Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We're learning how to love each other

Many mothers who are parenting children from the hard places carry around a massive amount of guilt. They feel guilty that sometimes they don't want to be around their child. They have no loving feelings for them. They pull away from a hug or touch just as much as their child. They know that the bonding stuff is the medicine their child so desperately needs, but the thought of doing it makes their skin crawl.

And they don't feel safe enough to tell anyone. I mean, seriously? Can you show up at PTA and say, "Yep. Today my kid just walked in the room and I immediately felt like someone knocked the wind out of me and I almost dry heaved." We are alone in the parenting. We are alone in the behaviors. We are also so painfully alone in how we feel about our kids. We are alone in our guilt because we feel like something must be wrong with US. I mean ... how could any mom feel that way about their child?

Thank God, some of you allow yourselves the opportunity to unload on me. I will be the first to remind you that we are trying to love children who are doing every single thing in their power to make that impossible. Any normal person on the entire planet would feel exactly - EXACTLY - the same way.

If you can endure the kinds of things we do, and always have warm, fuzzy feelings and not be repulsed by your child, I would dare say you are not normal. Your are made of plastic.

The truth is, there are many, many days that our love for our children is a choice. We just wake up and choose to show them love. We do not want to. We want to hurt them. We want to ignore them. We want to punish them. Our hearts are so beaten down to nothing. The experts can tell us it is not about us - it is all about the fear and shame. But all we see is anger. All we feel is the punching and the spitting and the biting. All we hear are the words that cut us to the core, when we are being stellar in our love.

It crushes you. It makes you bitter.

To you - the parents and grandparents and caregivers of these hurting kids - I love you. I love you so very deeply. I am sorry that we have to do this kind of work for healing to happen. I am sorry that we have to be different. I am sorry that we find ourselves wanting to WANT to feel love for our kids.

Today I was standing in my closet, getting dressed, when this song came on. I've heard it before, but today I thought of me ... and I thought of you. I wept for all of us.

I love you.


Teaching My Heart
(click link to listen)
by Joules Graves

i'm teaching my heart to spread its wings - unfolding
like teaching my fingers to play these strings - holding love
love... holding love

well, it stretches and aches and I've learned from my mistakes
sometimes my heart, like a guitar string, breaks
and I wonder how long this healing will take
how long this healing will take

sometimes it seems just too damn slow
but we crawl before we walk you know
we crawl before we walk, you know

one step and then another
we're learning how to love each other
one step and then another
we're learning how to love each other

one step and then another
we're learning how to love and be loved

now it's true when they say
you can't love someone else
until you can truly love yourself
i'm learning how to love myself

it's true when they say you can't accept someone else
until you can truly accept yourself
we're all learning how to accept ourselves

sometimes it seems just too damn slow
but we crawl before we walk, you know
we crawl before we walk, you know

one step and then another
we're learning how to love each other
one step and then another
we're learning how to love each other

one step and then another

we're learning how to love

and be loved


Megan said...

Christine- Thank you for this post. We are really struggling over here and it sucks to say outloud that the darling little boy (to everyone but me!) who came to live with us 6 months ago makes me want to put myself in the car and drive away and never come back. Thank you for reminding me that I am not crazy and that it is okay to feel like I just got sucker punched in the gut. I never anticipated in my wildest dreams that so much damage could be done to a 2 1/2 year old. My other children told me this week that they were sorry that Miles hated me. Broke my heart and made me feel angry and guilty all at the same time. Thanks for sharing your heart. Hoping I bump into you in NYC next weekend!

E-S said...

You are such an inspiration! I can so relate with my two kids from haiti....

Unknown said...

I needed this post today. Thank-you. Today I had a melt down at the county fair. My five year old was in rare form. You know, the form that leaves you wondering about doing things you don't dare say because it's all illegal? Yeah. I ended up phoning a friend who rescued me for a couple hours.
He was a perfect angle for her.
Of course. I am the crazy one.

Brandy-new rad mom said...

Thank you. I too needed that. I hate the feelings inside sometimes and I have been feeling like a really bad mom lately. Someone told me that they "loved my son but didn't like him." Can't say I blame them. I questioned what my answer would have been. Would I have have even said I truly love him? Sounds harsh but I know you understand what I mean. First time a post made me tear up. I feel like I am losing myself...

CORoots said...

LOVE this honesty! Thanks, Christine. Hubby and I often say how we go through periods where we don't like him and we so badly want him to be like-able almost all of the time. And, talk about guilt!!! I'm the bio-Mom. I've been here all along and my own problems helped cause this as well as his bioDad walking out on him like nothing. Guilt, guilt, guilt. 19 and pregnant...Chose life... THIS life!?!? So hard. Sometimes I just sob to God and ask WHY I was lead to choose the way I chose and I'm always reminded by something or someone that the reason is because I CAN handle it and I CAN help him and he WILL be a fantastic addition to our human family. But, it tough! Getting beat up and belittled and trying to face my own guilt and not having any people I know in real life to just get it off my chest with, other than hubby. I LOVE this community of RAD you've made. LOVE it! THIS is where I go when I'm crying and walking away from the violence. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Kerrie said...

Thank-you so much for writing this- I've been having a hard time with this topic, and you're right, even my friends and family who love me wouldn't understand. Especially the description of having "the wind knocked out of you," by having your child walk in the room. Because that happens to me. Honesty time: some nights I lie awake worrying that Princess is going to want to climb in bed and "snuggle" (ie: lie stiff as a board) with me, then lie awake feeling hideously guilty for feeling that way, especially about the child who needs it the most. Exhausting.

