Last Thursday, Little didn’t want to stay at playgroup. She was really upset and it took me a long time until I was happy to leave her. I then found myself rushing home so that I could enjoy ‘my time’.
And then I had to give myself a huge mental Mallet’s mallet type whack on the head. It was a beautiful day, I was out walking and I was rushing home. Why? Because I’ve got myself into a wee routine of yoga, shower, rubbish telly, few jobs, set off for Big. And I really had to shake myself to think, ‘go for a walk, it’s a beautiful day, change the routine, it’s okay.’
Shifting perspective is something I’ve really been trying to do recently. I wrote about it here ( Their Voices ) so it is something I’ve been aware of for a while.
Recently, I’ve been trying really hard to remember that it wasn’t my children’s choice to be adopted. I’m sure if I ask Big when she’s older if she wanted this she will look at me with one of her very special looks and tell me that of course she didn’t.
But as an adoptive parent, the fact that 18 months in and I’m only really appreciating it right now, is something that I’m going to try quite hard not to add to the list of things I already feel guilty about.
All the training that we received was basically ‘give them lots of love and it will be okay’. Now clearly, if I’d read round even a little bit more than I did, I would have discovered that actually this was not the case and is not helpful to us or our children. Actually what we needed was a complex understanding of trauma, the ability to mind read all day and to recognise and try to have some understanding of the fact that for us to become parents, something really terrible had to happen to our children.
This is a very hard thing to think about. And it is probably why it’s taken me so long to really understand why it is important that I have to stop expecting my children to want to be part of the family I thought I was going to have.
Last Thursday, (during my impromptu walk) I realised that Little not wanting to leave me is a huge thing. She has previously skipped off happily without a backward glance so the fact that she suddenly doesn’t want me to leave, I’m taking as a positive.
Similarly, when I went to get Big on Thursday, I told myself that it was okay if she didn’t smile at me, or talk to me. So when she didn’t, I was able to hold her hand, talk nonsense all the way up the road and we got home okay because I wasn’t looking for anything more.
Now, I’m not for a second saying it was easy. I do not enjoy being the only mummy who doesn’t get a child running up to them and giving them a hug. I do not enjoy not being given lots of pictures to look at. (I have to take a folder so she can put them in there so I don’t see.) I do not enjoy jabbering away and getting no response. But I am beginning to recognise that this is what I need to do. And because I was more relaxed about it, she was a teeny, tiny bit more relaxed too.
I need to accept that she didn’t ask to be part of our family. I’m hoping that in the future, we’ll have developed a relationship that allows her to talk about this with me, or with someone.
The tricky balance we’re going to have is letting Big know that it’s okay not to love us yet but showing her love in the hope that one day she can accept it and letting Little love us as much as she is and giving her the love we are. I’ve spoken before about how hard I find it. I’m forever worried that I get the balance wrong but I’m trying.
I really wish that our training had reflected this a little more. Would I have understood it then? I’m not sure. Would it meant that I could have started reflecting on it earlier? I’m not sure. Would it have meant that I understood Big a bit more and given us a better start to our relationship? I’m not sure.
I’m not really sure about anything anymore. I thought I had a fairly good understanding of children before we became a family. My children have taught me that I didn’t. Do I think that any of the other people sitting in the room with me during the training had any more of an understanding of this than I did? No, I don’t.
What I am sure about is that the narrative surrounding adoption needs to change and does need to reflect everyone’s views. I’m finding that I feel like I’m doing a really bad job (I know it’s not a job but I can’t think of what other word to use) because I feel like I’m failing a child who’s been failed so many times before. When actually, she’s not ready yet (may never be ready) to accept everything we’re trying to give her. And that’s okay. It’s hard. But it’s okay.
The best bits
It snowed! We spent most of Sunday playing in the snow and it was lovely. I really wish I could show you a photo of their smiles because it was magical.
We went to play in the wee bit of woods near us yesterday. Me taking them anywhere on my own is still a bit of a big thing but we had lots of fun. We played dinosaurs and ran and jumped and growled. And everyone came home when asked, phew!