Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bucking up

Today sucked.

Bethie woke up crying and continued to whine and cry most of the day. That wasn't the problem. The problem was the hitting, the biting, and the scratching. The problem was the tantrums. The problem was the fact that both of us are exhausted. I've hit a wall and I think she has too. The problem was that I haven't changed out of my pyjamas since - when did we get home? Thursday? The problem is that she won't have anything to do with Walker so I am on, full time, 24/7. The problem is I am sleepwalking through parenting the other four. The problem is I want my mom and she is in Cuba - CUBA of all places.

So tonight, she refused to go to sleep. Of course she did, because Walker is out of town. Which meant I laid in bed wondering what on earth my other four neglected kids were up too since 101 Dalmations had ended at least an hour ago and we were an hour past their bedtime. Then she rolled over so that she was lying directly over my bladder. I managed to confirm on iCloud that Walker was a good two hours away right before my iPhone died. So lying in the dark, a tiny little Ethiopian girl stretched out across my body, I prayed, "Dear God...today SUCKED."

And He answered, softly and tenderly, "You used to be home all day long with a newborn, a one year old, a two year old, and a three year old, and you're letting your butt get kicked by one little two year old? BUCK. UP."

Yes, God said butt.

And as so often is the case, it was not at all the answer I was expecting but exactly what I needed to hear.

A couple of weeks before we left to get her my friend Jana sat in my kitchen and asked, "What is it exactly that you're so afraid of?" and forced me to declare specifically where my fear lay. "It's that I won't know what to do." And then I cried.

Years ago when I was quite young I was an event planner for a catering company, a job that I loved. In my performance review a few months into it, my boss stated astutely, "Your problem is that you want to be the best RIGHT NOW. You don't want to wait on the experience that it takes to get there. But it just doesn't work that way."

Her words struck me then and have stayed with me for twenty years, popping into my mind when I began new endeavors such as teaching, or parenting.  

You want to be the best RIGHT NOW.

The irony is that I am not a perfectionist. There are only a few things that I want to be the best RIGHT NOW at. Only a few things that I wanted to wake up an expert on. Only the most important ventures when I wanted to skip the terrifying middle ground of not knowing what to do, where the experience comes, where the mistakes are made. 

Event planning was one of them. 


Being an adoptive mom is another.

Today I didn't know what to do. Today was the just one of many days where I won't know what to do.

I don't want to stare at my little girl when she hits me or bites my shoulder and be paralyzed by the fear of what in the hell do I do now. I don't want to grapple with it every night when I wonder whether it would traumatize her to move her out of my bed and into her crib. I don't want to be the clueless one. I don't like being the rookie. I like being the expert. I like being the one who is asked, not the one doing the asking.

But it just doesn't work that way.

Years ago, when I was quite young, I didn't know what to do with a newborn. Or a one year old. Or a two year old or a three year old and certainly not all at one time. I wasn't the best. I had to ask. I had to pray. I had to make mistakes. I had to get all the pride and impatience refined out of me and then the Holy Spirit stepped in and we figured it out together.

Then I got comfortable.

I'm not comfortable anymore. I'm in the terrifying void of ignorance.  I am certainly not the best. I am making tons of mistakes. 

I hate it. And I'm desperate for prayer, for advice, for the Holy Spirit to step in  remind me that we'll figure this out together.



And that's exactly where God wants me to be.



39 comments:

  1. Sending love and light, my friend. Call me or text me if you need me. day or night.

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  2. If I could put things eloquently into words, I could have written this post! I want to be an expert RIGHT NOW. I am terrified of not knowing what to do, not know how to parent this child. The fear, guilt and pain of adopting a sweet little blonde girl, and being afraid of the vulnerability that she causes because I have NO IDEA how to be her mom. I have no advice. But I feel your pain. And thanks for sharing it.

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  3. I have been a foster parent to 9 kids and I'm the adoptive mom of 3, and if it helps at all, I have found that the 1st 2 weeks are the hardest. That is not to say that all of the challenges disappear after that, but- for me- it was the time that I needed to adjust to the new reality, the new person living in my house, the new challenges. So, it won't always be this hard. Soon, you will adjust to each other and it will be better. Eventually, you won't know what life would be like without her. It just takes time. Good Luck!

