Interview with Meika Rouda by The Next Family
TNF: How has it been blogging for TNF?
This is my first time blogging and it has been wonderful writing for TNF. The community is vibrant and active and I have learned many insights from readers. It has also provided a safe place to discuss all aspects of adoption, from finding my birthmom on Google to difficulties parenting my own two adopted children. I appreciate the common ground and ability to say what I want unedited in a community forum.
TNF: How is your family like every other family and how is it different?
I like to tease my husband that he is the odd man out because he is the only person in our immediate family not adopted. We are a regular nuclear family with a mom, dad, daughter, and son; we just don’t have a biological connection.
TNF: Did your family accept you and your lifestyle? If yes, explain and if not explain what you have done to help them to accept your decisions and your lifestyle.
I am grateful that as an adoptee, I have always felt very loved by my family both nuclear and extended. I have never felt any different than the members of my family, like cousins and aunts, who are biologically connected. As adoptive parents, we have never confronted any judgment about our decision to adopt. It has always been a very happy and loving choice and embraced by our family and friends. That said I have been confronted with little mishaps that have stopped me in my tracks. Like when I had a friend ask me what it is like to mother “somebody else’s baby.” So although everyone is happy for us, there are still some misconceptions and stigmas attached. I have also had a family friend tell me how wonderful it is “what we are doing for those children.” The truth is “those children” made us a family, which was our dream. While these comments are rare, they do happen.
TNF: How do you juggle the work at home with your jobs?
Being a working mom was one of the hardest things I did. I felt like a spinning wheel twenty-four hours a day. My job was stressful and I was not able to be the parent I wanted to be. It was hard to admit that working full time and mothering was too much for me. I wanted to be the super mom who can handle it all but I was depressed, moody, and strung out. I work freelance now so it is job to job and the stress is more manageable and the gigs are short term so I can be a mom most of the time. We have a lot less money because of it and have had to make some adjustments to our lifestyle but the sacrifice is worth it for us. I am also fortunate to have my mom and sister nearby who can help when we need child care support.
TNF: What lessons do you feel are the most important to teach children in this day and age? Are there any lessons they, or perhaps we as parents should unlearn?
Children have an amazing ability to forgive one another quickly. If they can hold on to that ability to forgive it will serve them well in life. Forgiveness is one of the hardest lessons to truly learn but one that can have a great impact on how you see the world and how to keep your brain and soul happy. We don’t realize how much we as adults hold on to things that really aren’t important anymore but weigh us down emotionally.
I think parents should unlearn the need to have everything be perfect all the time. Sometimes family life is very challenging and that is OK too, you don’t have to blame yourself or feel that you are failing because your two-year-old refuses to eat or wear clothes. The idea of the perfect, well behaved family is a fallacy. The truth is, parenting is about compromise, negotiation, and reaching deep to find strength when you feel helpless. And when you are trying to rationalize with your dictator of a two-year-old, you sometimes see how perfect those moments of imperfection can be too.
TNF: Any words of wisdom to pass on to our readers?
To remember that families are something we choose to be a part of. Family takes work and is not to be taken for granted. It is something created and held together by love and commitment and you may find yourself having to fight for those relationships. Whether it is getting through a rough patch with your partner or fighting with your teenage daughter, family is a little microcosm of the world order and it is important to work through problems and keep peace. I know many people who don’t speak to their parents or have strained relationships with their siblings and I find that really sad.
TNF: Anything you want our readers to know about you or your family?
As an adoptive parent, I feel that because we went through so much to become parents, I need to enjoy every minute of parenthood. Well sometimes I don’t enjoy it, sometimes I am pulling my hair out while trying to get my 4-year-old to stop hitting his sister. It is the way family is and you don’t have to feel badly about struggling sometimes. You get through the hard times and there are so many wonderful moments to balance it out that it is all worth it. But I try to remember that life is about how you navigate the bumps in the road, not how you drive on the freeway.