Posts for foster parenting

Curbside

Forever Family, Self-care - Allison Kenny - October 3, 2016

This morning was

Expected.

The refusal to get dressed

The screaming

The loud NO!

The “I don’t want to go to school”

Even the need to pack up her toothbrush, her glasses, her breakfast

The curbside drop-off

As she kicked and hollered

Puffy-eyed

Wild-hair

Snot everywhere

Shoes in a bag

Because she refused my help for an hour

My wife’s frustration

Totally expected

As she sat in the back seat

Bra-less

Her own feet bare

As she secured the seat belt again and again

For our angry daughter

PTSD fits

Are expected

After we get-a-way

for 2 days of

Self Care

Blue Waves

Crashing against the headland cliffs

11 hours of sleep

A night

Champagne picnic as the sun sets

So, it was expected

That today would be hard

The Homecoming

Turbulent.

It was Unexpected, though

When our daughter

Who had refused

Empathy

Support

Kindness

for an hour

Choosing to derail

and come undone instead

When this wild-animal-powerful-girl

Was lifted, kissed and placed

Gently on the grass

In front of her school

Curbside

It was Unexpected

To see the

4th grade Safety Monitor

Taking his duties

Very seriously.

He did not bat an eye

As we drove off

And she screamed.

We paused, of course

On the corner

To watch her put on her shoes

And go into school

Whether she wanted to or not

The 4th grade safety monitor

Held his post

Reliable

And helped my little girl

Find her glasses

Which she had thrown

In the Grass

 

 

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6 Ways to Be in the Presence of Trauma: Yours or Someone Else’s

Forever Family, Girl Power, Self-care - Allison Kenny - November 5, 2015

6 Ways to be With Trauma- Yours or Someone Else's

We’re on our way to camp and I hear that familiar longing in her voice.

“Mommy, I just really want to take my locket into camp today.”

“I know, love. That’s so disappointing that you can’t bring toys in. I’m glad you are getting to hold it in the car and play with it now.”

Silence. I look in the rearview mirror and see a single tear fall from her left eye. Her right eye is covered by a mermaid eye patch so the scene is particularly heart-wrenching. She drops her head and I can see the wave of grief coming on. Having to leave something she loves behind is an enormous trigger for a girl who lost her family, her neighborhood, her toys, and all of life as she knew it before coming to live with us. I take a deep breath, like I’ve learned to do, and focus on my own heartbeat to stay calm.

“I see you are so sad. I understand. As soon as we park the car, I can hold you.”

And I do. We sit in the backseat rocking while I kiss her teary face and hold her tight. She lets me. After a few short moments, I see her take a deep breath.

“Are you ready?” I ask. She nods and we stand up. I offer to hold the locket and key in my pocket so she knows it’s safe. I reassure her that she’ll get to hold it again when I pick her up after camp. She nods again and we walk hand in hand into Art Yowza Camp where a dozen kids are running happily and playing tag. She drops my hand immediately and joins the game.

Let me break down exactly why this scenario is a HUGE FREAKING MIRACLE. Just three months ago, the drive would have been very different. My daughter’s grief would have been mixed with rage and fear so enormous that her tears would escalate into screaming, taking her seat belt off, kicking the driver’s seat with full force and on the worst days, pounding the glass window with her fists. And it would have lasted anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. And on one terrible day, four hours. Literally. But the difference in her behavior now is not the miracle I even want to focus on. The real magic is in how differently I behaved.

Her rage and PTSD used to trigger my own rage and PTSD before I could stop it. If I was alone with her in the car during an epic tantrum, I had no way to access all my skills as a compassionate girl advocate and educator. I became a frightened child and my logical brain shut down completely. More often than I’d like to admit, I responded by yelling, shaming, and on the worst days, grabbing her arm or leg roughly to try and make her stop. I felt so ashamed of myself. Why couldn’t I be compassionate? I knew that meeting a child’s trauma response with a calm voice and reassuring presence was the only thing that could help. Why couldn’t I stay calm when I knew I was “supposed to?” I was afraid it meant I was a bad mom.  Luckily, just a few months later, I know it means I was a triggered mom. And I knew enough to get help managing my PTSD symptoms so I could do better. Here’s the best of what I’ve learned to be the compassionate Mama I want to be… most of the time

