I have this boy, he is funny, adorable and has the ability to light up a room with his laughter. He has a great sense of humour, he loves sports and music, he is his little sisters hero. His name is Fudge and I love him in a way that only a mother could. He makes me crazy with his misbehavior and his antics but underneath all that silly little boy behaviour I see a glimmer of the wonderful man that he is going to grow into. A man who will be a fabulous at whatever paths he chooses to pursue because if there one thing that persistence is good for it is being successful.
I have not always been able to speak of him in that way, there was a long time when neither of us wanted to love one another. We have moved through that in many ways, it took a really, really long time, years in fact but then this week, he reminded me how very hard things can be with him.
On Wednesday he took me to a place I have not been to with him for a while, a place where he reminded me just how tenuous our relationship was for much of the first 3 and half years that he was my son.
There was a time about 2 years ago when I had given up hope that Fudge would ever love me. I talked about it then and you can read about here and here. They were dark days for me, days when I thought that things might never get better. Weeks and months when I had to let P be the only parent Fudge's had because he was not willing to let me be his parent. I cooked his meals and did his laundry, I kissed him goodbye and goodnight but really that was all. P did everything else, all the nurturing, all the conflict resolution, assigning of consequences, all the stuff parents do for their kids was up to him. It was the only way to make it work. Fudge hated me, yes I said hated. It was not me as a person he hated, it was me as his Mom. He had been so hurt and he was missing the Moms he had before so profoundly that there was no way he could attach to another woman who said she was going to be his Mom. He had no reason to trust that I was not going to leave him even though I said was not.
I almost gave up more times than I would like to admit. I almost threw in the towel and stopped trying because I felt like it would never change. In the spring of 2011 he and I started therapy together again. I was committed to giving our relationship a chance to be something more than it was, something more than just a kid and his caregiver which was how I felt. Therapy was hard, he consistently talked about how the grass was greener everywhere else, about how I was not as good as everyone else and how really there was nothing that I could do that would be good enough.
I cried a lot.
But I kept going. Looking back I am not sure how, I am not sure what kept me going during those really dark months. I know that I was holding on to the fact that if he never attached to me it was not my fault, that I would of done everything I could to make him feel safe and loved. I could only show it to him though, I could not make him love me, that was up to him. There were times when I wondered what giving up would mean for our family, his brother was doing well and after much discussion we decided that it would just mean that P would be his only parent, that was really hard for me to think about and admit.
Week after week we pushed through, things got way worse, way harder and then almost a year after we started things started to change. I wrote this post then, the changes I was seeing in him gave me so much hope for our relationship. He let me do things for him, he came to me for comfort and just to say hello, he wanted to brush my hair and to touch and to be touched. These were all huge steps for him and although there were times when the last thing I wanted was to let him touch me I did it, I sucked it up because I knew that this was what he needed.
When things finally started to change I was apprehensive, I was not sure that this was going to last but it did, he is slowly but surely attaching and it makes life with him so much more enjoyable. It makes me happy to be his Mom, I look forward to being together and not dreading our every interaction.
We have our moments though, it is not all roses and sunshine around here let me tell you. This week I was reminded of that, on Wednesday he and I had an epic blowout, we were both so mad at one another the other kids were steering clear of both of us. Later when we were both calm, I talked through what had happened with him and apologised for totally blowing my top and he looked at me and said, " you kind of had a right to be that mad, I was being a jerk." I just about fell off my chair, I was floored by his ability to notice what he had done and admit it such a short time later. He is attaching, I am attaching and we are going to be ok even if it did take 4 years to get here.
J blogs at Steller Parenting 101 where she talks about the good and the not so good parts of this parenting older adopted children journey.