It's not by chance that I have just opened my laptop to start this blog to find a pop up on my calendar entitled "children's first day at school". I am ten weeks in to adopting three children, it's been a whirlwind, an adventure and a summer I certainly won't forget. Having packed two of the three off this morning (the other is at Super Gran's just so I could get through the school run unscathed) I am now sat in the paddling pool starting this blog. Here's what I have learnt:
1. NOTHING prepares you for adoption. You will be taken to breaking point and back. Everyone tells you this and you rightly nod your head and agree. Instead of worrying about it, make the most of your weeks and days leading up to introductions, have a lie in, drink a whole cup of tea, eat a chocolate bar in public view, read a book, have a bath in fact just enjoy being in the bathroom on your own.
2. It is ok to say "what have I done", you've just taken on some broken, confused little people.
3. You won't do everything as a family, some days you will pay your husband handsome sums just to get them all out of your hair for two hours. Equally, find somewhere to run to, dog walking before dawn and frequent trips to the gym have been the only thing holding my sanity together for much of the summer.
4. Soft play centres, Crocs, TV and DVD watching, all of the things you said you wouldn't do, you will. It makes life easier and this is now your sole aim in life.
5. Don't bother wrestling with them to get their shoes on before you get in the car, they'll have them off before you've got the engine started (see above ref Crocs).
6. They hear more than you think so watch what you say, little ears, especially little ears that have spent their early days listening for danger are very attuned.
7. Make friends with school. They are likely to know shit all about neglect, trauma, attachment, invest time upfront, far better than unpicking and apologising later.
8. Sod the recycling, ironing, weeding, that stuff can wait. In the words of the fantastic Sally Donovan "the most costly activity to this wonderful planet is procreation. You’ve already done your bit. You have the carbon footprint of a vole."
9. Some of your friends will let you down, others will become your most close confidents, don't sweat the loss, celebrate the gain.
10. Lock the doors of rooms containing things you don't want broken
11, Nail varnish, expensive Clarins creams, put all of these things out of reach. They care little about the bleach and much more about drinking your Cowshed Lavendar bath soak.
12. Try your hardest to parent therapeutically and with empathy, it will pay in the long run. This is all well and done until they use a stone to draw a line down the side of your car so expect to lose it and walk away when you do rather than shout like a fish wife which is what you'll want to do.
13. They won't wish to walk the family dog, instead they may well kick/scratch/shout/strangle him. Allow them their time out too, they'll need it as much as you do.
13. People who hardly know you and who know even less about adoption, trauma, attachment and neglect will tell you to "chill out". It is perfectly acceptable to punch these people in the face (preferably out of sight of the children).
14. Most importantly, everyday, no matter how bad, something magic will happen. They'll say there first 'Muuuuuhhhhuuuuuum", they'll reach for your hand on a walk, you'll leave the supermarket with all three children and none of them will be in tears / injured, they'll say thank you or smile, they'll play together for longer than 3 minutes, they'll laugh.
15. You'll realise over the time that you're not mad (well maybe a little bit), you can do it (with help and support) and you are a cracking Mum.