. In an attempt to develop a relationship with the sociopath’s parents (who were funding his continued custody of my child), I began posting EVERYTHING. Pictures of my life, my property, my politics, my sense of humor. My partner and family get irritated with me, they say I overpost, and occasionally someone will specifically ask me not to post things (a request I normally honor). But I will probably continue to overshare.

    FB has done a lot for my social life, making it feel safe and easy to maintain relationships that I wouldn’t have had the time or energy to maintain otherwise, but mostly, it regained me the custody of my daughter and continues to reassure her grandparents that I am not the neglectful, drug-addicted whore that their son made me out to be. I have read about this sociological phenomenon where people feel pressured by everyone’s rosy life of FB. Pretty sure those people are not my friends.

    Also, I despise shopping, I swear “like a dockworker” (according to my oil rig working partner), and my entire neighborhood cowers in fear when one of my kids has stepped out of line.

  6. Hi, I’m a follower but I never comment. I’m not good with words so it takes a lot for me to crawl out of my introvert bubble. lol Thank you for sharing things you don’t normally talk about. I can relate to many of the things you mentioned. I started a blog a few years ago but just this year closed it and started a different one. A happy one. haha I talk with no filter so my first one became pretty dark. I never talked bad about my kids but I have bi-polar and sever depression and I’d write when I shouldn’t have. My new blog I promised to only write happy stuff but then I felt fake. I did post one not so happy post to let readers in a bit more. I’m learning where the balance is between telling it all and just the fun highlights.

    The one statement here that jumped out at me is “When people tell me they understand my life, because they have kids too…I secretly want to smack them down. They have no clue.People raising adopted fosters are nodding their heads…those who are not may be offended by that statement. That’s okay. I don’t know what it’s like to be you, either.” No offence taken! We have 9 kids. The only thing I’d say that I understand about your life is that we both have a lot of kids. lol What you do is amazing! Something most could never do or even want to try to do. Your honesty is refreshing. Love your blog!

  7. What you don’t say says a lot about you. Thank you for sharing many entertaining, heartwarming, and some heart-wrenching moments of your life. Though you say you don’t like people, it is important to have a connection and this is an awesome way for you to connect with others. You have learned from experience in the great school of life and continue to do so, as we all do. No one is perfect and trying to put up such a facade is just too hard to maintain. We each need the support of others in our trials and triumphs. BTW my younger daughter had a high soprano trill when she cried as a baby and turned out to have an awesome singing voice. And I have a stuffed moose.

  8. You wrote, “Adopted kids and biological kids do not evoke the exact same emotion. It’s not the same. You don’t love them less…you’d still throw yourself in front of a bus for them. It’s just different. That sounds bad. But true.” Wow. Just WOW. But I see it. There is adoption in my family. My husband was adopted as well. While that statement will be denied by many, there is a lot of truth in it. My husband and I have discussed this issue many times over the years. I have pondered what the difference is (that sounds bad). Of course you love your kids, biological or adopted, but from talking with people, yes, its different. You are the first person I have seen put it in writing or openly admit it. Thanks for being honest.

    and, laundry has a place? That place isn’t the bed or the floor? Man…. I’m in trouble then.

  9. Laundry is supposed to be put away???? My kids are going to be so surprised when they find out. I suppose next you will tell me the dryer is not a dresser.

  10. I work at a Children’s Home. I don’t ever claim to know what you deal with because even though I have residential kids, I don’t bear the burden of the every day life that you have chosen. I get to clock out, go home, rest, collect myself and sometimes my temper. I get to revive from the heartbreak that comes with ‘these kids’. I just wanted to say, THANK YOU. Because we are in it together, we do different things, play different roles in the lives of kids like ours, but you, what you do, is permanent, lasting and something very few people will even try to do. What you perceive as your shortcomings are actually the very gift you give to them. I know what that lost soul eye looks like. I see it every day. I have a stack of stories, none that I can share, but I just wanted to say. THANKS. (loved this post by the way)

  11. You just made my day! I too am adoptive/foster and feel everything you just wrote. amazing that you are just so good at writing down those emotions in words I could never find! Thank you.I LOVE you blog!

  12. You’re right to share the good and keep most of the bad and the ugly (so to speak) private for your family. What you share is plenty valuable as it is. Your kids have their lives just as you say and they own what happened/happens to them – you are so absolutely right about that.

  13. Thanks for sharing. Having been in the system my self for a short time at 14 thank God there are people like you out there who open their homes and hearts for innocent kids like me. Keep it up and keep your chin up. None of us is perfect and kids do not come with an owners manual, especially foster kids. Love to read your blogs. Happy fourth!

  14. Thank you for this post. I’m a blogger and a mom to many and when people ask me how I manage it I just want to laugh. Some days we are just getting by, other days are awesome. Like you I choose not to write the bad stuff for many of the same reasons.

