Labor of Love

Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This what Miss Kate was doing when I turned my back for a second yesterday! Who knew she could crawl up steps? Not me!

I know that many of the people who stop by this blog are in the process of adopting or have recently adopted a child. I want to share a side of the transition that not a lot of people talk about... the hard side. I have never really opened up like this on my blog before. Mostly I use it as a digital scrapbook of our life and our journey adopting Kate Emerson. But here it goes....

Let me begin my stating that I am not complaining. I love my life. I am very blessed. I sincerely appreciate everything that I have. However, being a Mom to a 10 year old, a 6 year old and a one year old is really overwhelming for me right now. I have hesitated about putting this out there but I feel like maybe it will be helpful to other Moms who feel overwhelmed too. I belong to a group of on-line Moms who have recently adopted babies from China (many are first time Moms) and they have wondered why no one ever told them how hard it is. I thought long and hard about this. First, I think we do try to "warn" women about to become Moms but most of us think we can handle anything. I also think a lot of Moms walk around feeling isolated and tired and bored (yes, it is boring sometimes) but they don't want to admit it to each other. Finally, I think that even if people tell you how hard it is, you don't know until you're in it.

I thought that since Kate is our third child, I had some clue as to what I was getting into. In some ways I did. But in some ways, I didn't. I had no idea how having three kids at completely different developmental stages would pull at me this way. I also had no idea how being 10 years older than I was when I first had Will would impact me. Sometimes, I am more patient and experienced but at other times, I just feel tired and old.

Kate is in that really tough stage where she is cruising and trying to walk and sticking her little fingers into electrical outlets. So, I cannot turn my back for one second. This leaves little time to play with, read to and hang out with the older boys let alone cook dinner or call a friend. My once very clean and organized house is now messy. I used to cook healthy meals from scratch. We eat at the pool a lot now. I used to have lunch with friends, chat on the phone, etc. My friendships have fallen by the wayside a bit. I have turned into that Mom who cannot get a shower before noon on some days and cannot finish her sentences (or blog postings).Would I trade any of it to go back to life before Kate? Not for one second! But the reality is that this mothering thing is hard work. It is okay to feel that and it is okay to talk about it to other Moms.

I think that the tough reality of mothering to an adopted child presents its own unique challenges. For example, we waited SO long to welcome these babies into our lives. We played the scenes over and over in our heads about how it would be. So, when it is hard and we miss a little bit of our old freedom, we feel guilty.

Also, I feel as though I have 10 months to "make up" for with Kate. By this age, I let Will and Harry "cry it out" sometimes. I never let Kate do that. It is imperative that I earn her trust. I must meet her every need right now to do that. When Will was 10 days old, Dave and I began having a "date night" every week. We thought it was really important for our marriage (and we still think it is important). But, we have not had a date since the end of March! We just felt like Kate had to know that we were her parents and that we would meet all of her needs before we left her with a sitter at night. I know that while all of this is harder on us in the short run, it is essential for her emotional health in the long run.

I just wanted people who are about to go down this road to tuck this away in your head. While our children are the greatest blessing, it is hard work and some days are harder than others. This too shall pass and I am sure one day soon, I will say "where did my little ones go?" I am sure one day I will even wish to have this chaos back again:)


  1. I soooooo understand where you are coming from. I went from a 10 year old to an 8 month old followed by Daniel 1 year later. There were days that first year I was very overwhelmed. Sophia was a very easy adjustment....Daniel was not. And yet I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. We do have a sitter that is here about 30 hours a week. My sister.....the kids love her and David and I get time out together and Emmie and I get time too. Perhaps you can find someone that you trust enough to come into the house and help you.

    I thought your post was wonderful! ;)

  2. Thank you for such an honest post. I discovered your blog right after you received your referral and have followed Kate's homecoming. As a waiting (first time) parent, I am trying to prepare for "real" life, posts like yours really help me prepare. Thanks again for your honesty!

  3. Amen to that, Sista!

    Snick, leaving in 6 days to add so much chaos to my life :)

  4. Thank You so much for the honesty. I will be a first time mom I hope in 15 more months! Some days I am excited to pieces and look at her cloths, crib, ect. and cry so hard. Other days I cry cause I am so afraid of not being good enough to meet her needs. I have nearly no experience with babies; Coworkers/Friends tell me it comes naturally. I hope they are right!