  1. Try to notice when I’m triggered and say to myself, “Oh, I’m triggered.”
  2. Keep my mouth shut (Kidpower says, “Mouth closed power!) and breathe. Focus on my own breath. Notice my heartbeat. Breathe to help it slow down. Did I mention, DO NOT TALK?
  3. Accept that her tantrum is not my fault. I did not cause it. I cannot stop it. It’s just what is happening.
  4. Help keep her physically safe—like putting a pillow under the head of someone having a seizure (move tables out of the way, pull the car over, move out any objects she’s throwing or hitting).
  5. Hug her and tell her I love her when it’s over. Wait until everyone feels better before talking about anything logical like what she can do to feel her big feelings without hurting herself or anyone else.
  6. Forgive myself immediately if I cannot do any of the first five things.

My therapist is a PTSD specialist. She works with war vets and now…foster parents to stay in the moment and help our brains rewire to feel safe. She recommends mindfulness practice as the number one tool to deal with fight, flight or freeze symptoms. Pema Chodron’s Unconditional Confidence, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach and John Kabat-Zinn are the resources she shared with me.

For any of you parents who need a miracle to shift the way trauma plays out in your homes, I hope this helps!

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Weekend Update: This is Halloween!

Love Wins - Allison Kenny - November 2, 2015

Squirrel hung these herself—a BIG accomplishment since her fine motor is a bit delayed.

Last year on Halloween, Squirrel called us “Mom” for the first time. We had a mini-carnival in our house with cider, made homemade decorations, and went trick-or-treating on our block. Squirrel had been with us less than a month and was in total shock from the transition. I remember knocking on people’s doors and Squirrel trying to wander right in. She had no concept of strangers. After all, we were complete strangers to her and now she was living in our home and calling us “Mom.” It was like we were all in a dream, wandering down 63rd street getting candy as if all our lives hadn’t just been turned completely upside down.

A year later things feel very, very different. Here’s a peek at the difference a year can make!

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8Even though Squirrel was too shy to become the Spy Kitty of her dreams, she loved dressing us up to see her idea come to life. The keys around our necks were very important, although I’m not clear why. We crept through the streets of Oakland, “spying” on each house we passed. Her “I’m just a plain cat, Mom! costume came to life more than once as she got her spy on. There is nothing plain about her.

 

For more information about creating alternative altars for adopted children, click here!

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Adoption Boobs…

Forever Family, Go Girl!, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - October 29, 2015

…How Adoption Day turned into Mardi Gras at the Maxi Pad

CHP_2694-LWe were told in foster parent training that the kids we are placed with may have been sexually abused. So, it’s important to have privacy when anyone in the family is changing clothes or using the bathroom. This protects everybody and strong boundaries should be in place until your child is legally adopted.

“What if we’re at a street fair and I have to use a port-a-potty? I won’t leave my child outside,” I protested.

“Bring them inside and have them turn around,” I was told.

And we did. All year, a closed door has meant “knock please.” Morning routines have included “please wait” as we cover ourselves out of the shower and have Squirrel turn around when we pee. Cumbersome. Weird. Especially as someone who believes in raising a body positive girl. But I also believe in safety no matter what. And until trust was fully built, I did not want to risk triggering our new daughter or breaking the rules of being a foster parent.

I knew we’d reached a higher level of trust when Squirrel began begging to see us naked.

“Please, Mama! Just let me see your boobs!” she’d whine in the mornings. We didn’t get to breastfeed her or hold her on our chests in the moments after delivery. I took her boob obsession as a great sign. We explained the limitation and how once we were all officially a legal family, it would be fine to change clothes in front of one another if we all wanted to.

After a fairly intense 2 weeks leading up to Adoption Day, I knew we could all use some lightness. A good laugh.

CHP_2767-LSo when Squirrel stumbled into our bedroom groggy-eyed on the morning of October 16th, I pulled off my tank top and stood there topless in front of her.

“Happy Adoption Day, Boo-Boo!” I cheered, striking a triumphant pose. She screamed with joy. Danced in circle. And fell to the floor.

“Mommy, look at your CUTE BOOBS!” She was thrilled. She ran to find Mama Lynn.

“Now YOU!” she demanded. Lynn complied with a little grumbling. Squirrel was delighted to be in a room getting dressed with her Mommies. What a perfectly normal thing for a family to do. But for us, it was our first time and it was special. It turned our Adoption Day into Mardi Gras…a tradition I’m sure we’ll keep up each year.

