I mentioned in my post last week that I've been feeling overwhelmed for a while (read that for several years) and that I'm implementing some things that are helping. There are several things that are working together, and it has definitely been a journey.
As you know, my husband and I have adopted 4 of our 6 children. With adoption comes some extra "stuff". Their behaviors are different. Their responses to normal discipline are different. They are in many ways "extra".
Many people think that if you adopt a baby, you will give them all the love they need to heal from whatever because they won't have experienced all of the same things that a child who had been in foster care for years might have. But, the reality is that simply the fact that they are adopted is a trauma. And many were traumatized in some way in womb, either by abuse of the mom, or excessive stress that the mom was under, or drug use during pregnancy, or more. This almost guarantees that there will be physiological differences in these children that need to be addressed throughout their lives. And, being an adoptive family, we have to approach some of these issues differently because these kids often have deep feelings of shame and fears of abandonment that need to be addressed and understood.
So, these facts and thinking have steered a lot of my parenting techniques over the last several years. And, I've offered more grace to my youngest two than I did my biological children as they were growing up. But guess what- a lot of parents find that they struggle with their biological children because of other things outside their control, be it health issues, environmental issues, financial issues, etc. The list goes on and on. As parents, we are all truly doing the best we can with what we are given. I don't want you to hear any superiority in my voice here, and I want to be very clear that judgement does not have a place here. As moms, we judge each other more often that we help each other sometimes, and that can leave us feeling even more alone, and helpless. So, just because I can find tangible factors that contribute to where I am in this parenting journey does not mean that another mom has something to be ashamed of because they don't have these visible, obvious factors that lead to where she is.
So, here's my heart.
My youngest two are very hard. But I am a seasoned parent, and part of the "if your kid doesn't tell you they hate you at least once, you're doing it wrong" club, and feel like I can let things roll off of my skin fairly well. But then I have these kids who are constant constant. More often than not I am reminded of the fact that I am simply not enough. Some days this leaves me in the corner of my room in tears of desperation. Sometimes it serves as a sober reminder of just how much we all need Jesus. The truth is "we" aren't enough for anyone. We all need Jesus, because we are all people who fall short of the Glory of God All.The.Time.
So, as my kids' behavior became more and more difficult I got really good at ignoring the bad behavior not because I didn't want to deal with it, but because I wanted to pick my battles, so that I could choose relationship. They could say and do quite a lot and it really wouldn't affect me (as far as they knew) unless they said something like, "You don't love me". Then they would get my attention and quick because I know very well what it feels like to feel like your mother doesn't love you and I never ever ever want any of my children to feel that way.
Well, over time they learned real well that the way to get mommy's attention was to say I didn't love them, and that escalated to that I hated him, and eventually to I wish I was dead. It's a truly humbling and heart breaking experience to hear these statements separately, but even more so when they're all strung into one statement.
We took the kids to psychologists, and neurologist, had sleep studies done. We've been to different counselors and read every book we could find. We've prayed over them, and prayed for ourselves. To say it has been a heartbreaking experience would be an understatement. We've had many diagnosis thrown at us, ADHD, ODD, PDD, SPD, maybe Autism, or Bipolar. My mom heart says attachment has a whole lot to do with it.
Finally, we found a psychologist who specializes in what's called ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Therapy. She doesn't bill insurance, and we have to pay cash, but she is worth her weight in gold. Through her techniques we have begun to see more of their personalities, and they are happier children. We are much more strict on what goes on during the day, and we have a structured plan of discipline in place and while I would not say our life is easy now, it is definitely better. Instead of a constant state of rage, we now deal with them as they come, and it's frequently only a couple of time outs/ etc a week. We have been able to isolate that our son especially has some pretty intense anxiety and that brings out the worst in him.
One major component of this program is that William has a schedule. He doesn't get to move on to something until he completes the task. Implementing a schedule has been a huge thing for us all. I'll talk more on that next time, because it can hold it's own post....
Friday, August 04, 2017
I've been doing a lot of soul searching over the last couple of years because it seems like no matter what I do I just can't seem to keep up with life. If you watched my Facebook or Instagram feed you would probably be led to believe that I have everything together and have the perfect life. Isn't that what those feeds do?
But the reality is that I get up every morning, and before I even have my coffee I feel behind. I still have lingering tasks that I didn't get to yesterday because of one reason or another, and I never feel like I have "arrived" at adulthood. You know "adulthood", right? That mythical time in ones life when they are finally responsible with their time and money and energy... That time when all of the pieces of the evening meal are magically done at the same time, which is also the right time, and everyone eats with perfect conversation and until they are perfectly filled. That time when your house is not in disrepair, and is always tidy, and your bed is always made.... This time does exist, doesn't it?
I think it is similar to "normal". What is "normal", anyway? I don't even have a mythical definition for that!
What I am beginning to believe is that we all have this unrealistic view of how life is supposed to be, and we are striving for something that no one really has. It's actually a figment.
In July, my family spent two weeks on vacation. We went first to Utah and visited with my Aunt and other family there. I was reunited with my bestie for a few short days, which was wonderful, because other than my husband, she is where my soul feels at home..... and then we went to Colorado to visit with my Dad and brothers and niece there. While we were visiting with my Dad, he was talking about a conversation he had recently had with a friend that went like this:
Friend:, "I'm not sure you'd like my family, it is quite dysfunctional"
Dad:, "Is there any other kind?"
Isn't that a freeing statement? Is there any other kind? You see we all have our own form of "dysfunctional" that follows us. There is not a single one of us who "has arrived". I honestly believe that to be truth. And, our desire, our drive to show the world through social media that we have, in fact arrived is causing people everywhere to feel unworthy, and unloved.
There are times in life when people truly are unloved. Times that are terrible for people. There are people in every society who feel outcast, unworthy, even worthless. There are people everywhere who wonder on a regular basis if the people around them would be better off without them. And people every day who believe that lie and take the situation into their own hands. When this happens the people around them are forever changed, forever missing an important piece of their heart.
There are times when people are rejected by people they love, by their parents, their spouse, their friends.
There are times when we, as society cast people out because they don't act like us, think like us, look like us.
There are times when we truly don't measure up- maybe we don't get the job we wanted, or the achieve a goal we set.
What I'm saying is, there are plenty of real times in our lives when we will not make the cut, or people around us will not accept us for who we are. This is as old as time. There will never be a time on this earth when that isn't true; so let's not add to that heartbreak by comparing ourselves to others on social media. It's a battle you won't win, because what is on social media is merely a snapshot of one's highlight reel.
So, back to exhausted. I've got a lot of balls in the air any given moment. It's part of being a mom. It's part of being a mother of a Type 1 Diabetic. It's part of being a wife of a police officer. It's part of being an adoptive parent. It's part of being a parent of traumatized children. It's part of being part of a large family. There are just......a lot of balls. That's the reality. Some of them will drop. But, I am finding some things to be quite helpful to me, and I'll be sharing them over the next several weeks as we get ready to go "back to school"
For now, I just want you to know that, whatever you're feeling. However you feel inadequate, someone else feels that way too. And, you don't have to face that inadequacy alone. You have a loving Father who already knows how you feel. He already knows all of the ways you fall short. You don't have to explain yourself to Him. All you have to do is rest in Him.