Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Walking The Line
When I first adopted a sibling group in the 1980s I very mistakenly assumed they'd love Thanksgiving as much as I did. Tons of food, no gift expectations, just fun family time.
I did not then comprehend that the holidays made them painfully miss their original families. Yolie later explained to me that the children always would wonder if their original families were then thinking about them, or if they'd simply been forgotten? Either way they yearned within and felt deep agony.
There would be acting out, sometimes major behavior explosions, and temper dysregulation out the wahoo.
You know how when you read the newspapers after a holiday and the police report is full of family disagreements, domestic violence, alcohol fueled fist fights, and acts of inhumane aggression?
Holidays come with their own sets of expectations, disappointments, and difficulties as well in all families.
I was so very naive, such a Norma Rockwell child of the 1950s, who thought all families were like our family with smiling, happy, and sober relatives who lovingly served up pecan pies made from scratch.
My new kids thought all families were all like their original families where drama, chaos, confusion, instability, partying, and arrests were the hallmarks of a good time.
How to bridge that enormous chasm?
But it was also more than that.
My caseworker's favorite phrase, one she had to repeat to me for years before I began to understand was, " That's not the real issue," when I'd report back to her the details that had led up to a child's major explosion and ensuing, destructive rage.
On a smaller scale nowadays, I just had one miss the bus accidentally on purpose, limping down the hall to tell me this, that he'd pulled a muscle, yet when I obediently responded and drove him to school, he was walking fine in my rear view mirror, unaware that I'd not yet driven away.
The real issue was that I again need to prove my dedication to them all after This Big Event Of Daniel's Wedding.
Another had a fit this morning that I had failed to dry a certain pair of shorts that I'd put in the washer before bedtime last night.
There will be snide remarks tonight about supper, no matter what I cook, as there's no way I could possibly chose the one dinner choice that all 12 had in mind, as they pondered it at school today.
But I've changed. I've learned. That's not the real issue.
So I don't attempt to logically explain why I chose pasta, or why I was at the Atlanta airport unable to get all the laundry done, or why they should just go with the flow.
I just smile and keep my comments to myself, no matter how they up the ante, wanting to provoke me and thus justify their deep inner need to explode.
Remember in junior high school how girls would sometimes try and provoke their boyfriends into jealousy just to have the guy then 'prove' he cared? The useless drama crap? That's kind of what it looks like around here too at times, but finally, after all these years, I've learned to see it for what it is in reality.
That's not the real issue.
Tonight someone will break a rule on purpose just to force me to react, so they can then scream and meltdown, release their conflicting emotions, or the tension that's been simmering within them.
I choose to now go outside and mow to release my own inner stress, but I'm old enough to know how to do so properly. My mom modeled this for me.
I come from a long line of Southern women who do not fistfight, who do not drink, nor smoke, who do not dress flashy, nor do they cuss.
My children come from moms with substance abuse issues, with arrests for assaults, or with so much more that is the polar opposite of what I stand for, thus their need to often recreate that which they knew while still living in their birth families.
It's actually a very normal response.
They need their original identity on some level.
I do understand.
We adoptive moms are square, boring, and uncool. Their birth moms were fun, or so they think they remember, conveniently blocking out the stark reality of that kind of fun.
Us uber-logical moms can't comprehend this, we think they are perpetuating a cycle of violence and instability, and by us not trying to stop our kids from making bad choices (as if we could), which they are obviously truly doing, but are seemingly oblivious to the potential outcome, well it seems as if we gotta DO something.
But what can we do about grown folks? All we can do is not enable. We must have boundaries.
And just because nowadays I can see the real issue doesn't mean I know what to do about it.
I remain perplexed.
But I like this quote I'd seen on Facebook, and I love this cabin photo. Oh, the plans I have...