Oh, um…hi there. Remember me? Barely? Yeah, me neither. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a zany few months. Lots of great stuff but also lots of challenges too. Dudes, I don’t know if anyone’s told you but this parenting shit is hard! So I haven’t been blogging because really, no one wants to just read a string of profanities. I’m kidding. Not really. Yes, I am. Sort of. Just saying.
The good news is, I’ve finally acknowledged that I can’t do it all, that I’m dropping balls, that I could be more “me” than I am right now, that I have gained 25 pounds and am having trouble remembering my phone number. Okay, I am still in denial about the 25 pounds thing but I intend to lose that this week so it won’t be relevant anyhow. I didn’t think I needed to take a parental leave when the kids came home because they’re in school and I would have my days free to work and write and take care of the house and the cats and–insert sound of needle scratching on a record here–I was wrong. If anyone wants my advice on adopting older kids, it would start with this: If you can take parental leave, DO IT. Do it right away and do it for as long as you can. You’re going to need it.
So, I’m happy to say that I am now officially taking a parental leave from my job. I am grateful to my super supportive employers and to my wife for making this possible. I’m hoping I will be better able to take care of my family and myself and maybe even get a little writing done. So, stay tuned. And if I don’t blog again for another three months, please send help. And, in the meantime, there’s this…
Yesterday we heard the words we knew would come one day, “You’re not my mom.” These words were yelled at us by the boy who had just been given a time out. Apparently his “real” mom would never expect him to pick up his toys off the living room floor. It’s true; we are mean and unfair people. Someone call Amnesty International. These are common words for adopted kids to use against their parents. We knew that. But it sure didn’t make them any easier to hear. In the moment, we ignored the painful sentence and continued on with the job of parenting but, last night at bedtime, I said, “Good-night, Buddy. I love you.”
“Good-night. I love you too,” he answered.
It seemed like an opportunity so I told him, “I know you do. So, hey, how about you don’t say ‘You’re not my mom’ to us anymore. Because that really hurt.” He apologized, saying he was just mad and we talked about how we sometimes say things when we’re mad that we don’t really mean.
Like all kids, adopted kids test to see where the boundaries are. But there is way more at stake with these kids. Oh, really? This is forever? Why should I believe you? My birth family wasn’t forever. My foster family wasn’t forever. Let’s see about forever. Is it forever if I do this? How about if I say this? You have no idea how horrible I can be and then we’ll see about this forever you keep talking about! And once they get going, the testing is pretty relentless. It’s hard to keep in mind the reasons behind some of the things they do or say in the moment but we’re doing our best. And then we remind them once they’ve (and we’ve) calmed down.
“Buddy, you can say what you want when you’re mad at me but I will always be your mom. No matter what you say, no matter what you do. We’re your moms forever. No matter what.”
“No matter what? What if you’d never met me? What if you never knew we were for adoption?”
“That wouldn’t have happened. We were meant to be a family, us four. It just took a while for us to find each other.”
“But what if you’d never found out about us?”
“Wasn’t an option. The universe would have found a way to bring us together, no matter what. We were always meant to be your moms. Forever. Okay?”
“Okay.” There was a pause, and then he tentatively asked, “Morgan?”
I braced myself for a hard question. “Yes, buddy?”
“Can I have some gum?”
And we’re back
“No. Good night, my son. I love you.”