The last couple of years have been an immense journey. I’ve learned so much; I’m sure knowledge is just spilling out of my ears. Each day, week, moment and month bring new lessons about myself, about Hope, about our life together, about parenting and well, about a bunch of other stuff.
This year, I’ve had the pleasure of befriending a number of other adoptive parents. We share our struggles. We cry together. We whisper on the phone while hiding from our kids and slurping wine on a stool in our showers with the curtain drawn. We’ve problem solved. We’ve pep talked. We’ve planned trips together.
I’m blessed to have these folks in my life.
I was thinking during a call this week about something I usually tell folks in the midst of crisis; it’s something that they tell me too.
It’s going to be ok.
We rarely know how it’s going to be ok, but we just know that somehow, hopefully, it will be ok.
And it usually ends up being ok.
Sometimes we all just need to know that our struggles are ok; they just are. So, this post is an open letter to parents of all stripes, but especially my fellow APs, foster parents and parents that are roughing it.
It’s ok to be mad.
It’s ok to not understand what the heck is going on in your house.
It’s ok, to have that glass of wine in the evening (unless there’s a medical/emotional reason not to).
It is ok to occasionally drink wine from a tumbler.
It’s ok to plan and practice self-care.
It’s ok to believe that eating tater tots and lucky charms with wine in your bedroom counts as self-care.
It’s ok to be tired, nay, exhausted.
It’s ok to be annoyed by all the activities.
It’s ok to foster the puppy’s affection for you because you need some unconditional love too.
It’s ok to go shopping alone so you don’t have to share.
It’s ok to feel like maybe you can’t do parenting.
It’s ok to feel ambivalent about parenting all together.
It’s ok to totally give up on parenting and then change your mind 15 minutes later.
It’s ok to cry.
It’s ok to cry daily.
It’s ok to ask your doctor if there’s something that might help you stop crying all the time.
It’s ok to call in sick after the kids have gone to school that you can have a mental health day.
It’s ok to think parenting books are full of it.
It’s ok for your foster care/adoption halo to be tarnished or missing because it fell of the pedestal you got put on.
It’s ok to feel sorry/not sorry about pulling away from friends and family who don’t understand why your family would be experiencing challenges.
It’s ok to find new friends who “get” what you’re experiencing.
It’s ok to mourn the loss of those previous relationships even if you think those people sometimes acted like buttheads.
It’s ok to cry for your child.
It’s ok to cry for everything they’ve loss.
It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being their path.
It’s ok to cry for every reason why adoption ended up being your path.
It’s ok to cry because it comes with challenges that you feel ill equipped to manage.
It’s ok to go back to your doctor for a medication adjustment for all the crying.
It’s ok when you make unpopular decisions that are right for your family, even if they are hard for you.
It’s ok to momentarily admit that the challenges seem so insurmountable that you consider just turning back and giving up.
It’s ok to not celebrate the fact that you trudged on and worked through it because you simply don’t have time to get yourself a cupcake for doing what you were going to do anyway.
It’s ok to be mad at God for even allowing the need for you to be in this kid’s life like this.
It’s ok to be mad at God because it’s so hard.
It’s ok to recognize that anger masks sadness.
It’s ok to be mad when the people around you who are verbally supportive aren’t really supportive.
It’s ok to hate lip service and its best friend hypocrisy.
It’s ok to leave spaces that aren’t healthy or safe or supportive of and for your family, and this includes churches and other family members.
It’s ok to get help for secondary trauma.
It’s ok to get help for coping with everything.
It’s ok if you find one day that you go to therapy alone just to have a safe place to cry and vent and *then* you go to family therapy or trot your kids to their appointments.
It’s ok if your version of therapy is occasionally eating a double chocolate iced donut in your tub with the shower curtain pulled closed—alone.
It’s ok to wonder if you’ll get your life back.
It’s ok to think about the need to forgive yourself for inviting unique challenges into your life.
It’s ok to recognize that your family’s triumphs look different.
It’s ok, more than ok, to celebrate all of your family’s triumphs whether anyone else believes they are noteworthy or not.
It’s ok to beg off the comparisons against “normal” families.
It’s ok to sigh and roll your eyes a lot in your head because people say dumb ish.
It’s ok to be pissed when you are subjected to foster care and adoption related microaggressions.
It’s ok to be happy with a C, when your child worked so hard and was below grade level when he came to live with you.
It’s ok to be frustrated about all sorts of foster/adoptive kid things like hoarding, executive function, night terrors, defiance, RAD and feel like you can’t breathe a word of it to your friends because they just wouldn’t understand.
It’s ok to lean into an online community of similarly situated parents who “get your struggle.”
It’s ok, despite what your tell your kids about online relationships, to know that *your* online folks are great cheerleaders and, over time, friends.
It’s ok to feel like it will take forever to find your parenting “tribe.”
It’s ok to mourn with like-minded folks, to celebrate with them, to ask for advice, to just shoot the breeze.
It’s ok to see the world differently once you become a parent, and to be both happy and disappointed.
It’s ok to look forward to work travel as an opportunity to peek back at your old life.
It’s ok to look forward to the end of a trip because you miss your family and can’t wait to get home to your personal brand of crazy.
It’s ok to feel disillusioned by all the boogeymen in the world that take the shapes of gun violence, police brutality, racism, sexism, homophobia…and the list goes on.
It’s ok to listen to adoptees, to hear their voices.
It’s ok to allow the adoptee voice to shape how you approach meeting your kids’ needs and how you decide to help them shape their life experiences.
It’s ok to believe that adoptees have something incredibly meaningful to contribute to foster care and adoption conversations.
It’s ok to believe that everyone’s feelings in the adoption triad are legit and not be threatened by that.
It’s ok to feel joy in parenting.
It’s ok to see how much everyone in your family evolves and changes.
It’s ok to celebrate every little and big achievement.
It’s ok, really, to just try your best, to be…ok.