I am not the parent I thought I’d be. And yes, I am totally intimidated by ‘everyone else’ who seems to be parenting perfectly and totally in control. YOU LOT – how do you do it?
I read many a blog by calm, therapeutic parents in wonder. When my children are annoying (you know, how kids are), I sometimes get angry and shout at them. Even scream. Everything kind, therapeutic and intelligent disappears. And then I have a day or week (depending on the magnitude of the explosion) of hating myself bitterly, vowing to be better, reading parenting books and generally wondering where this hell hound within has come from. I used to be so laid back, gentle. I trusted myself. Now it feels like a beast is gnashing its teeth just beneath the surface all the time.
A book I read that said that traumatised children subconsciously invite you to be a certain type of parent, and you subconsciously accept the invitation. Thus, you find yourself being the exact kind of parent that your children were removed from. And I guess if it’s in a book then that means I am not the only one. But that doesn’t make it alright.
I wonder if I’m angry because I feel ‘put upon’ – ie, if I am being defensive. Do I feel somehow threatened by the kids’ behaviour? Is there some control freakery in play here? Again, that’s not the person I thought I was. Why choose now, of all times, to care about swearing, mess and people doing what I say first time? I just can’t believe it is me, sometimes, when I hear myself getting genuinely riled about a belch instead of congratulating the belcher. Who am I? Did I get through the adoption process so battered and torn that I lost my sense of humour, sense of self, sense of proportion? Sense?
I worry that I am retraumatising my children and yet people are always telling me that the kids are so great and doing so well that we must be doing the right things. But can I believe those people? Of course not.
In a rambling way, I think the point I’m trying to make is that I feel awful about who I am since these lovely little people moved in. I make huge mistakes. But I give a lot to this role; to them. Maybe, in that giving, I have lost myself along the way and ended up as this up-tight worrier unable to enjoy the progress that everyone else can see. I think the kids would have liked me more before.
It is not fun, knowing that you’re rubbish at the job you did everything possible to get. I want to be an adoptive parent; I have always wanted that. I think maybe that with all the training, books and advice and all the amazingness of other families, I have become bogged down with a perfect ideal. I think that my children need that perfection. Perhaps that is another cause of the anger – the stress that I am never going to be good enough.
What with other adopters being so darned perfect, me being lost at sea, my kids being really, very annoying and the everlasting guilt, I just don’t know how and when I can enjoy this complicated life that we have built. I just hope I’m not the only imperfect soul limping along this pot-holed road – and that we will all reach our utopian fantasy very soon.