Resilience

Kathy Krugeradoption, fear, gratitude, motherhood32 Comments

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So we found ourselves in beautiful Lennox Head, Northern NSW.

It was a muggy and overcast Monday night – our family three instead of four. It felt strange.

Little Yang enjoyed a promised pink drink as we nursed nerves with our beers and a pub meal.

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Nearby our family’s missing limb was playing games with her friends, laughing, telling stories (or so we imagined) and tearing up only a little.

She’d ventured off that morning dry-eyed as she’d prepared to get on the bus, having pushed through tears and fears at home, our repeated refrain ‘You can do it’ ringing in her ears.

Such resilience.

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We didn’t phone the teacher and we didn’t wait for her call – we hoped, believed everything would be alright. And it was!

Such resilience.

The dreaded ‘A’ had reared its ugly head that second week of school as the prospect of camp and separation from us loomed large and near.

We hadn’t expected camp so early in the year and Miss Yin must have felt she had no choice but to come clean on the fears that had been growing for a year or more, that we’d seen manifest in her reluctance to have sleep-overs and a major meltdown or two.

What resilience our little girl had shown in finding herself adopted by strange-looking people (that would be us) aged 12 months – her whole world turned upside down.

What resilience she’d shown in moving to Canada for a year, aged 7, leaving the familiar behind and making new friends.

What courage our cautious-by-nature girl has shown many times over as she’s taken on new challenges.

What bravery she is showing as she slowly comes to terms with her own story, her own losses.

What reserves of resilience she’s built up because we’ve tried so hard to instil it in her. Along with empathy (and love of course), resilience is all important in my parenting book.

Still we sought professional help, and we are so proud that she made it through the first night of camp and will make it through the second, no doubt. (Update – all good, home safe and sound)!

Were we being too protective in our precautionary overnight stay in beautiful Lennox Head? Is it in the nature of adoptive parents, or those parents who like us have fought so hard to have their kids (through infertility etc) to be over-protective? In being prone to worry, am I passing on my anxieties, if not my genes? Was I reassuring myself as much as Miss Yin?

I’ve read many stories on adoption forums that make me think many adoptive parents are too hyper-vigilant for problems. We’ve always tried to parent without searching for problems, but without running away from them either. We’ve always tried to parent by believing that resilience is a big part of the solution. And I guess in surviving infertility/IVF and the long adoption process we’ve demonstrated what we’ve tried hard to teach.

Still Lennox Head offered up more lessons.

Little Yang sought his Dad’s shoulders as we prepared to climb the steps to the lookout, before showing us he’s a big (well small actually) four year old now. ‘You can do it’, Little Yang.

The sign at the top of the headland reminded all that there is always hope and help against the worst worries, the deepest despair.

The gorgeous views and the endless ocean reminded us of the beauty and possibilities of a future unclouded by anxiety (even on an overcast day).

The ducks on Lake Ainsworth (stained brown by the tea trees) showed resilience against a blue green algae bloom that Ballina Shire Council warned prevented swimming, fishing and water sports (oh dear, hopefully camp activities aren’t curtailed too much).

And then on the beach Little Yang showed ‘super-strength’ to pick up some rocks he found on the dunes – the rocks reminding us that sometimes things that seem real (like fears) aren’t, that the weight of our worries will never be as heavy as they seem if we only have resilience as our strength.

Our cautionary/precautionary excursion cost us a tidy $300 by the time we stumped up for a motel room ($120), dinner and drinks ($85), breakfast ($45) and petrol ($50) but the reward of seeing resilience in your children is truly priceless to a parent. (Oh and we found a great little cafe/tapas bar for breakfast – Cafe Marius – if you are ever in Lennox Head, which did I mention is beautiful, even on on a grey day).

Linking up with Zanni Louise for Sunshine Sundays, on the theme of FEAR, the enemy of which is RESILIENCE!.

Please check out my children’s meditation video that I’ve put together since, aimed at helping calm ‘monster’ feelings of anxiety.

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Cheers

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Kathy KrugerResilience

32 Comments on “Resilience”

  1. lisa

    Kathy, I don’t think think is exclusive to adopted kids or infertility kids, but I do think this hyper awareness comes when you have, for whatever reason, been confronted by your childs crippling anxiety and fear. My first child arrived without any issues of infertility but he was an anxious child, sensitive and introverted. In social situations as a small child he sometimes needed shielding while he ‘pulled himself together’. As he progressed through school we were aware, very aware of situations that would exacerbate that anxiety and we did what we could to alleviate it. Even if it meant just hovering out of sight, sick to the stomach, hoping that our presence will be totally unneeded. With practice we could let the distance get greater, the absence last longer. We teach our kids resillience not by abandoning them completely, but by letting them know there will be a safety net when they need us. Hope Miss Yin is bubbling with stories for you tomorrow xxxx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Hi Lisa – thanks for visiting and commenting. It was all good news post camp. I don’t think this means the anxiety issues are over, but a big step forward. I think you are right in that it is easy to project an adoption/infertility perspective on what is normal childhood anxiety. For our girl it is the processing of the loss of relationship with her birth parents that is making her so anxious about something happening to us.

