Sunday, February 19, 2012


I'm fighting a bad bug right now, and it's making me feel utterly crummy. It's called "depression."

Ever since the big bad epilepsy news, and all the harrowing decisions around it, I feel as though I've hit a threshold of my patience. I have very little left, it seems. Every time Geri starts crying (which is about a billion times a day) I feel like I just want to run away and hide somewhere. I sometimes feel that way about Mera and TJ, too. I just want to check out, be vacant, hide out, pull the covers over my head and not have to take care of anyone.

This adoption is, without a doubt, the hardest and most humbling thing I've ever done in my life. See, I've been very proud of my parenting. I have thought, probably all my life, that I would someday be a Great Mom, and then when I became a mom I became convinced of my greatness all the more. Every time someone told me how cute the kids were, I felt like the Great Mom. Every time someone told me how smart TJ is, how cute Mera is, how polite TJ was, how sweet Mera seemed, I felt like this was not a compliment for them, but for me. They were cute and sweet and polite and smart because I was making them that way. Because I'm a Great Mom. Because I'm a goddess among women, able to raise perfect children who ace every test and help little old ladies cross streets and still put an amazing dinner on the clean table when my husband comes home from winning our bread. I'm a Great Mom, look at my happy family and my clean home with pretty throw pillows that I sewed the covers for myself. (That sewing part is true, btw. I miss having hobbies...)

Suddenly, I have a very different kid and the other kids are changing and I am the Great Mom no more. The house is a sty. The meals are less elaborate (and we eat out more). TJ is having issues at school, issues that I can't just fix for him because I'm too tall to blend in with his classmates. "What, I'm not his Mom! I'm a 5 year old girl!" *Pees her pants.* "See?!" Mera is throwing tantrums that you wouldn't believe, and she loves to do this in public. Because it's not fun unless Mom is embarrassed, right? And Geri is disabled. Permanently. No matter what I do about it. She will always be visually impaired. She may never have the cognitive powers of her peers. She might not move out, get married, make babies and play concert piano. I can't fix her. No matter how hard I try. I can't "fix" any of my kids, really. All I can do is my best, and lately my best is feeling like a bandaid on a broken leg.

All of this leaves me feeling totally isolated. I'm convinced that no one knows what it's like to walk in my shoes. No one knows how hard this is, and if I told them, they would think I was mean for not loving my kids more. Because if I loved my kids more, then they wouldn't ever feel like a burden. When Mera throws her fits I should smile and say "She's at that age!" When TJ has a bad day at school I should give him an amazing pep talk and some tutoring at home to turn him around. When Geri throws a tantrum or refuses to eat or sleep I should be saying "The poor dear, think of all she's been through!" instead of growling through my teeth, "Oh, come ON!" I should never lose my patience, snap at someone, let a child sit on the floor and cry, or otherwise be ... well, human.

I am human. Painfully human. I'm aware that, in my humanity, I can't fix everything about my kids. I can't make them, their life, or their home perfect. I want to, but I can't.

Can I share the worst part of it? I feel like a liar. When I take the kids out and people tell me how far Geri is coming and how great the kids are doing, I feel like they would never say that if they had seen us getting ready to leave the house. When I blog about stuff here and people tell me I'm such a Great Mom, I feel like I must have written that all skewed. Did I lie about something, or leave something out? I must have. When everyone tells me what a great thing we're doing for Geri, I feel so fake because this great thing is so hard and I mess it up all the time... not very great. Plus my temptation to feel prideful about this great thing we're doing is always lurking in the background, and I doubt anyone would compliment me if they knew what a hero/martyr I'm making myself out to be.

I'm not a Great Mom. I don't have all the answers. I'm stumbling through about 90% of this stuff, and until the kids are much older we won't know if I'm raising them right or screwing things up. Oh, and did I mention I have a husband, too? Yeah, it's not all on my head only. I'm not the only one working here. Go figure. I forget that most of the time, myself.

I'm not trying to be ungrateful to everyone who just wants to encourage me. I really appreciate all the voices trying to lift me up. But I want to be lifted up by people who know how screwy I am and still think I'm doing my best. I don't want applause from a faceless audience who doesn't see what happens behind the elaborate set design. I want people who know me, and love me, to see my struggles and tell me "you're doing fine, keep going, we're rooting for you and we're here if you need us."

I have a feeling I'm not the only mom who feels this way. And it's not just adoptive moms I'm talking about, either. How amazing would it be if we could all stand together, cry together, ache together, and just be completely real with each other? What if our playdates and mom groups weren't about impressing each other, but about understanding each other? What if we stopped competing and started helping? What if we stopped judging and started really truly caring? What if we stopped hiding and started being right there in each others' messes?

