We had a really nice evening of kite flying, followed by a rude awakening of past trauma. I honestly often forget I am a trauma mama these days, because we have so many periods of “normalcy” (haha). Note. The. Quotations. It’s really hard to have conversations about behaviors of any sort, because the kids really “check out.” Their fear and shame get in the way of hearing us (or even staying present with us), and lots of teachable moments get lost in translation. When safety is involved, it’s hard for us to proceed with the caution we usually do when teaching/disciplining/etc (gentle voice, kid on our lap, etc). They are okay; their behavior is not okay. I guess, when you have been with a different family every year of your life, you don’t trust the concept of unconditional love.
After I shut the door, J said, “I hope your kiss doesn’t wipe off while I’m sleeping.” He used to purposely wipe them off, and then he stopped. I might be reading far too much into this, but it felt like he said, “I hope you don’t stop loving me while I’m sleeping.”
Holidays have not been awesome thus far (they are usually just fine during…but just before or just after is pretty rough). Up until now, we have just made assumptions about why this is, but the kids were only communicating via behaviors. Tonight, after a pretty epic family snowball fight, I got – “Mom, I feel sad because it’s Easter and I can’t remember Easters with my birth family anymore because it’s been too long.” Whoa. First instinct = major shared sadness. Second instinct = holy crap, you were self-aware enough to name what’s going on AND felt safe enough with me to share it. Healing. Note the capital “H.” I used to think healing meant no longer feeling sad about those things…but I think that was all wrong. I searched “healing” on Pinterest, because I have been thinking about it lately, and the first quote that popped up was: “Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.” I noticed a profound change in myself and in my kids when I stopped thinking of them as “RAD kids” and started thinking of them as “healing kids.” Such a simple reframe with such powerful results.
The kids are asking us to open our home to fostering again. This would have sounded insane a few months ago (last week?). Okay, okay, before this glass of wine. “A” asked us to please foster, “because there are some bad foster homes and we could give kids a safe place to stay.” The boys aren’t quite so deep, but ask pretty regularly for more kids. I will never forget Jax waking up to 3 extra kids playing with his toys, and his first words being, “My name is Jax, this is a safe place.” Hearing “A” say such a similar thing just overwhelmed me. The five us certainly found each other for a reason, and I look forward to the day when we are all ready to bring more chaos in!
I saw this on a blog today, and it really spoke to me. This is really our truth. The second we stopped following all the advice (from parents experiencing secondary trauma) about controlling behaviors and started focusing on nurturing, our kids started healing before our eyes. Here is to nurture and (lots) of grace for us AND for our kids.
I brought my guitar down tonight and sang each kid a song instead of reading a bedtime book. The smile that J gives when I sing to him ignites a feeling in me I wish I could just bottle up. “A” makes the most amazing eye contact and her whole demeanor just changes. I noticed her eyes welling up with tears when I was singing tonight. When I was done, she told me, “Sometimes when you play your guitar for me and look at me my eyes start watering and I don’t know why.” Mine do, too – I feel so very connected to her during that time. We can struggle, at times, with our attachment. I say “we,” because attachment is a two-way street. My own feelings/behaviors/attachment style is absolutely as much responsible as hers. Insert quick soap box: If you hang out too much on support groups for Reactive Attachment Disorder, you will be brainwashed into thinking this is a one-way street. False. Kids want to heal.
“I think that’s love,” I said. She smiled, wrapped her arms around me, and said, “I think that’s love, too.”
I am flying solo this week, because Charlie is at a training out of town. Six months ago this would have put me into a complete panic. Seriously. As in, let’s close the shades, fill up coffee mugs, and hunker down until he returns! Nowadays, while it’s definitely more challenging, it’s just fine. (Ask me again after I attempt to get Jax and A to sit quietly through J’s karate class.) Oh, and also J knocked a tooth out. And I had to run up to school more times than I care to share. But…we aren’t going to dwell on details. Sense of humor intact! Next month will mark the one-year point from when we met them. In some ways, this year flew by…and in many others, I almost literally can’t remember what on earth we did before them!? Anyway, the absence of my panic attack in Charlie’s absence speaks volumes to how far we have come. I made sure to make Charlie’s “time off” slightly less than peaceful by sending him a pix message of a (fake) positive pregnancy test for April’s Fools Day. Based on his reaction, he thinks we have our hands full already 🙂
Tonight, after I tucked J in, kissed him goodnight, and shut his door, I heard him yell for me. Always interesting to hear his “after bedtime deep thoughts.” He tends to utilize this time, and the fact that we always respond to him, to blurt out incredibly random questions OR say something completely profound. Box of chocolates…never quite sure what you’re going to get when you hear, “MOM!” Last week included, “What happens if the Earth stops rotating?” It clearly could not wait until morning.
Tonight’s question…“Remember those days when I used to wipe off your kisses?”
I smiled…yes, I remember. Every. Single. One. Every night I would l kiss him goodnight, and every night he would wipe it off. Sometimes, to protect my own hurt, I would jokingly kiss him a million times all over. He would spend the next 15 minutes making sure to painstakingly wipe every last one off. He just couldn’t accept my love. I started telling him that he couldn’t wipe my love off, and that I would sneak into his room at night to kiss him when he was sleeping so he couldn’t wipe it off.
I went back into his room tonight and sat on his bed. “I’m glad I don’t do that anymore…I like your kisses,” he said.
I’m glad, too.