  5. DITTOOOO! Could not have articulated as well myself, but so glad that I have company. Thinking of you...Heather

  6. I appreciate reading your insights on motherhood and your realistic presentation of the whole picture! Anyone who says it is easy isn't doing it right! From following along it looks like you and your husband do a great job with your children and really appreciate and foster their individuality and also have an awareness of their psychological needs. They are lucky children. Now maybe you could find a high school student to be a mother's helper for a few hrs. a day? You could be home but maybe get other things done or even put your feet up and read a magazine. Good luck and hang in there. Hugs, Dale

  7. As a mom of a 5 year old, 3 year old, and about to turn 2 year old, I can relate. I have become that mom that doesn't always get a shower, the house is more often a mess than not, and I really can't turn my back for long. It is insane. But, I wouldn't trade it for the world, and as crazy as we may be we are in the process of adopting a little one from China. I love your blog, and your little Kate is precious. My daughter is Kate, too:) Your boys seem so happy and no doubt are a great mom!

  8. I left an established career to come home when we adopted our girls. I went from spending my days in a corporate environment to being a stay-at-home mom to twin toddlers. To say my life changed radically is probably the ultimate understatement. Would I change it? Not for one minute. But I will now admit that I was completely unprepared for just how dramatic the change would be. I have been very unwilling to accept help --DH and I went out alone for the first time in almost two years last Saturday -- because I really wanted to make sure the girls knew that I wasn't going anywhere and bonded completely with us. It may have been overkill but it's what felt right to me.

    Your honesty is refreshing. I think it's so easy to feel guilty because, just like you said, we've waited so long for these children to come into our lives and if you feel anything but pure joy you question how you can possibly be feeling that way.

    Just like everything, it does get easier with time. My house is never perfectly clean -- and it used to be; there are days that I'm bored out of mind; I don't see my girlfriends like I used to and, shhh don't tell, but I don't always manage to even get a shower. But I have two smart, funny, beautiful little girls who light up when I walk in the room, and it doesn't get any better than that!

  9. Amen sister! I too went from a 10 year old to a 1 year old who is very "spicy" as they say in China. Life is definately much harder now that we are older. I didn't ease my body into carrying around a 22 pound baby who couldn't crawl, and it has really taken a toll on my back, arms and hands of all things. Myah was not a baby who just easily opened up to us either, it has been just over a year now and many times I feel like I am still "breaking down barriers". I love her dearly and many times forget that I didn't give birth to her. We also haven't done the baby sitters and date nights since we brought her home, her personality was so fragile and we listened to her needs and she just didn't seem comfortable with someone else. She is getting better, but it has been a year. But we truly feel that it is the best thing that we could do for her personally. Every baby is so different, you just have to feel them out and see what they are comfortable with. As far as the shower thing goes, I have learned many years ago that a baseball cap is my new favorite accessory! Thanks for putting this out there Kim!

  10. Your honesty is so appreciated. I am a waiting mom with three teenaged sons, and I worry about being able to crawl in the floor with our daughter like I did with our sons. It is a comfort to know that other moms are surviving! Thanks for sharing your family!!

  11. You're amazing Kim. So honest, kind, and sincere in all that you do. When I think of all the wonderful emails you have sent me and how much thought you have given to someone you don't know, I can only imagine how wonderful you treat your family. You have 3 children and it is to be expected that some things will have to fall to the side for now. Sometimes I won't have time to get things done and I just have a cat. Don't let those things consume you.

    I don't mind helping with your blog. I still have tons of time for my guy so don't worry. Let me know what you think of the work I did tonight. I'm happy to help!! I'll be checking my email from the salon on my blackberry since I'll be there for a minimum of 3 hrs. Fun.

    It was great talking to you today.


  12. Kim,
    That was a very well articulated post. I could agree with you more. It touched me deeply because I have been there; ready to pull my hair out.

