Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who am I?

I have just started a new therapy and this was one of the first questions I was asked.  I could tell you who I used to be. I used to be a successful business women, I used to be a good friend, I was a daughter, granddaughter, aunt, godmother, wife, occasional lover, sister in law, daughter in law, work colleague and ME! Confident, self assured, financially independent, out going, organized, independent and ME!

During the adoption process I feel that I have lost me, who I am and who I was.

In the early days I really did not know who I was, didn’t know how to be a mum, didn’t know how my relationship with Mr Football was going to change, the relationship with my mother, friends, work colleagues and school mums.  I had to build a relationship with spud that was not easy.  Not easy when I didn’t know who I was, I totally lost who I was.  I became “spuds mum” in the playground when parents finally spoke to me but I didn’t know that person. I suddenly felt I had lost my mother – daughter relationship as I was now a mum and my mum changed as she became a grandmother.  I lost work colleagues and status as I was no longer in work, I lost confidence as I didn’t know who I was.  My relationship with Mr Football changed, he became a dad, we became a family.  I was no longer financially independent, no longer a good friend as I had needs that I needed to be met. I was not out going, didn’t know my role or my own mind.

I became a cleaner, housekeeper, diary organizer, laundry person, taxi service, entertainer, peace envoy, circus tightrope walker, cook, washer upper, person who was asked where everything was from the odd sock to the blue piece of lego. Party planner, school adviser, appointment booker, play date instigator but none of this was the old me.

It has taken time for me to find me again, a new me, a different me, a me that is starting to get her confidence back, who is starting to feel like she knows what the role of a mum is like, who is starting to like me again. Still not completely there and I doubt I will ever be there as I will be changing.  I have started to understand me and me in relation to my mum, my friends and Mr Football.

I feel comfortable being spuds mum, I feel better at knowing who I am. I don’t always get it right or know what I am doing but I know that is OK.

So who are you?  I am proud to now say I am spuds mum 🙂

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Battles and control

I know that everyone says you have to pick your battles but that really is easier said than done! What battles are worth fighting, which ones can you ignore and how do you stay consistent?
I understand the need spud has for control, I understand he needs to test the boundaries but it is so tiring and draining.
The battles normally start as soon as spud wakes up. Some days he will ask me to dress him and co-operaterate well. Others, everything, including breathing seems to be a battle.
A typical morning will go something like this:
Spud wakes up and comes in for a cuddle, I then get spud dressed with it taking up to 30mins to get his socks just right. I have to put the clothes on in a certain order and woe betide me if I don’t. We then have a battle of teeth cleaning and him wanting to use just mouth wash. Me saying he can use mouth wash before or after brushing his teeth but not instead of. Spud will then dance around upstairs, doing anything but cleaning his teeth. Me getting more and more cross as the time ticks by. Therapeutic parenting is not something I find easy in the mornings.

Finally teeth cleaned, of a fashion and downstairs. The next battle then begins with breakfast and encouraging spud to eat. I have relented and let him watch TV while he eats or I feed him. This was one battle I gave in to.
Then the battle to get ready for school from putting shoes on to wearing his coat to leaving the house starts. I read once that adoption prep training should include getting an octopus into a string bag, how true they were.

Normally the walk to school is fairly calm as I try to distract him with pointing things out, chatting about the plan for his day and what we will do after school. By the time the bell goes and he runs into school, I am ready to crash and burn and would much prefer to go home and crawl back into bed but onto work I go.

6 hours later and at the school pick up the next battle for control starts. The coat and school bag are launched at me from across the playground and I have to try and be a good catch. Spud then runs across the playground onto the school field running in circles. In the early days, I would chase him and try to get him off the field. Now, I take a seat on the bench and let him come to me once he is ready. It can be 5 minutes but has not been unheard of to be 20 mins. We are always the last to leave the school grounds and I am sure the teachers must wonder if we have a home to go to.
We walk home and I try to chat about spuds day. I have learnt that he will tell me as much as he wants and no amount of questions will prise any more information out if him.

The evening battles are similar to the mornings with the added control and battle of toileting and then onto the bedtime battle. Some nights the bedtime routine goes well, other times it can take up to 3 hours to get spud into bed and asleep. There have been many nights when it has been close to who goes to sleep first!

I know I give in too easily sometimes, I know that everything I thought about during our prep course goes out the window when you are 3 hours into a bedtime battle, I know the very idealistic view I had of parenting is not real.

So how do you decide what battles to take on? What battles have you let go?

