Saturday, March 27, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Today dawned a crisp snowy morning, I am one with my shower and waiting for all the kids to arise and face the new day. After last night's drama, I am read for a new start.

I didn't sleep much last night, along with Dominick's bursitis flaring up and keeping him awake (doesn't THAT make us sound old?) I was of course replaying everything in my mind, doubting myself, wondering what thinking was going on in another room in the house.

I came to the conclusion that in some ways, perhaps last night needed to happen. In an orphanage, your behavior becomes survivalist. A kid who is not mean spirited can at times act in a less than understanding or compassionate way in order to appear tough on the outside and keep from being gobbled up by others. There also has never been a single adult person in Angela's life who has EVER been emotionally invested in her. That is a totally new experience. Maybe she needed to see that her words or actions have the power to wound adults, that finally there was an adult in her life who actually cares deeply about her that they could be moved to tears and not just turn their backs and walk away...and I think it shocked her. That may not be a bad thing, for she is having to reframe what adults mean in her life, what their role is. Dominick and I are not just disinterested bystanders wrangling her as every other adult in her life has been. We are fully invested in her mind, heart and soul.

It was not about physical rejection, last night was more about disrespect. There is an inner anger at women and when a safe man is around, that anger is more easily exposed. Daily her behavior changes somewhat when Dominick is home, and it hurts my feelings. Yea, I know, I am supposed to be dispassionate about it all, distanced...and often I can be. Last night, I just couldn't. It had stacked up and overflowed.

We flit in and out with the emotional and physical closeness, that is to be expected for months...if not years to come. But much of yesterday began to border on disrespect, it went downhill from the moment we left the swimming pool. I don't blog about every single action, ever nuance, every moment of our lives. I blog about the highlights, the pieces and parts that I manage to pull together to share...or want to share. Sometimes much passes by that doesn't get blogged about, simply because I don't have time to get to a keyboard or want to even talk about it because the moment has already passed and we have moved on.

Breaking through to someone's heart is the single hardest thing I have ever done. Sadly, we are not rookies in this area as it has been only about 3 years since Joshua was still in the active rejecting stage at times having come out of a truly horrific infancy and toddlerhood of anger and physical discomfort with touch. We made it then, I have not a single doubt we will make it now.

That doesn't mean it won't often stink, that I won't be in tears many times, that it won't hurt like hell...on both sides. No pain, no gain.

But this blog is a place to post as much of our journey as I feel like posting. I WANT you to see that I am not Supermom, that many times things don't go as planned, that I am not perfect. I know that over and over again many of you might be saying to yourselves because of my honesty that "I wouldn't have done that" or "She misread that". GOOD! Because through my failures you might be able to see that too could do this, and probably a lot better. Your heart might be opened to see that those who adopt older kids are not saints but are people just like you. We make mistakes, we succeed sometimes, and we get up and try again. The collective set of experiences usually means that our mistakes are overshadowed by our successes. But others can do this too, we are not special and many more kids should have a shot at a family and not be discounted because they are over 5 years old. Many, many of you who read this could do this, and a darn sight better than we can...I know that and applaud anyone who feels called to do it. Wish you were around so we could chat over a cold Diet Coke and I could learn from you!! Hahaha!

I hear feet walking back and forth down the hall, the chicks have arisen...time to get back in the saddle, today will be a good day!


Christina said...

Love and Prayers for you :)

Anonymous said...

You mean you are NOT supermom? We are simply aghast at the confession. Welcome to the human moms are fallible and flawed group! We'll pour you a large Diet Coke so we can sit and chat. Take care of yourself - hugs to each of you. Vegas

Tammy said...

Oh Cindy - don't feel like you need to defend yourself to us. You've been doing this parenting thing long enough that most of us realize you know what you are doing and that you usually interpret things correctly. Your boys would not be as healthy and well adjusted if you didn't!

