Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Home Truths

Babies are such a joy. So many things in life are more fun with children in the house.

It turns out that renovations are not one of these things.

This last week, J has had our floor up. He's replacing the old laminate with oak flooring. It's going to look great. But in the meantime, I am going CRAZY. Not just a little bit crazy, but C-R-A-Z-Y. We can't use downstairs in the house at all. The living room and dining room have big holes in the floor, and the kitchen has a piano in it. Being confined upstairs is not fun. Trying to nap with a circular saw buzzing is not fun either, apparently, judging by the howling. And it's raining, and the babies are still crawling, so outside is a no-go. Being in the pram is an option, but the babies are at that go-go-go stage and they want to be DOING things, not stuck in a wheely thing. They don't ask for much, they just want some space to crawl, and right now they can't have it.

Oh, also they are teething again.

Have I mentioned I'm going crazy?

I keep finding myself thinking that this would all be so much easier if I didn't have to look after two little people. I get so stuck in accidentally thinking that the babies are the endpoint of our adoption story, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the happy ending. But on days like this my story feels neither happy nor ended and then I get all confused. How can I feel so fed up with my pot of gold? I must be a bad person. But I knew motherhood would be hard. Maybe I'm not a bad person after all. It's just that I got so sick of hearing people complaining about their children, before I had any. It used to make me cry. But then today I cried because baby I wouldn't settle and then smeared fish all over the floor. So does this mean that I think my complaining friends' attitudes were okay, now? No, I don't. I don't think it's okay to act as if children are a burden, a curse, a liability. If I didn't think they were a privilege, I would never have worked so hard to become a parent. But if I'm so convinced they are such a privilege, why am I so utterly frustrated with them so much of the time? Why do I get so resentful when they seem like such a swirling vortex of need? I just cannot deal with the cognitive dissonance.

I beat myself up about this all the time.

Am I the only one?

I'm really curious about this. Other adoptive parents, or people who became parents after a long and difficult journey - how do you deal with it? Or is it not an issue for you?


  1. You. Are. Not. Alone.

    I am so completely NOT the perfect parent but every. single. day. in the line to drop off my child at school, I remember how much I wanted him and how incredibly awesome (in the truly awe inspiring way, not the 'dude, that's awesome' way) it is just to have a child getting out of my car and waving 'bye mom, I love you.'

    Really... 'Bye, Mom, I love you.'

    That's awesome. Every single day. And just this very morning I thought about how it seems like most parents are more annoyed by their offspring than inspired by them. Not that I'm better than them for it, just that I think I appreciate it more.

    But he still makes me crazy on occasion.

    So yes, I see both angles.

  2. Did you read this?

    I know of what you speak, girl. Before I had my son I used to love to go to movies, any kind, I would let my heart and mind get drug through any place a movie would take me. But now, with a kid, my heart is actually and truly getting drug through difficult places. I have worries about my son and his life and how it will turn out that now occupy that space that used to be thrilled by movies. I adore that boy. I am different, very much so, since becoming a mother. My soft places are so much more vulnerable.

    However, my kid makes me nuts and sometimes I even go numb from the incessant demands. He is like a jackhammer sometimes. I have always had friends whom I hang out with together with the kids and we joke and laugh about the kids. It has helped to keep me sane. Little children are much like having drunks (you know, the falling down, the puking, the crying, the sloppy kisses, the "I love you so much, man....") living with you so it's both funny and draining at the same time, not to mention codependent and messy. I am head over heels in love with a small annoying hilarious drunken clown. Thanks for sharing. It truly is hard. If I could give you one gift, it would be take away this worry. So far, so good, right? They have wonderful lives, but it doesn't mean you enjoy every minute, even every hour ;)

  3. Just like most of your posts, when I read this the first time I thought, "Oh Claudia, relax. You are normal, better than normal. But these thoughts, they are normal." But upon further review, as per usual, you have once again hit a nerve.
    My personal guilt tsunami arrives when I am in the middle of something and I hear them waking up from a nap. First I think "can't they just stay asleep." Then I immediately think about all the mothers in the world who had children that went to sleep and never woke up. Then I am sure I can conjure that event with my impure thoughts (see how powerful I really am?). And then I know if one of them dies it will be my fault because I wanted their naps to last a little longer. I blame my mother for this type of thinking. But I also blame the new age authors of books like "The Secret" that are written to make you believe that anything wrong in your life is just because you are thinking the wrong thoughts.
    Your new floor will be great.
    Thanks again, Sister.

  4. First of all, I think ANYONE who undertakes renovations needs a medal. That is why why house is the way it is (exactly as we bought it) because I have ZERO patience.

