Becoming a mother
Today I read a blog written by an Adoptive Mother, who claims it took six months to write a piece about mothering a newly adopted child from Ethiopia.
We got out of the hospital on Mother's Day and I realized I felt totally disconnected from my other kids from not having spent much time with them at all in the last month, and also from this baby whom I had been spending all my time with, but who I really didn't know b/c all that time was spent with doctors and medicines and hospitals. Well, NOW I was ready for that joyous family of 6 thing. But again, it didn't happen. Instead, I began to get to know our newest little lady and guess what? She was NOT fun at all!! She screamed all. the. time. LOUDLY. And a LOT. As in ALWAYS. The only thing that would even come close to getting her to stop was to hold her, all the time, and no, not in a carrier. It was exhausting. And I wanted her to stop, a LOT. Not to mention that her screaming would then set my 2 year old into a wailing, inconsolable crying fit of her own and we spent many a day with 2 very loudly wailing children next to me on the floor while I silently wept, amongst great Mt. Everest's of laundry and heaps of dirty dishes and tumbleweeds of dog fur on unvacuumed floors, and asked God why He had called us to THIS? Was this what we had prayed for, hoped for, wanted, anticipated so eagerly for the last year? Is this what all of our friends and family had been so excited about? Had we misunderstood what God asked us to do and this was the consequences? I felt like I couldn't function normally in any way and it felt like my family was all coming unglued. And the biggest panic I had was that I COULD NOT GET OUT OF IT. I debated giving AGCI (our agency) a call and asking "What is your return policy?"
I'm an adult adoptee mother to four... my last two were "surprise" twins -- a biologic "gift" (reminder?) given to me from the birth mother I was never allowed to know. My first-born was perfect, although she never liked to sleep or ride in the car; she liked to cry, so she could be near me. On me, at my breast. My second-born had colic and grew to become a modern-living-version of Bamm-Bamm, (from the cartoon, The Flintstones), complete with swinging bat, and voracious appetite for anything physical. No child has bruised, or exhausted, me more. My twins were born very healthy... 6.7 lbs and 7.2 lbs. [Yes, I was H-U-G-E]. However, the pregnancy was very difficult, and after birth, one had developed GERD, and another developed symptoms making it necessary to test for Cystic Fibrosis, and both (quickly) developed asthma. [Not knowing what sort of family (medical) history you have can be very upsetting, especially when you are watching your infant turn gray then blue, from not being able to breathe. Correction, it is terrifying. Thinking your baby is not going to live changes many things.] When my twins were four months old, and thriving, I finally thought everything would be OK. Chaotic, but OK. Sept 11, a GORGEOUS September day, I sent my two older ones to school. I sat, on my usual spot in the family room, and started to nurse my twin babies, as I watched two planes plow into the twin towers. Hub-man was immediately called to work ground-zero -- he works for the NJ State Police. For those who care, feel free to read more about me and my mothering experience that first year with unexpected hardship, and how that taught me I had to learn how to cope with stress, or else it will be the cause of death. [See: Length of stay ]
Why do I mention all of this?
Because this... stress, crisis, unwanted crap happening... is PARENTING, and it's nothing like the movies, sit-coms, or commercials make it, no matter how <ahem> realistic media tries to spoon feed it to Prozac-ed people.
Parenting sucks like no one can prepare you... and it's a secret parents keep from those wishing to become parents, just like married people don't tell newly engaged couples marriage sucks.
This is the beauty behind Group Secrets. And this is why skits like what's featured here, Lucky Louie - problems raising your child?, make so many people with children laugh.
We don't tell these things to unsuspecting victims of a traditional system because as much as misery loves company, nothing is funnier than the expression on the face of the love-lost optimist who gets a healthy dose of God-Given reality. [I don't make the rules, I just follow them like the rest of parenting cattle fooled into thinking marriage and parenting leads to instant youth-restoring Nirvana. "Hey, come watch the Newbie...you'll get a good laugh. "]
I'm bloody sick of AP's thinking parenting an adopted child is going to be bliss... and expecting all sorts of sympathy when parenting for them is just like parenting a biologic off-spring. It's hard and frustrating... and incredibly difficult when you have no support, isn't it?! The only difference is, when a parent chooses "a favorite", (and we all do to a degree), having an adopted child in the family means the parent has to be more aware of serious adoption issues each adopted child does have, eventually.
Here's the news flash for all wanting to raise the perfect child within the perfect environment...no parent and no child is perfect and parenting is a job, one that's very difficult, even under the most pleasant circumstances. Truth is, even the very strong and brave find after a few days, weeks, months or years parenting ain't as the brochures depict it. Parenting stinks and it's definitely for the birds... especially if you have blood clots the size of softballs coming out of your nether-regions and infected breasts. [At least mother-birds can leave the nest, and be ALONE for a little while. And after only a few months, the screaming demands of those wanting more, will end because they too got big enough to provide their own home and food. Let's see a bird do the crap human mothers have to do, year after year, after year. It gets old, FAST.]
But here's the beauty... you can love the children, but still hate the job. Hating the crap that comes with parenting doesn't make you a bad person... it makes a new-parent human and honest and.... private-chat-worthy. [I write as one who, for the first 5 years tried to do everything perfectly... and discovered I was hated by many, including myself. "Perfection" almost killed me, which is why I now really prefer being my flawed and imprerfect self; it's easier and healthier for me and my family.]
The way I see it, the only problem arises when the unprepared parent actually sends a child away for good, because having the child was "a mistake" or because that child was damaged goods. In my mind, situations and events happen for a reason; we (our strength, character, and moral fiber) get tested, to see how far, how long we can last. While there may be no reward at the end of each test, sometimes just surviving is it's own sweet/miserable reward.
Based on all that I have been through -- and it's been a lot -- I honestly believe there is no worse thing ANY parent can do to his/her own gifted child, than send that child away, permananty. What is worse for the child, knowing you were sent-away, for good, and your own parents couldn't bother to come back, and explain WHY. Death is one thing, but to be alive, and have no contact with your child? A child may grow to accept the condition or the circumstance, but the child will never forget who left, and why.
That's the funny thing about kids... they don't understand WHY a parent has to go to work, or has to go to school, or has to do anything out in the real world. All a child knows is, when a parent leaves, the parent is supposed to come back...and fulfil his/her duty and responsibility. The child may not know much, but the child knows if bad things happen when the parent goes away, there may be good reason to be scared or afraid each time mommy and/or daddy are no where to be found. It's scary to know, first-hand, how little attention is given to the child left behind... the one who is expected to behave and play nice with the chosen care-taker who turns out to be a deranged psycho when the doors are shut, and no one is home.