Of COURSE it hurts when your child rejects you. Having the head knowledge as to why that happens doesn't take away the hurt. If it did, I would worry more about you. In order to have a real relationship with a child, you volunteer to make yourself that vulnerable. That's what parenting is. It seems that some people think it's ok to feel hurt when biological kids say or do hurtful things but when adopted kids do them we are just supposed to suck it up because we knew what we were getting into.

Keep on making yourself vulnerable for Angela to see. That's what will help her feel safe enough to continue to show her vulnerability. That's how you teach her how to be real. And you can cry on your blog anytime. That's what it - and we - are here

Anonymous said...

Maybe she does like Dominick better than you right now. It doesn't mean she will always feel that way. It's not right or wrong. It's great that she's attaching! You don't need to try to manipulate her emotions to feel sorry for you by crying. (We used to call that 'playing the martyr' in my family and it sure wasn't healthy, not saying you did it on purpose, but it's a slippery slope.) You don't want her to be on eggshells all the time because she's afraid you'll cry if she's not a good girl robot, or to feel like she has to bury her feelings. She needs your help to find better ways to deal with them, if she's feeling angry at you or distant from you or that your not letting her be close to her dad. Your role is more complex in her world, you are probably the main disciplinarian and Dominick is the fun one, due to schedules and the amount of time you spend together. Your relationship will have many complex levels like vines with many branches and that's good! It also will probably take longer for all of those branches to flower but when they do it will be beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I feel like a couple recent comments to your blog were harsh but hopefully not meant to be that way. You have every right to feel what you are feeling and I know it is painful to write about those episodes when your heart is feeling stepped on. I for one am proud of you and appreciative that you are honest with your readers that things are always hunky-dory there. I know in my heart that you and Angela will one day look back on those episodes and think "wow, hard times but look where we are now!". As a mom of boys and girls, I can tell you that girls that age are complex creatures - and that is without childhood trauma of horrible bio parents/orphanage/etc. You are doing great and you should not be so hard on yourself! Lots of love and prayers to a great mom and family, Lynn

Anonymous said...

Meant to say "not hunky-dory"!

Crafty Cat said...


You are doing as great of job as any mere human being can! Rest in God's comfort and love when you can for you need to take care of yourself.

Its ok to feel hurt and show your vulnerable side! I learned this with my son when I refused to crack or break he believed me to be subhuman and kept dishing it out. Kids need to know we feel pain and hurt the same as they do.

Anonymous said...

Flaring! Dominick's bursitis, Angela's emotions, your tears--if we had control of all the things that flare in our lives, we wouldn't need each other and God.

You're not SUPERMOM. You do a darn good imitation of one. None of us is ever supermom. Some of us never are. Some of us have our moments, even days or months, but invitably we falter. You are doing a remarkable job. Giving 24/7 is exhausting. Inevitably there are moments of exhiliration but many more of a wide variety of emotional impacts. Tears are given to us to wash away some of the pain, to clean our minds so that we can face again what goes on and on, to see anew--sometimes through tear spotted lenses.

And I agree with you "Maybe she needed to see that her words or actions have the power to wound adults, that finally there was an adult in her life who actually cares deeply about her that they could be moved to tears and not just turn their backs and walk away..." You may not have meant for her to see your hurt, but it may be a large step in recognizing the caring and love you have for her, for all of them.

Keep up the good work, Mom, even when you can't see it (too many tears in the eyes).

Love you,

Anonymous said...

Sad to say, I could have written your blog for you the other night, Cindy! You know I always hate to discourage you with the fact that after 2 1/2 yrs we are still dealing with similar things here... but the fact is that we are. Things are much, much better than they used to be, but I still get the glares, I still get avoided in tonight my daughter walked completely around through another room to get to the front door, when it would have been much shorter to come through the kitchen where I was standing. Earlier in the day, when she learned that travel arrangements had changed, that she needed to leave church with me, rather than her adult sister (whom we were visiting and she had been tooling around "freely" with most of the weekend), she balked, grumped, gave me the cold shoulder.