Once dressed herself in the special dress we’d been saving, Squirrel spun in a circle on our bedroom floor.

“Look at my Adoption dress, Mommies!” Then she pulled the dress up over her head. “And look at my little Adoption BOOBS!”

I have maybe never laughed so hard.

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Summer of Confidence

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 12, 2015

“Baby, you are just getting bigger every day! On the inside and the outside,”

summer of growthI hear myself saying again and again. The Squirrel loves standing up with her back against the inside of her closet door. “Here’s a pencil, Mommy! Mark how tall I am!” I do, even though the day before we did the same thing. The mark on the wall hasn’t moved but I know this isn’t the kind of growth we’re really tracking. “I think these shoes are too small for me, mom. Let’s give them away to a littler kid. My feet are getting bigger,” she says with pride. Her feet have been the same size all summer. But she’s right. Her growth has been SO enormous, we’re all looking for measurable ways to track and celebrate it.  

To that end, here’s a poem for my girl…

She used to scream and shake in the pool. Now she kicks off the wall like a mermaid.

She used to hide her head in her hands. Now she sings on the stage.

She used to cheat at CandyLand. Now she can follow the rules.

She used to hate getting out of bed. Now she dresses herself in a flash!

She used to have all her baby teeth. Now they keep falling out!

She used to fall down a lot. Now she leaps, ronde de jambes, and does pirouettes across the floor.

She used to yell and kick and throw. Now she asks for what she needs.

She used to cry for every good-bye. Now she hugs, kisses and says, “Bye! Love you!”

She used to say “I can’t read.” Now she says, “I’m good at it.”

She used to say, “I can’t do it.” Now she says, “I just need to practice.”

She used to feel bad and hurt her friends sometimes. Now she mostly keeps hands & feet to herself.

She used to wake up wet. Now she wakes up dry.

She used to have hair in her face. Now, she has purple bangs.

She used to hate her feelings. Now she lets them out.

She used to wonder if we were safe grown-ups. Now she knows for sure.

She used to be a little girl. Now she is a Queen.

 

May we all have the courage to keep learning and growing the way this child does.

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I am Actually Raising a Go Girl!

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - July 28, 2015

I remember sitting in our disclosure meeting and hearing the Squirrel’s social worker say, “We just want her to be raised by a couple of Go Girls!” The Squirrel was legally freed for adoption- none of her bio family members could care for her, so the social worker really did have the power to place her with the best forever family she could find. And she believed it was us. I remember feeling the weight of that. The responsibility. The gift.

Culture Code PurpleSo we hung a Go Girls! poster above our daughter’s bed before we even met her. The purple poster features each point of the Go Girls! Culture Code. What better way to share our family’s values? Squirrel liked the purple but phrases like “Make Mistakes”, “Give & Take”, and “Feel your Feelings” were way over her head.  So, the poster didn’t mean much. She had t-shirts with the Go Girls! logo. A copy of my chapter book, “Starring Celia” on her bookshelf. She loved to play in our home office, writing pretend paychecks to our administrator Julie or organizing camp journals as they were delivered. But in her mind, my only job was to take care of her and Lynn sure spent a lot of time at the computer for some reason. Go Girls! Camp was an abstract concept that she didn’t seem very curious about.

Until June, when we brought her to the last half hour of our staff training. She watched 30 teaching artists perform original plays they created together and it blew her mind. When they started singing the Go Girls! song, she ran up on stage to join them even though she didn’t know the words. She was surrounded by real life Go Girls! and everybody was singing…

I am proud, so proud, so proud of me!

I’m exactly the kind of girl that I want to be.

I’m not a mean girl!

I’m not a good girl!

I am a Go Girl! Go Girl!

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about her absorbing that moment. She came home and sat in the bath for an hour and 45 minutes (Literally! I had to add hot water) and sang her own made up Go Girls! songs. I wrote down her lyrics from the next room as she sang:

I am a Go Girl! A pretty Go Girl!

I hate to be a bully anymore

I’m happy to be a Go Girl! today

I am myself

This is my voice

You have to listen to my song

The rule is no fighting- no fighting here!

I need you to hold my hand and give me directions

We are practicing, practicing, practicing

We are listening to the teacher

If I do what I am supposed to do, than I will see the world come underneath me

Kidpower!

