Saturday, October 03, 2009

An Overloaded Mommy's Prayer

We all have our late night worries, we all harbor fears we dare not share openly with others for fear of being judged. Adoption brings with it a unique set of concerns that due to the nature of our experience and the often negative opinions of others causes us to be even more close-mouthed about it, letting those thought-goblins gain strength and momentum. Heaven forbid that any of the concerns raised by others becomes a reality and you are faced with hearing "I told you so!". Worse yet is when you find yourself in the midst of emotionally charged parenting situations that biological families don't face, and you have others questioning your motives and methods, causing you to begin to question yourself. I was told once by a therapist that it is this very reason that parents of Reactive Attachment Disordered often don't seek help earlier, for they are afraid of appearing to be incompetent, unloving, or of admitting to others that the "fairy tale" is not turning out to have such a happy ending after all. We hide, we suffer in silence, we force ourselves into self-imposed solitary confinement for fear of having others see our vulnerabilities and then using them to beat us over the heads with.

I decided to post this because I know I am not unique in my fears, I am not special in my courage either. As the time draws nearer for us to hopefully travel, the fears that were latent begin to emerge and gain traction. I am equal parts delighted and terrified, but we tend to talk more about the delight than the terror, don't we? It makes for happier blogging!! Hahaha!

But the truth lies within the ability to reveal the painful stuff. You can go anywhere else and read the "Pollyanna Version", and yes, I know that at times our blog probably sounds very much like that. That's because in many ways, our life is all I could have ever hoped for, it IS a dream come true despite the struggles and heartache that have sometimes accompanied it. If those of you who have never met us in real life could speak with those who DO know us in real life, I think you'd probably find that those who know us would say there is little embellishment here, that the things I describe do happen, that the personalities of each of us as reflected here on the blog are pretty accurate. And those of you who have followed us for extended periods of time also know that I don't shy away from the challenges we encounter either.

I wanted to try and work some things out, thinking maybe that writing it down would allow me to walk away from them and allow my body to stop and rest. I didn't initially intend to share it with all of you, it was more an exercise for my eyes only. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that my sharing might touch a waiting mommy heart out there, that my voicing my own fears and worries might allow someone else to not feel alone or odd in what they are feeling. If you find something to identify with here, and would like to share your thoughts, feel free to comment. If you want to comment but don't want to reveal who you are, comment anonymously. And maybe this will touch no one and it is only for myself, and that is OK too since this is our blog and that is what it was intended for in the first place! Haha!

So here is what I am carrying around in my soul right now, whether you want to know it or not:

Oh God, you know my heart tonight is full and yet it is so weary. I seem to bounce back and forth between confidence and terror on an hourly basis. So much is changing, so much is happening, and there is so much I am responsible for. Sleep does not come easily this past couple of weeks, for my mind can not seem to simply can not stop racing from one concern to another. Plans are formulated and re-formulated, worries come back to haunt me, and right now I can not hear You well....You are drowned out by the cacophony inside my own brain.

One of my biggest concerns is for the education of our children. You have started us down a new and intriguing path at a time when I least expected it and was utterly unprepared for it. You have given us the gift of special children with special needs, kids who for many reasons do not fit in the neatly packaged box that public education provides. You have laid this so heavily on my heart and it is almost too vast for my mind to take in. How can I do this??? How can I not??? Am I capable? Are you wanting me to educate all our children? And if in the world will I do it when I am not even well educated myself? And not just "do it", for that would be completely unacceptable to me. How can I do it for one or for all of them and feed their intellectual curiosity, break free of the bonds of past experiences with education, make sure all the core subjects are covered while still allowing them to each explore all that interests them...and then teach English at the same time?? What are You telling me here? It is a jumbled mess in my head with no clear thought, only gut feelings. I can't shake thinking about it, exploring possibilities myself, working and reworking ideas in my head. I can not imagine doing it....and yet I can, if that makes any sense at all. Please fill my heart with that "knowing" that You always seem to bring to me. And if it is what you are requiring of me, then help me carry the load without being crushed by it, for my mind can not even be wrapped around this one at the moment.

