Thursday, July 7, 2011

One of Those Letters....

I read this one before I left for an overnight. We returned and read these two. This post has been coming for a while though...

You know 'the letters'. The 'what family should know' letters, that adoptive parents sometimes send that detail our 'parenting plan' and alternative ways to help.  There really should be an ongoing series of letters that we send as we Effup grow as parents and needs become beer & wine home delivery never mind just inject the tequila clearer and change.  This is one of those letters. One of those letters you write and throw away. But, I'm tired of doing that regarding the same subjects over and over again. So- instead of throwing it away, I'm posting it for the 4 readers and distant relatives who actually read my drivel all the world to see. Warning: Caustic tone ahead.... 

Dear lovely family and friends who've yet to abandon us completely,

It seems so long since Teg and I became family and yet, I'm reminded everyday that we are still new to eachother. Each day, we learn something new. See a new scar. See a flash of fear. Swallow my pride.  Learn a new Momma skill, forget it, relearn, forget, and learn again. Hit my knees in prayer. Reach new heights. Make a new joke. Grow tighter together. Push each other away. Hearts grow closer. See God heal. Hurt in ways I didn't know existed. (he always knew those hurts). Every moment of every day is something new.

One family Some of you we see often and believe me when I say what a treat it is to spend time with you. As a single mother, having the opportunity for conversations that do not involve "where is an ok place to pee" is truly priceless. Now that school is out, he is missing his friends. Productive play and positive interaction with children his age is helpful and therapeutic to his healing. Thank you for meeting us for playground time or just a walk. The commercial has diminished it's meaning- but these times are truly priceless for both of us. Thank you for your support and friendship. I lean on you too much and yet, you never turn away.

Most of you we haven't seen or heard from in months. It's a small town, so yes, we've seen each other as you pretend to rush by, or pose not to recognize us.  I understand. It is difficult to accept a friend as you've never seen her. You never had to deal with me as a mother.

I was just the one who was there for you, in your darkest hours when you were a in a bind, newly married, or a new mother and needed company, needed to bitch about your husband, needed prescriptions picked up, needed a babysitter on holiday weekends, last minute and overnights. Do you remember me? I was the one who offered to take your children for the afternoon when you had a headache, seemed overwhelmed, sick, had to work or just wanted to do something with a friend.

It must be hard for you to adjust-  now that I'm a mother with a whole different set of priorities- and yes, you have dropped on that priority list.  As have daily showers or even styling my hair on days it is actually clean. If you looked long enough, you'd notice that my child is usually coiffed, moisturized, dressed in clean somewhat clean and matching clothes. I often run out of time energy before we both get it together and need to get OUT OF THE HOUSE to our next event or appointment. Sorry, if I embarrass you with my greasy pony tailed hair, and wrinkled clothes fresh off the floor out of the dryer. I understand if you can't handle it right now. I remember how you always have it "together".

To a select group of our extended family, I want to alienate you ask a favor or two. I'm sure you will understand, as you already know everything anyway.  Please do not say the words "He's just a typical boy. Just like all the other kids"  Please do not say the words "I know what he needs.  I've raised 2/6/18 kids of my own."  Please do not say "That is normal. Every kid does that." Thank you. Now let me tell you why.

Your condescending, trite, pious comments piss me off.

By saying these things you simultaneously discount his history, his unique gifts, his special qualities and my exhaustion as his parent who takes it on the chin (literally and figuratively), every moment of every day of every week as this charming sweet loving child heals and adjusts to the horrors of life you dismiss as if they are fiction.

No. He is not just like all the other kids. Neither are all the other kids. You may have raised a litter of kids before but you parented each one differently because they had different needs. (You treated them all the same?!?!  Well- than you are just a shitty parent. )

Just because you saw him spill his cereal bowl one day does not make you an expert on "how all kids do that." Just because you hear me say "Please, Honey. Stop talking for 30 seconds." does not make you an expert on how much he talks or doesn't talk like all the 'other kids'. Just because you spend 5 minutes attempting to put one of his shoes on and are now exhausted, does not make you an expert on how normal that can be at that age. 

And don't give me that "You asked for this" haughty look, in the grocery store, either. Just keep it to yourself, or save it for someone else- cause I'm tired of seeing the whites of your eyes. YES. YES I DID ask for this. I work very hard to do the very best for this kid, which is WHY I look so freaking exhausted and frustrated from time to time. I WORK at being a good parent to my kid. I had to work damn hard, go through trials and hellfire to be a mother-  and I work DAMN HARD at doing my best for my son. NO. NOT FOR YOU. Not to LOOK good. But to BE GOOD! I do NOT shrug my responsibility to him.

Until you can say you've parented THIS child before- keep your trap shut. Until you can say, you've parented a child who was mutilated again and again by people that loved him- until you can say you've parented that same child who was denied food while watching others around him eat- until you can say you thought you were doing everything for him, until you realized he didn't cry - until you can say you've seen your child dig in the dirt looking for something to eat-  EFF OFF.

