Hard times

I love being a mom, it is awesome and fulfilling and exhausting. This huge transition Joel and I made from being a childless couple to parents to 3 special needs older adoptive children has been full of challenges and surprises. Some great and wonderful moments that warmed my heart happened and some moments that broke that same heart and left me crying at night happened too. I am unable to describe the changes that have taken place in my life with any coherency. I often laugh inside when people ask ow the transition is going and how things are. I really don`t know what to say.
Emotionally, things have been pretty hard for me lately. I am tired, crabby, short-tempered, and don’t want to do much of anything. Joel has been amazing at helping do the stuff around the house that needs doing. I have been using up all my energy by about 10am. The other day I sat down trying to think what was going on. A combination of being sick, hormonal, and tired met up with something else. Something more hopeless and helpless feeling. Something more worn down and tired. I came up with a few things that were wearing on me.

– Understanding: My family and friends are AMAZING! They offer love and support and prayers without me having to ask. They check in and see how I am doing and offer encouragement when I am down. They try to understand the situation that we are in, that our kids are in. But those that have not been in this situation, though they try, cannot begin to understand. They don’t have to understand to be supportive, but sometimes as I am traveling this uncharted pathway I just want someone to completely understand, having been there and offer me some encouragement from a fellow adoptive special needs parent. People who have fought for school accommodations for kids with “invisible disabilities”, who have dealt with the 8 year old wetting themselves or a 3 year old asking why birth parents made such bad choices or a 5 year old with horrible nightmares that I can’t reassure her won’t happen because they have happened. Sometimes walking this road is hard and pretty lonely.

– Doubt/Worry: Recently the state evaluated the kids for their level of need for ongoing support. I will get more into that in another post, but the rating was eye opening and a little frightening. I know worrying about the future is pretty standard parent stuff, but our worries are just a little different. I worry that our kids with follow the path their birth parents laid out for them. That we are fighting a losing battle. That our kids will never live on their own, that their trauma is just too much to overcome, that we will fail as a family. On most days I snub my nose at these thoughts and tell them to take a hike. Just another form of OCD rearing its ugly head. I know that we are putting all the love, safety, and peace we can into our kids. That we are giving them every single opportunity (even if we have to fight tooth and nail for it) to heal. I know that even if life doesn’t turn out like I want it to, even if all the bad things I think come true, this is worth it. This is so worth it. We are providing 3 kids with a loving home, we are a family for better or worse. However, on days where I am already worn out, where I already am exhausted and feeling hopeless it is so easy to give into these doubts and start to look at the big picture and feel fear. More on that in another post, but suffice it to say that we are not meant to be a fearful people.

– Being Different: Like I talked about in doubt/worry the things we deal with are very similar to what “typical” parents deal with, but just a little different. That level of difference is more difficult that I thought it would be. It really isn’t that big of a difference, if you quantified the difference it would amount to maybe 5 or 10%, but man are those percentages significant! Its hard to relate in a room full of parents because while our children all eat, sleep, and poop Joel and I have sent the past 6+ months almost solely focused on the 5-10% that makes our family unique. Things such as safety and past traumas and exactly how to live in a family. Things many other parents either don’t deal with or deal with minimally. I know that every family has their struggles and quite honestly I am glad our are what they are as they are known and Joel and I have training and experience to deal with them. There are many families dealing with things that would be very hard for Joel and I. However, dealing with such unique things has been hard on my morale. I guess I don’t have as thick of skin as I thought, but somedays I just want to be able to let them play alone downstairs or be able to talk with Joel alone for more than 3 minutes before the kids are asleep. I want to be able to do things that my children’s chronological ages would suggest that we could do. But we can’t.

