A moment of desperation

I’m going to be irreverent when it comes to family life. I’m going to compare it to a day job. As we jumped into parenting when our kids were age 3, and took on big responsibilities and learned as we went along, the rewards were great but the mental load was also great. The longest I’ve kept a job was nearly 5 years. And I loved that job. It was rewarding and it helped me develop and I felt great satisfaction from it. But there came time when we had to move on. I reluctantly put in my notice with ample time to train a replacement lead and then looked ahead to new adventures.

Parenting is that kind of job you can’t just quit. Though it’s greatly rewarding and fulfilling and beautiful, it is demanding and sometimes thankless and you may feel trapped in a vicious cycle of giving and giving till there is nothing left of you to give.

My kids are still pretty great, well behaved, connected to us, obedient in the things of safety and they embrace our values. They also push our buttons and test the boundaries in a healthy way. But when the routine sets in and I am so tired of it all, I wonder how would it be to “switch careers”. I’ve considered getting a full time job just to escape home. But I will never escape home. The full time job would come on top of all my responsibilities at home as a mother and home maker.

I heard a great word of wisdom: “don’t quit (a job, a project, a life) just take a break (to rest, to regain perspective, to refresh).” Resting is a slow process. Don’t you wish you had sa pill of instant rest? Alas, we need a full night sleep to recharge our batteries. God designed us this way. And it is a good thing.

I started being more intentional about rest. And at first, as I started to slow down it felt like it will never be enough. The first few weeks only showed me how much I actually needed rest. I felt increasingly tired, emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s an optical illusion. You need to keep the course to actually see progress. In February I booked Conrad a long weekend away. Or so was the plan. I ended up joining him, deciding we’ll figure out the kids plan later. This is how we flew to Bergamo at the end of April. It turned out to be my favorite vacation yet. Just the two of us. Perfect weather. Nature. History and walking. Amazing breakfasts and silence to our heart content.

I sense the stench of desperation washed over with “fake it till you make it” positivity. I say the house can be a mess on the outside, a shack for all I care, but inside we strive for an airy light room, clean, fresh.

I fear my openness to share our challenges and successes, especially in the adoption world, can give a wrong impression about how real the struggle is. When a mom says: “i’m utterly exhausted” we applaud her for having the emotional strength to even label how she feels, but it is one thing to point out the reality and another to live it. Slowly. Each second of it.

All that being said, when I am asked about our journey, as an international married couple, as an adoptive family, I try to give all the actual practical steps we took, the things we learn, how we addressed it all, how we’ve grown. But the truth is, the bottom line, the core of it all is faith. I stubbornly believe. I long onto God with all my might. I challenge what I know. I lay it before Him. I read and meditate and I pray. I do it all as it fits my style and my thinking process but I do it honestly and wholeheartedly. And there have been times when in my mind I let go. I open my proverbial hands and give my heart to Him and He meets me there. The lowliest times have been the sweetest encounters with God. When I could not hide behind anything I thought I could persuade God with. When all I could utter is “save me”. And to my delight and encouragement, over the last four decades, God showed up. He shows up even when the answer is no.

In this wrestling with Him, in my delight and joy of knowing Him, I invite my daughters to join in the conversation. I speak freely with God, out loud. And to my surprise both girls still love to pray with me. “now your turn!” And let me tell you: my prayers are convoluted and long. But I speak hope and truth and faith. I find my words easily to encourage and challenge my daughters as I let them hear me talk about them to God. Oh, the brightness in their eyes, knowing that this extraordinary God I know and love created them and He is their Father too, they can come to Him as I do. Always. Anytime.

But even these sweet times we’ve share. Especially the past couple of years as Jackie is 9 and Ivy is 6, both of them increasingly mature, their hunger for such connection moments is incessant. And there are times when I have no words. No strength. No nothing. I feel utterly spent and there is a whisper of a trap saying that I fail if I don’t keep it up at the same level and intensity. But the last two months Conrad has put them to bed half the time, and even if I put them to bed, sometimes I let them pray and I only say a few words, or I tell them “not tonight”. Setting some evening boundaries has been guilt ridden. And it was awfully difficult the first two weeks. But now the girls are used to diversity in the evening. Sometimes I tell them I have no words and no energy. And they say: “ok. Good night mommy. We love you.” This is the holy grail of motherhood to me. They letting go of me and embracing some evening independence.

Before I stuck with this self care new route I felt trapped and slowly felt darkness and despair as a mom. They’re bottomless pits of connection and empathy and affection. Not my primary love language. In that moment of desperation we chose to go away for three night to Italy, so we could come back more recharged, connected with one another and to want to continue to parent well. One can still go through the motions but checkout. It reminds me of a joke I heard recently.
The husband says: I have been talking about it with my wife and we decided we don’t want to have kids.
We’ll let them know tonight at dinner time.”