I started this post on Friday in the wake of some really heart wrenching conversations with the girls. They were actively comparing my parenting with their biological mother’s. This created a huge wad of conflicting emotions; being upset at their stories, feeling good that I’m at least mostly hitting the kind of parenting notes that I’m striving for with them, and then horribly, unbearably sorry that they are put in a position where they have to consider that their biological mother may not actually be the caregiver that they need her to be.
I just read this little article about an elephant who was rejected by his mother. It nearly toppled me over the edge of tears that I’ve been balancing on for the last few days.
Attachment parenting has been getting a lot of attention lately. The issues range from discussing whether you should sleep train a child by letting them “cry it out” to what is the appropriate length of time to breastfeed or carry your child in a carrier pack.Well, those are the elements of attachment that my cohort are talking about, at least. Educated, mostly white and middle class, we take for granted that a kid will be loved. We assume that a parent is going to sit down after dinner and take a look at homework. We think it’s obvious that a kid will be shown a lot of love and respect, we just want to make sure that we do it the “right” way.
Fortunately for our girls, they don’t have anything like the horror show attachment issues that some families have to face. But there are still some signs that they are trying to attach to us, emotionally.
You know how you have little kids who want to do absolutely EVERYTHING with you? Well, imagine having two little kids who want to do everything with you who are literally the same size you are. That’s kind of what’s going on right now. I’m not a professional psycho- anything, but from where I sit it sure does look like they’re trying to attach to us emotionally. We went to DE this Saturday for a quick visit to my stepmother’s. I wanted to just check up on her and make sure she was o.k. We were going to leave early and get back by the mid-afternoon, and I assumed the girls would want to sleep in. I didn’t pressure them to come, and emphasized that they could stay home and that the trip would be quick and kind of dull. It was. Leonard killed some ivy growth and I fixed her computer. However, when we got back, we had two grumpy teenagers who were doing everything they could to piss us off… including sneaking around the corner and smoking cigarettes. After my freak-out over the smoking (I’m a former smoker… it freaks me out), we took them with us to Leonard’s sister’s house to have some pizza and help us transition Ziggy for his overnight with her. Our plan was to go on a date. Once we were at his sister’s house, they started talking about how we need to take them on a date, how the four of us need to go our, how they want to go see a movie… nevermind that Leonard and I haven’t had any time alone in over a month!
We got everyone involved in bathtime and snuck out. Bless Auntie for providing a diversion for all three kids. But sure enough, as soon as the movie was over, there was a message from Grace. I called her back.
Grace: Kitty, Motorboat be actin’ strange. (that’s the cat)
Me: Yeah, she does that sometimes, what did she do?
Grace: She runnin’ up and down the stairs, like she all freaked out. And Lucca (the dog) is starin’ and won’t go upstairs. I’m scared cuz it’s dark up there.
Me: Well, sometimes Motorboat just gets hyper. I think that’s all that’s going on.
Grace: No, Kitty, You don’t understand. She actin’ HYPE.
Me: Yeah, I’m sure. I think probably everything is fine. We just finished the movie, so we’re going to keep going with our date now. But we’ll be home, don’t worry.
She tried to convince me that it was urgent that we come home. They are convinced there are ghosts in the house, and wanted us to hurry back to protect them.
The next morning we got a lot of ribbing from them for staying out “past curfew.” One of them even said that we needed to do things with them. They planned to go to see some family that day, but delayed that so we could all have brunch together and then go to the pool for a little while. They just really, REALLY wanted to spend time with us.
This is a new development. In the past, they’ve been excited to see us leave, as it meant they could pretend like they ruled the roost. But since the NH trip and that miserable court date, there’s been this new side of their interactions with us, one where they are making it very clear that they want to know we’re invested in them, and that we’re not going to give up on them. It’s sweet, and it’s sad, and it’s a lot of pressure.
Most of the resources we’re seeing about attachment for adoption have to do with babies. There’s not a whole lot about attaching with teenagers. I’ll try to do a post about adoption/foster care attachment in my next post.
Until then, I’m hoping for relatively calm waters ahead…