adoptive parenting · awkward · being a mommy · church · Keith · life is messy · Little Man · real life friends

Emotional Thoughts from an Adoptive Mom

Two weeks ago we were interviewed (via phone) by a reporter for our local newspaper. They are doing an outdoor magazine this month and needed a camping/ outdoorsy family. My stepmom knows the editor, and voila, we are the family chosen. Well. Our camping life is (like everything else) divided into before-little-man and after-little-man.

Now, I talked a lot about Little Man. But I never referred to him as our “adopted” son. But I caught myself trying to figure out how to phrase things. “After Little Man was born…” was a frequent phrase I used. Because what else do you say? After we got him? After he came into our life? Because it certainly isn’t “after I gave birth.”

It was weird. Then this past weekend the photographer came to take our pictures. It’s pretty obvious when you see the three of us together that LM was adopted. But thankfully the photographer handled it with grace and maturity. And he coaxed lots of smiles out of our little guy, so you’ve got to love that.


I spied on Little Man in the church nursery on Sunday. I stayed about 15 feet from the window and was standing on my tippy toes trying to peek in. One of the women who works the check-in desk asked me what he looked like. It was like the world stood still. There was a Black woman also working the desk, and I felt like saying, “Well, he’s Black” would come across as disrespectful. It was like I was under water, or caught up in slow motion. I finally said, “Well, he’s wearing a brown-cam-dinosaur shirt and has brown curly hair.” She told me he was actually right under the window (where I couldn’t see him) and that he was happily playing.

Again… weird. What do you say? I think I’m most afraid of strangers’ reactions, which is ridiculous. Who cares what strangers think? But I didn’t want to offend the Black lady… who I’ve never seen before and may never see again (our church is that large).


Keith is working nights this week. That means, for all intents and purposes, I am a single mother. Last week, Keith worked over 12 hours a day. That means, for all intents and purposes, I was a single mother. I’ve written before about that, but it is hard to be the parent physically responsible for your infant 24/7. Very hard.

I had a massive breakdown on Friday (thanks to a lack of sleep because LM is hardcore teething and my raging hormones). I was crying, LM was crying. Every time I cried, he cried harder, which made me cry even harder, which made him cry even harder… you can see the cycle here. It was miserable. He does not like when Mama is upset.

As frustrating and hard as it is, though, I find myself having this conversation with myself over and over again:

Me: This is hard.
Me 2: Yes, but think about Heidi. Aaron is in Afghanistan and she’s got the three girls to herself.
Me: Yes, but she also works and interacts with adults.
Me 2: But she’s a single mother for a year.
Me: Yes, but her girls are self-sufficient. Not leave on their own sufficient, but she doesn’t have to keep her eyes on them 24/7. They can play by themselves. And they sleep through the night.
Me 2: Shut up. She has it worse.
Me: Why can’t we both just be miserable in our own unique way?
Me 2: Shut up. You’re lucky you get to be a stay-at-home-mom.
Me: Yes, I am. But I’m not so lucky to be a work widow single mom.
Me 2: Shut up.

You can see how it goes. (by the way, show this Marine wife some support and love!)


Little Man has started to consistently call me “Mama.” He wakes up in the morning (and if he isn’t crying) he starts singing, “Mama! Mama! Mama!” If I leave the room, it’s the same thing. I have to say, it melts my heart every. single. time. If anything is going to heal me from my infertility angst, it’s that little voice calling me “mama” and those little hands holding mine and those little arms hugging me.

All in all…. thank God we’re going to the beach next week!

6 thoughts on “Emotional Thoughts from an Adoptive Mom

  1. I do the same thing as you did at church, question myself on how to describe “which one's mine”. I finally just decided to say, “the spunky little one with beads in her hair” or something to that affect.

    Hang in there! Although my husband works a normal schedule I sometimes feel like I'm a single parent…

    Have fun at the beach, I am super jealous!


  2. Is it bad that I'm laughing at your internal dialogue with your “other self”? It's just so familiar to me. I'm always debating with my annoying other self about something.

    Being a stay at home mom IS hard, no matter what people might think or say. And doing it without a husband around for days (or weeks or years) at a time is something I can't imagine. You are perfectly entitled to feel overwhelmed. It's not something to feel guilty about or beat yourself up about because others might have it worse. I don't know where this notion comes from that mothers always have to be happy-go-lucky, perfectly made-up, and excited to be changing diaper number 25 of the day. It's a little Stepford-ish really. Having a bad day (or two, or ten) doesn't make you ungrateful. It makes you human.


  3. It's funny what you said about “when we got him.” That's actually what I say about R. Not intentionally, I guess. I never really thought about it. Also, I just tend to say weird things.

    And I've had those crying-all-day-days before. There have been recent days when I feel like that. I get so frustrated! But R has reached an age where he can respond to me in a different way. He pats my lap or hugs me and says, “It's OK, mama. I'll make you happy, mama.” Those days will come! It's hard to try to enjoy each moment with your kid when you're kinda looking ahead to the next phase.


  4. We all compare our misery to someone else's misery, and it doesn't help, does it? Yes, there is always someone who has it worse, but it doesn't make your suffering any less. It is hard to be a single parent, even when you're married. But hey, hold on to those moments when he says “mama.” Remember those words and you can do it!


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