Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"It's just you and me, kid..."

For many people, once the little ones are tucked in at night, there is not another adult in the home to process thoughts and feelings of the day.  As we celebrated Father's Day last month, and as I looked around over the Independence Day weekend, I saw many families with single parents at the helm due to different life circumstances. 

While I know the elation felt at the adoption of a child, I have to pause in awe at those who make the journey alone.  The roller coaster of adoption is overwhelming as a couple, and I am consistently amazed at those whose personal strength carries them through.  I am sure, however, there may also come a point of acute lonliness in this new role of parent.  Here are a few suggestions...
  • Acknowledge those emotions & ask for support!  Sometimes those who were supportive of your decision to adopt fade away after the excitement of the adoption/homecoming.  This is not exclusive to single parents, but may be more acutely felt.  Life does have to resume for everyone, and some may just not know how to help or support once the baby is home.   Ask! Tell!  It can be difficult for self sufficient and independent personalities to realize they need a little support- physically (laundry, house work, etc) or emotionally (companionship, a listening ear, etc).   Most friends are not mind readers, but are happy & willing to help if you just tell them how.  (Truthfully, I'm always a little flattered when someone asks for my help.  I'm not so good at just "jumping in", but love to be asked!)
  • Take a little down time! Yes, this is the green light for ME TIME.  Make sure to do all those things we "should" right, get enough sleep (haha---new baby?), but make sure to take some time to do something you enjoy - and did before your little one joined your life.  Who knew a mid-day movie or mani/pedi was quite so fun?
  • Seek professional support if need be. I am a big believer in post adoption.....feelings...ok, depression.  It's a big adjustment to have a new family member, whether you gave birth or not.  I feel like there was a bigger adjustment after we adopted than after I gave birth.  It's such an emotional roller coaster ride and culminates in this new little miracle in your arms in your home.  There can be a let down once it's done and you're settling into your new normal...and sometimes it's difficult.  So if you're feeling like a trip to Starbick or 31 Flavors isn't quite handling the emotions you need to process...enlist the help of a good counselor.  Our counselors at Heart to Heart can offer great referrals if need be.
To single parents everywhere...I hail you.  Try to take joy in the journey...and even when you feel alone, you're not!  A great website for single parents is one set up by one of our own amazing adoptive's a great resource and way to connect with other single parents.

One of the great joys of working with Heart to Heart is watching amazing families come together. And I am always amazed at the strength these single women have as they make that selfless decision to become a mother.  So let's hear from you -- the experts!  Share those coping strategies with us.  We gain strength from each other as matter what the rest of the family dynamic may be!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Shelly....well said and thanks for the post! I have to say - it is hard to ask for help. Part of it is that I often say to myself "I am the one who signed up for it....I need to take care of things." That being said....I am getting better, especially when traveling with my active toddler. I let folks carry stuff, open doors, help with bags, etc.

    I do often get the comment that "it must be sooooo hard to be a single parent." As a first time parent, I have to say I have no idea what it's like to co-parent so- this seems normal/doable. I think it's different when you prepare ahead of time vs. many moms who end up being a single parent via divorce.

    Parenting is a full time job in general so - I guess it may be easier with another parent. I always say it's like the Army..."it's the toughest job you'll ever love." My two biggest struggles as a parent are daycare and Mila's chronic ear infections. I believe those would be an issue even in a two parent household.

    I agree with your thoughts and will add a few more:
    1. Get some "me" time....for me it's exercise and the occasional pedicure. I know I am a better mom for taking this time to take care of myself. Plus- she only has me so I need to stay healthy and live a long, long time:)
    2. Ask for help and be specific "can you watch my daughter for two hours on Thurs. so I can get that pedicure?". Folks want to help but don't always know how/what is needed.
    3. Start a single women adopting support group. It really does help to have a group of ladies in my area who are all in the same boat. We help each other out with childcare and have become good friends. Your adoption agency should be able to point you to a few single women or have the agency give folks your contact information.
    4. Everyday- I try to write down at least two things I am thankful for....that keeps me positive....particularly when I have sick baby on my hands. I am very, very thankful and have said this to many folks that I am lucky Heart to Heart is open and supportive of single parents adopting. It's the reason I have my girl Mila.

    Thanks again for the post!