A Pretty Good Mom

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?

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

13 Comments

  1. Beth
    January 28, 2013

    Thank you so much for this post. Our little girl was orphaned at the age of 3 when her mother died. She was only in the orphanage for a few short months. But still, in her mind, her Birth Mother was perfect. I'm always the 2nd Best Mom. It's been 3 years since we got her and I just needed some encouragement that some day she will realize that I'm a pretty good mom.

    Reply
  2. Traci
    January 28, 2013

    We were so blessed that our daughter had a loving mother up until age 6. We brought her home from Ethiopia at age 7. It made attachment so much easier. We could not be more attached if she came from my womb. What a blessing!!!
    Now we are waiting for a 3-5 year old son from Honduras and this is likely to be an entirely different situation. I am reading all that I can to "try" to prepare myself as much as possible.

    Reply
  3. Anita
    January 28, 2013

    Awww! I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy for you! So thankful the Lord gave you this moment to cheer you in a hard time!

    Reply
  4. sarah
    January 28, 2013

    YESSSSS!!!!! love this story. God bless you each hour of your journey. bless Him that He loves to encourage us in it.

    Reply
  5. SleepyKnitter
    January 28, 2013

    Oh, gosh, this just has me crying.

    Reply
  6. Emily
    January 28, 2013

    Mmmmmmmm, this makes me happy.

    Reply
  7. Joelle
    January 28, 2013

    Makes me think of the fear I have of being comfortable with the grace of God. I'm afraid that if I trust in His grace the rug will be pulled out from under me and I will find out that I am really too bad to have His grace be enough for me–others yes, but me no. I will have to ponder that for a bit. Glad for the words of encouragement to warm your heart and for the healing that signifies in Bee's life.

    Reply
  8. Denise
    January 28, 2013

    We struggle with this same thing in our home. The perception of a "mom" and what she does and doesn't do. I adopted my boys at 15 and 12. I am not a perfect mom. No where near, but I long for the day when they acknowledge that I am not that bad and am doing the best I can.

    Reply
  9. Lori
    January 28, 2013

    Attachment is different with each of our three adopted children!

    Our almost fifteen year old girl was also adopted at the age of ten. She did have about six or seven years with her mom and although their life was difficult because of poverty and other issues, she remembers her mom very fondly – of which I am so glad!

    My relationship with this daughter has been one of ebbs and flows. She is often critical of me, but I also feel like she loves and accepts me and is thankful for me – a lot of the time! It has been a harder attachment road with her than with her sister adopted at the same time (who was younger). I have learned so much about adoption and attachment in the last five years – and yet it feels like I know next to nothing. Every child processes it differently, but they are all dealing with the feeling of rejection of their first family – no matter why that separation happened.

    I try to remind myself of the deep pain they feel so that I can be more compassionate and willing to let them go at their own pace with attachment. With our son who at this point is not attached to us at all – I REALLY struggle to do that. It is a growing and stretching time for the parent as much as for the child.

    Reply
  10. Sharon
    January 28, 2013

    That is awesome!

    Reply
  11. Laura
    January 28, 2013

    As tears roll down my cheek reading this I am blessed that there is also a mom and daughter our there who have the same thoughts and struggles that my daugther and I have. Our daughter was also adopted at age 10 from Ethiopia and our relationship has had our dips and spins for very similar reasons as yours. Thanks for your honest sharing and the encouragement that it sends to those us also in the adoption boat!

    Reply
  12. Dawn Wright
    January 28, 2013

    Oh YES! We have adopted 9 children from birth- age6. And every journey is completely different! Each has their own personality, their own reasons for holding back or not holding back, each has a different set of trauma, and yet we are thankful for all the Lord is continuing to do- if only in small steps or even the backwards steps…..

    Reply
  13. Lisa in NC
    January 28, 2013

    A favorite quote: "The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." Jill Churchill
    Lisa – You were always one of the most wonderful mothers I knew! I so appreciate your honesty and faithfulness. You have encouraged and inspired so many. Praying always for you and your family.

    Reply

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