Lately, I have been distracting myself from my own insignificant problems (you know, the ones that feel REALLY significant, but are really just first world problems) with some volunteer work and chatting with some amazing mamas who are in China right now getting their babies.
When they describe their feelings, fears, worries, joy, it takes me right back to the trips I took, and the times I was in the thick of it. During some of those thicker moments, you might have found Joe and I in a hotel room in rural Georgia, first time parents of a baby that looked nothing like us, who had no clue who we were and was so confused by all the changes he had experienced in his first months of life that he was inconsolable.
In another of those thicker moments, you would have found me in rural Ghana with a 2-year-old who hated everything about me, including the fact that I even dared to breathe.
In even more thick moments, you would have found me pacing a hotel room in China, with one baby I wasn’t sure would live, and another who was in horrific pain. You would have found Joe, in another moment, doing the same, but wondering how we would ever find a way to earn a certain little boy’s trust. This boy, he had been disappointed so very many times, why would he think we were any different?
I think about these moments every single time I talk to a parent in their own moment. They’re in the thick of it. They’re pacing the floor. They’re wondering, ‘what the %&*% am I about to get myself into?!?’ They’re wondering how they will ever earn this child’s trust? How will they ever make them feel safe? How will this ever work?
If we were having that talk, right now, here’s what I would tell you. There will be moments like this for awhile.
They may be a short while. They may be a long while. But, they’ll be there. There will be a moment when your child hates you just because you’re there, just because you’re breathing. You’ll know, in your head, that you shouldn’t blame them, but in your heart, it will hurt. Knowing that this is coming, preparing for it, will help you embrace it as part of your journey together.
My recommendation, to any family about to jump into the thick of it, is to take a journal. Write down these feelings, the moments leading up to meeting your child, the moments right after, all the moments. Your child is going to have almost no tangible connections to their past. These moments may be it. If you journal it all, record it for them, they’ll know how much you loved them, even before you really knew them.
I never promise it will ever be perfect, but it will get better. What ‘better’ looks like is different for every child, and for every parent. But, I guarantee you that one month down the road, you won’t recognize your child as the same one that was handed to you the day you met, or the days that followed, in those thicker moments. There will be change. I can promise you that.
As the years roll on, the bonds will grow stronger, and you may still find those thick moments, but they’ll look different then they did at the beginning. And, when you think back to where you were, and how far you’ve come, you’ll realize how truly blessed you are to have gotten to witness it all, even if you had to fight to be allowed to do it, or to heal their hearts enough to venture out of the thickness and into the happiness.
Should you find yourself in the thick of it, and you’re thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore. I cannot parent this child’, I want you to email me. My email address is on the ‘About Me’ page. There will be no shame, there will be no judgment. There will be only a mom who has been in the thick of it and understands right where you are. Please, reach out.
–FullPlateMom, who wants you to keep on fighting.