Every morning I get to work and read through the daily CNN reports while I drink my coffee. Each time I am reminded of how unbelievably privileged we are to live in a Country where we don’t have to struggle just to survive, but still, I take it for granted. A huge portion of the world’s population live in fear or turmoil. More still are missing out on food, shelter, a proper education and medical attention. Me, I have clothes, food, a job, a home and my family is safe. I hope that my family and friends also recognize how blessed we are to live our lives as we do. I hope that every person chooses to give back in some way, to whatever cause they are passionate about. Even a small financial donation, volunteering of time, or a simple act of kindness go a long way in changing lives.
As I inch my way closer to becoming a parent, I find myself struggling with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of self confidence. For years, I’ve been listening to my friends talk about raising their children. They’re so far ahead in the game that I’m not sure how I’ll ever stack up as a new parent. I know it’s not about comparing my successes (or my children’s) to theirs, but I feel as though I’ll struggle with the unsolicited advice and explaining to those around me how raising a child who has been neglected or abused is so much different than raising a child born to you.
I will likely have lower expectations of my children then I would a biological child. For a traumatized child, even the basic acts in life can be a challenge. My expectations need to be reasonable and achievable. There simply isn’t any comparison between a child who has been adopted and one who has not. For an adopted and/or traumatized child, feeling secure in a family, managing emotions and trying to understand why “this” happened to them take up the majority of their plates. At the end of the day, there isn’t much time left over to be the star basketball player or humanitarian of the year. Making it through each day without a meltdown is a success.
I will need to learn to trust my gut. To keep my confidence as a parent high, expectations of my children reasonable, and to shut out the voices of the people around me who think they know how it should be.
When I started brainstorming for this post, I was certain it was going to be about the aspect of myself I wanted to improve throughout the course of next year. I was circling around the word “discipline”, something I greatly lack in my life, but creating discipline where there simply is none seemed like a mountain in front of me. I’m not really much into climbing mountains these days (if only I was more disciplined). Instead, I landed on the word “efficient”. Efficient as in, finding ways to work with my own personality traits – the ones I already have – to make my life as efficient as possible.
Heading into adoption this year, I know there will be plenty of opportunity to be self criticizing as I become overwhelmed with the new responsibilities in my life. There’s no need to start that now. I know that I am a good person with plenty of positive personality traits. I’m strong, I’m capable, I’m loving and compassionate. So what if I lack discipline or have a tendency to be a little irritable or lazy sometimes? I can work with those. I can set strategies in place that will help me to not become irritable, or to create an “out” when I need a lazy escape from the new day-to-day responsibilities. I can create efficiencies for a productive and happy life while still embracing all of my traits – the good, and the bad.