Archive for parenting attachment challenged children

The Holidays Can Be Lovely With Children From Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I just met up with my adult children for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. I found myself marveling at how they are unfolding.  I mean that.  At 21 and 23, they are adults with lives of their own.  They are happy.  They have interests and friends and places to go and things to do.  They are grown up and I no longer worry about them. And that is the point of this post.

I worried way too much when my children were growing up.  Because they came from difficult beginnings and because their behavior was out of the ordinary, I fretted and worried and over controlled them.  I downright ruined every holiday.  Yes, it was me who ruined them, though at the time I quietly thought it was them ruining it for us.  I was wrong.

What I didn’t know how to do then was accept my children as they were.  I wanted them to be the way I wanted them.  You know, a lot more perfect.  Way less messy.  Seriously better mannered.  Definitely well regulated. I didn’t want their trauma to be impacting my holidays–pure and simple. Every year, every holiday I didn’ want that.  And, every year, every holiday they were who they were–traumatized, attachment reactive children from difficult beginnings.  Who needed to change in this situation?  Who had the most potential for change at the time?  Yep, it was me.

I could have accepted my life and my children. I could have changed my expectations and made the environment trauma-sensitive.  I could have been considerate of what they could tolerate and how long they could tolerate it.  Instead, I tried to fit them into my life the way it was before children and the way I thought other children were able to fit in.  My children weren’t other children; they were actually special with special needs during the holidays.  I could have been more loving and less worried about how they behaved. I could have been more flexible.

I learned a lot about myself while raising my children.  Much of what I learned was not pretty or pleasing to me.  Frankly, I wasn’t personally prepared for traumatized children.  I had to learn to be.  I had to learn to let them be.  I wish I knew then what I know now.

My children are unfolding in their adult lives according to their abilities.  That was always their trajectory.  My advice to my former self (who might resemble your current self): worry less, accept more.  I think that is the definition of love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  Look for new day in January TBD next year.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

The Ugly Strings

Dear Parent,

Being of the bootstrap type, I am not one to wallow long in disappointments.  Brush off, jump back up: my motto.  Then, there are times when my relational failures with my children break my heart.  I am disappointed to the core that I cannot intervene in the whirlwind that is my child at this point in her young adult life.  And, I have to face the fact that it is not in my control.  She has her own trajectory.

For the last four months she was back home, I wondered when my feelings of hope and faith would run out.  How many times could I be manipulated, lied to, and used before I would wake up with nothing in my heart?  It turns out that love does matter, and it persists beyond reason.  I am disappointed to find that my ability to hang in here with hope and faith for a different outcome has pooped out.

Once again, I am the bitchy, bad mother; the adoptive mother who never had anything to offer except money and defective parenting.  Once again, I am rejected and cutoff for setting a boundary that I felt had to be set.  In the process I took the low road a couple of times. I am not proud. I am, however, continually humbled by the deep-seated effects of trauma and abandonment on the psyche of young children.

Eventually, down the road, my daughter will come back in need.  Her glasses will break; her ankle will twist; the system will be unfair; she will be hungry, homeless, helpless.  She will come back to my doorstep in tail-tucked, desperation, calling me Mommy.  I usually meet the need because she is my baby, my heart.  I love her dearly and it rarely goes well. She feels ashamed, a failure, beholden for needing me.  My expectations for her to use my help wisely scares and burdens her until she lashes out.  Heads or tails, I may or may not lash back; and around we go one more time. That is our well-worn dance.

I always want to take a different path with her, but it is tricky for me.  I am kind of twisted up.  My husband in frustration asks, What would you tell a parent in your office?  He thinks I have magic words there that I don’t apply to myself, but I don’t really.  I honestly cannot unravel enough to get a clear thought.  That is the way of attachment entanglements. For awhile, one cannot think.

I do, however, know the path; it is just freaking hard to walk it.  Here it is: only give love and other stuff freely, without strings of expectation for my daughter doing right by me.  My child does not have the personality structure to do right by me.  Why does she have to do right by me? That is my thinking that keeps the entangled dance going.  Those are the strings I attach to my love and my financial support.  If I cannot cut those strings, we marionettes will continue doing what we do.

My emotional work is right in my face.  I might need a chain saw to cut these strings. Come hell or high water (I have no idea what that actually means), I am going to get it done. Brush off, jump back up.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily emails of Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

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To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

 

Disorganization Nation

Dear Parent,

I live with four young adults with extremely disorganized brains.  That, of course, is not the science.  Neuroscience tells us that the executive function–the part of the brain that governs organization, sequencing, cause and effect, logical thinking–of traumatized children has been delayed and in some cases damaged by long term exposure to stress hormone, cortisol dumps.  Whatever the reason, the result is hard to live with.

