Sunday, July 5, 2009

One month

Tomorrow marks one month since we came home from Ethiopia with Candace and Sarah. I couldn't decide for awhile what I wanted to write in this post, because there are such mixed feelings. Yes, our family loves them both dearly... but this last month has been horribly hard. Much harder than I thought it would be, but in a different way. The international adoption press is full of such discouraging books that a person can be afraid to adopt because of all the nightmare scenarios that are presented. We haven't had those. Thankfully. What we have had is a daily struggle with limits. Continual pouting if one of the twins doesn't get her way. Deliberate disobedience. A nightly struggle with bedtime. Saying "no" gets no results until it is said repeatedly and finally loudly as NO!!! Doing fun things is fraught with anxiety because when it's time for the fun to end, one or the other of the twins invariably pitches a fit. Yesterday one of them went into a pout because Tom wouldn't agree to get her a horse.

I am pretty much unable to leave the house unless I take them with me, because they behave so badly with whatever lucky family member got left in charge. I'm only talking two hours for a hair appointment. What is the most frustrating is how totally incompetent they make me feel as a mother. I have done this before, three times! But I just don't think I'm getting it with them. I am so tired at night that I'm going to bed two hours earlier than I used to. My house is a wreck and I'm barely keeping up with the laundry. I'm worried that the older kids will be resentful of their new sisters. My pets feel neglected and trail me around woefully, at least when they aren't hiding in their crate or the laundry room.

I love them so much; I just want to be the best mommy for them that I can be. We do have happy times and fun times; I just want those times to be more frequent! Nothing is more precious than having those little arms around my neck while they say "I love you, Mommy." I want that part to be true, and I want them to feel safe, loved and secure.

But I also wish I didn't spend so much of my day feeling like an incompetent boob.


Jennifer said...

I will soon be able to fully commiserate with you. Don't feel incompetent--you are still learning each other--it's ONLY been a month. Can't wait to experience the famous Ethiopian
pout. Shame on Tom for not getting her a horse! She was told in America everything would be her's!
I'll be emailing you when I get home! Hang in there, I just think it takes time.

Becky and Naing said...

Paula, it will get better. Everyone I have know had an adjustment period with one child and two adds more to it. But remember they didn't have what your other children had from the day one, unconditional love. Sounds like they are testing to see if you will really keep them.
Is their an Ethiopian adoption group in NE like here. You so need some positive reinforcement from others that have been through it and know what you are going through. Post on the yahoo group, people will help and listen.
Hope you have a better week next week.
p.s. we got our referrals, send me your email and i'll send you pictures.

Becky and Naing said...

sorry for the typos, i'm tired

Jen Stutzman said...

My only words of wisdom, is stay consistent. Hang in there!! The best book I have ever read on discipline is Shepherding a childs heart, by Tedd Tripp. It is a biblical view.

Lesley said...

Thank you for being honest. We are waiting for our referral from Ethiopia. I am hoping for twin girls.

Just know that I have three young bio sons and my day is very similar to yours! Yes, my house is a mess. I am exhausted at the end of every day and there is much whining/pouting (from my 5 yr old.) Some of these things are what every five year old does. You just have some more issues thrown in. I agree with the comment earlier, be consistent. Know that their behavior does not determine whether you are a good mom. Neither does clean laundry or a clean house. It is sort of like having newborns . . . so take it easy on yourself and try to enjoy them since this time will pass very quickly. I will be praying for your family.

steffany said...

Can I join the incompetent boob club too?
Seriously call me if you need to chat.
Remember I was and am where you are with our twins as well.

Jane said...

It IS so hard! We're so thankful for our sweet boys and they are healthy without any of the major issues one might expect in older child adoption, but it doesn't mean it's easy at all! I still have days where I have to work really hard at being patient and loving when I feel irritated and even a bit resentful. And I know I don't succeed 100% of the time. We're only at month two and it is already WAAAY better, so hang in there. I remember saying I expected plenty of challenges the first year--little did I know how exhausting those challenges would be! Still, we occassionally have those warm, fuzzy moments that make it all worthwhile!

E Lohroff said...

Paula, I'm sorry that things have been challenging. I agree with BeckyandNaing - they've probably never had unconditional love before so they have to test the waters. Plus they are FIVE. And any 5 YO can be... stinky! It's also probably tougher because they can double-team you!

