Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Things that are hard.

Do you remember that show?
$27,000 Pyramid?
Or was it $270,000...
I forget.
I think it had a 2 and a 7 in the title...
but it was a pyramid.
*Edited** Okay... so I did some research and found out it was FIRST the $10000 Pyramid, THEN the $25000 Pyramid... but most times just called Pyramid. See honey? I am just BAD with numbers in ALL things... not just how much I spent at the grocery store! for more info.


On that show there were two pairs of people, one person from each pair was usually some B-list celebrity. The one giving the clues would say stuff like:
"I like to lick myself instead of taking a bath..."
and the person with their back to the pyramid of clues would say...
(to a chorus of laughs from the audience... )
"Gene Simmons!"
to which the person giving the clues would then say...
"Ummmm.... I make strange sounds at night when I am in heat."
(more laughter...)
"I have nine lives..."
then the clue-getter would say "Things a cat might say!"
Then the next block would turn over revealing a new clue.

Now that you know how I spent several hours of my youth...

Sometimes I think I don't give an actual portrayal of what life is really like with 7 children in the home.
Seven children, all VERY different, three dealing with adoption trauma, 4 dealing with my-family-just-adopted-three-kids trauma, and a husband who has been out of town for 8 of the days so far in the month of November.

Sometimes I think you click on whatever button brings you to this corner of the internet and somehow, magically, rose-tinted glass appears over your monitor and you see my life as I may have portrayed it in snippets, blurbs and anecdotes.

So, today, my dear readers... I give you...

"Things that are hard."
(This is my alternate title... it was going to be:
YOU-CAN'T-HANDLE-THE-TRUTH-Wednesday! but, that just didn't flow.)

You may be thinking to yourself,
"Self...Chrissy has older kids at home. 
That MUST make her life with 7 easier than my life with 3 toddlers."
(ahem, not calling any names, cough, cough... but her name starts with a J and ends in AMEY. )

Let me just give you a normal scenario that takes place on any given day ending in Y.

Hubby has been out of town for 4 days, the kids have barely spoken to him save the 20 seconds on the phone when it gets passed around, and its 5pm. You have just returned home from picking up one child who stayed after school for an activity, three children need help with homework, one of which is learning some kind of math with angles that you know you knew when you were in 8th grade but now have conveniently blocked out of your brain along with leg warmers, Rave-shellacked bangs, and your adoration of all things New Kids On The Block. Dinner is a nagging thought in the back of your head and the the little kids want to go out and play. Since your yard is not fenced in and you have many blind spots as well as very tempting things for children to want to explore in other yards, you decide that the best thing to do is to beg one child to skip homework till after dinner and supervise the littles on the trampoline while you throw something together for dinner and google "complementary angles" to help with the homework. Suddenly, a scream comes from the back yard followed by a chorus of crying young children. After a quick investigation, you discover that you clearly put the wrong child "in charge" on the trampoline. After fussing at that child, firing said child from baby-watching-duties, sending that child back to do his/her homework, you send an alternate in to pinch-hit with the littles. This seems to be working until one of the littles has to go potty while you are browning meat. 5 minutes later, you scrape the burnt edges off of whatever you were cooking, tell the copy-cat pottiers to wait, and give the older child the phone number for The Homework Hotline. After explaining that NO, you DON'T actually use this angle stuff in real life but you DO have to graduate high school to get to college and get to do what you DO want to do in life... and therefore the stupid angle homework IS necessary... there is yet another "emergency" from the back yard. At this point, it is more trouble than it is worth to have someone "watch" the littles... so you decide to pull them all inside (kicking and screaming despite their obvious disdain for playing outdoors) and turn on some kind of mindless entertainment on the TV. Thankful for the instant viewability of Wonderpets on the Wii, you return to the kitchen with a slight "100 yard dash" pep in your step as you remember... "oh CRAP! The chicken!!" Wondering why you don't just invest in a truck load of Ramen Noodles instead of trying to cook actual food, you throw some other ingredients into dinner and toss it into the oven to cook/wait till 6pm. This is the "help" that the big kids have to offer. Just in case you were thinking it's know who you are. (Just kidding, Jamey... I love you!)

