Saturday, April 22, 2017

Just the three of us, building castles in the sky...


Yesterday, I went to court to get full guardianship of my daughter's brother. My daughter, my lawyer, myself, the Guardian Ad Litem and my daughter's brother stood before the judge and said this is what we all wanted. My daughter spoke about how she felt like part of her life had been missing and how glad she was that her brother would have better opportunities now.

I would like to say that everything has gone as easily as that court date yesterday, but that wouldn't be true. Heck, even the court date was delayed a month because the docket in March was full.

Having a teenage boy here has been perhaps, one of the biggest challenges of my life. When the two were babies, my (at the time) goddaughter was colicky and almost everything made her sick. I remember holding her above my head and lifting her up and down under the ceiling fan to calm her so she could finally fall asleep. Her brother was an easy baby. Hardly cried. Cuddled a lot with Candace. Candace once told me that if she had had her son first, she would have thought she was a natural mom. That mothering was easy. She said that because she'd had her daughter first, she'd been humbled. That she understood how hard being a mom could really be. For me, I've had the exact opposite experience with those two. Having my (now) daughter come live here was a natural flow of our already close relationship. Not that it was all easy, but I patted myself on the back and told myself "You got this." I listened when people told me what a great mom I was.

That has not been my experience now. People always look at me and say, "Oh, you'll be fine, you're such a great mom, you got this." But I, most decidedly, have days where I do NOT got this.

Having my life shift so much has pushed me to limits I didn't know I had. Pushed me to the edge of patience, and frustratingly, sometimes beyond it. I've been tremendously hard on myself. Forced to create boundaries for a young person who has really not had many, I feel like often I am more of a drill sergeant than a parent. I've had to deal with anger and anxiety in someone that brings forth my own anger and anxiety. I've had to figure out how to move past my own shortcomings to try to be a better person... and often I feel I come up short of the mark.

If you've read my blog, you know I struggle with being kind to myself. I struggle with honoring my own needs, often putting others before myself. Perhaps that is part of being a parent, putting the needs of children above my own needs. But I think, when I put their needs above my own too often, I lose myself in the process.

At times, life here is sunshine and happiness. Two kids curled up on the sofa talking, me curled up with a cup of tea laughing, and all of us feeling like a well tuned family - working together for the best of all of us. I treasure those moments, and lately they come more often.

But just as often I feel like I am living in a tempest. I have to push through the outright denial of being a family. The denial of connection that comes from the fear of belonging somewhere. The push against being loved. I have had to face my own trauma and learn how to manage it when surrounded by someone else's. I've read and reread this article. I've found it both comforting and confronting, both at the same time.

Often my supportive and wonderful friends will say to me, "Oh, hey, typical teenage behavior! Welcome to parenthood!" And then I feel even worse.  I think to myself, omg, I can't even handle typical teenage behavior! But that isn't accurate. It isn't typical in my world and while I know every parent of a teenager has difficult moments, the uncertainty mixed with tremendous loss in my situation, makes this not some 'typical teenage behavior." I know friends are being supportive, I know they are trying to help and I am grateful for their love and support. I also know I'm the only one in my situation and I shouldn't diminish my experience or myself for feeling at times like I fail at parenting over typical teenage behavior.

There is therapy, there is assessment. There is no way I could do this on my own. I'm consistently and constantly amazed at how supportive the people around me have been. The people at work, the people that are my friends, the people in my family. I'm lucky to not be alone. I don't know how a single person could do it alone. For those single parents raising kids, my admiration knows no bounds.

But what I am realizing, is that it's okay for this to not be perfect. It's okay for this experience to bounce back and forth between delightful and difficult.

I know I am doing the best I know how to do. And I am learning to take my life one moment at a time to the best of my ability. I know no matter how this experience turns out, I am growing. I am becoming. And I am already not the same person that agreed to bring another child into my life. It's been humbling and I'm certainly learning how much I still have to learn.

I am looking forward to what comes next. I'm also scared and nervous. It's unknown, and I'm not always good with the unknown. But I know I will emerge from this story with many new stories of my own to tell. And I believe all of us in this story will do some healing, some learning, and some loving together to emerge from this story even better than when we stepped into it.

peace my friends,



Kim Antieau said...

Thanks for sharing, love.

MaryKate M said...

❤️ You, friend.