Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hope - It Does Get Better

I think I may need to give up my dreams of being a good blogger. Sigh. I think about it often - always have ideas swirling around my head to write about.  Putting it down is harder.  Making (taking) the time to write is harder yet.  And sometimes the issues are personal, sensitive.  I want to share - there is value in sharing.  Yet... easier said than done.

Well, I decided I needed to end my absence and had to start somewhere.  I have a birthday post due, as well as some other big ones. But today I want to respond to a question posed over at my friend Lisa's blog.  To sum it up, the question-asker has been home about 9 months with her children and her 7 year old is still really struggling.  She is feeling drained and needs a good dose of hope.

I have wrote a bit recently about some of our (my) struggles here and here. Abi and Hana have been home three years now (!) and, yes, we all still struggle at times. Struggle with things that maybe we wouldn't without the adoption/trauma issues.  Yet, it's good. So good.  It is worth it. It gets easier.

When Abi and Hana came home, life was utterly exhausting.  We had 4 children 6 and under, including Al who, at 18 months, was PISSED we left for Ethiopia for 2 weeks without her. She made us all pay for that for a loooong time.  Add in 2 pre-schoolers who had almost zero English skills and a lot of frustration... Well, let's just say that Mark and I often compare those first 3 months to labor. We have blocked it from our minds.  It was painful and tiring and scary.  Not in a "dangerous things are happening way."  In a, what-did-we-do-can-we-possibly-handle-this way.

I distinctly remember that feeling of fear and inadequacy starting to subside at 3 months. That is when we decided we could in fact adopt Selam. Prior to that, it just didn't seem possible.  Yet, even at that point things weren't EASY.  At least for me, I was still struggling with attachment.  We just didn't quite feel like a family yet.  I loved my children, all of them, but I wasn't IN LOVE with half of them. :(  Talk about mommy guilt.  

Between spurts of challenging behavior and my attachment issues (as well as some on the kids' side...), I started seeing glimpses of real life.  I started being able to enjoy the kids again. I would be startled to notice that it had been days (then sometimes weeks) without major melt downs, time outs, time ins, etc.  I would watch the 4 (eventually 5) move like a crazy herd around our yard, kicking the soccer ball and playing on the swings and it would hit me.  

It all finally felt like family.

The truth is, things are often still hard, even three years later. They might always be hard.  I am coming to accept that is just part of our family dynamic.  But that thought doesn't make me sad any more.  We're just different. Most of the time, that's okay.  

Our kids settled in and that has made a huge difference to be sure.  Their language abilities at 3 months were dwarfed by those at 9 months home, which were further dwarfed by how they are able to speak and understand now.  As a result, there are much fewer misunderstandings and temper issues have all but vanished accordingly.  The kids matured, finding more appropriate ways to deal with their problems within our family dynamic, rather than separate from it.  All of this has made things easier, better.

If I am truly honest though, what makes things "easier" now than even a year or two ago has much less to do with my kids' behavior.  It's about my heart. At some point along the way, I fell in love with my children.  They are MY children.  We are a family, not a modge-podge of puzzle pieces forced together. When I got to the point where I was "in love" with my children, I could more easily overlook things that had previously drove me mad.  I could tolerate more. Provide them with a more secure love. Maybe I don't act differently now, but kids are smart. I am sure they could feel where some sincerity lacked before. 

Some days, things are still really hard.  But, at the end of the day, we are a family.  And that will always give me hope.


  1. Ah... beautiful! Yes, I get it! My heart had to do some major changing as well. Kids know the difference between sincerity and insincerity. And we all need buckets of time before the love grows thick enough to cover the shortcomings and frustrations that drive us to tears and exhaustion.

  2. Cat, I was literally thinking of you just the other day and wondering how you are doing. I lost track of you! It is so nice to hear from you and thank you for responding to the question on my blog. It is so important for us to encourage one another, even if what we have to say is that it is not easy.

  3. Very honest & well-written. I always appreciate your words & wisdom & find myself identifying with your heart.