Monday, February 28, 2011

The worst time to write about attachment

This is the worst time to be writing about attachment.  The worst.

I just left Leone in his room; the past 5, 10, 15, forever minutes were spent with him crying, wailing, sobbing for his papa as I bathed him.  As I wrapped his yellow duck towel firmly around his beautifully soft baby smooth skin and carried him into his room.  As I massaged lotion into his body and put his two-piece pajamas and squishy soft socks on his feet.  As I carried him in my arms to the rocking chair, dimmed the lights, and said shush with the gentle bluegrass playing beside us.  As I tried to calm him while he repeated, "no mama, no mama, night, night, no mama, paapaa."

As soon as I laid him down, he stopped crying.  He stopped saying "no."  He became quiet.  He squished himself up and moved away.  He calmed.

My arms were empty, he was distanced.

I left with tears streaming down my cheeks and his wet towel stuffed into my mouth so he wouldn't hear the wretched groan that was so badly wanting to escape me.

This was not the way I had expected it to be.  In fact, this was so the opposite of what I envisioned my journey through motherhood being like.

What do I say?  What can I say?

Attachment is not about me.  If that were the case, little Leone and I would be stuck at the hip with skittles gently raining down onto our outstretched fingers and the sounds of songbirds playing at all times.  He would want me to comfort him, he would allow my touch, he would trust me.

If I'm being honest, it all finally hit me a couple months ago as I was driving a long stretch of windy highway, mountainside to the left of me and roaring river to the right.  I don't recall what had happened that morning in particular, but I do remember thinking- it doesn't matter if this beautiful son of yours never wants to be squished up tight against you... you love him, you will love him, you will not leave his side.  Make sure he knows it.  Make sure he knows it.  Make sure he knows it.  Time to be a grown-up.  Time to be a mama.  Time to stop thinking about your wishes and dreams and desires.  Suck it up, love him with all you got, get to it.  Keep on keepin' on, only stop being so damn pathetic.

That day I was able to stomp into the classroom, put on my teacher face, and feel hope again because, by God, I had made a decision.  I was tough.  I could handle it.

And then something else happened.  And like the other event, I can't recall the exact details- but I do remember accepting complete blame for all events:  Leone isn't attached to me because I got sick in Ethiopia.  Because I freaked out that first hour with him once he had been placed in my arms.  Because Tesoro changed his diaper more than me that first week.  Because he knew that I wasn't worthy.  Because I didn't force him to stare at me while I fed him his bottle.  Because we didn't co-sleep.  Because I didn't figure out how to breastfeed.  Because I'm white.  Because he knew I was afraid.  Because he had so many women care takers in his life.  Because I went back to work after three months of staying at home with him.  Because I had prayed for him.  Because I'm selfish.  Because I'm not his first mother.  Because I had thought it would be different.  Because I don't have what it takes- and he knows it.

My heart aches when I look at the ease with which infants, toddlers, small children melt into their mother's arms.  Nestle up to the breast for comfort.  Fall asleep in their arms. 

My boy, my love... that has not been the two of us.

All of that being said, I am grateful for this:  Leone does tend to lean to his papa.  He finds relief in those arms and has been known to drift off to the Land of Nod more than once.  He seeks comfort there, and he receives it.  Thank God.

Thank God he seeks and finds.  Because the idea of him staying away from both of us, all of the time?  That is unbearable.

Do I worry about sharing this?  Do I wonder what people will think of my admittance?  That they will point at me and shout- "think about your boy!  Think about what he has gone through!"

Yes.  Yes, I worry.  At the same time I hope that they have read other words of mine, from blog posts long before this one, in which I write about my worries for my boy, my anxiety for him, my love for him, the way I think about his first family on a daily basis and wish with all my being that things could have been different for all of them.  That although Leone is my heart, I wish circumstances would have been such that he would know of no loss at this point in his life and thus had learned to only love and trust.


I worry.

But more than worrying about what others have to say or presume about me, I worry about my boy.  His heart.  His comfort.  His trauma and his healing.  His trust in me and others who will come his way.

We will move forward.

Hope is not lost (no one said it was).

Trust, love, learning- that is all in the present and the future.

To my Leone- I cherish you and love you and will always, always, be here for you.  Even if there are mountains to climb, boulders to smash, rivers to swim through, oceans to paddle.  I am yours.  Forever and always.