When I was a child I dreamed of Motherhood. I never had great career aspirations or globetrotting dreams; I simply wanted to settle down and build a life and a family. I pictured what it would be like to be a mom – taking the kids to the park, baking cookies together, and volunteering in their classrooms at school. What I did not picture was being a mom to a child with special needs due to trauma.
Early on in our dating years my husband and I discovered that we had a mutual desire to adopt. Years later when it became known that the little one we had been fostering needed an adoptive home we began preparing for this new journey every way we knew how. But we could not prepare for what we did not know, and we certainly did not know trauma.
It broke my heart to watch my child struggle with no idea how to help her. The professionals didn’t even know; they were seemingly throwing out multiple diagnoses just to see which one would stick. I became numb to the process, the specialist appointments, and hours of therapy. I was unable to let my friends and family in, or speak the words of what we were facing out loud. I wasn’t ready to accept this newfound reality. I remember feeling so alone, unable, and unwilling to share with others. It felt so personal to me and to my child. This is my story, but it is even more so her story, and finding a balance in sharing one without too much of the other will always be a delicate challenge.
Now several years later, hours upon hours of therapy in, and having learned how our child needed us to connect with her, I can say without a doubt that she has taught me how to be a strong, determined, and nurturing woman by her example. She has shown me how to love.
Still, momming a child with trauma is hard. It bruises my soul to watch her struggle, knowing my love is not enough to fix it. It’s exhausting beyond the typical tired fog of motherhood. Sometimes it is embarrassing when your child doesn’t react to things in a typical way. I find myself trying to ward off the well-meaning advice givers and those giving evil stares.
No, I never imagined being a “trauma momma,” but I have found solace in watching my child tear through the obstacles in front of her and begin to thrive. Yet, just as I find myself coming to terms with one child’s needs, I begin to see something develop in another one of my kids. It takes me back, spinning to the begging of this journey, to the diagnoses that were thrown out, and to the helpless and hopelessness. It took a long time before I could come to terms with, understand, and verbalize to others what my one child was facing, and now we are here again with another precious child of ours. I don’t want to do it – start all over with the testing and the therapies and multiple diagnoses thrown at him. I don’t want another child to have to struggle through this.
I hate you Trauma – you will not win. I don’t want to see your grasp fight for the present and the future of my children because of what they have experienced in the past. I wish you didn’t exist and I wish that I had never needed to learn so much about you. I wish you would leave me and my children alone! But I will not let you win. You may be a part of my children’s lives, but you will not have their lives. We will fight you today and tomorrow and forever if that’s what it takes.
I am in this forever. This motherhood I dreamed of may be more difficult than I expected, but it is also more beautiful in ways that I never knew to dream for. So bring it on trauma – I’m living my dream and you won’t change that.