Adoption, Parenting, Relationships

The Stuff About My Kids I Can’t Tell You

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Last week I met with a friend and picked her brain for ideas about one of my kids.  This morning I met with another friend whose kids are a little older and talked parenting strategies and how I can tweak up our routines.  I had a friend text me for advice about some doctors for some stuff about kids.  See how vague I’m being online?

Lately I’ve noticed that the older my kids get, the cagier I get online about the things we’ve got going on.  Because it’s one thing to share about toddler tantrums and preschool shenanigans, but as our kids get older and develop into their own big people with unique struggles and dreams, you realize that those are exactly that, their own.  So over the years, I’ve noticed that I keep doctor stuff private and discipline stuff private and a poop story is funny when it’s about a three-year-old or myself, but older kids gets the privilege of secrecy and respect…most of the time (wiggles eyebrows threateningly at sassy big kids).

When we first adopted Evie, my agency asked me to reach out to several other families in the process of toddler adoption.  A year later I followed up with some of them and they all talked about how hard it was and how they felt alone and thought they couldn’t do it.  And that’s why I wrote a little of our stories and journey with attachment and becoming a family so that people wouldn’t feel alone and to let people peek behind the glossy photos.

But there’s stuff about my kids I can’t tell you.

As my kids get older and I learn and listen to adult adoptees and my own children, I notice that I’m holding things closer.  As they grow up and develop their own personalities and story lines I recognize that they get to choose when to share and how and if.  And I’m getting quieter about everything out of respect for them.  It’s one thing to talk about toddler tantrums and poop explosions because that’s fairly universal and understandable.  But when it comes to our medical and emotional needs and discoveries for all my kids, I’m thankful for the in-person friends.

And that’s why I’m so passionate about us developing momlationships.  Our IRL friends who know us and love the heck out of our kids and understand all the context and everything about everything.

I think you guys with teenagers get this.  Blogs get quieter as the kids get older and their own Facebook accounts.  And we have to figure out how to navigate this. I continue to be so honest, but I’m figuring out where my stuff stops and my child’s stuff begins.  And sure, sometimes I’m gonna overshare and they’ll learn that, for better or worse, mama’s a writer.  But I’m working to get the important stuff right.

We still really do need each other and need to learn from each other.  We moms need to resource each other and come alongside and empathize.  We don’t need to recreate the freaking wheel and we don’t have to go it alone.

Even though I was finding mom friends for the first time when I was a new mom and my kids were little, as they’re growing up, I’m finding that I need those friends now more than ever.  I’m spending less and less time at parks on playdates but more and more time in intentional get-togethers for mutual brain-picking and coffee cups clinked in solidarity.

And we will figure out how to hold on to one another here without spilling all the sordid details, okay?  We will figure out how to let our kids have the right to privacy without losing our common ground.  Let’s help each other find our people out there in the wide world, the ones we can trust to hold our struggles safely.

Parents who have adopted older children, things are sometimes hard, and then sometimes there are glorious moments of beauty.  And hard.  And I see you.

Parents who adopted younger children who are growing up, there’s good, there’s hard, there’s healing, there’s new layers peeled back and revealed.  I see you, too.

Parents who have adopted out of birth order, I see you, and imma hug you and just lay my head on your shoulder for a minute.  (Sorry, am I cutting off your oxygen?  Okay, I’m letting go.)

Parents of older kids, I see you.  Sometimes you want to hug them and never let go and other times you flinch when they come home because you aren’t sure what you’ll hear.

Parents of kids dealing with medical needs, I see you.  It’s like you spend all day on the phone with doctors’ offices and you worry about your child’s need but then sometimes you catch yourself not worrying about it and feel bad that you forgot to worry for a few hours.

We need each other.  We are here for each other.  We can do this together.

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  • Jeanine

    This mama of five (all adopted) wishes so much I could reach through this screen and give you a full-frontal hug right now! I used to blog easily. So many awesome and fun stories about my babes. Now two of them are teens and the other three are not far behind and my writing has slowed WAY down. Though we are wise to respect their privacy (and I worry for the mamas who ARE still spilling their kids’ stuff all over the Internet) I so miss the days of sharing my family and shining light in the awesomeness of adoption and how God knit our family together. Now we are in the thick of hard as those layers peel back. Talking with IRL friends has saved my sanity. My blogging has changed…more about me and the things that God is prying from my tightly clenched fists. I love this post. (And I’m almost finished with your book! *fist bump*. )

    • Melanie Dale

      Fist bump, Jeanine! Yes!

  • Laila

    Yes + Amen.

    As my son has gotten older he’s needed me differently. My mothering skills have been tested to the 10th degree and it’s been difficult to figure out who to talk to it about. My best friend doesn’t have children so she get it to a certain point. But I have valued having momlationships and being able to say, ‘what do you think?’ or “does this make sense?”. And I rarely talk about what’s going on with him online because I want to respect his privacy.

    • Melanie Dale

      Yes! I learn so much from my mama friends. You’re right – our kids do need us differently as they get older. It kind of weirds me out…but in a good way? :)

  • Virginia

    I just finished your book and I feel the need to tell you that you’re my new best friend. Honestly. I know in a few days I’ll pick up my phone to text or call you to see how life is going, only to realize I don’t have your number. I know that makes me weird but you really have no idea just how weird I really am. But after reading the book, you fart, I burp. I laugh loudly and often inappropriately.

    • Melanie Dale

      Oh my gosh, this is amazing. WE ARE NOT ALONE. I can’t tell you how comforting that is. You write both a burp and a fart story into a book and then internally panic that no one will want to be your friend anymore…

  • Misty Wagner

    I’m excited to read your book! you are so right! It’s hard as an adopted mom to connect with other moms because my kids’ issues are different and there’s just not a lot of “getting”… it’s a bit isolating, which is what makes blogging lovely, BUT you just can’t share your kid’s stuff… That’s theirs… and so… I loved this post!

  • DA Schuhow

    Fist bump!!

  • Carrie Lavin

    Ordered your book and have been devoting it since! Would love to get copies for everyone in my MOPS group!!

    • Melanie Dale

      Thank you so much, Carrie! I sure do like the way you think. I also would love for you to get copies for everyone in your MOPS group!!! :))))) Let me know if you manage it and I’ll send you a lil’ discussion guide you can use.

      • Carrie Lavin

        I may not be able to get the book for EVERYONE in my MOPS group, but… I am taking over the Coordinator role of the MOPS group at my church, and have been looking for a book study for our Steering Teams to do together. If you have discussion questions to share, that would be won-der-ful!!! Do you do speaking engagements? Fancy the Phoenix area in the Fall?? :) Maybe even just a Skype date with our team after/during our study. No pressure.

        • Melanie Dale

          Oh my goodness, Carrie, you are amazeballs. I was totally kidding, ha! I would love to talk about the speaking and the engaging and the skyping. :) Email me unexpectedmel @ unexpected.org. Yay!

 

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