Go Girls!

Kidpower!

Go Girls!

She was absolutely lit up. Something shifted in her brain that day. And she could not wait to go to Go Girls! Camp.

Soon enough, I found myself in line with other parents at the program I helped create. I watched her run inside and find her name written out at a table to decorate. I listened later that day when she told me all about the games she played, the character she chose for the play and all the artwork she created. She seemed so…relaxed. Herself. Safe. Not once did she seem this way when I picked her up from Kindergarten.  We’re all still recovering from her first year of school and all the challenges she faced.

I guess the point is that my dreams are coming true over here. My whole life, all I ever wanted to do was create a space for girls where they could truly know they mattered. And I wanted to be a mom. Seeing the overlap between these two goals makes my heart just about burst. Helps me know I’m on the right track. And so is the Squirrel.

Last Friday, I got to go see my little girl perform in her first Go Girls! play.  Her first play ever, for that matter. She chose to be a Queen, of course. I was in the front row…with flowers… as she took her place center stage.  I witnessed the Squirrel embody the purple poster that still hangs above her bed.  She shared her voice and we got to listen to her song.

Join us on Wednesday August 5 for a free 1-hour live webinar where Lynn and I will share the thinking and science behind our Go Girls! Culture Code as well as the lessons we are learning raising a Go Girl! of our very own.

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“This is Hard!”: A Go Girls! Moment

Foster/Adoption, Girl Power, Learning, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - May 7, 2015

It’s okay to try something hard.

This is a phrase you will often hear around Go Girls! Camp in response to “This is hard!,” especially when said in that slightly high pitched, complain-y way with a touch of whine.  “This is haaard!!!”

You have likely heard this said before.  I heard it the other day when Allison and I decided that we would walk the dogs around the block while the Squirrel rode her bike.

When you come out of our house and turn right, there is a slight incline to our street.  The Squirrel was struggling with this incline on this particular day.  She had navigated this route before but, for whatever reason, she had decided that, on this day, “This is haaard!!!”

“It’s okay to try something hard,”  I say.

When faced with a challenge, humans who lack or are not able to access their advance level coping skills go into the fight, flight, or freeze mode.  9 times out of 10, our Squirrel freezes.  Upon hearing my “It’s okay to try something hard,” she stopped riding her bike in the middle of the sidewalk, dropped her head as low as it would go, crossed her arms, and pouted.  I tried coaching her to jump off her bike and push a while.  I encouraged her to ask for help.  I even tried to give her a little push to get her started again.  Nothing.  Just like Queen Elsa, she was completely frozen.  After a few attempts to start again, I ultimately wound up taking her back home while Allison gave the dogs their much needed walk.

“It’s okay to try something hard” is such an essential part of Go Girls! culture that, if you were to ask a camper, “What makes you a Go Girl!?,” you would likely hear “I try my best even when it’s hard.”  This past weekend, Allison and I ran our annual Go Girls! Leadership Team (GGLT) retreat for the middle school girls who work as counselors-in-training at our camps over the summer.  Our opening ritual was that each of us brought and shared a photo of a “Go Girls! Moment” with the rest of the circle.  Pretty much each of the 18 girls shared pics and stories about overcoming some kind of challenge; paddleboarding for the first time; jumping from a tall cliff into a waterfall below; giving a speech; winning a sports competition.  I was so proud of these girls in the this moment, and throughout the weekend, as they continued to say yes to new people and new experiences and build their identity as someone who is ready and willing to accept anything that comes her way.

Our Go Girls Moments

GGLT’s Go Girls! Moments

I thought about how annoyed I had been at my own daughter’s  “This is haaard!!!” and unwillingness to keep going up that hill.  I thought, “I can’t wait until she gets to camp and can spend time with older girls like these.  I need their Go Girls!-ness to rub off on her.”

Then, I thought about it again.  Okay, the Squirrel didn’t continue up that hill on that particular Tuesday afternoon.  But, what about all of the other hills that she has said yes to throughout her life?  Sure, jumping off a cliff is hard.  But so is leaving behind everyone you have ever known to take on a brand new life in a brand new city.  Our Squirrel has never given a speech in front of her classmates, but she has, in just the last 7 months, dared to say yes to new mommies, new dogs, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins, a whole new wardrobe, set of toys, and a brand new community of people.  Every day, she learns words she has never heard before, tastes food she has never tasted before, dances to songs she has never heard before.  Every day, she makes the choice to take one more giant step into this new life that has been thrust upon her.  I don’t know about you, but I would say “This is haaard!!!”