Probably none of it helps, but maybe knowing there are people who feel your pain might help?

Susan said...

Paula, we have taken in our 2 1/2 yr old great niece and she makes me feel like an incompetent boob as well. I handled it much better in my 20's than in my 40's!
Give yourself a has only been 1 month. I agree, be consistent and have fun when you can. It sounds like you have several adoptive parents in your circle of friends, rely on all share a special strength to even take this on. God Bless to all of you.

Johanna said...

For the record, Paula is not incompetent, she is just a boob.

Imagine what you would be going through if you were a homeless person with nothing that really belonged to you, and then someone picked you up and plopped you in your beautiful home, and gave you all kinds of possessions, when you had never had ANY, and you couldn't understand 90% of what anyone said to you, and gave you a bunch of people who were desperate for you to love them and be happy. And then multiply your feelings by 1000.

You are a smart woman with a beautiful heart and they will be fine, and so will you. Remember how hard it was to have a newborn baby the first month? It's just a different kind of hard. The second month was better then too, wasn't it? Plus, you aren't even trying to breast feed. That is definitely a plus.

I can't wait to see you guys next week.

Your Favorite Sister

Kristen said...

Oh Paula... I know this has got to be so hard. I will continue to pray... and know that this will pass. It's hard when we are in the midst of turmoil to see that we are just passing through this circumstance.

You my friend are a wonderful mother... and yes, you have done this before, but the circumstances are different. You are learning a whole new way of mothering. It will get better. I wish I had magic words (or a magic wand) to make it better instantly!

This IS HARD! Be consistent! And if it makes you feel any better I pouted when I was told I couldn't get a horse, and a dog, and a fish, and a cat! ;) Thought I'd lighten it up a bit!

You vent anytime... call me! I will listen! If I lived closer I'd come help!!! Wish I could! Oh, I wish I could!

They do love you! I am sure adjusting to this new life and new world is hard for them and you! If only we could throw temper tantrums and pout when we have the same pressures! Well, I usually do... but you know me!

Love you my friend! You are doing great even if you don't feel like you are!

Farmboy and Buttercup said...

Wow, this is soooooo normal. I tell you, pretty much every adoptive mom of older kiddos has had very similar experiences. But it gets immensely better, I promise!!!

Oh, and the bedtime thing. I am a total night owl (I stay up 'til 2am in the summers. Bliss!) and had to put myself to bed by 9pm when the twins first came home. This lasted about 2 months, if I recall. That emotional, mental and physical demands in those first months is massively EXHAUSTING!

Hang in there. You are doing great, and being vulnerable about the tough stuff will help you get much needed support. Keep it up! And of course, keep praying and try to get your Daily Food. Yeah, I know it is tough right now, probably feeling like you have no minutes alone. I had weeks where I could only meditate on one verse for the day, but at least I wasn't then starving and relying on my own piddly strength.

Take care!!!

Janet said...

Hey Paula - thank you for that very honest post. You should never feel like an incompetent mom - ever! You have a very large challenge trying to take over as the mother of these two precious girls - cultural differences, language barriers, etc. I would expect that at first it would be 10 times harder than raising your own child from birth. As you know, I work for Jeff Voudrie, and they have 3 new ones from Ethiopia. They have close friends who also have 3, and those friends said it takes about 10 months for the children and the family to meld...or bond if you will. I know the day will come when things are easier for you - I liken it to having a newborn and all the frustrations and feelings of failure (at least I had) with being a new mother. So, I think you should consider the situation normal, and your feelings normal as well too. But keep the faith and know that things will get better. Also, in the meantime, I would be more than happy to help you with anything such as grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, ANYTHING! Just let me know. I'm only working part time so I have lots of free time and would love to help you out in any way I can.

Also, talk to your kids and let them know that you know things have been hard over the last month - but that you know they will get better and if they can try really hard to be patient as the whole family goes through this big change in welcoming these new ones to your will be easier on everyone. Make sure you show them your gratitude for all they do to help out (I'm sure you do!).

Keep the faith my friend. I hope you had a safe and fun trip to Indiana. And PLEASE let me know how I can help...I'm happy to!

Take care,