Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hanging On

Not sure why, but as I sit here typing this while the rest of the house sleeps I feel so depleted and even a wee bit depressed. Seems I am doubting every single thing I am doing these days, struggling to keep my head above water and yet knowing all along it would feel this way.

We have our ups and downs, our triumphs and mini tragedies...nothing major and over all things are going quite well. Not really sure where this is coming from but I feel quite detached from the life I had before we left for Kazakhstan, and I can't quite seem to get the bulk of it back. I feel disconnected from friends, isolated in ways I can't explain and that are probably my own fault, and wondering when I will feel our family is truly close again. It's not for a lack of trying, and we are having some great moments...but something is amiss.

Part of it is that God feels pretty distant right now, and my prayers are feeble in the attempt to regain what seems lost.

I usually do OK with change, working through the discomfort until you get to rhe new normal, but this time nothing is working very well. I am not unhappy, just unsettled and missing what was as we jump into a very new and different looking life which is not exactly a smooth sailing ocean cruise right now, complete with lounge singers. It compares more to an overloaded skiff barely hanging on through a stormy night while the sharks are circling.

I am disappointed in my ability right now to get with it, to reach out, to find time. I see all my failures and few successes, even though practically speaking I know we have a lot of them.

Emotionally I am still recuperating, learning as I go along that this will take time. Our time in Kaz was brutal on many levels, and I have not wanted to give creedence to it to the degree I probably need to. Hitting the ground running with 2 new children who need to feel settled more than I do has not allowed me time to really work through anything in my own mind, but instead I have shoved it aside.

Progress? Yes, we have a lot actually...I hear "Mama...mama...LOOK" all day long, so even when I am taking my 30 minute break to log school work while the kids play outside I am up 10 times to watch the latest inventive trampoline move or see the new "prize" won on the computer game. Or I am asked politely for every drink and every snack taken. Or I am alternatively ignored because someone else has shut me off for the day, and that too can be very, very hard.

We have sick kiddos leaving school early again today as Josh continues to battle stomach issues and I pray it is nothing emotional going on. I had Kenny on my lap tonight in tears as he struggles with worrying about CSAPS (state testing for all Colorado kids) and cries out to me "But mommy, I may be OK in math but I don't know anything else and doing bad means the school could be shut down!", reminding me again how very much my son suffers as I try to give him more realistic expectations. Angela wants so badly to show me she is smart which I already know, and that created some friction today during a card game with the other kids..subtle and nothing others might pick up on but leaves me filled with tension as I try to find ways to work with very tough dynamics and lack of language.

Will any of them ever really be OK? Will homeschooling really work? Am I trying to help in one area and failing in another? Can I find places and ways for the kids to fit in with other kids?

I found myself near tears 3 or 4 times today, knowing I am letting my friends down by not being attentive to their needs...and will probably lose some in the process or our relationships have already been inalterably changed, knowing I am not living up to my own expectations where school is concerned for Matthew, knowing there is no possible way I can ever probably help some of my kids fully heal, for right here...tonight...all I can see is what is lacking instead of what has been gained. And most of it is me.

Kenny did say one thing that got me to the core tonight. He was curled up on my lap after wiping away tears and said "How come you know how to be this kind of Mom? I don't know other Mom's who are like you...who know what is going on inside me and know how to fix it. Do you think God knew when I was in Kyrgyzstan that you should be my Mom?". It was what I needed to hear and as I type this the tears spring unbidden, but partly because I know how wrong Kenny us, and how little I can really fix.

I guess what I am trying to say is tonight is a very lonely night for me, and I probably have many, many more to come.

I hate this. It's worth it, but I still hate it.

Keep chugging along, Little Engine That Could, and one day hopefully soon you'll look back and smile.

21 comments:

Joyce said...

