In my last post, I shared a broad overview of our one year adoption milestone. That first year is a doozy- not because of the child, per se, but anytime you grow or add to your family, there’s changes and adjustments that need to be made. And even in the best, most ideal circumstances, change brings new challenges and a new way of doing things. This may mean a new morning routine, a new mealtime routine, a new school routine, or a new bedtime routine. Because we are creatures of habit (and the older we get, the more in a rut we get) adjusting these things brings new stresses we never thought we’d feel or experience.
While long-term stress is unhealthy, there’s a short-term stress that is healthy. It’s the kind of stress that forces you to do (good) things you never thought you were capable of, but ultimately produces positive growth long-term.
All of a sudden you become the morning person you never thought you could be. You make quicker, wiser decisions. You find yourself preparing meals for the week (or month) ahead. You start training your kids to do things you weren’t sure they were ready for, but were forced to push them to do out of necessity- and they exceed your expectations.
The other side looks a little more hopeful, but the middle gets ugly and messy. Not everyone is on the same page yet. It’s full of unknowns, doubts and questions. You’re pretty sure you’ll make it, but you’re not sure how.
One day when I was in the “dark middle” of our first year with our boys, I sat in a coffee shop overwhelmed and unsure of everything (a reason I didn’t trust myself was because of how irrational my thoughts were). I remember thinking of other moms I knew who seemed so much better at being adoptive moms. I would read blogs of how others did things and convinced myself God made a mistake with me. I wondered why God would let me even do this, was it just a big joke? I made a mental list of all the things I wasn’t doing well or couldn’t bring myself to do and wondered how I could learn to do them. Even my husband did things better than I did (the things I thought I should be doing).
Then I thought about my boys, I thought about what they needed, and then somewhere in the midst of those thoughts, the Holy Spirit intervened. He spoke something so clear to me it was as if He was in the empty chair across from me speaking straight at me.
He told me, “You are the mom these boys need.”
He continued to tell me that If they needed a different kind of mom, He would have given them to someone else, not to me. The strengths I have are what these boys need to get through childhood/adolescence. I may not be the super-sensitive, feel-my-way-through-every-situation-kinda-mom that I thought I needed to be, but I don’t need to be. In fact, if I was, it would not be good- for them or me.
You see, I was focusing on the areas I was weak in, not what I was good at. I was good at keeping order and structure in the home. I was good at holding my kids responsible for their choices and not letting them get away with things they should be accountable for. I was good at maintaining (a reasonable amount of) consistency in our home. With two (big) boys who make impulsive decisions 90% of the day, this is what they needed/still need. They don’t need someone to tell them to do what feels good every moment of the day- I’d have never left my house the first year.
- Now when they wake up in the morning, they stay quietly in their rooms until 7 am on weekdays, 8am on weekends.
- Now they apologize when they make a mistake and ask for forgiveness when they hurt or wrong someone. (For many months, they could not speak the phrase, “I’m sorry”. It was as if they physically could speak the words. We started with them writing it on a paper and progressed from there.)
- Now they help with chores (with less whining).
- Now they don’t question me when it’s time to go somewhere.
Getting through the “dark middle” required me to be confident in who God created me to be and to stop comparing my way of doing things to others.
Once that truth was firmly planted in my heart and my mind, I started experiencing more peace. Not necessarily in my home at first, but within me. And that made all the difference.
Moms, wherever you are, whatever kid(s) you are raising, you have what they need to raise them. Whether biological or adopted, God gave you your child for you to love and train, and hopefully when you get to the end of that road you’re on (yes, it will come to an end) you will send out into the world a respectful and responsible human being who loves God and loves people. That’s my goal at least.