I Used to be a Good Mom

I have a new article, I Used to be a Good Mom, up on the Empowered to Connect website today.  This piece was a bit painful to write because it touches such a raw place in me.  Just this morning I spoke with the friend I mention in the story, and we laughed sadly about how being mothers to children from “hard places” has stretched us in ways we never could have imagined.

I hope you’ll take a moment to click over and read the article – it’s short, I promise.  I would love to hear your thoughts and your own experiences about how your image of being a mother has changed as you parent your children.

I have one more day to get my family organized before we leave for the Empowered to Connect conference in  Denver.  I hope to see some of you there!  Please be sure to introduce yourself; I am so excited to meet you.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Alicia
    April 5, 2011

    I received this article in my inbox today and appreciated it very much! Thank you for sharing the painful stuff. Your honesty and experiences are very encouraging. The email and website outreachs through Empowered To Connect are so wonderful – especially because the conference is just not an option at the moment.

    Reply
  2. Melissa
    April 5, 2011

    I read your article over on Empowered to Connect last night. Thank you for posting it and sharing from your heart. It was an encouragement to me, a huge encouragement. We adopted our 3rd child 5 1/2 years ago and I remember the feelings I had at that time. I was ashamed to share with anyone that there were many moments that I would gladly have given him back. But not hearing anyone else say that, I thought I was the only one. And parenting him at times has been really hard. Now just under a year ago we added another child from hard places and there are definitely times that I am at the end of my rope. I look at my two children by birth and wonder how different life would be if we just had the two of them. Not that they are perfect. But since then I have found your blog and have been so encouraged with your honesty and transparency and of the other readers that leave comments. I also value resources you share and your learning curves that you post about. I am reminded that I am not alone, I have other adoptive parents to lean on and most importantly a heavenly father who cares for my children and me. It really has helped me to love them more. Thank you! So all that to say, I can only imagine how hard it was to write, but it meant a lot to me. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  3. kendra Chiolis
    April 5, 2011

    Thank you for this Lisa. I am in this place right now. We just brought our three year old girl home in January, but I am attending the conference in Denver this weekend….anxious to meet you. I never would have left my 3 bio kids this early (still feels like infancy stage), but I need to be empowered as a mama again. Thank you for your honesty.

    Hugs,
    Kendra

    Reply
  4. Bethel Vatsaas
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa,
    I could have written the first part of this post today. It's just been one of those days. Or should I say one of those weeks? Months? Seasons? We are working towards healing and I know we're moving forward, but at times this 'calling' feels much more than I'm up for. I, too, thought I had the mothering thing down. Then we brought home kiddos from the "hard place" 3 1/2 year ago. It has been the hardest thing I've ever done. Period. But I am beginning to see His beauty in it. It's such a process and I feel as though I just have so far to go. I remind myself often that He is going to use all of this "hard stuff" for good. He doesn't waste our suffering. Amen.
    I'm so grateful that I get to be at the ETC conference this weekend. I can hardly wait!!
    Thank you for sharing your heart. It touched mine.
    Bethel

    Reply
  5. carla
    April 5, 2011

    Thank you for sharing this, Lisa. I hope that someday I can feel like "a good mom" again. Right now, I seem to be battling some depression again, withdrawing when I can and only dong what needs to be done. It's like this endless cycle and I wonder if it will ever stop. It's been almost 2 1/2 years for us and I feel completely drained and empty most of the time. I feel that my bio children are suffering the most because they know what they are missing from me, I'm not the mom I used to be for them. Thank you for being open and honest and providing others with a safe place to be real without feeling condemned.

    Reply
  6. Aislinn
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa,
    I loved your article. We have 5 kids, 2 are adopted, and we are on our way to adding a 6th child, a little girl who waits in Eastern Europe……. The two that we adopted have caused us to go places, that as parents, we had no idea existed within us. It is hard to adjust to parenting where not everything works with each child…….I think it has been so positive for us to acknowledge just this – that it can be really, really hard, and come to an acceptance of it. In addition to that, the hard things take soooo long to change or get better sometimes! The theme for me lately has been "where I end and where God begins" and this is one of the best examples. The only time I have ever had a shining moment in these tough times is when it has been His light shining through me.
    The little girl we hope to adopt is 7, so I am sure we face challenges ahead. I just pray we "do the work" He has called us to do, not take things personally, and seek out help when we need it. I think you have set a great example of how love, hard work, and trust in God above all else can spring hope just when you think you have lost it…One of the things I love about your blog is your honesty, and thank you for that once again 🙂

    Reply
  7. Tisha
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa, I so completely identify with your words here, I could have written this myself. For me, a real grieving process ensued after our kids came home as I longed for the mother I used to be and the days when things were simpler, when I felt like I had a measure of success under my belt. I felt lost as a mother, not at all enjoying what I used to passionately love. My identity, as I knew it, seemed to vanish. As time goes on, things are getting better, but it is a slow, slow process full of lots of hard work and stretching, as I know you very well know! The stripping of the labels I put on myself has been extremely refining – and strangely liberating.
    I am so glad you are here sharing your words of wisdom gained through difficult experience and that God has given you an opportunity to minister to other moms like He has. It helps so much to know we are not alone! Thank you! I think of you often as I go through my days, and those thoughts are a great comfort.

