It’s been a tough week. Parenting is hard, and I wouldn’t be so presumptious as to think that our version of parenting is any more difficult than anyone else’s, but sometimes it really feels like it is! I’m not sure if it’s because it’s the tail end of the summer holidays, or because Marvin is nervous about starting school, or because Norman is missing the routine and is nervous about year one, but it feels like lately every day has been a battle.
I don’t know a lot about post natal depression, having never been “natal”, and whilst professionally I’ve come into contact with a wide variety of mental health conditions, PND isn’t one of them. But from what I’ve read, common symptoms seem to include difficulty bonding with your new child, complete panic at the new situation you find yourself in, and the desire to run far away from it all. Over the last 18 months I have experienced each of those emotions on a very regular basis, and, whilst Social Services tell you about many many things you might experience, they don’t go into great detail about the fact that you may spend a great deal of time wondering why on Earth you did this to your previously comfortable life.
There’s not really any point to this post except a little bit (ok, a lot!) of self pity! I love our boys, but that wasn’t instant. And sometimes I don’t like them one bit. I missed the antenatal classes that a lot of parents make friends at. Playgroups were hard with older children who had emotional issues, the judgemental stares of other parents who couldn’t understand my lack of control over children who were at an age where they should have been able to share, or listen, or do as they had been asked. Social services told us when they matched us that the boys were “mischievous” – they neglected to tell us that the foster parents had been working with behavioural specialists, and coped by keeping Marvin in a high chair most of the time, whilst Norman was in a room with a baby gate on the door, a few toys, and, fairly often, a tablet computer. It would be easy to judge them over the fact that Norman was computer literate but unable to hold a pencil or crayon, or that Marvin was barely able to walk without tripping over his own feet and could hardly string a sentence together. But I understand; you “get through” each day by whatever means you can, and far too often over he course of the last 18 months, Mrs S and I have been on survival mode.
The boys have made an enormous amount of progress, but it feels as though the cost of that is my sanity. Part of the difficulty is that they are both at a stage now where it seems to the outside world that they are, on the whole, adorable, well mannered children. What the outside world misses is he constant drip, drip, drip of anger, confusion and frustration that they display to us that has steadily eroded my previously calm demeanour. Well meaning advice from people is met with frustration from me, as I struggle more and more to convey just how difficult the days can be.
An example is that every time we plan to go out somewhere, just getting to a point where everyone is dressed and ready is such a battle that whatever nice event we have planned is marred by my own mood. We’re very lucky that we have supportive families who want to help, but the reality is that letting them is an ordeal in itself, because the boys’ behaviour can be just as bad for others, to the point of being dangerous at times. Unfastening their seatbelts while the car is moving, whilst screaming at the tops of their lungs, and running off and refusing to come back are just a couple of examples our families have experienced in the last couple of weeks.
The paradox of adoptive parenting is that I can’t understand their behaviour at all at times, whilst also understanding it completely. Every time I think that they’re a bit broken, I have to remember that somebody else broke them, and love them just a little bit more because of it. I need to figure out some ways to stop feeling like I’ve been completely wrung out by it all, so that they can have the best version of me. Any advice would be gratefully received, despite what I said earlier, because at the moment they’re not getting the best version of me.
What’s on the needles?
I finished a blanket! Ends sewn in, label sewn on, the lot! It doesn’t have a home to go to just yet though. I’m also working on a few more things, pictures to follow!