She’s Not Sleeping
But that’s nothing new. Our daughter didn’t start snoozing “through the night” (i.e. for 6 hours) until nine months. What’s new is losing the one thing we had going for us…her fall-asleep-fast by 7 p.m.. It’s gone. I’m not sure whether it’s tummy issues, a recent trip, the heat, or having a cold, but the past month has been…there’s just no nice word. “It sucks” is moderate, but not adequate.
After two to three hours of singing, rocking, cajoling, and every-baby-whisperer-trick-we-know, she passes out only to pop back up again after a few hours.
I Don’t Want to Complain
I get that sleep is this THING. I’m not here to swap war stories, because, frankly, with only one child under a year old, I know I’ll lose. I read your blogs, moms: I know.
What makes me tired-upon-tired is the bigger reason I don’t complain: I’m an adoptive mom. Grateful and maybe chagrined or determined, I can be those things. But end-of-rope-tear-spilling-weary? Nope.
I Know What You’ll Say
Oh, sure, you’ll write nice comments (I hope) and tell me how an adoptive mom is like any other mom, and that we are ALL bone weary. But I don’t believe you. I know better.
And you, adoptive mamas, I think you do, too. Even if we aren’t supposed to admit it. There’s a higher standard:
It started with the home study, right? When we had to select pictures of ourselves, and few of them were good enough? And then the letter we had to write. And then, the match interview, or interviews, and meetings. And the way we worried about what to wear to the hospital? Casual, but not sloppy. Motherly but not so motherly it seemed we were making assumptions.
This is Where I Start to Confess
And then, just when we think we’re done, there’s the parenting part. The open adoption part.
The visits, meetups. Our house, the park, parties. Hosting. Welcoming and open-armed. Making space for everyone, for family-of-origin misunderstanding and ignorance, for birth family nervousness and grief. Holding everyone around the child together.
And through it all, being real and vulnerable, but not so vulnerable you can say all the secret things you think: about how you are so tired.
About how no one said it was this hard. Precisely THIS hard.
How Adoption is Different
Being an adoptive mom is no different than being a…what’s the right word…normal/standard/usual/expected mom. Every new normal/standard/usual/expected mom is exhausted, and shocked to discover exactly how tired she feels.
But those moms get to complain. And I don’t feel like I can.
Because I’m the lucky one. The million-in-one-chance-someone-chose-you-so-don’t-mess-it-up one.
And So I Tell Myself:
Your child needs you to be present, not wallowing in selfishness.
Your child needs you because your child is separated from her first mother, the one who was normal/standard/usual/expected until she chose you.
And you are standing in the gap of that loss, for both of them. You are the one in the river of need up to your neck, holding the tiny hand of the child and the hand of the mom and the hands of the families, and they are all depending on you to keep your head above water.
Don’t you dare, for one second, drown.
The point of writing this now…
is not to elicit sympathy or praise. Or speak for all adoptive mamas. Or make us seem heroic (god forbid). Or, in any way, even the smallest, minimize how hard it is for the moms who chose adoptive parents to raise their children. Or imply that open adoption is a bad choice because it is “too hard.”
The point is just to admit that I’m tired, and to let you see me.
It’s Brené Brown’s Fault
She said to be real is to risk being seen.
My what-would-I-do-without-her adoptive mama friend says that I should get a T-Shirt that reads “where I come from, there’s shame.” And she’s right: it’s shame of being found out that keeps me quiet and makes it worse.
I’m ashamed of my weariness and deeply afraid that you’ll read this and think me selfish or ungrateful or self-aggrandizing or entitled or callous or broken.
So Here I Am
If to be real is to risk being seen, then here I am. I’m an adoptive mom. And I’m tired of adoption. I’m tired of what it adds, for me, because of MY standards (which are my own problem, I know) to the daily life of parenting.
I just want to show up and tell you this, and risk your reaction.
For although I am ashamed of my tiredness and my inability to own it, I am also determined to stand in that river and BRING IT with all that I have, to claim all that I am, even the parts that work against me and make me weep.