Oh, y’all thought I was going to talk about Hope’s resiliency? No this post is about my own elasticity.
Honestly, nothing is wrong at home, really. Hope and I are doing fine, being normal (whatever that is), but there’s just messiness all around that has me feeling stretched and tired and cranky and just ugh.
Overflowing toilet, faux belly aches, missed buses, rejected dinners, continued village fallout, a nosebleed that lasted more than an hour, a demand to do laundry for one item, a sick dog, an epic grief attack, a meeting with the school counselor, the attorney, the adoption support rep and the fact that my hair looked remarkably like Fredrick Douglass’ hair yesterday. Seriously, Frederick Douglass…I know that sounds vain, but don’t you find that you can handle things better when you’re having a good hair day?
Last night I poured a big glass of wine, fixed myself a cookie butter sandwich and washed my hair. Then I set about to google “Adoptive Parent Resilience.”
Ugh. Oh that was fun. #notreally
It always amazes me that while there is tons of research on child resiliency, there seem to be little about parental resiliency, much less about adoptive parents. Certainly there are resources, and it would seem that having access to resources seems critical to nurturing parental resiliency, whether you’re an adoptive parent or not. That said, I find myself wondering how parents just deal.
I mean, I just do deal and I know the adage that parenting is the toughest job…blah, blah, blah. But when it seems like Rome is burning and you’re the empress and you have a personal fan instead of at least a fire extinguisher, you might feel inadequate on a good day; absurdly stupid on the next.
So my next search string was “Self-care for adoptive parents.” This search was much better; apparently I stumbled on the right lingo.
I did find this article: Self-Care: Barriers and Basics for Foster/Adoptive Parents. I found this particular barrier resonated with me:
“Fourth, too many parents simply do not know what would help them. They know something is missing, but can’t put their finger on just what might make them feel better. Parents are often told, “Call if there is anything you need,” but it is hard to call and ask for help, especially when you cannot even articulate what you need. This leaves many parents vulnerable and exhausted.”
And also this because I just posted how someone is always doing worse:
“Compounding matters, recent disasters—9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the prolonged conflict in Iraq—remind us all that there are always other people who are worse off. We are taught as children to be happy with what we have since other people have it much harder. It is little wonder we sometimes feel guilty because our ongoing trauma pales in comparison to these catastrophic tragedies.”
So, the recommendations in this document are cool. Yeah, I need to find a few more things to personally look forward to and I need to just be ok with being different. I thought I was, but I’m not. And yes, connecting with other parents helps—there’s a delightful notion of finding commonalities in the countless struggles. It is validating, and reinforces that this stuff is “normal’ for this population, but does it make me feel better? Not really. And giving yourself permission to ask for help feels useless when you really can’t put your finger on what really would be helpful other than a good cry that can happen somewhere other than in your master bath with the bedroom and bathroom doors closed, sitting on the toilet because that’s the most private place in the house. #maybeIshouldtrythewalkincloset
On other sites I stumbled over, respite is the be all, end all solution to my resiliency problems. But as a single parent, I don’t have a partner who can pick up some slack and I’m sensitive about how I use the geographically accessible village and I love my sitter service and it’s worth the money, but “respite” makes for a pricey night out before I even leave the house.
So, now what?
Oh, I pray a lot. A lot; a lot.
So here’s my current approach to trying to practice self-care:
Lower expectations. Seriously, I’m lowering them all the way to the floor. Having so many unmet expectations can’t be healthy, so that’s where I’m going to sit down and take a rest for a while.
I’m tired of having expectations that the school counselor is going to respond to my email about bullying on the same day or that I’m actually going to get to play Boggle with Hope when she gets home from school or that some folks in my life will ever meet me where I am on this journey or that the Absurdly Hot Therapist’s scheduler will actually give me a consistent set of appointment dates or that Hope won’t lose her shiz every time she sees a bug as tiny as an ant or that I won’t cry inside when Hope and I go out and I get the crazy eyeballs from people while she’s in the middle of a meltdown because I can’t stop it and I feel like it’s a commentary on what kind of parent I’m perceived to be. I’m tired of a bunch of stuff, even though many things are going well.
I’m just tired of having expectations that are just not going to be met.
I never knew my skin was so thin. Maybe this process just strips so much from you; maybe you need that thick skin coming in just so you have a little reserve when it’s all sloughed off as you progress through the process. I don’t know. I do know that in terms of resiliency, I could use a lot more bounce to the ounce. #rogertroutmanfan
So there’s my current two nickels of thoughts on parental resiliency. Lower expectations to reduce heart and head pain risk. That’s my goal for the next month or so as we move toward finalization.
So, fellow bloggers, readers, parents, how do you keep it together? How do you recharge, how do you make it work?