Four Years.

Four years ago today you arrived in our home twinkly and tiny and so brave under the circumstances…
Or did we misread that?
In retrospect you must have been flooded with fear. Your little body stuck in a massive terrifying moment that went on and on. And because we didn’t know you, we assumed arrogantly that your smile was a symptom of calm and acceptance. A sign that we were in fact good parents already who had a good grasp of your needs.
I’m so sorry my darling for our naivety.
I’m so sorry I hadn’t a clue about the trauma you must have suffered.
I wish I could go back and cuddle that baby girl with the insight I have now. But I can’t.
So here we are four years on.
Four years of waking up to your chuckle.
Four years of wiping way your tears
Four years of being called mummy.
Four years of loving you so much it hurts that I’m not perfect at it.
Four big years.
I can remember trying to look forward in time to the little girl you would become but it seemed impossible, scary even. Like the 5 year old you would be a whole new little person I would have to meet and get to know all over again. What if you were harder to win over than the baby in front of me? Who in fact were you going to be?
And yet here we are 4 years on. You are simply you. A bigger, brighter more articulate version of that baby we brought home. It’s miraculous how children grow and develop so quickly and there is so much more of of it to do. So much more to look forward to.
Thank you for our four years.

Best years of my life so far.

Easily.

Here’s to many many more my beautiful daughter.

3 horsemen

The twisted briars cloud my vista
I only see the dark and tangled past
It’s upon me the 3 horsemen
It’s crowding me
Drowning me
Making me twist and feel like I’m failing
Flailing, shivering in my nest.
I stop. I stare. I implode. I scream.
The journey of my youngest feels
Like a weighted stone and doubles
The pain of my childhood.
I see my mother’s wrinkled face and don’t feel love.
I don’t feel compassion. I don’t feel joy.
I only feel sad. Sad like a bag of rocks weighing me down.
It slips into my childhood disease and makes my stomach churn.
My cheeks burn with embarrassment. I feel guilty, I feel shame at this.
I have to resolve this.
I need to move through it.
I can’t go under it.
I can’t get over it.
I need to go through it.
I try and see open doors but I only feel brick walls.
The prospect of drowning in this is a fingertip away but I need to find a path which allows me to see the wretched past and the matriarch and allows enough light in so that the flowers can bloom. So that I can become the mother to my 2, that they need me to be. So I can be brave. So I can let it go. I am not my mother. I have time to be a brave mum to my 2 as they need me to be brave, to fight for them. To be their advocate. They chose me to be in their lives and I will get on these horses and I will pound down the walls and find those open doors.

Please don’t fix me just hear me out.

Photo courtesy photos-public-domain.com.

There is a strong current in our society to fix our surroundings. Mainly if they evoke negative feelings. Or if someone just sticks out.

Like my son who likes ballet. Eeeeuw say other five year olds, quick learners. Even adults are stunned. Really? Whose idea was that?? Karate sits better. With boys. But not with girls. We may let these things go. As just not important. We stand up for our children when they are the odd one out. That’s not too difficult, if it is only the after school activity.

What’s more difficult than to keep brushing off unwanted advice is the need to fix raw emotion. Especially anger. I can get angry about stuff. And I can rant. My husband and son can attest to that. And then I just need to vent and rant till I am done. I don’t need the ‘oh, well, never mind’ or the myriad of variations on that. I just need it to be acknowledged.

I fix my husband too. He once shared something with me that really troubled him. And when he finished I ventured how hard it must have been. For the other person. His eyes widened in incredibility. Without a word he turned on his heels and walked out of the room. I thought I’d opened the discussion. When in fact I just shut it down. Oh well… I’ve made many similar mistakes. So it’s not like I don’t recognise the urge. To advice, gloss over, change subject, to keep it light. As we grow up we learn to swallow many a camel. Of un-aknowledged anything.

It’s just that I’ve just about had it with blooming fixing. It stands in the way of so many things. Mainly relationships.

‘NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND’ my son will shout if I’ve assumed I know how he feels. Assuming too much, or even at all, if talking to an upset person, is just adding fuel to the fire. Pouring gasoline on the fire.

‘Sorry, you’re right. I just tried to fix it. I’m sorry.’

‘Is that a question or an assumption?’ Is an effective, if firm, way of getting things back on track. Depending on tone it may be a downright F U. It generally is.

I’ve learned to defend or deal with unwanted comments and advice. For the most part. I assume people mean well. I assume positive intend. I’ve made a mantra out of it. I sing it to myself when I meet ignorant or rude people. Lord knows I can be ignorant and let’s hope only unintentionally rude.

But sometimes, just sometimes, ignorance just really gets to me. I’m reaching another saturation point.

At the moment it is about the finer details of adoption. Please don’t say it’s all normal. Or that you best friend in childhood was adopted, and you know exactly what it means. ‘He will hate you when he grows up. Because you are not his real mum’ ermmm whatttt? ‘Just you wait. He will.’ And don’t get me started on thing like ‘So he has been with you for 4 years? Then he’s fine. He has forgotten everything.’

Next time you feel that urge to jump in with your opinion. Next time you need to interrupt to get your point across. Try to pause and listen. Don’t correct. Just hear it out. Chances are you may learn something. I tell myself this too. It’s hard. I know.

Ok. Chances are also you’re not interested. You’re just trying to cancel out the noise. Fine. I’ll move on.

But if you are dealing with my son, and hurting him by insisting you know better, soon it’ll be me who shouts

‘NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!’

Please don’t pretend that you do.

And please don’t just put me down as a fuzzy overthinking mum. Who reads too much. That most definitely isn’t the whole story.

It really does at times feel like listening is too much to ask.

