Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What if we did?

Moms are notorious for the guilt we tend to shoulder, are we not? Strapping it on and lugging it around, some of us lift our heavy burden and carry it with us wherever we go, our own special ball and chain. Maybe we even embrace it, a rightful, prideful, martyresque badge of honor. If we didn't care so much we wouldn't wrestle this way. 

As the type of person who can count more regrets at the end of each day than the fingers two hands can number, I am intimately acquainted with this particular brand of baggage.

Especially, most overwhelmingly notably since our adopted kids entered the scope of my susceptible conscience and rocked all that was previously known as My World.

Don't get me wrong, I was guilty enough about my child rearing shortfalls before. Still somehow, there was a certain deep, abiding security to the awareness that we would get through it. Whatever it was, we would find a way through the untamed wilderness of forging family life. We would come out the other side - better, closer, softer, gentler, more accepting of our own human frailty, as well as that of our beloveds.

Our victories would be well earned, wrought with immense satisfaction as we subdued new territory together. Love freely flowed in every direction, between parents, toward children, back from children, making a giant loop of comforting consolation and effortless pardon. It would all be a great, big, beautiful mess. The kind of sacred tangle only a family can make as they sort out the trials of their days in unison.

But when Meadow and Flint came into the picture things changed. My guilt became overpowering, bearing down on me, a weight I could not uphold. My shame was palpable. I simply could not shake the feeling that I should feel great love for them like I did for the children to which I gave birth, yet I did not. What was wrong with me? How could I not have realized I would struggle this way? I wanted to do something honest and good and worthwhile with my life. Why was I failing so miserably?

Thankfully, I have emerged from the deepest of the darkness that followed the initial stages of our adoption. But I would be lying if I said it has been an easy road or that I do not still travel it or that I don't continue to go to battle with the wretchedness of my persistent sin as I parent my adopted children.

Reading this post yesterday and the thoughtful comments from moms who have struggled like I have - who continue to come face to face with the cumbersome cloak of guilt and shame - got me thinking.

What if we, as women, as mothers, allowed ourselves to rightfully own our own flawed, chipped, broken, low and humbled humanity?

What if we lavishly pardoned our very own selves?

What if we acknowledged that the work we are doing in parenting children born to another woman can be intensely difficult?

What if we gave ourselves the slightest bit of credit for bearing another's burdens?

What if we bestowed on our own weary souls the kindness we would easily extend a friend?

What if we allowed ourselves to fall short, to come up dry, to lean in and bear down and look up and shatter into pieces and be put together again?

What if we permitted our cracks to see the light of day, to openly show so that they may break the code of silence that leads to isolation, shame and despair?

What if we came to terms with the reality that the paths of our relationships with our adopted children will be nothing like those with our biological children?

What if we said to ourselves, I accept you as you are. 

What if we really, truly meant it?

What would it do for our ability to mother the hurt, the traumatized, the grief stricken, the developmentally delayed, the diagnosed, the broken hearted?

If we learned to love ourselves without thought of condition or performance, would it help us learn to generously love the children we parent?

I can't help but wonder...


One Thankful Mom said...

I love this, Tisha. Thank you for your beautiful, shame-less, encouraging words.

Courtney said...

is it possible?? and i don't say that flippantly. i WANT it to be, but i think i would just go right back to my questioning, guilt ridden thoughts without realizing it...

Tisha said...

I'm trying it out all over my life, not just in the adoption category, Courtney. You know, lightening up in every way and cutting myself far more slack while working to gain and nurture honest appreciation. But I am nearing 40. It may be a mid life crisis prompting change. ;) I don't want to live the second half of my life being so hard on myself like I was in the first!! I feel like a softening of expectations is kind of a natural progression. I'd like to be a better friend to myself and hopefully gentler all the way around. It's a work in progress for sure, but I want to keep at it!

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