– Losing myself: The last one of this list has been the hardest for me. The other ones I knew would be a concern from before kids were placed with us. Doesn’t make it any easier, just expected. This one however caught me off guard and left me with a LOT of the feels. I honestly never saw this one coming. Somedays I feel like I am no longer “Katie”, like the only person I am or ever will be is “Mom” and “Wife”. While I LOVE and value those roles, somedays I feel I am losing Katie. My life pre-kids was very Katie-centric. I worked at a job I ADORED with people who came to work every day working their asses off to help hurting kids. I had an amazing husband that I loved to spend time with, but also spent a lot of time just on my own, choosing to do whatever I wanted. The simple act of going shopping, taking a nap, heck even watching a movie with swearing or violence was not something that required days of planning. I could pick up a new craft, get ice cream JUST FOR ME, read books, hang out at the book store or coffee store, and my purse was MUCH lighter. I am not trying to sound unhappy that my life has changed. I LOVE my kids and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I just need to be honest and admit that part of parenthood, especially instant parenthood of 3 older kids, is (by necessity) ignoring the selfish desires. My goal now is to find a way to hold onto things about me that I value, things that make me “Katie”, things that recharge me. Keep these things in a way that both honors that I am a unique person but also have other responsibilities in this stage of life. Any ideas would be so welcomed!

So now that I have put my finger on what is going on to make me tired and hopeless, what am I to do? What can a stay at home mom who is immersed in the effects of trauma each and every day do to recharge? That is such a good question, did you think that I was going to answer it? I wish I could, I am looking for any ideas as it is!

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3 thoughts on “Hard times

  1. Oh Katie! Chin up lady! 🙂 I can relate so much to this post. I swear I’ve written several like it over the last few months. I’ve actually quantified “the difference” as about 40% at any given time. Sometimes less, sometimes more but on average over time, about 40%. I think admitting that it it’s really that much has helped me, thought I get annoyed when people assume it’s only a minimal difference. It isn’t. Up that percentage a bit. It will eventually be 10-15%, but it’s likely a lot more than that these days.

    As for the identity issue–I too struggle with this. The change is jarring really. I’m still working through these new identities. Do something small for yourself. Get your brows done, allow yourself to spend $20 selfishly online, I’m not sure what your into, maybe you really need a girls night. Seriously, there are so many bloggers who I would totally enjoy hanging out with for one night doing girly things and remembering that part of who we are. Take care of yourself. 🙂

  2. Katie I completely agree with ABM. I get what you are saying and sometimes I too yearn for the before times when it was just me. It is fine. Do a little something just for you it doesn’t have to be expensive. No do not get consumed by the trauma or vicarious traumatization could happen to you. I hear your fear of the future and am right there with you. No don’t focus on it because kids can make changes with the stability you are providing.

    Take care of yourself and know you are doing well at an amazingly difficult job that I am sorry most “normal” parents no nothing of. Do take care of yourself.

  3. ABM hit it right on. Up that percentage, it will go down later. And recognizing this was what helped me too, so you’re already on the right track. I was feeling down one day (DOWN…) and this thought just hit me – post adoption depression. Is that even real? I’d never heard the term but I googled it and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a real thing! For me this was enough. What I was feeling was real but not real. And my perspective changed. But there’s tons out there if more research is needed!
    I also remember wondering if I would ever be able to leave my kids to play alone for more than 30 seconds. I mean, at their ages my brother and I played in our rooms or outside without parents for HOURS!!! Could I just get 15 minutes please?!?!? Well, it was a while coming, but it will come. I can now be inside watching them outside through the window. This can last for an hour or two, with me only getting up every 10-15 minutes to remind them of appropriate actions or to intervene in a minor squabble. It’s certainly a start! So there’s hope. We can now go to the park and sit on the bench and carry on adult conversation while they play ( having to shoe them away every five minutes, but hey, they love us!). Give it a few more months, maybe more, but you’ll see the improvement as time goes on. We were blessed that our kids had such an amazing foster family who introduced them to Jesus. Because if that we really are moving so much faster than if we had gotten them much closer to their original removal. So acknowledge those valid feelings you have but don’t lose sight of the fact that they will grow, it will get better, and someday you’ll have to reread these posts to remember what life was like in those early, harder days!

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