Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: When Letting Go is Hard to Do

I am a mom. I love being a mom. I love mothering. I have always been a mom who has wanted to stay home with her kids. Although aching at times for adult conversation, I have never, ever ached to leave my kids with other caregivers. To escape into the work force. To miss out on the days with my boys.

When my boys attended school, I was the mom that drove every field trip. I walked them into class every morning, and picked them up after school every day. They acted disdainful, but I heard about it if I dared miss a day. Ever.

And then, in 2004, we began to homeschool. Together all day, every day. Lots of good, some difficulties. But overall, mostly, it was fun. We are closer in many ways because of it.

And that's all about to end.

Tuesday. September 2, 2008

The day my boys will walk out our front door and enter the halls of various schools. Entrusted to various teachers. Leaving my kitchen table. Leaving ME. 6 hours a day. Every day.

For four years we have been together. Schooling together. Learning together. Being together.

It's time. But its hard. Harder on me than on the boys.

I would like to say that the separation, the letting go, starts next Tuesday, but in reality this entire summer has been a long process of loosening my grip. Letting my boys experience life without me by their side.

There was "family camp". Family camp that really means the boys are off with their friends from dawn until long after dark and if we were lucky we saw them for meals. I actually missed them despite the fact we were in theory all camping together.

There was the Missouri trip. Letting Greg see I trusted him enough to make the sorts of decisions that are involved in meeting his other family. Reality was, for me, there was tearing and sharing involved in that process and it wasn't always easy.

Plus, to go to Missouri, I had to leave my other 3 boys at home. 12 days. The longest separation ever. I had to trust others to parent them. Trust that they would be ok. They were.

Shelby's accident. Kids left behind. Scattered. Shared. Not planned but necessary none the less.

Greg left for hockey camp. He was scouted. He is now noticed by people to whom it counts. Invited to play in front of college scouts in Vegas in the spring, Burnaby next May. Words like "drafted" and "junior hockey" discussed. He is 13.

Imagine if letting my 13 year old walk to school alone causes me to lie awake at night in dread what hearing those words does to me?

"You must be so proud, Greg could be playing in the Big City soon"

"How awesome for you, finally some free time"

No! No! No! I don't want my boys gone. I don't want school to start and daily separation to begin. I don't want to think about my future 15 year old choosing to move out to play a SPORT away from his family for 10 months of the year. I want my family here. I want to be a mom.

And I wonder ... is this because I am simply a mother? Or is this because I am an adoptive mother?

Greg and Eric weren't "mine" until they were 3 and 4. Its been 9 years this coming week since I first held my sons in my arms. I am not ready to let them go. I AM, slowly, and because its the right thing to do, but I do not FEEL ready.

Parenting the older adopted child is some days like parenting in fast forward. Life skips ahead at an alarming rate. Today you meet your child, tomorrow they are grown up. Independent.

You work on attachment with a pre-schooler and then have to let them go to kindergarten. They play their first soccer game and then want to reunite with their first family.

It feels like days, in reality its years. But not enough years for me.

I think there is a process to mothering. A slow, methodical process that allows moms (or at least moms like me!) to let go as their kids grow up. My heart, my mother heart of my boys, is 9 years old. But I am parenting a 12 and 13 year old.

On Tuesday, I will let them go with a smile and a hug.

"You will do great"
"This is so exciting for you"
"I am so proud of you"

Inside? Inside I will be aching for the days missed. For those baby cuddles I never had. For those toddler years shared with another mother. For the memory of a newborn smell I will never know and can't recapture. Coping with how the shock of their teenage independent selves wreaks havoc on my emotions.

My big, beautiful, amazing, mature boys will walk out the door. They will never know, never understand, how much it hurts to let them go.

I want a pause button on life.


Jess said...

Jen, you made me cry.

Anonymous said...

A pause button would be nice but so would the occasional "nanny" button once in awhile.

But yes it all moves too fast!

Our oldest is going to first grade next week, middle kiddo starts pre-k and in just one more year, Bubba will be in preschool 2 half days each week!

skirbo said...

That was a beautiful blog entry.

You haven't posted an updated about the injured guy in a while. How is he?

And you must be bursting with pride for Greg. I bet he's super excited, too.

You might hit me for saying so, but perhaps you could adopt a girl now? Hanging out on the Special Needs forum, that's all we do with one another is joke about when the next one is coming. ;)


Anonymous said...

Yes, Jen, it's because you are a Mom! Adopted or natural, it's still soooo hard to let go. My boys have been gone from home now for 3 and 4 years, and I'm still trying to get used to the 'empty nest'. Maybe it was harder for me because of what we were going through at the time, I don't know. But know that the bond that you've developed with your boys will always be there. I'm still close to my boys, proud of the independent young men that they've become. Bry still lives close by (as you know), and I see him a couple times a week. Dev and I are especially close (poor kid is so much like me), and he calls at LEAST once a week, and we 'chat' on the 'puter every couple days, at LEAST. Sometimes for no reason other that to just touch base, to talk to 'Mommy'. When he's back in town, he stays here and we just hang out. I've left the contact up to the boys, rather that feel like a desperate mom hounding her grown kids, and they've both chosen to keep in close contact. I know that your boys will do the same. Like I said earlier, don't worry, that bond will always be there, and you'll always be part of their lives. Know that they'll always love you, their 'Mommy'!!

zxczxcasdasd said...

Oh, I've been there. Felt that. And for me, there was absolutely part of it that had to do with adoption and with adopting an older child. When he moved out for college, it was only just as he'd equally spent half his life without me and with me. While my friends were discussing conceiving and potty training, I was dealing with puberty, dating, rebellion. It was like a mothering time warp--a fierce love was implanted and we jumped in full speed mid-stream and then... screech! You have to let them walk out and just trust they'll be fine without you. And trust you'll be fine without them. But our time was too short. It went too fast. It was a weepy year. :)

Jennifer said...

Awe, big hugs Jen! Are you going to be in Vegas this coming Spring?? I might have to make the drive down there to meet you!!