Skip to content

Change and Attachment

September 24, 2012

We’ve recently put our house on the market. We will be moving to the northeast  next summer and have begun a year of “change”.

It’s been stressful on everyone. The house has to be completely clean most of the time–no mean feat with two small kids and a dog with questionable digestion. I have been a bear to live with! Most days I follow everyone around with a dust rag and a spray bottle of noxious cleaning mist. They make a can for just about every surface.

I alternate between excitement about the future and the choking sadness that comes from leaving the home where your children were babies. You might see a house–I see the floor where my son took his first steps. I see our first Christmas as a family. I see every significant moment frozen in time in the place that I have called home.

Yet, the house is going to be sold.

The laundry must be done (and you know how much I hate it!)

The beds must be made.

Toys must be picked up.

Dinner must still be made….it is a lot to ask of anyone.

It is particularly hard on Mo Man. He’s working on developing a groove for kindergarten and home work. We’re starting soccer soon and his little plate is full. Emotionally, things have been difficult for my guy. Then, I began to see signs that all of the stress had begun to raise questions about his adoption and attachment.

First, he asked if he was moving to the northeast with everyone else. Would all of his toys make the trip? Would we throw his things away and leave? How would everything fit on the plane? Then the stress led to questions about his place in the family. Where was his “other mom?” Did she move? Why did she leave him? Who was I–really? Why did I end up being his mom? Did he also have an “other dad?” Did we love him? Were we going to leave?  Did we love him as much as we love Baby Leighton? Who did he look like? How did he end up in an orphanage? How did we know that he was there and what made us come to get him?

There have been days when the fear and rage in his little body just could not be contained. Days when he hit me and shouted “You are NOT my mom”. Days when we heard “You are NOT my family. I DON’T LOVE YOU.”

There were days when he needed to get up in the middle of the night and sleep on the floor next to my side of the bed. Days when I would wake up to see him holding my hand and gazing solemnly at my face. Days when he said “I love you. I am so glad that you came to get me in Vietnam. I was waiting for you.”

Lesson. No matter how far you think that you have come, there is still something that can happen to bring you right back to where you began. Who knew that cleaning out the clutter and tacking a For Sale sign in the yard would bring this?!?

I remember how he used to cling to me and stare at me with those sweet pleading eyes. I wasn’t allowed to eat, sleep, or use the restroom without my little side kick. I thought if I just held him enough and let love wash over him day and night that one day we would all be fine. And we have been fine…except for isolated moments like these and then I remember that some scars never fully heal…and that some scabs fall off easily to reveal the deep wounds underneath.

And losing your “other mom” and your “other dad?”

That wound is primal.

I do the only thing that I know how to do.

I hold him tighter and repeat “Mommy is here.”

Mommy is here. Mommy isn’t going anywhere without you. Of course you are coming with us. We ARE a family. If I go–you go. Our family is forever.

It seems to be working for now. Lately, he’s been talking about his wish list for the new home. He’d like to have STAIRS. He would also like to have a “game room”.  He’s still iffy on the grass and the yard because of the bug situation 🙂

I hold him just a bit tighter these days and struggle to keep the routines that we have in place.

Hang in there, my love. Our new home will soon feel like “our home”.

Every little thing is going to be alright.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2012 5:52 pm

    Big hugs to you mama and your little man XXXXXX

    • September 27, 2012 11:13 pm

      Thanks, Kelley! Hope you and your sweet little ones are doing well!

  2. Laura Hodges permalink
    September 27, 2012 1:59 pm

    Jenn….this breaks my heart for Mo and for you. I have given considerable thought to what you’ve written…it’s lingered in my mind and on my heart. I don’t know if it is the teenager in me who was in a different high school every year I was in high school (my own moving anxiety raising its’ ugly head!), your friend (me, again!) wishing there was something I could do to help, or the school counselor who has experience working with those precious elementary students (yep, me again!)….but here are a few things that have crossed my mind.

    I looked online to try to find children’s books to send Mo about moving, and none of them looked ‘right’ to me. I’m still not finished investigating this option and plan on going to B&N to physically look at books to send him. If I happen to find something suitable, I’ll let you know so he can look forward to a package in the mail.

    One of the things I used to do with elementary students is ask them to draw. I would sometimes give them a topic, and other times, not. No matter how verbal a child is, they still lack the words to fully express what is on their mind and heart. Of course, Mo hit hard with the “You are not my Mom. I don’t love you!” Could he have picked any two other things to say that could have hurt more? I don’t think so. As someone who has moved a lot, he is worried about all of the normal things children worry about. Asking him to draw pictures of the family in the new house, drawings of him doing all of the new exciting activities there will be to do there (snow skiing? ice skating? sledding?), family gatherings, etc. Also, asking him to draw the family traveling to the new house — maybe get a map out….we are here now….we are moving here….put stickers where grandparents live, cousins live, so he can begin to see that there are people he knows and who love him already living there. Sometimes I would ask my students to draw whatever they wanted, and I would patiently wait while they created their masterpieces. Usually they would get into deep concentration (heavy breathing and concentration — ‘in the zone’ look — boys would usually start breathing through their mouths! lol)…..sometimes they would talk and tell me what they were drawing — I never asked I always waited for them to tell me — other times we would talk about their drawing after they were finished. ‘Tell me about your drawing.’ ‘This part is really interesting. Tell me about this — what is this?” I never assigned anything to their drawings…I always let them tell me what they had created. I did always ask them to sign their art, as all artists sign their work. This always seemed to please them. Then we would always hang the art, because all art is displayed in some way. Again, this always pleased them, and from time to time, they would bring a friend into my office to show them that I was displaying their art in my office. Enough on this…you get the idea, I’m sure.

    Final idea….and this may sound really crazy, but get matching shirts. Everyone wearing the family shirt is moving to the new house. No exceptions. Only people wearing the family shirt can move to the new house.This shirt is an outward symbol of belonging. Simple and who knows, maybe it might even work.

    Bless Mo’s heart, and bless yours, too, Jenn….hang in there. I think you are one incredible Mom, and that you are doing a fantastic job. I am not surprised at all, though, because you have always dedicated yourself in life and have done your very best. I will continue to keep you all in my prayers — that the house sells and that the move is uneventful….

    Much love to you always —

    • September 27, 2012 11:12 pm

      Laura, thank you with all my heart for the wonderful suggestions. We are doing our best to get Mo involved–asking for a wish list for the new home, asking how we will decorate his room, planning which toys to bring in the car and which to pack for later. I would love to know if you find some books to cover this topic! We rely so much on our adoption books and our adoption play group when times are hard and the support keeps us going.

      Like you, I moved a lot growing up. Five elementary schools and then the craziness in high school. I feel strongly that I want to spare my little ones the fear and anxiety that comes with all of the change as much as I possibly can.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: