I’ll begin this post by apologising for how selfish I feel having re-read this post. I’m not proud but I’m hoping my honesty will help others.
Adapting to our life as parents has been incredibly hard. Having two children under school aged seemed like a really good idea – old enough to know their developmental issues yet young enough not to have suffered too much. There’s obviously a lot more to this but that’s not the point of this blog so I’ll not labour the point.
Anyway, as a former career girl turned full-time mum it has hit me like a train. My husband had seven weeks off in all so the children had a bit of a false introduction into our house, particularly as our little boy is a massive ‘dad’ fan. When dad went back to work and I was left alone it was almost like starting again.
To say I was scared… most days was an understatement. Only this week is it beginning to feel a little more normal. Establishing a weekly routine in the middle of winter for two very active children is extremely hard. Its been so tough I’ve actually felt that I’ve suffered with something akin to Post Natal Depression. I’m trying not to be dragged down by these negative feelings, doing everything in my power to keep my head above water and keep being the adult. I’m getting some professional help to sort this out. My advice to anyone embarking upon adoption is not to underestimate the impact on your life. In particular if you take on siblings.
Imagine this in comparison to a birth child scenario:
You bring your children home and they are there with you 24/7. A baby may not sleep well but if it gets too bad, as someone recently said to me ‘you can always shut the door for a while’ (I know its not the done thing but since embarking on this process, it would appear that no one is perfect, thankfully). When you have two aged 2 and 4 you have two little personalities who have needs, and they wont be afraid to let you know, particularly as they are in that stage where they are trying to find their way and voice in the world. Added to this with children in care you have the trauma of their years to date and the fact that they have just moved into your house and don’t trust you or that you will take care of them truly. They want nothing more than to go back into the chaos that they once knew.
So when I was talking to the therapist about how I was overwhelmed and struggling with the lifestyle change she reminded me that the children were probably feeling this ..but they didn’t have a choice. I know all of this but as the main carer I have to be a little bit selfish sometimes.
Yes it’s shocking to think I’m not always 100% empathetic -believe me when you’re knee deep in challenging behaviour it ain’t always easy.
I promise you I had every intention of being Mother Earth when I came out of those training days but when you’re in it 24/7, your Mother Earth persona is seriously tested. In fact, when I tried my Mother Earth persona when I was having a particularly boundary pushing day, I found myself in the back of the car with two children who point blank refused to get into their seats. No amount of soft coaxing would get them around in order to attend the next toddler group. After several crying sessions and lots of talking to other adoptive parents and some great professionals in our process, I felt that it was all part of being a parent and I was struggling with the prefect storm of several issue not least my HUGE lifestyle change. I also watched an episode of Supernanny and felt an inner strength which had been lost as I found myself in Mother Earth territory – my Mother Earth was a bit wet and useless though, not quite what I had imagined.
Finding your personal parent is the toughest part of all these first few months. You read the books then you speak to other birth parents, other adopters and you (or well at least I was) totally confused about how I should manage these children. Lets face it, we get four days training and despite reading numerous books it really doesn’t prepare you. My professional life was not connected to children, I was in a professional environment and the contact I had with children was honestly only limited to social occasions when everyone is on their best behaviour. Yes I got some experience within schools, yes I looked after children for extended periods in the lead up to being approved. Nothing prepares you for the real thing.
What got me through this very tough time was talking to people I didn’t realise we’re such a big part of my support network. Also, being honest that I wasn’t enjoying it. I wasn’t seeing any small moments of joy. I was so anxious and stressed about practicalities, traumatic behaviours and dealing with my own lifestyle changes that I found it horrendous if I’m honest. I felt scared to get up in the morning.
These two kids are beautiful but they don’t do what most other kids do – they don’t play with toys. They have a playroom full of toys, all of which were donated or bought by well meaning relatives at Christmas. They are simply not interested. I tell a lie our little girl is likes her pram and her dolls. Our little boy on the other hand just wants to press buttons on everything ‘adult’ and open and lock doors oh, and drive my car. ‘Me bigger today mummy, I drive’, on our way to preschool….bless…cue tantrum. So our consequences are not about taking toys away, as we were expecting. He does have an obsession with Peppa Pig however and if I need him to do something quickly, the merest mention that he wont get to watch it brings him back very quickly.
Peppa Pig, who would have thought how educational it could be on lots of levels – a nice mummy and daddy who do relatively normal things like recycling, or go to nursery, or with their grand father to the park. The words they come out with taken from Peppa are also hilarious, the latest is ‘delicious’ or the not so nice ‘disgusting’. You think to yourself, have I said that??? Then you’re sat watching it with them and you realise. Not so good if you’re a single sex couple or single parent, its a bit stereo typical unfortunately. I have spared a thought for our friends in this situation. I think I might write to the show producer and make it a little more 21st C.
As you can hopefully tell, I am starting to warm to the small and increasingly big joys of our life. Their chaos and unstructured behaviour is a challenge but its getting better and we can appreciate their previous none existence boundaries so its not their fault. I was home with a 24 hour sickness bug this week. Our smallest came home with a ‘get well soon’ card and was itching to give it to me. The eldest just kept hugging me and trying to stroke my back. Its a lovely feeling when you think they care…the hard bit is then feeling ‘please don’t look after me’ I need to look after you – you’re the little person, you can relax now, that’s not how it is in this home. Bless.