I meant to write this a few posts ago but here it is. I really think I forget how hard this is on you - the emotional stuff particularly but also the holdups in paperwork or other stuff. A post like this brings home how you do really hurt at times, that you are human and are affected by what goes on. YOu seem to have a positive slant on life but I forget how much it affects you to the core.
Not sure how helpful that is, but mostly you seem to see humour in hard situations. This post brought home how hard it is, right to your core. I also think that when you share this reality, God sends people to encourage and pick you up. Im probably not doing a good job at picking you up, but you are often in my thoughts. All of you
Joyce

Kelly said...

Cindy,
You really are an awesome Mom. One thing I would encourage you to do is to allow some time each day just for you such as taking a walk, reading a book, having dinner with a girlfriend, etc. I am an extremely busy single Mom of 3 with a demanding full time career. I have found that by taking a little time for myself(say 30 minutes a day or so) that I am able to look at things with a fresh perspective. It gives me the strengh and stamina to meet my daily demands. I also think you are being way too hard on yourself! I don't think you need to lower your expectations for your family, but to accept that the timeline for all of that to come together may be out of your control. I remember how hard my 2 month stay in Kazakhstan was. It does take time to get settled back in. Hang in there!

Rachel said...

Cindy, as you know all mother's (those who are honest) deal with thinking we can't do it. You are in a position where it is incredibly heightened. You are doing things and taking on things most of us would never consider. And even if you want to throw out language barriers, emotional backgrounds and ages of children...you still have FIVE CHILDREN! That is an INCREDIBLE blessing, but will also leave you feeling worn and out of sorts.

I do believe you are an amazing mother. Kenny's comment shows just that. YOU may feel like you are falling, but your kids, well they see something else. Someone who cares. It took time to get there with each boy, and will take time with the girls.

But for now, I will lift you and your family in prayer. Words can be encouraging, but you need peace and strength...and we know that only comes from One place.

Anonymous said...

post adoption depression is a killer. You are running on so much adrenaline when you are preparing and in country, then you come home and run out of steam. And you have to hang onto God with both hands while you are in process because it is so nerve wracking and there are so many unknowns. When you get home, all of a sudden you know you've made it safely and it is so easy to forget that intense relationship you had with God while he was the only thing that you could turn to. It must be normal to go through this kind of reaction after so much trauma - what you went through during your adoption was trauma, and now you need to recover.

Pat and Alli said...

Please know that you and your family are in my prayers and thoughts. You have done an amazing job building a faithful and loving family. Its not possible to be all things to all people at all times. In following your Blog I can see that you give the best you have to offer. Be gentle with yourself.

And if all else fails, I'll send you my magic wand. LOL.

Keep On Trucking. (Does this give away my age?)

all my best,
Allison

Anonymous said...

Cindy -

Your friends will be there for you - your friends know you are going through an incredibly tough time right now and will wait patiently for when things are more settled.

Please treat yourself with the same patience, empathy and love that you give all of your children. You would never tell any of them that they are failing in any way, much less as sons and daughters, yet you so easily perceive yourself as a failure as a parent.... You deserve to treat yourself better, we all do.

Really powerful hugs from us - Vegas

Anonymous said...

God is still speaking...That is on your sidebar, and God is.

Try to take a few minutes each day for yourself, perhaps in prayer, a short walk by yourself, or a few minutes talking with your husband.

All of this will take time. You are in my prayers. Pat

Anonymous said...

In the normal course of things a mother with five children would be fatigued, would have doubts, would wonder if there would ever be time enough to give to God, to friends, to life without being surrounded 24/7 by a sea of children. You are not in a normal course. For five years you have tracked uncharted seas, for over two months you were marooned on an island far from friends, dependent on the natives there, two of which you brought home with you and now are integrating into your family.

We, your friends, are reorienting ourselves to your new circumstances. We are trying to figure out how to be the most help without adding to your challenges. We too need time to figure out, with you, how friendship is pursued with a whole new configuration.

Add to this the weather. Continuously grey skies and a world of mud do not make it easy to spring forth each day with ease and joy.

And most, if not all, of us experience times when prayers seem to bounce off low ceilings, when listening to the still-speaking God seems a luxury we are denied, when doubts assail us. And most of us never cope with the disparate needs of five children whose backgrounds are so extremely varied, and each one fraught with its own perils, pains, haunted memories.