I thought the following might help some of you with older attachment challenged, trauma-brained children living at home.    They live at home long into adulthood, so prepare yourself. Here are some ways I go about helping everyone participate in the function of the family:

  • Every day there is a chore list waiting with a 24-hour time frame.  There are usually two chores assigned to each person. Some days there are no chores. Yippee.
  • When a chore is not done well, it appears again the next day for a “Try again.” No one gets in trouble over undone chores.  Just a reminder or a little lesson on how to do it better.
  • Bedroom cleaning finds its way onto the chore list, if necessary. And it is always necessary with some.
  • I give them all a full allowance on Friday to support a sense of relationship, family, sharing and cooperation. I don’t nit-pick or take money away for missed chores. I just give them a do-over, training, or reminder for mistakes and accept that they are human.
  • Everyone is responsible for doing their own laundry, and I let them decide how to cooperate around the use of the washer/dryer.  I could organize it for them, but I think they need to learn to collaborate with others.  One day I will not be here and they will still need clean clothes.
  • I talk about cooperation when things lag–like using the last of the toothpaste, TP, paper towels, wash clothes–and encourage them to take initiative to make sure the next person has a supply. No one wants to be on the one sitting down, staring at a bald paper roll with one square of TP.
  • There is a list on the frig when someone uses the last of something, like butter. Everyone writes on the list.  Sometimes frozen waffles gets written four times a week.  I just can’t seem to remember to buy them.
  • We all have established shower times, and exceptions are often made.
  • The main living area is always clean and presentable, so guests are welcome any time without a fuss.
  • I pay for a housekeeper every two weeks to do the deep stuff.  This saves my life. Disorganized brains are not usually deep cleaners, and I have a job.

    The Attach Place

    The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily emails of Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

picture of cover

 

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Compassion Is An Essential Ingredient

Dear Parent,

My heart breaks when I hear your frustration and desperation in the face of your traumatized, attachment challenged child’s continual shenanigans.  I remember those feelings with stark clarity.  There were times when raising my children where I felt quietly suicidal, and a moment when homicide was a secret thought.  I am not joking, nor proud, nor taking it lightly.  I was attachment challenged to the max with no idea how to make things different. I felt helpless, powerless, angry and despairing.

Parents usually snicker a little–or roll their eyes in exasperation–when I call their child’s behavior shenanigans.  My use of that silly word marks the shift in my own child rearing experience: from one of hell and anger to one of love and compassion.  Before thinking shenanigans, I thought bad, horrible, embarrassing, hateful, and criminal about my children’s behavior.  My own feelings, thoughts and beliefs about what was happening was creating my reality, destroying my beautiful life.   During that time I blamed my children.  It was their crazy behavior that was ruining my life.  And, the more I thought that way, the more I believed myself.  The more I believed myself the more hopeless, angry, and desperate I became.

Here are a few things I learned to embrace that changed my parenting life and probably the hearts of my children:

  • My children (and yours) are seriously impacted by abuse and/or abandonement before coming to me
  • Their brains are different because of trauma, and need long-term therapeutic parenting
  • My brain is different because of trauma in my own childhood
  • Their shenanigans are like toddlers in bigger bodies
  • Shenanigans are not personal assaults on me
  • My task as a parent is to give consistent structure, nurture, and acceptance
  • It is not my children’s job to meet my needs for love, respect, power, and control
  • It takes a long time to create safe relationships with traumatized children
  • Safe relationship is the only way to create the conditions in the brain for positive change
  • I can love my children, even when they don’t know how to love me back
  • I can love my children, even when they do shenanigans
  • I can love my children, even when they disappoint me
  • I can love my children, even when adopting children turns out to be unfathomably hard
  • My children’s birthright is my love, acceptance and compassion
  • My children’s shenanigans are not who they are
  • Seeing their shenanigans as who they are interferes with loving them into health

I hope this helps you do some deep investigation into your own feelings, thoughts and beliefs.  The only person you can change is yourself.  In so doing, your children can become more and more who they were truly meant to be.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

Ce Eshelman, LMFT, is an attachment therapist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

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Available on Amazon.com.

Lying Is What It Is

Dear Parent,

This is a usual occurrence at my house.  I send my son to his room to clean it up before his friend comes for an overnight, and twenty minutes later I ask through his closed bedroom door, Is your room clean?  He yells out, “Yes.”  Since I know this boy, I open the door to find him stretched out across his bed reading a comic book over crumbled Ritz crackers, a dirty plate with utensil stuck hard on it, two half-eaten bagels (Why two?), various candy wrappers, a zillion cords to electronics he doesn’t even have access to anymore, and a lot of maybe laundered, maybe not laundered, clothing. There were other things, but I will spare you the visual.

