I just met up with my adult children for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. I found myself marveling at how they are unfolding. I mean that. At 21 and 23, they are adults with lives of their own. They are happy. They have interests and friends and places to go and things to do. They are grown up and I no longer worry about them. And that is the point of this post.
I worried way too much when my children were growing up. Because they came from difficult beginnings and because their behavior was out of the ordinary, I fretted and worried and over controlled them. I downright ruined every holiday. Yes, it was me who ruined them, though at the time I quietly thought it was them ruining it for us. I was wrong.
What I didn’t know how to do then was accept my children as they were. I wanted them to be the way I wanted them. You know, a lot more perfect. Way less messy. Seriously better mannered. Definitely well regulated. I didn’t want their trauma to be impacting my holidays–pure and simple. Every year, every holiday I didn’ want that. And, every year, every holiday they were who they were–traumatized, attachment reactive children from difficult beginnings. Who needed to change in this situation? Who had the most potential for change at the time? Yep, it was me.
I could have accepted my life and my children. I could have changed my expectations and made the environment trauma-sensitive. I could have been considerate of what they could tolerate and how long they could tolerate it. Instead, I tried to fit them into my life the way it was before children and the way I thought other children were able to fit in. My children weren’t other children; they were actually special with special needs during the holidays. I could have been more loving and less worried about how they behaved. I could have been more flexible.
I learned a lot about myself while raising my children. Much of what I learned was not pretty or pleasing to me. Frankly, I wasn’t personally prepared for traumatized children. I had to learn to be. I had to learn to let them be. I wish I knew then what I know now.
My children are unfolding in their adult lives according to their abilities. That was always their trajectory. My advice to my former self (who might resemble your current self): worry less, accept more. I think that is the definition of love.
Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm. Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!
AUTISM Support Group: Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. Look for new day in January TBD next year. Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE. ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.
UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: Click Here to join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.
GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT. Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing. Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.