Removing the giant chip from my shoulder because I have no business trying to train your monkeys!

I learned something about myself yesterday after being sucked into a rather unpleasant discussion on Face Book.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about what had happened, how one innocent comment could be so completely misinterpreted and blown right out of proportion.

And I realized what I long way I’ve come since the early days of our parenting via adoption.

Every adoptive parent will tell you that whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not, you will, as an adoptive family, become a walking advertisement for adoption, you will become an adoption advocate. People are naturally curious and as a result they will look to you for information etc about your family dynamic and you’ll unintentionally become that adoption advocate.

I did. That’s for sure. And I guess in some ways I still am.

The difference now?

I’m not the adoptive mom, walking around with a painful open wound, caused by the giant prickly chip on my shoulder. Not anymore, it was a long process but here I am, completely chip free, and not in a banting carb sorta way either! J

Right or wrong, when I first started out on this journey of motherhood via adoption, I wanted to change the world. I wanted to change how people saw adoption, I wanted to educate people about adoption. I set out on a crusade to change people’s perceptions. Starting with those closest to me and trying to widen the ripple of the stone I’d thrown in the water, by using my blog to vent, to educate and to share about adoption.

It was tiring. It was tiring being so hurt and offended by people’s preconceived notions of what they thought they knew about adoption. I got tired of always correcting people, or trying to educate them, of trying to show them that adoptive mom’s/parents are just like any other parent. I got tired of trying to educate them on the language of adoption.

I got tired of responding to questions about my children’s “real mother” by correcting them with the standard statement of: “You mean their birth mother, because I am their real mother”.

I got tired of correcting them when they made unconscious racist remarks about my children and their heritage.

And over time, I realized that I wasn’t going to change anyone’s preconceived notions, not because I was doing a shitty job of being an adoption advocate, but because I have a very different point of reference as a mother via adoption, to those parenting biological children.

And so whatev’s right? If you want to refer to my children’s biological mother’s as their “real” mothers, I get it now, it’s because that’s how you see the world you live in, I see it differently and that’s ok, but I won’t allow it to hurt or offend me anymore, in fact I’ll go a step further, it doesn’t hurt me anymore, it’s just a word and does not in any way change or define how much I love my children or how I parent them so I’m beyond caring.

You make “unconscious” racist remarks,  mostly I don’t react to these anymore either, because I’ve started to see myself as lucky for having the experience I’ve had, it’s opened my eyes and my heart and made me a better person. That’s your issue, not mine.

The other day a close friend of mine asked about Hannah’s “real” mother and afterwards I realized, I didn’t even flinch when she said it, it was just water off a ducks back.

It’s a good place to be, chip free, of course, I’m not promising I won’t go off on a tangent at some point about an ignorant statement, because, you hurt my children, you deal with me, but pretty much, I think I’m over it, for my sake anyway. I’ll never be over defending my children, but I don’t get hurt by comments that would previously have seen me reprimanding you and bashing out an angry blog post….

Because… not my circus, not my monkey’s.

And I’m not even being facetious when I say that, really, your (the collective) point of reference will always be different to mine and so I have no business trying to train your monkeys.

And I think this is true for EVERY parent. I think every parent faces a challenge while raising a child, a special needs child, a disabled child, a sick child, an adopted child, a child with learning disabilities, with ADHD or ADD, a fussy eater, a kid that cries every day before school, a painfully shy child or the plethora of other circumstances and while we think we may understand another’s point of view or challenge faced, we simply can’t because our points of reference are so different so the best we can do is remove the giant prickly chips off our shoulders and let go, or at least, that’s what I’m trying to do anyway.

January 15, 2015
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38 Comments

  • Reply Jenny

    Mostly whenever I get angry or defensive I try to introspect and ask why – and it’s usually just because I have a whole lot of unresolved issues on the subject that nobody else is privy to. So yes, I totally get what you are saying. I think, in light of recent events worldwide, too much offence is being taken without much introspection to find out why. Because really the only thing we can change about the world is our reaction to it!

    January 15, 2015 at 10:14 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Agree 100%
      I’ve also learned that getting offended & overreacting does not change anyone’s opinion on the subject, it just changes their opinion of you.

      January 15, 2015 at 10:28 am
  • Reply Corrinne

    *virtual hug*

    January 15, 2015 at 11:56 am
  • Reply cat@jugglingact

    Oh Sharon – you just always say everything so very absolutely perfect. Of course we have to explain a lot about L and just yesterday morning with back to school we had the question again about why the twins are in different grades. And then I am expected to explain it in front of my child in some way without him feeling he is in some way not as great as his brother.

    January 15, 2015 at 11:57 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Parenting is challenging. PERIOD. Without the complications of unique circumstances.
      (((hugs)))
      I can only imagine how tough that must be for you.

      January 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm
  • Reply Megan Kelly Botha (@bb_blogza)

    As always, well said.

    January 15, 2015 at 12:27 pm
  • Reply Brenda

    Awesome post. We could all learn from this…even those of us who don’t have kids.

    January 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm
  • Reply stephanie g videira

    always love reading ur blogs

    January 15, 2015 at 7:45 pm
  • Reply KerryV (@KerryAnnVollmer)

    I laughed when I read your link on twitter yesterday, only because Carlos’ has been saying “It’s not your monkey.” a lot lately and it’s become the buzz phrase in the household. We all find monkeys from other peoples circus’ that we think we need to train but actually we don’t they’ll learn when the time is right. I’m so grateful to have found you and that I’ve been able to learn loads about various topics from you, so thank you for always sharing so freely.

    January 15, 2015 at 8:09 pm
  • Reply CalT

    I found myself in the exact same boat and have mostly come to accept the comments too, but now that Josh is old enough to start understanding and feeling hurt by comments I find myself getting angry and upset all over again, because I can handle the comments, but it is so darn unfair to ask me in front of my child “didn’t his parents want him?”. I understand people are ignorant, I know I am too with situations I don’t understand, but when I see hurt in my child’s eyes it’s a whole other ball game….

    January 16, 2015 at 10:53 am
  • Reply fiona

    Thank you for this blog – you are an inspiration to so many – through life you will always meet bigots so kudos to you to rise above it. Your children are beautiful.

    January 25, 2015 at 8:01 pm
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