Let's be honest mama, there are some seasons in our home in which we just aim to get through- to survive. We are simply trying to keep our house from burning down and our kids all alive! And in that process of just "getting by", we lose ourselves. We struggle to remember what it was like to have energy, to have a bounce in our step, and to look forward to something. We pour so much into the needs of everyone around us that we go to bed and wake up bankrupt inside, day after day. Can you feel me?
This was the case for me in several seasons of my life as an adoptive mom to trauma exposed kids. They won. Their trauma perpetuated as trauma in my home and between their issues and the issues that they made my issues, I would crawl under the covers and dread having to come back out from them. There was one place in the whole house that felt safe, and it was my bed. I spent my day counting down the time until I could crawl back into my cocoon of safety.
Since those days, I have taken a stand. I will not rob my husband of the real me. I will not rob my other kids of their mother. And most importantly, I will not rob myself of the fullness of life that is mine to live. Yup! I declare it from the roof top in all my exhaustion and defeat--- NO MORE.
But how? When the walls are closing in and the oxygen is sucked from the room... how do we moms get ourselves back. I have found that there are a few "reset buttons" that have done wonders for me. Are they easy? Nope. Not all of the time. But when I feel myself sliding down, I can consciously catch myself and implement my strategies to get back on solid ground. Let me share what works for me... feel free to steal anything that you feel may help you!
1. Resetting my expectations was a BIG part of me allowing my children to carry their own emotional baggage. We have all heard "when you choose the behavior, you choose the consequence" and yet for me, my child wasn't the only one carrying the cost of their choices. Though he may have the ACTUAL consequence, I would be so worked up over their choices and attitudes that it would become internalized and devastating. How is it possible that we moms let our kids have so much power over us that their poor choices become our weight to carry? They made the choice, they can be restricted and angry about it all they want but it is THEIR choice. It is my choice as to whether my child getting worked up impacts me. Let's face it, we can't expect a hurting and frustrated child to behave like an angel. And we certainly can't expect a dysregulated child to accept a consequence like a pro. A series of bad choices doesn't mean that they will become a life-long prisoner or homeless. It means that they need help to better understand and regulate their bodies... that simple. I now expect the fall out and realize it isn't mine to own, only to manage. I work REALLY hard to vent about it and then LET IT GO!
2. I take time-out. I am not afraid to ask my kids to go sit on their bed for space, but more importantly, I go sit on mine. My bed is my safe space. I reflect, pray, and rest there. There are days that I just need to let the house burn a little so I can be ready to help clean up the ashes, so to speak. And I have realized that I may come back to dirty dishes, fruit stickers on the furniture (anyone else have this happening ALL THE TIME?), too much electronic time, the pantry raided, and more but I can better handle the "clean-up crew" after recentering myself. I tell my kids that I am stressed and need their help... that I need time out and I need cooperation upon my return. Truly, I think this has saved my life.
3. Perspective can be forced. We see how we are defaulted to see, and as we discover the biology of trauma in the classes on this website you will understand this more. The glass is half-full or half-empty based on how life experiences have influenced us. And though we have a DEFAULT perception of things, what is going on around us can drive us into tainted perceptions, right? When our kids are wearing us out, a hamper of laundry looks like a mountain of garbage, doesn't it? So it is in these moments that I consciously challenge myself to find the rainbow in the storm. I don't wait for the storm to pass because it can simply take too long. I look for the affection of an understanding pet. I seek to find beauty in the plants as I water them. I choose moments with the other kids in the house where I can see their joy like when they get to choose any cartoon to watch during what would normally be adult tv time. I make happiness SOMEWHERE around me that I can relish in and remember that there is goodness around if we seek it out.
Being a mom is the hardest job on Earth. It has moments where I truly question my ability to survive as a mom to my adopted kids and yet, even in those moments, I know I am abundantly blessed to have the role of mother in the lives of my children. I cling to truth- where would I be without my kids and where would they be without me. We are solutions to each other's heart strings. We are answers to one another's prayers. And when the clouds part, as they always do, there is no one I would rather dance in the sunshine with.
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