All I ever wanted was to be a mum. I can remember as far back as my early teens knowing I wanted to be a mum. I probably didn’t really understand all (or even a little part) of what was and is involved in being a mum, but it was a desire that never wavered.
Skip forward about ahem years and here I am; mum to my two gorgeous girls who came to me through adoption and we have Mothers Day approaching us at the weekend. Should this be a time of celebration? A time for being kind and thankful to mum? A time for showing mum just how much you love her? Well that’s all gone a little skewed in our house, as it probably does in many an adoptive household. Each child and family will have their own mix of experiences, relationships and situations. In our house, the girls have a very difficult time with Mothers Day and that difficult time does not just affect one day.
I noticed last weekend that things were tense and even the smallest of instruction or request was being met with difficulties, strops and unbalanced emotions. I initial thought it was about the current changes of new school, new routines and tiredness. After a couple of days I had mentioned again to dear hubby that situations seemed to be more difficult and that it was much harder to calm them down and get back to them being able to function safely. That stayed with me, mulling around in my head until I needed to focus on something else.
Later that day, out of nowhere, I had one of those lightbulb moments. You know, the ones where you it seemed so obvious, yet you didn’t realise that you end up speaking to yourself and even insulting yourself for not realising sooner! Mothers Day! It’s Mothers Day at the weekend! Oh silly me! Oh brilliant me! Now I’m quite sure that’s what this is all about. Great. I can make a plan now (I like to have a plan!)
When I collected my biggey from school that day I took some time to have a gentle chat with her about whether there was anything deeper going on that was making her wobble. It took time – the gentle coaxing, wondering, noticing – to get underneath how she is really feelings and what she is thinking.
My birth mum said she will come and get me…
Now, on the face of it, that sounds like something a birth mum will say who didn’t want to lose her daughter and this is often the case. However for my girls, sadly, there has often been a very different connotation in the messages they were given from their birth parents. So I explored a little more.
She will come and get me to make sure I don’t talk, don’t tell and remember the hurting.
Ahh, so actually this memory and very clear reminder has been used as a threat and quite probably an intended promise too, but not a promise in the kind and reassuring way that we use promises. Their birth mum left them with extremely difficult and often terrifying memories of her.
I’m scared. Does she know where I am?
So we talked through (again) about how she doesn’t know where she is; we walked through all the things we have that help to remind and reassure her she is safe; we remembered how long it is that she has been with us and so how long it is since she was hurt and that they are unable to hurt her anymore. We did some symbolic work with noticing the scared feeling, where it is in her body, what it might look like if she draws it and then an imaginative way of letting go of the scared feeling.
Sounds simple. Takes ages. It is very tough (for us both) and really helps. She has been so much better for the rest of the week.
This is really not what I thought I would be doing as a mum. Not in my teenage dreams of being mum. Not even in my adoption mum prep courses. Definitely not when I was told “the children just need firm boundaries”. Yet this is the reality of my mummy job description. Do I want to do it? No, of course I don’t! Will I continue to do it? Yes of course I will!
So back to Mother’s Day itself. I really don’t want to do anything, mainly because I can’t be bothered dealing with more upset, strops, shouting or rages if or when they happen. Yet, we will do something. It will be flexible, it will be small, calm and definitely involve eating (because food regulates them). Most of all, we will do something because I am not about to leave them with those old impressions of what Mother’s Day is all about. We will continue to chip away and change their view of themselves, events and the world to something much more positive and kind.
Happy Mother’s Day to all those mummies out there who went the extra mile to be a mummy and go the extra marathon every day.