Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Insecurities of the Adoptive Mom

I think when you adopt, there tends to be that fear in the back of your mind that your child will one day think you are not enough.  There is for me, anyway.  I worry about when they'll start wondering about their biology and that mysterious birth parent.   I’d be lying if I said that I don't dread the idea of them wanting to know more about her.  But, for the record, I do understand that it's all natural and I will answer their questions when the time comes.  And, I sometimes worry that when my kids get mad at me, they will wish that someone else had adopted them.  I don't worry about it all of the time, but it does cross my mind more than I would like.  But, it’s the cross that I bear for being an over-thinker, I suppose.   Most of the time, though, I am secure in the knowledge that there is a lot of love in our family and that we are just plain meant to be together.  .

But, sometimes my insecurities get the better of me.

It was a rough morning.  Antwan was not cooperating and I thought there was a real possibility that I was going to lose my mind.  When I finally got us all in the van and heading to school, I decided to use the opportunity to lecture my youngest son. 

I was lecturing Antwan on how he needs to follow directions, cooperate with me, be part of the team, and anything else that I could think of .

And, then he said...

"I want to go to another home."

What???  I could practically hear my heart breaking.  Feeling extremely rejected, hurt, and a bit mad, I turned around and said, in the calmest mom voice that I could muster,.

"Don't you ever say that!  Do you understand?"

He quietly said "Yes."

Then my anger quickly faded into hurt.

And, I continued, while barely choking back tears, "Antwan, that really hurts Mommy's feelings.  It's not nice to say something like that, just because you are mad at me."

I looked at him to see if I was getting through at all.

He looked at me with a confused expression and then finally said, "But, why Mommy?  Why does it hurt your feelings?  I just wish we had a different house."

Then the realization struck me that we were having two very different conversations. 

"Oh, so you're just talking about us moving to another house?"

"Yeah" he said, still looking confused by my reaction.

So, Antwan had picked that moment to ponder previous conversations about wanting to buy a house and the idea of us moving?

With great relief and totally ignoring the fact that he had obviously not been paying any attention to my lecture at all; I explained that I had misunderstood him.  And I told him that I also wanted to move.  

Then I went back to driving.  I was feeling a little foolish and a lot relieved.  I completely forgot why I was mad at him in the first place and really didn't care at all how late we all were, anymore.  :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christmas With A Full-er House, part 3 - The Visit Ended

After Christmas passed, there were just a few days left and they flew by.  With Patrick in the house, everything was noisier and I had to share my laptop which, by the way, I don’t like doing. It meant more dishes were being used, more messes were being made, and more people wanted my attention at any given time.

Just like last time. 

There were a few differences, though.  Last time, he sat down in my recliner when I got up, leaving me to feel like I didn't have an "spot" in my own house.  Last time, he would say that he wasn't going wherever I said that we were going (no matter how much fun he might have); leaving me with no choice but to play his game until he finally got in the van.  Last time, he asked for a bunch of stuff in the store.  I don't mind him asking for snacks, of course, but he was fairly pushy about it and it left me feeling obligated.

This time, he went out of his way to hop up when I came in the room so I could sit down.  (Mind you, that wasn't completely necessary, but the consideration was appreciated.)  This time, he put on his shoes with the rest of the kids and hopped in the van.  This time, he made a point of not asking for much and nothing too expensive at the grocery store.  And, of course, I made a point of buying him plenty of snacks, anyway. ;)

And, as the end of the visit neared, there was another marked difference. I didn’t have the same sense of relief that he was going to be going home.  I realized that I didn't really want him to go. I mean, I definitely wanted my laptop back, haha, but I really wasn't anxious for him to leave. 

It was Friday, the day before he went home and everything had been going smoothly, up to this point. 

He was with Jennice (friend/babysitter) and they were going to the park.  Suddenly, he clammed up.   He wouldn't talk. He wouldn't do anything.  I called and had her put him on the phone because I foolishly believed that I might be able to work my magic.  But he wouldn't talk to me, either.  So, of course, I got all freaked out and figured that this was it. He was changing. The Patrick from the summer was back.  I emailed his GAL (Guardian ad Litem).  I vented to the people at work. I left a few minutes early and anxiously rushed to the park.   And, of course, while I was on my way, Jennice texted me to let me know that he was fine.   He said he had a headache and was thirsty.  She pointed out to him that he should use his words like the other three.  And, by the time I got there, it was like nothing had happened. I've been told that this is a very teenager-like thing to do; not necessarily a troubled foster child thing to do. I find that a little comforting and a little not.

Anyway, we all moved on.  We went home and had a peaceful (scratch that); we had a hectic and noisy, but pretty awesome, night.

And, after bedtime, from the bedroom, Patrick facebook friend requested me on his 3DS.   I'm not positive, but I think that puts me in the cool kids club.  So, after deleting a few things that I said about him on my facebook, I approved him and have had the privilege of receiving deep, meaningful messages like "was up" and "what are u doin," ever since.  I kind of love it. :)

The next morning, we got up and headed to meet his GAL.  The ride was bittersweet.  He talked to me  about the clarinet (He's first chair at his school, by the way!).  He talked about school.  He talked about his foster home.  He talked about nothing.   

And, we were there.  And, I started worrying again. 

Last time, when his case worker got there, he shut down.  He quickly rebuilt the parts of the wall that we had managed to knock down.  (I do love a metaphor!)  He barely talked to the kids, barely hugged us, and blatantly refused to be in a picture with us.  So, I was worried.

