Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There's No Handbook, but Here's a Cheat Sheet!

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After my last post, I got some comments that made me terribly uncomfortable. I don't want people to feel sorry for us. Admitting that life with a child like Kirill is hard doesn't mean we don't love our life. We wouldn't trade it for another life...ever. So that being said, thank you so much for the support and please understand that we have a joy-filled life even if it is HARD sometimes. I mainly just wanted to open up dialogue among other adoptive parents of children with intensive special needs in a real, honest way. I hope that we will all begin to be more honest with ourselves and with each other so that we can help each other navigate through the hard times.

So how do you have joy when you're simultaneously being challenged to your breaking point at times? I can tell you what we do and I hope it will help. After writing the "There's No Handbook" post, I did some of these things myself. I was having a challenging day when I wrote that and I needed to feel some joy. So here's what we do...I hope these will also help you.

1. Focus on the Small Stuff. Last Thursday I took Kirill to the opthamologist. These annual appointments are always a good time to think back because there's a whole year between them and I can really contrast and compare Kirill's progress. Last year, I had to take Greg with me to handle both boys in the waiting room, with eye drops, etc. Two years ago it took me, Greg, and the assistant to get eye drops in Kirill's eyes and keep Kirill contained. This year, because Kirill has learned to use an iPad with some independence, I took them alone. Kirill sat in a chair for almost the entire wait, quietly listening to books on the iPad. When it came time for drops, I didn't even hold him. He sat in the chair and I helped hold his eyes open for the nurse. That was it! It was so much easier than the past two years.

2. Hire a babysitter. We have a tight budget. But one thing we do not sacrifice is paying for a babysitter. Once a month, we try to go out alone. We also try to take individual girl trips and guy trips with our friends just to give ourselves small breaks. This doesn't happen often enough and we need to do better about making sure we do our date nights. So note to self: schedule date night for September.

3. Ask for help. Ok, I'm HORRIBLE at this. But, I am getting better. I have started just asking people for a little help when I need it. Can't carry everything across the football field at Clayton's practice AND get Kirill to walk to the sidelines? I ask random people headed in the same direction to help me carry stuff. Can't push the grocery store shopping cart to the car and get Kirill to walk out of the store and to the car? I get a store employee to help. Laundry taking over your house? Ask the babysitter to stick around and help you fold clothes. Even though it's nothing big...just asking for a little assistance sometimes makes a HUGE difference in the situation. I've never had anyone who wasn't glad to do those little things. We don't live in a world with a eleventy gabillion other people for nothing. Of course, always pay it forward too! Look for opportunities to make life a little easier for other people when you can!

4. Talk to someone. Most people have at least one person they can talk to when the going gets tough. Even if you have to pay someone to talk to them (I'm talking professional help here...there's no shame in it...I used to be a therapist and I have been to a therapist). Taking an hour out of your week or month to just sit and process your emotions can really shift your perspective. Just getting all those thoughts and feelings outside of your head is 90% of the battle.

5. When all else fails, wine and chocolate. Do I need to elaborate on this one?

I have more, but I'm really wanting to hear from you. Plus Kirill just ran in here naked so I need to go. What do YOU do to make it through the tough days? Leave a comment and let's start writing that handbook! 


  1. SOOOO true! I keep getting asked why I love my job so much. As a self-contained special education teacher, I celebrated my birthday with three screaming kiddos (not yours) and one who threw my cell phone in the toilet (may have been yours ;-) and it was hard but I wouldn't trade it for anything!!! LOVE those kids! They make my life better every day even though it's no walk in the park.

    Not a big wine person, but half price martini night works for me and I keep a huge bottle of Advil at all times. ;-) It also helps to know some amazing people. :-)

  2. I get up extra early every morning just so that I can have a few moments of quiet time before the kids get up. On a good day, I fit some exercise into that bit of time. :)

  3. I second the advil, the 30 minutes before kids wake up and the occasional walk or workout. Even if I have to bring the kids. Alone is sweet, but any kind of movement helps refresh me a bit.