Ok all, the truth is that I was not doing well by the end of month three. It was as if I was operating on extra adrenaline the first couple of months because we had so much to work through as a family and the kids’ needs were so overwhelming. When I stopped to take a breath around the end of the third month I felt like I was going to collapse. I had a terrible sense of foreboding (name that movie). I think on more than one occasion I said to my husband, my face contorted in a combination of terror and weariness, “I can’t continue like this much longer.” But he couldn’t solve the problem for me. That would take the wisdom of another mom.
Enter my dear, dear friend Jen, who left HER three children at home to come visit me across the country. I think she knew she was on a rescue mission. I was still a little oblivious.
You know when you get a little depressed and suddenly EVERYTHING seems insurmountable? Well I was living in that place a little. Jen slapped some sense into me (figuratively only), she loved on my kids and she told me I was in the home stretch, that my life would change when school started. And that by the way I needed to find the right help, and take better care of myself. And clear all that junk off the counter in the laundry room. So with this little ray of sunshine, this little shift in perspective, I was able to move forward instead of wallowing in the mire of my own making.
I took a breath, Jen took my kids out for a walk. My children loved her as much as I do, and it was a joy to see them anew through her eyes.
I was able to articulate what I needed, which is the first step toward a healthier balance. You see, when we decided to adopt three kids, my husband and I chose to use the first three months home to see what we thought would work in terms of my schedule. I have my own design business and so had the flexibility to take the time off. I have wonderful clients who were patient with this process, knowing that a possible result might be that I’d quite cold turkey and stay home to homeschool the kids.
After three months in my new life, I felt clearly that I wanted to work some, and that two days a week seemed like the right number. I didn’t want my kids in daycare, so that meant I had to find in-home child care. And the solution had to make financial sense for our family. I posted no ad because I could just imagine the time it would take to wade through un-vetted applicants. Instead I told everyone I could the criteria for the person we were looking for, and I prayed for her. I wanted Mary Poppins, and I set out to find her.
In the meantime, school started and Jen was right: it DID change my life! My oldest is in first grade at our public elementary school with a wonderful teacher. My almost-five-year-old is in a pre/K class three days a week at the Waldorf school. Just to have some one-on-one time with my littlest one was a treasure. And the special time Melkam gets with Mommy on the days that Alex is in school and he’s not; well he really needed that. And I needed those precious hours when Ellie was sleeping and no one else was tugging on me. Needed them as someone wandering in the desert needs water.
And in short order I found our Mary Poppins! A veteran mom of three grown kids who loves working with children and was unhappy in her existing job. The nanny is here two full days a week so I can work a bit and get a break. She’s mostly with the baby, but while the baby sleeps the nanny does saintly things like cleaning, laundry, ironing, and helping get dinner ready. I am a new woman!
It’s very fulfilling to have my work again, my creative outlet. And while I’m still a full time mom on duty five days a week, the time away from my kids two days a week makes me so happy to see them. I think it helps them appreciate Mommy too. We are ALL happy to see each other on those days.
A friend of mine shared this wonderful post from fellow adoptive mom Jen Hatmaker, in which she confesses her joy over her children going back to school:
And now, without further ado, some photos:
But she can also really turn on the drama if she’s been offended by one of her brothers. Here’s a great example: