Monday, December 21, 2009

Why Experience Matters....

parenting experience, that is.

When I first met my husband, he had three almost-grown children. Being a naive mom to a 3 year old at that time, I told him experience didn't matter in parenting. Ok, ok,,, I know, not one of my finer moments, as my mom would say. But since she's not here.....let me explain.

Parenting a child of divorce IS different than parenting a child whose parents are still married.

Parenting an only child IS different than parenting multiple siblings.

Parenting four children IS different than parenting two (Ok..I really "got" this one because I'm living it!).

When a child grows inside you, the love you feel for that child is instant..the moment you find out you are pregnant, boom, the love is immediate.
At least it was like that for me.

Adopted love...well, that's a little different. And this is where, I believe, experience matters. With enough "experience" as a parent under your belt, you understand what is, and I use this word lightly, 'normal.' What is normal 2 year old behavior, normal 6 year old behavior. Our oldest child(ren), in some ways, become our "parenting guinea pigs." Not a good analogy, but the only one I can think of this late at night when I should be sleeping but felt nudged to write this post. We parent them with "trial and error" parenting to see what works and what doesn't. I'm so thankful that I have a second, third and fourth shot at "getting it right."

People watch and observe us and sometimes criticize the why and how we do things, especially with older adopted children, when yes, we, have been through hours and hours of training, have consulted other adoptive parents with older children, and of course, consulted our Social Worker for "is this normal" for the state of post-placement we are in? And usually, the answer is always "YES."

This is hard...I don't know any other way to put it. Love doesn't always come instantaneously with older children adoption....sometimes, you wake up every morning with a choice to love or not to love these children. Does that sound harsh? It might to some, who have not experienced what we and other have experienced. But it is true. Love is a choice, not a feeling.

And yes, I do love them differently, but not one more than the other. I'm overwhelmed with the traits in each of them that makes my heart swell with love: one for their tender-heart and genuine remorse; I love another for their funny personality that can make me smile on a dime; and another, I love their boldness for Christ and honesty. And lastly, love for this child is still not's out there, but not yet defined. And love changes as they grow and I grow as a Mom, but it never ceases, that deep unconditional love that a mother has for her child(ren)....whether birthed or gifted, the love is persistent.....never ending......just like God's mercies are new every morning. My love for my children renews and refreshes me every day. As hard as some of the 'seasons' are, I can't imagine a life without each and every one of them. Their smiles, their laughs, and their tears.

This holiday season has been a bit of a challenge for us as we continue to settle into 'normal,' whatever that may be. We've seen some backsliding in behavior in many ways; and as we creep closer and closer to the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the anxiety of not knowing and unrealistic expectations of Santa, is surrounding my children like a dark cloud. Old behaviors, learned as a means to survive, have re-emerged, and to be frank, this Momma is struggling along with them. The season of Christmas has always been a difficult one for me.

The "magic" of Christmas is not upon us this year; our home is filled with overwhelming selfishness, greed and uncertainty. Not the warm and fuzzy feeling that it should be as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I'm praying that once we "get" through this season, 'normal' will return again.

As we struggle through the next few days, say a few prayers for our family.

Experience DOES matters....

and I'm so thankful that God has many,
years of experience in loving His children.


Anonymous said...

lol, we had NO experience! It has been like trial by fire! You are doing a wonderful job Robin. I know sometimes it is hard to see from inside the circle, but you have 4 beautiful, sweet, wonderful little ones. We love them (and you!!) dearly!

Kristy -Mom To 6 Blessings said...

Praying for you. Holidays are so hard. I am so sorry. I am overwhelmed too this year and am so OVER the wants and gifts and STUFF! ACK!
With older child adoption, I say that with a child that you have had from birth or an early age, that there is a history there from early on. So when they are being horrific, you have a the history of a good memory from the past. You can remember when they were sweet, cuddly, lovey, etc. With an older adopted child, there is no history, no memories. So if they are being horrific, you have no memories to fall back on. You are stuck dealing with one horrific child! (I may have told you this already so forgive me if I have.)Even if the child is just amazing from day one, there still is the necessity for bonding and figuring each other out....and oh, the language barrier.
I get it. Hang in there! Satan does all that he can to rob us of the joy of this wonderful Christmas season!

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The Hull Family said...

I LOVE the honesty of this post! I have 3 biological children and a 1 year old son I adopted from Ethiopia six months ago. I think there should be a support group for parents who adopted after having biological children so they don't feel guilty for their feelings! (or lack of feeling) Happy to say that our love grows everyday! Thanks again for posting!

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