Friday, July 10, 2015

To Adoptive Parents of anxious children

Related Posts with ThumbnailsI haven't been on here in ages and I've missed it. I've missed writing and being creative but to be honest this has just not been high on my priority list. This post might give you some insight into why.

We moved to Toronto 2 years ago and we love it here. We love it here but moving across the country one year after bringing home our beautiful son was a lot for him to handle. We all had to find our footing and Oz's anxiety was fairly excessive that first year. Without getting too much into what that looked like for our family I will say anyone who is parenting a child with trauma issues will likely understand the struggles that encompassed.

Over the passed year things have changed dramatically and Oz began attending preschool and gained so much confidence and ability to be away from me. His separation anxiety dissipated and it was incredible to see him blossom and embrace changes.

This last week he's been attending summer camp which has been another change and he's struggled with that separation again. Nothing like before but yesterday he begged to stay home with me and run errands and I said ok. It wasn't the most fun day but I didn't feel like pushing him to go was the right move and frankly, it would have been a disaster. He stayed home with me and midway through Winner's he declared  he should have gone to summer camp. He was eyeing me with both pity and admiration at this point, imagining how boring my mornings must be without him.

Spending the day with him was a really good reminder for me. Admittedly I started off annoyed and a little frustrated, thinking about how Kindergarten would go in September, and worrying about a million things rather than just focusing on that moment. Once I let go of my expectations to how the day was supposed to go and embraced where he was and worked with him in the present moment things improved immediately. Raising an anxious child has required me to let go of my own anxieties and that has not been easy. But I can't encourage him to breathe and be mindful when I'm obsessing about the past and future at a breakneck pace. Him having an anxious week doesn't negate how far he's come nor is it any kind of predictor for the future. It is simply indicative of where he is right now. Breathe, just breathe.

I know that first year whenever I read blogs from other moms raising children with trauma and anxiety issues it helped me immensely. I felt less alone and more able to to face the world. I learned a few things along the way I really wanted to share in the hope it might make someone else feel less alone.

First of all, it's hard. Let me say that again for every parent out there struggling through these issues, it is really really hard. The kind of hard that breaks you down in ways you didn't know possible.

People will judge you. They will. I know that sucks, but it is human nature and if your child is having a really hard time you will likely at some point encounter looks and comments and it will hurt. Remember, please please remember, those moments when the world seems to come crashing down around you both, it's only about you two. Blur out the rest of the world, enter your bubble, and just get through it.

And you CAN get through this. Sometimes you will feel like you are failing in every way imaginable and not know how you will face tomorrow when you barely got through today, but you will. I know I am just some random person you may not know writing some idealist sentiment but I believe in you. And your child believes in you. And I know you can get through it. And you don't have to get through it with a smile on your face and spring in your step, you may be bruised and beat up in every way possible but you can do this. You can and more importantly you will.

But you will likely need help and support, don't be afraid to reach out. You may need to reach out a few times in order to find professionals who you can work with or friends and family members you find comforting but don't be afraid to talk about it. This is not a failure on your part, do not be embarrassed. You child is going through a perfectly normal reaction to their circumstances, and while you offer them grace and understanding make sure that same understanding is given freely to yourself. Like I said above, this is not easy. What you are feeling, whatever myriad of raw emotions you yourself are working through are understandable, and normal, and it ok to feel them. In fact, it is healthy to feel them.

You are not alone. There are many of us out here working through the same things. I'm not in your house, and I know our lives are all different, but the fundamental issues you are working through unite so many of us.

Take care of yourself. This seemed like a ridiculous expectation at times when I was too exhausted to sit up at the end of the day. but find some time, a minute, a moment, to take care of yourself. Even just to breathe deep and tell yourself you are doing fine.

Most people won't get it. They won't understand that your child's meltdown stems from a completely different place than theirs, or that your child's meltdown won't be over in 5 minutes or 10 minutes or maybe even an hour.  They may try to relate and it might make you feel better or make you feel worse and that's ok, but it's important to find people who do get it. Sometimes you are going to be desperate to sit across from someone who says they understand. Your weary soul will find rest in that understanding.

The biggest thing I've learned to embrace is being different.  Being a parent through adoption is different and many times you might feel left out of a club where labour and pregnancy stories are the norm.  Being different though doesn't mean being less than. My family looks different than most, and we came together differently, and how amazing is that?!!  Our situation is different, our experience is different, and I think it's all pretty awesome at the end of the day. I can't parent the same way as many of my friends because it wouldn't fit for my family and I have learned to be ok with that because again, it's not between me and the world. My only responsibility in parenting is to my son.

Lastly, remember the awesomeness that is your child. These kids are survivors and I don't say that lightly. These are awesome beings of light that need you. Embrace those easier moments and revel in their majesty. These are amazing kids and that is everything. The love between you is everything. Have a good cry, work through your emotions, and when you find those quiet moments sit and revel in the love that binds you.

Much Love, J xx