Let us be the hands and voices of God in your life. If you can't seem to hear the voice you experience as God, please remember that not only is God still speaking, but that God speaks in many tongues and languages and through many people and places and experiences.

Love,
Lael

mimifrancoise said...

Cindy,
All of us, who read your blog, know what an awsome mom you are. Having said that, I think you are lacking in one area. It is to take care of your children's mom!!! You have gone through very tough times in the last few months. One thing you MUST do is to take a break every day. When the children go outside for 30 minutes "recess", You must have recess too. When your own battery is depleted, you have nothing left to give, so your own recess is to recharge your battery. If a close friend was feeling the same as you are right now, what would you advise her to do? To take a break is not selfish, to take a break is sanity!
YOu will not harm your children by taking your own break, they sound like super kids and they will understand that you need to recharge too.
I love to read your blog. I am amazed by your wisdom in dealing with your children...so use some of that wisdom on yourself.
I continue to hold your family in my prayers.
Fran

Anonymous said...

Hugs and prayers for you, Cindy. And a smile too. I hope the sun is out this morning on your side of the mountain, as it is here.

-SusanC

Anonymous said...

Cindy, I too agree with the others that you need to set aside some personal time for yourself each and every day :) Part of being in a family is learning to respect each person's need for some personal time. You need this time and you need to model this for them :)

One of my homeschooling friends has DEAR time each and every day for 30 minutes. Everyone in the house has to Drop Everything And Read from 4-4:30 pm. No exceptions. You can make this time be anytime that fits your schedule, but it could be an invaluable time for you to just lay on your bed and read, close your eyes, or whatever :)

Karla

Raynola said...

Cindy,

We all love you and want only what is best for you.

If you decide to wpost on your blog only once a week, we will understand, and we will get by. I realize that writing down your thoughts may be curative, we will certainly understand if you slow down on this portion of your life.

Please take care of yourself

Anonymous said...

You have some wonderful advice given here, Cindy. You know I am just a blog-friend, but you do have my contact info, if you still want to use it. I can identify with you, as I think all of us moms can, feeling that we are failures at the most important thing we do...mother. Satan's ploy, I'm sure. I don't want to discourage you, but I think moms forever will second guess themselves.

I have eight kids, though we only ever had six at home at one time...and none of those were our more challenging older adoptions. We just grew into it, as the kids came. We've been blessed with "easy" kids I believe, because God wanted us to add two more and knew I wouldn't do it if He'd allowed us to suffer with heavier issues. I knew myself too well, as did He! Made tons of mistakes, hollered too much (me), dealt with stresses and issues at school, put thousands of miles on a van, etc. Our four older girls are wonderful adults or college kids. They're successful, self-reliant, but most importantly, they're following the Lord. I seldom take credit for any of it, rather giving the real credit to God and to my wonderful husband. But those times I get really discouraged about my mothering (sometimes even because one or another of our four wonderful older daughters might remind me of one of my failures, as they deal with the fallout from being raised by a sinner), I force myself take some of the credit. Just a little, knowing ultimately it's only God's grace that they made the right choices they have. But in order to keep believing in myself and not allowing myself to go completely "under", I think back to the good things I did while our older girls were growing up..and the good things I'm still trying to do for the four still at home. Try it. Get out the photo albums on one of your "breaks". See all those neat things you've done with your kids? The trips, the crafts, the outings, the birthday cakes? Make a list of all the things you do for you kids that you know without a doubt are important for you to do as their mother...the most important being loving them for who they are. Your posts certainly make it apparent that you do that. Feel better yet?

Your friends here are so right, you are being way too hard on yourself. It's so easy to do, and add all the stresses you're dealing with....you need to give yourself way, way more grace.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

I did it again...need to divide my comment in two.

