Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Whipping Mom

When I was in fifth Grade my Teacher, Mrs. Heights read us 'The Whipping Boy”by Sid Fleischman I remember lying my head down with my eyes closed letting her words play out like a movie in my mind.  I remember wincing at the injustice I felt, and sooner realized in their way, both boys were victim to their circumstance.
If you have read it or seen the movie, you know the premise is the story of a prince and his whipping boy. The whipping boy was a poor orphan grateful for a job, a full belly and opportunity for education in a trade for being punished for the Princes' wrongdoings and ill behavior. After all there was a law in the land forbidding spanking and punishment of the prince. Hence the need for a Whipping Boy.

Sometimes I feel like that.
The Whipping Mom.
Being punished for pain, abandonment, and loss suffered at the separation between my children and their first mothers. I am so sorry for both of their pain.
Still sometimes baring the brunt of that pain sucks, like totally.
They don't talk about this in the mountains of adoption books I read, or in the heart touching lifetime movies I would ugly cry to while waiting, desperate, empty armed for my little miracles.

Nowhere was I told, you are a Replacement, the pain you feel in the wanting, they might always feel in the loss of their first family.
You may be the target of that pain.

We are coming up on four years of some of my kids acclimation into our family, being in a family, or knowing what one is period.

There have been four Mothers Days, Christmas's and this week, birthdays.

As we have, and many other families will, a test.
Holidays period, more so ones celebrating the Mother, are for some reason sabotaged, destroyed, attacked, and ruined.

For the last four years evidence's of my cell phone being stolen so no calls of good Birthday wishes could be made, urinated mattresses, missing gifts, marathon tantrums, entire stolen cakes, and even once, my wedding ring being tossed in the outside garbage, moments before the garbage men came; all these acts speaking of mourning.

“What are they mourning? Sheesh, they have a HOME, a FAMILY that loves them, and FOOD every single day?
They should be GRATEFUL!”

Do you ever look at an amputee and say to them, “gosh you should just be sooo grateful to be alive.”
No of course not. You would be lessening their pain, loss, and experience.

My kids know something, or someone is missing. To tell them how lucky they are for their loss, how fortunate that they have a replacement to something we all have a biological right to is unfair. Worse, it is placating their pain.

I have thought a lot about this. Why, why is celebrating me so hard?
We are honestly at a point where I know they love me, and trust me, and know I will protect and be there for them no matter what. They can verbalize it and honestly want to be no where then why?

Because, for that one day, my day, I am not her. I am not the original Mommy. On my day, I wonder if they feel the loss of her greater? They stop and wonder deeply about her and mourn. If I can think about it that way, it hurts less when they mess with my day.

I am taking the brunt of their pain, I am her whipping boy.
Considering her loss, how her arms might have ached, even if she physically, mentally, financially, whatever her circumstances prevented her from parenting this child her loss and pain is greater than mine.
And even on the worst of that day, I see the gift in them.

We have significantly changed up my day celebrations, for both me and them.

Gifts are handmade.
Ones sent or given to me by my husband and healthier children are done in private.
My main birthday is spent away that night, usually with friends or in a blissful hotel room; sans tantrums, missing tooth brushes and angry elves. Children that want to have a special night away with me one on one get that. 

 We pick a “Family day” on a Saturday to celebrate, one that my husband can be home for in case the celebrations are too much, and one of the kids need to get away.
We spend much of the day away, dancing, playing, keeping their minds on activities that mildly are my choice.

“Why bother?”; a friend asked this week.
Because someday with practice, these days will bring less pain. Found in their depths, they do love me and want me to have my day, but the mourning sometimes takes over, so we give them and me safe ways to practice.
Practice may not make perfect, but it makes; “slowly less painful”.

