Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dont' look behind the curtain

Okay, thanks to the encouragement from Anonymous and Darlene, I will fill everyone in on the reason why I'm reluctant to post any more entries to this blog. I added Nora last January and it has not been pretty. We are a bad fit. I had been delusional. I thought I was the uber-mom. Everyone always told me what a great job I was doing with Ellie, YuYu and Mimi, really, everyone, and of course, I realize no one was going to step up and criticize me to my face, but still, I got raves. They were well behaved, clean mostly, and charming through and through and I love each one with a purple passion. I really thought that being a single parent of three was no big deal. I could do three with one hand tied behind my back, like falling off a log, like butter. I now know I was more like the Cowardly Lion dancing and feinting and shadow boxing a big show but I had no magic powers, no mom-wizardry. All I had been doing was pretend parenting, the great wizard was just plain old me with great theatrical props in the form of three very mild-mannered, easy going, easy to please daughters.
Since I brought Nora into the family I now understand why I believed before that single parenting, heck any parenting, could be so easy. My first three daughters ARE easy, they had me duped. I thought I knew what I was doing, but I don’t and I blame those three for giving me a false sense of accomplishment. I am not the uber-mom because those three tricked me into thinking I had even the slightest clue about filling this role. As it turns out, forget about the super mom suit, they won't be measuring me for that any time soon. The badge I should be wearing is struggling, flailing, cartoon-like mom: no heft, no substance, no there there.
I am not attaching to Nora. She pushes my buttons and I get so frustrated and angry with her so fast, it makes my head spin. I scare myself, can you imagine what it does to Nora? I demand more good behavior than she is currently capable of providing and I know that, in my head I know that. I look at her and know that she was institutionalized, that her foster family was exasperated with her too, that she has such a HUGE emotional deficit to overcome but still, I just want to say, so change already. Stop all this pouting, sulking, stamping, “not fair”, tattling, complaining malcontent crap and get with the Happy Hanson Girls program. Toe the line and get in tight formation like the other three. Be a team player dammit, right now, don’t make me repeat this to you again, and all of my wishing she were different probably exacerbates her odd-man-out feelings. We do make small progress, but we inevitably go backwards again. I am not cut out for this adventure. I sat on her bed last night looking at her, searching my heart for a solid label for anything I can feel for her besides resentment and it just is not there and if I were more hopeful, I would type "not there yet" but I’m not hopeful enough to type yet, yet.
So welcome to my whine fest, drink up, woohoo, partay. Yuck, I bore even myself with this pity party. I have pulled back the curtain to expose the charlatan that I am because I have no idea what the hell a real parent should act like and maybe if I throw myself at the feet of the blog world I can get some ideas, suggestions, guidance, tools, strategies, something, anything to help me learn to love this gorgeous, exasperating child. But for now, I would really like to click my ruby slippers and have all of this fixed, poof, like magic, but I guess I left those shoes in Kansas and I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. I know I have to put on the hip-waders, do the hard work and grow up quite a little bit if I’m going to be able to drag all of us back to Oz in one Happy Hanson Girls package. But mostly I would just rather just piss and moan and hope for my mojo to return without all the intense emotional labor that I know is in store for me and Nora in our future.


Anonymous said...

Not that I can really help you or offer any advise, just to let you know I understand.
I have a similar problem with our second daughter and she was not in the orphanage - fostered all the way from 4months until 2.3 years when we received her.
She is the most adorable child, loving, affectionate etc etc BUT my gosh can she exasperate me and push my buttons to the brink. I remember thinking one day, what the hell have I done to this family, she has upset the dynamics to much.
We have also come a long way in the three years since our Gotcha Moment. Believe me many screaming matches, tears by all and total frustration on my part thinking what the heck are you doing acting this way which this child, it is not her fault your are the parent now get on with it.
I really think I need to get help to better cope with her dimenia she is so head strong and so am I we just butt heads all the way. Meanwhile our oldest copes and is a completing different child and she was the one that spent all her time in the orphange.
Anyway just to let you know you are NOT alone by any means. These two adoptions where and are the best thing we ever did and I love both of my girls with every ounce of my being BUT just differently.
Marji you might also consider getting some help from an outside source at talking to someone and getting it all of your chest may help.
Good Luck - Nora is from Guilin right? SO is youngest.
Take care
A parent you understands in PA.

Anonymous said...


Let's be cyber friends! I am sooo glad that you are being brutely honest. I hurt for you, though. I really do.

I was a single mom to two bios for 9 years. I, too, had a whole lot of smoke and mirrors going on. People did (and still do) think my kids are the bomb. Easy, beautiful inside and out, smart, athletic, talented---teacher's dreams.

I know that I desire to adopt. I also "know in my knower" that when I do, my Wizard gig will be up and all will know that my two were "easy".