In the moment of seeing him there, I am instantly disgusted by the state of his room and slightly dysregulated that he felt the need to lie to me.  Nowadays, it doesn’t take long for me to de-personalize the situation and slide back into regulation enough to say, Hey Buddy, clean up your room.  Lying is not necessary, while quietly pivoting away.  Scorching the earth like a Mommy Dragon is not the way to go.  It would cause us both further dysregulation, the room would not get cleaned, and our relationship would be strained one more time.

Lying is a maladaptive coping mechanism to hide a number of things, which only sometimes is laziness. Often my son lies because he literally forgot by the time he trekked the hallway to his room why he was going there in the first place.  Or, he reflexively lies out of dysregulation trying to get out of trouble because he has poor executive function; and, he didn’t get the cause and effect of his actions. Sometimes, he gets overwhelmed by the the size of a task, cannot figure out how to get organized to start it, and  distracts reading a comic book. The lie is just a cover.

These are not excuses.  They are very real executive function deficits from cortisol (stress hormone) poisoning his brain for most of his life.  My son has a trauma brain, which looks like severe ADHD that can be only slightly mediated by medication.  The rest of the time he needs simple directions, hurdle help with organization of large tasks, reminders, lists, and help understanding what led him to tell a lie about his room being clean.  Applying negative consequences to a maladaptive coping skill is like punishing a baby for pulling your hair. It won’t stop it from happening again in a few minutes, but it will make the child and the baby fear you.

Yes, it is mind numbing to continually need to help a child, however grown up they are (19-years-old and counting now).  But, it is what it is.  My son needs my help still.  Your child probably needs yours, too.  It takes at least 400 repetitions to create one new neuropathway.  Repetition is the key to learning for most of our children.  Getting angry when you are only on the 200th repetition is futile.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily emails of Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

picture of cover

 

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

Spanking Is Anachronistic

Dear Parent,

I’ve been on a bit of a rant recently about stopping the dead end, research uninformed, culturally sanctioned (behind closed doors) childrearing practice of inflicting pain to get a child to learn.  Sorry about the ranting, but I just gotta do it a little more.

Perhaps it would be helpful to talk about the role rage and anger play in the culturally sanctioned (behind closed doors) childrearing practice.  When we hit our children in anger and/or rage, we are abusing them.  That’s the plain truth.  Have I ever hit my child in anger?  Yes, and if you have read my book or my blog, you know my children feared me because I consciously set about putting the “fear of God” into them. Frankly, I thought I needed to do that because they showed very little fear in the face of my best Joan Crawford, Mommy Dearest, hairy eye-ball.  It followed, in my mind, that the lack of parental fear at 3- and 4-years-old would certainly lead to them becoming axe murdering criminals in their later years.  I know many of you fear this. I went so far as to actually fear they would kill me in my sleep.  Fear is cra cra like that.

What I didn’t know then is what I can share with you today.  That lack of fear I saw in their faces was frozen terror from trauma caused by the several parents that came before me. My kids showed up in pure terror, and I didn’t help things by resorting to anger and rage over their lack of respect for my authority.

I am here to tell you that my children were never going to be axe murderers.  That was fearful, catastrophic thinking from the loss of my illusion of control.  My children didn’t need to fear me to do what they were told, thy needed to trust me to do what I asked.  I was so confused in the beginning of raising my very challenged and traumatized children that I couldn’t see how challenged and challenging I was.  I couldn’t think clearly myself, so I guess it makes some kind of twisted sense that I would try to teach my children not to hit by hitting them.

I was expecting ordinary child mischief from my kids and they were dishing out exponential amounts of B-movie ruckus. If I had know that they needed more TLC than the average child; more understanding; nerves of steel on my part; and the patience of a running river to keep the high road, maybe I would have held structure and bathed them in nurture.  Maybe. I’m not sure, but I hope so.

How cra cra do you get in the face of your child’s lack of trust in your parental authority?  If you are calling it defiance, opposition, resistance, evil, calculated, rejecting, soulless, heartless, or hateful, then I know you need help seeing your child for who s/he really is–a traumatized, terrorized, wounded child who needs lots of consistent structure, consistent nurture, and years of patient loving persistence.  If you aren’t giving your child those last three things, you need to get yourself some help to do it. Otherwise, it just gets worse, and no amount of spanking will change their fear into trust.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

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Ce Eshelman, LMFT, is an attachment specialist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

Available on Amazon.com.

