Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I Feel Weird When People Ask How We're Doing

In a word...pressure. I feel a great amount of pressure when people ask how we are doing.

I would place the "askers" in three categories:
  1. People who didn't think we should have adopted in the first place, are waiting to hear horror stories about how our family has been turned upside down, and can't wait to say, "I told you so". Tisk tisk.
  2. People who want me to say that things are all sunshine and roses and that I must be smiling all the time and skipping joyfully about my day because my dream has come true. To say anything to the contrary of this brings about a look of shock & dismay. Oh my!
  3. People who know us, love us, and have genuine concern for how things are going. These people are perfectly happy to hear both the good and the bad and don't judge us based on the response of that moment.

Askers one and two are HIGH pressure (at least for me). Thankfully the majority of people are in category three. It's really pretty easy to distinguish who's asking for what reason. If you are in category 3, ask anything you like and we are happy to answer. We love that you care and we love that you love us no matter what our response is.

No child, by birth or adoption, is pure joy 100% of the time. Children are complex little buggars who require a lot of work. Add to that my own baggage & issues...aye, aye, aye. Someone recently said to me that parenting kids is the best worst job ever. True that!


kayder1996 said...

I posted on that when Kenson came home. People always wanted to know how I liked being a stay at home mom. It's kind of like asking the newlyweds how they like married life. There isn't a really good answer for it that is honest. In my case, I wanted to say "well there is where I need to be and I am so thankful that I can stay home. I certainly enjoy the fun times when this little boy smiles and laughs and has successes. But I miss my job and my life. And I am bored to death. Staying home has meant a dramatic slow down in my life. Add to that the fact that I lose my temper and act in ways that completely make me feel ashamed and guilty....Oh I see by the look on your face you were really just wanting me to say everything was great. Sorry, it's all great. Every frickin' moment of it is great..." I never did say that but the question just completely perplexed me. Thankfully, some people who asked really did want to know and I knew which ones they were and we really didn't have anybody who fit into the "tell us all the juicy details of how bad things are" category. But our kids are more baby like. I think when it's an older kid, people are a lot more concerned about the child having severe problems. I'm an adoptive parent who is generally more educated on adoption issues than the general public and I worry about that with older kids so I'm sure most people's concerns are much greater than mine.

All that said, your best worst job comment is exactly right. I pray your adjustment continues to move along, that your family allows itself to feel all of the feelings that go with adding a new family member, that no one feels guilty because of that, but that no one gets stuck in those feelings either. Instead may you celebrate the moment you are in, knowing that it will never come again. Believing the days are long but the years are short...

Annie said...

Stephanie, I really admire your ability to put some of this stuff into words. I hadn't quite articulated that even to myself!

And you know what? I STILL get those kinds of questions about my kids!

Maybe some people do, for a complex number of reasons (guilt? envy?) hope for a not-so-rosy answer. Maybe others for other complex reasons hope for a 100% positive response. But, I expect most simply think that if they don't ask, they'll seem rude or disinterested in such a big thing to have happened in your life. And the poster above is so right - this sort of "How is it going?" (with possibly extra intensity) comes after marriages, new jobs, moves, deaths in the family, even surgeries... with only slight variations in the question.)

I always respond as if I am talking to the third sort of person; the person who is simply trying to "do the right thing" by showing interest. After all, nothing apart from "Fine! Thanks for asking!" is anyone's business unless I choose to share something more with them.

Kathy C. said...

I'd never really thought about it because I'm not with people a lot but I do get that question both from people who want to hear how horrible adopted kids are and people who want to hear that life is so perfect and joyful now. I had one person ask how I thought Kaleb was doing (I believe he has delays). Then she argued with everything I said. So why ask me if you already have the answer??????? (It was obviously his preschool teacher)

Sean and Lisa said...

Oh my friend I so understand! Adoption is a journey (much like our spiritual life)and it doesn't end when the child comes home, in fact, that's when it just begins! There are so many variables to the journey and in your case, bringing home an older child who can remember their country, their past, adds complex layers to said journey!

We live in a society that thrives on the negative, the shocking, the sad, and that's what most are looking for when they question you. Sadly. Of course, if we want to be honest, our stories at least parts of them could fill that bill but why go there?! Why meet their need? Just tell them to go watch TV! LOL!
Most of our "support" falls in category 1 and we only have a very small handful that falls in category 3. So I've learned (quickly) who just wants sensationalism and who really cares to know the truth about how things are "going". Besides, the truth would scare most people. LOL!

Big, big hugs as you journey this path. I think you are doing a great job!!

You did wear hiking boots, not stilettos, for this journey, right?! :)

Much Love!

Sarah Jane said...

Oh Stephanie. . .SO SO SO SO true. . .I feel yo pain sista!

Eve said...

I suppose it's doesn't feel good inside to tailor your answers to the different categories, but you have to box clever, and not feel guilty. Some people don't deserve full answers, and that's not being dishonest, that's practicing discernment.

I'm glad you know which of those who fit into the three, that in itself is a great thing.

mlg said...

I feel the same way if you say you are struggling with something people give you that look, if you say things are great they give you that look,it is a lot of pressure!

Jodie said...

Thank you for having the courage to post that, Steph. People do expect it to be wonderful. You prayed for this, right? You waited this long, right? So what are you complaining about? Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Or they offer advice and have not a stinking clue what they're talking about (like my SIL who is 42, lives at home and has no kids -- but she COMPLETELY understands).

Thank God for Cat 3 people!!

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

After 2 years, we still have all 3 types of askers. Most, sadly, are Type #1 ... "Tisk. Tisk. Tisk. So it didn't turn out as wonderful as you had hoped. So you weren't prepared enough." While they may not say those exact words ... we see the words in the eyes of many. So sad.

Thankfully, we also have a few friends in the Type #3 category. Oh so thankful for true friendships such as these.


The Gang's Momma! said...

From a Three to a Three - you are doing just exactly how you should be doing!!! Some good, some bad, and some ugly. The Ones and Twos can just go suck a lemon in the corner for all I care :)

JUST KIDDING. I know, I know. But you are right in that the pressure that emanates from anyone OTHER than the Threes is immense. It took me a long time of some pretty awful interactions (whereby either I felt gross with my answer or they felt gross with my answer) to learn who was who. I wasn't so quick on the uptake, being so enamored and exhausted with my new little fireball...

You are rockin' it - this time next year, you'll be askin' yourself "what's next?!" Maybe sooner than that :) LOL!

Teabo Chica said...

Oh my I feel this same way. I am so leary to have others ask me this same thing, or to even ask for help for the same fear.
I have doubt sometimes in my own heart as if I did the right all honesty. Its hard.
I don't need the nasayers to help that doubt in my mind (THAT LIE) to become truth for me.
Thanks for posting this feel the same way!

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