April 22, 2010

The Duck Analogy - Unmasked


First let's start with this:  thank you for allowing me to keep it real over here.  Some days you just need to take a deep breath and let it all out.  My format for that is this blog and an abstract analogy (i.e. ducks).  Many of you had very supportive and kind comments, so I wanted to thank you!  It's always nice to be picked up and brushed off.  I needed that!

I do want to clarify something though that should not be side-stepped.  Many of you also felt I was experiencing post-adoption depression and encouraged me to seek help immediately.  And first, thank you!  Because I have been there in the past...with a certain little boy...and it was not pretty and I did not recognize the signs for some time.  I wasn't bold enough to admit it to others, but eventually broke down and got some help.  Nine months later, I was relieved to find it had passed, but not without a lot of effort on my part and some lovely "intervention".

Fast forward to now.  I just want to reassure those who are concerned - and really, I guess I don't have to...but I still want to.  Because you cared enough to encourage me, and you did reach out.  And too many times for too many women, that is not the case.  No one reaches out.  No one even notices.  And there are too many mothers who are simply drowning in new motherhood and have no one to talk to or tell.  Of course, my post was a tad OVERT.  And while you could have interpreted my post yesterday as a cry for help or a sign that I was wallowing in denial about the true cause of my feelings...I want to clear up the abstract analogy I gave you.  Because post-adoption depression is a serious, serious issue and you DO have to get it addressed.  So if you're a woman struggling with that - this post and the previous one are in no way to diminish from that or make light of it.  They just aren't about post-adoption issues. 

Ok.  So to the point:

AB has made it clear he would like me to communicate the following right up front:  my abstract duck/avian post was not about post-adoption depression.  Read on...
I'm not feeling depressed.  I'm feeling annoyed.  (Not nearly as "glamorous", I know)

I'm feeling really annoyed.  Like a fish out of water.  And it does kind of make me sad. 

Just in a selfish way.  When I say I'm not a natural, I mean...mothering and coddling do not come naturally to me.  I never enjoyed babysitting.  I never asked if I could hold other peoples babies.  I never hung around little kids, except my siblings.  I never even wanted children until I met and fell in love with AB.  

Yada yada yada...fast forward some more and we have two children. Albeit through some pretty trying and extensive measures.  

And I guess all I was trying to say, was that I'm a little disappointed that I'm not better at this stint than I thought I would be.  I mean, I naively thought "how hard can it really be".  And that was like, MONDO naive.  Like roll your eyes, slap me in the mouth and put me to bed kind of naive.

Oh my gawd.  It's so freaking hard.  I couldn't even pretend to make it look easy. 

I have friends who are old pro's.  Even though they're relatively new at this too.  And they make it look effortless.  The mothering...the coddling.  Knowing what to say and how to say it.  Knowing when enough is enough, and when to let things slide.  Always keeping their reflexes in check. 

What the...what is that?  How do they do that?

I'm wired differently.  I'm high-strung.  I'm wound tight.  I don't have a middle gear.  It's warp speed or no speed.  I'm cleaning like a mad woman or I'm comatose on the couch.  Ok, I'm exaggerating a little, but not much

And so many of these moms I see/know have this amazing "medium" speed.  Casual, comfortable, nothing riles them up, nothing gets their goat...  Foul, I cry!  No fair!  I don't have that speed.

When Keira came home I was ready for the post-adoption depression to kick my butt again.  Waiting for it.  But nothing happened.  AB and I agree, I was much more prepared this time around (despite the horrible experience in China) and truth be told, she's really quite a joy now that she's becoming attached and bonding.  She's a very happy little thing these days, and she's easy going.  Love her to pieces.  She's a mama's girl!

I thought if I wrote in abstract bird terms...I could somehow avoid throwing a certain other child (hint hint) under the proverbial bus (hint hint) and that somehow you would miraculously (hint hint) know exactly what I meant.  Ahem.  Hint.  Alas.  I was too abstract.  Cough.

Aww, why not.  Might as well....

Here's comes the bus. 

My son.  Oh, my son.  Who I love so very much.  Sigh....

People.  He's going to kill me.

Shred me into tiny little pieces.  One. Day. At. A. Time.

And I know.  He's two.  I know.  I KNOW. 