Give me wisdom God as I parent all our sons, but right now Kenny is of greatest concern. Old orphanage behaviors are hard to break, and yet being a mature adult who can see the bigger picture it is easier to see just how detrimental it will be if he does not let go of them. His need to control every situation which, even though expressed in a gentle way, is something that ultimately speaks to his inability to trust the adults in his life to adequately take care of him, and I want him to be able to rest in that trust of us some day. When he anticipates that he might be in trouble, his first thought is to lie his way out of the situation, no matter how ridiculous his lie may be. Just tonight he shared how automatic it is, even though he may know looking into my eyes that I already know the truth...he said he can't seem to help himself. It is self-preservation, and yet he doesn't understand the damage it does. I tried so hard tonight to touch his heart on this issue, and I think I may have cracked it a bit when I saw tears in his eyes as I explained how he is such a kind boy and would never hurt someone by punching them or saying mean things to them, but he hurts me just as badly or even worse by lying to my face. I know you helped me touch him with my words tonight, but will it be enough? He is SUCH an amazing kid, and he has so much going for him. Please give us wisdom and strength to parent him in the ways he needs to be parented so that he can reach his fullest potential. Help me continue to advocate for him as we face misunderstandings and brick walls with his education, help me NOT bow down to the forceful all-knowing educators when my gut instinct is telling me something that is contrary to their experience, for You and I both know that not a single one of them has any experience with kids like Kenny and their comparisons to other children are invalid and unfair.

In other areas I feel like I am just plodding along. My head is thick, nothing is sharply in focus at the moment. I am forgetful of things I shouldn't the point of irresponsibility. I am less attentive to those in my life who I care deeply about. I feel like a tortoise right now, pulling into its shell and hiding from the realities of the world as I try to sort it all out. Everything is a jumbled mess and I can't plan well, can't see the forest for the trees. You have always given me what I needed, which weirdly is a multi-tasked life which keeps me vitally involved and engaged. Some see me as stretched too thin, and perhaps at many times I am...but you know my secret dread...a life which does not challenge me, which leads me to feel dead inside. For some reason You created in me a craving to learn, to know, to act and to grow. My mom and I laugh at how different we are from one another, she leading a life of contentment drawn from years working on an assembly line, oh-so-happy in a job that was predictable and stable. That same job would cause me to die a little inside each day. It is not that I want to be busy for the sake of being busy, it is to stem the tide of mental staleness, and yet often it does lead to being busier than I'd like. Help me, Oh God, please, to snap out of this stage I am in, help me gain clarity and momentum again as I need it now more than ever in my life. The time for hibernating has come to an end, the time to be sharper and more intuitive than ever has arrived. Others are counting on me, they will need me desperately to interpret their new world for them, to anticipate the questions they can not yet ask and formulate answers in the ways they can understand them. I can't do this alone, You have created me uniquely for this task but in creating me for this I need You to walk beside me or I will give can be too exhausting and too difficult.

And God, oh how scary this is at moments. I fear stupid things, I fear things that shouldn't enter my head for it is the world speaking and not You that creates these doubts. But when we are assailed on a daily basis by naysayers and those who comment from the sidelines, judging our day to day activities, it can be almost impossible to keep your mind from drifting to other fears. I do worry about finances, of course I worry about that. You have asked us to take on more than I ever imagined in a million years, and as I lie in bed at night there are moments it is a creeping fear that is hard to shake. I don't care so much about providing the "wants", but about making sure the "needs" are met. Then I feel ever so ashamed at doubting Your provision. Stepping out on faith in ways that are more concrete than merely giving lip service to the concept is unnerving at moments, and down right terrifying at others.

I secretly worry about parenting girls, that I am not womanly enough to understand them or be what they need me to be. I worry that they will find me unattractive as a mom, for I am not pretty nor glamorous...I am not the Fairy Princess Mommy of their dreams which after all these years is really and truly what they deserve. I will love them fully and completely, but will that be enough? This is not an infant we are bringing home, where acceptance is natural and comparisons will not take place. Will they ultimately be disappointed in the mother they are getting? Will they wish I was prettier, thinner or dressed nicer? I see pictures of me with my beautiful family, and I don't fit and I wish I was...well...prettier. And even writing that brings tears to my eyes, it is such a hard thing to admit. But maybe my heart will win out with them, maybe they will be able to see beyond the exterior to the interior.

