Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tight Rope Walking

I thought I’d do an honest post today about a really hard aspect of adoption and biological children…

This is not in any way meant to discourage anyone from adopting, simply to inform and prepare anyone who might be considering it…

In all of my reading and following along on Yahoo Groups, I was absolutely NOT prepared for this part of it… I knew that it would be an adjustment for our biological children but I took WAY too much for granted. I spent time trying to prepare them, but I didn’t prepare myself very well for this aspect of it…

The kids were so excited about the adoption, I knew that naturally some parts would be hard, but I never considered the emotional drain that it would take on me. Please know, I am not whining…I’m a big girl, with an even BIGGER God, so I will survive.

But since Gotcha Day, I have felt like a tight rope walker, trying to balance the fine line of emotions with our new daughter and all of our children. Admittedly, the boys have been a little easier, not much has changed for them, except there’s one other person vying for my attention…so I just have to be careful that they don’t get short changed. I got really frustrated one day, trying to figure out what to do about Zack’s soccer game.

Zack loves soccer and his mama is ALWAYS at his soccer games! It was his second high school game and the second in two nights… Abby was tired and I was struggling hard with whether or not to go. And I got frustrated… I love her with all of my heart and I want to do what’s best for her…but I love Zack with all of my heart too! He has been a trooper through this whole process and I wanted to give him the support that says “I love you,” in his language. Thankfully, my friend Laura came to the rescue…she was home that day, so Nick, Mackenzie and Abby stayed home and played with her kids.

Nick has just started fencing lessons and Scott has been taking him every Monday night… I haven’t been to one yet! It broke my heart the other night when he looked at me and said “But mom, I wanted you to meet my coach.” Translated, “Mom, I wanted you to come watch me fence.” You can bet I’ll be there Monday night!

But with Mackenzie, it has been even more delicate. Don’t get me wrong, she has been AMAZING! She is a wonderful big sister, but she has feelings too…she needs to grieve what she lost also. She was the baby, the only girl (princess) for 10 ½ years in our family…so there is something to grieve. There is someone else who wants her daddy’s attention…someone younger who can jump into his arms, ride on his back, or sit in his lap. And Abby, during these early days of bonding, needs some extra attention.

Yes, we’ve bent over backwards to be sure that we’re not neglecting Mackenzie…trying to do things with her one on one, but therein lies the tight rope feeling…I am constantly aware of everyone’s emotions and trying to make sure that no one is being neglected or feeling left out. If I hugged one…did I hug the other equally hard? When I go somewhere with Mackenzie, or do something around the house with her, does Abby see a relationship that she feels like she can’t be apart of? When I hang with Abby for a while, does Mackenzie feel left out?

These are just some of the thoughts that run through my head… Maybe I’m trying too hard, but my heart’s desire is to stand in their shoes and see it from their perspective. It really doesn’t matter what my intentions are if they’re perceived in a different way.

I admit I got really angry one day when someone (who has no knowledge of what is happening in our home) said that I just need to understand how hard this has been on Mackenzie. As if I didn’t know… And very selfishly in that moment, I thought, I wish someone would consider MY perspective for a change (yes, I had a mental temper tantrum…a full blown pity party!)

I need to bond more with Abby, one on one, but not at the expense of my relationship with Mackenzie… ah…the fragile pursuit of balance!

I think our best times are when all three of us are engaged…baking is great fun with the girls, but I think I need to find somewhere to deliver the baked goodies, my already too large pants are getting tight! I love it when we swing together or play outside and last night, I got my first invitation into bath time…Abby invited me! It was fun, I haven’t washed Mackenzie’s hair for her in years…

I’m learning something in this process (thank goodness it’s useful for something!)…something that I’ve never really considered before now…building relationships is a very intentional process. I think sadly, until now, I have always taken relationships too much for granted.

I don’t mean that I haven’t worked at them, I have…but I didn’t work at them with intentionality…with forethought… Now I’m spending more time in my kid’s shoes, wondering what they’re thinking, how are they perceiving my words and actions…sometimes I don’t like the answer…but our relationships are growing.

Maybe it’s like the tight rope walker in the circus…the longer I practice the balancing act, the more naturally it will come…a girl can hope can’t she?


Patientlywaiting said...


I understand exactly what you are talking about, I just can't state it as eloquently! Our youngest has had the hardest time but I think he has given up the most as well. He has been our baby for 7+ years. I am trying really hard to balance and have discernment for who needs are not being met or who needs more mommy time. With that said, the joys far outweigh the struggles!

Thanks for continuing to blog. The kids like to look at the pictures. I think Claire remembers Abby. Glad Abby is doing so well.

Robin in TX

PS We would love to take a pound cake off of your hands!

Anonymous said...

Hi Babe,

When do YOU breath???!!!

Love you much,

Ruthi said...

Hi Sharla...the same feelings at our house! Vicky is my many of this etc does the other girls wearing..I sit back and think "did my boys all do this?" the tight rope though as long as it stays under our feet and not around our neck i think will be ok! Love you, Ruthi

trina said...

I totally understand, especially with Hudson. I,too have made an extra special point to hug him more and praise him more. Thankfully, he's patient and a good boy. Alaina, will just tell me if she wants to be held like a baby. The older three are my lifesavers. They "take charge" when needed and help me hug all the little ones. It's for sure a balance act...but a blessing to train the older ones to care for the little ones. the older ones what they need...hmmm..that's harder for me. We do the best we can, giving all we can give,..and they seem to understand. Hang in there. I love following your journey and seeing Abby take baby steps.