When you've parented a 4 yo that has a completely new body-  so new that he doesn't know how it works. Like switching from a tricycle to a Army tank complete with strange transmission and limbs equivalant to the attached long rotating gun - he has no idea how to operate it, what it has for tipping point, strength, speed, or where the limbs are flying off to or how close he may come to his target. In fact- eating food with utensils and at a table setting is much like attempting that task from inside one of those moving tanks- at least the mess is. EVERY SINGLE TIME. So yes. Sometimes I let him eat with his fingers and I don't often give him cereal with milk. He eats it dry. So what. Suck it up.  You don't like it? I don't care. He is making great strides in lots of areas. Thriving. Utensils aren't always at the top of the list. He's not a neanderthal- he'll figure it out. Give him time.

I do not expect you to agree with, condone, or even understand why I parent him the way I do. Could you simply respect that I'm his parent and I make parenting decisions? Until you can simply say- "I'm sorry. That sucks. Do you want to talk about it?" or "What can I do to help" and actually follow through with it- than keep your flipping trap shut- your eyes from rolling and your petulant huffs to yourself. Stop acting like you have all the answers to parenting this child- you don't. How do I know?!?! THERE ARE NO ANSWERS!!

You are a grown man/woman. Act like one. Respect the one in front of you. Support her if you can. If you can't- get the hell out of the way, cause we don't need more hurdles. If you stand in our way, YOU become a problem we don't need. And that is one easy solution. BYE BYE.

(Nice attitude huh? Can't imagine why most of my friends have abandoned me completely... )

Our year and a half update is coming soon. Think it'll sound anything like this letter? No, probably not.  But it's going to feel nice to hit publish...

16 comments:

M and M said...

You got some hutzpah, girl. I admire you. I have witnessed your work from afar - and wish I were closer to invite you on over and let our kiddos just do their thing while we did our thing in mutual spaces of respect and support.

I hope it felt damn good to write this. Thanks for being honest. For all of us.

HollyMarie said...

You are brave girl!!! LOL, oh those of us who have adopted an older child or even an older infant/toddler have longed (at times) to say this sort of thing to our family and/or friends. I said it in a much sweeter (hiding some of my freakin' passion) way to some family and got no end of grief even then. Still, time does heal. Eventually the ones who really care about you start to see things with new eyes. I will say that comment about "all kids do that" is by FAR the MOST likely one to make me want to spit and pull my hair out. People are clueless but don't think they are. And that about sums it up.

Barbaloot said...

Amen, amen, amen. I'll be coming back over and over to re-read this in place of attending the group therapy for parents of traumatized children that doesn't exist. (It took four sittings to read this, and as I typed the previous words, my son ripped the sole halfway off his shoe.) I've pretty much given up on people understanding, aside from my online mama friends. I've stopped talking about my son with childless friends because I'd probably wind up slapping them.

one + one said...

Good for you for getting it out. And shame on them for not respecting you. And your child's grief.

Paula said...

I don't know where you live, Shannon, but I wish you lived in my small town. First, I would love to have you as a friend for me and my kids, and second, the people in my small town are NICE. Hugs.

AnnMarie & Nick said...

I really enjoyed this letter! Thanks for hitting that publish button:)

findingmagnolia said...

I. Freaking. Love. This.

Oh, how I have longed to tell everyone who thinks my daughter is "just like all the other kids" to shut their traps. I think I pretty much let everything loose on the jury coordinator, come to think of it. It went something like, "She WATCHED her mother DIE, and then was left with STRANGERS, and you are telling me that I should leave her with strangers so that I can serve JURY DUTY?" And then maybe I cried on the phone. To the jury coordinator. Precious parenting moments!

So glad you hit publish.

The Lost Planetista said...

Hell yeah. No other words necessary. :)

kn said...

I love this too! It is so very very hard. The body thing is amazing.

The other thing I really HATE is "He's so SMALL!" I want to smack the 20 people a day who say that to me in front of him. What does that do to him to hear that all the time? Why are they telling me he's small? Do they think I don't know that? Do they want to make sure I know? What what what?

Anyway, love this post!

Liz said...

Oh my! I hope you got most of it out of your system by writing this and now you're feeling better.

But now I want to know if findingmagnolia got out of jury duty...and I have to go apologize to kn for being one of those people who said "he's so small" but at least I did it on FB and not in person...

Amazing that as a single adoptive parent myself I can still learn a thing or two about what it's like for other people with the same gig - thanks for opening my eyes!

Bonnie said...

Ah mercy!!! Good for you - everything you write is so true.

Jennifer said...

That is a WONDERFUL letter! So many of us adoptive parents (and I am sure parents with children with special needs) feel much of the same and I would love to be able to say ALL of that to them.

Annie said...

Rant away my friend. I get it. We get it. I'm sorry you have lost faith with some of your friends and family members. I have too.

hazel said...

HA! This is a great letter :-)

Daphne said...

I found your blog through my friend, Melissa. May I just say that this is the single most amazing post I have read on any blog!! I absolutely love it! Thank you for being so honest and for putting into words things I have wanted to say myself. Truly amazing letter that speaks volumes about an amazing mother!!

scooping it up said...

YES!!! So proud of you for hitting publish!

Your attitude is accepted and understood my dear.

I think you're amazing. You both are loved.