    I think we come home after two "easy" weeks in China, living in hotels with all our meals taken care of to a false reality. Don't get me wrong, I love LiLi more than anything, but she was 16 months old and a toddler, not a baby, with needs so much more demanding. By the time Ian got to that age, it was a slow transition and our life had adjusted with his. LiLi could walk, climb stairs, open drawers, and my favorite, open our pantry cabinet and pull out the sliding shelves and then send them slamming back into the pantry :D

    I smiled when you mentioned date night, because when Ian was four weeks old we resummed date night, and would go out twice a month. We believe that the greatest gift parents can give their children is a happy marriage. We have not had a real date night since LiLi got home. She has one babysitter that she will stay with and only for about 2 hours.

    What really touched me in this post was our boys. Ian feels so many times that his world has been turned upside down and he is being left by the sidelines. My sweet boy was an only child for 9 years, so when "date" time is available, Dan and I try to take it with Ian. Dan and Ian went to Andretti Racing about a month ago and I took him to see a movie this past weekend. But it is the little things, like having Baby Einstine on in the kitchen when he wants Transformers (not to mention the battle for the TV in the car), and the constant naging to be careful with his Lego's. He loves his sister, but the hardest adjustment has been on him.

    I love my life right now, staying at home, and I am seriously considering giving up my Ph.D. to stay home in the fall. The residence requirement and the dissertation, I just don't think our family can handel it right now. It does get easier, like you mentioned the other day, Kate will soon sit in her high chair and watch a video while you do what you need to. I can now tidy up the bathroom while LiLi plays in my tub :D

    I will tell you, I think that letting the house go and meals in the momment is okay, but I know how much it aggravates you because we are so much alike. The house can wait, find laundry withdrop service and just take the clothes there, but Will, Harry, and Kate would much rather eat by the pool with their mommy. What most important is that they are with you. Hope that helps.

    Hang in there, you have three wonderful children, and a teriffic husband. I promise you, it will get better.

    Sorry for the long comment, but this was a wonderful post. It is not all about pretty dresses and bows. It is about building a family, and that take work.

    Ladybug hugs,

  13. Couldn't agree more! I hate when I make typo's!

    See I get up way to early :D Coffee need more time to kick in :D

  14. Beautiful post! It does get better though...

  15. What a wonderful post! Motherhood is HARD and as you stated, can be boring (which I feel guilty for even typing)!
    I know once Mia comes home, we will not leave her with a sitter for the same reason, I will not let her "cry it out" as I also did with my boys - it will hard, but like you said - I wouldn't change it for the world :)

  16. Thank you for your post Kimber... it made me feel better about myself. I don't think I ever had it together as much as you do but I just feel burned out sometimes and like I am not a very good Mom. Lately I feel like I am quick tempered and just "Meow!"
    I try to do things with Nicholas but he wants alot of my time and Hannah is Baby on the GO! She is into everything and has learned to climb now too. She still will not let hardly anyone hold her, let alone stay with them. She sticks with me like a little shadow... I am so blessed with my two little miracles and love them more than words can say... but some moments I too feel overwhelmed and it helps to know that it isn't just me and that maybe I'm not so horrible after all.
    Have to go Hannah is willing to share me with the computer no longer.
    Hang in there friend and try to do something special for Mom...

  17. Holy crap! Are you living my life in a parallel universe???!!??!!

    We went from no children to 2 in 13 months so the last 3 years have been a whirlwind for us!

    We recently went on a marriage retreat with our church. We learned 3 major things 1. we both love each other more than the day we married 2. we need to go on more "date" nights 3. we needed to get a cleaning service!

    Julie H.

  18. Thank you Kim!
    This post and all of the comments are so helpful. I will admit that I worry a lot about being able to do this. I have wanted to be a mom for SO long. We have talked about what it will be like, dreamed about things we will do, but in reality can we handle it? Will we know how to manage the day to day needs that she will have? I know we can, but will I do it without messing up?

    I know it is going to be the toughest yet most rewarding job I will ever do. I worry now that this wait is getting longer and longer if I will be too old to take this on.

    I appreciate your openess and honesty. I hope that one day when our dream becomes a reality you won't mind a few crazy e-mails. :)

    Thank you again.

