Letting Go of Expectations

No one ever promised us that adopting our children would be a simple thing. I didn’t expect to whisk Silas into the mix and then just go about my happy business.

I knew it would be really, really hard.

For like six months.

And then it would be sort of hard for another six.

Then we might have a few bad days over the next six months.

Then we’d be home free.

We’d be in “regular parenting” territory then, which is never a slice of pie. It always requires effort and attention. It can be frustrating sometimes, exhausting often. But the dark, bruisey days would be over.

We’ve had Silas with us for 19 months. My extremely generous timeline for unfavorable behavior has expired, and we’re still registering a solid Month Ten. At least this week.

It’s been one of those weeks that used to find me feeling bullied and defeated, but now, after much practice, I simply feel bone-tired. It has worried me, the way I’ve learned to compartmentalize. It has concerned me at times, the way my patience grips the very edge with its fingernails.

This adoption thing? It can be lonely business. It’s hard to find the kind of everyday support that I crave, not because people in my life are unwilling to offer, but simply because it’s different.

When these hard weeks come, I sometimes feel judged. She should be doing things differently. I feel inadequate. I’m tired of screwing up. I feel defensive. He’s had a difficult life. I feel exasperated. What will it take for him to start to understand how this stuff works? I feel rejected. My kid doesn’t love me.

I feel all of those things, at times. They are my knee socks, my jeans, my gray T. I wear them well. They fit just right, at this point and they’re surprisingly comfortable.

But then I pull on my love for my child. I zip certainty up to my chin. I ball up my hands and shove them into Promise.

I walk in the sunny-day truth that I often know the right thing and choose the wrong anyway. I do not always obey the very first time. I shove and kick when I’m scared, or when I think my idea was better.

And still, just as I love my angel-lashed boy, I am loved.

I could never have known for sure what this journey would look like or how it would feel. I might have run screaming for the hills had I understood that it would be this hard this long. That is the thought that threatens to break me. I might have turned my back on one of the blessings of my life. I might have missed the moment where he turns to me and says, “I lu yew Mommy”. I would have missed stifling a laugh when he looks up at me and says all mean and sassy, “I tickle yew”. (He finally understands that “I spanka yo bottom” wasn’t working for him, so he improvises now.)

So, I’m learning to let go a little. I’ll not take personal the days where he wakes up spitting mad at me and the world, because these days come in waves. I’ll ride it out knowing that maybe tomorrow, or next Monday, he’ll smile straight into my heart and giggle me through my day.

Every day is a step in the right direction, even when it’s hard.

Every day is a chance to remember that God honors this work. He honors it full. He cheers us on, reminds us that the dark days move faster if you dance a little.

Every day is one more opportunity for grace – for all of us.

________________________________________

Shannan Martin

Shannan Martin is an ordinary girl who searches for and finds beauty in the everyday. She’s the wife of a man who thinks all of her jokes are funny and who regularly indulges her late-night, thinking-out-loud ponderings. They have three funny shorties, Calvin, Ruby, and Silas, who came to them across rivers and oceans. Together, they are embarking on a fresh adventure and are confident that God will meet them there. And though they no longer live on the farm, life remains a heaped-up pile of blessings, and Shannan will forever remain a Farmgirl at heart. She has blogged for three years; come take a look.

18 Responses to Letting Go of Expectations

  • I’m not an adoptive parent, but I can so relate to this. I sometimes think God only lets us see what’s in store for THAT day…because if we could see the big picture, we’d buckle under the pressure.

    You are doing an amazing job and that boy does love you…because you’re his mommy. Don’t forget that.

  • Shannan, I love what you wrote. It is the process of a lifetime we are involved in–a daily opportunity to see Grace at work in our homes. I also have been surprised at how intense and sometimes plain hard it has been, even 12 years later. But I have seen God’s faithfulness, His goodness, and His work of restoration right in my own home, and that is too beautiful for words. Bless you and your precious family!

  • Oh yes….this is our life also:) This journey of healing, I believe, will take a lifetime. I have to look back constantly to see our progress and “looking back” is not a favorite thing of mine to do. Sometimes, it reveals something ugly in my parenting:) God seems to be molding all of us into something new each day. I’m so thankful when I read these types of posts, that I am not alone. Not that I wish any of this on any child…the grief and sorrow are often too much for all of us but still…..the journey can be lonely but I think God is showing us that we are never alone:) Big hugs to you and your family!

  • Tracie says:

    (((hugs))) Been there. Lived that. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

  • Pam says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I guess I went into adoption with the wrong view… I never thought there would really be much adjustment… we took her as a foster placement just before her third birthday & adopted her after her future family walked away. We felt it was God’s plan & timing… Now, we ache. We have had her 9 years. She has been regressing for the past several years. Right now, there seem to be no answers. She cannot go to school since she poops & pees her pants, smears… she screams for no apparent reason. Our doctors are at whit’s end & so are we. I KNOW God is faithful! I am praying He will continue to show us how to be Jesus to her without our burning out. Thanks for your encouragement.

  • Julie says:

    Thank you for this today! The last week has been a struggle for all of us. We have been home 3 months and I know that we have a LONG way to go. And knowing how long we have to go is sometimes the hardest part. But so is letting go of expectations. Thank you for sharing!
    (I just visited your blog and see you were vacationing in my home town, so very cool! Glad you made it thru Fat Man’s Squeeze!)

  • Jerusha says:

    Been there. Still in the thick of it. My timeline keeps expiring…oops. :) Thanks for the encouraging words.

    • “My timeline keeps expiring.” Ha! I actually wrote this post a few months ago. We’re now at 2 years, 1 month. Oy. BUT! Progress is being made. I have to really search for it sometimes, but it’s there. Praise the Lord! :)

  • Anna says:

    sniff.
    this is my today. and my yesterday. and most of my last week.
    and i follow your blog, and if i can make it work, i sooooo want to call in on the 25th. rabbit trail.
    anyway, ours has been home 13 months. i feel like we’re at month 4 or 5. many people, regardless of their claims and good intentions, do not truely understand. what we deal with on a daily basis is stuff they’ve never seen. it becomes the norm, the jeans and tee. i hear you there.
    and to pull on that love? sometimes it’s so hard. it can feel like the high heels and corset! 😉 as awful as that sounds, it can be true for me. some days.
    thank you for this, shannan. really. god knew i needed this cyber-hug today.
    blessings~ press on…

  • Sara says:

    I so needed to read this today. We had one of these days yesterday and I did not act the way I should have. My patience had fallen off the edge and I felt so guilty later. Thank you for reminded that God loves anyway and each day is a new day. Thank goodness for Grace.

  • Anna says:

    I think I should read this one at least once a week. I really needed it today! Good timing, and thank you for sharing. :)

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