With My Girl

Russ and the little boys drove me to the dock yesterday, where I walked on the ferry with the crowd of pedestrians, together with cyclists in shiny, bright outfits and their expensive bikes. Russ had loaned me his nice day pack, so I felt just a bit spiffy myself.  Earlier in the afternoon I had packed it with my laptop and all that I needed for an overnight stay at Kathleen’s.  It was odd, and rather nice, to be alone on the ferry, reading my book, and watching the distance between Whidbey Island and Mukilteo grow smaller.  It’s a short trip, only 15 minutes or so, and when I walked off the boat, Kathleen was waiting for me.

Noah, Samuel, and Isaiah are joining us on Whidbey Island, and they were en route to Seattle with Dimples. I wanted to be at Kathleen’s before they arrived in order to greet her after our time apart. It was a quick transition as the boys dropped Isaiah and Dimples off, and then headed to the ferry.  Isaiah took off right away with friends who were going to hear Bob Goff speak – sadly, they didn’t realize that he was not speaking in person, but had recorded it earlier in the week.  Bummer.  Given that Isaiah didn’t get back until nearly midnight, I think they still had fun, despite the lack of an autograph in Isaiah’s copy of  Bob Goff’s book, Love Does.

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I had no idea how Dimples was going to receive me after this break.  I worried that it would be strange, or she would be distant, or angry.  Thankfully, she was surprisingly normal – not overly warm, but she received my hug, came to me for things she needed, and did what I asked throughout the rest of the day with no issues.  This was a huge relief to me and I enjoyed being with her.  Of course, it was fun because we went out to dinner at Red Robin (where she ate a huge meal), then we went shopping (with not much success) for her school shoes.  Kathleen bought her lots of yummy treats at Target, including her favorite hot sauce and nifty packets of pre-made rice mixes.  We wrapped up the evening watching the Olympics.

This morning the house is sleeping, and sadly, I’m not.  However, it’s good to reflect on this respite experience. It is very odd and emotional for me, and yet, it is going beautifully; God has provided for Dimples and our family abundantly. He has given us people who love Dimples and are willing to serve our family by embracing her during this time.  When I say that we need a team for Dimples, I am completely serious.

This afternoon, Kathleen and Dimples will drop Isaiah and me at the ferry dock, then later tonight, Dimples will go to our friend, Neely’s, where she is going to spend most of the remaining respite time.  Neely and her family are taking Dimples on a big camping trip – and she might even learn how to surf.

The idealist in me whispers that this is failure.  What kind of mother needs respite for her child?  Who goes on a family vacation without her entire family?   Apparently, I am this mother, and by the grace of God, He is directing our steps along this unfamiliar and bumpy road of parenting children from “hard places.”  It is unlike anything we’ve done before; I’m struggling to surrender my ideals to my reality, and embrace this time of respite with gratitude. 

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. debi
    August 6, 2012

    Ok, this totally made me tear up. I COMPLETELY understand! Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. You have no idea how much 'permission' this gives my heart. I, too, am right there with you…surrendering my ideals for my reality. Blessings!

    Reply
  2. Lisa H
    August 6, 2012

    Lisa,

    You are dying to your ideals, to self, so that God can resurrect new life in Dimples. That's not failure, but the paradoxical life of following Jesus and laying down your life for another. Praying you will enjoy your rest and God's provision for the race set before you!

    Love to you!

    Reply
  3. rebekah
    August 6, 2012

    Without reducing the very weighty and critical issues that have brought about a need for respite, right now your daughter is also receiving important love from others and a handful of great adventures. Those are things that are wonderful to experience without parents. Every mother needs respite for her child. The degree of need is the only difference. I admire you.

    Reply
    1. shannoncl
      August 6, 2012

      Right on. She is.

      Reply
  4. Katie Patel
    August 6, 2012

    Hugs, just hugs. Thank you for being so open and honest. It gives the rest of us hope!

    Reply
  5. sleepyknitter
    August 6, 2012

    I agree with Rebekah! You need the respite, and your daughter does, too, because she can receive love in a different way from other people. You are giving her a gift through the respite, giving her the chance to take a breath from the tension she feels with you (even if she's causing much of it), giving her a chance to start fresh with you when she returns, giving her some room to grow. You are doing the right thing, and it sounds like God is blessing that!

