Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today, I actually felt loving feelings for my child

It is a dangerous stew.

Puberty in a very traumatized child, who lives in a constant state of shame.

That same kid has a birthday today.

They sabotage their own birthday - destroy it - stomp it into nothingness, because they doesn't believe they deserve it.

This is following 2.5 years of Mom being beat to a pulp under the fear of that trauma. Daily darts of rejection from your child. This is tough stuff (and that sentence is such a JOKE - there is absolutely no way to truly capture what it means to parent our hurt kids).

This morning, they were the last to come out of their room. I was nervous.

Walked through the living room and their older sister started beating out "Happy Birthday" on the keyboard (they have been working all week on this). The birthday kid smiled. at. their. sister. and waited for her to finish, before talking.

Everyone told them happy birthday and this kid. smiled. and said, "thank you." They all talked about cards and pictures they wanted to give them, and asked if they should do them now or wait. This. kid. smiled. (seeing a theme here?) and told them to wait until later. I said, "Maybe tonight when we have your cake after Dad gets home." And. they. smiled.

I said, "I thought you might want to start your birthday by reading all of the comments from people on my blog yesterday." And. they. smiled. and said, "Okay."

I just watched them, walking down with her siblings to do some chores, until they was out of sight.

And I cried.

I also felt this thing ... this thing we all WANT to feel, but have long since lost in the middle of the pain and rejection.

I felt loving feelings for my child. In that moment, I wanted to run them down and wrap my arms around them and smell their hair.

No, really.

Instead of painfully embarrassing the 11-year-old, I'm crying while I write this out. Praying, hoping, dreaming for more. Knowing the day is not over and may very well change, but I will take my moment. The moment is huge. The moment proves this can be done - that not just they can heal, but that they can draw others to them by their mere existence.

Today, I actually felt loving feelings for my child.


kristal said...

so. huge. and almost as huge is the fact that you are willing to admit that it is not routine for you to feel this way. you are tearing down walls miss christine. you are freeing us all to stop hiding and actually face this. which, as you know, is the only way healing can begin. happy birthday, mar. the gift is for all of us. said...

Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase Love ca move mountains. Happy birthday Mar

Brandi said...

OH! this is so yummy, delicious, gorgeous, extraordinary, brilliant, fantastic, grace-full, blessed - oh i could go on and on and on.

M, happiest of birthdays to you. and C you ARE an amazing mother. thanks to both of you for letting us all be a part of your God-breathed lives!!!

peace love & birthday cake


Jennifer said...

I just stumbled to your blog from another one and I am sitting here crying as I am typing. I finally feel like I am not alone!!! I have the same thing going on with my 7 year old. I can't wait to read more of your blog. Thank you for posting what you did today. Happy Birthday to your sweet little girl

Michelle said...

Happy birthday to your little girl!

Hang on to that moment in your heart - and thanks for letting us share it too.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Wallow and bask in the love. Happy birthday- may this year bring wondrous surprises to you all!

Laynie said...

I cry as I think of the conversation I had with Nelda last night...admitting that my feelings toward my daughter resemble those you speak of. And how I HATE the way I feel and pray it won't always be this way. I love this story! Please wish Mar a happy birthday and hopefully we can get over that way soon! Congrats Mom, you've done an amazing job!

Chantelle said...

Have I told you lately that I love you?

To say - out loud - that you don't normally feel those loving feelings. I can't thank you enough for helping to shovel off a few layers of guilt from my soul. ((((hug))))

Kerrie said...

I am so happy!

coffeemom said...

Now that's some kinda birthday gift. wow. huge. wow. Kinda envious even. but oh, wow, really happy for you both to have that moment (and the tp one before. huge, that)

Diana said...

Crying and praying and dreaming and hoping right there along with you. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to turn my house upside down soon if you keep me dancing on the ceilings like this, too!!

I know very well what you meant when you said there aren't words to describe what parentning hurt kids really does to US. I so get that. And, I so get what it means to savor these huge moments! May the rest of your day turn out as beautiful as these moments have!

Brandy-new rad mom said...

Wow. Happy Birthday and she did it with a smile. You have done one heck of a job with her and stuck with her when she needed you most. I am so happy she was able to experience a birthday because she deserves it. I am glad she knows that SHE DESERVES it! I teared up when I read your post. Admitting that our kids are hard on us and the love feeling seeming so foreign is hard to do. I am filled with joy knowing you were able to look at her with pure love and feel all the warm goodness that comes from it. You give me hope for my future :)

Thanks fore being raw and honest and sharing the good and the bad with our little community. It means the world to a lot of people.

