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.

What I should have said

What I should have said in that last post, what I meant to have said in that last post, was this:

The smell of melting butter and raw sugar puts my soul at ease.  When I stir that stuff together and put my nose up real close, I forget about my humanness.  I forget about the thing that makes me most angry about myself; I am able to, for a few moments, let go of that dreadful green thing called jealousy.

Just a pot... a teeny tiny pot, full of 2 magnificent ingredients used in the art of baking... sitting on top of a flame and combining into one thick, sweet liquid.  Watching it, moving it, basking in it's scent.

Moments spent focusing on what is right in front rather than letting all other things infiltrate the mind and spirit.

A great big sniff.  Makes my eyes close and I stop thinking about stuff.  Stuff that doesn't directly impact me unless I allow it.  Stuff like things.  Jobs.  Desired friendships.  Blogs.  Comments.  Body image.  Body shape.  Confidence.  More things.  Attachment.  Ease.  Sexuality.  Money.  Neighborhoods.  Passion.  Family relationships.  Fertility.  More and  more things.  Time.  Knowledge.  Wisdom.  Perfection.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


"The art of baking can be a solace as well, when you are in need of comfort yourself...."

(ps- a new class started today; I needed to be reminded of the smell of relaxation and warmth and calm)

Friday, February 25, 2011

As I prepare

As I am preparing to gather and share thoughts regarding my family and the concept of attachment, I came upon this blog post.  You should know that as I read it, I made the decision to take in each and every word with some form of distance:  You!  Words!  Over there.  Me?  I'll stay right here on the couch with a screen separating us, thank you very much. 

Truth?  I don't think I'll remain unscathed.  Hell, the post hit me hard enough in the gut that I'm posting it here.  I anticipate that by letting the words soak into my being overnight, my spirit will be all kinds of prunee tomorrow morning and there will be tears shed in the shower. 

Probably lots of tears.

This post.  Phew.

I think about her everyday.  I think about the two of them together everyday.

Each time I glance at the birthmark on his leg I wonder if she kissed it the day she told him good-bye.  I wonder what songs she sang to him when he was growing within her.  How often she rubbed her belly.  If she smiled when he kicked her and what she did to soothe his restless spirit in the middle of the night.  I wonder how she responded to his first cry- if she smiled or if tears crept down her cheeks.  What it was like for them when he was hungry- when she fed him, when she realized she couldn't feed him enough, what he was diapered in, if he preferred sleeping in her arms or somewhere else.  I think about their final moments together and find it nearly impossible to breathe.  I think about his realizing she was gone, his initial moments of missing her... and I want to throw up.

His first night.  His first morning.

Her first night.  Her first morning.

His first birthday.

The days in-between and the days to come.

I wonder about a lot of things.  A whole lot.

Her heartache.  His heartache.

Their trauma.

It makes me....  I don't know.  It makes me....


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Being called out

Here's the deal: 

I get lazy.  Or tired.  Or lazy.  Or I'm not really even sure which is which anymore.  All I know it, I tend to drop the ball.  On stuff like emails.  Phone calls.  Birthday cards.  Christmas presents.  Thank you cards.

I don't think it's because I'm thoughtless- but maybe it is?  I would hate to think that was the answer.  At the same time, I would hate to think that I drop the ball because I'm in the early stages of dementia.

Shit.  Which is worse?

Thoughtless?  Early stages of dementia?  Thoughtless?  Early stages of dementia?

I really don't forget for forever and ever.  I do get the thank you cards out, I do get the birthday cards out, and I do get the Christmas presents out; just never mind that the beginning words attached to everything typically follow the format of: "Dear _____, I hope you agree with the mindset of better late than never- because if you don't, I'm screwed."

Real nice way to start off a letter.  Or an email.  Or a tag.

I've been called out on a couple things recently that have caught my attention and have forced me to say that I  promise to do better.  One is responding to emails that are full of thought and love and attention, and the other is responding to blog comments (that are full of thought and love and attention).

To be honest I didn't know that people really went back and looked through comments; however, it should be noted that apparently people do go back and look through comments.  So.  I'm going to work on it.

