The theme on WASO is Time keeping and it got me thinking back to the early days when Spud had first come home. I remember having to try and manage visits from friends and family to keep the short, not too many at one time and asking for visitors to be on time. I think most family and friends understood but some didn’t. I tried to explain that Spud could tell the time and one way of building his trust was to be on time. When Spud knew that someone was coming he would start looking out the window 10 mins before. His anxiety levels would increase until he saw the car pull up and even if they were only a couple of minutes late, Spud would pace up and down waiting. From his past he had been let down, had no routine, boundaries or reasons to trust.
As a new mum I tried my hardest to manage his expectations and would often end up pacing with him. Over time his trust has increased and Spud now realises that I will do my best but can’t control the world even though I try! One of Spuds friends mum is always late, she tries her best but timekeeping is just not her thing. She tries but is always late or changes plans at the last minute. Spud accepts that this is her way and copes very well. He will accept the change of plan and the lack of time keeping but only from her.
I hate being late, I hate people being late and this has not changed but having a child has made being on time more difficult but much more important. Why is it when I try to get myself and Spud out to school in the morning does he suddenly remember he has to take a toy/book/t-shirt into school? Or needs to finish watching a cartoon even though he has watched it 10 times? I am always the first in the school playground and Spud will check from his classroom that I am there. He is scared I will not pick him up and although this is getting better with the trust building, I think it will always be one of his aniexties. To help Spud, we are normally the first at a party/outing/activity as Spud finds it easier for people to come in rather than walk in on a room full of people.
Trust has come with planning, explaining and following through what I say, not always easy but essential. Trust has taken time to build.
I have been a mum for just over 3.5 years, Spud has been a child for nearly 11 years so has a head start on me. I feel most of the time that i am playing catch up and in the early days, felt i needed a T-Shirt saying “give me a break. I have only been a mum for 3 weeks”. People would look at us when we were out and look confused if I was asking him if he liked x,y or z or looked very much like a confused aunt rather than mum. I did think parenting would be difficult but I really was not prepared for how hard.
I am not saying that being a parent of a birth child is not difficult but suddenly having a 7.5 year old with attitude, trauma, a background you have very little information or understanding about and 7.5 years head start on you has been hard. I think we are getting there, I think I am becoming more confident in being a mum, I think we are bonding as a family unit.
For me I did not appreciate how difficult and how much impact school would have on Spud and me. School seems to have been a constant battle since nearly day 1. School are not very flexible so I thought if you can’t beat them, join them and decided to become a school Governor. I thought I could try and make a difference and increase understanding from inside. 18 months on I have resigned as it was a battle I knew I couldn’t win or even make a dent in their amour. School should have supported us as a family but embarrassed me, shamed Spud, have given lip service, have not been prepared to change. This has had a negative effect on our bonding and attachment .
Only this week I had a call from a parent at school pick up asking why I had not picked Spud up from school. I explained that he was at after school club but was told it was cancelled. No-one had told any of the parents and it was only because one of the parents was concerned I was not there that she looked after Spud until I could get there. For a child with attachment disorder, this had a very traumatic effect on him and on me. Spud asked several times why I was not there.
What else makes being a parent difficult? I find the expectations of others makes life harder than it needs to be. My parents are fantastic but if I had a pound for every time my dad said “we had 3 of you to bring up and we managed it” I would be very rich right now. My standard response is “but non of us were adopted or suffered from trauma”. People see Spud as a 10 years old as this is his chronological age. He is most of the time around the age of 5years old emotionally. This makes parenting hard as it is a balance between what his peers are doing and he wants to do and what is best for him or the gaps he needs to fill in. He has a couple of friends who are much younger who Spuds plays with really well. His peers are much harder work as he has such a conflict of needs.
I also think at times I make parenting much harder than it needs to be. Do I question too much? Do I look into things too much? Do I need to make parenting so hard?
So, do you find being a parent difficult?