Amy said...

The person who said you removed a layer of guilt from their soul? I second that.

Happy birthday to an inspiring little girl :)

Hannah_Rae said... I want to we can make it.




Hedged in Beauty said...

Loving attachment is possible! I'm so grateful you're seeing it!!!!

After 3 very difficult years, we were blessed with 10 beautiful wonderful years.

I'm praying for your family that you'd exceed even that. I thank you for your honesty and openness. You and Mar continue to bless so many families as you openly and honestly share your experiences. I'm grateful for your ministry to all families impacted by RAD.

Dia por Dia said...

Happy, Happy Birthday to that very special young lady! Corazon says she looks forward to seeing her soon and saying Happy Birthday in person!

To you all I have to say is that you are amazing and wonderful and special and clearly "meant-to-be" for that child. I truly value your reminders, challenges, honesty, courage and tremendous generousity of spirit. Thank you!

Ariana said...

You amaze me.
I found your blog through your youtube account which was linked from someone else's blog. lol

I've only read a few posts and watched a couple videos but still reading this today makes me feel so overjoyed and emotional.

I'm so thankful there are people like you in this world. Doing the hardest work I can imagine. I go throughout my day struggling with raising my own children without these issues and come on here and see you living this every minute of the day and succeeding and thriving and basically being, as a mom, what I hope I'm being without the difficulties of RAD issues.

It's inspiring. Thank you for sharing this all with us, strangers :-)

Anonymous said...

Such a small smile can be such a huge thing. I am so happy for her to be healing, growing, and letting others love her and celebrate her.

Happy Birthday Girly!

Amanda said...

Hallelujah. Thank you Christine for your honesty. It brings healing to your readers! Thank you for your determination. God's glory is being revealed in your faithfulness to Mar.

Happy Birthday beautiful Mar! And peace to you beautiful Momma!

Tammy said...

Yeah, I know that feeling :o) What an awsome moment to feel the love you have been walking out all of this time. Savor it! Nothing she does can take it away.

Happy Birthday to your daughter.

BTW... I am sharing your Therapeutic parenting videos left and right. LOVE them!!!!!!!They are so helpful!!!!

nancy said...

I can remember the day about three months ago when I realized I was feeling real love for our newest daughter. She is beautiful, sweet, has a gorgeous smile and dimple. She attracts attention without meaning to with her sweet and beautiful self.

But for me, she has saved some of her rudest behaviors, rages, darkest glares. She has nowhere the issues that you have had to deal with, but has still had to work through a lot of feelings and anger. Even though I don't believe she'd be diagnosed with RAD, she's shown very obvious signs of struggling to bond with me as her mom. During the adoption process, when she was maybe nine, she met her birth mom. I think this has a lot to do with her difficulties in letting me in. That, and the fact that she is just a very stubborn child, as we were told before she came home. Bingo. Nail on the Head right on. Our other daughter adopted from the same orphanage at age ten also had some difficult days, but those didn't last as long and weren't as hard for me as this has been. Difference in persoanlities, for one. No memories of birth mom, for two.

We're still dealing with these things with Newest Daughter, but they've improved immensely. After nearly three years, she is beginning to see that it's not as worth it as she first thought.

So I can relate to finally realizing that I loved this child with my feelings and not just in my actions. It was amazing, that moment, standing in the kitchen and hearing her truly give me a heartfelt apology for once again being rude and trying to somehow punish me for trying to love her. But just this morning, she tried the avoid eye contact and don't answer bit with me. Her sister just walked by and said, "Stop being rude!" I think that says as much to her, when others point it out to her as when I do. She tried to shut down recently, avoid looking at me when I was addressing her. I asked her which it was, did she not learn how to look people in the eye when she was in her first country? Or was she just trying to be rude to me? She curtly answered that she didn't learn it in her first country, because that's how they did it there. While there is some truth to the cultural differences, I told her no one I knew from her first country does this to me, and she doesn't do it to any one but me and her sister when she is trying to correct her behavior, also. She's also been told for nearly three years now to look me in the eye when I talk. Plus, the anger in her voice had nothing to do with culture, and everything to do with not wanting to be told by me what to do. Hmmm. Not going to fly with me, Girl.

Quite awhile ago, I showed Newest Daughter and our other three kids at home now (we have eight, four grown and out of the house) your video of Mar and the vacuum cleaner. They all knew I was showing them because of how Newest Daughter sometimes acts. Everyone "got it", even Newest Daughter. Thanks for sharing your difficult journey, your sense of humor, and your hope with so many who struggle with some of the same issues.

mom in the Midwest

The Lundy 5 said...

yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!! happy dancing with you! ((((big hug)))

Sean's Ladies said...

