They don't tell you that your empty-nester friends who've already raised their children won't relate to you anymore. They don't tell you that your friends with children the same age as yours, will fear your children and how they might influence their own.
This must be one of the reasons so many new mothers experience post-partum depression. Obviously, we aren't dealing with the same hormones as new mothers are but I'd hazard a guess that we have a fair amount of oxytocin and vasopressin bouncing around in our systems from all the new bonding that is going on between us and our new children. However, it likely pales in comparison to what a new momma is going through. Nonetheless, all those hormones, the new experience of being a parent, the upheaval that the kids are experiencing, the change to our schedules, do affect us and we are not properly prepared for it.
Then we discuss our new kids constantly. Who wouldn't? Every new parent does. We talk about the cool things they are doing and learning. We talk about their poop, eating, and sleeping habits. We talk about their tantrums and behavioral issues (to whatever extent is allowed by law). What adult, even other parents, wouldn't be bored out of their heads by that? I know I would have a few years back.
Can we blame the people who wrote our recommendation letters, who stood by us and said we'd be the best parents ever, who encouraged us when we were first exploring the idea of adopting out of the foster system?
They were part of why we decided to do this. "We have a nice home, good jobs, good income, a stable relationship, and a SUPPORTIVE community, we are now ready for this," we thought to ourselves, when we were thinking over all that this process would mean for us.
Our community was one of the largest reasons we felt prepared. We knew we were in for a tough time but we were certain we'd have people in our lives to talk to, folks that would have our backs, we knew we'd be okay.
We were wrong.
They weren't the supportive team we'd built them up to be in our minds and we were too enthusiastic to see that. Live and learn, then get new friends who ARE all they appear to be.
It isn't their fault, they didn't know what they were getting in to either.
If we really think back about it, we'd probably realize there were warning signs that our friends weren't prepared for our new life. Were they a little bit flakey? Were they late to every get together, wishy washy about choices in the friendship, needy, careless about our feelings, more concerned about themselves than others? Probably. We didn't notice, we loved them anyway, and we expected they'd be there for us, just like we'd always been there for them.
We'd cared for their children, counseled them through tough choices, been by their bedsides through illnesses, spent countless nights expending our energy on their needs. We thought the relationship went both ways and felt that, when the time came that we needed that type of support, they'd be there for us too.
We didn't see that this was not our role in the friendship. We were supposed to be the strong one that they leaned on, not the other way around. Not an equal friendship, not one to build a supportive community around. That is on us for not setting boundaries in the relationship and ensuring that it was an equal one.
This is something we are definitely learning to do with our children EVERY SINGLE DAY. We hope they learn by our example. Pretty soon, we are going to be masters at playing the supportive role, while setting appropriate boundaries, and we will have the most kick a$$ supportive community ever.
We're making new friends now. People who have more in common with us, foster and adoptive parents, homeschoolers, hippie homesteaders, etc. People we can rely on, who can rely on us too. People who know what they are getting in to, because they are into it too.
Here's to learning from our mistakes and modeling better boundaries and stronger friendships for our children.