  19. Kim - I love this post. I worry about being able to handle one more child - especially adopted. I plan on doing the same things - as far as not leaving her at first etc, to foster a strong attachment, but you give up a lot of freedom for that. Also, my youngest is two and a half, so I"m just emerging from the whole stage where you have to watch them EVERY minute (even though he almost drown in the pool) - at least he will sit and watch a tv show so I can take a shower, and wont run in the street and all those things that are so nerve racking between 14-24months. I think once you get out of the stage you forget how hard it is. And when your kids are much older, you REALLY get your freedom back - to chat on the phone and take showers - you forget that stage. It will get easier, and then you really will miss this stage - because they are SO cute at that stage!!! Look at her in that dress! I need that dress.

  20. Very well said. Let me say, as a mother of 5 grown children, you are absolutely right. Some days you wonder where the blessing is in raising children. Let me just say that it is all worth it!!! when they are gone, you wonder what to do with yourself. what the big deal was, etc. they bring both joy and sorrow but I wouldn't trade a minute of it for anything. I mean.. look at me, all 5 are grown and gone and I'm starting all over. :-)

  21. oh Kim, thank you for your honesty. I have been reading lots of material from our social worker, and you confirmed all I have read. We will have close to 3 teenagers by the time we meet out daughter, and I have really been realizing how much freedom I have now at their ages of 14, 12 & 10. I think even if I plan now to try and get lots of things done, and enjoy time out with my husband (now that my kids can stay home alone), I will have a huge adjustment just like you. And, I will be 10+ years older too :)

  22. I forgot to tell you I love your blog design. Wonderful drawing and it looks so crisp and clean... Great job!

  23. Kimber,
    Well put!!! I too wonder after raising 2 girls who are out of the home what will life be like with a little one running around and 25 years added since the last 2 were running around at a small age. I am indeed much older, a little heavier and a lot more tired these days and Darci is not here yet!!! Oh my oh my!!! You are a wonderful mom and it shows through your blog and the pictures you share. Your children's sense of stability and assurance is far more important than a clean house, home cooked meals or even a shower. There will come a day when you will look back and wonder where the time went, I know I do. I look at my 21 and 25 year old daughters and think back to when they were toddlers and smile at how beautiful they have become on the inside as well as the outside. It's all a balancing act and sometime it gets out of whack but then it balances itself out again and we go on!!! Hang in there!!! You truly are an amazing mom even if at times you don't feel like it!!! We were never created to be "SUPER MOM" just super moms who try hard!!!

  24. This was a very good post and I can totally relate to everything you said. Very well stated and thanks for keeping it real.

  25. SO well said - SO true!! You don't want to say it out loud because you don't want people to think you aren't grateful for her but YES - it really tipped our world upside down too - we had three self-sufficient boys - 8, 9, and 10 and WHOP! - Here's an almost one-year old to throw into the mix - we all had to adjust. The good side?? We're doing it again!! Am I exhausted?? YES!! Do I sleep well?? YES!! I appreciate your honesty though - we ALL need to hear that!

  26. I have appreciated these posts from a couple of moms ... it gives me a good sense of where I'm headed so I can prepare myself mentally ... to be honest, I'm already afraid and nervous and feeling overwhelmed ... and I'm only 'on deck' for a referral!
    I think having a group of moms that 'get it' and are
    sharing a similar experience is essential. Hope I can find one for myself! If not ... I just may be emailing you from time to time!

    Thanks SO MUCH!!!!

  27. I appreciate your honesty. I am a mother to two wonderful daughters and am LID November 23 2005 for my new DD. You are 100% right that there will be a big adjustment. I remember how hard I found the first few months with my youngest. My eldest DD had been an only child for 10 years..and I know it was hard for her. I loved my Dd, but like you I was exhausted with a new baby for a period of time. I expect that I will feel this way for awhile with my new DD. Its only natural. I am fortunate in that I have a lot of help this time I expect things will be much better. However, it will still be busy. A daughter starting highschool, another one starting kindergarden and a one year old..and a full time job!! Yup, I will be busy and yes I will love it..but there will be days when I will be exhausted too...
    Thanks for your honesty. Not many people admit how hard it can be!!