I am excited that the Squirrel will be coming to camp this summer and will be inspired by our amazing GGLT.  I do think that these older girls will have a lot to teach her about being a Go Girl!.  I do hope the experience will help reduce the amount of times she freezes in challenging situations.  However, I also imagine that she won’t just be the student.  I imagine that our Squirrel will have a bit to teach us all about what it really means to try hard things.  I imagine that we will all grow from her example.

What about you?  What’s a time that you are your daughter have faced a challenge and said yes to try hard things?  I’d love for you to share your #GoGirlsMoment with us.

And check out more highlights from our GGLT Retreat…

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“I Love You”: A Parenting Milestone

Forever Family, Tales from the Maxi Pad - Lynn Johnson - April 20, 2015

I was away all weekend leading workshops at the NCAOSA Mini-Conference in Carmel Valley, CA when the most incredible thing happened…

The Squirrel told me that she loved me.

In the beginning, I was afraid that she wasn’t going to attach to me at all.  And now, just 6 months later, here she is…loving me.  She told me over the phone as I was finishing my dinner and she was getting ready for bed.

“You’re coming home tomorrow, right Momma Lynn?”
“Right, Baby.  I’m very excited to come home so I can see you.”
“I’m happy to see you too, Mommy!”
“Okay, you go to bed now, Boo Boo.  I love you.”
“Good night.  I love you.”

And there it is.

And when she and Allison picked me up from the rental car place in Oakland, the first thing she did was hand me this…

20150420_081852

Yes, it is a heart.  No, I did not upload the image backwards.  “I LOVE MOMMY” is, in fact, what it says.  Reinforcing that she meant what she had said the night before.

Today, I am exhausted from traveling, meeting 100 new people, and leading multiple theater workshops.  I have spent the whole day in my pajamas.  But I am completely nourished by this miraculous milestone.  My daughter of 6 months loves me.

Perhaps I should go away more often.

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What a Purple Pen is teaching me about Generosity

Foster/Adoption, Parenting - Lynn Johnson - April 17, 2015

Having a kid can teach you a lot about generosity.  I think it’s because kids are so freakin’ selfish.  My daughter is anyway.  Don’t get me wrong.  She can also be very generous and loving and kind.  It’s just that she is also the most selfish, least grateful person I have ever met.

During a session with my new life coach, he led me through a visualization in which my future self gave my present self the gift of a gold pen.  We uncovered that this gift represented giving myself permission to express my full self, to share my stories with the world.  My coach’s homework to me that week was to go out and actually get myself that pen.  So, I took off on a quest to buy myself the perfect gold pen (in my current price range).  This was an important shopping trip for me and I made the mistake choice to bring The Squirrel along.

Because I was already aware of the fact that she is the most selfish person on the planet, I knew that The Squirrel would derive absolutely no pleasure from me finding my perfect pen.  So, I decided that bringing her with me meant that I would be buying her a pen too.  I thought it would be fun.  Meaningful, even.  A mommy/daughter pen adventure.  We would both find the ideal symbols of our individual self-expression.  It would be a Saturday morning we would ever forget.  We would both write about the excursion as a life changing, transformational experience in our memoirs.  Our respective pens would ultimately end up in the Smithsonian.

Well…

I did find a great pen.  I even found a chic Kate Spade notebook and pencil case to go along with it.  Because, you know, why not?  I asked The Squirrel what kind of pen and notebook would inspire her.  She said “Purple!” (which is her answer to most questions) and we continued our shopping until we found her the perfect purple notebook and a purple pen.  The pen even came with an eraser!  I just knew I had bought my daughter the gift to end all gifts.

purple pen

“Mommy, why didn’t you buy me a pencil case too?!  I want a pencil case!!”

She scream-whined this as we were sitting outside with our packages on a beautiful sunny day.  All of the magic I had experienced thus far completely evaporated from my consciousness and was replaced with rage.

“You know what…” I started into lecture mode, “you and I are different people.  Sometimes we might have the same things but often, we are going to have different things.  You said that you wanted a purple pen and a purple notebook.  That’s what I got you.  I got you what YOU wanted.  It’s no fun to give gifts to someone who doesn’t appreciate them.  So, if you can’t be grateful for what you have, you don’t need to get any gifts at all!”

