My own stuff

It amazes me how much my own stuff influences my day to day ability to parent. On Friday, I crashed and burned. A combination of hormones, a rough week culminating in my daughter yelling at me that she hates me, and a realization that a long holiday weekend changes nothing in my routine. Yes, my husband doesn’t work on the weekend, but my day doesn’t change. I still wake up, eat meals, wash dishes, focus on bonding with my daughter, keep her safe, etc. Monday, Thursday, Sunday, it’s all the same.

By Friday morning, I felt like I was drowning. I woke up in tears and couldn’t control my emotions. I was fully aware of the hormonal aspect of life *ahem* but was worried that DoubleShot would freak out over my tears. By the time we woke her up, I was no longer crying, but was still feeling like my window of stress tolerance was nonexistent.

My husband suggested I get out of the house for awhile, relax in the car with a mocha and a good book. I couldn’t bring myself to go to a coffee shop because I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I did find a place to park the car and try to relax. After a lot of prayer, some time with a good book, and listening to the radio, I finally felt pulled together enough to complete the grocery shopping and head back home.

It’s hard because my daughter’s behavior and challenges may be similar from day to day but my ability to handle my emotions while dealing with those behaviors does not remain stable. I get overwhelmed. My feelings get battered from her constant push and pull. I know that none of it is personal. I know that her behavior is normal for kids coming from a background of loss. I know that in the grand scheme of things, our transition is relatively “easy.” That doesn’t make the hour to hour coping any easier.

When I left the house on Friday morning, DoubleShot was awake. She waved at me and said “goodbye!” as I was headed out the door. Then she looked surprised that I wasn’t telling her to come with me. She ran after me, following me out the door, and dove into the car. In her bare feet. I smiled and laughed, told her that she was staying home, and made motions to start the car in hopes she’d head back into the house. “Wait, wait!” She held up her foot, showing me she needed shoes. I told her that Baba wanted to spend time with her at home and that Mama was going out today by herself. She looked confused and the tiniest bit hurt that she wasn’t coming with me. My husband called to her from the doorway and she went inside.

While I was gone, he texted me that DoubleShot ran to the window a few times to check and see if I was back. That made me cry because I was struggling so much and she was worried that I was gone. I felt a moment of guilt but pushed the guilt away. I have to take care of myself too. When I got back, she glommed herself on to me. I sat down to take my shoes off and she plopped down right next to me and put her head on my shoulder. Yup, we are definitely working toward anxious attachment.

Of course, within minutes, she had called me a pig and tsk tsk’d me for buying too many groceries. Yup, back and forth, push and pull. But at least I then had the fortitude needed to make it through the day.

While sitting in the car, I heard a song that flooded my soul and gave me the courage I needed.

I tried to select just a verse or two of the lyrics to share, but the entire song is wonderful so I am including all of it.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

God never asked me to parent DoubleShot alone. When we stepped out in faith to embrace older child adoption, we knew that we were only going to survive (and hopefully thrive!) by the wonderful grace of God. I am a frail human being. I can’t heal my daughter’s heart. I can’t protect my own heart from breaking into a million pieces while seeing the pain reflected in hers. All I can do is continue to rely on God, pray that He will use me, that He will bring healing to our entire family.

I do not regret adopting my daughter. I love her so fiercely that it hurts. It’s when I rely on my own strength that I fall apart and cannot recover. When I go back to God, remember the ways He reassured us that everything will be ok, and draw on His power, I can face the day. I pray that someday my daughter realizes how precious she is and how much we love her. Even more, I pray that someday she will know God and see how God has worked in her life.

2 Thoughts on “My own stuff

  1. This is another illustration of how newmoms to newborns have an easier go of things. When I was learning to not let my own stuff get in the way, all my newborn needed me to do for her was feed, change and cuddle. Those things are hard (oh the sleep deprivation!) but they’re also things where if you can even just go through the motions it’s enough to get through the toughest days. By the time I was having to deal with the complex and volatile minefield of two or three kids at various stages of adolescence with various anxiety disorders, I already had years of practice finding and honing the coping skills that worked for me, and years of direct experience with the truth of one of the most helpful parenting mantras “This Too Shall Pass.”

    It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job of fast-tracking yourself through something that I came to over the course of years. Brava!

    • We’ve had many discussions about whether it’s better to embrace older child adoption having already raised bios or if it is better to jump in cold. In a way, there are advantages to the way we’re building our family, combined with our specific personalities. Both Jeff and I were not fans of formalized higher education but both of us love to read and research. So when we decided to adopt and then decided to adopt an older child, we dove into research. What are the best ways to help a child heal? How does trauma impact development? Things like that. And, since we had an incomplete adoption, we spent two full years doing research and reading before our daughter came home. It hasn’t made the process easier, but nothing comes as a surprise. She displays new challenging behavior and we’re able to talk about or to someone else who already went through it and what worked and didn’t work for their child. It’s been an interesting journey!

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