Winning a battle... even if we are still losing the war.

{I'm so touched by all the comments and emails I got after my last post. I plan to respond to each of you personally... but I'm down with this nasty cold/flu/virus thing and it's all I can do to make it from morning until night. But please know that several of you—all of you—brought me comfort. And many brought me tears. THANK YOU isn't enough... but THANK YOU. Knowing that I'm not alone helps. Knowing that it's ok to feel like this helps. Knowing that I can share these things and you will stick with me... helps. I will never be able to express how much I needed that. Thank you.} I thought I'd loop back on where we are as a Family of Four. The last time I wrote, it wasn't pretty. And—honestly—there are far more days that are hard and frustrating then there are days that are blissful. Blissful is very, very rare. (I'm learning that there are lots of Mamas who feel this way.) But I can now say that there are a good portion of days where everyone seems pretty content overall, and we make it from morning to night in one piece. (And yes, I consider those days "wins.")

Milo has been with us for 14 weeks now. They have been long, difficult weeks. I feel like we've been trudging through a looong, dark tunnel that just would. not. end. It became clear early on that we had some pretty serious issues around trust and attachment (and control) to work through. I know these will take a lot of time (as in months and months, and maybe years and years), a lot of patience, and more love than I can even imagine right now. But we're getting there. Sloooowwwwlllyyy, but surely. Two weeks ago, I would have told you that we take one step forward and fifty backwards. This week, I feel like we actually took some steps forward without taking any back. Those glimpses of light I see in the distance... well, I actually think those may be "lights at the end of the tunnel" versus another train coming at me. And that's a good feeling. A really, really good feeling.

There are several triggers for Milo in this house, in the world, in his life. They range from the seemingly innocuous things to understandably difficult things... and it all relates back to trust and attachment. I can spend whole days avoiding triggers ... or .... remediating the damage when we accidentally set one off. Sometimes, I spend the following day repairing the damage... and sometimes the day after that. It's hard, and it's uncertain... but it is what it is. Mostly, I'm ok with that. But it's really, really hard not to get beat down. Especially since we both want the same thing! Day after day, week after week, we avoid the same things and fight the same battles. (I joke that it's like a twisted version of "Groundhog Day" ... when I can find the humor that is.)

And just when you think you cannot handle the same battle one more time... fate/higher powers hand you a win. A small win... but one that feels like you just won the Olympics, a marathon, and the lottery. I'm pretty sure the sun shone a little brighter in that moment too. Sometimes, you just need that one win in that one battle that you have been deadlocked on. It gives you the energy to keep trudging to that light you see off in the distance. I can't even express how much I NEEDED that win. I needed to know that one day, this might be a distant memory. Yes, we lost the battle the next two three four dozen times... but I have one win on my record. And that makes me happy.

So why am I writing this?! I'm writing for the adoptive mamas who are up in the middle of the night googling random phrases looking for the answer. I'm writing for the adoptive mamas who think, "Oh my goodness... is this what it's going to be like now?!" I'm writing for the adoptive mamas who look at all the other seemingly blissful adoptive mamas and wonder, "How can I be that happy?!" I'm writing this for those who have gone before me.

In the first weeks, everyone tells you, "Just wait until you've been home a month... you'll look back and say, 'Look how far we've come!'" I will tell you that I honestly saw no progress in that first month. (I saw lots and lots of regression though!) I don't think there was really any significant progress in that second month either. Maybe we made some progress in that third month... Or maybe we didn't. I kind of feel that we were deadlocked for a while. But... but! Our moment came in the thirteenth week. And it was glorious. Absolutely glorious.

So, fellow adoptive mamas, if you've been home one month, or two, or three... and you are wondering, "When is this going to turn around?!," I want you to know this: It will. I don't know when... but it will. It might be weeks, it might be months. But one day, you too will have that moment. Hang on. Hang on as tight as you can. I promise that one day you too will have that moment where you win your battle... and, in turn, you'll have more energy to try to win again.

It's hard (so, so HARD) building a trusting relationship with someone whose only experience with "Mama" is that... they leave. Milo has had more women leave than stay... and I know that there's a big part of him waiting for me to do the same. I know I won't convince him differently today, or tomorrow... but one day. One day he'll know that all along, I've been with him. Even when it was another woman holding him, caring for him, loving him.

Until then, I'll continue to avoid the same triggers, and battle the same battles. And I will bask in the glory of every single win I acquire. Because that, my friends, is the best forward progress I can ask for.