I often wonder how time has passed by so quickly because day to day there is always a struggle. Having kids is a privilege and should never be taken lightly (obviously). How about for those of us who cannot have our own biological children and choose to become a family by adopting through foster care or through family arrangements or international adoption? Well, just like everyone else, we have the same dreams. When our family was matched for a sibling group we were excited for what was in store for us as parents. WE WERE GOING TO BE A FAMILY! Exciting right? Well, of course it is, but you are never really, truly prepared for what happens years after the adoption, and it doesn’t even have to be many years, just one will do.
I would like to think that I am a well-balanced person who is kind, smart, giving and a hard worker. Some days lately, I feel lucky that I was able to get myself out of bed – most times thinking this is going to be a new day, so let’s attack it that way. Ummm, WRONG…what was I thinking??? It is the same drama of getting ready for school; or any transition for that matter. It is like running up hill in wet clothes in the mud. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? This is just the tip of the iceberg for many of us.
There is lots of information about adoption, trauma, grief and loss. All of this information is not discussed with you in detail (and who among us can say we really heard them when they talked about this…) including what this does to kids and what your lives will look like afterward. What I have learned along the way is that there are supports and groups to get involved in. Most important, is that being regulated and present with your children is vital to the relationship you have with your children. Of course it is, makes sense, right? In a perfect world it does make sense and seems easy, but it’s not.
Working with families that are struggling to understand the behaviors of trauma and how it affects their child and what that does to the family dynamic is common for me, as I am living it and can relate to many of the situations that I hear about. Sometimes, I think to myself, why did I do this? Was this a mistake to take this on? I don’t think I can handle it forever… Ugh, what about when they become teenagers, then what?!?!?!
Ok, so back on track. Being regulated…what does that even mean anyway? It means, that we are able to handle stress in a calm way and that we have a larger window of tolerance (Forbes & Post, 2009). So I am supposed to maintain being calm when everything else around me is in chaos and seems like it is falling apart? Right… (Yes, I am being snarky.) We have to remember that we are human and we cannot be perfect all of the time or even some of the time. All we can do is try and pray that we aren’t screwing them up for the future.
Parenting is not something that we can assume will go a certain way, because it almost never does. I can’t put my expectations on my children, because they are my expectations and mine alone. I can, however, share with them what I expect from them as far as behavior; being polite; and what’s right and wrong. What is wrong, is for to make assumptions of what their future should be or how I think they should do something. Parenting is not about how I can turn them into a mini-me; it is my opportunity to grow as a person – as one who can learn from them as well as them learning from me.
With everything that our children have endured, sometimes as parents, in the day-to-day – we forget how that affects them and the way it impacts how they react to situations. This may require a lot of understanding and patience that we sometimes feel we just don’t have. Demands for attention can put a strain on your relationship with your child, but what is important to remember is that it isn’t about you… keep repeating that to yourself over and over again until it sinks in. Take a step back and try to figure out why this particular incident is causing such a reaction… They are trying to survive.
Until next time, remember to take care of yourself, it’s the only way to take care of others.
The Dysregulated Mommy