    So I get the crazy.

    But also, babies go through EXTREMELY cute phases and EXTREMELY trying phases too. I think it's all par for the course.

    And as I told my wonderful Dr S yesterday, just when you think you've figured it out, they change on you.

    But you're normal. Babies are normal.

    it's normal to want them so badly and yet to also get frustrated.

  5. It's hard being a parent especially to twins.We loose ourselves for a time and it's so important to try to get even a tiny ammount of space to breathe easy and relax.My cousin used to escape her twins in the shower, it was her only time of day when she felt like herself again.She gave birth to hers, it's harder if you adopt.

  6. Oh, honey. I think the short answer is "You're human." (And a very lovely human you are, too.) I don't know a single parent whose children haven't been a genuine trial to them at many points (you should talk to my mom sometime). If you never felt frustrated & crazy & ready to leave them on a stranger's doorstep, it wouldn't be because you were perfect. It would be because you were a delusional nutcase who should be locked up somewhere soft. Which you are not. Kids are like weather - some days are stormy, some days are beautiful. Eventually the sun always comes back out.

    Love you.

  7. As someone who is still waiting to bring the wee dude are perfectly normal and allowed to feel this way.

    Yes, we work harder to get the pot of gold then most but it doesn't mean sometimes in that pot gold you don't come across some lead and go "What - I thought this was all golden?"

    I would be worried if you only talked about easy and perfect everything was.

    Oh and renovations are horrible at the best of times - add kids into the mix....whew! You guys are brave!

  8. Claudia, you know what my blog is called, right? La bicileta? from the Italian saying, "hai voluta la bicicleta, o pedala" which means, you wanted a bicycle, so start pedaling. It's what people kept saying to me when my daughter came to us from China and it was hard raising a toddler who came from an institutional setting--it was HARD. But if I complained, people would look at me and say, well, you wanted this, didn't you?

    uh....yes, but that doesn't mean it's not hard.

    Raising children is hard, labor intensive, in the trenches, down and dirty, mind numbingly repetitive, soul crushingly boring work. And oh yeah, it is interspersed with periods of amazing beauty and awesome joy.

    And at the end of it all we have raised human beings with who love us and respect us and who call us Mom and Dad and who hopefully choose lovely nursing homes for us. wink wink.

    It's hard Claudia. I know, it is. I can't for one minute imagine doing it x2. But it goes by in the blink of an eye, I know you don't believe me, but as the Mom of a 22 year old, I can swear this to you. Cry on our shoulders on the hard days and share your joy with us when you have the amazing awesome moments. And never for once feel like you are ungrateful or that you can't complain. That's what blogs are for. ;-)

  9. The reality of any situation is always different than the pot-of-gold fantasy...I'm not married, so I don't know for sure, but I bet your husband gets on your nerves a lot more than you thought a husband would before you got married (and as a single person, I reserve the right to be annoyed at you when you complain about him).

  10. Oh yeah, I can totally identify. Like on a weekend morning when my 3year old (adopted) daughter wakes up early. I think longingly of the days when I used to get to sleep late and then I instantly feel guilty.

  11. SUCH AN ISSUE FOR ME. But I am too tired to write any more about it!!! Hugs to you...

  12. awesome..... drunk..... guilt-inducing..... hard.....sleep-depriving.....dirty..... exactly, exactly, exactly! Cannot say just how much it helps to read this comments.

  13. as someone who's lived through four years of rennovation with no kids (and countless years of rennovation as a child), I say it's okay to be frustrated to the point of near insanity.

    love is naturally expressed in frustration every now and then.

    we adoptive parents (I fit in that category very loosely right now...but bear with me) are horrified at the idea that someone would expect their adopted child to be grateful. yet--we treat ourselves so much more cruelly. We expect ourselves to be grateful for every single minute with the child(ren) and to not let the normal warp and woof of love be expressed in some form of frustration or (heavens to betsy!) some yearning for some adult alone time.

    To summarize: You're okay. You're doing alright. God will not kill you for being frustrated (in fact, often showed His frustration at His children in the OT...coupled with everlasting patience, but it gives a small amount of comfort to know that God experienced 'normal parenthood.')

  14. Hi! Wouldn't it be fun if we could just entertain them together? I often think that if I could do half the day with another mom and her kids (preferably adopted and Ethiopian) it would all be funny instead of so HARD.
    Listen - I hear you on all of it. Fortunately I have a work from home job that I can "blame" for having to put Ariam in a half time nanny share (at the other family's house.) Do we need child care? Oh, yes, I suppose so. I really can't get work done with her around. Am I RELIEVED that we need part-time child care? Yep. You bet. ;)


  15. I'm not there yet, but I just want to send some hugs and tell you that to me, you sound one hundred percent perfectly NORMAL and thanks for always being so honest. It's refreshing.

