I've read over the years that instead of a New Year's Resolution some people decide to narrow in on one word. I've never been a New Year's Resolution kind of girl. I'm too focused, too organized, too goal oriented to begin with. I really don't need a Resolution to make me try one more thing. If anything I could use one along the lines of... get out more, have more time away, take a date night outside of your kitchen table, learn to sit down and pick up a magazine. But I can't; it's just not me. I'm a doer and I like it that way.
This year I thought and thought and thought that I'd like to try something new to bring in the New Year. I'd try the 'One Word' idea. My one word focus for the year of 2012 is... purposeful.
I know that these 'stay at home' days taking care of a family can be chaos and busy. I love them to death but I just don't want one day rolling into the next. I've always tried to be purposeful in my parenting. I have ideals that I try to live by each day in my mothering Anna and Abigail. I know that it is my most important job in life that I am privileged to do. But I'm always striving to do better.
Just picking a word, purposeful, wouldn't make it happen for me; I had to have a plan. And I started to think, what parts of my mothering do I want to be more focused? What do Anna and Abigail need from me right now in their 8 and 4 year old lives? And I did what I do best, I made a list.
I decided to work my purposeful word into my "goals list." This is just a simple piece of paper that I keep on my desk each day. Whenever I have a thought or something I'd like to do I add it to the list. The list is categorized into simple things like photography, organization, etc. It is not my ever long daily to do list. But rather a list of goals. I usually take one simple step or one little thing I can do to get closer to that goal and put it on my daily to do list.
So (are you still following me?) I decided to put Anna as one goal and Abigail as another. Under each of their names are a list of actions I can add each day to my daily to do list to get closer to accomplishing that goal with each.
In January I focused on Anna, and it was a wonderful month for us. So aside from the regular things that are part of being Anna's mother, in January I was purposeful in my parenting her.
I started by rereading the book that has helped me the most with Anna over the years and this time actually did many of the suggestions. Some worked, some didn't, but I LOVE how I feel about working to making Anna feel beloved in our family. I LOVE how I feel about taking baby steps to make Anna feel less spooked when there is a slight change in her day. I LOVE how I feel about being more attentive to her needs. In January I held her, I rocked her, I sang with her, I took her on special mommy dates; I listened to her more, I looked deep into her eyes (when she would let me), I sat on the floor and played with her like she was 2 again, I touched her more, I kissed her sweet cheeks over and over and over.
If you've wandered onto my blog and are an adoptive parent, please, please, please read Parenting the Hurt Child. After a year in therapy for Anna's Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, this book sums up everything I learned. It is a wonderful reminder to me that there is so much more to parenting this 8 year old than the 'average 8 year old'. It filled me again with hope and a renewed energy for purposeful parenting.
So today is February and I'll turn my focus on Abigail. My 'list' for Abigail is shorter now and mostly has to do with food but I'm praying that God will show me what He would like see in parenting sweet Abigail in a more purposeful way this month.
I'm only one month into 2012 but I love the feeling I have from trying new ideas. I'll be glad to look back and not have to say, "oh, I wish I tried that with Anna or Abigail." I want to look back and know that my mothering was very, very, purposeful.
Just a few quotes from the book that helped me so much:
"I had spent a great deal of time considering how my life would change as a parent, but what I failed to consider adequately was how changed my daughter's life would be. In addition, I am a little embarrassed to say that I spent more time online with my adoption support groups - discussing the merits of a certain stroller or baby carrier - than I did preparing my self for the eventualities of adopting a child who had experienced trauma and change."
"The most important thing I have learned since adopting my children is that, although I must hold them responsible for their actions, I must not hold them responsible for what they have become. Despite their shortcomings, I have to constantly concentrate on breaking down the walls that keep them from receiving my love. These walls cannot be destroyed unless I am willing to fully realize that children do not become troubled by choice. I must constantly be watchful of what their words and actions really imply."
"Children with attachement issues have missed thousands of cycle completions, and it is up to us to make them up. This takes time. Lots of time. Most of us don't know how we became attached to our parents, or how our childrn might have attached to us. It simply started at birth and progressed over time, with thousand of interactions taking place to complete the cycle."
"The world expects reciprocal responses. If one is nice to someone, one expects the other to be nice back. If one is mean, it is understandable that other are mean in return. If one smiles, he or she expects a smile in return. If one is giving, it is ecpected taht other will probably be giving in return. All this makes perfect sense in our usual world. In the topsy-turvy world of hurt chidlren, all these normal responses many not occur; they have to be taught. Hurt children learned early in their lives that smiles are not to be trusted. They know that adult actions my end in pain. They are "hard-wired" by early experiences to know that the only safety is in total and complete control of their emotional and physical environment."