YAYAY!!! Happy Birthday, MAR!!!!

today reflects the healing for both of your hearts. No small thing, Christine. press in

Susan T. said...

Happy birthday to your daughter! And hurray for all of you.

That's a wonderful post.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Mar! I don't know you but, from what I have read about you, I think you are a strong, beautiful, courageous person that will help so many people by sharing your story.
Christine, I am not a parent and I do not have experience with RAD. However, I am interested in going back to school for my Masters in Social Work, and would like to work with children who have gone through trauma. I love reading your blog and listening to your videos. Your voice is so calming, that I feel less stressed when I listen to your videos! Want to do a meditation tape for me? ;) I want to learn how to learn from parents what there life is really like and what works for them, instead of trying to put my "professional" opinions on them. I look forward to reading more of your blogs and seeing more videos.
Mar, Mac, Rocky and Precious, I think that you are all wonderful, caring people, and it is great to hear about the support you give each other. I wish you all the best of luck and would love to go on vacation to your RV park!Have any wheelchair accessible RV's? :)

Karen in Missouri said...

OH, MYLANTA, I just love all the progress that is taking place at Hill Shade!

ROCK ON, MAR! You are doing the hard work to improve your life each day...and girl, that is cause for celebration! Yes, it REALLY is, and YES, you REALLY deserve it!

Christine, your heart just drops me straight to the floor happy that this child is livin' in the sunshine of your love!

I'm just PROUD of you both! Wish I lived close enough to squeeze the heck out of ya!

HAPPY, LOVELY, WONDERFUL, FABULOUS BIRTHDAY to a beautiful girl...with great big love from Missouri!

BT said...

So thrilled for you. And how vividly you captured the agony we've all experienced of not having those loving feelings on a continual basis, and the guilt that goes with that. So glad for the progress Mar has made with you to help her. Even if she went downhill throughout the day (I'm eager to hear the update), the morning you had with her is still huge and a sure sign of progress and healing.

Now that we're at the five-year mark with P, we have started to snowball a bit with these positive developments, and I find myself with the luxury of feeling that burst of love (rather than exhaustion, resentment, fear, etc.) so much more regularly and frequently. I think Mar is headed in the same direction. She and you are working so hard at it.

Happy happy birthday to Mar. May her upcoming year of life bring her wonder and awe and confidence and a sense of how truly amazing she is.

a Tonggu Momma said...

Christine, I am thinking back to when the Tongginator was 4.5 years old. She'd been home about the same amount of time as your Mar. And I remember having this epiphany one day - not only did I love my child now, but I also ENJOYED her. What a difference that made - not perfect, but oh, so different. Y'all are on your way. You truly are.

Ranee said...


I am new to your blog and your AMAZING You Tube videos! I just wanted to tell you what an inspiration you are! Happy Birthday to your beautiful Mar! :0)

Tenntrace said...

Awwww! Happy Birthday, Mar (even though I'm a bit late). And Merry Christmas, Christine (seems like that sort of present that you got this morning).

Bryna said...

crap, you're gonna make me cry. and i've been crying all darn day because my foster kid's so out of control right now and we are in so far over our heads. we are parenting a child who doesn't believe he deserves good things or to feel good or happy. it's so painful to watch a little child (9 in our case) not be able to just accept the happiness or love. thank G-d for the strides your daughter is making, and for the rockstar mama that you are! it's beautiful to know that the patience pays off.

:)De said...



Unknown said...

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Mar!
Christine, this will be a birthday you will never forget. So wonderful.

Kim said...

So beautiful! So. Very. Beautiful!

Room For More said...

Lovely post. Lovely.

Trauma Mama said...

Oh, how your happy posts bring tears to my eyes.

jendoop said...

Our 18 month old foster son had a major tantrum today, I mean above and beyond anything I ever experienced with my other kids. The first tantrum since he's been with us (11 days). Because of you Christine, I could keep my head and let him ride it out, knowing I couldn't do anything during it. When he calmed down we had some cuddle play time.Thank you.

Glad you had a wonderful moment today, hopefully the rest of the day was OK.

Lori said...

Happy Birthday, beautiful Mar! Keep telling yourself that you CAN heal and you ARE worthy--because you are! God don't make no junk, my dear!
Your post really touched my heart, Christine. Love really does heal...
Hugs, Lori