As others have said, your trip and time away from the norm, living in another, difficult culture, the emotional ups and downs you went through with the "near miss" of maybe not bringing the girls home...wow. Think about it. Story here, unrelated, but similarities. I lived in Austria for one quarter my jr year of college. When I came back to school, my friends had all had their own fun and experiences...without me. I was excited about all I had seen and done in Europe. Friends listened politely, maybe looked at a few photos, but then went on with their lives and shared experiences I had missed. I felt so lonely and ignored, though no one meant to be hurtful. I dug into my studies and got a 4.0 that semester, which wasn't a bad thing. We had all just lived our own experiences, and there was a "distance" that was hard to bridge. So, if even that small difference could make me feel lonely and disengaged from friends, imagine your situation! I know you must have amazing "real" friends, as expressed here. They will be there for you. You have grown in new ways, and it takes time for everyone to figure out how those friendships are going to work, considering your new busier, challenging schedule.

And as I've told you before, I know the pain of having a child try to exclude you or make you feel you're not a good mom. What do they know? I mean, truly? That's not meant to sound cold to your kids or mine, but they have no idea what it means to love someone as fiercely as a mom does. And in the end, we know...even when we have to remind ourselves...that we only have to answer to God. We're going to make mistakes. Our kids will be ok, because God loves them and will work in their lives long after we're gone...assuming the normal course of things.

Hope you get a nap today, or a favorite treat, or an unexpected hug!

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

Me again, Cindy. Just wanting to remind you not to look too far into the future. I relate to that. If there's one thing I thought I'd learned with our first four kids, it was that. Then came our last two English language learners, and I sometimes fall back into it. I think too far into their futures, as I see how hard school is for particularly our last daughter. And I look at the things I still want to instill in them socially, gaps I still feel are there in their learning, and I can panic. My dear husband is so good at talking me down from the ceiling. He reminds me when I get like that, that I'm only responsible for this day. Tomorrow...yikes! I'm going to be responsible for that, too...but I don't have to do it today.

So when you think about your kids and some of the challenges or struggles they have as far as academics, don't focus too far into the future. And maybe, like me, you might have to readjust your thinking. Our older four girls hardly needed homework help, were self-motiviated, all pretty driven. Our last four have involved much more homework help. Not many of our classmates are still watching their kids in middle school sports, helping with math facts, traveling in a van with young teens, etc. But what a blessing, most days. We can't think of anything else we would rather be doing than raising kids. OK, most days.

Thinking of your situation, I think you need to give yourself the freedom to do one year at a time. Maybe your girls will need homeschooling through high school. Maybe Matthew will. But that might seem pretty overwhelming to think about for now. On eyear at a time make the decision. Maybe down the road, the girls could benefit from public or private school. I know there are charter schools in CO, too. Friends of ours had their kids in one for awhile.

That's just to say, don't feel you're locked into something that right now feels so right, but also maybe very overwhelming. There may come a day that time away from each other would even benefit, as you continue to help with homework and issues together. It might one day seem that the best is to have the girls experience some of the heartaches that come with school friends and disappointments while they are still at home, while you can still have a great influence in helping them work through those things. Hope that makes sense. I respcet greatly your courage to homeschool the girls. Looking back, we put our English language learners in school maybe too soon. I should have had the courage you did. But we are in a small, midwestern school district and have great communication and support from the staff. They're making it up as they go along, maybe not the greatest approach, but together we're making good progress. Not as much as I'd love to see, but I remind myself of the statistics. It takes 5-7 yrs to truly learn a language. Remember that, when you get too overwhelmed or hard on yourself. As much as we'd like to speed this and the bonding process, we just have to do our best, pray, and ultimately know that knowing they are loved, an important part of our family, and coming to the saving knowledge of Christ is our ultimate goal for our kids. They will be what they will be, as smart as they work to become. I've got to remind myself of that...and.don't.look.too.far.into.the.future!

I embarrass myself with all my words, but I just pray they are encouraging. Also glad no one really knows who I am here!

Nancy in the Midwes, once again

Amy said...