I worry that they have been so tainted by past relationships that they might never be able to fully accept and embrace us as their family. Oh how I worry about that! And wouldn't you know it God, that is the one thing that is often thrust in my face by acquaintances familiar with our struggles with Josh. Can I go through that again? The pain caused by the rejection of a beloved child is something that just has no equal to compare it to. It was the single hardest thing I have ever endured and I am eternally grateful that You helped me hang in there and that we have the Joshua we have today. I guess You and I both know the answer to this one, of course I will go through it again if necessary, because You have made it clear that these are our children and we will not turn away. But what if the dire predictions of others prove correct? What if we are indeed ruining our lives by bringing them home? What if the horror stories of other families become our own horror story? We certainly are not overlooking the potential, and it is so hard to look someone in the eye, and be strong when they bring this possibility up and say to them "If this is what God wants for us, then we will walk through it willingly."...but You and I both know that it would just about do me in if we do have to face Reactive Attachment Disorder again, and in the extremes that exist in older children. Give me strength, Dear One, please, for I need it not only to face it if it happens but to handle others inquiries and predictions with grace.

Work through me, God, as their mom, to help them become whole. For right now, You and I both know they are not whole...they have huge gaping wounds that are internal and have been inflicted upon them by those who were supposed to love and protect them. The sanctity of the parent-child relationship was violated horribly, and I can not repair that without You walking with me every step of the way, whispering in my ear as I try to discern what damage was done and work to help them heal. Give me those moments where the words that come from my mouth are definitely not mine but are Yours, provide me with that nudge when I need it to "get it" and perceive what is not able to be verbalized. How I need You for this!!! Without You, I absolutely will fail, and this is something I simply can not fail at, the cost is too high.

Help me to remain vigilant to the needs of everyone in my family, to not let things become out of balance due to the newness of the addition of others. Help me bring out the best in our sons, help me be the wife Dominick needs me to be even when we both are overwhelmed and tired...let me never, ever forget that the life we lead which is rich in so many ways other than monetarily is due to the hard work he puts in every single day to take care of his family. Although it naturally occurs sometimes in every marriage, help me not take him for granted. Be with us as we raise our sons to be gentle, sensitive, and aware of Your presence. Help us not fall prey to societal expectations and let us allow them to be whoever they need to be without forcing them to become "jocks" or "tough guys" if that is not who they naturally are. Don't let us feel even the tiniest prick of concern as they grow to manhood should they not measure up to what others think a man should be, help us to see what YOU think a man should be and steer them in that direction, for today's world is a mess in terms of how it views the roles of women and men and it can be so confusing.

You have blessed us with the most exquisite and extraordinary friendships, well beyond anything we deserve to have in our lives. You have provided support both via the virtual world and in "real life", and You have filled needs that we hadn't even realized existed. How do You do that?? I know...You are God, but I have to tell You it is the most incredible thing when I stop and think for a moment about all You have covered for us. Let me be the kind of friend who is deserving of the friends you have provided. Let me be there to share and to care, help me to understand when it is sometimes hard, give me patience and gentleness and let me provide a place where they too can rest and share their burdens. We may not be able to offer much materially, but let us give of ourselves as much as we can to show our great appreciation for all the love we have received.

Use me God, please oh please use me. Use me to reach out to others, to be there at that moment when they feel alone to remind them that they are not alone. Help me walk this earth with an open heart for the cares of others, not just my friends and loved ones. Find ways to put me in situations where You can speak through me, where You can use my body to reach out and put an arm around someone when they most need it. Create in me a comforting spirit and then put it to good use on a daily basis.

The last one God is the very hardest for me. Why, oh why did You call me to ministry? I feel it in the very marrow of my bones, I can't shake it if I tried, instead of growing more soothing as I have taken the steps You led me to it is growing ever more urgent and pressing. It is so strong sometimes that I want nothing more than to run to You, even though I still don't understand what all of this is about or where it is leading. I just know that You continue calling me, and it is only with You that I find any true peace at all anymore...for You reside in every space of my life, there is nothing that You do not touch anymore. It used to be compartmentalized, and at moments, frankly, that was easier. But I just can't go back to living life that way anymore, and so much of this inner life is unsharable and inexpressible to others, so much so that it aches sometimes and is a very, very lonely place to be at the moment. You speak to me, You encircle me, You are preparing me for something but I can't for the life of me figure it out, nor can I see how it will fit in with the other parts of my life which You have created for me and which are the very core of who I am as well. You have strategically placed people in my life who are feeding me in this area, and I thank You for that so much. You have given me nudgers and mentors and encouragers and believers in me, even when I don't believe in myself or understand any of this. You have given me Love in the ways in which I needed it at just the time when I needed it. Your guiding in this is clear in some ways and murky in the ways I wish it were 20/20. Thank You for the teachers You have sent me, the ones who teach me more about You and how we all relate to You, as well as the teachers working on me in other areas of this thing You created called life. I am growing more scared of all of this, of the brute force with which this has entered my life at the most unexpected time.

