Most of you know that Charlie and I won a trip to Colorado, and we went this last week. We won flights, lodging in a 4 bedroom with a private hot tub, and spending money. It. Was. Amazing. Essentially, the universe smacked us over the head and yelled, “take care of yourselves!” My coworker/friend says it’s God, not the universe. Tomato, tomato. (I guess that doesn’t work quite as well when you type it vs. say it)
I was really nervous about going. We left Jax for a few days several years ago, but have never left J and A for more than a night. When you have kids with trauma/attachment issues, you can pretty much sign up for hell upon returning. We really wondered if it was even going to be worth it. It had been a rough month, and we knew we needed a break, but it seemed a little overwhelming. We figured either a) the kids were going to be terrible while we were gone or b) the kids were going to be terrible when we returned. Probably not both. We talked to them most days, texted with my Mom and aunt multiple times a day, sent/received pictures, and left a present for each day we were gone. A couple days in, it was clearly going about as well as could be expected. Which was awesome. And also left this feeling of impending doom.
Our first day was kind of weird. We mostly talked about the kids, and we had bad headaches because of the high altitude. Our second day was amazing. We went white water rafting, and ended up at the mountain musical festival that night. Something about the energy or something made my eyes well up with tears. (I swear, I am not usually an overly emotional person). Charlie asked me what was wrong. “I think I just remembered who I am.”
I/we got stuck in two modes. 1) Parenting and 2) Recovering from parenting. We are parents. We are special needs parents parents. We are adoptive parents. That is a piece of our identify, but it isn’t our identify. I got that confused for awhile. My clinical supervisor recently told me that Moms are wells. Our kids dip from our wells. I let the families I work with dip from my well, also. He asked me how I am filling up my well so that everyone can dip from it. Well…I wasn’t. Until Colorado.
I couldn’t believe how different I felt when I returned. I was ready for a shit storm (PS, I’m sorry I swear like a sailor), but what we got were huge smiles and huge hugs. My Dad brought the kids to the airport, and they just were genuinely happy to see us. “A” said, “How about a family hug when we get out of the van?” A family hug we did. It’s ironic to me how much more patient, playful, accepting, and empathetic I feel when I don’t *only* identify as a parent. I remembered who I am in Colorado, and it turned out I’m a better Mom than the person who thought their identity was “Mom.”