Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Leaning Towards Gratitude
I was speaking with a friend recently, who I hadn't seen in a few years. Naturally the conversation wound up child focused, our children are close in ages. She knows Genea's full history and was there at the beginning of our adoption, until The Husband and I began staying home at a rapidly accelerating pace.
I briefly updated her on both girls, hitting high points as well as reality. Discussing Teena was easy. Discussing Genea was frustrating. This happens often. If I'm talking about something wonky Teena has done, it's either laughter or "uh oh" in response. If it's something wonky Genea has done, it's either "ohhhh poor thing" or "oh, that's normal". Frustrating as it is, I understand the reaction. Genea's life has been an enormous struggle and I suspect the person believes they are being supportive and reassuring.
At some point clarity bulldozed its way through the fog of kid induced exhaustion. First, most people aren't going to understand what I am talking about. They hear my words and match them with an experience in their brains file drawer. They really cannot imagine what I am describing.
Second, and this is the gratitude part, I'm glad she doesn't get it. I don't necessarily want to be all kind and gracious. But the alternative is for the person to be living the same challenges, and I don't want that for them either. So I'm trying to remember to be grateful.
I am grateful she has healthy children who do ridiculous things and learn not to do it again. Who throw tantrums when they are tired or frustrated and not because their neurology is snapping like bacon in a frying pan. Children who enjoy hearing a compliment and who avoid parent anger (most of the time) instead of seeking it. Children who respond to a reward for good behavior by repeating the good behavior. They often stop being annoying when ignored instead of becoming violent. Correcting, redirecting and natural consequences work with her children. They respond in the way one would expect. That is SO GOOD.
Let's make no mistake though. I have to poke myself in the eye with a shishkabob skewer sometimes to remember WHY I am okay with the persons lack of understanding. It's hard sometimes, when I feel annoyed, irritated, frustrated because I am unable to get my point across. Lots of times I want to hiss between my clenched teeth the words "you don't get it and that. is. okay. because I am soooo fucking happy for you".
She doesn't get it when I describe the chaos, she's probably not going to. I try to do my part to ease the stigma of mental illness by being real. Same with adoption related issues- no unicorn farts or rainbows here. However.
This is what I've come to understand. For some things, there is no preparation. You can read about Reactive Attachment Disorder. You can work with dozens of kids who have multiple mental health diagnosis. You can "get it" that institutionalized kids are going to have specific issues. That the challenges are going to be so hard, so intense, so incessant they will stretch your capabilities far past every edge.
If you don't get it, I 'm happy for you. Thankful.