Friends

During your life you have many friends and some stay, some go.
I am lucky that I still have some friends that I stay in contact with from school. We don’t see each other as much as we should but when we do, we can chat for hours. I have friends from work, I now have friends from spuds school, from spuds football club and adoption friends.
On our adoption prep course we had to draw our Eco map of our support network. On this I map we had family and friends. Friends who had children, friends who did not and friends who we thought would be a support to us.
I had a look at our Eco map the other day. It was like looking at an old wedding photo when you point to everyone and you can say – they are now divorced, they have died, they have moved away and they have no contact with us.
Our map is now very different and I found the change to our map upsetting. When we draw up our map we had hopes and dreams of what our life would be like with a child, how we would be as a family and how our child we be supported by everyone on our Eco map.
If I took a pen and crossed off those friends who have disappeared, not able to understand the change of person I am now, the way I parent or the behaviour of spud, our map would be very sparse. I could cross off those who I have been friends for for over 15 years, I could cross off those who have children the same age of spud and I could cross off some of Mr footballs family.
I definitely went through a grieving process when I realised I had lost or was loosing these friends. I went through a period of being angry that they would not or could not understand the change in me and what spud needed. I had always been there for these friends and when I needed them, they went.
But, if I drew my Eco map now I would be able to put some amazing friends on my map. Many of my closest friends are adopters, some we met and have stayed close to from prep course, some we have met through support groups. One example if a great new friend is while I was away at an adoption camp trip, spud was having a major tantrum and melt down. For the first time ever, no one judged us, no one tutted or looked away and everyone understood. One mum walked over to me, passed me a glass of wine, smiled and walked away. That is true friendship.
Others are mums from spuds school. They have really helped me to understand spud, how similar he is to their boys but also the differences he has. Football mums who I stand and laugh, cheer and clap with on the sideline on a Saturday morning. Friends from days pre spud who have surprised me with their support. One friend who was on the very outside of my Eco map has no children, has no desire to have a family, has been the one who has listerned, not judged and let me cry. She has then wiped my tears and taken me out shopping 🙂
I think through life friends do come and go, I have to learn to understand this and let some friends go to allow others in.

Grandparents

Through our home study we had the time and questions to reflect on our childhood, how our parents brought us up and the relationship we have with them now.  I enjoyed being able to look back and it really helped me to see how great my mum was and the childhood she gave us.  My dad worked away and she had 3 of us to raise.  At the time I think you just take your parents for granted and never really have the chance to look back or understand the difficulties they faced.

We have a great relationship now which has definitely grown, changed and deepened since I become a mum. I have a much greater respect for my mum and at times, in awe of how she juggled the 3 of us, worked part time and was mostly a single mum.  She didn’t drive or have home shopping like we do today.

It got me thinking that at no point during our journey to adoption did I ever ask my parents if they wanted or how they felt about becoming grandparents to an adopted child.  I never stopped to think was this what they wanted? What they understood or the impact on them. I was just caught up in the bubble of adoption and was focused on approval and then finding our child – spud.  They have been fantastic and treat spud the same as their other grandchildren as does most of my family.  I have been very selfish in my desire to be a mum and have a family, that I never looked at the impact on my parents and the rest of the family.

They do try their best to understand but if I had a pound for every time my dad said “don’t forget, we had 3 of you to deal with” or “every child does that” I would be very rich and could give up work!

The impact on my parents becoming grandparents to spud has been huge.  They have seen the difficulties, had their daughter crying down the phone in sheer frustration, seen the bruises caused by spud.  They have supported, brought chocolate and listened.  They have not always agrees with the decisions I have made or the way I parent spud but they stay strong and give me unwavering support at all times.

So to all the grandparents of adopted children, thank you.  I hope in 20 years time to be an amazing grandmother to my grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

The start that is not really the start

This is my first blog so please be gentle with me!

So this is not the start of my adoption journey, it is not the start of meeting my son nor is it the start of our life together.  This is the start of me feeling comfortable to share my thoughts with the outside world.

So who are we?

I am a 40ish married adoptive mum to spud. Spud is a cheeky, fun, lively, adorable little monkey. Spud has turned our lives upside down, back to front and thrown a few curve balls in as well. Mr Football is also 40ish and a great dad to spud.

Why reluctant football mum?  I hate football, never really seen the point of having 22 men running around on grass chasing a round thing unless Beckham is playing 🙂  When spud came home I suddenly found myself on the side of a football pitch, cheering, clapping and loving watching spud play.  I now rather enjoy Saturday mornings when the sun is out and “we” win the game.  Not loving it quiet as much when the rain is hammering down and “we” lose.  The change from avoiding football at all costs to looking forward to Saturday mornings is about as dramatic as you can get.  I think this sums up how much i have changed since I become an adoptive mum.

Please don’t ask me about the rules of football as I have no idea.  The off side rule makes no sense – anyone who can explain it in simple terms, please feel free.

I hope to share the highs, joys and laughs I have and hope you will be there through the lows and difficult times.