I have to be honest. I have been procrastinating writing about our summer vacation this year. Although I had a nice time and I was happy that my family had a great time, somehow just posting all the great pictures won't show what I was really feeling in my heart. The pictures show happy, laughing kids having a fantastic time. You'd think it was all relaxation and peace and joy. For example:
See? You hear the waves lapping the shore, the seagulls crying for food, the children laughing and screeching as they ride the waves to the shore or dig in the sand. Right? Were I to just post the pictures, you'd probably think I also had a wonderful, fun-filled vacation. But the truth is, I didn't.
I'm sure many of you know that older child adoption isn't all rainbows and roses. Perhaps my posts until now have made it seem like it is easy. But the truth is that it's hard. Not just the sleeping, eating, and insecurity issues, but also the abrupt change in your family dynamics, the huge changes that your other children endure, and the changes in your normal routines and activities. Not to mention just going from having 2 children to having 3 children! Definitely not peaceful, quiet, relaxing family time. Maybe more frequently like the rough seas that we encountered on our last day on the beach.
Sometimes, it's like one wave after another wave after another wave with no end in sight. No time to catch your breath. No time to rest. No time to relax. No time to refuel.
Sometimes, it's just one big wave that knocks you flat on your face and leaves you with bruises and scrapes that take time to heal.
Leading up to this vacation, I was starting to dread going. So many firsts. Firsts are sometimes great -- first time on a roller coaster, first time in the swimming pool. But other firsts are not so great -- first time on an extremely long car ride, first time staying for an extended period with a bunch of other people. I knew this vacation was going to be hard and yet I was still surprised by how it hit me. My anxiety was through the roof the entire week. I had no patience at all. I worried constantly about what everyone would think about Markos and how Markos would react to everything. I worried about feeling like we HAD to make sure that Markos' first trip to the beach was a memorable, amazing, incredible trip. Mostly, I felt like I had a ton of bricks weighing on my shoulders because I had to be the one to provide it.
It was hard. It was not as much fun as it normally is. I cried on the deck, in our bedroom, and on the beach. I was angry. I was short-tempered. I was exhausted. I was frustrated. My family pitched in to help after a while. They saw that I was struggling...and that I was sad. Here's the thing though. It was mostly of my own making. Sure, Markos sought attention far more than he normally does. Sure, the sibling rivalry was far worse than it is at home. Sure, Markos is a master instigator and knows how to push buttons like nobodies' business. But really, I worried too much. I put more stress on myself than I needed. I failed to communicate with Eric. And I wasn't praying enough or being diligent enough with doing my devotions.
About halfway through the week, after a small meltdown (mine!), I finally realized that I hadn't been praying or doing devotions in the morning, that I could not do this parenting three children thing on my own (uh, DUH!), and that I had to start taking better care of myself if I wanted this to work. I started praying each morning while we were there and reading my devotional book before leaving my room. And, it actually worked (uh, DUH, of course it did!). Without anyone knowing that I had made this focused effort to get back to starting my day with God, comments were made like, "you didn't even smile until Thursday", "the second half of the week, you seemed a lot better". So, it wasn't just me. Others noticed a difference in me as well.
The vacation brought about a needed change in me, even if it wasn't the wonderful vacation for me that it was for my kids or the rest of the family. I came home reminded that I need more of God and less of me. I came home with a determination that I will be going to play tennis on Monday nights and Friday mornings because I need that time and exercise, for me AND for our family. I came home and made the decision that I have to be better about going to bed on time. Oh yes, and starting back on anxiety medication after returning home has helped tremendously, too.
There. With my little disclaimer for all those other adoptive mommas out there who are struggling, to not be deceived by my children's huge smiles and happy faces in the beach pictures to follow, I now feel better about posting vacation pictures soon! And I rejoice in the Truth of God's Word when it says things like:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.