Living a life with a child who has experienced early trauma is hard. As a parent you spend your days wavering between frustration and joy. I wrote a while back about the Fringe Benefits of this life where I talked about the ability to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think it also gives you perspective.
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is heavily passed through my family through genetics. It is interesting that while a bunch of us have it on my mother's side, we all have a different "Strain" of it. My OCD tends to lean toward the obsessive side of the spectrum. I fret, worry, and ruminate. Medication has helped tremendously, but oddly enough I think living the life I do has helped as well.
There were times prior to adoption that the biggest concern I had was a sink full of dishes. I would fret and worry about messes that seemed organized to other people. It is funny that life now is rarely organized or neatly arranged in any way shape or form and please don't look at my toilets!
When you consider the atrocities that were inflicted upon my child prior to him coming to our home, it makes those things seem foolish. It has been my own version of exposure therapy. Battling demons is hard work and also tiring. It leaves little desire to make sure things are completely stored away in their neat little labeled bins. It is all about perspective.
That is why it is so difficult for me to get bent out of shape about things that seem to hold little importance. My two bio children had parent teacher conferences this past week. My son is brilliant and yet struggles with following through with the minor details. You know, details like turning in work that has been done. Teachers were appropriately bent out of shape about this and I had to muster up some concern for my face. It's not that I am not irritated that he doesn't do turn everything in even when it is done, it is just such a small thing in my perspective. My daughter struggles with homework. It is hard for me fight with her over busy work that really serves no purpose other than making her do the same skill 42 times on a double sided paper. She excels on tests and does amazingly well on her state testing and evaluations, but routinely fails her homework. That tells me that she grasps the concepts and is absolutely unable to make herself take her time on the unnecessary busywork. She shares my OCD and I can she her rebelling against what she believes to be ridiculous amounts of repetition. It is all about perspective.
You see, living in our house is not the typical situation. These kiddos deal with trauma, anxiety, hollering, mental illness and all the drama that ensues. It is not the ideal situation. When they were younger, they really didn't know that our home was any different. They took the door alarms and cameras in stride. They didn't know that other kids don't have to endure an hour long fit from their big brother that includes a restraint. They had no idea that the police didn't have to chase other kids through the neighborhood in their underwear. As they have gotten older, they are realizing that this life is not NORMAL in any way.
While it has taught them tolerance, I think it also has made them angry. I have a hard time forcing homework and freaking out about a grade that is a B when I know they are capable of an A. It might be a dangerous view, but I highly doubt that a D on a science project in 4th grade will effect their future.
I am grateful for this perspective. I have a feeling that I would be a helicopter parent if I had not been given the blessing of learning to CHILL OUT. I think I simply have to learn to balance it and make sure more things are followed through on. It is an important skill for them to learn, I just don't pretend that they should have it all mastered by now.
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