I spent a few hours braiding Bee’s hair yesterday. Most of the time she wears it curly or straightens it, so it’s been a long time since we’ve had a braiding day. She shared one of her favorite movies with me, singing along with every song, and we laughed together.
Bee was ten years old when she joined our family, having been at the orphanage since the age of two. Our attachment dance is a slow swirl of moving forward and back, sometimes dramatically, with dips and spins, and others barely inching our way along. Deep in her heart there is fear – fear of trusting my love, and fear of surrendering herself to feel safe with a mother. Surely if she abandons herself to being my child, I will die, or disappear, or somehow decide not to love her. It is a leap she struggles to make.
Added to the deep fear is a fantasy of what a mother should be like. Bee wants a perfect mom, and instead, she has me – a mother who gets tired, loses her patience, and isn’t as attentive as she would like. I make many mistakes, and that is hard for her. Having lived in a world without moms, Bee created an image of what a good mom was, and I was sorely lacking.
Not long ago we were chatting in the kitchen and she said, “You know, Mom, now that I’ve met more moms, I realize that you really are a good mom.”
I grabbed her in a hug and teased her, “So, I’m really not so bad?”
She laughed, “No, you’re really a pretty good mom.”
“Well, I’m glad to hear it,” I said.
As she left the room, I turned back to cooking with a big smile on my face. I thought, “I can’t wait for Russ to get home to tell him I’m a pretty good mom!”
Have you signed up for Refresh 2013 yet? I thought about it all weekend as I pulled together photos for the talk I’m giving Friday night. It was a highlight of 2012 and, while I’m totally nervous about speaking, I am so excited to be part of it again. I hope to see many of you there!
Question: How is attachment going in your family? Does it look different with some of your children than others?