Kerrie said...
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Karen said...

Thank you for this post..... I REALLY needed to hear this today!! I many days feel so alone and could never tell anyone how or what I am feeling... It is hard and it is nice to know that I can pop over to your blog and know that someone understands!

coffeemom said...

Ah, you do great things you know that right? I mean, in your household, day to day of course, but also here in the blog-o-verse. YOu do great things. You help us moms, the ones doubled over from taht sucker punch to the gut, or the ones just weary with making that decision every day to do make us know we are not alone and we are normal after all. And even tho we know that, it's nice to hear/read it again and "aloud." Bless you.

Momma Too Many said...

Somehow, you always speak to my heart! Thank you for allowing us all to speak what we really feel and know that there is someone out there who understands it, and doesn't condemn it. I've only been following you for a few days, but you have truly helped me through some of the hardest thoughts I've had in a long time. Thank you for loving your kids the way you do, and thank you even more for loving all of us in the trenches with you as if we were your own! May God bless you in everything you do!

Kathy Cassel said...

i hear you!

Diana said...

Thank you for leading the healing wings crusade. Thank you for sharing all our hearts! You rock, girlfriend...and the house next door to me is still for sale. :-)

Lauri said...

I needed this today

thank you

Michelle said...

Holy Crap! I can relate to this post on a daily basis, and it is very relevant today. I just came down from cleaning the girls room, and I'm trying not to blow up. My older daughter went to a birthday slumber party last night, so my younger RAD daughter decided to pee all over her sister's bed. It takes everything I have some days to just keep from whaling on her. Thank you for reminding me that this isn't for the faint hearted and that I don't have to feel guilty about hating this. We've been working on this for over 6 years now, and even though we've come a long way, I wonder when are we ever going to get to the finish line???
Thanks for the lifeline~

Anonymous said...

You have no idea, except you probably do, how many mornings I get up and am grateful that love is a choice and not just a feeling. Thanks for reminding us.

Integrity Singer said...

Sissy got lice while at camp. The past two weeks of combing through her hair has been a real challenge for me. We've had to sit very closely for an hour at a time as I comb through. Many times I've had to stifle a wretch or two. But it's gotten easier with each LP (lice patrol)

mamakendall said...

As I read through everyone's comments, I realized there wasn't much else I needed to add. You are such a blessing to us, Christine. Thank you for keeping us sane. Thank you for being honest, listening to us, and for understanding us. You will be blessed with a lot of jewels on your crown someday.
We love you!

Laynie said...

Reading this for the first time today, just an hour or so after H came up behind me to rub my shoulders and I flintched and jumped as if she were some strange old man. Then the rushing guilt came along. Yeah, I needed this! Thanks again, sweetie.

Amy T. S. said...

No words can express the amount of love God has shown me through you, Christine!

Chantelle said...

Words can not do justice to how FULLY I RELATE to what you wrote here today. Please never forget what a MINISTRY your blog is to the lonely moms of un-attached kids. (((hug))) Bless you times a zillion.

Wendy said...

Wow. That is EXACTLY where I am today and feeling horrifically guilty about it too. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Annie said...
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Owlhaven said...

Best line in this post: "Any normal person on the entire plane would feel exactly - EXACTLY - the same way."

I so hope you can come to Austin in October for that adoption conference. Except now I'm afraid when I see you I'll just bawl. Because you understand it all.

Kristen Howerton said...

Oh, wow. I needed this today. REALLY.

Sarah said...

I'm so glad that you talk about the "hard" stuff. You are awesome.

Shan said...

Interesting artist. I don't investigate music but am glad to be pointed toward good stuff.

My boy has a totally adorable interesting personality and then he has that other one that I want to be rude to, glare at and get as far away as I can from.

I may be homeschooling him this year so I'll need some sanity time blocked out for both of us soon!

I feel for you parents with even tougher situations. It is such a mind assault some days I know!!

Hang in!!

Anonymous said...

I must meet you one of these days! Today has been rough and sure enough, I clicked on your blog to read these words...I sOOOOO needed to hear this, again. I beat myself up b/c I want things to be 'normal', I don't want to struggle, this isn't what I expected. Hard, so very hard.....thank you Christine!

Jude said...

Wow - I feel so much better about myself and my RAD-soaked life! Thank you so much for your encouragement and wisdom. It is such a blessing!

Chris P-M said...

I'm always feeling like no one gets it. This life w/ RAD kids is SO isolating, and yes...who can we talk about it with who will understand??? I feel like I wake up every day these days and just want to stay in bed. I question myself all the time, asking if this was the right decision. Especially since our infertility issues, we believed that adoption was the right thing to do. We wanted to bring children into our lives to love them, and so often just TRYING to love them is all I can manage. I wish I could find it within myself to enjoy being a parent. I look to folks' blogs to remind myself that I'm not alone, and although that is helpful, I still feel so "stuck." (I just put my raging 5 year old on the school bus, so I'm feeling a little more overwhelmed right now!)

Thanks for your honesty. It is hard to find folks who share the REALNESS of their parenting struggles. So often it seems like "mom's world" is all about the image of having a perfect life. This is FAR from it!


Kristine said...

As I listen to my husband trying to get my son out of the bath, and here him mumble and say only half of his words (my son, not my husband)and pretend he doesn't know how to dry himself off, I really needed to read this! Thank you!