Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Growing up purple

I've been thinking a lot about healthy attachment lately, wondering exactly what it will look like for my relationship with our adoptees and what I should realistically expect.

I'm the first to admit I am not a woman who is in the know on All Things Therapeutic Parenting. To be honest, it usually appears so ridiculously overwhelming and daunting and uninteresting that when I (finally! Fellow homeschooling moms of many, including traumatized kids - I understand. You have no time to rightfully claim as your own and perhaps even less energy. Someone or Something a.l.w.a.y.s. needs You.) have a moment to myself to look into something of personal value to me (usually late at night when I am S P E N T), the last thing I care to do is read a book that will demonstrate, precisely all the ways I'm screwing these kids up. Hello, Guilt, we meet again. Nightly. You are unwelcome.

Adding therapeutic parenting techniques (which can take a lot of time and effort and push us far outside our comfort zones!) to the full days sometimes seems like too much to ask. I have line drying and gardening and grocery shopping and food preparation and math lessons and reading aloud and character building and correcting and counseling and squabble resolution and scrubbing toilets and sweeping floors and paying bills and listening and listening and listening until my ears grow numb and eyes roll back in my head on my list. So, I push through in my cozy, well worn rut, spinning along with valiant effort.....certain that I'm getting NOwhere.

Tired of the status quo, with bursts of motivation, I labor to learn. I pull out a few books, order another one, read blogs, watch videos, summon the drive to break new ground. Now, for the first time, (I told you, I am remiss!) I am looking at attachment styles, both theirs and mine to see what I can learn that may help me understand us both better. Honestly, until this week, I didn't even realize I had an attachment style. **And all the therapeutic parents cringe.** I know, I am awesome. My attachment style is clearly awesomeness.

I almost threw away this plant at the very beginning of the season. It was in such a sad, pitiful state. Inadvertently toppled by the cats who were purposefully escaping the dog, it was a sorry, leaning, droopy little affair. But in my growing number of seasons attempting Colorado gardening, I have developed a simple philosophy I've held firmly: if there is any life at all, even the tiniest glimmer of hope, keep watering. Just Keep Watering.

Look now, beautiful purple bell peppers. Have you ever tried purple peppers? They are delicious. Like green ones. Only more decorative.
You can see here, the plant is still tiny. It's kind of shoved up in the corner, clinging to the edge, with empty pot surrounding it. But it is growing. It is flowering. It is showing fruit. My labor has not been in vain. Even when I felt it was beyond hope, life remained.

I often think of our daily, hourly, monthly, yearly work with Meadow and Flint like this. At times, it seems there is little prospect - that throwing in the towel and biding time is a good idea - until the years inevitably sever the cord, bringing separation of our daily togetherness by way of their emerging adulthood.

And then I will gather up a glimpse. Flint will come to me after dinner and say, "I like your homemade salad dressing mom." Meadow will tell me something about her day, unprompted. When I dramatically exclaim at the dinner table that not a single soul in this family cares about what I need/want to do, Flint will timidly squeak out, "I do." Meadow will melt into my compliment, allowing it to penetrate her heart. Flint will tell me his first memory, heartbreaking as it is. Tears will well in my eyes for his pain. I begin to understand him better. I will hug him. He will let me. I will remind Meadow of her worth, her lovability, her value. She will slowly begin to believe me. She will look into my eyes and smile, the corners of hers crinkling up. I will utter, "I love you" as I turn out the lights.

In the darkness, I hear "I love you too" echoing back.

Hiding in the corner of the pot of our lives, is beautiful, hard won, resilient and sweet and nourishing purple fruit. It is so delicious.

I don't have to be the exactly right kind of therapeutic parent to help them grow. I don't have to heap that kind of pressure on myself. They are hardy people. I am a flawed but faithful gardener. We are working it out, together, they and I.

All effort, worthwhile.

The newest addition to the family, Jedi. A masculine, male standard poodle. Don't let anyone tell you different...
A good hugger too!
Not to be forgotten, the big man needs plenty of love as we transition. He hasn't fully realized it just yet, but he's beginning to learn...Jedi is his gift.
My dogs and I are attached. I tell myself that counts for something.

1 comment:

Courtney said...

will it make you feel better if i say i'm going to google "attachment style" now? i have never heard of it. thanks for this post. i needed ot hear it. struggling with HOPE these days...

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