Christmas was lovely. Good times with family and friends. There was lots of eating, minimal exercise, movie watching, more eating, lots of laughs and lots of catching up and dishing about life.
There was also a decision to just consciously accept some stuff that my typical hot headed self wouldn’t bother to accept.
In life, there are countless things that we must reconcile between our greatest desires and our greatest disappointments.
It isn’t easy. Some times, even after years and lots of work, we find ourselves so easily triggered. The flood of disappointment and sadness come crushing back over us like a tsunami wave. Sometimes it feels like we have to start the grieving process all over again just because of one little innocuous sentence.
For me, I know that two big triggers in the last 4 years are folks with commentary on raising a child with a trauma background and having a baby.
It’s amazing how many people have so much to say about these topics. The former I know is really because the issues are largely masked for folks outside of my and Hope’s home. They don’t know what I know or see and experience what I do. They make assumptions about my parenting, and draw conclusions about me and Hope.
The latter is more complicated because most folks don’t know that my journey towards Hope came after a pretty traumatic life event that left me unable to bear children or that my chances of having a biological child were iffy even before the event.
In the early days of this journey, I never anticipated that folks would have so much to say. Well, they do. And, well, that sucks because it hurts.
It hurts a lot sometimes.
I’ve read a lot about other people’s journeys through parenting trauma and infertility; my story and my sensitivity around these issues aren’t unique. In fact, daily folks are posting about conversations and announcements that pierce their hearts and reduce them to tears.
Over the years, I learned to live with my deflector shields half way up. Having them all the way up creates too much of a barrier between me and the people I love. Besides, after a few years, my ability to react and respond has improved along with their level of sensitivity.
Well, I realized on this trip that my emotional shields were fully lowered, but it’s ok. It forced me to make a decision that I think will be healthier for me.
I mentioned that there is a new baby in the family. My sister gave birth to a baby boy recently. Our family is over the moon. He’s just perfect.
This triggered some comments about how folks thought me and my sisters would never have children or that it’s such a blessing that my parents are finally now grandparents.
Oh, great, we’re two for two!
In the moment on Christmas day, I gave myself the gift of acceptance. I shared that gift and sprinkled it liberally all about.
The reality is these are people I love deeply. These are people who want the best for me. These are people who would never knowingly hurt me. These are people who may not always know what to say.
Some of these folks are a bit older and aren’t necessarily hip to all of the ways folks might be hurt or offended. Some of these folks have reached the age where even if they did, they don’t have to be uber-sensitive about much anymore because: old.
The long and short of it is, no one means to hurt me or stick their foot in their mouth, and even if they did, what does it cost me in that moment to just accept it and move on?
Oh it hurts. It does; there’s no denying that.
But accepting that there is no malice, that they may be caught up in the euphoria of having a much-desired baby around (which frankly I am as well), well, it doesn’t cost me much.
Sure, I could politely correct them. I could gently educate them. I could do all kinds of things. But frankly, that just exposes more of me and whatever emotions I’m wrestling with. It also makes me feel like I have to bring the dark cloud I keep on the shelf in my mind closet out and drag it with me everywhere I go.
I’m tired of living like that.
Just accepting folks and assuming and believing the best in them saves us both. In some of those moments, they are expressing their own joy about whatever. I don’t need to temper their joy just because they used poor phrasing or were insensitive or just didn’t remember my ouchy places.
So, I made a conscious decision to just accept the presence of commentary that occasionally dredges my wounds.
It’s life, man. It just life. I can’t have hazard cones all over the place all the time. It’s exhausting, and frankly, it’s exhausting being hurt and/or angry. It’s exhausting having the same conversations over and over. And frankly, it’s ridiculous for me to think that my life is so big that everyone should speak in whispered tones around me about babies and trauma related behaviors.
I’m a grown ass woman. This life has put me through harder paces than that.
I mean, I could write my own list of things not to say to an infertile woman or a parent raising a child with a trauma background, but guess what? It wouldn’t make that much of a difference because the folks who typically make those comments don’t run in the blogging circles I do—it’s not going to be read by them.
So, I’ve decided to practice some grace and accept these moments as they come. It’s ok.
I also know that Hope watches me, and while I teach her to advocate for herself, I want her to see when and how I choose to do it for myself. Not everything needs a response. Not everything needs a bark and a bite.
Acceptance is a good thing for me. It allows me to just put things in context. It allows me to focus on the good. It allows me to not ache. It doesn’t mean that things don’t hurt, but it makes it manageable.
I can’t change people. I only have the power to change my reaction to people.
In the end that is the power play.
December 28th, 2016 at 12:56 am
You said something a few blogs back about knowing that if Hope could she would go back to her bio family. That has really made me think alot. Would I go back now? Would I have gone back then? Of course my situation wasn’t exactly like Hopes. She didn’t get a choice about leaving. But I can tell you I would never go back – but i am always searching for ‘my people.’ My people aren’t a certain color or a certain mainstream culture. My people are the weird ones, the broken ones, the out of place ones. I see them in the hospital or the community and i think oh there is a person just like me – i totally identify and feel comfortable. But i can’t live with drug addicts or prostitutes or people with post traumatic stress disorder so terrible it leaves them living in the park. So I hang out in the middle and don’t fit in on either side. I agree with what you are thinking about Hope watching you. She is longing for her people too, I am sure. But the more she lives with you the less she fits in on either side and someday when she gets the chance to reconnect with her bio family her connecting side will have changed shape or the picture on her piece won’t fit into that space anymore and then her grief for that loss will be strong. One of the best things you can teach hope (in my humble opinion – not trying to preach here) is how to move smoothly in mind and body through places that are uncomfortable. As she becomes more educated and skillful and begins choosing life paths that hold promise and magic how will she connect with the kinds of kids at her school or college who have been on those paths since before they were born?(or the kinds of people who seem like they have been). Kids like Hope often hear so much about inner strength and morals and being a good person and getting good grades and making good decisions and all that when what they really need is to learn how to just get through those odd moments and painful moments with a little grace and dignity and a lot of moving on and not looking back. The kind of family I came from certainly did not believe in that kind of philosophy. On my own its taken me years and years to even identify the trait in successful women I know or meet with. And so, after this long tangent, my point is – I love this post and you are a good mom to Hope.
December 28th, 2016 at 10:24 am
Thanks Susan. It really is a journey.
You raise an interesting point and observation. I’ve got a guest blog coming out soon that gets at what you are talking about–Hope being in the middle. I don’t think Hope would go back to her family the way it was, rather that she would rather be with a healthy, functioning version of her family. We do have a relationship with her paternal family, and I see her struggle with fitting in and trying to manage how she had idealized them and the reality that we face. It’s hard; I work hard to try to honor that relationship and maintain contact even when Hope seems blah about it. She is very unsure of her place in the world; I hope that I’m helping her develop the necessary skills and confidence to step out.
i hope I’m doing right by her. I’m still learning to do right by me! 🙂 It’s a long haul thing, I guess. 🙂