  2. Jude

    I love this whole post Kathy …. made me tear up, smile and feel anxious all at the same time … and yet, I also know that adopted children, as long as they have roots, security, love & freedom they will continue to grow and flourish ….. many more words, laughs & smiles with a trip to Australia and a large glass of wine … with love my friend <3 Jx

  3. Tegan Churchill

    I don’t think that anxiety is exclusive to adoptive parents. Recently Mr 4 went to stay with my parents and I was constantly thinking what was he doing, was he ok, were they doing the things that he likes etc. Even though I know that he loves them, and they love him so it wasn’t a drama. I think that sometimes, without realising it we do pass on our fears to our kids. Without meaning to we can show our kids things to be scared of, more than ever it’s a case of it’s what we do that they notice, more than what we say. I think though that you did the right thing in assuring your little one that things will be ok and then having that backed up by her having a great time.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Tegan – she did have a great time and you a right in watching how we act – as you say, we can use reassuring language but if we project fears it does pass on to our kids.

  4. Twitchy Sharon

    Talk about going the extra mile, Mama :) I’m sure the build up was worse for her than the reality and by now you will know if she had a good time or not. Anxiety happens in our family too and in different ways. As a parent I have been hyper-vigilant and if you’re not careful it can have health repercussions. Take care, no doubt all will be fine in the end. We could all use a bit more resilience, don’t you think? #teamIBOT

  5. Trish MLDB

    I think I agree with you – Is it in the nature of adoptive parents – I was very protective of our adopted son – then again he was our first. I truly believe it is part of the whole – precious child – coming to us by the grace of another mother and so we treasure their gift with tremendous responsibility.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Yes Trish – I took a long time to get rid of the guilt/debt feelings, they are not gone completely. I feel very grateful but I know I shouldn’t feel a burden that everything has to be perfect, because life never is.

  6. Lydia C. Lee

    I don’t think it’s necessarily adoptive parents. I think it’s hard to let go, and if the child is anxious, that needs to be addressed (accommodated). Doing what works for you both is the key. If that means going on an overnight stay to put your mind at rest, so be it.
    As long as your actions aren’t holding the child back, or causing anxiety in the child, then it’s fine, no matter what you do, I say.
    Once, when leaving my eldest to use the hotel wifi while I took the others back to the room, he said ‘how long should I be?’, to which I replied ‘As long as you want’. He then said “Well we know you’re a worrier, so let’s say half an hour” (who’s the adult in this relationship?)

  7. Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me

    You are a great mumma, and I’m sure camp must have been hard on you both, but she sounds like she’s got her head screwed on right, thanks to you. You’ve overcome so much in the past few years, there’s nothing you can’t do Kathy. And nice to have a day out with just your boys – a precious time I bet xxx

  8. Tat

    All of us worry, adoptive parents or not, infertility issues or not. It comes with the job description of being a parent I think. And what a great idea to give yourself a trip!

  9. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Kathy, your gorgeous daughter looks like she was on her way to a great adventure!
    Bell had her camp in the second week of school, and she’s always a little wary of going away from us. But for the next 2 weeks after they came home, all I heard was “I wish we were still on camp!”.
    I think it’s only natural for parents to worry, we only want the best for our possums, don’t we? xx

    1. Kathy Kruger

      We do Lisa – I hate to be anxious about Miss Yin’s anxiety as I know it probably only magnifies things. But I’ve been happy with how we are dealing with this calmly and positively and she had a great time at camp. It is a bit of a challenge having camp at the very start of the year, but it will be good for bonding the class and the grade together.

  10. mamagrace71

    I was cheering Little Yang throughout this post. It is so very brave of her. You must be so proud.
    I remember the first couple (several ?) times I went camping – cried buckets!
    I love Lennox Heads. We have still yet to take the boys there.

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  13. sarahtsib

    Kathy you made me cry – my research is trapped between hope and despair and some days my parenting is too. People dont like when we talk about the different journeys we’ve been on to become parents – I remember writing once about the single mum hangover. How I find it hard to let go and get my second husband to help and someone pointed out that that happens to all mums. But you know what – I think we all come with our unique layers and yours is a story you can own and from telling from a space of knowing. Your daughter is resilient but sometimes I get upset that kids need to be. I’d be you..staying nearby ready to swoop in at a moments notice. What a lovely mum you are x

  14. Lydia c lee

    I’ve commented on this before, but I just wanted to say I find it so disturbing that those lifeline signs are always somewhere so beautiful (I mean confusing, in that my brain has trouble putting them together – it always causes a reaction in me)

  15. Zanni Arnot

    Great post Kathy…I think you are doing a wonderful job with your two littlies. Resilience is exactly what we need to nurture in our children. Your girl has done amazing things for a girl her age, and it’s great you can recognise it and acknowledge it. I think we would be the kind of parents to have a precautionary overnight stay – specially my husband. Thanks for linking in Kathy! x(PS nice to read about my almost home-town. )

    1. Kathy Kruger

      Thanks Zanni – we are back to the psychologist this afternoon after the weekend meltdown, although hubby has to take Miss Yin this time. I really do believe resilience is the answer – it is just a work in progress.

  16. Emma Fahy Davis

    I think choosing to stay near to where Miss Yin was camping was the perfect way to let her test her own boundaries and explore her own resilience – close enough for security but not so close as to suffocate. My oldest went off to camp for the first time earlier this year and I was a nervous wreck the entire time she was gone, I think as mothers, we’re programmed to worry!

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