Sunday, April 20, 2014

At Easter, Last Year


I blogged earlier today that Abi has been having a rough few days.

By "rough," I mean that there is something so distracting going on inside her little gourd that when Curly told her that something was in the kitchen, she could not remember what the word kitchen meant. She repeats questions five or even eight times because she can't remember the answer. She regresses to eating behaviors from years ago. She doesn't listen to directions; she's impatient with Bean; she has little interest in even her favorite toys. She plays as if she's on autopilot, following the other kids but not really caring what she's doing. 

I have been wracking my brain: why? Why now? Why Easter time? Why so bad?

In one of my favorite adoption blogs, Parenting That Heals, Christine talks about anniversaries of trauma ( ) and how even subconscious anniversaries can cause pain. She mentions PTSD flaring up and behaviors changing wildly. As I read, I nodded my head. 

I went through Abi's history in my mind over and over. Was there a traumatic event that happened at Easter? Abandonment? An orphanage move? None of those happened at Easter. But it was too obvious to ignore. Something has got her all upset, and it looks like a trauma-versary. 

Hubby finally solved it for me tonight as we sat talking, sprawled in the living room at eleven o'clock at night. 

Her eye surgery. 

Just last year. That happened right at Easter. In fact we'd had to skip church because she was in too much pain to go.

I thought back to that week. The horrible pain she'd had to endure, the wrenching groans, the way she'd curled up, her face pressed into a pillow. The pain just seemed to go on and on. Then the surgery and the visceral shock of losing a body part, and the post-surgery pain, though that was shorter. 

No wonder she's been a mess. 

Having the mystery very plausibly explained helps me SO much in my approach to Abi. I've been battling a cold and my own lack of energy, so mostly her behavior has elicited annoyance. Or anger. Or sarcasm. Or even ridicule. 

Hi, I'm not a perfect mom. 

But knowing that she can't keep a coherent thought in her head is actually due to the memory of that trauma and pain, and the fear that it will likely happen again brings me to a place of so much compassion. I want to hold my little girl and make all the scaries go away. I want to comfort her and snuggle her, and I don't feel at all impatient with her wooly-mindedness any more. It's completely understandable. 

I started berating myself for being such an impatient mother, lacking understanding, but Hubby stopped me. 

"Go easy on yourself," he said. And he's right. None of us get it right all the time. Hopefully she won't remember how impatient I've been this week. 

I throw myself on the grace of God to raise my precious daughter, and by his grace I have a new strength and compassion to parent another day. A new understanding and a new caring that I didn't have yesterday. 

I used to think parenting meant teaching children, but I am beginning to see that it's more about them teaching us. 

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