Monday, November 14, 2011

Rearing Its Ugly Head

We are in a tough season with Li'l Empress. There's no other way of saying it - it just is what it is.

Separation anxiety is rearing its ugly head in her little heart and mind once again. Drop-offs at Sunday school have grown more painful, with feelings of increasing anxiety leading from the time she starts getting dressed all the way up to the actual dropping off and signing in at the door of the class.  Drop-offs at pre-school are increasing in difficulty also.

For two Sundays in a row now, I've had to stop at the doorway of the nursery (on the way back out to the sanctuary) to compose myself. Her tears and cries for Momma are heart-breaking to hear.

In my head, I know that this revisiting of the stage is developmentally normal. Age-appropriate, life-experience appropriate. Even "adjusted age" appropriate. It's normal... the other kids did it at 3 and 4, too. In my head I know that.

In my head, I know I've done all I can do to prepare her, assure her, and then prove to her that Daddy and I will be back to get her. In my head, I know she is safe and well-cared for. In my head, I know that SHE knows she is safe and well-cared for.

But it doesn't make her tears and cries for Momma any LESS heart-breaking.

Nor does it make this stage any less exhausting.

Which, ironically, I think might actually be making this stage last longer than it needs to last.

(It might also just feel like it's lasting longer than it needs to last. I know that too.)

Because I am finding myself much less patient with her constant need for reassurances as we're walking down the hall to Sunday School.

Because I'm finding myself snapping at her barrage of questions about who is in charge in her class room and who will pick her up when church is over.

Because I find myself bristling every time she asks me who will be the drop-off teacher at the pre-school line.

Because I find myself so.over.the.drama. that all of the reassurances and questions and crying are creating.

Like just now.

She just came to me, asking who was going to be putting her to bed tonight. She interrupted my train of thought, asked it in a whiny, nervous tone, and I didn't hear her at first. So she asked again. On the verge of tears at the thought that the answer might be Daddy instead of Mommy.

I heard it that time. And because I was being interrupted. Again. For the same basic reason as so many other interruptions in these last 5 weeks. I snapped at her. I told her to ask me again later. That I didn't want to talk about bedtime so far before bedtime.

The irony is that while I'm this tired and worn out from the constancy of this need, what she needs the most to move past this scary-to-her part of the need is my gentle, tender reassurances and patience. She needs me to be present and to validate her feelings while taking the time to allay her fears and insecurities. My impatience and snappish-ness is just making her more nervous and uncertain.

So, I stop what I'm doing. I stop thinking about what I know she needs, about what I know I've done to meet those needs, and I do it. I just do it.

I'm pretty sure that what I was doing (typing out a blog post) WAS going to translate to something brilliant here. But the brilliance is gone.

That's okay, it was fleeting and likely not as brilliant as I'd like to think it was, I'm sure. It rarely is.

Instead, there's soft hugs, back rubbing, and tender whispers of love and constancy.

Praying while I whisper of the constancy of our presence and our love.

Of The Father's Love.

Fighting back the ugly head of her anxieties. Slaying the dragon of insecurity once more, vanquishing its hold for another day.

And trusting that there is brilliance in that.


Trish said...

Oh, my heart goes out to you - so difficult to get through these times! I know you can do it, though!

The problem-solving part of my brain wonders if the insecurity related to the constant questions about what to expect and when could be helped with some sort of visual supports - a story about what's going to happen at church with pictures of the people that you could read at bedtime for a few days and then the night before church once things calm down, for example.

If that works, you could do stories with either photos or drawings of whatever she is questioning - bedtime, going to preschool, anything. If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about, you could ask her SLP about social stories. Part of the reason they help Michael is because he processes visual information much more easily than auditory information, so in that way they may be similar.

Sorry to go on and on - I'm sure you have tons of strategies and resources, but I just thought I'd share in case it might help or spark some other idea that fits your situation better.

You are an inspiration to me and I pray you will see a breakthrough very soon!

Aus said...

Good morning GM - I too have a hundred thoughts like this...and then I think back to the kid who is now my 22 year old son. A finer man I don't know that you could meet (he reminds me a lot of Shaggy btw) - and as old as middle school he would still have these kind of worries. Bio or adopted - it is how it is, and

And don't get down on yourself too much - I needed 3 "do overs" myself last night for snapping at youngen's who were asking for something while I was helping one of the others with something else...we all get that way when confronted with!!

Oh - and what you wrote - and how you ended up responding? On of your more brilliant posts - absolutely in the top 10!

hugs - aus and co.

Amy said...

Great post. We have been having some of the same struggles, me and my girl. It is so hard. My poor girl has been abandoned so many times (birth and 2 foster mothers) I am so sad for that yet I get so frustrated with her then I feel like a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE mom. Thanks for sharing your heart and helping me feel just a little bit better or at least a bit normal. and I know it will get better.


TorahGirl said...

My sister had me read this blog. Adoption really messes with a kid's mind. Imagine thinking you are being re-adopted EVERY Sunday! My daughter has nightmares for 3 days after church. Anxiety is normal in separation but terror is not. It is hard but with God we can make it through a short childhood and point to a God that is ALWAYS with us... we are temporary healing and He is that completion they are searching for. For now we are taking a break from church because loving Jesus never meant having to be re-adopted and terrified. My family goes and I take Ruth and we get to know everyone and stay for worship and are planning to either play in the toddler room with her or take her on a walk or to Starbucks. My husband wants to trade but he needs that Sunday sermon so I'm on duty making Jesus be about people and about love and play and worship and presence for my daughter. Adoption is not easy but it is the greatest calling I can think of.

Jerusha said...

Wonderful thoughts...thank you. I too am feeling "over the drama" (and there's been a LOT this week), but must-must-must keep giving my son the love he needs. :) I like TorahGirl's comment too. Jesus is definitely about all those essential things we consider mundane!

a Tonggu Momma said...

Such a real post. The Tongginator continues to struggle with anxiety, even at seven, home six years. Most recently she experienced a major freak out because she bombed a math quiz. The whole "do you still love me?" thing. It's brutal, and we all feel impatience at times with it. But you are so right - by leaning on the Lord, we will persevere. And our children will eventually heal.