  16. Yes I get what you are writing about...and as many have said - the renovations, the teething, the weather, it all makes is it a harder circumstance and can ensure that the days are very long and your sanity is definitely tested!!!

    I have felt many times, like I was going crazy or that mothering was so hard....And some days I just wanted life to not be so hard. I have also felt the struggle of longing and waiting for so long and the frustration at other mother's complaints about their children. I don't want to be one of those mom's either! Yet it doesn't mean mothering is simply easier just because I waited longer to have a child or because we adopted. It still is just plain hard on some days. It takes all we have and more. It is hard to have a privilege like that - one that takes all your energy, causes you to constantly be laying your life down and depend on the Lord like crazy. I think it is one more part of life that drives me back to Him - to receive the love, patience and joy I need to pour out on this little needy person (or in your case - persons).

    In my journey of motherhood, I am learning more and more about asking God to meet me in the crazy moments and then to expect to see Him or His grace get me through the day (I am working on a blog post about this :-)). I think mothering (esp. young twins!!!) has got to be one of the hardest jobs on the planet! No wonder you feel like you are going crazy!!!

    I am glad to know - once again - we are not alone in these struggles and I will be praying that you can get a little break this week to be alone, that you will see God's grace in your days and for strength to make it through this season with continued honesty and joy! Hugs!

  17. I also think you are completely normal! I've felt the very same many, many times as the mother of two bios (I know, not the same, but bear with me) who are two and four. I will also say that I think you're in the hardest stage right now, when your kids are not old enough to really entertain themselves but too old to just sit on the rug and bash things together. Right now my two-and-a-half year old is playing with her toys and talking away to herself and my four-year-old is doing the same, and I've had twenty minutes to myself so far! (which is why I've had a chance to comment and Yes, I am feeling guilty right now that we're not making homemade playdough or something together) A year ago, I never could have imagined them both being able to do their own thing for a long period of time and be perfectly happy. They used to wear me out so much more than they do now. So it really does get better, and easier, as they get older.

  18. um, i am totally in this "holy shit how on earth did i bring things mess upon myself" stage.

    i think the guilt over feeling like you want to toss a little whiner out the window is MUCH worse with the adoption. because you work so damn hard to bring them here and want to love them for SO LONG and be an honorable decent parent.

    every time i get irritated at J i think of his birth mother. and then i hate myself.

  19. Oh girl, I totally get what you are saying. And to pour on the guilt even thicker for myself, I go and look at M's birth mother's picture that is framed in my dining room and I think to myself "what would she think of me when I am annoyed by our sweet daughter,and I here am given the gift, the privilege, of raising her?" That one is a real self kicker in the buttocks. I adore her and she drives me's all an intertwining part of parenthood and I wish I could snap out of my annoyance sometimes but also snap out of beating myself up about it. Geez..I'm no help. :)


  20. I'm late to the commenting party (as usual) but I have to chime in--you are not alone and you are normal! I am thankful that a) I didn't have to go through the teething phase with my boys and b) that we did our renovations BEFORE the boys came home (and I still went c.r.a.z.y.). Lately we have more good days than bad ones (thank God) so it's gotten easier, but a few months ago I REALLY struggled with those feelings (and thought guiltily about their birth mother every time). I have a book that says the good phases and the tough ones alternate about every six months--so I'm sure I will be revisiting these feelings again. Hopefully it means you are due for a squishy, giggly, lovey phase soon! Also, regarding your comment about reading to your twins--I have two copies of a couple books to get through exactly the challenge you wrote about! I still need to mediate a lot--I think that's just how it is with twins--but the reading got so much easier when they could understand the concept of taking turns. I say, "Dash first, then Taye" (and the other way around) about a hundred times a day. You will get there too!


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  22. Totally empathize! We just put in wood flooring this summer - NOT GREAT with kids! Still waiting for our kitchen to be finished.

    But also yes on the twins, too. ALL parents get burned out on the vortex of need. Twins double that. Adoption DOES remind you that you "asked for it" - but doesn't negate how much work parenting really is.

    Just ask my hubby about the look-of-death he got when he whipped out "well you WANTED to adopt them!" upon arriving home from work to a very weary me, one evening.

    Not a great line, he found. :)

    Take some time to yourself! Maybe an evening out with a book and some coffee/tea/something?


Over to you!