Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Treading water.

This guy.
He's totally amazing.

It is hard for me to recognize that we are fast-approaching YH's one year tenure as an in-the-flesh member of our family. That one whole year ago we were on the precipice of *meeting* him, much less loving him or caring for him every minute of every day.

I hesitate to put it out there, because I know there are many many of my friends who are still waiting for their families to be complete. Children matched years ago, still waiting to meet their parents and siblings. The memory of the pain of waiting is visceral for me; I suck in air when I read the latest updates, my lungs clenching in empathy for those families caught in the endless wait.

It's awful.

I stay quiet on the "post-placement" internet forums and FB groups too, because I am well aware that we have had it easier than many. That our son's adjustment has progressed well, and that his personality is a good match for our family. It's not that we didn't have difficulties, or that he didn't grieve. It's more that our expectations were so dang low that we were happy to raise them up and meet our son where he needed us most.

His language skills are improving rapidly. But they are still not at the same level as his peers. I can see his cognitive skills bloom; concepts like colors and numbers and categorizing objects are becoming easier for him. His articulation challenges remain; Sweet Bubs and I are still the only ones who understand him 90--100% of the time. YH and Sweet Bubs get by with "brother tongue"--their own secret language, mostly spoken in grand gestures and corporeal movement.

It shames me that YH's burgeoning language skills have had such an impact on *my* happiness. My days are far less stressful now that he can enunciate his needs, and can listen to (and sometimes follow!) my prompts. I am a person who prides herself on being able to communicate across cultures; I believe fully in the ability to transcend language when building a relationship.

Oh, pride.

The truth is it is HARD to parent a child who appears to be an older toddler, but who possesses the language abilities (in Korean as well as his "new" language) of a much younger baby. It is HARD to remember to parent to his developmental age/his "family age" (equivalent to the length of time he has been a member of our family) instead of his chronological age.

I get impatient. I expect too much. I get frustrated and I have to take time to remove myself and reset my expectations.

If anything the last year has been a wonderful opportunity to confront my parental shortcomings. To watch the "theoretical" parenting skills that I dutifully banked during our wait to take custody fly right out the window in the heat of a challenging moment.

To give myself grace.
To give others grace.
Above all, to extend grace to YH.

Lately I'm feeling a bit stuck in this arena.

Our family is taking on more and more activities. We are comprised of one true introvert, three super extroverts and one introvert-with-extrovert tendencies. (Woe be unto the poor introvert, his burdens are legion). The extroverts drive the family ship and we collect every shiny social opportunity that comes our way. YES--we would LOVE to audition for commercials! YES--Let's sign up for swim team! YES--Let's arrange playdates, and babysit for our friends, and go an adventure to a new city and more more more.

And in the middle of all this chaos, this stimulation overload, I am finding it harder and harder to be *present* in the way I wish to be as a parent.

I need to put on the brakes for a bit.
I need to focus on breathing in and out.
I need to give myself permission to tread water, instead of belly-flopping with abandon into the unknown.

1 comment:

  1. Treading water is a slow way to exhaust yourself without going anywhere. As a former lifeguard, I recommend simply changing from a fast butterfly or freestyle stroke to slow, sedate breast stroke, with maybe an occasional stretch covered in a leisurely backstroke... what the heck, throw in a bit of sidestroke or even doggy paddle just to keep it interesting. Just keep that forward momentum going...! (In plain English, don't let the cries of, "I gotta do all this!" overwhelm that tiny inner voice that keeps whispering, "I can do all this!")