I called my friend today to ask her advice. You see being a TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) practitioner seemed to have not adequately overcome my humanity in preparing me for this past Thursday. Perplexed by the madness in my own home, I reached out to our Empowered to Connect Parent Trainer//Director of Family Ministries and my dear friend—to share my story and ask for her advice? I felt frustrated at my own stubborn heart to press-in toward a raging child and irritated that we were back on the ‘crazy merry-go-round’ of tantrums. In the midst of her (literally) belly laughing as my story unfolded, I exclaimed, “I feel a blog coming on.”
You see, it is often not in the calm and competent times that God speaks to and through my family; it is in the messy, tear-stained, laughter-filled aftermath, that He often shows me His purposes.
For whatever reason (go ahead and insert some kind of nonsensical issue here), my kids were fighting while unloading the car from Costco. They were being just plain mean to each other. Kiddo #3 said something to kiddo #1 and they were off, forgetting our sweet family rules, “stick together, no hurts, show respect, have fun;” unilaterally breaking all of them in about 30 seconds of verbal banter. This was followed by my kiddo #1 slamming (and/or throwing…we may never know) a glass mason jar full of dog treats onto the tile floor; causing daddy to shout “WOAH?!” At that, kiddo #1 freaked (for trauma mamas, he/she was a level 3) and began to…wait for it…respond by deciding to stomp on my feet with tremendous determination and accuracy.
Now admittedly dis-regulated, (picture my husband and I preventing kids from physically defending the assault on mom’s feet) we were attempting to keep the ‘culprit’ from harming him/herself or others. With that, kiddo #2 completely lost his/her mind, and sprinted, screaming down the street because he/she was so angry that he/she was being prevented from defending me from the foot-stomper…another ‘lid flipped.’
At this point, kiddo #1 and #2, along with me and my husband; were, as we like to say, “in the red” (which for you folks that don’t check you engines…that ain’t good). Imagine the bliss…two kids yelling and screaming in our front yard as we desperately tried to restore order to our family. All of the high-pressure fears and expectations that every adoptive family feels that we need to measure up and emulate the perfect model of the miracle of adoption welled up in my mind. A sense of helplessness rose up in my throat and just as I began to speak a desperate prayer, I heard a loud crash followed by a loud wail, coming from the back of our vehicle.
Possibly feeling adventurous or to distract us from the madness, our littlest in her wisdom had decided—with two dozen eggs in her arms—to JUMP out of the back of our Honda Pilot. The container that she held in her arms broke her fall as she tumbled onto the blacktop, splattering fresh eggs all over her face and arms. As tears trailed down her dirty cheeks, blood began to peak out of her skinned elbows and knees. I carried her into the house. Her cries immediately stopping kiddo #1 from raging but also sending kiddo #2 into full ‘flight’ mode (again). Jim ran to stop kiddo #2 as I carried a bruised broken child and some pretty mangled eggs into the kitchen. We were followed by sad parade of remorseful kiddo #1 (who came to assist with the ‘fixing’ process) and her big sister. We worked together, mostly in silence, as I managed to salvage about 9 eggs and a bit of sanity with my quiet reassurance that all was not lost with mom-scripts that I was trying to bring everyone (including myself) to believe.
In the midst of all of that, I have to be honest, I wasn’t laughing. It was only in the re-telling of the madness that the reality of exactly how ridiculous we looked to our neighbors—hot in the face and quite literally covered in egg—and just how funny it all was. Mamas, can I encourage you? When things are really bad…like there is a mess of dogs treats, raw egg and bloody knees…try to laugh. Keep in mind that as bad as it is, it will pass and like every good family story, you will laugh at this moment.
Second, my friend, Allison said something so wise, I felt it worth sharing. She said, in terms of the behavioral issue I was working through with my kiddo that I needed to shift my expectations to think of it more in terms of a life-long struggle to elicit genuine compassion for my kiddos. In the same way I might accommodate a child with a a chronic illness or condition, I need to view the struggles through a long-term lens of compassion toward what my kids had endured. Get your mind right Liz…your kids have deep fears and losses and that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
Third and finally—parenting—ALL parenting is hard. It is made much better when we have others we can call, cry with and who can gently empathize and be real with. This is why we created Miriam’s Heart.
We all (not just our kiddos) come to the table with hurts, losses and other baggage. Our kiddos meet us often empty handed, but with full and heavy hearts and minds. These two things collide in the beautiful mess that is adoption.
This Mother’s Day, I honor you mamas! I see you! I ache and cry with you. I also choose to laugh and be merry with you. You will often hear me say, “hysteria looks a lot like happy.” In the midst of it, try to laugh and smile at this delightful and messy privilege we call Motherhood. Time flies—after all— whether you are having fun or not. And parenting is never boring and often sprinkled with divine reminders of the very nature of our Creator God.