It’s Friday 22nd December at 8pm. I am sitting with dimmed lights, the Christmas tree lights on, a glass of mulled wine and a Salted Caramel Galaxy chocolate bar. Michael Buble Christmas album on vinyl is playing (NOTHING beats vinyl) and all around outside of my little oasis, there is silence. M is away on his work Christmas night out, Tiny is asleep and Tom is in his bed listening to his relaxation CD and soon too will be in the land of nod. Did I mention that it is the 22nd December- this calmness in unheard of in our household around Christmas time. Christmas has connotations of loss and unsafely for Tom – he moved care placements in two consecutive years just days before Christmas. Christmas is usually a time of fear, but this year we have taken another step forward as a family. In the whole of what could be considered the Festive Season (which by supermarket standards is anything after Father’s Day in June) we have had one meltdown. Just one. Even that was what I would call more of a strop than a full on meltdown. Tom was easily guided to his room for safety and he began throwing himself around in there. I tried to be fully present with him, but he couldn’t cope with that – I was being screamed at and I could sense that if I didn’t back off a little, I would soon end up with something flung at me. I took my lead from him, told him I would be there for him when he was ready to talk and I let him know I would sit waiting on the top step. When I closed his door, the meltdown dramatically stepped down a pace – he knew I was there to support and that in itself was enough to bring the fear levels down. Within a couple of minutes, all was calm and we were sitting cuddling and chatting on the stairs together. Since then? Nothing – a calm, happy and slightly excited boy (who still fully believes in Santa……a massive bonus!)
We’ve had a little bit of unrest from Tiny at bed time, but we have worked through it. He was showing us fear based behaviour, so we responded with compassion. For whatever reason he needs us present at sleeping time to help him drift off to sleep. For the past few weeks, his bedroom door has remained open at sleeping time with me sitting directly outside playing a CD of Relax Kids meditations. This simple support has helped him get back to falling asleep within 10 minutes.
Apart from these little blips, we are quite frankly sailing along nicely…..and feeling very smug about it too.
To be completely honest, this whole year has really seen all of us taking a huge step forward as a family. Yes, we still have bits and pieces that cause issues for our children but generally, at home we are doing so well.
Since I have the time tonight in my oasis of Christmas cheer, I’m really taking the chance to reflect on how this year has gone. This time last year, I was celebrating having passed my driving test 16 years after giving up after failing 3 times. I really felt it was a monumental year – I had really achieved something I had set out so hard to do. I wasn’t actually sure anything this year could beat that. However, looking back on what I’ve done this year, I do believe I have! It is not one huge achievement but rather lots of mini achievements all built up together that actually astound me.
Where to begin…..well I think the key driver to all of it has indeed been this blog. I never imagined the impact it would have or indeed, the path it would lead me down. I began writing it as an outlet for myself to be perfectly honest – it was like a bit of therapy to be able to get my thoughts and frustrations down in writing. I was able to give my personal opinion on controversial topics and surprising found many people agreed! I’ve had numerous messages of support over the year and beautiful comments about the impact my blog has made to people’s understanding of attachment and adoption and even on their practice within schools.
The blog lead me in to dabbling in the world of vlogging, with my most successful being one about Tom’s exclusion story. This vlog has now had over 4000 views and directly influenced the bringing about of a meeting with Graeme Logan, Director of Education Scotland that I attended yesterday along with my colleagues at Adoption Uk Scotland. This was an amazing opportunity to talk about the challenges facing adopted children within education and the changes we would love to see.
I was invited earlier in the year to attend a screening of Resilience in Stirling and be on the discussion panel afterwards. I was honoured to meet one of my inspirations – Suzanne Zeedyk.
This blog also lead me to being offered a volunteering position at Adoption UK Scotland where I now go twice a week. Through this opportunity, I have been honoured to attend two workshops with the Scottish Government discussing the new draft National Performance Framework Indicators for Scotland. I was able to offer ideas on how I felt we could ensure that Scotland was the best place for Children to grow up.
As part of Adoption Week Scotland and our conference in Edinburgh, I got to meet another of my inspirations, Lisa Cherry. She gave our keynote speech, ran one of the workshops that I attended and I also got the chance to have a proper chat with her too. What an amazing woman – she very much lived up to my ‘inspiration’ status.
As well as the meeting with Graeme Logan this week, I also got the chance to meet a truly amazing person called John Buultjens. He has written a book called Ride which tells about his life with his birth family where he endured heartbreaking abuse at the hands of his father. This story has also been made into a Hollywood film which will head to the big screens next year. John met with us on Tuesday morning and agreed to become an Ambassador for Adoption UK Scotland. We are absolutely over the moon.
