Friday, August 23, 2013

Nurture and structure

It started last night while I waited for Walker, whose flight had been delayed from Chicago, to come home. Minutes before midnight, I heard her crying. I went into her room, rocked her several minutes, kissed her, laid her back down. She cried again.

Walker came home and went up to her, tried to soothe her. Didn't work. She began screaming, a weird, new 'cat scream'. Furious. Hysterical. After ten minutes I told him to go to bed and I took over.

Both of the girls awake, crying, miserable. Sent Maggie to Eva's room. Told Bethie to lie down, and she did, but wouldn't fall asleep. As soon as I thought she was, I'd try to sneak out, she'd pop her head up and scream. Finally I brought my pillows and my Kindle and climbed into the top bunk of Maggie's bed.

So now it's 2:00 am.
She sleeps.
Till 5am.
In case you weren't counting, that was a whopping three hours of slumber.

At 7am I ran up to HEB to buy popsicles and watermelon for the 40 or so people who were due to arrive at my house in three hours for a last-day-of-summer bash.

At 8am Walker left to drive to Houston. She whined. She screamed. Maggie whined. And screamed. Ike whined. And screamed. All I wanted to do was whine. And scream.

I put her down in her crib to nap. She screamed some more and hit me.

Then I made the decision to walk out of the room before I completely lost control. 

And texted about forty people and told them the awesome last-day-of-summer swim party with popsicles and watermelon was canceled, because I. Could. Not. Deal. Which completely infuriated my other kids.

So now everyone is mad at me and I am mad at everyone.

Already a really, really, really bad day.
And it was only 9am.

Friends came to the rescue, took one kid to one playdate and three other kids to swim and I laid down with her and tried to get one or both of us to sleep. When she finally napped, I couldn't. Because this is what happens when you adopt a kid. They freak out, they have a tantrum, they scream all night, they act clingier than usual, they begin hugging strangers. They do all the stuff they did when they first came home. The stuff you thought you had gotten past. The stuff you thought you'd conquered. The stuff that they had quit that made you think you were a fantastic mom with a happy attached kid.

So when you finally try and get your exhausted self to sleep, you analyze the hell out of it. Was it from our trip to Houston? That's when the tantrums began. Was it from the Ethiopian food we had when we came back? Did that trigger some repressed memory? Was it that time she got left behind for ten minutes? Did those ten minutes erase six months of attachment?

Is it me? It must be me. Obviously, it's me, I'm the mom. What have I done to make her insecure? How have I backtracked on all the progress?  Have I not been loving lately? Have I been too tired and cranky? Have I been too strict? What exactly, precisely, specifically have I done to completely decimate her psyche? 

WWKPD? What would Karyn Purvis, the adopted child whisperer, do? Well, she wouldn't need to do anything, because she would have have gotten herself in this situation. Okay, WWKP tell Missy to D?

My friend Grace texts me, KP would say: amp up the nurture and structure. 

Nurture and structure. That's what kids from hard places need. Nurture and structure.

Isn't that what all kids need, hard places or not?

Isn't that what I NEED? Nurture, which I am completely bereft of since my husband has been out of town for the better part of two weeks. Structure, which we have not had since school let out in June. Oh, Lord, how I crave structure.

The day did not improve. At Meet the Teacher, one of them refused to look her teacher in the eye or allow herself to be hugged. And by the fourth classroom, the eighteenth form to fill out, the tenth "I'm hungry/thirsty" whine, one of them screamed NO in my face when I told him to go outside. In front of the new teacher who had just been refused a hug. While the little one literally climbed on my back and did the cat scream thing. In front of the new teacher. And several parents.

One of the top five Bad Mommy Days ever. 

Which makes me remember, as I shower after sending three children straight to bed at 6pm.

I had bad mommy days before I adopted. Lots of 'em. Lots and lots and lots.

I had two year olds who threw tantrums, who hit, who acted super clingy for no discernible reason. Who sometimes flat out pissed me off. Who I sometimes had to leave in their cribs and just walk away. In fact, I had exactly four two year olds who acted like this. And come to think of it, every single one of them started having sleep issues when they were...about Bethie's age. Started waking up at night, screaming, acting scared. At the time, I chalked it up to a developmental leap, bad dreams resulting from a suddenly very active imagination. I actually chalked it up to them being bright and creative. I don't once recall blaming myself for it.

Maybe it's an adoption thing. Maybe it's the food or the travel or me being an absolutely sucky mom.

Or maybe that's just the way that two year olds act sometimes, regardless of where they gestated. Especially when they are lacking nurture and structure.

Maybe the kid who screamed all night and whined all day is just really, really normal.

Maybe she just needs a hug, and a rock, and to be told several times it's time to go to bed.

And maybe that means that I'm not a bad mom after all.
I'm just a mom who, for the love of all things, desperately needs some nurture and structure. 
And a hug, and a rock, and to be told it's time to go to bed. 


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