Gaining Perspective

An adoptive mother has an epiphany

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During a conversation with our new attachment therapist yesterday, the light bulb came on. You know that experience; all of a sudden it’s as if a bell rings and a bright light comes on in the room and you finally get it, whatever “it” is.

The light bulb moment for me came in two strokes.

Firstly, I don’t have one child with attachment issues, I have two. Both The Captain and Tinker have attachment issues and of course they do! I think we so often focus on The Captain’s obvious issues that Tink’s less dramatic ones are more easily accommodated. I am a little shocked that this is just now coming to me.

Secondly, I have recently been saying that it is as if the 2-1/2 years The Captain spent in foster care were “lost years” for him in emotional and social development, as well as academically.  As I vividly described our “Littles’” skills and behaviors, the therapist pointed out that in many ways, the baby of the family is the most mature of the three of them. This is so true. Emotionally, they are all about two years old.

These two realizations have rocked my world, truly. Now when I am thinking about some practical or logistical issue, like leaving one or more with a sitter while I take an older sister to a doctor, I realize I would not leave 3 two-year-olds with a sitter. It is just too much. Plus, they all need me. So I take along the one or two who seem to need me most that day and leave with the sitter the one(s) I think are the most self-assured that day.

Just as I would not expect our two-year-old to accommodate a change in schedule without an upset or to have “manners” in front of guests, it’s unreasonable for these two, as well.  It is not that they cannot or will not learn what is appropriate, it’s just that they are not there yet. They need more babying, more patience, even more cuddling and cajoling. They aren’t emotionally ready to move on yet.

So while nothing has changed, everything has changed. I’ve always approached parenting from the point of view that if something is not working, I need to look at myself first. As usual, that is holding true. The value of including others (in this case the therapist) in our difficulties is that sometimes someone on the outside can see something I cannot. That change in perspective is worth everything.

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