I’ve been a bit quiet around here.
We’ve been settling in and finding a new normal.
I say new, because *normal* as it was, won’t ever exist again.
That may seem bit harsh, but it’s one of the things I’ve learned to accept over the past few weeks, and I think subconsciously mourned before we left.
There’s also been a lot of big emotions being felt. I think I tear up or cry almost everyday. It’s lots of little things that can set me off, but it usually seems to be related to the topic of her past. Sometimes things seem very normal, and natural, then a small minute behavior which others would just brush off; but I, as her mom, and as someone who had to sit through a lot of training, recognizes that it’s indicative of a bigger problem. I think about her mom a lot right now too, which brings on the waterworks rather quickly.
Another challenging aspect is that we are dealing with a whole lot of different struggles at once. There are challenges that come with each different type of adoption/fostering, and we happened to cover 3 different types (special needs, international/trauma background, and transracial). This means we are dealing with doctors and therapists, trauma and trust issues, and a lot more pointing and not so fun comments all at once.
And sometimes I just can’t any more. I can’t explain another time, I can’t have the conversation, and I can’t pretend it isn’t there again. It takes a lot. And I’ve found myself shutting off a bit more, hunkering down, for both our sakes. Closing our circle a bit to those who get it or are sympathetic and try to get it.
This morning was an example. I went to the gym last week for the first time since being home. We tried the childcare, and she seemed to do ok. The next time we went, she cried. I took out one of her comfort items, snack and water and she was ok, so I left (and more importantly for her, came back). Today we went and she started crying in the hallway. I took her in and sat with her a bit, but each time I went to leave she would cry and hold her hands up to me. One of the workers kept telling me over and over to go and she was fine last time, she would be fine again, all while I’m trying to calm her down. I secretly wanted to throat punch her. The other, thankfully seemed to understand, when after about 5 minutes I scooped up my daughter and left with her.
I was bummed I missed my class that I really enjoy, especially not knowing when I’ll be able to go back at this rate, but here’s what I do know: My daughter comes from a trauma background. She, unfortunately, isn’t used to having her needs met. She doesn’t know how to trust, or build attachment, so we have to teach her that. And to dumb it way down, that looks like her expressing a need, and us meeting it. Over and over and over and over again. Dozens of times daily. She asks for a drink, I hand her water: need expressed, need met, trust and attachment growing. She has any need, I need to be there right now.
Today at the child care class, she expressed a need. She was feeling fear, and who knows what else. I could have chose to ignore that need and her feelings, or I could have met that need, which I did. She got calmed down by me, not the random child care worker that would have held her for a bit after I left. She’s learning that I’m mommy, and that I meet her needs. She’s learning she can trust someone to meet her needs.
With a child that has a history of having most of their needs met over time (i.e. my biological children), it would have been ok for them to be left and to either get comfort somewhere else or to process those emotions, they have enough of a trust bond and love reserve to pull from. Our adopted daughter does not.
I went home and grabbed the jogging stroller and got to sweat a bit. We fed ducks and she worked on her muscle strength trying to run. Even if it wouldn’t have worked out any other way other than us heading home though, it would have been ok. Because we worked on trust.
I might try again tomorrow, or the next day, but who knows.
My life is a giant game of trial and error right now, finding what works and what doesn’t.
While I’ve been getting used to our new normal, there’s some things I’ve had to learn and relearn for myself.
Like not caring, or apologizing.
It takes me several days to return a text, email or message right now. Actually, some I don’t return at all because I simply forget, or don’t have the bandwidth to answer. I’ve always been very punctual, but I’m late most of the time right now, and while I will apologize for any inconvenience, I don’t need to offer up excuses of what I was doing with that time. I still haven’t gotten thank you cards out and I HATE that I’m behind on that because I want so much to thank those who have helped us get through this, but I’m having to give myself grace.
I don’t care that my midsection and rear end are a bit flabbier than normal. I love working out for me, and the way it makes me feel, not to try to achieve a body type. I think in the grand scheme of things, God doesn’t care either. I think the fact that I put exercising and eating as healthy as I would like, on the back burner while we worked to get a girl from an orphanage and now are trying to teach her what a family looks like, is totally cool with Him. In fact I think He’s pretty proud of me for not idolizing the image of my own body like the rest of culture pressures us to.
Later this week I am also going to very kindly and graciously tell a teacher that we won’t be doing most of the homework she sends home. Because with 4 kids, I’m realizing that we have our limits. Plus a new school schedule that leaves one of my kids getting home at 5pm has added challenges. In order to complete homework, we have to forego playtime or other loved activities like soccer or gymnastics, family dinner, or reading time. All of which I think are more valuable, than me having to yell to get the homework produced in a timely manner, leaving me and the child frustrated. I’m not saying no to all homework, just the unnecessary busy work that is sent home nightly. And while I’m not excited about the conversation, because I really don’t like being controversial; I also don’t really care if they disagree with my decision. I’m doing what works best for us.
A wise friend told me this weekend she eliminated everything in her life that she doesn’t find to be useful or beneficial. She only checks social media on weekends, she changed schools, she’s narrowed down her friend groups, and dropped out of other obligations. Like KonMari for your life.
I feel we walked through some of this during the adoption process, but now we are onto another level of purging. We left travel ball (super hard decision), we pulled back on activities, we aren’t signing up for all the things with our little bit of extra time. The only area we’ve been more generous with our yes is at church and with others. Our yes’s are given rarely and not without a fair amount of conversation between husband and I on if it’s going to be wise.
We are bare bones-ing it.
Because it turns out, four kids take a lot of work. And teaching one how to love and trust takes a lot too. In fact, it’s kind of taking most of us. And that is ok. I think Jesus didn’t think about his six pack in his last weeks before dying on the cross. Or if the disciples took notes on what he taught, or if he was late to a dinner. He just kept pouring his life out to others, until He gave his life completely for others. So we are going to keep doing the same…pouring our lives out for others. Right now that’s just a little more concentrated on the home front.