Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I want to see you be brave.

Warning: if you are a strict adherent to amazing therapeutic parenting and your method produces outstanding, visible results that are warranted solely based on your exemplary deftness in drawing out the most exquisite virtue your child possesses, READ NO FURTHER. My admissions will cause you to bristle and wince and writhe in pious judgement over my *obvious* lack of skill. It will pain you. Your mouth will gape open in shock and horror that they allowed someone like me to adopt at all. You will throw your computer or phone or iPad at the wall and bill me for its replacement. Rightfully so. It won't be pretty. Our friendship may end. And well, that would break my heart.

For the rest of you, I will let you in on a little secret.

My sweet Meadow girl has no self esteem. At all. Zero. Zilch. Squat.

Let's go back for a moment, shall we?

When she first arrived in our home, she was a downright mess of massively messy emotive behaviors. (Understandably!) We know from the written assessments we received before we yanked her out of her comfort zone and into the Land of Promise, that she was accustomed to getting her own way. We were told she was adept at employing strategies that served her well. They weren't kidding. It was immediately evident as soon as we met her in Ethiopia. This girl knew how to push all the right buttons to make the adults in her life jump. High. "You want injera for every meal, baby girl and this eggs and toast breakfast the beautiful staff at the guest house served you aren't to your liking? You get injera for every meal then!" She would cry and wail and pout and moan and we spoke no Ahmaric so the agency staff and guest house staff and orphanage staff would "help us" by soothing her pains and assuaging her protests, by yielding to her whims.

Obviously, once here, she labored away, expressing disgust at most all we had to offer her, working to carry on status quo.

I made it crystal clear from day one, this is mama's house and no one, I mean NO ONE here pushes me into subservience with wildly undesirable behavior.

Eek! I know. Karyn Purvis would soooooooo not approve. You probably don't either.

Please understand, at the time I had 7 kids ages 8 and under. I brought home 2 extremely wounded, significantly developmentally, emotionally, and academically delayed, non English speaking children into our lives that were already thickly within the trenches of child rearing. I felt that our lives, our home could not function at that time with any semblance of peace or tranquility without me asserting myself clearly as Alpha Mama. All these little eyes were watching me. It was a whirlwind of newness, a steep learning curve with enormous consequences for mistakes. I was challenged up to my eyeballs. I had so much to learn. She pushed, I pushed back. Harder. With force she could not overcome. I would not surrender to this child, I would do everything in my power to not allow her to hold myself and my children hostage.

It worked. Within a matter of weeks, she made a huge turn around. Ginormous. She became stunningly demure, which I much preferred, because she was a heckovalot easier to handle.

As time wore on, I could see how much confidence she lost under my care. Not that I believe her power wielding protests were a display of true assurance to begin with, but they were at least an attempt at control.

I really feel like in the flurry of daily life, my inability to help her heal, my desire for compliance, squelched her spirit.

How I grieve for that.

Fast forward to this week, each of the kids are taking a day to oversee the other children in their chores. When it was Meadow's turn, she could hardly utter the words, "do your morning routines, please" to her siblings without crying real tears. She has basically lost all ability to assert herself in any form, even among her peers. Any type of "confrontation," even the mildest form, is seen as a threat and she aggressively retreats.

Sad, right? I am so terribly saddened by this. I worry for her future, fret over what type of friends and husband she will attract, what type of career she can hold if she can not muster the strength to stand up for herself.

In hindsight, I wish I had done better with her. I wish I had not been so overpowering. I wish I had utilized tactics that would bring her best qualities to light, that would instill in her a sense of value and worth and belonging and honest, humble deservedness.

Live and learn and let go.

By the same token, I realize it is not all my doing. This girl is fragile and scarred due to what has taken place in her few short years on earth. She has endured profound loss at an age she can remember. She is deeply wounded by feelings of rejection by her father, and the loss of her mother and siblings. There is not a thing I can do to undo that.

But I can help her forge her future. So, now we backtrack. I have spent years backtracking, actually. I work to help Meadow find the strength in Meadow. She is a breathtaking, beautiful, kind, tender, loving, bright, hardworking, gracious soul.

She is my blessing, my love, my delight, my inspiration, my joyful service.

With time, she has become the beat of my heart.

We will overcome. I will never, not ever give up on her.

One day, she will make a remarkable woman.

I want to see her be brave.


Deborah Fisher said...

I stumbled upon this blog via a friend's comment on FB. Sounds like you are absolutely amazing! I love the method you described for helping Meadow overcome her manipulative spirit. I'm thinking that you have nothing to feel badly about - you have done what you needed to do, and done it in love.
I just wanted to suggest (and you may already be aware) that Meadow may have Reactive Attachment Disorder. Not that knowing this will change the great work you are doing, but it might help you understand some of her reactions. Of course, RAD is no excuse for bad behaviour :-) And you are right not to fall prey to "poor baby" syndrome. As Meadow sees the strength you demonstrate in being a good parent, and the stability in her new family (which she cannot yet believe is real), she will be brave. Just like her mama.

Tisha said...

Hi Deborah! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave such a thoughtful, encouraging comment! Really. So kind of you. And yes, you may very well be right. Meadow might have RAD. Which wouldn't be so rad...;-)

There is a lot going on and it's impossible to encompass it all one a single blog post, or even an entire blog! Writing just helps me think and process, so I scratch up a few bits and pieces to share. It might be hard for others to get a thorough view and understand, but it's therapeutic for me. :) thank you again!! I'm glad to meet you!

Courtney Cassada said...

YOU are brave dear friend for sharing this so honestly and openly. i love you for that. meadow will become the woman God desires her to be...with YOU as her mom. and it will be AS HE WILLS. perfect? no. but AS HE WILLS. what else would we want?

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