Monday, 19 December 2011

Our not-so-cracking first Christmas as an adoptive family

As we enter the festive season, adoptive mum Helen recalls her first Christmas with her adopted children - and explains why it didn't go according to plan!

Our first Christmas with our two adopted children was so ridiculously stressful that it was more pantomime than pleasure. And it's all my fault. At least, that's what I think. I was so determined to make it their most amazing Christmas ever I practically force fed them Christmas songs from the minute we all woke up, which was 4am, until the minute we all crashed, about 5pm. One of the most wonderful things about finally having your children is to give them a special Christmas, and I think the pressure got to me.

Firstly, we weren't organised. Putting together a Castle of Doom that had 147 separate parts at midnight on Christmas Eve with my co-mummy who had the on-set of Swine Flu (but we didn't know it at the time) wasn't the joyful and relaxing night I was hoping for. The children woke us up at 4am and I thought it would be a good idea to go open the presents 'because it's our first Christmas'. This meant we were tired and grumpy, the kids were in an absolute frenzy, and the whole event felt like a speed unwrapping contest. They were tossing box sets of books to the side and ripping open the next one. All the while Dean Martin is in the background banging on about how much he wants to let it snow.

Fast-forward about 6 hours and I'm getting on with the dinner. Something I love to do. I hear a blood-curdling scream. After running up the stairs at breakneck speed I discover co-mummy holding her eye and crying out in pain. A toy gun that fired plastic discs has cracked her contact lens in her eye. Our little girl is crying because she has had the toy taken off her. It was like World War 3. Do they even know it's Christmas? Once this was cleared up and the tears - from both mummy and daughter - were cleared up, it was dinnertime. My co-mummy couldn't taste a thing due to being ill, our son gobbled down what he could in 3 seconds to get playing again, and our little girl cried when she looked at her plate because she didn't like any of it.

Finally, we were rescued by friends and asked to go for a walk at around 3pm. This was my favourite part of the day. There was snow on the ground and we had a sledge. It was fabulous. We got back home around 4.30pm and both kids crashed out completely at 5pm. We carried them up to bed and that was that. First Christmas...done.

Thankfully, I learned a few good lessons from this and last year our Christmas was truly wonderful. This year, we have Grandparents and siblings over so it should be even better. We now have a 7am rule for getting up and more tracks on our Christmas playlist so we don't hear Mariah Carey 17 times in one day.

I bet I'm not the only adoptive mum who experienced this. The pressure we put on ourselves is immense. I just wanted it to be the stuff that memories are made of. I suppose I did achieve that. We still laugh about it now.

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