This year my “Family Birthday day” was good, not perfect but very good.
I was prepared.
We got up, dressed and headed out for breakfast.
To the child that purposefully turned on the other bath tub, while I was showering , “thanks babe, totally woke me up and got me going today.”
To the child that was “too tired to get dressed and wanted to go back to bed.”
I simply reply “Aw Sweetie, no worries. You can wear your jammies to the restaurant and lay in the booth.”
In my purse was 4 packages of Starburst.
Sweets for the Sweet were given out indefinitely.
We hit a thrift store and instead of Mom getting gifts, all the children were allotted $5 to pick out a new shirt, dress, whatever.
We came home for naps and my sweetheart made me dinner.
The kids gave me hand made cards and sang me songs.

As I thanked them for my day, three children actively pointed out, HOW HARD they tried to hold it together today, to show me that they love me. One child, that has never managed giving me a single gift, wrote me a lovely letter.
One even managed to joke about how last year they had woken up the day before my birthday and eaten my entire cake the night before.
Another admitted seeing my ringing cell phone while I was in the bathroom and decided not to hide it.
And we giggled.


All in all it was beautiful.

Today, less than savory stuff has gone down. Eh, I'll take it, it's gotta leak out somewhere, Right?
We have all been gentle and given space for it.

In truth, I don't know if my skin has gotten thicker and it hurts less, or the licks are less forceful.
I would like to think both.
Either way, they are my gift, and I am the replacement.
And that is something very gently to celebrate, between the licks of course. 

                                                              Happy Birthday to me.


  1. The wedding ring thing happened to me, too! Only she buried it in the backyard. Do traumatized kids have a secret network where they share ideas for acting out?

    Sorry to be so random. Found you through Christine and have been following your blog. So glad your birthday was better this year than last.

  2. Happy Birthday to you is right!
    We are at 6 years, and this is the first time I got a "real" present from my adopted daughter. A little note, a sincere handwritten note. The best!

  3. Today is my birthday, it wasn't ... awful, and that ~ made it a blessing and a gift. I have had years and years of horrible hard days. My adoptions where I was most challenged are now 15, 13 and 9 years ago... kids range from 24 to 5... that day for you will come to :)

  4. Happy Birthday to You indeed beautiful friend!

  5. Yup. That explains it exactly. Although, for me, it was a night and day difference that SEEMED to just happen. One day, we had our younger daughter with an open adoption and he didn't mind his closed adoption. The next day, a light went on, he realized he was missing out on that relationship with his first mother, and our world turned upside down. I went from being a loved Mom, very connected with a happy, kind, wonderful son to being the worst person in his world, who ruined his life and became a verbally, physically, and emotionally abused mother....constantly...and nobody in the world believed me. STILL don't. ~Sheyann

  6. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! This is a must read for anybody who does not understand adoption and/or trauma and children. I am happy your birthday this year was more enjoyable than the last. I pray for healing for your children and many more happier celebrations.

  7. I'll have to send you a copy of the coloring book T and I are making... it hurts and it's a slow process, but for him, it seems to be helping-- at least over all. Each time we sit down it causes a full week of crap, but he looks at it often, shows it to others and is talking more overall. More eye contact too. It's a story of his life. He tells me, and I draw it, soon we will bind it and he will color it. Some pages are very angry and hurt and will be battered by the time he's done coloring. Others are so beautiful we both cry. What a nightmare/sparkly rainbow this journey can be.

  8. Our family is preparing to adopt 3 wonderful older children from Ukraine. Wow, this article is helpful. But not in the way you might think! I myself suffered the loss of a family at age 14. I am the one who traumatizes my own family now at holidays, mostly Christmas. Christmas was the only time my original dysfunctional family had any real delight or joy. Christmas was a reprieve from the day-to-day abuse, etc. Now I understand why I hate Christmas so much... I do *try* not to take it out on my family. I really do. But for us who have suffered loss (I was put in an orphanage at age 14), understand that we want every single day to be the same. Stopping for "holidays" is disruptive and brings up memories. For me, this has all been a subconscious thing. Thanks for helping me to understand more why I just want to grieve at Christmas. My family, thankfully, has few expectations and is very patient with me.