My New Years Resolutions as an Adoptive Parent
Look. I will be straight with you, okay? I don’t usually do this. I am not big into the idea of becoming a whole new person in the next year with resolutions. I can barely keep promises to myself for a week, never mind a whole year. For me, changes have to be incremental for them to even have a whisper of a prayer’s chance to take hold. That all being said, however, I’ve decided this year to make some New Year’s resolutions as an adoptive parent.
Resolutions are simply defined as making firm decisions to do or not do something. So, before this group of witnesses, let me share some decisions with you.
1. I will try to be understanding of the fact we are all working through trauma.
Practically speaking, what does that mean? It means I have stuff that triggers me to feel a certain way and it is only fair that I remember that my kids are the same. Their triggers and trauma response may be different, but their reasons are as valid as mine. If my kid acts out from being told “no” to something they really want, I need to remind myself it isn’t intentional manipulation. It is their response to a lifetime of loss and fear of not having enough. So, I will try to figure out ways to say “no” in a way that doesn’t trigger that response.
2. I will try to be a happy mom.
This could be applicable for any mom. I think many moms sometimes struggle with happiness. There is a lot of heartbreak in adoption. There is a process of letting go of expectations and living in the reality of the situation. As an adoptive parent, I can choose my responses most of the time. Is it difficult? Um, yes. But I know that the better I take care of my emotions the better the people around me can take care of theirs. I can’t control them, but I can control myself. So, I’m going to try and work on being happy.
3. I will try to not yell.
Speaking of triggering behavior. Look, I’m not a yeller. I hate raising my voice. I am naturally a fairly quiet person. So, when my voice is the pitch and volume that only dogs can hear, my patience has run clean out. But, whose fault is that? *raises hand in embarrassment* I am constantly telling my kids that they are in charge of their own bodies—no one else made them do something. So, I can’t very well say to them, “You made me yell” without being a hypocrite. Which is not to say I haven’t said that exact dang thing. I’m working on it.
4. I will stop equating my kid’s behavior to me being a good or bad mom.
If the past few years have taught me anything at all, it is that sometimes stuff just happens. I can be hypervigilant, attentive, gentle, kind, firm, and loving, and my kids will sometimes still act bat-crap crazy because they are their own people who have their own ideas about what is right. I can try and steer them the right way, but sometimes they will make choices I hate. And oddly, despite years of conditioning to the contrary, this is not my fault. My kids are their own people. I can give them all the opportunity in the world to make healthy, safe, good choices and they might still pick unhealthy, unsafe, bad choices instead. It is human nature.
Furthermore, as much as this doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom, it doesn’t mean they are bad kids. Yes, their behavior as a whole will decide for them who wants to spend time with them, their privileges, and their activities, but even if I have to take away video games, extracurriculars, and television because my kid refuses to do his homework, he isn’t a bad kid. He’s a kid who is struggling with his homework or his emotions about his homework or maybe even something else entirely.
5. I will advocate for my kids more.
I already do this pretty often, but by the time January has rolled around, I am so over meetings with teachers: I have become a recluse who barely responds to emails. This is not my best quality by a long shot, so I will try to change it.
6. I will be honest about my abilities to myself, my kids, and my community.
I wish I was the mom that could emotionally handle being a class mom, going to 4,000 class parties, attending all the PTO meetings, and being in charge of all the sports teams. I am not that person. I can fake it for a month before I burn out completely and want to lock myself in a closet and never come out. I have an actual diagnosed anxiety disorder and I know the limits of my medication and therapy. I know that I have limits, but I am also a recovering people-pleaser. I want people to like me, and I know on some level if I say “yes” to their requests, they’ll like me a little bit. It’s dumb but that’s how my brain works. So, I’m planning to advocate for myself to my people. I am actually failing my kids if I say I’ll show up and then don’t.
7. I will try to not get annoyed at people who mean well.
Inevitably, as an adoptive mom, someone new will find out our kids are adopted. It usually comes out at weird times and for odd reasons. And then the person I’m talking to will say something like “I could never do it” or “You’re a superhero” or something else about adoption and foster care that makes me want to throw up. Except, most people don’t know that the thing they are saying has been said 2,000 times before and that it is annoying. I am not superwoman. Ask my children. They will absolutely set you straight. Best case scenario: I’m a mediocre mom. But I really do appreciate the sentiment and it really isn’t my job to tell every single person who doesn’t know better that their “kind words” are super annoying. I struggle every day.
What about you? Do you have any resolutions? Good luck and Happy New Year!
My New Years Resolutions as an Adoptive Parent