March 11, 2010. Every once in a while Sophie zings me in a way that both catches me by surprise and causes endless worry and sadness. It doesn’t help that today’s my mother’s birthday and I’m more aware than usual of how much I miss her, how our bond, though not perfect, never had to be systematically constructed on principles and practice of attachment parenting. On the way home from school today Sophie chatters nonstop about her upcoming swim team banquet. In the midst of talk of trophies and other awards, she casually announces that no parents are allowed and that she’s going to go with our neighbors, Alexis and Debbie. “You can’t come, Mom. It’s just for swimmers.” Debbie is Alexis’s mother. Ouch. Sophie wants her friend’s mother to go but not me. This is not the first time she’s said this and certainly not the first time she’s said something along these lines. Sophie is very bonded to Pat and me in that she looks to us to meet her needs and loves us, but I still worry that her attachment to us is not secure. She still seeks comfort and attention from my friends, often preferring their company over Pat’s or mine. I love Sophie more than I love myself and yet she still doesn’t completely believe or accept this fundamental fact. She still doesn’t trust that we’ll always and forever protect, nurture and comfort her and so from time to time, she still “shops” around. Although she has a diagnosis of ADHD, I don’t think she’s actually hyperactive. I think she’s hypervigilant, always looking for signs of danger and needing to control, absolutely, her environment and the people around her. We’ve been working on this for more than five years. How come we haven’t made more headway? Is it Peter? Is the chaos he brings to the family dinner table, the disruptions he causes at bedtime, or the tears he provokes at family game night forever going to inhibit our progress? It’s true, he does these things, but is it accurate, much less fair, to blame him for our inability to assuage our daughter’s anxiety sufficient to enable her to trust and believe in the permanence of our love? But for Peter, would she be this way? I don’t know. All I know is that she still struggles and I’m growing increasingly concerned that we won’t be able to heal her, at least not completely. At times I feel extremely inept, like when she asks whether she can live with one of my girlfriends, or my sister. At times it feels as though I simply can’t meet my children’s needs, whatever I do and no matter how hard I try. They’re just too great, too hard-wired, to be hurdled. But then I remind myself of all the accomplishments. How Sophie used to hide in a corner when she was scared or hurt and wouldn’t let either Pat or me comfort her. She doesn’t do that now. How she used to insist on walking up the stairs when she was three no matter how tired she was. She doesn’t do that anymore, either. Now she let’s us carry her even though she knows she’s getting too big for that. How she would race into a crowd and never turn around to see whether we were still there. That’s gone now too. We have made progress and we’ll continue to make progress. I have to remember that. But it’s not easy. When the 7-year-old daughter I’m crazy in love with announces glibly that I should stay home from her banquet, without even realizing that her words are hurtful, it doesn’t feel good. Zingers hardly ever do.