Adoption has ruined my life. Yes, I said that out loud. My children do not have the same childhoods as their friends……my life does not look like what I dreamed it would be….I am not the person I went to college to become….my dream life is ruined and I AM SO GLAD!
I’m often asked how I keep up with 6 kids and all their special needs, outings, sports events, play groups, etc… Well, I usually say something a little sarcastic and silly, like “I have 6 kids?, oh crap, I lost one!” But, the truth and the reality is that I don’t keep up according to current parenting standards. I don’t keep up with every little thing that concerns my children. Family and friends can attest to my doing things by the seat of my pants and last minute. Often, appointments will be remembered the night before and school projects might actually be completed the morning they are due. I truly start out with good intentions, but they seem to get lost in the minutiae of day to day. As our family has grown with multiple special needs, I have realized that I cannot do everything, or be everything for my kids. But I’ve also realized that I don’t have to.
We seem to have dropped into this culture of personal butler parenting. I look back on my childhood and think about playing down at the river or in the desert area by my house. We lived making forts and bike trails, and not a single parent was there orchestrating or supervising. We drank out of a backyard hose, ate lunch at whoever’s house had bread, jelly, and peanut butter, and came home when it got dark. My mother did not facilitate play groups, caution me about food allergies, or make me wear helmet, knee pads and elbow guards if I put on roller-skates. I was often unsupervised while playing with my friends and this led to problem-solving, leadership skills and creativity. I was allowed to ride my bike with a friend balanced on the handle bar and guess what, we crashed. And then we tried it again and learned teamwork and balance and how to patch up skinned knees. I didn’t come home everyday with hours of homework and riding the school bus did not ruin my life. I lived to ride my bike and hang out with my best friends, Sandy and Tina. And I’m pretty sure I owned a rainbow shirt like the one in the picture.
Last week, I watched the movie the Good Dinosaur with my children. I admit this was not because I truly enjoy watching a children’s cartoon or that I wanted some together time with my kiddos. Selfishly, I just wanted to sit down for an hour and not move or hear anyone call my name. There was a part that made me laugh out loud. One of the dinosaurs introduces his friend, “This is Dream Crusher, he protects me from having unrealistic goals and expectations.” I thought this was hysterical, and today I think we need a Dream Crusher for this parenting generation. We look at our children and we are pushing, pushing and pushing. We are pushing homework in the primary grades, we are pushing organized sports year-round, and we are organizing and micro-managing their every moment. We step in and don’t allow for natural consequences and learning. WE ARE PUSHING THINGS THAT DON”T MATTER!
So what it boils down to is the simple fact that I’m ruining my children’s lives and I’ve decided not to change. I am choosing things that matter and letting go of unrealistic expectations and hollow accomplishments. I have adopted four children with special needs and my kids won’t get to play or participate in every event that comes available. I can’t keep up with every single thing they do because I am running to the events that take priority. I am a Dream Crusher!
So here’s the beauty of ruining their lives. It’s made my family choose what truly matters… I think we all want to raise a family that knows compassion, love and selfless giving. I personally want my children to look beyond themselves and see what difference they can make in the lives of others. And today as I look back on this journey to adopt Israel, I see that they have been doing this.
I’m so proud of my children. The past two years they have sacrificed and spent countless hours for a brother they’d never met….. They prayed every night for a child that they had only seen a picture of. They worked alongside us to fundraise and dream about bringing home a brother that has special needs.
And it all came down to a moment meeting a child that in an instant became their brother……
They have spent the last two months loving, teaching and integrating him into a family as if he’d always been there…….
I’m so glad that we are Dream Crushers and I’m so glad that adoption has ruined my life! It has given me the most beautiful family, I never imagined!
And now I’d like you to give yourself permission to not provide the “magical childhood”. Choose what is valuable and important and concentrate on that. I’m not saying you need to go across the world and adopt, but I do think it’s important to step back and realize that childhood is magical regardless of Pinterest-worthy birthdays and club sports. I’m so glad that I’ve been forced through a large family to simplify. I am so glad that my original dreams have been crushed and replaced with something far better.