Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17




Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Box

Me: "You know what your problem is? You never think outside the box!" Hubby: "Well, you know what your problem is? You HATE the box! You're nowhere near the box! The box doesn't even EXIST as far as you're concerned! THAT'S what YOUR problem is!" It’s true, I’ve never been good with the box. I don’t think in it, and I don’t fit in it. Being unconventional is just who I am, so it doesn’t bother me much, but it can be heart breakingly lonely at times. Most of my life I’ve been blessed to have a few kindred spirits around to make life more full of joy, and far from lonely. Unfortunately, when I took a more unconventional path to motherhood, loneliness really struck. Most women have babies. Cute, adorable little bottle sucking babies. They meet other moms-to-be and new moms and join mommy groups, and end up with an amazing support systems. Being a new mommy to a 6 1/2-year-old is without such opportunities. You’re definitely far outside the new mommy box, and no one knows what to do with you. You’re tired, emotionally worn out, dealing with a host of issues as you bond as a family, and there is virtually no one to lean on. New Mommies are dealing with breastfeeding, colic, and diapers. They’re looking for other mothers dealing with the same issues. Mother’s of school age children are already tightly part of cliques formed when their wee ones were born. They don’t know what to do with a woman who is facing motherhood for the first time in her life--to a school aged child at that. Somehow I knew. Before I ever became a mother, I would see Mommy groups advertised in our church bulletin, see face book groups come together and find times to meet, watch groups of moms at the park, and I longed to be a part of them. But even then, even before children, a small voice reminded me that probably would never be me. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life wishing I were more conventional. Wishing I could get in the box with everyone else (even though I’m a little claustrophobic at the very thought!) Sometimes you just want to belong. I guess the upside of this experience, is that I’ve learned to be more considerate of people who don’t belong. It’s made my heart ache for orphans who have no one permanent in their lives. It has filled me with admiration for single mothers. It has given me sympathy for single people in churches where the congregation is mostly neatly paired off into couples. The occasional experiences where I have been included where I don’t belong have meant so much to me. The people who have taken the time to ask me to dinner over the years when my husband has been deployed have a special place in my heart. Inviting half of a couple to a dinner party isn’t really the norm. You really have to think outside the box to reach out to someone dissimilar to you. We like to surround ourselves with the familiar. Couples without children hang out with other couples who don’t have children. Singles hang out with singles. Couples with young children spend times with couples with young children. Empty nesters tend to veer to other empty nesters. It’s comfortable and familiar. I imagine though, that our experiences would be so much richer if we branched out to include those who “don’t belong” in our circles. To enjoy conversation and spending time with people from all walks of life is an adventure, and broadens our perspectives and thoughts. So what holds us back? Comfort? I love mac and cheese (well, mac and vegan cheese substitute at any rate) it’s a great comfort, but I don’t eat it every night of the week. Variety is good …and healthy!

2 comments:

revolutionaryandjoyful said...

As a pretty unconventional person myself I feel you on so many levels.

There was (is?) a part of me that yearned to be more conventional but then I look at what horrible shape our world is in and if convention brought us here, I certainly don't much to do with convention.

Also, did I detect a hint that you are vegetarian or vegan on this post? lol

And finally, can you give me any advice and/or point me to any websites that deal with the rewards/challenges of adopting older children?

Laura said...

I hear you. I don’t want to become complacent and satisfied with the status quo. It’s just lonely sometimes when you feel so different from everyone else. Ideally, I would be able to convince others to join me in being whatever change we can in the world, but most people just find my passion odd.

In answer to your first question, for the past 16 years, most of my life has been spent as a pesco-ovo-vegetarian (sometimes lacto being thrown in there if Goat’s milk/cheese is a decent price) or a flexitarian. I tend to do what works for me. For the first 4 months of this year I was a Pesco-ovo-lacto-vegetarian. Right now I'm a flexitarian. I tend to get burned out making separate food for me and for the rest of my family, so after a few months of vegetarianism, I tend to switch back to flexitarianism--which is my husband and daughter's preferred way to eat (a testament to my accomplishments right there, I assure you--when I met each of them, "carnivore" could have described either one!)

In answer to your second question. My advice would be that when you're dealing with an older child adoption, you have to remember that you're dealing with a wounded child, and you need to help them heal. Obviously love doesn't fix everything (and when you're in the process you do learn of resources to help your child as well), but showing a strong committed love to someone who has never known commitment and love, goes a long way towards that healing.

I also recommend checking out the books,

The Adoption Resource Book by Lois Gilman

You Can Adopt: An Adoptive Families Guide by Susan Caughman, Isolde Motley

I like both of these books because they not only explain the process, but have first person accounts, and each address issues like older child adjustment and transracial adoption (which is great, because you never know--the right child for you may not look like you. I've met African American parents with Anglo or Latino children, and Latino parents with African American or Anglo kiddos...and there are those like my family...we're a hodge podge of ethnicity!).

I also love Adoptive Families Magazine. This magazine is amazing --lots of first person stories, as well as amazing advice for many things you encounter in adoption (and they specifically address older child adoption frequently.)

Adoptive Families magazine also has online forums where people go to talk adoption --you can find a lot of interesting info there:

http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/forums/

And here's a great blog on older child adoption:

http://adoptionlivestransformed.org/