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.

10 comments:

  1. I do like this attitude. I know it can be hard to put a positive spin, but even if Thanksgiving brought it about, hopefully now you have something to remind yourself when you're tearing your hear out about somebody not getting it.

    I'm sure I would be guilty of that same "poor thing!" reaction. It's hard to know what to say sometimes.

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    1. you know, that's a really good point. It IS hard to know what to say. I'm gonna ask a friend to do a guest post- she's really good at that sort of thing!

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  2. Absolutely! I get kind of tired of people who believe the world owes them just the right kind of understanding. If people don't understand, they don't! As you point out - that can be a good thing!

    And, honestly, it can go the other way too, which I find MORE annoying. I'll mention some thing about one of my adopted-but-normally-behaving kids and my listener will look saddened, because they are choosing to see whatever it is (i.e. Zhenya sneaking out of doing homework) as a horrible, dark, RAD-related malady. All I really wanted was a similar anecdote about THEIR child!

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    1. huh, that's true and I hadn't even thought about it. The other side is a sort of adoption-blaming when its just normal kid bs. Both my girls try to sneak out of homework. Last year, Genea had an elaborate system of pencils and schedules and erasers to "trick" us all out of doing it. Would have taken her less time and effort to just do it. I was impressed with her high level of thought, it was a complicate system. But I was a kid who did stuff like that and knew after about a week what she'd been doing. LOL- there you go!

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  3. I wish you didn't get it. But then, if you didn't, we would likely never have met, and I'm thankful for you.

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    1. awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! That's the nicest thing I've heard all day. All week. Well, in a really long time :)

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  4. On this Thanksgiving Eve and keeping in the spirit of gratitude from your blog post - just wanted to say that I am thankful for your blog and other women on the internet who blog honestly about adoption. Our first year home with our older daughter was one of the hardest of my life - physically, emotionally, just every way imaginable. And I felt completely isolated - no one that I knew "got" why it was so hard.I felt like a complete failure as a mother. And then somehow I found my way to various adoption blogs, including yours, and realized I was not alone - my child was not the only one doing (fill in the blank). And it made all the difference to me. So thanks a bunch for doing this - it can't be easy all the time but I do really appreciate it.

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    1. THAt is SO AWESOME! I love to hear (read) that! Not the part about your hard years, but the rest of it. Really though, have you though about starting a blog? You seem to have a lot of experiences with this stuff. Hmmm.

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  5. You know I could write that about recurrent miscarriage. I've stopped talking to some people because they don't get it and as you say, that's a good thing. But it isn't terribly helpful to me when I end up consoling them.

    I guess it highlights the beauty of finding people who do get it. They are extra special to you and form your own community.

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    1. I think blogger ate the note I left the other day! Anyway, I said, you're right- finding a group of people who know exactly what is going on because it's going on in their houses too has been the most incredible help. I've actually had a few professionals compliment my attitude (which is weird!).
      I'm sorry to read of your recurrent miscarriage. I can't even imagine how devastating that is.

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