Yes.  I said this to her.  Something like this anyway.  I find myself saying something like this all…the…time.  I said something like this after she opened up what I thought was an overflowing Easter basket complete with a brand new baby doll and her response was “Is that it?”  I said something like this after the 15th time of her asking “why can’t I have it?!” in our 15 minute trip Target.  I say something like this every time she rolls her eyes at having to send another Thank You card or she dares to proclaim “I never get anything!” when everything, all the time, is entirely all about her.

So, I took the pen and notebook from her and haven’t given them back since.

Honestly, I don’t think that this was the best choice on my part.  I feel like an immature jerk taking them away from her.  I want to give them back.   The Squirrel is only 6 years old.  And, because of the trauma and loss she has experienced in her life, she often behaves at the developmental level of someone much younger than that.  I realize that all young kids are still developing the skill of gratitude.  Of course she is selfish.  She is at that stage of life where she can barely see a world past her own skin.  All she knows and understands to be true is the stuff that is happening right in front of her eyes.  And she barely understands that.  She is a kid and her job is to be absolutely and completely selfish; to learn herself and understand herself so that she can start to then appreciate the world around her.

Still.  It rubs me the wrong way.

I think I am afraid that she will never grow out of it.  Our social worker tries to make me feel better by pointing out that “many of us think our kids will grow up to be axe murderers.”  I know it’s a ridiculous fear.  I know I have to have patience with her development.  I know that I have to just keep teaching her my values of gratitude and generosity through my own example.

Yet, I am still holding on to this purple pen.  I don’t know how to give it back now.  It’s awkward.   I know she remembers it.  I know she knows that she lost something that day.  I caught her once about to ask about it and then stop herself, “Never mind.”

Perhaps I should just let it show up in her room, unceremoniously, one day.  Or perhaps I should re-wrap it and give it to her in celebration of a special occasion.

It doesn’t really matter.  She won’t be thankful for it anyway.

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Claiming Motherhood

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - April 15, 2015

claiming motherhoodSo, I’d been to many hours of attachment trainings.  I’d read the articles.  I’d done the research on off-age parenting.  I knew that helping an older child from foster care attach to her new parents would take an incredible amount of compassion, care and work. I was willing to do everything from rock my 6 year old like a baby everyday to making a nest of blankets so I could feed her like a mama bird. I carried her on my hip, practiced eye gazing, sang to her and let her touch my face like she was a much tinier child. I knew all this would help her attach to me. And it worked. Relatively quickly.

What I did not know, was that all those attachment practices would not necessarily help me attach to her. For months, this amazing little child who I spent 8 years manifesting into my life, felt like an imposter. Who let her in our house? Why wouldn’t she stop crying? How could she expect me to hold her every second of the day? I knew that newborn babies sometimes feel like aliens to their new parents- Crosby made that clear in the final season of Parenthood.

But no one in our attachment trainings talked about how WEIRD it would be to parent a big kid who acted like a little one. Or how long it might take to connect with the child you bring home  and try to make your own. I had no idea I might feel ambivalent for a long time…about parenting and about the kid herself. So, when all these feelings came up, I felt like a truly awful person. Was I just pretending to love this kid? Would I ever really love her? Like, really, really? I expressed these feelings to only a few dear friends who I knew wouldn’t judge or give advice. I needed a million hugs. And lots of trashy television. (See my post on Good Enough Self Care).

Then, one day, about 6 months in…we were going into a playground. The Squirrel was running ahead on the always-uneven Oakland sidewalk. She was holding a lemonade in one hand and a picnic blanket in the other, because she always insists on helping. She tripped. But her hands were full and she could not brace her fall. In a split second, I knew she was about to fall hard with nothing to protect her little face but her glasses.  I threw my purse down and started running. I think I even said “F@#k!” under my breath. I got there just in time to scoop her up as she screamed “Mommy!” at the top of her lungs. She cried really hard for a really long time. I held her and rocked her and felt both our hearts racing.

And just like that…I knew it.  Something shifted in me.  This was it.

The exact moment I knew she was my child.

For more about “off-age parenting” and what we are learning/practicing around attachment, read Learning the Dance of Attachment by Holly van Gulden.

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