And the emails?  I always want to respond but I typically look through emails during five-minute breaks.  I want to spend time with my responses- put a lot of thought and appreciation in them.  Problem is, I forget.  And then, well.  So.  I'm going to work on it.

Thoughtless?  Early stages of dementia?  Thoughtless?  Early stages of dementia?

Both seem shady to me.  Makes me think I should take a break on the Diet Coke.

Monday, February 21, 2011

As I am thinking about it

Good ol' President's Day.  Gave me time to breathe.  To think.  To run around and laugh out loud with my boy.  To grin and smile and argue and watch the snow fall and throw logs on the fire and contemplate friendships and finally, to bake.

Anyway.  I'm feeling real good about my decision to leave the ol' digs.  As I wrote my final post this evening, my heart fluttered just a bit.  It's never done that the five million other times I've skipped town and started up my homebase elsewhere.  I think it's because this time I know it's a for sure thing.

I'm actually okay with starting again (I'm not just trying to convince myself... really!).  I think I was getting caught up in all the wrong things and needed to reevaluate why in the heck I choose to keep this writing and hitting the publish post button and writing some more thing up.

Is it pathetic that I feel like the only people out there who truly get me (besides, of course, my Tesoro) are a great big handful of you?

I appease myself with thoughts like this:  like all women, like all mothers, things change drastically when wee children come into your life.  And although I haven't experienced motherhood in one fashion, I am experiencing it in another.  Although I think both are so the same, I think both are so different.  And the truth is, I don't feel like you think I'm making up excuses when I say that our family is different from the rest down the street because our son is an Ethiopian American (well, still technically an Ethiopian).  That there are different challenges, that there are different sorrows, that there are different guilts.

Just recently I read an incredible blog post where an incredible daughter made an incredible statement to her incredible mother.  It went something like this:  "Just because I'm black doesn't make me your slave!"  I gasped out loud when I read that and immediately thought- shit.  Shit, shit, shit.  How does one get through that right there?

As I read through the comments, I noted that one of the first ones talked about how she could have just as easily said: "Just because I'm your kid doesn't make me your slave!"  And that, well, that made me want to scream.  Because the thing is, she didn't say that.  She said the other bit instead.

Different challenges.  Different sorrows.  Different guilts.

It's not worse than yours.  It's not better than yours.  It's just different.  Than yours.

I'm glad to be here.  I'm glad to be baking and writing and reading and learning and crying and laughing.

Just glad.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tired but content

I know this doesn't matter to anyone but me, but the news is that I passed this last course with an A.

Hell ya.

I worked hard for that grade and I'm damn glad it worked out.

Only one more year to go and then I'll be done.  Life will resume without course work taking up every spare inch of time and I might just even end up pulling out that wretched Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred.  Or maybe, by that point, I'll have come to this miraculous understanding that my body weight really doesn't mean much at all in the grand scheme of things mighty and good and that I should just move forward without freaking out whenever I eat a bag of M & M's after a rough day.

The disappointing news after all that hard work on both my part and the rest of my crew?  State budget cuts.  My guess is that you've probably heard about it in your area as well.  Not sounding so good.

Advice?  Go out there and hug your child's teacher.  She or he just might need that extra boost.

In the beginning

It's been a love/hate relationship for a while now.  The old blog's been holding me back.  It's making me mad.  It's taking energy I would rather not spend.  I write stuff on there and don't get feedback from family.  From close friends.  You know- the people I would sort of expect to hear from.

Drives me insane.  Makes me not want to share.  Makes me want to throw the computer.  Makes me want to stick my tongue out and scream "na, nee, na, nee, boo, boo!"  Makes me look at them in a strange fashion when we encounter each other, wondering what in the hell they might be thinking about me.  About what I said.

Do they think I'm crazy?  Do they agree with me?  Do they think I'm an idiot?


This morning.

I decided what the heck- start over again.  Make a new blog.  Use pretend names.  Don't make some kind of big announcement on the old blog.  Send the address to some folks you trust to start things out.

See where it goes from there.

Yep.  Here we go.  Again.

Workshop for Beginners.

I have yet to figure out the names for my family.  I have yet to pick a new template.  All I knew was, it was time.  Today was the day.

Today is the day.

A new beginning for a beginner.