Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, February 09, 2015

For the longest time I wasn't ready...

I was comfortable with what we had going and I held tightly to it. 

We had our share of challenges, yes. But for the most part, my family's Pre Adoption Life suited me well. Well enough that I figured we could pretty easily provide exactly what a child in need required, entrance to our family. All they needed was us...a couple of parents and a slew of siblings to love and care for them.

It has taken me years (years!) to come to accept how wrong I was - that my former life, our former family, my former self, would never be the just right fit for them. 

I slowly, painstakingly, through repetitive trial and heart crushing error came to realize, no matter how hard I pushed, lectured, doled out consequences, pleaded, and worked to force them to become the people that would make our lives together easier to live, they barely budged. 

Their behaviors were constantly undesirable which made my responses constantly undesirable which made them afraid of me because I was the lady with all the consequences and the anger and the frustration and the face of horror which propelled us into a cyclone of undesirableness all the way around. In their minds, I was easily earning the rightful title of Cinderella's Stepmother. 

Something had to change. 

As much as I longed for it to be them, the wake up call was was that it had to be me. Jagged little pill to swallow. 

Through the years I had read the books and watched the videos and tried the most palatable therapeutic parenting tidbits here and there. But honestly, deep in my bones I craved an easier route, the more natural and default version of parenting that worked decently well with my other kids, with whom I am so closely bonded. The things I was supposed to do for our adopted children made me cringe. The techniques took tremendous thought and effort. Worst of all, they went against every instinct I possess.

In so many ways it felt like giving up the authority I believed a parent should maintain. Like if I yielded to them too much, said "yes" to more than I was accustomed to, allowed behaviors I would never permit in the children I gave birth to, I would lose control of my home.

So I continued down the path of sameness, banging my head against the wall over and over and over and over until it was bruised. Suddenly, I recognized something tragic. The only one who was carrying the weight of the tumult that turned me black and blue was me. The kids? They didn't so much mind me lugging the sole responsibility of extending great effort on their behalf. 

Now, they were the ones settled, comfortable, relatively content and quite unwilling to budge as I was sweating, straining, exerting myself to fit the square peg of regular old authoritarian parenting into the round hole of mothering children with a history of trauma. 

As I reflected on five long years in, I frustratingly, tearfully grasped what was really happening here. We were at an impasse. Stuck in a rut. I was, am the only one willing to take the responsibility to get us out. It was going to involve some serious change in strategy on my part. 

I had nothing left to lose. Our connection was depressingly far from where I hoped it would be by this point. Everything that I was doing wasn't getting us beyond our old familiar cyclical treadmill, the one they didn't mind at all. Distance has always been their ally.

The one who was suffering most was far and away, me. 

What I failed to concede to for so long was that until our relationships evolved to the point of a certain basic level of trust and attachment and bonding, my adopted children would remain unresponsive to me. 

Me harping on them to change their behaviors to ones that would be more pleasant to deal with was of positively no effect. Their desire to behave better would have to come from within themselves. I couldn't want it enough for both of us. 

These days, my main focus is lightening up in every aspect. {Keep it moving} is my motto. Allot no time to stew on each situation that used to devour hours of my day and tons of mental energy. Make quick corrections where need be, don't ask questions, ESPECIALLY the dreaded, "why?" and move on. 

With practice, I'm actually getting pretty good at it. 

I just let it go like Elsa. 

I'll admit, I'm doing it mostly for me. I really couldn't live that way any longer - the tension was robbing me of my joy, devouring the precious years I have to enjoy with my children. 

The crazy thing is the natural byproduct of my changing is they are more comfortable with me and we're actually getting closer by their choice. 

I guess it shouldn't be a surprise, really. 

I mean, everyone prefers the snow queen to the wicked step mother.   

 *Showing my kids during school this morning what old school discipline was like by pretending to spank her with a kitchen utensil. (There was zero follow through.) 

*No children were harmed during the taking of this photo.


Owlhaven said...

Yup. My path exactly.

Liz Morton said...

One of ur best blogs ever!!!!!! Go with the flow. I can't imagine how a flow of 7 could be, but you know they will surprise u and u will enjoy every second of it. Of course u need structure, but so happy to hear this. Xoxoxoxo. There is always the happy common ground.

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