I knowingly expect adoption of an older child to be tough and I have honest, strong moms like you to thank for that.

You give me no illusions, Marji. You give me hard, achingly cold-hard truth. I appreciate that more than you could know.

I am married now and life is, in most ways easier. Adoption looms on the horizon; beckoning me and my husband to give our "happy golden years" (whatever the heck kind of crappy times that sounds like) to orphans.

We have 6 kids (ages 28-15) and one grandson and yes, we, like you are under the impression that we really want to do this thing.

Only after the fact will we know how ridiculous our hopes were; I anticipate many questions after the fact. Mostly...why the *heck* did we do this?

Our answer will have to be: because we truly wanted to make a difference in a child's life (and in our own). The same reason you have done what you have done. You cared. Period.

Now, onto some (I think?) solicited advice: keep being honest and real. I cannot imagine that people would not line up to help if only they you you even needed it! I'm betting you make it all look easy (especially from a distance). Let people know. Boss 'em around a bit. When they ask, be sure to have *how* they can help right on the tip of your tongue. You'll find out who your real friends are pretty dang fast!! LOL

Secondly, be good and kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Hire some help. Get a massage. Have dinner with friends. Eat chocolate (or whatever floats your boat). Soak in the tub. Get some professional insights. Take medication, if your doctor advises! Write a book (or at least read one). Let yourself watch CSI whenever you want (after kids are in bed, of course!). BLOG!!

Lastly, as a person of faith, I must tell you that I believe that even if you *think* you have made some kind of mistake, God does not see it that way. He knows your heart, Marji and while it may have some warts (like all hearts do), He already knows about them and has plans to prosper you, Nora and her "easy" sisters. You honestly think that he'd let your whole ship go down, just cuz you think you played the Wiz for awhile? I think not!

PS Hey! I thought I was the only "anonymous" commentor. Since I see I am not, I can come out of the closet if you truly wish to forge an on-line support system. I promise not to blow your cover--ever. Just let me know.

Lisa and Tate said...

Great post-
Honesty is go greatly appreciated.... I look around and everyone else seems to have it all figured out and so in control when I feel like my life is plumeting out of my control..... Now I will be adding in the mix being a single momma to a daughter from China... What have I been thinking???


Amy said...

Marji -

I sometimes wonder when everyone's going to figure out that I'm only pretending that I know what I'm doing. That I am just playing a role to be who I am, and that I'm actually totally unqualified to be a mother, audiologist, student, etc. Or, maybe they already know, and they're just being nice. "Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain," or worse, "pay no attention to the lack of a woman behind the curtain - it's all smoke and mirrors, folks!" Sometimes, nobody bleeding or dead seems to be enough of an accomplishment for the day.

Anyway, I'm very close to the woman that used to live next door to you, and she could hear the good shrieks and the bad shrieks. There were enough good shrieks, and enough calming of bad shrieks, for her to know what a great mom you are. That is NOT superficial in the least. She reported your motherly goodness to me on a frequent basis, and I aspired to live up to The Marji Model.

This isn't about whether you're good enough for her, or whether she's good enough for you and the other girls (somehow I think the former is more worrisome to you). It's about what you can do to take care of yourself enough (and/or have some other folks take care of you) so you continue to be able to take care of Nora. My sister-in-law once asked me, "How do you even do things like vacuum regularly with kids and everything else you're doing?" I laughed and said, "Um, that 'regularly' thing sometimes goes out the window. 'Regularly' becomes 'when absolutely necessary so I don't feel like a total slob'." She said something like "Yeah, that's why I just have dogs." (She just got married, and we're waiting for her kids to arrive on the scene and truly rock her world). Sometimes Dave becomes my "man behind the curtain," because he knows when I am not able to cope with another vague, yet tense, three-year-old/mommy conversation: "I want some of that." "What, sweetie? What do you want?" "That." "The juice? Or perhaps the toy? Or the cracker? The crayon?" "THAAAAAT! NO! NO! Not That. THAAAT!" "WHAT that?" "That." (Eventually, I find the mystery object of the day, and she then smiles sweetly as I attempt to suppress the start of a nervous tic). Thank goodness for the man who, at the very least, does a good job of distracting us both. I know you have a great support network out there who would be happy to help you, too. (Take home message - some kids who have never been institutionalized in their lives can be pouty and dramatic and petulant, too! And somehow, older sis never seemed to display these sorts of qualities. They just all come into the world DIFFERENT as can be. Of course, with your diverse personalities at home - I know you already know this!)

Maybe it's not a matter of being genuinely terrific all the time. Maybe it's more about finding more folks to help you work the controls for the Wiz. :) And maybe you SHOULD pay more attention to the woman behind the curtain. She's pretty terrific herself, after all. I'm glad you're going to the counselor (see - further evidence of your admirable motherly responsibility and super-powers), and hope you find it helpful for your family.

Love - Amy