But, not this time. :)

This time, when Antwan and William were arguing about who was going to sit next to him, he got up and positioned himself in the middle.  (That made my heart so happy.)  He let me give him way too many hugs.  He let me take video of him playing the clarinet that his GAL had brought him and then post it on my facebook.  He basically acted the same as he had all week.  :)

And, they were gone.  And, I headed home with my three.

I now knew why the GAL had gushed about him. This week, I got to see a different Patrick.  Between the two visits, I had experienced two different Patricks, two different kids.  (Although, I had seen glimpses of this kid the whole time.)    And, I knew that the Patrick of Christmas was the real one.  Of course, I know that he can't be on his best behavior all of the time.  He is a teenager, after all.  And, more to the point, he's human.  But, I know, in my heart, that I saw his heart when he was here.  And, he has a really good heart.  How he's kept it safe, after everything that he's been through, is beyond me.  But, it's there.

And, this Christmas, he let us see it.

I guess that was our own little Christmas miracle. :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Christmas With A Full-er House, part 2

So, when the idea of Patrick coming for Christmas was first mentioned, I asked a practical question. What about presents? Would he be coming with any? To be clear, I love buying presents, so I had no trouble with the concept. But, of course, I didn’t go back to work because we were rolling in the dough. So, it was a very relevant question. I was told that between the agency and local churches, he would have plenty and would bring them along. Great! I was relieved. Of course, I knew that we would be buying him a couple of presents, too, but not being in charge of his entire Christmas was definitely a relief. 

Yeah, so, he didn’t come with any presents. He would be getting some after Christmas, but he didn't have any with him to open on Christmas. Ok, there was just no way that we were going to let this kid sit and watch his brothers and sister open presents on Christmas morning. There's a lot that I don't know, but that was a no brainer.
So, cue the stressing, calculating, and trying to figure what the heck to buy a 13 year old.

Every single thing he said, I paid attention to. He mentioned that he liked to paint. Aha! I'll buy him a paint set! It seemed a little silly, but, at the same time, I was hoping that he'd like it anyway. I spent the days leading up to Christmas, paying close attention to anything that he mentioned that he liked. Emily the detective! haha

I also bought him a red shirt. He didn't mention that he wanted one. But, I had it in my head that we should all wear red on Christmas Day. I had visions of the adorable picture that we could take; closely followed by fear that he wouldn't cooperate with a picture. I wasn't sure how he was going to react. Over the summer, when I saw that he was wearing a white shirt, I deliberately put the kids in white shirts. Now, clearly, I have a problem, but that's not the point. When he realized what I had done, he instantly changed. He broke my heart a bit while reclaiming his control. Although, he did decide to wear the white shirt, in the end. I don't know if he secretly wanted to be a part of it or if he just really liked the shirt that he was wearing. But, I do know that even at the time, it was a tiny step in the right direction.

Anyway, Christmas Eve came.

We went to church. We came home and put the glittery reindeer food in the front yard, had an Egg Nog toast, and checked Santa's location on-line. And, Patrick participated in it all. It hurt and warmed my heart to know that he may never have experienced this, a family Christmas. I couldn't believe how smoothly it was going and how content everyone seemed, including me. :) 

Checking on Santa's whereabouts.
So, the kids went to bed. Brian wrapped presents (yeah, I don't do that.), I made pie for the next day, and we exchanged our gifts. I already had an idea of what I was getting from Brian because Patrick who had watched Brian wrap my presents, said, something like, "I'm not going to tell you what he got you, but it's going to make you want to go change your clothes and go to bed."
So, when one of my gifts was pajama bottoms, I wasn't too surprised. :)

Soon, I did change my clothes and go to bed. I felt anxious, worried, excited, and a bunch of other adjectives. I was worried that he wouldn't like his presents. I was worried that my kids would realize that they got fewer presents this year because of buying Patrick's. I was worried that Christmas would be a total disaster at my sister's house. And, I was a little worried because I was falling in love with Patrick.
Worried or not, Christmas came. And, after all the worrying, it turned out to be awesome.

My living room was filled with noisy, happy kids who all liked their presents. He liked his paint set. He liked his remote control car. He seemed to like opening presents.
When he opened his red shirt, I sheepishly mentioned that we were all going to wear red and, what a lucky coincidence, now he had a red shirt, too! I felt like he was debating it and he made a comment that he wanted to wear the other one that we got him. I honestly wasn't sure which way it was going to go. But, an hour later, we were heading to my sisters; all of us in our red shirts. :)

Then I went moved on to being nervous about how the rest of the day was going to go. I was worried about how he would react to presents, the noise, the everything.

On the way over, in an effort to be proactive, I said to all of the kids. "Now, remember, we always make sure to say thank you for our gifts."
Brian added "Yes, even if you don't like it. You say thank you and appreciate that someone took the time to buy it for you. It's called etiquette."
This was geared towards all of the kids, but I was really hoping that Patrick was listening. 
Oh, the day. It was one of the most relaxing Christmas' I had experienced in a long time. Everything just kind of flowed. It's the day that I got to spend the whole day with my family, in its varied versions. It's the day that I learned to play Rummy. More accurately, it's the day that Patrick beat me in Rummy. It's the day that I got a picture of all 6 of us in red shirts. (Victory!) It was the day that everyone got to know Patrick and determined that they liked him. It was a nice day.
On the way home, Patrick asked"So, how was my etiquette?" :)

We told him that he did great. He really, really did.

And, we went home. I watched them shoot dart guns, drive remote controlled cars, make a huge mess of the living room and just felt really good about the world. Because sometimes you have those days or even just those moments when it all makes sense, even if it's noisy and chaotic sense. And, when you do have those crazy moments, you really need to stop and appreciate the madness.

So, I did. I put on my new Cherry Coke pajama bottoms and my new Avengers shirt and enjoyed it.