    Reply
  8. Jennifer Distefano
    April 5, 2011

    Well, my son has been home for almost seven years, and I am still grieving. I think the hardest problem has been my own pride. I hate to be humbled every single day. 🙂 My oldest birth child is getting ready to leave home, and while that doesnt necessarily grieve me, I have found myself crying about what I missed with my older children during the the last 7 years because of my own struggle and also having to make my adopted sons world so small in order for healing to take place. I am just now remembering what Bethel said about "seeing the beauty of it." I am hoping and praying that I am in the last stage of grief now and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I also believe I didnt allow myself to even begin the true grieving process or even to begin processing my feelings until I found blogs like yours and realized that there are others out there like me. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Reply
  9. Paula
    April 5, 2011

    I loved you article and feel like I could have written it myself! So true for so many of us. I am so grateful for you and your blog… your openness has helped me and my family so much.

    Reply
  10. Cindy
    April 5, 2011

    Thank you for sharing some of your story Lisa… our adoption journey has caused me to second guess my parenting more often than I can tell you. You have no idea how many times I've said the exact words… "I used to be a good Mom." I so appreciate your willingness to write this article. If there is anything I think we who are parenting kids from hard places need to hear, it's that we are not alone, that we all struggle and we all grieve for the lost dreams and sometimes think the unthinkable. And yet… we have been entrusted with this precious child to raise and dream new dreams and become even better Mom's… all for God's glory. Blessings, Cindy

    Reply
  11. Dawn
    April 5, 2011

    I LOVED this article because it is exactly how we felt. After adopting our first 3 we felt we had plenty of experience and were "experts" right? Yeah…..then well everything changed. And after spending soo much time thinking I had become a horrible mom….we realized that there was hidden healing that we didn't even know needed to be healed. On BOTH our parts. Our child and our hearts needed healing and continue to need healing. We thank God for this healing starting and for a change of what a good family, a good mom, a good child looks like. We have completely changed our theories and have a new focus. I pray more people will see your article and realize…they are NOT alone!!

    Reply
  12. lisa h
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa…. I've said those very words. 23 years of 'prior parenting' didn't prepare me (the way I thought it would) for the parenting I've done in the last three years with our two kiddos from hard places. As a result, we've limped along and I've done more than my fair share of self-questioning and criticizing. Your blog and ETC have been a couple of the things that have helped me gain some perspective and some peace over time. Looking forward to meeting you this weekend in CO!
    Lisa H

    Reply
  13. Alyssa
    April 5, 2011

    I appreciate this. Our little son is seven, from foster care, and has only been home 3 weeks. We were thankful for a smooth start but knew that would give way to some of the real challeges. I held my tears on Saturday i when he threw something at me and told me he didn't like me and he wanted to go back (to foster family) . I know he needs to process this anger , I know not to take it personally… but it's hard and my heart hurts for him and I feel like I am guessing all the time (because I am– I have no idea what will set him off and why).

    Reply
  14. apryl
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa,
    That was a great article. When we brought our daughter home from Eastern Europe 5 years ago, I thought we knew what we were doing. Even as experienced parents and reading everything we could find–still didn't prepare us for the day-to-day battles with a 3 year old. We vowed not to adopt again, but we healed as a family and adopted two more children. I'm thrilled to read your blog, your transparency and help has certainly encouraged many a harried mom!

    Reply
  15. Jennifer
    April 5, 2011

    Lisa~!
    thank you so much for your honesty and transparency. this post is so needed! its like karyn says, you are often starting back at square one, or even before square one! thanks for all you do and share!

    Reply
  16. Sweet Pea
    April 5, 2011

    I love you, Mamma! It is definitely different, raising kids from the hard places, and there has been a lot of growth and change as a family. And I think you still are a good mom.

    Reply
  17. Ann
    April 6, 2011

    Excellent post Lisa–one of my all-time favorites because it holds so much truth when raising a child from the hard places–or even parenting a birth child who humbles us as parents. One positive that has come out of it for me is that I have learned to place my judgement of other mothers far from where I used to–and to realize that we don't always know what the other is going through. May you know that I lift you up often and appreciate how God is using you.

