We’re now about nine months into our journey with our beautiful Little Legs. The bit of the adventure since she actually moved in as part of our family. The biggest things I have learned so far are mostly about myself. My character. My personality. My strengths. My weaknesses.
Oh my weaknesses! I am less patient and more selfish than I had ever realised. I was always fully aware that I am not perfect. But my character flaws have been rammed home harder than ever in the last six months or so.
Because of her early life experiences, Little Legs often regresses to wanting to have everything done for her, as if she were a much younger child. This is very usual for children who have been through trauma or loss, especially within adoption. Little Legs is not a demanding child. She has experienced things that we cannot even begin to imagine or understand. Having read lots and spoken together about this at length before her arrival, we knew this was likely to be part of her attachment journey. And yet I have found it so hard to be patient with this, to meet her needs in this way, to love her by doing for her.
At times she wants to be dressed/undressed as if she were a baby. She wants to be fed her tea. She wants to be carried and cuddled and soothed. She wants the sensations she would have experienced with us as a baby.
Thing is, she often wants this when I am trying to get her out of the door to be somewhere. Or when we have just got in and I am spent. Or when she is supposed to be getting ready for bed. What is even harder is when she needs this affectionate attention after behaviour that we would not have let our birth children get away with. In some of these moments I have stood in the bathroom fighting the tears and praying for strength to be the grown up in all of this.
Today I have dressed her, fed her lunch, held her and stroked her back, undressed her, stroked her hair while she sucked so hard on her dummy. I have put her shoes and coat on her three times, and taken them off her three times.
And for some reason these things really push my buttons. If I say no, she screams and rages. A visceral, throat ripping rage. And yet I wrestle with not wanting to say yes. Because I just want her to do what I know she can do. I want her to be able to do these things for herself. So I often push back and we lock horns.
Today I went in the bathroom and prayed. I asked Father to help me to be patient and to see Little Legs through His eyes. To love her through this. And it was ok. We cuddled and we chatted and we giggled a bit. She was still challenging and testing. But I was a bit more kind and patient. And that felt like progress. She is rubbing off some of my corners. And I love her for that.