I’m still working on myself on this one. And continue to shallow insults borne of ignorance. Often I’m itching to have the last word. Or explain so people will understand.

Oh well, never mind. They probably won’t. Probably never will.

Really?! Is this where this ends?

Ask the Kids #10

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As part of National Adoption Week we asked for contributions in the form of a list of questions and answers supplied by our children on the subject of us – their parents.

Having received quite a few sets of these answers, some parents have chosen to omit certain questions in order to keep the responses within safe boundaries; and others have run with every single one of them and each and every contribution has been so gratefully received.

If you’d like to contribute, please feel free to play around with the format and customise it to suit your own family and forward your answers to me.

Q1 something I always say to you
Don’t know
Q2 my eye colour
Brown (right)
Q5 what’s my hair like?
Blondie(right)
Q7what do you think I was like as a child?
Like me
Q8 my age
85(wrong)!!!! I’m 50
Q14
My job?
Work with people who have poorly brains(right)
Q15
Favourite food?
Pie and gravy (wrong)

7 years

Something more to love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have written previously about the pressure that adoption puts on relationships and how the need to focus on the child/children so singularly can create problems in even the healthiest of partnerships and of course it is at the exact time that we need to be most united and strongest as a couple.

I stated how it has affected my partner and I and how we have learnt to adjust our expectations and to adapt to a new dynamic as a couple. I can see that we have learnt to expect less from each other and to be satisfied with what is available, what is left after our sons have been put first and all their needs met.

Yet I realise that there is more than that, it is not just about being empathetic, being tolerant or ‘putting up’, it is not just about accepting ‘all there is’, it is also about looking for and discovering something new.

We have less time for each other, we have less patience with each other, we are both fully aware that we are not each others priority – yet I can see that the love that I have for my partner now is possibly stronger than ever and I can see that is because of something very different to what was there before.

I may be living with the same person, but he now displays different qualities to the ones I fell in love with and I can see that they are qualities that are even more beautiful and to be admired, in fact at times they are qualities to be in awe of, qualities to love even more.

I can see that my partner is a wonderful parent, a parent who always has time for our children and always puts them first, a parent who is dedicated and who in generous with his emotions, a parent who gives and gives and gives.

I watch the interaction of my partner and our sons and it truly touches my heart and it fills me with a love that is palpable – a love that reassures me that we are as strong as ever.

Our relationship may be different, but I can see now that there is quite simply so much more to love.

I am hoping that my partners feels a little of that in return.

Reflections on loving a boy

Do you want to go to nursery, or shall I just give you kisses and cuddles all day long?”
We laugh. “I want to go to nursery”
“OK then”
“But you can kiss and cuddle me when I get home”
I love my boy.
On the way we crunch through fallen leaves.
I don’t like Winter because the trees are bare.
You like the Autumn because it cools you down.
We have the Spring to look forward to.
I love my boy.

When did I finally become a mum?
Most mums know the day, the hour, the minute, maybe even the second.
Can I pin down the day, the month, even the year?
Wow I’m a mum.
I love my boy.
I live in a house where the only shared DNA is between the cats.
Our respective birth parents come from five countries.
We are so different but somehow we are the same.
How does that make me feel? Hopeful for humanity.
I love my boy.
At times it can be hard.
A troika sharing feelings of anger, loss and helplessness.
Conflict has extra layers of meaning in our family.
But we work through it.
I love my boys.

I know that the future is full of laughter.
You will develop, grow and learn, as most children do.
You will have to face some realities that most children don’t.
We will be there.
Because we love our boy.

Dear Sons

20160621_102206Dear Sons,

We have known for a while that you think we moan a lot and that you feel that we are telling you off all the time, in fact it’s clear to see the frustration and the anger that it sometimes generates in you. Regardless of that, if we ever doubted it those doubts were washed away when you became old enough to voice your feelings, which you now do so well.

We know you think that it is tough on you, but it’s clear that you don’t see that it is not easy for us either.

You may not realise it, but this parent business is quite difficult and we try so hard to get the balance right: To give you freedom of expression (to help you find yourselves – your true personality), whilst at the same time instilling the values and behaviour that you need to become good, fair, considerate and empathetic adults.

You have not yet learnt that when we are being relaxed around you this is not a sign for a ‘free for all’, not us eliminating boundaries and rules from our lives forever, but us relaxing them for you to show us that you understand and that you can deal with that – which evidently is not yet the case.

We are tired of the moaning too, we are tired of our rules – or rather, of having to repeat them constantly. We understand now why many parents give up and ‘spoil’ their children, just letting them have their own way and letting them do things on the child’s terms – that is the easy option and trust me it’s one that looks so appealing and becomes more tempting day by day. Yet we KNOW how damaging that can be.

The term ‘spoilt’ is such an appropriate one and children brought up without firm boundaries and without an understanding that they can not always get their own way become difficult adults who struggle to maintain healthy relationships, they become selfish adults with an expectations that they deserve their own way – no matter what the cost to others around them.

We want you to be generous and open, to have qualities that people are attracted to and appreciate, we want you to love and to be loved and to have successful relationships with people who value these qualities. That is what we are trying to achieve – for your sake.

Yes we want nice, polite, well mannered sons who we can be proud of. Yes we want people to think that we are doing a good job and raising our children well and it would be disingenuous to suggest that this is all about you guys, but it is not all about us – and we fear that this is all that your 8 and 9 years allow you to think.

I guess that you are simply too young now to ‘get it’ and to appreciate it – so here is a blog for your future. Maybe one day, possibly during your teenage years (with tensions no doubt building between us) I can pull this out and hopefully you will be old enough and mature enough to understand it and to acknowledge its value.

Then again – maybe not. And do you know what? – That’s just fine.