  15. Thank you for sharing. I think you are so brave to open yourself up to us. I love your blog. I because of your writing style, I feel like you are a friend and we are sitting down over a cup of coffee and catching up. Thank you for bring a smile to my face and sometimes a tear to my eye.

  16. Keri, I have never even considered that you might be perfect and I’ve pretty much loved you. This list made me love you more. Thanks for being raw here.

  17. Your own wounds are what help you to look and touch the wounds of others… but you know that. There are a lot of us out here rooting for, pulling for, praying for you and your kids. Thank you for not giving up on yourself or the rest of humanity, day after day after day.

  18. This is why I read your blog. Not because you’re perfect, but because I know very well that the funny things you say come from completely imperfect moments. You can laugh at life, even when it sucks (and cry and scream and yell) and THAT’S what makes an amazing blogger to me.

  19. In one post you made me laugh out loud, cry with you, nod in understanding and sit in awe at your super powers.
    Thank you.

  20. It’s really hard to be this honest. Very few of us mortals are…. I just get a kick out of you and the kids.

  21. Thanks for sharing. It’s always good and a nice feeling, typically, when another person opens up to us.. But I think that this is really important – An inspiration and sigh of relief to other parents and caretakers who read… This may help them realize that it is okay to be “not perfect.”

  22. I love your honesty and you are right. You and your kids deserve some privacy. I do post a lot on facebook but there is still about 75% I do not which is why there are the stupid “what I am making for dinner” posts. lol Also, old books. How old? any certain genre? I am 41 and my mom passed away last year (56 yrs old). I have everything of hers as she was an avid reader and lived with us. Just thinking about winter and getting you started 🙂

  23. The older I get (pretty old already, but not quite decrepit yet) the more I know that even when you only scratch the surface you’re gonna bleed!
    Thanks for sharing.

  24. Good stuff….I get similar comments about this life here (AK) that we live, all the stuff we do, and how fun we are. The reality of it for me is…people only see the best or the funniest…I’m not one to complain anywhere but loudly to my husband and children. Its also not to look good…its to share the best of our lives more than my moods. The weight of my “real life” responsibility is staggering as I struggle to fill all the roles required of me to care for our property, children, animals, cars, finances, meals, laundry… get the picture. Its done alone till my husband comes home after 7 months and wants to know what I do with my time and where all his money went….snort. But…who wants to hear about all that reality when people can see/read about us doing fun things?! Ha…if they only knew the screaming, threats, and sweat that it took to get us to the river, dinner table, boat, school, glacier, …(name it)..for these great pix and stories!

  25. The only thing I dislike about blogging is that we’re supposed to pretend we don’t have political or religious opinions. Unfortunately for me, I have both, and it’s often hard to keep them to myself. Another thing that’s hard, but not annoying like the first two, is that we’re supposed to always try to be upbeat and act like we’re happy and have it together all the time.

    So it’s nice when someone says the heck with all of that and shares an honest moment. It’s nice to see the real, human side of a blogger. It kind of merges that whole split personality thing. The only things I ‘get real’ about is my serious dislike of shopping, people who can’t see far enough past their colons to drive safely, and how much I hate having to eat a gluten free diet. God I love homemade bread, real pizza, and jelly donuts. But I also like to breathe, so I behave. Now anyway.

    You are a normal parent. Certainly you deal with things that would have most of us begging for mercy in twenty minutes, but I think your feelings about parenting are pretty much normal. The fact that you smoked pot as a teen is normal. I did about ten times. Nine times it put me to sleep. The last time scared the living hell out of me so I’ve never done it again.

    Thanks for giving us a peek at the real you. And for keeping your kids privacy, though I do love reading about them, they don’t need everything broadcast. Just the fun stuff. 🙂

  26. Amazingly honest. I love that you write as if you are talking to a friend. We may not know you & may in fact live on the other side of the world, but thank you for your honesty – while obviously you don’t blog/fb everything that happens, it’s nice to know that we mums aren’t alone in having a crappy day.. or at spending 99.9% of the day screaming at our kids

  27. I love you dearly. I have told my hubby often over the years that if I could just get a huge house with lots of bedrooms I would fill it with children. I have 2 of my own, but I have the need to mother everyone elses kids, too. He rolls his eyes and smiles at me. So I do childcare out of my home and it fills a place in my heart to mother other children.
    I cannot write on command, either. I have my own blog that I started this week and it is hard. I have a lot of respect for other people that update their blogs for the rest of us to enjoy.
    Hugs and prayers for you and your children.
    Cheryl in New Brunswick, Canada

  28. Thanks for sharing. I love reading what you have to say, both here and on Facebook. You live a life so completely different from mine that I sometimes find myself jealous and yet despite those differences it’s amazing how many similarities I see and how often I find myself nodding away like a demented bobble head doll.

  29. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    “My whole family is sarcastic and sometimes people think we are rude…but really we are just hilarious. To us.”
    Yeah, that’s us, too!

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