Hello again, and apologies for neglecting the blog. Its not been the easiest of months, and I’ve let the writing slide, which is a shame because I enjoy it so much. It’s a matter of finding the time I guess
This post has been prompted by someone online, asking the question “What’s the hardest thing about having children?”
The person asking was not a prospective adopter, just wondering about when the right time to have a child is, and wanting some reality. It was the answers to her question that got me thinking, and thinking, and writing
“Sleepless nights”/”Sleep deprivation” was easily the top ‘hardest thing’ given
“Worry”/”Fear” (that something bad will happen to them)
“No me time”
“Frustration when they won’t do what you want”
“The constant grind”
And yes, I really agree that those are all very hard things
And yet I just couldn’t identify with any of those as being the ‘hardest thing’ about parenthood, especially sleep deprivation
Well, I guess because, although we all share the title of ‘mum’/'dad’/'parent’ (delete as appropriate), we aren’t all the same kind of parent, as it were.
I’m a mum. At it’s simplest, I’m just a mum.
But not just a mum, not really. I need to expand that.
I’m a single mum
An adoptive mum
A therapeutic parent
A mum of traumatised children
A mum of children who have special needs
A lesbian mum
I am all of the above mums in one. All of those things make up my ‘mum’ identity. All of those things add little facets, extras, make it different.
I’m not a birth mum, a mum of neurotypical children, and consequently I can’t give them same answer as many of those women
In fact, I don’t think I can honestly answer that question without breaking ‘mum’ down into all the mums that I am
The hardest things about being a single mum is the loneliness, money worries and needing to work
The best thing about being a single mum is the freedom to make all the decisions for my children as I see fit, without compromise or disagreement with a partner
The hardest thing about being an adoptive mum is that being an adoptive mum, means not being the only mother, and having much more to consider along the lines of birth family, contact, your own emotions, your kids emotions about adoption etc
The best thing about being an adoptive mum is that complete sense of wonder and joy that these children, not born from me, not sharing my genes, in the case of my daughters unknown to me for half their childhoods….are MY children, that sense I get when we are together and laughing and cuddling and we are just a family
The hardest things about being a therapeutic parent are, the constant wondering about whether my response was the right one, having to constantly consider the best future way to respond, the pressure to do it perfectly, the feeling of failure when all your parenting methods fail to help something
The best thing about being a therapeutic parent is knowing that it’s the best way to parent my kids, so I’m on the best track, and when my parenting metods do work and help my kids, it feels great
The hardest things about being the mum of traumatised children are – abuse disclosures (it’s just indescribable and horrendous) and coming to terms with them, coping with the extremely challenging behaviours resulting from trauma, and understanding the complete global impact of trauma on my beautiful children and having to come to terms with that, especially the effect on our relationship – the fact that my kids, especially the girls, can’t trust or love like other children can. The relentlessness of it.
The ‘best’ thing (not the right word but what i mean, is ‘what makes it worth it’) about being a mum of traumatised children is the sense of pride and joy when they achieve, they make progress, some healing is done, when something goes right….it’s knowing how resilient and strong they really are, being so damn proud of their achievements, knowing the obstacles they have navigated for every tiny one of them
The hardest things about being a mum of children with special needs are – the difficulty of accessing supports and services, pulling my hair out dealing with statements, IEP’s, social services, schools, doctors etc, and coming to terms with what my kids special needs mean for their lives. And the relentlessness of it.
The ‘best’ thing (ditto the word thing above) about being the mum of children with special needs is basically the same sense of pride in their achievements, as I said above. It IS a truly amazing sense of pride
The hardest thing about being a lesbian mum is navigating my kids questions, homophobia, worries about bullying
The best thing about being a lesbian thing is the community of other lesbian mums I’ve met, especially the few lesbian adoptive mums. Wonderful people I wouldn’t otherwise know
So…put it all together….
Being the mum of traumatised children is the hardest thing on that list. Being an adoptive mum is the best, I’d never choose another route to parenthood however many times I could have my time over again.
Thing is, when you adopt older kids with histories of abuse, you can’t become one without becoming the other at the same time!
For me, the hardest things about being a mum are what I listed above, especially, if forced to choose the very hardest things, the things under ‘mum of traumatised children’
Of course, because this lady is not considering adopting traumatised children, I won’t tell her my answer…it means nothing in her situation.
I’m putting it here though because her question was a good one, which made me think
I do agree with one poster that the biggest consideration about parenthood, is how absolute it is. You change. For life. You need to be prepared as possible for that
I’d be interested in my readers take on this, whatever ‘kind’ of parent you are (birth, adoptive, single etc etc)…what do you think the hardest thing about being a parent is? Do you have a clear answer, or do you need to split it down like me?
ps. Remember the Swear Jar?
Well, it works!!
Parrot is making a real effort and is succeeding. Didn’t lose any pocket money at all last week or so far this week