    Reply
  6. Deb
    August 6, 2012

    Mother Guilt – it's the worst! I took the following critically important words from wikipedia:
    Respite care is TEMPORARY RELIEF…. short-term and time-limited BREAKS FOR FAMILIES in order to support and maintain the primary care giving relationship. Respite also provides a POSITIVE EXPERIENCE for the person receiving care. Even though many families take great joy in providing care to their loved ones the physical, emotional and financial consequences for the family caregiver can be overwhelming without some support, such as respite. Respite provides a break for the family caregiver, which may prove beneficial to the health of the caregiver.

    Three fifths of family caregivers age 19-64 surveyed recently by the Commonwealth Fund reported fair or poor health, one or more chronic conditions, or a disability, compared with only one-third of non caregivers.

    Respite has been shown to help sustain family caregiver health and wellbeing, avoid or delay out-of-home placements, and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect. An outcome based evaluation pilot study showed that respite may also reduce the likelihood of divorce and help sustain marriages.

    Reply
  7. LMH
    August 6, 2012

    Lifting you up as you continue in this respite season. God has gone before you and He hems you up from the back as well. Asking Him to comfort all of you with Himself as you wade through. You're doing great!

    Reply
  8. Christine
    August 6, 2012

    I am not (yet) an adoptive mother, but I am a homeschooling mother, and I sometimes need a break from my kids. I look forward to VBS and weekends with my parents and occasional nights with a sitter. Your work is harder than mine, so your breaks look different than mine do. I do not believe they equal failure. Jesus went away from the crowds for a time too – he needed the time with the Father and sometimes to pour in to his disciples.

    Reply
  9. scoopingitup
    August 6, 2012

    this would kill me too. it's hard to redefine success and happiness. i am so sorry. this breaks my heart. amazing that you sacrifice your ideal for her. whew.

    Reply
  10. Sara Edwards
    August 6, 2012

    We've been busy with the buzzing of summer, family visits and family trips and because of that I haven't taken the time to comment, but I have been reading your blog and facebook updates (and praying) about therapy in Nebraska and the difficulty you are facing with your dear daughter. I can't leave it unsaid how touching it has been for me to read the word spoken from your heart and how uplifting it has been to me to listen to your struggles but hear the hope through all of them. It is this kind of real, honest, open sentiment, always seasoned with redemptive hope and healing that I always find so encouraging when I come here to read. It's the kind of heart I hope to emulate with my family as well as we walk through our hard places. I am so, so blessed by the words you share with all of us even in the midst of your biggest struggles, and the encouragement you offer to your readers even during a time that you so need the encouragement for yourself. You are deeply appreciated!

    Reply
  11. Laurel
    August 6, 2012

    I have walked those exact shoes . . . last Spring Break. It was a good break for all of us . . . for me, for my Little Miss, and for the other children. (Little Miss went to our mutual friend, Donna's, in OR.)

    No. This is certainly not how either of us envisioned parenting our adopted children. However, God knew all along what He was bringing into our lives . . . and He trusted us enough to take these hurting children, knowing that we would need to seek His will every step of the journey.

    Love & Hugs!

    Laurel

    Reply
  12. Heidi
    August 6, 2012

    Considering I know both the Amazing Kathleen and the equally as Amazing Neely…I can say that you have a beautiful "team." I am so glad God has placed you all in each others lives!

    Reply
  13. Wilma
    August 8, 2012

    I have just found your blog through Laurel. We adopted our youngest son when he was 10. Although we didn't have the same issues as you and Laurel have, we had major issues. We were so fortunate to have the blessed "others" who helped us during this time. One family who lives on a farm in a nearby county, invited him for several weeks in the summer to stay there and give us respite. I don't think we would have made it without this help. I know I felt guilty, too, but the relief in not having to deal with the issues daily were such a Godsend.

    Reply
  14. Courtney
    September 10, 2012

    i just want to thank you for your honestly. i can't imagine how many people are blessed by it! always, always praying for you!

    Reply

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