But there is nothing I could do to show you...convince you...short of taping it (which, forget it...) to explain his toddler phase.  And it's only just started.  I mean, by all definitions toddlers are toddlers until they're 4.

I....(gasp...sob)....I don't think I'll make it that long.  I'm not trying to make light of this...not really, I'm just telling you flat out.  He's making me age.  Like gray hair/wrinkles/bad knees kind of aging.  Ok, actually this whole paragraph made me laugh just a bit, and that picture above too, so I must be making a little bit light of it.

But truly, it's not just me.  It's his Daddy too.  And our relatives.  And our friends.  If you're within a 20 foot radius of Quint, you cannot deny he is TWO.  ALL BOY.  And TWO.

And I'm not so good at toddlers, I'm finding.  Not so good at all.  The baby-phase is hard, don't get me wrong.  It's a lot of hands-on work - day in and day out.  But it has perks.  Lots of perks.  Like they stay in one place.  They don't talk back.  They adore you.  Most of the time.  But they're just silly little balls of butter who giggle and coo and explore.  And you can't help but adore them.

But this toddler phase, it's hard work AND very emotional.  From the minute they get you up (which lately has been 4am) until the light goes off at bedtime...it's emotional.  A struggle.  And yes, even a fight sometimes.  

Sweet moments, where his personality is just precious.  He is so loved, let me tell you.  But oh.  OH.  Kill me if I hear "NO!" or "STOP!" or the highest pitch scream known to man...one. more. time.  Or if he falls down on the floor and does his best "exorcist" impersonation.

Irrational.  Lovable.  Ridiculous.  Adorable.  Mind-numbing.  Smart.  

There are moments I can't take another minute of it, I tell myself.

Then others where I could soak him up and cuddle him for hours.

So when I see other people, with other toddlers...and everyone seems to be so tranquil...oh, I just want to...I don't know.  Go home with them.  Or huff and puff and blow their facade down. 

I just want to know what to do from that deep down place (that mothers instinct) and not let myself get so emotional about his...well, his toddlerhood.  Not let him get the best of me.  Be more...medium speed, like the other moms I see.  Calm.  Casual.  Collected.  Cool.  Easy.  Breezy.  

Not so...I don't know....blah. ugh. ack. grrr. why? no. stop. please don't. meh. kill me now.

I want to be a duck. That's all.

You know?


Kim said...

One thing that I have ALWAYS loved about your blog is you are sooo real.. .love it..
as for you and being a natural.. like I said before not everyone has that in them. it is not wrong or doesn't mean that you don't love your babies or kids..
toddler boys are very challanging.. they test you to the limits..
just stick to your guns.. don't let him get over on you and he will chill..
love you tons..

everythingismeowsome said...

As the mother of 2 boys (aged 3.5 and days away from 3--yes you read that right!), I totally get this. It is tragically, mind numbingly hard. Add to that equation that my younger son was just adopted 5 months ago and we are going through language barriers, attachment, stubbornness and regular 2 year old behavior, well, I've been struggling.

I will say that I have people tell me all the time that I make it look easy. I don't know how that is possible, but if it is true, let me just tell you this: even the ones who make it look easy are crumpling on the inside sometimes.

JoAnn in NJ said...

I do know...the whining drives me crazy! the very best thing about 2 is that the more verbal they become the easier it is to understand them/make them understand YOU!

My daughter whines...and when she does I give her 2 choices...if she continues to whine I will yell REALLY loud...or if she stops whining and can explain what she wants I will help her.

This has helped tremendously in the past year...but then again she's almost 5.

I completely understand and you have my admiration doing 2!

Also, I love the cuteness of babies but I am not a baby person either!

Jennifer said...

So you've got an "all boy," huh? I had two girls first. And when they were well-mannered, well-behaved, and generally pleasant to be around, some folks would say, "Well, they're GIRLS. . ." as if parenting and personality had nothing to do with it. And when #3came along and was a BOY, those same folks smirked and said, "You just wait!" He's four now. I figured that manners are manners and discipline is discipline and my boy would sit through church and conduct himself socially just as well as his sisters. And he does. AS LONG AS WE'RE NOT HOME! I said to my husband, "There's a big chunk missing from the woodwork around the den door - if I call a forensic team, I'm sure the results will come back TONKA TRUCK." He's into hitting, punching, attacking, and name calling - but his preschool teacher looked shocked when I mentioned it at conferences today - he does NONE of that at school. But tonight, while I made dinner, he brought his nine-year-old sister to tears with his physical attacks - and just before bedtime the thirteen-year-old came for an ice pack because he did something to her arm.

