Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who Is The Child Here?

Okay Mami's out there...this newbie Mami needs some support, encouragement and maybe a little assurance that I am a "normal, un-perfect Mami"...

I've been a Mami now for ALMOST five month (can it be that long already?) and though I grew up in a large family, babysat a TON (was even a nanny for 18 months - full time!) AND have worked with at-risk, at times disrespectful and often challenging teens for over 6 years - some days I feel like such a novice at being a Mom!

I want to do things right - from my demeanor with my family, to our style of discipline, to how I keep our house, to the nutrition in our home, to raising our children with Christian spiritual guidance to putting my children and husband first to never letting my selfishness creep in to any of the above. And as I look at the list of who I want to be and what I want to excel in as a wife and mom, I KNOW that I fail at that every day.

Some days I go to bed thinking that while I still wasn't quite perfect, I hit the mark pretty good that day on who I want to be as a wife and Mami. But other days - like yesterday - I went to bed thinking that I missed the mark in many ways! I think the one that bothers me the most is when I forget about having patience and grace and get immediately 'hooked' when my child misbehaves or my husband's innocent comment about something I took personally suddenly causes me to react like a child. Then I'm quick to raise my voice or show frustration in my demeanor to my husband or the children, wanting at that moment only what would benefit ME - not what is the best for my children/husband. Nearly always after a selfish moment (or hour or day) like that I always culminate with feeling guilty at my attitude or behavior...who is the child here anyway?! Then my mind spirals into worrying that a raised voice or a biting comment or even an extended time out (as much for my benefit as for the child!) will cause irreperable damage to my child's psyche! :) (not that we're talking anything major here in case you've begun to worry...more just me worrying myself to the nth degree about the consequences or damage from every perceived parental mistake I make...which are many!)

So Mami's of my blog-o-sphere...leave a comment if you feel led...I'd love to hear if I am way out in left field (I'll find a professional to guide me back to home base) or a normal newbie Mami trying to figure it all out (and get used to sharing my time, resources and home with 3 new & wonderful additions). Also, if you have any time-tested suggestions for how to keep from getting 'hooked' and keeping an even-keel demeanor instead even when your child has done something for the 400th time that they KNOW they shouldn't...I would appreciate comments of that nature as well!

I've also put a banner on the side of my blog called Motivation for Moms. I saw it on someone elses blog and mostly put it on my blog for myself (there I go being selfish again...) :) but you may find it encouraging and helpful too!


Anonymous said...

Your post brought a tear to my eye, because I can totally relate. Yesterday was an awful day for Micah and therefore for me. I found myself being more frustrated (and even angry) with him than he deserved, and went to bed feeling frustrated and angry with myself. I just keep trying to remind myself that at the end of the day if my child (and husband) feels loved, then I am doing okay. Mothering is way harder than I anticipated, but we don't make it any easier when we are then too hard on ourselves. Hang in there. There are going to be good days and really bad days, but the next day is always a new opportunity.

Mami Janine said...

I'm right there with you, Holly. I think moreso in the beginning (we've been home a little over a year now; I would say it took me a good 9 months to feel ok and 12 months to feel as if I wasn't completely crazy). So maybe time helps a bit?! I'm not perfect, but I really do think I'm better than I was at the begining . . . maybe?! The first six months were really, really tough. I also tell everyone, you better have a strong marriage BEFORE adopting (or having kids, huh!?) because it can really take a toll. Scott and I have had more disagreements in the past year than in the 7+ years we've been married! So, working at marriage is another thing I've learned!!

I could write much more, but I have to leave for dinner at our friends' house! (me and my daughter since the boys are sick).

Hang in there!!

Wendi & Benjamin Wood said...

I agree with Janine that time does help as everyone is transitioning and your life has just experienced major change! I can tell you the first six months of my life A.C. (after children) was CRAZY! But, it seemed to get better after the sixth month mark. However, we still have our moments! I think now we are going thru some terrible three situations with Diego...and all of this, I believe is unrelated to adoption, but normal child stuff. Hang in there. Do what you can, and God honors that...you are an awesome person, a princess of the King!

Cheryl said...

I, too, was moved to tears as I read your words here. First, I'd say you are NOT normal....you are EXCEPTIONAL!!! Second, you aren't going to be perfect, but there is something to teach your children even in this. They need to see you model what a person does when they mess up. When reacting in less than a Christ-like way, what then? Modeling humility, apologizing and seeking forgiveness not only will further endear you to your children and develop even stronger bonds, but it will draw your heart closer to God like nothing else. As weird as it might sound, I encourage you to embrace these times of frustration, of feeling overwhelmed, and, well, less than perfect, and cry out to God. None of this is surprising Him. You are an incredible woman, Holly, and yes, in the end, love is THE goal. Love you girl!

Dan & Karen said...

I've already raised two children to their 20's and daily don't feel like I've done nearly everything I wanted to, reacted in the right way, listened enough, loved them enough, etc. But you just get up and try harder the next day. When they each snuggle up on my lap at night to rock before going to bed they don't seem to remember that I wasn't perfect. I'm just their Mami and they're happy with that. Yours are too. They just want you to love them the best that you can. And it does get easier in some ways. You learn what makes them tick, more and more of what they've been through before they came to your family. Those things give you insight into how to handle the same situation that came up yesterday differently today. Don't be too hard on yourself. None of us are perfect, but we ask God to help us everyday to be a little bit better.

Beth said...