Long story short, I was mad! I gave her the "whole story". Then tonight, the trip around the kitchen to avoid me. Another long lecture from me. We are further along in language or course, than you, so I can say alot more that she understands than you can yet. I've also been treated like this many more times than you, because she's been home much longer.

I've learned to deal fairly calmly and matter of factly with the ill-treatment. But this day, not so much. I know, I know. Some of this is very typical behavior of all girls this age. And some makes perfect sense, coming from an older adopted child. But in our case, it seemed time to challenge her to end this. Will it stop? I'm going to be realistic about that. Will I ever be as "popular" as Dad is to her? I doubt it. He doesn't see what I see or get what I get. But that too makes sense. Hard, but in the end, I'm also very thankful she has such a loving dad in her life.

I reminded her of how much I (we all) love her, always will. Asked her how she would feel if I walked around being nice to the other kids, Dad...but not her. She said she wouldn't like it. I asked her to name one person she loves??? Told her I knew there must be someone. But truth is, I think she's spent the better part of these years with us loving mostly herself. Now most kids do, I know. Selfishness/preadloscent. But God gave me what I thought was some insight as we talked. I pointed out that she's probably felt she needed to love herself more than she loves anyone else, worried no one wouldn't love her as much as she needed to be loved. Assured her we will love her enough, as much as she needs to be loved. That she doesn't need to ever wonder if she's loved, doesn't need to feel she has to do all that loving of herself now. She can relax...the rest of us will take care of loving her.

When she hesitated too long to name one person she loves, it really struck me that she is still learning what loving another person really means. In spite of the very good home she had for the first eleven years of her life in the orphanage, she did not have the intimacy of a family to model that love for her.

So...I guess we're it! Give us grace and mercy to model it correctly, Lord. And sometimes that will mean letting them see how their actions/slights/rudeness make us feel. If I know nothing else, it's that this process takes tons and tons of language, teaching, clarifying, and drawing attention to all that is going on in their own hearts. And for the record, she apologized to me after each incident. Two heartfelt, sincere apologies. We all makes mistakes, and she is learning still what love and committment and forgiveness truly means. Tomorrow is another day. And in between our struggles, she also comes to me in excitement to tell me about her day, ask for help, share her thoughts. I just pray we can fill her up with enough love that she will eventually trust her heart to love others that much, too.

Hang in there, Cindy. Prayers for courage and strength to remember what you know is really true about all of this. Not easy at times, I know.

Nancy in the Midwest

Carol said...

Thank you for sharing all of this. I've said this before, but one of the things that makes your blog so interesting and valuable is your honesty and the fact that you allow the rest of us to see the REAL emotions and actions. You are doing extremely well in a challenging situation, with many ups and downs.

BTW... I love the way you and Dominick work as a team... your support for each other is very apparent. You DO have the much tougher job than Dominick, though... that's for sure. Hang in there!

Joyce said...

Cindy that 4th comment down - I really take offense at but I hope it wasnt hurtful to you. I dont believe for a moment you are manipulating Angela with tears, or how ever it was stated. We are not robots, we are all people and yes Angela has feelings and hurts, but guess what, so does Momma. You are human and you hurt and I believe its so important for her to learn that. It has less to do with your feelings, in my opinion, than a lesson for Angela to learn, that her actions can hurt. How will she know, unless she is told or she sees evidence. I dont mean to be harsh on Angela - far from it - but sorry that comment made me a little ticked.

Anonymous said...

Beg to differ. In my eyes, you are Super Mom. That doesn't mean it's easy for you, or that you do every last thing "right." But I don't believe that mom exists, anywhere. The honesty, integrity, intelligence and love you bring to parenting is nothing short of inspiring. Should all the moms in the world be half as good as you, what a wonderful world it would be!