He climbed before he could walk. He growls, yells, and argues. While I don't get temper tantrums - I feel, sometimes, like I'm arguing before the Supreme Court. He has an answer for everything and ALWAYS must get the last word.

There are days when he is such good company - helping me, playing nicely, being so sweet - that our morning flies by. And there are days when I'm so glad he can't yet tell time so he doesn't know that naptime came an hour early because I couldn't take it any more!

I will say, he's lucky he's #3 - because I was much more high-strung with #1 - way too bogged down with the details - kept way too much on my to-do list - and got much more flustered by toddler behavior than I do these days. I wish I could go back and do #1 and #2's childhoods over again. . . then again, I guess not - I had to learn.

It will get better. And you CAN do this. Don't try to live up to an ideal. Try to live up to the best that you have to offer. Don't beat yourself up because you're not June Cleaver. Babies don't come with instruction manuals - and, thankfully for us, they don't hold our shortcomings against us.

Anonymous said...

Well, I must admit I have pre-adoption depression. Is there any help for that?
Love the picture of Quint! Save that one for a wedding video.

Christy said...

Reading your last 2 posts was like I literally was writing it myself-- except your a much better writer. I have never felt like parenting was my thing. I was like you- didnt babysit, never held others kids, didnt really like kids but we did the baby thing becuase it was what we do as married couples--right?? And the boys came easily with little effort. At one point I found myself with 2 little boys that were just like your little one- all boy- all TWO and a newborn. I remember crying my eyes out not out of post pardum but out of feeling like I suck as a parent. I am not one of those relaxed and easy going (I am easy going but more out of laziness than wanting to be a good parent) parents who make parenting look easy. I am on the go mostly out of not wanting to have to deal with the kids at home. I find it easier to run around and do stuff than to sit at home and have to deal with them. I have never been a natural and am still not. Dont get me wrong. I love my kids will everyting in me but I find them hard and Mia with her tantrums right now are KILLING ME!!!!! I am literally sick of her 10 minutes after she wakes up and then I am just tolerating her for the rest of the day. I just feel like I tolerate my kids most of the time. I dont have that joy so many parents feel. I have lots of joy at times and I think my kids are amazing but I do not have that wonderful JOY of parenting. I find many things annoying rather than cute. Things get under my skin and I tolerate little. I feel like a slave driver constatly yelling at my boys ordering them around. I just have never felt like a natural and as they grow older you get a whole new set of annoyances to deal with. I totally get you right now. I have felt like an inadequete mom since the boys were babies. I have always thought I was not meant to be a mom but I did it beucase I was supposed to. With that said, I love my kids and would NEVER go back and choose not to have had them or adopted Mia. I think they are amazing kids and are bound for greatness but I still to this day feel inadequete. REally, after 12 years of parenting, I still feel like I suck at this. I have learned to deal with it and think it is more of my issue than the fact that I am screwing up my kids like I use to think. I have had to get ok with the fact that I am really not a bad mom, I am a different mom. I am not the happy coddling cooing mom who just dotes on her kids and loves their snotty little noses. I will NEVER be that mom. But I am a mom who gives her kids all kinds of experiences and am always up for whatever. I can be fun and my kids feel like they can confide in me and I am definatly a mom who forces my kids to have a work ethic and who expects them to be responsible children. I am also a mom who allows them to be independant and learn from there mistakes- no coddling from me! I will let them fall on their face if it means they will learn a valuable lesson. With all that, I have learned I am not a bad mom, just a different mom. Believe me, the voices in my head still tell me I suck at this and when I see those amazing calm and cool loving parents, my suspicians are confirmed once again-- but I have learned those are just my demons telling me that. I am a good--- well differnt type of mom and I am not screwing my kids up rather I am providing them with a uniqe loving home with consistency and independance.

So, what you are feeling is normal and belive me, there are many of us out there. We really are not natural parents but we can learn and we can get good at it. We never feel like those naturals out there, but we can get good-- good for us and our kids will turn out GREAT!!!! Frankly, some of those natural moms create little dependant wimps. So, which is better--hmmmmmmm--- lots to think about!!