    Reply
  18. Mary
    April 6, 2011

    Thanks, Lisa.
    I'm a young mom (3-year-old and 7-month-old biological sons), and my husband and I after much prayer have felt that now is the time to expand our family through adoption. We are wrapping up our dossier now, in pursuit of THREE children from Ethiopia. We really feel that God has selected us for them, even though it's wonderfully different than our initial expectations! We have been just where you were at the onset: God has given us the task of parenting, and we are embracing it completely. Now that is the merging of our hearts for the vulnerable and outcast and for OUR OWN children. We know that we are approaching a whole new world of challenge… our coming children are 8, 6, and 3, and one has HIV (which we were planning on in the first place). I have such confidence in my GOD that He will make this happen, and that His GRACE is sufficient – even though I know that we have no true grasp of all that awaits us. I am reassured in reading the stories of so many families who have walked through such terrible struggles in their adoptions, but I'm also braced for impact. 🙂 We have long had hearts for "hard places", but had thought we'd be geographically going THERE, rather than bringing them from there-to-here. Yet, here we are, and we are SO thankful for the position we're in.
    I don't know what my life is going to look like in one, five, ten years… I know it will be so different from now (as well as my frame of reference and dependence on grace). I appreciate women like you who are transparent wives and mothers, who speak truthfully in regard both to hardship and to the strength of Jesus Christ – who OVERCAME the world. (Take heart!) Thank you for your words, and God bless your family.

    Reply
  19. Cathleen
    April 6, 2011

    Thank you for transparently sharing your heart and fears. I am a widow, parenting a granddaughter. She's been with me for over two years, and just turned 4. Mom is "in the picture" occasionally, but mostly not. Squirt came through some very hard places, and I am just now realizing the similarities my guardianship has to so many adoption stories. Although she is related by blood, there are times when I wonder what planet she dropped in from! God has blessed me with willingness–to see His hand, to love with His endless supply, and to commit for the long haul. ETC has helped tremendously!! And a loving counselor who encourages aggressively for me to rise up and press on in spite of the doubts, the weariness, and the sorrow behind her circumstances. I know that God is blessing us moms, and clearly intends to extend that blessing to and through our special children. Thank you for the blog and the devotion to your call.

    Reply
    1. Mary
      April 6, 2011

      God bless you Cathleen. What an amazing love to give of yourself for Squirt.

      Reply
  20. dawn
    April 6, 2011

    Thank-you. I am in a place of heavy grieving right now. Your words touched me deeply.

    Reply
    1. Cathleen
      April 7, 2011

      Dawn, as my night draws to a close, I will carry your name and your needs to God with my final prayers. I know that you will be comforted beyond measure in His very good way.

      Reply
  21. Mary
    April 6, 2011

    Being a foster mom has changed me. It has boiled some pretty icky stuff in my heart right on up to the surface. I feel like in many ways, God looked down at me mothering my children and said, "you are Mary, confident and capable, and I am so not o.k. with that.". I was missing him and didn't even see it. So He is making me less and Him more and while I trust the end result to be beautiful, there is plentynof "not a good mom" in the meantime. Great words Lisa. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  22. Karen
    April 7, 2011

    One of my special friend's husband once told me that he was the best parent before he became one and how he "knew" all of the answers back then! Ha! And so, he continues to learn today (and so do we all!)

    Reply
  23. Amy Watson
    April 7, 2011

    Had an evening with our daughter (home from ET for 5 months) that has left me saying, "I used to be a good mommy." I know not to take what she says personally, but mommy's have a hard time not doing that. I'm always struggling to find a mental/emotional foothold for myself, and waver between being expecting God to work miracles in my daughter's life and expecting that she will never attach and love us and that's OK. I KNOW what all you mommy's are talking about here. I'm SO there with you. It's HARD. But it's worth it. "The cost of joy is pain." Read that in a book today. It' my prayer that all our pain will bring a harvest of immeasurable joy.

    Reply
  24. Courtney Leaf
    April 11, 2011

    That is a great article and thanks for being so honest. I often wish I knew what a "good mom" looked like for me since my kids are both adopted and one is facing serious attachment issues. But, you are right, God is shaping me in this journey and healing my kids and I feel blessed that God entrusted their care to me.

    Reply
  25. kristine
    April 15, 2011

    This is a beautiful testament to being a mom. Thanks.

    Reply
  26. laura
    April 17, 2011

    This article is amazing. We, too, have finally sought professional help and it has done more, faster, than I ever thought possible. I feel…I FEEL…like I am doing better as a mom. I wish we would have sought help sooner!!! Our family is healing, too. So glad to read your heart. Thank you for that gift.

    Reply
  27. Sara
    April 19, 2011

    That article is awesome. Terribly hard for you, but it shows so profoundly the power of our Lord and His love and mercy to you and your children. Thank you for sharing it all.

    Reply
  28. Mary Andrews
    April 21, 2011

    Lisa, you are a gif t to so many families – especially ours. You help so many families as they parent their little ones. God bless you. Love, Mom

    Reply

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