Great Expectations

I have a confession to make. I thought I would be an awesome mum. I thought that I would be able to do this really well.

And another. When we made the decision to adopt, I thought I would be a really good adoptive parent.

As a teacher, I have always collected the children who couldn’t manage. I have been given classes that come with health warnings and I have always been able to make a connection with these children. By the end of the year, they trust me. They know that I am on their side and I can trust them to respond to me.

I’m a useless ‘actual teacher’. I don’t care if children spell words wrong or they don’t do their homework or they can’t retain facts about fractions.

But by the end of the year children leave my class more confident and feel good. And that’s all I want.

So, It’s come as a bit of a shock to find that I’m not actually doing very well at this. I cannot get a connection with one of my children. I cannot seem to build a relationship with her at all. After living with her for 18 months, I couldn’t tell you what makes her happy, what makes her sad or worried or scared. I can guess and sometimes I guess right but I could never put my hand on my heart and say it for definite.

Usually my way forward in this situation is play and humour. But Big can’t do this. She cannot open herself up to play. She cannot read faces so she can’t tell when people are making jokes. She doesn’t make eye contact so she misses wee smiles and kind, querying looks. She doesn’t trust me so she cannot relax enough with me to let this happen.

She appears to. She lets herself be tickled and she laughs in what she thinks is the right place but if you look closely it never reaches her eyes and she’s always holding herself a bit too tight.

She appears to enjoy riding her bike or swimming or playing in the park but again if you look closely you can see that she’s tense.

All those expectations of what this was going to be like have fallen so far from the mark. And I know it’s my job to accept this and move forward. But I’m not really sure how. Everyday I’m so disappointed in myself for not doing better. How to marry up the expectations with reality? I nearly wrote, ‘how to admit you’re not doing a very good job’ but then I thought that I have said this. I’ve said it to lots of people but I’m not sure people really want to hear it.

So, accepting and moving on. Answers on a postcard please.

The best bits

Little and I went swimming today. We’ve not been just the two of us for a while and I realised I’d really missed it. She spent the whole time holding me, pouring water on my arms to ‘make it better’ and telling me she loved me. It was lovely.

We went for a walk on Saturday to some ‘new woods’ (always tricky) and we discovered a quarry. It was a bit misty, there was a big pool of water and a big picnic table. Both of them stopped still for a moment then Big said, “Woah, it’s for giants!”



12 thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. Big, and your relationship with her sounds very much like middle girl. After 5 years I still know nothing of her, I couldn’t tell you what really makes her smile on the inside because she fake smiles her way through everything, I don’t even know her view on schooling, or animal cruelty or recycling, or if she even has a view on them. Sound like silly things I know, but I know these things about big girl and baby girl, I know their likes and dislikes, what makes them uncomfortable and what they enjoy etc I don’t know middle girl because she’s never let me in, ever x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so hard isn’t it? I don’t know whether I need to start accepting that we will never have that relationship, that she will always keep me at arms length or that I need to accept that I need to work so much harder to get the relationship. With Little (even though she’s a lot younger) I know what makes her tick. Just has come so much easier. Thank you for sharing that with me x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post really struck a chord with me.
    I have had a lot of trouble working out Eldest’s likes and dislikes. For years, I wasn’t even sure what his favourite foods were.
    But, today I could tell you a couple of dishes he definitely likes.
    I think that, for a long time, Eldest didn’t really know what he felt about things. We have been finding out together. It’s a strange kind of intimacy, but it is a kind of intimacy, to be alongside someone as they learn what they have been feeling.
    Sometimes it’s dizzying to think that I am the person who knows Eldest best, when I know so little about him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh bless you! That’s same as my big one! When they shut down old hurt feelings they shut down everything – sadly. Some connections come sometimes but it’s hard for you and her and yes they do make us feel like we’re not doing very well. Remember it’s about their trauma issues not your capability. Sending hugs xx


    1. Thank you. That’s it exactly, I think she’s so scared that any emotion or thought voiced might open up things she doesn’t want opened so she doesn’t have any response just in case. Hope you’re doing okay x


  4. It has taken 8 years for me to begin to know my eldest, now 15. She openly talks about how she hated us for the first few years for expecting her to like us and resenting being moved to strangers. 2 years of ddp has got us this far

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have definitely felt like this before. Sometimes it takes a long time. Are you in the Facebook group called Parenting With Connection? GREAT resources and ideas there for APs. Plus it’s really nice to have encouragement from others who feel the same way.


  6. First of all I have to say, this has nothing to do with you not being a good parent. I am certain you are doing an amazing job but Big has obviously experienced things that she can’t let go of to believe she is safe with you. I don’t know if it will happen or not, but I think it’s important that you believe that you are doing everything you can to help and support her. There are families with varying experiences of their children finally learning to trust and attach and some where it doesn’t happen. I didn’t really realise just how closed down my son had been for the first 4-5 he was with us, until he started to trust me and I started to see glimpses of the true him. Just make sure that you take the greatest care of YOU. It is draining and exhausting when you give and get little in return and both your girls need you your well being for their own well being to improve. Take Care x

    Liked by 2 people

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