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents blog, click here.
The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training course is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.
TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

Renaming Discipline

Dear Parent,

I wonder how I would view disciplining children if it were called shaping children or growing children or supporting children?  Would you see discipline differently if it were called something else?

I know the word discipline derives from the Greek word to follow or follower of a teacher (like Jesus). In the truest sense of the word, it follows that children are the disciples of parents (who often are not at all like Jesus); however, it does not follow that discipline means “to teach,” but rather it means “to learn.”  To teach is a misnomer.

In popular culture, discipline has come to mean something more authoritarian, power over, and punitive.  To discipline a child is to create learning through some form of pain–isolation from the family, restriction from play, loss of beloved things, slaps, spanks, verbal lashing, humiliation, and other unspeakable forms of torture in the name of discipline.  Pain of some kind is de rigueur,  as though pain infliction is the only way to get a child to learn.  Isn’t that odd?  Even a little counterintuitive from where I stand.

I wonder if I would have learned Spanish if every time I conjugated a verb incorrectly the teacher inflicted pain so I would learn.  I am actually having a hard time even imagining that scenario.  Of course, we all know pain is not necessary to learn Spanish or any other academic subject.  I think we all know that, except a lot of knock-down drag-out fights over homework might be evidence to the contrary.

Actually, to really learn Spanish (for native English speakers) there needs to be 1) a desire on the disciple’s part to learn, and 2) there may or may not be another reward involved, such as a passing grade, the ability to speak with someone in Spanish, the internal feeling of pride and accomplishment, or college entrance and employment advances.  Come to think of it: I’m pretty sure had pain been part of the equation, I would have elected not to learn Spanish.  I would have given up on my desire to learn it, and any of the possible rewards that would have accompanied acquiring Spanish speaking skills.  I never would have made it to college, because a language is required.  I would not have become a teacher or therapist.  Likely, I would not be able to afford the luxuries my professional career brings me.  I might have ended up living below the poverty line:  Perhaps even lose my will to accomplish anything in life at all.  I might have started hating Spanish, and learning, and teachers all together. I might have dropped out of school, given up on myself and my goals, and perhaps pursued a less than savory lifestyle to get by.

If I had to choose between painful success and painless survival, I’m not sure I would have had enough pre-frontal cortex developed in my high school years to make a decision that ultimately would have given me life advantages.  To clarify, the decision that would have given me life advantages would have been to continue on learning Spanish, while hating learning, hating teachers, and despite the pain inflicted when I made mistakes–despite the pain, not because of the pain.  (I thought about inserting an old Nun quip here, but I’m too serious about the topic to make it funny.)

What do you say we collectively stop painfully disciplining our children to teach them to learn and start supporting them, growing them, shaping them to learn instead?  Just a thought on this fabulous Friday.  Go have some fun with your precious traumatized, attachment challenged babies.  Playful engagement is the best teacher of children and it is  in their native language.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled in June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

picture of cover

 

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

 

Calling For A Revolution

Dear Parent,

I am on a soapbox today.  Don’t let any professional tell you that you are a bad parent because you need a break from your traumatized, attachment challenged child or if you think your child’s behavior is unsafe at home.  If your adopted child is tantrumming, self- and other-harming, ruling the roost, and challenging your authority at every turn out of fear related to his/her difficult beginnings, you may be suffering from Secondary Posttraumatic Stress. There is even something called Post Adoption Stress.  These are real experiences of loving parents everywhere who have adopted hurt and wounded children. It is phenomenally difficult to maintain one’s sanity while trying to heal these scared, scarred, and reactive little (and big) children. Unfortunately, because there are not enough respite resources and money to pay for consistent, competent childcare, adoptive parents fall prey to illness from stress–posttraumatic, post adoption stress.

Compounding the problem, if you happen to have trauma in your own childhood narrative, the likelihood of you coming down with a stress illness from the prolonged duress of raising challenging children is exponential.  If you doubt me, check out Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’s short TED Talk to hear the truth, THE EVIDENCE, about adverse childhood experiences (ACES) on all humans, children and parents alike.

It seems child welfare professionals (not individuals necessarily, but collectively) are having difficulty holding the dialect that loving parents are still loving parents when they get stressed out.  Loving parents can break down.  Breaking down does not mean one should not continue being a parent.  It may mean  child welfare agencies need to step it up. STEP IT UP!  Stop withholding funding, permissions, resources.  Stop putting parents down and holding them back.  STEP IT UP with more support directly into the purses of the parents who are ragged under the weight of trying to get what is needed for their children.