Well, I'm a mess. A real, hot mess. I'm not a Great Mom. I'm a mom who does the best she can with what she has, and who often feels like she's not getting very far with it. But I bet you're a bit of a mess, too, when you think about it. How about we start loving each other's messiness?


  1. Hey Lauren,

    I'm supposed to be applying for jobs right now with my time away from my kids but instead I happened upon FB and then to this link and now I'm writing this. I just wanted to say that I hear you, not that I know what you're going through, but that I hear you. I read your words from time to time and I commend you and Nick for what you're doing...despite what you say, I stand by my words. In addition to my own two children, I live with my 7 year old nephew who most likely has Aspergers Syndrome or high functioning autism (we're still wallowing through the diagnostic process). Sometimes I find I'm just off my game when it comes to taking care of him. Hidden disabilities are difficult to get the public to understand.I often find myself wondering if I could do what you're doing and maybe that calls into question my own mothering and just how good I am. I question myself all the time, I make mistakes, sometimes I want to scream, runaway, etc.

    I bumped into a friend who gave birth to her first child shortly after my oldest was born in a supermarket once, when our babies were about a year old. She saw me and seemed to frantically want to speak with me. I was watching my little one push the cart around the store, gloating because he was walking and doing so well. When I first began to talk to her I was all gushy, glowing and pretty all around phony. I noticed that she sort of slumped and seemed disappointed. When I was through gushing and saying how great parenthood was she said, "Well, I just don't know what's wrong with's not easy, it's not fun. It's hard." I immediately realised that she had expected me to share some truth with her, because I had been well known as the person who spoke up and spoke out when I knew her. So, for the first time out loud, I said she was right. I said that people didn't tell new mothers the truth about how hard it was. After that I vowed to be more honest about it all. Especially to new mothers. So I do. I think some people think I'm a downer but I feel more committed to being honest than ever. I think my new mum friends get scared by me sometimes, I try to reel it in then. But I find that eventually they open up and they share the difficulties with me. I often find I'm the one they come to when they need to say, "this is hard."
    Still, I struggle to say it's hard. I find it's something I must practice vigilantly. I find that I need to do it sometimes. I find that not all mothers are open to this, even my own.

    I watched a Ted Talk by the founders of (I don't like the site at all but I liked the founders) - they talked about how parents of small children sort of level out as far as overall happiness goes until their oldest child goes to college, when they begin to climb the happiness ladder again. That was the bad news. The good news was that such parents tend to have major peaks in happiness on a much more regular basis than others without children. We can also have peaks in unhappiness. (You might want to look for the talk, as I'm not getting it quite right - it's about the taboos of parenting). In other words, our emotions become more erratic - much like a child's. The gift is that we can find extreme joy and excitement like children can. Sometimes when I find that I'm down there is really nothing I can do but wait it out, talk and try. Other times I'm able to recall this talk and say, "okay, I'm going to find the magic in this just as Ezaias (my 2 year old is)." It doesn't always work but just keeping the idea in the back of my mind helps.

    So, I'm not close to you. I haven't seen you since we were teens but, as a member of the same international club, I just want to say I hear you and I'm in a similar boat and I'll honestly traipse through the mess that is motherhood with you and the whole club.

    Peace sister friend.

  2. Lauren. Despite what I'm sure feels like pure insanity and chaos, you love your kids like crazy. You are doing everything you can. You have a lot of people who care very much for you and Nick and each of your kids. It doesn't feel perfect, and it isn't. That's okay.

    It's been, what? Three months since Geri came home? Three months! Since that time, she's attached to you and Nick, she walks, she talks, you can give her baths (even if not always), she's plumped up, you've gotten her eyes taken care of (at least, as much as you can do now), you've discovered and are in the process of treating mild epilepsy (which went undiagnosed and untreated for 4 years before you brought her home)..... that's a LOT for 3 months, chica! Whether or not you believe it, you are doing an amazing job with Geri.

    Kids are tough. It's not for you to be perfect all the time, no matter how much you'd like to be. There will always be crazy times, and just after an international adoption certainly qualifies as "crazy times". I think that what a "Great Mom" looks like needs to be able to shift to fit the situation you're currently facing. Sometimes, being a Great Mom just means keeping your nose above water.

    So I pray for patience with yourself. Patience with your kids. Peace. Comfort. I pray you feel loved and supported. I hope you can get a little rest and restoration for yourself. Deep breath, and chin up. Life is not for you to manage perfectly. Things are crazy right now, but I promise they'll get better. Hang in there.