Before I crack on with this week’s post I feel I need to clarify a few things:
1: Don’t like, don’t read! Simple!
2: Don’t understand? Ask, before you report me for ‘bad parenting’.
3: The ‘target audience’ is primarily fellow adopters who can appreciate the weight of ‘being the mother of THAT child’, who can celebrate with me when I say ‘his tantrum only lasted 30 minutes’ and most importantly those WHO HAVE WALKED A MILE IN MY SHOES! If you haven’t, please refer to the second point before you say/do something we will both regret… Or sod off…
That being said let me tell you what promoted this post. We have been recently reported to Social Services by ‘a concerned citizen’ who knew squat about our life as a family of four. After a few agonizing and sleepless nights it’s now closed (with no further action mind you) and we can move on with our life; the children are blissfully unaware of this ordeal. A fellow adopter told me ‘welcome to your new reality’. Just like a doctor always dreads somebody someday will sue them, now we have to worry about this as well. This is such a real and depressing thought that I needed to write this out of me before I go crazy…
So, who is your enemy today? Take your pick…
1. Is it your adopted child/ren?
Our life as a couple has been really great. We had time and money for everything. We could spontaneously go to the cinema, do shopping at 11pm, go on mini holidays, achieve in our respective fields, have a social life, discuss problems in a civilised and calm manner…etc. This all went out the window the moment they moved in. I am a stay home mum for the time being; locked up in my house-prison; the topics reduced to poo, farthing or Peppa Pig; only have adult conversations with the teacher/Social Worker/Play Therapist/GP ABOUT the children; I step on bloody Lego everywhere in the house; #InsertYourProblemHere …etc.
I wonder if you can read the next, very honest lines without judgement? The naked truth is, this chain of thoughts is not uncommon among adopters:
We decided to adopt children to help them change their stories so we opened up our hearts, our home, we put our life on the back burner and all we got in return for our goodness is pain and destruction. Our frustration is originated with the children and it is also aimed right back at them. And suddenly you realise you are not that good at all! So your anger turns towards yourself. How awful I am for blaming this poor child for ruining my happy life? What a rotten attitude is that? Oh, hello self conflict, just who I needed in my life right now. I hate what I have become, I hate what this child turned me into! This child has ruined my life! It’s easy to see how they can become the enemy…
2. Is it your spouse?
‘For crying out loud, why on Earth did you have to say/do that to our son?’
‘Just because YOUR dad/mum used to do that to YOU, it doesn’t make it right or an example I want YOU to follow when you parent MY child!’
‘No, it’s your turn, I woke up the first 3 times when he cried’
‘I am so exhausted, I have no energy to talk to you unless it’s related to the boys.’
‘How can you not keep your cool? Do you think it’s therapeutic parenting what you have just done?’
‘It’s easy for you, you go to work, I had to give up my career, I have to take them to school, do house work, pick them up from school, make food, do all the therapeutic parenting, suffer through the tantrums, do the home works…’ and it’s twin sister: ‘It’s easy for you, you are home all day, I have to go to work, worry about money and then come home to more shouting, I have no energy to play with them…’ It’s easy to see how (s)he can become the enemy…
3. Is it me, myself and I?
Being a perfectionist helped me all my life to achieve my goals from swimming to masters degrees and a career. We can all agree, any type of parenting is hard, but because our boys had such a difficult past I struggle with the idea of ‘good enough’ parenting. I know it’s self destructing in the long run and ‘you can’t pour from a dry cup’, but I find zero consolidation in comments like ‘if your children are fed and alive, it’s a good day’. I know in my head it’s a marathon, but my legs can’t slow down from the sprint, so from time to time I stumble and fall. But even then there is no time for self care or me-time, because… there is always a reason. It’s easy to see how I can become the enemy…
4. Is it other perfect parents?
‘Oh, that’s normal, my child does that, too. Why don’t you just…’ Soooo not helpful. I am sure we all hear the comments and helpful suggestions from others, well meaning birth parents who might know a thing or two about parenting their own specific children, but have no clue about the complexity and extra added challenges that we have to face on a minute by minute basis. I am tired of explaining why Reward Charts don’t work or that my child’s violence is not because ‘boys are boisterous’, but because he is used to see it at home as an effective way of dealing with problems and end arguments. Or the ones who complain we are too strict in our parenting style and they don’t have a clue we are actually protecting their sorry asses from a potential allegation our child is likely to make against them… The other end of the spectrum is when they question your sincerity or severity of the incident simply because ‘he is always lovely when he is with me. Are you sure it’s not just you misreading the situation?’ It’s easy to see how they can become the enemy…
5. Is it the PIE?
From Sarah ‘therapeutic parenting guru’ Naish’s book they are the Patronising Ignorant Experts (teachers, social workers, therapists) who have ‘seen it all’ so they must know it all, too. In one sentence they tell you ‘you are the expert when it comes to your child‘ and in the very next one they tell you off saying ‘trust me, you are wrong, I am the expert’. A teacher who only sees my child is constantly disrupting the class because every time the door opens he must turn to see who is it (but failed to position my son’s desk to face the door as I had requested to lessen his anxiety levels). Or a TA who doesn’t get that even though he looks 7 he can revert back to a 3y old in a second and unless they use toddler distraction tactics he will not ‘just snap out of it’ and therefore TA concludes he must be challenging TA’s authority only to annoy them. Obviously.
6. My new reality: the concerned citizen
Perhaps the scariest of all. You don’t know who might have a personal grudge against you. You don’t know which friend you honestly confided in about your struggles will get anxious enough to turn against you strictly ‘out of concern’. Or perhaps a neighbour, who had enough of the shouting and crying that goes on in your house at 4 am and (s)he incorrectly assumes the child cries because you are beating them. Or a mother of the boys’ classmate who has no idea you are not the same mother who had abused the boy in the past when he casually mentions during a play date ‘my mum hit me with a…’ because we didn’t tell everyone the boys are adopted.
Perhaps the next post should be about Who is a Friend and how to recongise them?