My husband and I are working on adopting, which is a large part of why I’ve been mostly absent here for the last year. I wrote this post last night on our adoption blog, but I thought it might generate some good discussion here, and go along nicely with some of the recent posts, so I’m cross-posting it.
Anyone who knows me know that I’m a pretty honest person, and I don’t sugarcoat things. Especially when it comes to my kids and mothering. In fact, this blog is probably about the least honest I’ve been, and even here I don’t feel like I’ve been at all dishonest, I just don’t have nearly enough whiny posts up for you to realize how whiny I can be in real life. That’s probably okay. A little less whining is good for me, and you probably appreciate not hearing so much of it. I know it grates on my nerves when my kids do it, so I really ought to be setting a better example.
But that’s not really why I’ve avoided my tendencies toward whininess here. (What do they mean, whininess isn’t a word? It totally is.) I’ve avoided it here because for the first time in a very long time people are judging me and I care what they think. I mostly got over worrying about other peoples’ opinions in high school. I’m far from perfect, but I’m fairly happy with who I am, and I’m not going to change based on what other people think I should be. My real friends take me as I am, warts and all (and I love them for it!). But now…
Well, first I had to pass a home study. I had to invite someone into my home and convince them I was a good enough parent that they would recommend that someone trust me with more children. Luckily, our SW was very nice, and she did in fact recommend that we be approved to adopt, in spite of my fears that she’d look at me, my house and my kids and say, “Really, lady? You think I’m going to approve you for more?” So that’s one fear down. But I still have a ways to go. You see, in a few months I have to stand before a judge in my daughter’s country and convince him (or her) that they should trust me with this little girl. That in spite of all my shortcomings and failures, they should let me take their precious little one home with me. And I’m petrified that they’re also going to look at me incredulously and laugh in my face.
For the first time it really matters what other people think. If they don’t think I’m good enough I won’t get to take my daughter home. I can’t bear the thought. So I’m sometimes inclined to hide the bad. To not whine or complain, and to pretend I think this motherhood thing is absolutely the coolest thing in the world.
And in some ways, I do. I adore my kids. They’re smart and fun and hilarious and I can’t express how much I love them. I can’t imagine my life without them. (Okay, I kind of can, and occasionally (on bad days) it seems like it’d be really nice. But in reality if my kids were gone I don’t know how I’d function with the gaping hole that would replace the very center of my being.) I’m completely blessed to be able to be their mom.
But the reality is that I’m not really very good at this whole mothering thing, and I don’t really like most parts of it. (Yes, I’m freaking out a little bit at writing that on my blog right now. I’m hoping and praying that if an EE judge reads this they’re also a parent and understand that it’s a hard and sometimes thankless job, and they won’t judge me too harshly. Either that or they won’t understand English very well and will stop reading this post before they get to this part.)
I love my kids, but unlike most people (it seems) who write mommy blogs, or even adoption blogs, I’m not really a great mom. I pretty much never do crafts with my kids. They’re pretty smart, and know a lot, but almost all of it has been learned from TV shows and video/computer games. I don’t like playing games with them, and I absolutely hate having to get food for them three (or more) times a day. While I’ve chosen to be a SAHM, and I feel like it’s the right choice for our family (at least right now), I often wish it wasn’t. I often wish I had a viable career, and could pay someone else to do all the things with my children that would enrich them but that I don’t want to do. I think it might be better for them and for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a horrible mother. I might yell a little too much and get short with my kids, but I do apologize for it. I might not do any crafts with them, but I do regularly take them on trips to museums, zoos, and national parks. I might let them learn their numbers from TV shows, but I spend a lot of time researching and becoming an expert on their host of medical issues. Overall it balances out all right. At least I think it does.
But I’m unlike some adoptive moms (or bio moms) I know, who keep adding to their family because they love kids and love being a mother. I have enormous respect for those women, but I’m not one and will never be one. In fact, while I wasn’t sure we were done after 3 kids, I wasn’t sure we weren’t, and I kind of liked the idea. Three was enough, and I could have been quite happy to stop. At least, until I saw my daughter’s face, and knew she was supposed to be mine. I’m adopting not because I love mothering, but because I love my daughter. Just like I mother my sons not because I love mothering, but because I love them. The work itself is hard and often thankless, and it’s not something I enjoy.
And some days, on hard days, I look at myself like I expected the social worker to, and think, “Are you kidding me, lady? You’re adding another one? You can’t handle the ones you’ve already got.” And I seriously question why I think I should add one more when I’m often not that great with the ones already here. But then I picture my daughter’s face, and remember the feeling I got when I saw it — “She’s yours.” And I think of the saying, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” And I have to trust that if He wants me to do this He’ll make me capable of it. Not perfect by any stretch, but good enough.
Good enough to apologize when I hurt my kids’ feelings. Good enough to always stop what I’m doing to kiss their boo-boos. Good enough to give enormous hugs and cuddle them whenever possible. Good enough that they always know that whatever my faults, I love them more than anything. Hopefully that will not only be good enough for God, but for my kids, who are, after all, the ones who have to live with the consequences of having a seriously imperfect mother.