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  4. thank you Emily! That does help. The adjustment is hard.

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  5. I agree with Emily. The first 2-4 weeks are the hardest. There IS an and in sight. Also, have you tried liquid melatonin? We used it when we brought our son home in November. A friend recommended it to me and I paid for overnight delivery from Amazon since I certainly couldn't leave the house with 4 littles to go get some! It WILL get better. Just get through each day the best you can for now. Your other kids won't remember this time a month from now. There is an end in sight. Hang in there! Praying for you!! <3

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  6. Praying, Missy. Can't imagine how hard it is. Wish I could come help. Love you.

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  7. I don't know if thank you is what you'd like to hear at this moment....really at these moments(plural). I know there are so many of them. But your honesty and realness with this "blog world" you have embraced and allowed into your homelife....has once again been such an encouragement to me. Missy my little family way over in Starkville, Mississippi will be praying. Thank you friend.

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  8. And she's sleeping ON you! I know it's exhausting, but that's SUCH a good sign. Once she gets more confident in you and your attachment to each other has time to grow, she won't need to be quite so desperately needy. But for now, think of it as parenting an unusually large newborn.
    Hang in there!
    Mary

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  9. I so hear (deep in my spirit) every word you wrote. Especially the wanting to know how to do it RIGHT NOW. A friend recently emailed me (as her daughter was about to come home) and said "I'm so scared I will make mistakes and mess her up!". And I basically said "get used to it." Because we all make mistakes and we might mess each other up a bit, but God is in the business of redeeming our mistakes. If I could have made a mistake the first few months (ok, lets be real - even now 7 months into it), I didn't just make that mistake, I doubly made that mistake somehow. If my daughter can be as normal as she seems to be right now with all the screw ups I made... yours will be fine! ;) One day at a time! I am finally at a place where I can start to feel like me again (some days). But there is so much to grieve. Not just the changes and the loss for your daughter, but for the ups and downs of the whole adoption process, the emotional upheaval of the past few years not to mention the last few months, the jet lag... on and on. I was sure we ruined our family at many points. But if there is any advice I can give is this. Just hold on! It does get better! Yes, you raised 3 biological young children and that was hard, but this is hard in a completely different way. Not that I want to argue with God's words to you - but this adoption transition takes a toll mentally, physically and emotionally in a way that nothing else in my life ever has. It is hard to "buck up" as it isn't just something you can fix over night. But you will get there. You will. If you want to email me privately, please do so - I know there is nothing you could say that would shock me. God blessed me with a lot of friends via fb/my blog that helped me keep my sanity and know that I wasn't alone in my feelings, so I would love to be that for you if you need a listening ear. Hugs to you... (PS - your other kids will survive this as well. Trust me).

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  10. I'm often encouraged when someone reminds me that what I'm going through is a season - a stage. I'm so glad somebody could tell you that! I can relate to your desire to be really good, right now, at only some things. Other stuff I don't care about at all! Thanks for sharing. I'm loving hearing about Bethie joining your family. My sister arrived when I was just 11. I'm 42. That was a couple of years ago now! Hugs.

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  11. Praying for you...and trusting God will remind you He is sufficient each moment, just as you begin to feel utterly overwhelmed, that you'll find Him giving you what you need - grace, strength, peace, patience, courage, hope, etc. - for the very next moment. And then moment by moment for each and every moment that follows!

    And trusting He'll remind me of the same thing! For me it's hope, especially that seems to be in short supply (and of course that's what He kicked my butt with leading to what I blogged the other day! ha!)

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  12. P.S. The owls at the top of your blog? Make me smile every time I hop over from reader to comment here :-)

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  13. Just want you to know you and your family are in my prayers!

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  14. I love the Holy Spirit giving you answers. Isn't He the best? The way that His answers bring peace and clarity. He is THE best advice giver.

