This woman's work is one of my favorite blogs. Dawn and her husband adopted their daughter as an infant here in the US, so their situation is quite different from ours, but at the same time, because all of our kids were adopted, there are many similarities. I always find her posts about adoption get me thinking in new and more useful ways.
She is a writer, professionally and bloggingly, and she brainstorms on her blog, which I think is great. It's fun to watch someone's mind at work. Today she wrote about the first chapter of something she's writing, I believe it's a memoir of her experience with her daughter's adoption -- making sure to stress that she is a spectator. She is not as IN it as her daughter and her daughter's first mother are.
This resonated with me because I tend to be pretty self-involved. Navel-gazing, how am I feeling today about being a mother?, blah, blah, blah. When my hamster-wheel mind starts spinning, it's dizzying.
Ironically, I realize that in order to be less selfish and more present to those I love, I need to begin with the self-absorption and work from there -- figure out how and why I tick. Like a time bomb with a hair-trigger, I might add. Part of my work these days is to look at my reaction to a situation, and then question it until I stop asking questions and have an answer, or plan of action. Or no plan.
"Erin, why are you pretending not to hear your son?"
"Uh, what son?"
"The one behind the storm door making fish faces on it with his mouth. Oh, and he's scraping his nails against the screen, too. it's starting to buckle."
"Oh, yes that son. Well, I'm afraid I'll yell at him. I'm afraid I'll suddenly pull the door open so he'll come stumbling into the hallway and land on his face like Chevy Chase. As satisfying as that seems at the moment, I assume it'll cause more problems in the long run. I'm way too tired for a long run."
"So you're afraid of your own reactions, not of his, really?"
"Yep. Being out of control is pretty scary."
"He's out of control right now, I bet it's scary for him, too."
"Yep, you're right."
And then I proceed in some fashion. Personal psychotherapy. In this latest drama I gently opened the door and asked him if he was afraid of being alone during rest time. You see, he was fighting against the time of the day we all spend quietly at our own thing. When he does it, he has a great afternoon without any meltdowns, is more even-keeled, generally happier. He has acknowledged this, and always enjoys the activities I prepare for him, and often sleeps during a portion of it. But every once in a while he resists it, and partakes of his stalking hobby. His younger brother sleeps during this time, and sometimes Alex and I do, too. Or we work quietly at something. It's down-time for us adults, too.
There's no one for him to interact with, and I think it might scare him a bit. Or make him feel lonely. I'm not sure if I'm putting ideas into his head. I'm just guessing here, and it'll take a while before we can easily communicate these types of things to one another. But maybe it'll help give him the vocabulary he needs to be able to let me know what's going on in the future.
No miracles happened, no giant steps for parental-kind. But looking at myself got me to look away from myself, which is SUCH a relief. And eventually he did go into his resting room, worked on his sticker book and came out in better spirits. Which was also a relief.