Another hard thing??
Okay... since you asked.
Grieving your previous life is hard.
Well, once upon a time... my husband and I had this routine.
We would wake up at 6am during the school year...
get the middle schoolers onto the bus by 6:35, and have 25-35 minutes of uninterrupted time during which we worked our way through a couple's devotional book, prayed for our day and our running list of prayer requests, drank our coffee under a snuggly blankie on the couch.. and just enjoyed our mornings together.
Now? When he is in town we grumble something about how stinking early the littles wake up, how dark it is, how they wake up at 300 decibels and only go up from there, and how we miss our little bits of time together. We have NO time together. None. Not a bit. Now, I know what some of you are thinking... "aww, let me break out my tiny fiddle and play a sad song for Chrissy." YES. I know some women have husbands who are deployed, some have lost their husbands, some have husbands who work worse hours than mine and others are never going to try that route again because some man has destroyed their faith in the entire male population. HOWEVER, this was one GOOD routine we had put into place in our lives. We worked for over a decade to get it down, to get to the point where we COULD do this... and now its gone. Gone, gone, gone. I hear you saying, "well just stay up later!" or "well, just get up earlier than the littles!" or "just drug the children and lock them in a room for an hour so you can have some quiet time together!"  Let me just say..I can NOT stay up later because I get up early and I get up as early as my brain/body will allow. Sometimes earlier.

Want something else that's hard??
Taking three small children out by yourself.
Not just taking them out, because as if that's not already hard enough...
then there's the inevitable STUPID, IRRITATING, ANNOYING comments we seem to magnetically attract whenever we are out.
YES. There are three of them.
Yes, they are siblings.
Yes, they are close in age.
No, they are not triplets.
No, they are not twins either.
Yes, they were adopted.
No, I won't tell you their history.
No, they don't want to hug you.
No, you can't touch them or their hair.
Yes, they are adorable and I know two look more alike than the third.
And no, my hands weren't this full until you interrupted our groove by asking these questions.
Your unwanted attention has now freaked them out, brought me unnecessary stress, and made the fur on my neck stand up and my canine teeth show a little more. No, not really... but ANY kind of approach by a stranger lately has me totally on-guard and ready to tell someone to "back away slowly, and no one gets hurt."
If we could leave the house in a bubble, not be seen by anyone, and get our errands done without outside interference... oh my gosh.... I just can't even imagine how much easier that would be!!!
When did adult people forget that even if the child is friendly... you are still a stranger to that child!!!
Parents are supposed to teach children to fear strangers!! There's safety in this! Just because my children are really stinking adorable and you want to squeeze them... that does not mean that you can!!

And because I am partial to overly-long blog posts lately...
Want to hear another hard thing??
Sure you do.

It's hard parenting internationally adopted children.
You know those 15 books you read telling you how not to screw them up?
Yeah. I don't either.
I know I read them...
they kinda mesh together into a general warning about Reactive Attachment Disorder, angry teen years, and teaching children appropriate boundaries.
Parenting I.A. kids is a lot like parenting your biological children...
For instance...
when my #4 kiddo was a toddler and he got into the pantry and climbed the shelves to get to whatever forbidden food he wanted, simultaneously knocking over many difficult-to-clean-up products in the process... he got swatted on his well-padded, diapered bottom and was made to help clean up the mess. Afterwards, I assured him that I loved him and all was well with the world. Well... same scenario, adopted child with an unknown past, abandonment issues, previous trauma, and who is learning to attach appropriately to his parents...........
What do you do?
My instinct is to swat the well-padded, diapered bottom.
The books tell you NOT to do this as it will permanently damage the child's ability to trust you, and they will wind up sneaking a knife out of the kitchen drawer in the middle of the night to sneak in and kill you when they are a teenager. Or not.
The books tell you to calmly explain to the child that you understand that they must be hungry to have gone through so much trouble to get a snack, and that it must make him feel scared and sad to be hungry. You should then explain that you are in charge of feeding him and that you will not let him starve and that all he has to do is tell you he is hungry and you will provide a snack.

Uh huh. I thought the same thing.

It's SOOOOOOOOOO lovey-dovey-crunchy-granola-mother-earth-loves-me that it makes me want to gag.

But, what do you do?
Raise the kill-his-parents-in-the-middle-of-the-night kid? 
Or the well-adjusted, well-attached adopted child who 
is secure in his family and loves his parents??

And you know what else?? 
Spanking your kid or not spanking your kid... 
there are no guarantees that your kid will 
grow up all super well-adjusted and such.