Hugs and sorry for all the spelling errors. I dont feel like spell checking:)


julie said...

You need a spa day!

I'm reminded by your story (and I try intentionally to think of this from time to time) of a women I once met.
She had 2 little girls with her. She had long hair, a hippie skirt and Birkenstocks on her feet.
She spoke to them with a "middle speed" like no one I had ever known. "yes, sweet girl." "You are very clever." "You are wonderful." etc.

Don't let the kids negative energy get to you. That's the best time to work on your "middle speed."

Shannon said...

So, so many things to address. I understand firstly about people taking a post very seriously. I have had this happen. I think people are not used to others being so frank, so open. I worry at times my posts seem to negative and self-absorbed. But I so love your blog. So don't stop being frank.
Secondly, I completely understand your duck analogy. I actually think motherhood is like that for me in general, but adult conflicts, career and work, well, I just do not handle that stuff very well. So maybe I am wired the opposite of you. Now, even being a natural, my oldest son was VERY high maintenance and the age of two was VERY hard. I have come to the conclusion that your child, your family dynamics, your journey is unlike any others. Some people's kids are just easier. So keep working with him, but give yourself a break. It really is true (I KNOW you don't believe me) that they grow up So, So, So fast. That two year old is now 18 years old. He is a joy and delight to everyone I know. He makes me look good now. It was hard work. 18 years of hard work, but he rises and calls me blessed now. Quint will do the same for you I know it. Now take him to the park and wear him out. : ) You are going to have a crazy and awesome summer with those two!

Anonymous said...

Too funny! Okay, not funny. I am not the one in the middle of the "Toddlerhood" where they sport diapers instead of bandanas and their voice is the weapon of choice. I LOVE how you are keeping it real. It's important that other moms know that they are NORMAL when they feel this way. You're gonna be okay (with a little more gray hair after your body takes this beating). Hee hee

Michal said...

I would like to tell you something. I started following your blog p it is REAL and honest and vert well written and I need a voice like yours in my life. So keep on writing please.
I need to hear what you have to say because I feel like hey, this woman would totally get me if I met her. Most of the times your blog seems like it is coming right from me. So there it is. Creepy? Well maybe but in a good way.
I am very similar to you in this respect. I have no "Uber-patient Mom Mood" - it's just not there. Before I had a child, I foolishly assumed that once they placed that girl in my arms....POOF! I would spontaneously combust into this perfect version of myself. Can you imagine my surprise when that didn't happen?! Can you imagine how shocked I was to learn that I had to PRACTICE patience and sweetness and softness? That empathy was, in fact a learned skill? Can you imagine how very awful that felt? I think maybe you can imagine all of that.
So yeah. there it is. I am nutso over the moon about my kid but she sort of has to meet me half way and we have learned a dance that works BUT it has taken 5 years. Most of that time was spent with me being and learning to be ok with myself and who I am as a mother.

Then there is this other thing. We are about to go to China and meet our son. He is 18 mos and will probably be much closer to 2 by the time we get there. And I have been "cavalier". I have been purposely not facing how very difficult it might be/will be/ will more than likely be. I needed a wake up. I can't arrive there and think , oh 2 year olds, this should be okay. Because when you are writing about Q these days, I look back and remember my Evelyn at that time and I start shaking to think about being 2 and newly adopted.

Thank you.
Kep on keeping on. It's the only thing that stops us from drowning sometimes!

Jill said...

I know, right?! The sweet little baby I brought home from Toukoul is now a fit throwing machine at 18 months. Still sweet but her tantrums and whining have got everyone thinking she is a spoiled brat. So yesterday she had her first time out and then her second, and then her third... and the rest of the day was a lot better! Looking forward to today. Maybe she needed to see that she doesn't rule the roost (because lets face it, she did, she is so stinking adorable :) Hang in there- I hear it gets better at age 3 and 4 when they can use their words to communicate better!

Anonymous said...

I hear ya! I am a school teacher like AB, and I teach the little ones. I think I have never met a child like mine when she turned 2-4years old. The devil was unleashed. She even was a terror at school. Depiste stripping her of all belongings and toys and even putting her big girl mattress on the floor, she would play with her feet or lint on the floor. EVENTUALLY she out grew this and has less tantrums. This has nothing to do with adoption... It was her and the age.

