Give and Take.

Until I had three kids that came to me with long histories that didn’t include me as their mom, I hadn’t thought too much about attachment.  Bubbly changed all that.  She taught me a lot about what it means to consider attachment at every turn.  Then Giggles and ShyGuy came and even though I thought I knew it all, they surprised me.  They taught me how attachment, and the phases thereof, are different for each kid.  We’re still working through the basics of attachment with Bubbly.  These include her asking me for help when she wets her pants, telling me when she’s hungry, etc.  

Giggles and ShyGuy, even though they have lived her six months less, are already passed that phase.  They ask for a lot, but unfortunately, don’t give much in return.  This is especially true of ShyGuy.  Sometimes, I wonder if he’s not just here for the Christmas presents and family vacations.  Does he just love me because I  give him stuff or does he love me because he sees me putting my all into being the best mom I can be?  Does it really matter WHY any child loves their parent as long as they love them?  Will a selfish kind of love that a child gives eventually blossom into a more unselfish mature love?  In the case of most children, probably.  For ShyGuy, maybe not without intervention.

Most children who have been loved unconditionally learn, in return, to love unconditionally.  Prior to coming to us, ShyGuy wasn’t loved the way he should have been.  He was loved as a tool to get things, and sometimes, he wasn’t loved at all, because he was a burden.  He doesn’t know what it means to love someone just because your heart tells you to.  He has learned a manipulative kind of love.  He knows how to “turn on love” to get things.  If I’ve just bought him something he’ll tell me he loves me over and over.  If I’ve just disciplined him, we’ve gone through an hour or so of crying and come out the other side to where I’m comforting him, and I tell him I love him, he will refuse to say it back.  That wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t doubt that he knows how to love.

After a friend with a child from the same place confided in me that her son admitted that he didn’t give kisses because he didn’t know how, I asked ShyGuy if I could have a kiss.  He looked uneasy and basically pushed his face against my cheek.  When I asked, he admitted softly that prior to coming here, no one asked him for kisses.  He didn’t have that kind of relationship with his birth mom.  Can you imagine?  He was FIVE when he left.  Culture is different, I know that, but mothers are mothers.  I just can’t imagine it.  I can.not.imagine.  That’s all there is to say.

So we’re working from where we are in his attachment.  We are slowly teaching our son lessons on how to love unselfishly, that love is a give and take relationship, that to get love, you have to give love.  I told him that I want him to be the kind of man that his father is, that I want him to be able to kiss his wife and tell her how she is the most beautiful woman in the world, how I want him to be able to toss his son or daughter into the air, catch them and kiss them until they giggle over and over, just like his daddy does to him.  I want that for him because I love him.  Totally and completely.

–FullPlateMom,
who knows this will be a lifelong process.  

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