I agree, this sounds like a wave of Post Adoption Depression Syndrome. I had it bad and I only had one child....sounds silly now in comparison to you really. What really helped me a lot was being able to get away for any amount of time. I use to wait till Karina was asleep and ask a neighbor to just come sit in the living room. I would go to Walmart or Borders books, anything that was open after 8 pm, and just walk around by myself and remember what it was like to be one person only responsible for myself. I would do this two sometimes three times a week. It was what saved me during the first three months. I think that you too should give yourself a chance to be in your "old family situation" as it was before the girls. You will probably feel torn about this but I think it is a good idea. Is there some way you could try and have one or two times a week, when you and the boys go and do some boy things and the girls get to go with Dominick and have special "Daddy time" or even visit a friend? I almost feel like when I would go out on those nights it was my slow way of healing the change that had come into my life....I needed a chance to say a proper goodbye to that life. When I would go out I would feel so very relieved and then after about five minutes I would start to miss her. I let that missing feeling build over the first three months and before you know it my PADs faded away. I do think that it is VITAL that you take care of yourself this way, it is not being selfish because as the core of the family if you are suffering it will certainly affect the rest of the family.

Anonymous said...

I think Amy is onto something. I can also remember feeling that we had changed our family forever (which of course we had) and sometimes feeling badly about that. Maybe some of it is feeling bad for the boys, that things have changed so much for them. They are being so good about sharing their life, but it's still a lot of strain on everyone to add new members, and especially older kids. I remember feeling quilty for how our choice to add to our family changed our relationships. They're not bad or worse, but just very different than they had been.

Great idea, Amy. Divide and conquer!

I also had the idea that you need a "spring break". Does the boys' school have one? If so, you should all take a break from school. In the grand scheme of things, in spite of how much the girls will one day need to know, what's a free week going to hurt? You truly took a dive right into schooling. While I admire that and understand why you wanted to get settled into some schedule, you didn't really allow much time for "decompression". Your choice was fine, but maybe now you can relax a bit? I know, easier to say than do.

Nancy back from the Midwest again

lisatony said...

Something that spoke to me at church last night, and I think it may pertain to the journey you are walking through -- As hard as it is for me, I'm to praise the Lord, worship Him, sing to him, in advance of the victory - before the victory even occurs, because the battle belongs to the Lord. And it's up to Him to take care of all the details. So I will yet praise Him.
Oh Cindy, I pray that you are able to lift your eyes up to the mountain, where your help comes from - the Lord. I pray that your countenance is lifted up, sister.
I can't imagine the rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings you are having as you settle into everything. Know that the Lord is taking the reigns, and you can praise Him in advance for the victory that is coming.
God bless you, Cindy.
-Lisa (waiting Kyrgyz PAP)

Tammy said...

Yeah, I felt that way too after my son came home. The feeling like I have no clue as to what I'm doing. I remember breaking down in a restaurant crying one time because I couldn't get Zachary to take an morning nap and he wasn't sticking to the schedule *I* had made for him. Totally unrealistic expectations I had for both of us. I longed to feel "normal" again. I felt like I was someone I didn't know. It wasn't exactly like I was going through the motions but I did many things because in my head I knew I was supposed to be doing them, not because I felt that unrelenting love that says, "I cant imagine not doing that for my child". That took awhile - probably a good 6 months or so. I also had a lot of anxiety. I probably had more anxiety than actual depression. I needed to be perfect.

Give yourself the slack you give everybody else and know that you are not alone in these feelings. You are a GREAT mom. If you weren't such a good mom, you wouldn't care about half the things you mentioned tonight. The truth is many of us read your blog because you are our inspiration. God brought you this far - He will not abandon you now!

Hilary Marquis said...

Don't listen to those self doubts. That's not from THE ONE that loves you! Cindy, you are in the middle of a battle of sorts, one that you are going to win. But, there will be highs and lows. Kenny's words are a testament to what you are capable of. God call the equipped, He equips the called! When I find my coffee pot, I'll call you and we can have a cup via phone :)

The Glens said...

I think Kenney was right.