I have a very good friend who tells me often that he is a "both/and" kinda guy. I am also married to a both/and kinda guy. Unfortunately, I'm an either/or kinda girl. For some reason I have always been a black white thinker who divides people and ideas into two opposing groups.
This morning as I was thinking about the training I had last week about issues of grief and loss and thinking about things that my children do and say, I had a bit of an epiphany. What if my kids are living in a both/and world when I am reading them as either/or?
What if my kids both love and hate me? What if they both disdain and respect me? What if they both take me for granted and appreciate me? What if they both reject me and accept me? What if they both resent and admire me? What if I've been wrong all these years to make those things mutually exclusive?
I think that I have in some ways become bitter because I have such a hard time accepting the nice things that my kids say when they are surrounded my the hateful things. I tend to disbelieve them when they are affirming and kind because their constant behavior is more mean and critical. It is though in my head I think things like you can't possibly appreciate me if you complain so much. You can't respect me at all if you are so disdainful. And if you hate me so much, you can't possibly love me. And through all this anything positive they do has made me suspect.
But today I am attempting to give my children the gift of allowing them to have both/and kind of feelings. I'm not trapping them into the corners of either/or, but instead allowing myself to be comfortable in the world of adoption where life is complex and people are forced to have both/and kind of feelings.
And so as I began my Mother's Day with that forgiving spirit I have found myself more at peace. Salinda and Sadie each had gifts and cards for me -- Salinda's very meaningful as it described her having a better understanding of my feelings as a mother now that she was one herself. And Wilson, our youngest, now 12, made a homemade card that said this (OK, go ahead and shed a tear as he melts your heart like he did mine):
There is always a little boy to say he's moving on but really he's always there for you.
I'm feeling blessed today to have the children and grandchildren God has given me even after we've all we've been through. Because after all, being an adoptive parent doesn't mean joy or pain, happiness or sorrow, challenge or reward..... but instead, it's a both/and kind of world.