Oh Honey, it's OKAY! Get used to it, you are human, but knowing when you have fallen short means you are ahead of the game. When I fall short or lose my temper at home, I cool off, then apologize by letting them know I know I made a mistake and I am sorry. I find that admitting my shortcomings to my kids helps them to analyze their own behavior and to be more open with me. Use it as a learning tool for all of you. But don’t be too hard on yourself! You’re doing a fabulous job!

Laura said...

You are doing a great job and just recognizing that you are not where you want to be will motivate you to do better the next day. Seriously...you took on an entire family at once. This isn't like having a baby...its like having 3, except they already come with their own personalities and a lot more energy than a baby! One exhausts me and he's younger than yours!

AJ said...

There are so many things I'd like to say here as one who's little ones are all grown up, but suffice to say that you are indeed doing an awesome job. Don't beat yourself up - you are only human and as such there will be times when you wonder if you did the right thing, why you did that, maybe you should have.... Do your best, love them all, and be humble enough to apologize when you know you were out of line! I am so awed by your stories and pics and the way you have taken to motherhood! God brought you all together - He will continue to provide all you need every day! Just treasure it all!

Sherri said...

What wonderful advice from everyone, I might have to put this comment page as a favorite for when I'm having a bad day :). When I had Caleb I kept thinking the next stage will be easier, the next stage will be easier. Well, it hasn't gotten easier. But what I have learned is God blesses our meager efforts. My pastor, who has raised 5 children said once about parenting, you're going to make mistakes, but God is gracious and can cover those mistakes because you really are trying to please Him in your parenting. I have clung to that! And I have seen fruit in Caleb's life and I wonder where it comes from!

Parenting is so much harder than I ever imagined, and part of it is due to the fact that with each child you lose a little more brain function and go a little crazier (that's my theory anyway). By the time all my children leave (yes, I am crazy enough to think of having more) I think I'll be lucky to speak in complete sentences!

Praise the Lord for your transparency and the transparency of the other mom's on the page, so we know we're not the only imperfect mommy's!


PS- You are a wonderful mom! I'm so impressed with all you have done. Notice I came home from Colombia with one baby, I was too scared to take three! You're brave, and God will bless you for pouring out to your children!

Rick & Genece said...

Oh how I can relate to your posting Holly! Not only on the premise that both our families just adopted three children very closely matched in ages, but also the fact that we both were in Colombia at just about the same time. First off I have to tell you what an admirable job you have been doing. As time passes it'll get better. Keep marching onward and definitely keep the faith! Parenting 3 at once is nowhere near an easy task to pull off and it takes some getting use to. Trust me, we had plenty of practice in parenting Marissa, but with 3 more, it's just so much tougher. And you're not alone in marital misunderstandings. Rick and I have had many disagreements during the adoption process. So many of those outbursts came during our time in Colombia as we were anticipating sentencia (which seemed to take forever), but every time, faithfully God sent a sign, a symbol of hope, that was an awareness of His goodness even in the midst of my own anxiety and hopelessness. In spite of everything we endured, we grew tremendously as a couple from those rough times. God pulled us through but Satan was there and visibly trying to attack.

So many of our clashes centered around my desire to strive for perfection (trying to do things just so) matched with my husband's nonchalant "we're on vacation" laidback attitude. Automatically the mothering sense kicked into high gear and let's just say he's not one to willingly take direction so easily, but somebody had to take the lead. It wasn't until we hit U.S. soil that I began to relax from being uptight from most all our trip.

Your childrens' progress and the positive adjustments they've made during the past few months are incredible tokens of the remarkable insight you've provided. Don't be too hard on yourself! The children show happiness, love, and seem to be flourishing wonderfully. As a daughter of the King you're blessed, and may God's goodness continue to shine on your family!


Connie said...

You sound like me! Here are some things the Lord taught me, that help me. 1) Where we are weak, He is strong. What we cannot supply, He will provide. When we fall short as parents, it gives Him room to step in and do what we could not! He did this with my 5 older kids, and He'll do it with my new ones, too. I know you want to do it perfectly--but we are just human.
2) I have trained myself to respond, not react, to my kids. This takes some time, and sometimes a firm, "You may NOT do that!" is required. But it's those times when they push your buttons that you need to respond. Even if it's a bit delayed. Does that make sense? Your kids are beautiful, and your family is precious. I wish we Colombian/American adoptive families could get together. It would be awesome! Thanks, too, for all of your encouragement. It helps to not feel so alone in this.

Fredericks said...

It was so nice to meet you today! Your kids are beautiful. I hear your frustration and encourage you to checkout the book How To Parent Kids in Crisis. It has helped me with all my kids ages 1-16. Bank on the relationship when dealing with conflict resolution, meet the child at his/her mental stage of development(very insightful chapter on how to communicate with your child) and make a deposit before a withdraw are three mantras that I use from the book. i'm only 1/2 way through.

I've also made a mental list of things I will sacrifice for my sanity and for my kids sake such as "so long nice clean beige carpet."

Lasty, I use the opportunity of saying grace every night to do a 2 minute bible study and family therapy. We do prayer request which allows us to know what's on each other's minds and hearts and we connect spiritually by asking for someone to volunteer to pray for the request (my 2 year old participates as well). When Jason and I are stuggling with our marriage, we ask "who can pray for God to help us be good parents and to be nice to each other, to have patience?"

What you are doing is not easy,and of coruse it's not because it's God's work. There is not one peson in the Bible that had it easy. Lately my life has been a tornado but I keep thinking about Job, how he was tested over and over again and remained faithful to God.
To be a part of devine intervention, to make a difference in eternity is soooooo worth it. You are in my prayers!