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  15. no advice just prayers. hugs sister. xoxo

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  16. Praying for you, Missy. God will get you through these days. HE doesn't think you are messing up. HE thinks you are loving "one of the least of these" in the best way you know how. And He will not waste any of your anguish or your tears. He will bring beauty from ashes... Praying for you in Idaho. God bless.

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  17. It IS hard, so, so hard. But, it does get better! I've heard a lot of other adoptive mamas talk about this "honeymoon phase" and I was like what??? Because we got NO honeymoon at all with our little 3 year old princess from Ethiopia (now 4), she was seriously testing us before we even left Ethiopia. But, I can say now 14 months later that we got a lot of the difficult out of our systems early that way, with having no honeymoon, and then after the first really hard weeks things rapidly got better. And although I KNOW (from having been there), you want nothing more than to sleep without a child draped over you right now, it's definitely a good sign that she's sleeping on you. A really good sign. Praying for you!!!

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  18. Sending love and praying prayers for you. Not to minimize the hardness of this huge transition for you and your family, or the exhaustion that most certainly would come with being wanted 24/7...but you're being wanted 24/7 by a little girl who didn't want you to hold her at all a few months ago! I think that is something to praise!

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  19. Jet-lag from Ethiopia to Seattle plus being a brand new parent kicked my butt right and left (and up and down). I only had a 2 year old and a 1 year old and a really-helpful-here-all-the-time-husband and I was a zombie for the better part of a month. We're on month 4 since Gotcha day and I may still be a zombie... Heaven help me.

    My prayers are with you as you transition as a family. What a blessing it is that Bethie wants you to hold her! Which I bet is probably hard to remember when she kicks your full bladder in the middle of the night :)

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  20. Hang in there! You are doing great! These first few weeks are the hardest then it becomes more like a roller coaster for while. Talk "stuff" through with your hubby and lean on friends that have been through it. ((hug)) I remember those days all to well. Adoption is beautiful and the hardest thing I have ever done.

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  21. Reminds me of parenting a special needs child. The one lesson I have learned is to accept any help that is offered and also 'this too shall pass'. Nowt wrong with being a zombie. Prayers x

    Sandy

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  22. I so remember those days when we first brought our daughter home. It is TOUGH!!! Praying for you. It does get better. You just have to soldier through it. Thanks for sharing the real!!

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  23. Your honesty on this journey makes it so much easier for us to pray (meaningfully) for you; for energy, patience and peace amidst the emotional chaos. Thank you for that honesty. And by the way, that pic is just brilliant!

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  24. I am that way too, you have my sympathy. Thank you for your honesty and what a beautiful little girl you're learning with. Hope Walker takes over the bio kids right away!

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  25. Thank you for being so transparent. I am praying for you, Bethie and all of the family!

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  26. Praying for you and Bethie! I read Smiles and Trials which is a blog written by Christine Reed. http://smilesandtrials.blogspot.com/ Christine and her husband John have 17 kids - 11 of them adopted. Why don't you check out her blog and if you feel led, email her. I know she would love to give you some advice as I am sure she has seen everything!

    Hang in there! You will be okay!

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  27. As an adoptive mom still in the trenches of transition, I wanted to assure you that all of those feelings are so normal and right! It is SO HARD to get through those first few weeks. You doubt every decision you made, you feel so UGLY at times. I was often surprised at how angry and resentful I felt. Sometimes you won't even feel love for your new child. All of this is pretty typical. I promise that it will get better after these dark days. You are in the midst of a storm, but you are not alone. This obedience to God thing is full of struggle, hardship, and doubt. It is completely worth it. Blessings and peace to you.

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  28. Hugs. And love.

    You rock. Even when you don't feel like it.

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  29. Hang in there. The biting, scratching, hitting...etc will stop. I can't promise you the tantrums will, 4 months home from the DR Congo and we're still having them BUT they are less frequent and less intense. Keep relying on the Holy Spirit, He will get you through each and every moment and that is how you have to take it, don't take it day by day but take it moment by moment. Celebrate the good moments and that will change your perspective greatly.

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  30. Thank you for your words. I am right there with you. We brought home our daughter from China almost 3 months ago now and have a biological daughter just 6 months older. I get so frustrating sometimes not knowing what to do or feeling totally inadequate, but I have to keep reminding myself of the best words I have heard:
    "She may not be a newborn, but she is a newborn into your family." It makes being up all night and certain tantrums way more understandable and less frustrating. But I have to keep reminding myself daily of those words.... God is so good in reminding us of these things.

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  31. We have four biological kids (11, 8, 6 and 6) and Monday will be one year with our adopted son (3). For the first several weeks -- even couple of months -- I worried about my biological kids not getting enough of me/us. Every time I worried, I was gently reminded that they are FINE. Don't let the enemy sneak in and fill your head with thoughts about how you're failing your biological kids while you tend to Bethie. She needs you way more than them -- RIGHT NOW. It will pass. We had a lot of conversations with our kids before we brought James home to prepare them that he will need us so very much -- that he would need to learn what a mommy and daddy is and that he can trust us. And we reminded them of this when we were spread so very thin after he came home. And, ya know what? They got it. They totally got it. Even our high-maintenance, more needy one. God is good and sovereign and He's got this. He'll tend to your other kids while you tend to Bethie. It's only for a short time.

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  32. Thank you for this! As someone who is in the pre-adoption/foster phase, believe it or not this post was an ENCOURAGEMENT to me, NOT a deterrent. The only thing holding me back at the moment is fear - fear that I won't know what I'm doing. But I'm beginning to realize that I definitely WON'T know what I'm doing. And that's ok! I don't have to be the best right now - I needed to hear this. Thank you Thank you. Praying for you and your family.

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  33. I am praying for you. As an adoptive mom to two and a foster mom to special needs kiddos, I understand this. I am praying that God will keep giving you all the grace you need for what He has called you to, knowing that He will, and also that He'll give you some special signs that make your heart full in the knowing of His love for you, and of His pride in your willingness to walk through the hard, for His glory.

    I'm praying that He'll give you wisdom in knowing when Bethie will learn your love through mercy, and when she will learn your love through discipline. When it is the right time to push her to function out of your sight, and when she needs to physically feel you. I remember the long road of teaching my nearly 2 year old to trust... and finding she learned it more thoroughly by my leaving her and coming back, than by my being in her sight constantly. But oh, the angry tantrums that were endured in the midst of the learning. It is not easy.

    You are surrounded. You are never alone. Take some opportunities to rejuvenate, and keep persevering. Praying.

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  34. Bless your heart! I so wish I had read a post like this before I brought our little one home from China - thank you for your honesty! The first few weeks are SO HARD! I was so embarrassed and terrified because I was convinced we had ruined our family. Surely I misunderstood what God wanted us to do as this clearly wasn't feeling like "it". We have 3 bio kiddos who were 9, 3.5 and 15 months when we brought an 11 month old home. I would describe our first two weeks home as dark. Something happened at the two week mark and we all turned a corner....there was still lots of shrill screaming though! Our first post placement report was a self report due at one month home. I remember telling my husband how thankful I was that 4 weeks had passed prior to me filling out that form. I could honestly see progress and knew that we would live to see another day! It is hard, but so worth it!

    One thing I wish I had done differently - I wish I had kept my little one strapped to my back all the time! She is almost 3 now and I still carry her on my back several times a week, often at her request. There is just something about the closeness and security that makes bonding so much easier, but you are still able to be up and around and using your hands. Get a good carrier, load up precious Bethie and rub those little baby toes while you move through your day. Prayers for you and blessings on this amazing journey!

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  35. THIS.IS.HARD. So dang hard.

    But He's got you. And sweet Bethie.

    Hugs!

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  36. Oh Missy, I understand every. Single. Word! Really. I have been there and I promise you are not alone. There will be days you will not get dressed. There will be days you want to run away. There will be days you will not know what to do. But they will get further and farther between and then be a distant memory! I promise. Until then, keep your eyes on God and know you are loved! By many!

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