It's hard. It's hard constantly second guessing every single stinking thing you do as a parent.
Should I continue giving another helping of this meal to this child? She is GOING to explode!
Is this an orphanage behavior or a toddler behavior? Is this an adoption issue or a kid issue?
Knowing the difference in what you are dealing with helps you decipher how to handle it...
but micro-tuning your reactions ALL DAY LONG is hard.

Lots of stuff is hard.
And I don't want to leave you thinking that we have it super easy 
and that life is always super fun and awesome and rosy...
because no one should make decisions like adoption without all the facts.
No one should enter into something like this without knowing that it WILL be hard.
We knew it would be hard. We were prepared. And it's still surprisingly hard.
And even on the hardest day...we wouldn't go back and do it differently.


  1. Chrissy, I can so relate sister!! BEEN THERE!!! I'm sending HUGE hugs your way and you are doing a fabulous job of managing all the crazy. That's really all we can do anyway. Manage the crazy. God is good and he knows how to bless us and rescue us!! ;)

  2. word. to all of it. But seriously, you try to block NKOTB? That's just wrong. You need to embrace them, and go on their new tour soon. All the cool kids are doing it. :)

  3. I get it. Totally get it. THIS IS so, so, so close to home. "You know those 15 books you read telling you how not to screw them up?
    Yeah. I don't either." I read so many books before we brought our daughter home. And, they totally helped in some ways. But, you know what God has been telling me lately? To rely on His word. Because, even though adoption pain is a unique pain--it is not unique to Him. And, ALL pain finds solace in Him. Anyway, I've given myself a hall pass to get out of reading any more books for awhile. I'm sure at some point, I'll get my study on. But, right now, after six months; I am DONE with trying to figure out the universe. Something I noticed with our daughter, too. Is that when you are in a big family, and you see that all the kids have to follow the same rules and fall under the same's easier for them to adjust and follow. It was totally devastating to her if I even raised my voice during the first month. Let alone something more definitive. But, one day I totally got to see the lights go on in her little brain. I was reading my 3-year-old the riot act for sneaking out a window (!) during naptime. I saw her watching out of the corner of my eye. Then, I gave my son a big hug and told him I LOOOVED HIM, he was forgiven and to get out of here! She was totally smiling ear to ear. Like, "Wow. She didn't kill him for that?"

    Even though she's a baby--I hope she gets that we will be here for the long haul now. That discipline doesn't mean we don't love her. There isn't fear or confusion when I tell her, "No," now.

    I get that some (all) children have special needs. That trauma can be seated in every inch of their marrow. And, that dealing with that pain can consume your life. I just think it has to be in the very least a mixture of God's supernatural ability to heal, with whatever therapeutic parenting technique helps.

    I pray that God gives you peace.

    Blech. That's my epistle. LOVE your post. LOVE you blog.

  4. I'm just amazed that you had time to write that!

    My thoughts on interference while trying to run errands: I have one little white baby and I can't believe how many people stop me to talk about her. I counted while picking up 4 things at Costco the other day...9. 9 people needed to talk to me about her hair, her hat, her size, her shirt, her shoes... Seriously!?

    All that to say this: I think that's just the way it is. People stare. Random people strike up conversations. And, some people are going to be rude, mean, inconsiderate, inappropriate, etc.
    Living in a fallen world just makes me long for Heaven even more. :)

    I love you, Chris! You're a great mama!
    I can't wait to see you in a couple weeks!!

  5. Love this Chrissy! And yep, I hear the "your life is sooooooooooooooo easy because you have big kids!!! And they can help all day because you homeschool!!! :-)" Sometimes yes, most times no. It is tough. Thanks for giving us the truth...that your beautiful amazing perfect life is pretty much like the rest of ours. Let's rely on God together and find new routines in the midst of this new beautiful crazy chaos.

  6. Thank you for this post! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Just today I was so irritated when a lovely but rude elderly lady asked me if my children were REAL brother and sister, plus a few other off comments. Hello, they're listening! Anyway, I completely understand so much of what you posted.

  7. "It's SOOOOOOOOOO lovey-dovey-crunchy-granola-mother-earth-loves-me that it makes me want to gag" LOVE IT!!!!

    Just when you think you got this confident, know-what-I'm-doing Mom stuff down pat, adoption parenting muddies the water and totally shakes your confidence - at least that is what it's doing to me. I totally feel it, though I'm sure it's way more for you since your kiddos are older & x3. Love Mrs. Deem and her comment!

  8. Hugs :-) Thanks for sharing...thinking of you!


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