I’m still waiting for the day when life just feels normal. Last night I dreamed that one of our neighbors covered the slopes of their yard with snow somehow, and I walked down the road with Rory, Wy, Lily and Sam and we just happened to stumble across it. It would be Rory’s first time playing in the snow, and I wanted to see her reaction, but she’d wandered off, and somehow we were surrounded by hundreds of families, all with Chinese daughters about Rory’s size and with her haircut, all happily playing in the show. I was reduced to searching for the shirt I knew Rory was wearing, but still, I couldn’t find her anywhere. I kept searching, trying to wathc Lily and Wyatt, who were looking for her too. Finally I found a silent child playing in the sand, wearing disheveled clothes–somehow I knew that they’d just been put on, traded with another kid. I thought it was her. I wasn’t sure, though, and she wouldn’t talk to me, and I just stood there, looking at her. Had I found her, or not?
Then I woke up.
I don’t think we need a professional to sort that dream out. Gosh, what could possibly be on my mind?
Two things struck me lately. One was on the blog of a net friend home just a couple of days (she’s password protected, so I won’t link). Her husband said something like “it doesn’t feel like home, with her here. It feels like we’re still at the hotel.” That resonated for me…i think some part of me feels like we’re on an extended playdate, and the kid just won’t go home. I like the kid fine, and she’s adjusting to us better every day, but she’s not set in our ways and I’m responsible for her.
When we’re with other people and I hug or kiss her, it feels so artificial–like I’m putting on a show, to say look, I love this one too! Really I hug and kiss her plenty at home, but I notice it more with an audience. And she just…bugs me. She’s not unobtrusive. If she’s running through the house, as she mostly is, she’s stomping madly. If she’s talking, she’s yelling. If she’s getting a drink of water, she’s slamming drawers and announcing it at the top of her lungs. ANd she’s omnipresent. If we have another family over, she can only play with the other kids for a very limited amount of time. Then it’s back to me, touching me, sitting near me, asking for the food off my plate and a drink of my drink. Or even just looking at a book (something only she could do loudly) on the couch–I have to think, why isn’t she with the others? Do I need to do something? Does she feel left out? Does this mean she won’t succeed at school or that no one will EVER ask her for a playdate and she will be forever glued to my side? (I know that it really means she wants to make sure I’m still there, and that she gets tired of the effort of interacting, especially with kids who come and go–something that never would have happened in her foster home).
I don’t hate either of us anymore. I’m rolling along with life, but I am tired of this half-way emotional state of mine, and the way it affects the way I am with the other kids. Will I do a workbook with Lily? No, because it means Rory will be right up there with a book of her own–or no, just because I’m so tired of them, of all of them, of putting them in the car and getting them out of the car and just plain talking to them. Read to Wyatt? No. Play cards with him? No. I’ve removed myself from them so much because I don’t want to interact with Rory any more than I already do–which really feels like quite a lot. I’m not happy about that, it’s not the way I want to be–but I don’t want to referee every spat, or insist that Rory take only her turn at cards, or play by the rules. I can’t interact with them easily anymore, and my temper is so short, that not doing it at all seems like the best course of action.
On the other hand, I was also struck by something our pediatrician said about another adoptive family. She has a graceful way of providing advice by describing it as something she’s seen others struggle with, or do, and she mentioned an adoptive parent with a few adopted kids, from a tougher background, and the way the parent felt she had to jump on every little thing, including things she’d probably let slide from her bio kids–because she didn’t know where they came from, or where it would lead. And I thought–yes! There’s a legitimate reason why every second word out of my mouth to Rory is no. If Lily gets her own pop tart one Saturday morning without asking, I know it won’t lead to her taking six pop tarts a day every time I’m not looking. If Wyatt pushes the dog out of the way a little roughly, I know it’s a one-off, not the start of a pattern of beating the dog with sticks. I don’t know that with Rory. So it’s actually fair to chastize her more than the others–more than fair, it’s the right thing to do–but it doesn’t feel fair. I think it makes it hard for me to bond, too, because it’s all I feel like I can say, and because everything could be a harbringer of something else, or a sign of a problem. Nothing’s just a cigar, so to speak.
So that helped, some.
Another net friend, about to travel to adopt in 8 days, asked me a day or so ago if I wished I hadn’t done this. What I mostly wish is that she–and I–wouldn’t ask that question. It seems so big, and it’s unnecessary. I have come to see that every moment of discouragement doesn’t mean things are horrible. Some days are good. Some days are not. Some days are in between. Asking myself–Do I love her yet? Do I wish we hadn’t done this? Is just keeping me in a tough place. Right now, Wyatt and Lily are systematically emptying some boxes of their art projects that have been sitting there for months, waiting for me to sort them and throw some away, or not. I’m angry at me, that they’re still there. I’m angry at them, for dumping them out and I know they won’t be able to clear it up by themselves. I’m cross that I’m sitting here writing instead of encouraging them to do something more productive, and that the fact that they’re now about to go outside to gather yet another “rock collection” fills me with a sense of doom. And none of that means that things aren’t ok.