When my children were in elementary school, I felt like I lived at the school. It was always something: eating other kids’ lunches; telling the cafeteria staff that mommy is embarrassed to say so but she is too poor to send lunch (hot lunch would be so great); there was the constant screaming and crying under desks and running off campus. Once police were called because my 1st grader stabbed his teacher in the hand with a sharp pencil. You would think my kids were born at the CDC because they were sick every day for months at a time, so they said. One time one of my children stole the before school care staff member’s cell phone. The staff found the phone by calling it. My daughter answered from her 2nd grade classroom. If I hadn’t been self-employed, I thought I never would have kept a job.
I know many of you are facing this insanity right now. I remember the fear I experienced when the phone rang during the day (What now?) and the terror I felt in general for the years ahead. Honestly, it did tip me over. I had to get therapeutic help for my own dysregulation, when deep despair crept in around the edges. It was overwhelming. I had to accept that I needed antidepressants to keep my head above water. That helped. Later, neurofeedback further resolved my persistent dysregulation, which came out in the form of zero-to-sixty anger. Slowly the mess calmed down into my beautiful, crazy life.
When one is in the mess, it is hard to see the beautiful. Trust me it is there. Our children from difficult beginnings are who they are. We cannot control them. We can only therapeutically parent them and learn to love the child within. It is a process.
I gave myself so much respite during the elementary years. I had to or I would have cracked (clinical term for prolonged adult tantrum). If you feel on the verge of cracking, get therapeutic help. Get respite. Get love from the people in your life who can understand what you have gotten yourself into, as not everyone gets how adopting children from difficult beginnings can shake you to the core. I understand. I needed help. I am telling you this so you can see that help will get you through in one piece and your children through with love in their hearts.
Sanity and love matter.
Ce Eshelman, LMFT