There have been a whole slew of virtual writings on adoption, mental illness, attachment, and disability recently. I have yet to read one that ends positively. So far, they have all been some version of “if I had known then what I know now…” Or, “I only regret not disrupting sooner.” They compare the emotional turmoil of a 5 year old to domestic violence. They blame social workers, counselors, or the system for what they see as the failures of their family.
I think it’s important to share that there are other stories.
My Little Man and Diva are not exactly “easy” in the eyes of the world. They are complicated. As I said yesterday, we have therapy every afternoon, Monday through Friday, and usually twice each day — not counting medical appointments. In our short 18 months together, we have had hospitalizations, surgeries, emergency room visits, stitches, holes in the walls, parental concussions & nearly broken noses. We have had arguments about how to respond to a situation. We have felt exhausted and run down. We have had friends leave us because we cannot make their parties, or because asking about a six year old with mental illness is just something most people would rather ignore. We have had family who couldn’t get it, who thought we should have done something else, who have taken a while to come around. We have many people who may never come around.
I have never thought that I would go back in time and change it. I wish that we had been given more accurate information. I wish that we had been better prepared to help Little Man with all of his hurts in those first few months, before I found an amazing community that directed me to all of my favorites (Hughes, Forbes, Perry, Theraplay!). I wish that Diva’s medical history came to me upon placement, not eight months later, so that we could have gotten her the care she needed immediately.
It’s true that our life is friggin’ hard. And, you know, it’s as often hard because of ME! It’s hard because I was impatient at the store, because I didn’t make sure I got enough sleep, because I need the chairs in the kitchen to match in just the right way. Little Man isn’t wandering around, sighing, “how did I get stuck with this mama? What in the world? Why is she like this?” It makes me giggle to think about it. Imagine what he would tell the world about me if he could! My Ima has smelly gas! My Ima dances like a fool! My Ima won’t stop singing songs in the grocery store! My Ima forgot to make my schedule and made me so mad! My Ima slammed the door! One time, my Ima told me to shut up! It doesn’t seem fair that I get to write about all the hard things without acknowledging that sometimes I AM THE HARD THING.
I try so much to be honest — it helps no one to believe that everything is Pinterest-lovely around here. It doesn’t help families to stop feeling alone, and it doesn’t help change the reality that we DO need better services, better providers, better information. I don’t see this as an either/or, though — a hard life, or a blessed life. It’s both.
And I’m so blessed. I am blessed even when the table is falling apart. I am blessed even when we are sitting down in the middle of a parking lot, holding & rocking our Little Man to help ease his confusion & pain. I am blessed even when Diva wakes me up for the fourth night in a row because her legs hurt so much. I’m blessed because it’s not about me. Parenting was never about me. I’m blessed because I am their mama, and I get to intimately see my children’s true selves. I see their pain and their joy. I see their fear and their hopes. It’s beautiful and breath-taking and inspiring.
One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, says, “We can do hard things.” Together, we are learning this every day. We do the hard things, but we do them together. Little Man inspires me each time he chooses to do hard things, whether it’s getting the remote from the mantle when “my legs are tired!” or working his butt off in therapy every day. I do hard things because of my love for him and Diva. Husband has matured into this rock-star dad that should win an award of doing hard things, because his heart is cracked so wide open with love for these two. This is the ultimate blessing — a meaning-filled life, a life of love, a life of connection. And it’s never not worth it.