  28. Kim,

    As you know...I've been feeling the same way some days. I even have a draft about this very topic on my blog but have not posted it, yet. Thanks for giving a voice to the not so easy side of this incredible ride called motherhood, too!

    Like you, I would not change a thing....but it does help to know others feel (or have felt) the same way!


  29. Thank you for being so honest...we're all thinking these thoughts at some point post adoption.

    Several of your points hit home for me--one being the feeling of guilt if you wish for a bit of your old freedom back. You hit the nail on the head--we wait so long for these little angels wishing hard for the day we finally have them. How could we now wish for a moment without them?? And then the different stages--

    Well...when Lily's going from one thing she shouldn't touch to the next, the 17 year old wants to discuss when he can have his OWN car now that he has a job, and the 13 year old is in full swing PUBERTY with attitude and rolling eyes just because I ask a simple question...I'm pulling my hair out some days. Going to the bathroom alone has once again become a LUXURY. Eric and I share getting Lily if she wakes at night, but we both end up really being awake. We have only had 2 uninterrupted nights of sleep since we got Lily.

    No, things are not always peaches 'n cream...some days I see the noon hour pass with me still in my pink ballcap.

    We can handle it--we're strong..that's why we're on this path.

  30. I love this post. I have four children and I completely understand what you are saying. Like you said, it is all consuming when you have multiple children at multiple stages of development. It is imperative to have one on one time, and at the end of the day there is no time for you.
    I agree completely that it is worth it all and I am a completely happy and fulfilled woman. But, my life did change drastically. Glad to have a kindred spirit out there.

  31. Thankyou for asking to put my blog on you links - I would love it if you did! I added yours to mine without even asking - I hope that's ok.

  32. Hang in there Kim. I am right there with you. I'm 38, have a 14 year old, a 7 year old and wonder most mornings if I really knew what I was doing adopting a 12 month old. It IS hard but I wouldn't trade it for anything. You are so good at putting (I almost spelled that pooting, that is how tired I am right now!) thoughts into words. I am praying for you and sending a BIG ole hug your way...

  33. Terri (Daisybox)July 1, 2007 at 10:53 AM

    I was the youngest of 4 children. As soon as I could stand, my mom taught me how to shampoo, put in curlers and comb out her hair. I loved combing her hair. When I was 10 I gave her perms and hair color treatments. Smart lady. After reading your post I now know what she was thinking. She could keep an eye on me and have a spa day at the same time.

  34. I so appreciate your honesty and am so glad that you posted this. We are leaving in 3 days to get our first. I have NO CLUE what we are in for. Yes, you read the beautiful sugar stories...and life is good...and I am sure that it will be. I look around my impeccably clean and organized home (a bit OCD on this) and I get scared of what it will be. But I welcome it. I do.... just scared. I know its not all roses, and there will be tough days ahead...and then those beautiful days, that I am sure will overshadow the tough. So I thank you for your honesty!!

  35. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post. You put into words the real truth and struggles of so many mothers.

  36. Kim,

    I am so lucky to have met you in this process. Your kindness and support has been invalueable. Thank you for your honesty. You have the courage to admit what we are all experiencing in these first weeks/months of being home. It has been a comfort to me knowing that my good friends are sharing the same joys and also the same difficulties. Kudos to you and to TJ too for writing this (and TJ's honest post)for all of us.
    Your Friend,

    Elaine (Amanda's Mama)

  37. Well said, my cyber friend. I cannot imagine how overwhelmed you must be feeling as I know how overwhelmed I feel about 90% of the time- just with Zoey! I really do not know how people with multiple children do it. I think our girls, rightfully, require soooo much more. And it is exhausting and stressful, but also rewarding when we see the positives. It is also so hard, like this past weekend was for us- when they have some regression.

    Anyway - long story short thanks for saying what i have been feeling! Hang in there sister- we will soon have ourselves back in a groove. BTW love the new look on the blog!

  38. I am so excited, but also scared silly about finally getting our little girl. My youngest is 6 now, and things are really easy (compared to the baby stage). I actually get a shower every day! I don't really want to go back to those days, but I know that they are fleeting and also that God's plan is bigger for our life. I also know that all the hard work will be so worth it. Thanks for the post.


Thank you for your kindness.