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 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.