When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

March 11, 2010

March 2006

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.

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  1. Hugs. 7 is a funny age with attachment. I felt as we moved backwards at that time. There is a life-death realization that comes with their development around this time. They begin to understand loss though the are way too immature to cope with it. For us this kind of spurred up alot of grief and challenges — and moments like this. It is frustrating when you love someone so unconditionally and they make it seem as though you could easily be replaced. The truth is she would miss you, and she wouldn’t like someone else’s rules as much as she may balk at yours.

    I wouldn’t so much as look at things as though 5 years have passed and you are only so far. There is a change in attachment at different ages of development. Think of it like a spring — circling in and out of synch with you.
    Hold on — it’s a long road, but one well worth traveling.

    Comment by Janet — March 11, 2010 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  2. Oh my goodness. Have you ever had one of those moments when you’re reading something and you think – how does this person know my child well enough to describe them so aptly?? Because that is what happened to me reading this post. My little ‘borrowed’ girl A has definite attachment issues, but not to the extreme extent that your son and some other kids do. I’ve often felt like she was in this ‘in between’ place… not quite RAD, but too affected by poor attachment to function completely normally. I can remember quite specifically instances where we were with my mom and A wanted to play a game, she would go get it and hand it to my mom and say “I want to play a game.” She loves board games. My mom and I would smile and she would say “Okay, we can play a game”. Then A would look at me darkly and say “I only just want YOU to play (indicating my mom), and not Katie.” Like a knife in the gut. Or, to me, “Well, I do love you, but I just love better!” Thanks kiddo. Good to know I’m at least up there with Dora. And oh, when she was sick, when she was littler, she would hide in a corner and cry… scream bitterly if I got anywhere near her… I couldn’t comfort her as hard as I tried… so I would sit in the hallway next to where she was, just out of view, and then I would cry too. Why can’t I help my baby? A is also diagnosed with ADHD, but I think you’re onto something with it being hypervigilance. A has every reason to take in every bit of her surroundings to make sure she’s safe… because there are times when she’s not, and there always have been. She used to fight me when I tried to hold her hand in the parking lot, twist and writhe and scream to get away. She would go on these hours-long crying jags brought on by something ridiculous, like a cold popsicle melting on her hand, or having her hair washed. Oh – and the temperature of her bath water is NEVER right… when she’s upset she retreats into herself. When A says the things she does, she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s hurting me… she’s very matter of fact about it. And at first she didn’t care. Now, if one of us explains to her why something she said hurt our feelings, she changes her mind and invites us to play. I have so often felt she prefers my mom (who we live with) over me. It’s hard and there have been nights I cried, thinking – I love her so much it hurts… why doesn’t she love me? But that’s not fair. She’s a victim of circumstance. It’s just hard anyways 😦 Thanks for making me feel a little less alone tonight… knowing that there are other ‘in between’ kids like A.

    Comment by Callmecrazy — October 10, 2012 @ 3:55 am | Reply

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