Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas makes 'em Crazy

Christmas, 1999

My first Christmas with my sons is marred by some very hard memories. The boys, 3 months into our home, were still raw with grief and overwhelmed with memories of Christmases past. Tanner at 2 was still trying to absorb the changes to his life and who were these new brothers that found him an easy target of their anger and rage at what life had thrown their way.

I was reeling with horror as my own much loved aunt had been killed in a car accident only a month before. My 11 year old cousin stayed with us, still deep in shock over the loss of her mom. World rocked, yet grief buried deep because it felt safer.

My uncle, sucked deeper into addiction and depression by the overwhelming need surrounding him was unable to cope with the loss his daughter and he faced, and he drifted far away. Unreachable. And we grieved, and pretended not to.

My own grief was buried under a need to "save" the season for my sons and cousin, and I soldiered on facing the day, the weeks before and after and took photos to "remember". I understood this Christmas was about surviving. Getting through.

My memories of that year are almost as fuzzy as the under lit photos we took. Temper tantrums & tears. A nap no one wanted to take. Behaviors that I didn't fully understand, despite my best attempts. The kids remember only good things, and I remember how very hard that was to achieve.

And now here we are 10 years later. Behaviors still triggered by the changing season. Underlying grief and loss that still lurks under the surface of brave faces. Many, many good memories to replace the difficult ones.

And still I sometimes wonder if I am sane. Or if my kids are sane. Because with the good comes memories of the bad. Of the loss. Of what can never be the same. And the behaviors we deal with are at times overwhelming and scary and I wonder. Scared.

And then I talk to other moms and realize that really we are so much further ahead than so many. With kids that function so well and have healed so much, and yet still the pain lurks under the surface, usually displayed in behaviors meant to rob the joy from the season from everyone surrounding. And I am thankful for my family, yet my heart breaks for those who struggle so deeply this Christmas Season.

My thoughts turn to other moms who struggle with hurting children who are acting out their pain or mental illness this Christmas season. To Debi, to Rachel, to Pam, to Christy and Sarah - the ones I know personally - and to the ones I read about and understand their struggles, my heart grieves for you this Christmas. I am sorry your children are hurting. I am sorry your hurting children are hurting you this season. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You are loved, you are supported and you are understood.

Merry Christmas my fellow moms of hurting children. May you find a moment of peace and Christmas spirit and may your child gift you with quiet, even for a moment, so you can remember what HOPE feels like.


Jenny said...

Thanks for sharing this, Jen. Even after 6 years since Jason came home, I am reminded of just how painful this time of year is for him. Every year does get a little better, but it always seems to be lurking beneath the surface, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

A friend linked me to the recent article on Bethany's web forum on transracial adoption and I've LOVED your comments on it and reading your blog :) Thank you for being so open and willing to learn. I wish more adoptive parents (and people in general) were like you!

Unknown said...

Jenny - yes it does :) We have many good memories now, that helps for sure. But so many still struggle! (and welcome by the way!!)

Holly - glad you are enjoying reading. REally the most interesting part of the blog is from July 08 when I took my son to meet his birthfamily. Enjoy reading :)