Whilst all the above opportunities have been utterly amazing, there are some aspects that were completely unexpected. I had shared one of my first blog posts on a local Facebook forum and the response was huge. The most exciting result though was bringing about the meeting up of 6 fellow adopters. Since our first meeting, we have now been out several times on our own and with our children and chat almost daily through Facebook. These ladies are my saviours on many a day and I quite literally couldn’t imagine my life without them. If any of you are reading girls, thank you so much – love you all!
Finally, I’ve been in the media this year too, talking about the challenges of Adoption.
It literally has been a whirlwind year. What strikes me though that with all the things that have really impacted me, it all boils down to relationships and connections with other people.
I was writing Christmas cards last weekend and realised that many people on my list were people that really had slowly drifted out of my life. In some ways, this is quite sad but similarly, it really is just life! I am a great believer in fate and the fact that what is for you absolutely will not go by you. The opportunities we have, the people we meet it is all very much meant to be. I have come to realise that there will be some people in our life who are only there for a short time, during a particular circumstance in our life. It could be a one off meeting, it could be months or years they are part of our life. We may go our separate way from them when we move jobs, move house or they may be a special part of our life and stay with use regardless of our circumstances. Whoever they are, however long they are there for, I feel that each and every one of them is there to teach us something either about life or about ourselves. I have learned A LOT this year and this is down to the truly wonderful people I have met, many of whom are mentioned above. I just want to say thank you to them all. Whether we meet once, we meet a few times or we become life long friends, thank you in advance for all you have/will teach me!
So, with all that has happened this year, does that equal passing a driving test- I would say so! But where next? Well, as I’ve mentioned, things are good with the boys right now, I have a fabulous place to call ‘work,’ I have an amazing bunch of fellow Adoption Mum friends, what more could a girl wish for……well, its quite simple – a little bit of time outside of the Adoption bubble!
When I think about my work, my friends, my children, my day to day life it all revolves around Adoption. Each of the aspects in this bubble help support the others. If one aspect is proving challenging, the other aspects take a step up and help me to pull the falling one back even again. There is nothing wrong at all being inside the bubble, but in order to keep that bubble as strong as it can be, there HAS to be time outside it too. All the achievements I mentioned above from this year fall within the bubble. The new year needs to be about building aspects that sit outside the bubble. I spoke a lot about the relationships and connections that have been underpinning all the achievements and joy that I’ve had this year, but there is one relationship that hasn’t had a chance to flourish outside of the bubble and that is M and I. We are rock solid inside the bubble, but we need to be both inside and outside. When I think of the things we have done as a family this year, it has been just that – family things. I can’t think of many things that M and I have enjoyed just ourselves this year and that scares me! It really has to be a focus for 2018. The other thing that needs working on is my own self care and for me that means getting out the bubble and going and doing things that I want to do – the key thing being to get fit and healthy again through eating fabulous food that my body needs instead of wants as well as getting those trainers firmly on my feet and getting my backside back out running again. I want to start the year off with 3 x 5K runs a week, building up gradually to being able to run my first 10k in the summer. An exciting fundraising plan for Adoption UK Scotland is going to come in very hand for this too – more details on that soon.
I also miss other hobbies that I once had like designing bespoke greetings cards. An hour of that creativity is the ultimate headspace that I need. I hope to be able to do more of this again too.
I also really want to challenge myself (as if the running wasn’t enough). I like to be able to look back over the year and feel that I have actually achieved something. Passing my driving test really has been the starting point of that. I once told my driving instructor that if I could do that, I could do anything. There are things in life that actually scare me but I know that it is only by stepping out my comfort zone and doing them that I will move forward in life. So including the points above and my ‘fears’ here are my New Years Resolutions…..
- Stepping out the bubble with M and go on exciting dates – building our relationship.
- Get fit and healthy with food and exercise.
- Run my first 10k
- GIVE BLOOD – never done it, its an irrational fear that I need to get over!
- LEARN TO SWIM – Okay, I can roughly do breaststroke but I am petrified of putting my head under water and I can’t keep myself above water at the deep end. If I fell in to the sea I wouldn’t be able to keep afloat.
Getting over my irrational fear of spiders is definitely a step too far for 2018…..I’ll consider that for the following year!!
Well, the glass of mulled wine is finished, the chocolate bar is long gone and the record needs turned over for the fourth time! Its time to bid you all a good night, a very Merry Christmas and all the very best for 2018. I am switching off for the holidays but I will be back with more regular blog posts in the new year and news on the the exciting fundraiser to kick start my resolution number 2!
Thank you for all your support this year,