Q might be acting out more b/c of the new sibling. But just know ALOT of us go through this terrible stage, find no answers that help, and eventually make it through...

Talk to your PCP to make sure you don't need some meds...

Good luck and keep your abstract posts a-coming...

Christy Bailey

3 Peanuts said...

Mothering is SO hard. You will get there...my first son (who is now almost 13 and the easiest calmest, sweetest son alive) was BUSY and hyper and an ALL BOY TWo as well. it WAS hard. But it passes quickly and you live through it. I was super consistent and super routine oriented and I did not let a whole lot slide. He spent A LOT of time in time out that year. And I have to tell you, I thought I would not live to see 3 or 4. But I tell you....he is the almost teenager I hoped he would be ...smart, kind, calm, respectful compassionate.

You are doing it right,,,it just feels so hard. The ones it is easy for are not doing this parenting thing right. They are likely letting their kids have/do buy anything they want just to keep them happy. Trust me...if it is hard work, you are doing it well.

Holly said...

I wish I knew you IRL Christie. (In Real Life for those of you scratching your heads)
I would homeschool your toddler and you can take my teens :)
okay, okay not REALLY.
(unless you were seriously considering it and then I am totally serious!)
Trying to think how to bribe you into following us around the world...wherever the Army sends us can be YOUR home too!
Holly- Purpose Driven Looney, I mean Mommy

Kristi said...

You know on the movie Ghost where Demi tells Patrick (oh how I loved that man) I love you & he says "ditto". Well, I'm gonna ditto your post! I have 2 bio kids, I coach gymnastics & love my baby (2-4 yr old) classes. I seriously LOVE toddlers - I really thought I knew it all and that bringing home my youngest (adopted at 23 mos)would be cake. But there are days I tell ya when my youngest (now 31 mos)is gonna kill me. She whines, she screams, she hits, she throws the fit of all fits, she stands at my feet & holds onto my legs so I can't move. I've figured out that my youngest is the definition of strong willed child (what we used to refer to as bull headed) - my other two weren't. So while I have tons of experience with toddlers, I've never had my own "strong willed child". Have I had SWC's in gymnastics - heck ya but after 1 hour I send them home to their mamas.

Hugs to ya - keep your chin up, at some point our toddler will grow out of this & we'll have the pre-teen hormones to deal with.

Lisa (Briana's Mom) said...

Just hold on. Just a little while longer. When Briana turned three, life became SO much easier for me. Age 1 to 2 for Bri was the hardest for me. It is a TOUGH age. A very busy age. Two is tough too. They are just starting to really communicate and they are also just starting to exert independence (a little). Three was the magic number for me. Briana has been the most amazing three year old. She is really a little girl/person now. I don't have a boy, so I hope it is the same for you. Just hold on tight!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Well... I have a daughter... but she didn't earn her Tongginator nickname for nothing! Her terrible twos lasted from about 20 months until just after her third birthday. And I promise we were firm and consistent with her... she just was/ is, well, a Tongginator.

And I, too, am not a cuddling, tea party, kissy-kissy kinda momma.

One thing that helped me so much during a similar time in my life was something my best friend Canuck K said: she said that NO ONE is a good parent during ALL of the stages... some are better at it when their children are infants, or toddlers, or preschoolers, or school-age, or during the teenage years or even during your child's adulthood. And some are blessed to be good at several stages. But NO ONE is good at all of them. And me? I was not an infant and toddler momma. But I AM a preschool and school-age momma.

And I not only enjoy the Tongginator right now... I enjoy being her momma. Hang in there!

Diana said...

Ohhhh..this brings back so many memories. I personally thought 3 was worse as they are even a "little smarter" then a 2 year old:) I can remember being in Target and my oldest (who was around 2 to 3) SCREAMED from when we walked past the icee machine to when we checked out. I had to get something so I picked up the item I had to have and we left. My sister said "why did you not just buy him one". My sisters kids are now 23 and 18 and still rotten and mine are 12 and 16 and honestly they are great kids. The best thing about the 2 and 3's is that they will grow out of them and we do survive. The bad thing about them is when he is 12 or 16 you wish they were 2 again:) Enjoy each day as they grow up way to fast. You are a great mom and your kids are both adorable!!

Susan G. said...

Is it possible that just as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers you have "taken" me and the real me is in some pod around your house? Your words are scary real! Where exactly do you live?! : )