The Overwhelmingness of it all!
"Did you think it would be easy?" That is the question Yvan asked me?
Nope, I didn't! I really didn't think it would be easy at all.
But I certainly wasn't prepared for how hard parenting actually is.
O.k. I know...I should have been prepared somewhat....shouldn't I have?
But let me ask you this? How do you prepare?
We were encouraged to "borrow our friend's kids" for a day or a weekend. But that wouldn't do it justice. In the back of your mind you would always be thinking "This is hard and these kids are little hellions but they will be going home to their parents in a couple of hours".
The option is not there when you are faced with a wee one in your home who is yours. It's not really a realistic view of what parenting will be like because they aren't your kids. You can't set the rules and boundaries. You can't decided what time they will go to bed or have their lunch or take a nap. Those things are already in place.
We could have taken parenting classes and we looked into them. Unfortunately, in our small city all the parenting classes are geared towards birth families and newborns. Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough but I think I was.
We also had a moving target age wise. Ade was 6 months at referral. A year when we found out the adoption might not go through. 18 months when our documents finally hit Nairobi for Visa and Immigration. All the time we were thinking "We will bring him home any day now"! I ordered books on raising a 1 year old, a 2 year old and 3 year old to cover the bases because we just didn't know when we would get him home.
And yes! I know! I asked for this. I moaned for it! I cried over it for hours, days, and weeks on end.
I still want it.
Adoption books were scattered all over the house from my reading frenzy prior to going to Ethiopia. I gathered them together when we got home in an attempt to read all of them at once because I needed the answers to so many questions and the most important question of all was "How are we going to do this without screwing him up?"
I honestly thought we were going to cause long-term, permanent damage to him if we didn't do everything perfectly and in every detail described in the many, many books on attachment and bonding I had been diligently collecting since we started our adoption.
I was so overwhelmed by it all! I was setting myself up for failure.
Where had the parents in Ethiopia gone? We were so free and unencumbered during our time there. We parented by instinct and it was working. We were happy and enjoyed each day with Ade as we set out on new adventures as a family of 3.
It was if we had just met Ade for the first time the moment we walked through our front door (actually the back door because we park in the garage). We froze! Well I did for sure. Yvan set about living life as normally as could be with our new addition.
It was me. I admit it. I froze. I got scared. Scared out of my wits. Who was I to be in charge of a 2 year old. How was I supposed to get him through each day alive? What was I suppose feed him? How do I keep him entertained? Should he nap for 1 hour, 2 hours...what time was the best bed time? All of these questions and more ran in a continuous loop in my brain.
I became obsessed with making sure he was attaching to us. Playing with him, sitting with him, sleeping with him....were we doing it all right? Did he want us? Was he happy? So much so, that what ended up happening was I became exhausted from thinking, planning and hoping it would all turn out so perfectly.
It won't turn out perfectly. We aren't perfect. Life isn't perfect. Why did I suddenly think parenting would be anything but imperfect?
I forgot to make sure I was o.k. I forgot to give myself breaks. Yvan would say to me "Go to the gym. I will watch the boy." I wouldn't go...for some reason I felt I shouldn't leave Ade or Yvan. I wouldn't be a good mom. He would resent me if I left him for even a minute. This what I had waited so long for and now I was going to go to the gym?
The overwhelmingness of it all took over.
Then the reality of having a child at home who we had been entrusted to raise entered in the ever-running loop of crazy thoughts in my head. At bed time, I would start thinking about the next day and what it would bring. Then I started thinking about all of the days ahead. At once!
The anxiety took over and panic set in as I imagined each day of BREAKFAST, SNACK, LUNCH, NAP, SNACK, SUPPER, BEDTIME...REPEAT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
I couldn't sleep thinking this what my life had become. I would be 50 years old and raising a 2 year old....I couldn't see beyond this stage. Yvan was kind to remind "He won't be 2 forever you know." And all I could think was "HE WILL BE 2! FOREVER!!!!!"
I became paralzyed...didn't want to leave the house because I HAVE A 2 YEAR OLD! How do you leave and do anything normal ever again with a toddler who is 2!
I felt like I couldn't breathe...I was suffocating...trapped....doomed.
This is how my brain worked. No matter what I told myself or others told me.
It was awful! As my one friend said to me "It is so gross!"
It wasn't reality...it isn't what life will really be like..but at that moment, in my head...that was it...all that life would hold...the raising of a 2 year old and never, ever leaving my house again.
The fact it was -35 for the first 3 weeks we were home didn't help because we weren't actually leaving the house because it was so cold. This only compounded my fear.
Thankfully, I knew enough to ask for help. I asked Yvan. We asked his parent, my parents, our friends...I talked.
To anyone who would listen. I talked. And talked and talked.
I am still talking. It is doing me some good...it is doing us some good.
We also remembered how much Ade loves to be out and about. So we are going out. And about.
It is getting better.
I have my hard days.
Ade has his hard days.
Yvan has his hard days.
Then we have our good days...and they are really good.
We are figuring it out together.