God, I lay myself prostrate at your feet, I give all of myself to you. I am so weak these days, I can only make it if You are walking around inside of me. Use me in whatever way You want, I will follow where You lead me, I will surrender in every area of my life because the fight is too hard and the road too long, and the need to great. I don't know what You are doing here with me, I don't have a clue why You have seen fit to bless me so very, very much. I don't understand why You have laid so much on my heart and at moments I wish I was walking around in this world a bit less sponge-like, then I quickly realize that wouldn't work for me either...for THIS is really living. You have taken me to the most incredible places emotionally, such vast gaps between the highs and the lows which have given me an ever greater appreciation for the human heart and life itself.

Please, please God...don't ever leave me. Be with my family, give me wisdom and grace, courage and just the right amount of hard-headedness that I don't give up when the going gets rough. Give me a love softened heart to share with others. I won't ask You to take away the fears I carry around right now, for they teach me as well. I would just ask that You help me see You in it all, for then I can hang on knowing all is from You and I will be OK.

I've spewed enough for one night, and I am so glad I have You to listen.



Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

Parenting girls is not different to parenting boys, they see the person, the whole person just like the boys.
Anyway even if you are not BARBIE, that's not what they need.
A nice, confortable chubby lap is much better than a barbie who's not in touch with herself and is unable to truly love.
They need hugs and pacience and nurture, all those things you have more than enough.
Also having parents who are not perfect will help them come to terms with their own imperfections.
They need a real mom who can help them to improve their self asteem, who can tell right from wrong and support them becoming happy women.
Let go of those insecurities, a pretty mom is not necessarily a good muom.
I have 3 girls, I'm not pretty, nor thin, I'm there for them. I have people crawling into our bed everynight, haven't had a full night sleep on the last 7 years, but they are first and they know it.
I wear a ponytail and take care of them and our house and our lives, when I can, I'll go on a diet, start using makeup (maybe not) and will take better care of myself, at this point, I can't. Don't have the time, if I did I couldn't be here for them the way I am.
They need me, the real mum.
And all of them are very girly girls even though I'm not.

Best wishes,

Kara said...

Oh Cindy,
My family didn't make it to church yesterday and somehow I feel as if I have gotten the most God-touched message from just reading your blog entry! What a beautiful, beautiful prayer. You are a wonderful mother and that's what all of your kids will remember and hold fast to as they grow up. They will realize (though maybe not in their teen years!:) ) what they have in you and how much of a blessing He has given them through you and Dominick. Parenting is just plain challenging--and you are giving your all to it. You are only human so of course it will exhaust you, and at times leave you feeling inept. Boy, are you ever not alone in feeling everything you typed! The difference is that you are braver than most of us and willing to throw it out there for the world to see. Hang in there--I have no doubt He will hear you and bring you some much-needed peace and fortitude. --Kara

Anonymous said...

Cindy, I will tell you what... when you are going to bed, we are getting up, when we are going to bed, you are getting up... That means that since I know you are praying for My big family and you know that We are praying for your Big family...Try relaxing and knowing that while you are sleeping, we will lift up the burdon before him... kind of like a
marathon... Run your race to the best of your ability, then have a good sleep knowing that we are running for you....

By the way, your comment was very uplifting ... thankyou ....I think I am ok now... just allowed myself to get a little happens...

Blessings John

Anonymous said...


YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! I could not help but cry as I read this heartfelt prayer - not because I felt sorry for you, but because I "saw" in the words that you wrote, a beauty that I had always wanted in my own mother. Sure, every woman worries about her appearance - unfortunately, that's just how we're programmed to think - but I agree with the previous comment made by Teresa. Growing up, I had a mother who was the complete opposite of you - beauty was everything, appearances and how people perceived us was all that mattered, she was never there for me. How I longed for a mother who made ME a priority in her life. My mother was so wrapped up in her own life and expending so much energy on keeping up appearances, that I resented her for a very long time. You are such an inspiration! When I read your blog, I'm like a sponge - absorbing all kinds mental notes that I didn't get as a child learning from her mother's example. Throughout my childhood, I would have much rather had a Mom who was emotionally and physically there for me. The real beauty that you can teach your girls is how to have a beautiful heart, how to be a warm, genuine, kind, and gracious woman. Your words alone exude that. They are so freakin lucky to have a mom like you! Some of us would have given anything to have a mom half as devoted, compassionate, accepting, progressive, intelligent, insightful, and BEAUTIFUL as you! Keeping up appearances is a LOT of work and a lot of money! With all the wonderful things that you do to occupy your time, thoughts, energy on, you have no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed. I've been struggling with a similar situation as we began really pushing to save even more money to pay for our treatments & adoption. I've had to do without the "fluff" to keep up appearances. No more stylish haircuts, no more amazing beauty products, no more high-end make-up to make, no more facials, chemical peels & microderm procedures, no more teeth whitening treatments, no more regular manicures & pedicures, no more personal trainer for me. None of that stuff anymore. Why? Because I want to sacrifice that for something greater - my future children! It's not easy to look the way we believe we should look. But, I tell you what, kids are very perceptive these days (even I was back in the day), they will SEE the real beauty in you, because even though we don't always see it in ourselves, that real beauty shines through and *IS* visible even when we don't see it! When I see your pictures, I really do see a beautiful and blessed woman. I promise they will see it, too, Cindy! They will be sooooo thankful for you and being a part of your amazing family!

Big Hugs,

Kelly B-A ;)

Anonymous said...

Children, boys AND girls, need warmth, love, affection, trust, limits, and more affection and more love. I hate shopping for clothes, and even more for shoes. My daughter loves it! So, sometimes we do it together, even though it isn't "my thing" and sometimes she does it with a close woman friend of the family who does love shopping. Appreciating each other for all of our differences is part of our love. I am not trying to make her over in "my image," and she is learning to accept that mommy is a T-shirt and pants kind of gal, with about 2 seconds attention to hair in the morning.

My mom was a "girly girl" and it did nothing to strengthen our love and our relationship. Love is about loving the person for who God made them to be, not having some sort of "perfect parent."

I really agree with Teresa and Kelly's posts.

Peggy in Virginia

Ohiomom2121 said...

Dear Cindy,
The others have beautifully covered many of your poignant, angst-filled topics, so I will only focus on one. But, I will say that there are seasons to life, and once you have made certain commitments (home school, adoption), they leave little room for other commitments, and that is how it should be. Our pastor once said to "finish strong" in life. You may need to let off your ministry outlet button only occasionally as you focus on the existing commitments. Then, when those are past or under control, the building momentum for ministry will be able to bloom. The bible teaches much about staying free of our overloaded, material world. God would never want your yearning for ministry to be another cross to bear. So, it should have an outlet only when it is easy and joyful time wise (I know it is never easy courage-wise!). I read a book once about how to tell when things from the spirit were really leadings from God, and although I can't remember the title, I do know that the idea was that even perfect Christians sometimes had to check their "God-meter" and question some leadings. Of all the things on your to-do list, this might be the one area where some patience is in order despite your internal eagerness. Similarly, I have to curb my reading time, or novels will usurp my parenting and wife time. Another prominent woman Christian talked about "good, better, and best," saying that when deciding what to do with one's time or to make a decision, it is important to differentiate. Your parenting of the boys and the girls must be your "best" task for quite awhile to come, because that commitment has been made. The stress you are feeling may be God's indication that He wants to use you, but maybe this is a time for baby steps in that direction while you take huge strides in the other directions.
Like all advice, this is meant only to give you something to think about, not to criticize what choice you eventually make or the prayer you uttered. In the end, how you proceed will obviously be between you and Him, and I was just trying to suggest that He might go along with some easing of the gas pedal! God bless, Sherry

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say "Thank you" to Sherry for her well thought out comment. As a mom who struggles to balance family needs with listening to "God's call" in a completely different area of my life, it is helpful to be reminded that He is the one who gave us our family, and He understands our struggles and desire to serve Him. As Paul says in Corinthians, if we have gifts, and use them without love, we have not succeeded. And love begins in the family.

Peggy in Virginia

Maureen said...


Thank you for sharing your struggles, hurt, and worries. Don't feel alone. Although we all go through different struggles, we also all feel some of what you have felt at one time or another. Your head and heart are in the right place as you look to God for help. I think I've said this before too, but from what I can tell your family is very lucky to have you. It may be a struggle, but I hope and pray that your girls will realize all the love that your family has to offer them. You are going into the adopt of the girls with your eyes wide open and you are scared, but you know that God will help you. It's just hard (for all of us) to let go and let Him be in control.


P.S. -- My church is emailing devotions right now and today's seems appropriate for at least part of what you wrote. I'll forward it to you.