I am very deeply concerned that adoptive parents are being blamed by agencies, social welfare services, and adoption support organizations for not being able to whether the ill effects of childhood abuses on their adoptive children. Adoptive parents are getting the shaft, taken to task, called up on CPS charges, blamed in WRAP team meetings, and getting scorched and scorned behind closed clinical doors (where the motto is supposed to be “nothing about them–parents/children–without them.) This is happening simply because the adoptive parent ends up having posttraumatic symptoms directly resultant from the prolonged reactive, stressful behavior  on their own brain functions.  That was an ineloquent set of sentences, and I don’t give a care.  I mean every awkward word.

My views on this do not make me the most popular person in power’s that be circles and I can’t care about that more than I care about the families I see every day in my practice who are hurting and desperate for help.  I am not blaming the system.  I want to change the system.  I believe it has lost its collective way under the misguided belief that evidence-based interventions must all be tried and failed before creative, holistic ideas can be considered. We need to pull our heads out of…the sand.

I am calling for a revolution in post adoption services, a la Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter.  If $10,000 per month can be given by a county to a WRAP program to have meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting to no solid, tangible, evidence-based result for adoptive children, then adoptive parents ought to be given a shot at the same amount of money each month to acquire real, therapeutically trained, in-home supports that will actually help with the stress, remove some of the barriers to therapeutic attachment, and soothe the frayed nerves of adoptive parents who want nothing more than to be the loving, healing agents of change their children need.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

Ce Eshelman, LMFT is an attachment therapist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

picture of cover

 

Available on Amazon.com.

Coherent Narratives

Dear Parent,

You might not know this about me (amidst all you do know):  I am a closet poet.  I used to be less closeted about it. Thought for awhile I would actually call myself a poet.  But that was when I was younger and had not yet found my calling (or read any real poets.) Yesterday, I wrote a little blog about mothers and one of my readers mistook it as a poem. She said it sounded like one.  It really wasn’t, though her comments sparked a memory that I was once a writer of poems.

In a minute I am going to share an actual poem I wrote some thirty years ago when I was wrestling with the notion of having a coherent narrative–that was long before I ever knew there was such a thing.  All of my life to that point, I had been trying to figure out what really happened in my childhood.  If you have read my book, you know more about that than you probably want.  Still, I tried to get coherent about my personal history before I was a therapist and before I was an adoptive mother.  I had no idea at the time why, except a nagging feeling that I would feel better if I understood my childhood better. Now I do know, and I want you to know so you begin to think about getting your narrative into coherent shape, too.  If you do, your relationship with your adoptive children will get better.

When you hear the angry sound of your mother’s words and voice tone coming out of your mouth while upset or challenged by your children, then you can know that your narrative has a bit of incoherence in it.  You are acting out the imprinted parenting of your childhood, perhaps without mindfulness.  The question is:  Do you want to be the same as your parent when she/he was upset?  If your parent was great, then the answer will most likely be yes.  If your parent was not so much great, then you might want to become more thoughtful yourself about your personal childhood story.

A well understood story is the beginning of a life well lived.  An incoherent, buried, denied or rejected story, may wreak havoc in your life, especially in your parenting life.  It is never too late to have a well examine childhood or to change a painful bout of parenting missteps into compassion for yourself and your child.

This is a poem about my mother.  It was my first attempt at a coherent narrative.

Identities

For that moment at least

I was you—

            from “Images of Godard”

            —Adrienne Rich

 

I remember a snapshot of you

and a Christmas turkey losing its wing to the blade of your

butcher’s knife

the camera’s flash caught the point

throwing white light across your face

leaving only the turkey focused

 

I remember about you      but I can’t quite see your face

your face that looked like me      Grandma says

like me when I’m angry or napping

you had fiery red hair stacked tall on your head

and there was some family joke about Dad

standing on a milk crate in a long lost portrait

trying to be taller     taller than you and your persona

“We never messed with your Mom” teased the men from the shop

where you worked your knuckles red and chapped

stripping flesh from bone     slicing muscle from fat

“She was a tough lady” they smiled fear lined admiration

no woman could match your easy wit and razor sharp tongue

no woman of your apron bound generation

 

Holding my shoulders high like you

my tongue as sharp and fiery

I sometimes scar others as you once scarred me

 

Passing the butcher shop today

I glimpsed my reflection

in the storefront window

and for a brief moment     my hands ached

and I knew myself as you

 

Love matters,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Ce

 

Ce Eshelman, LMFT is an attachment therapist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

picture of cover

 

Available on Amazon.com.

Like Clockwork: A Mother

Dear Parent,

There is nothing more certain than a loving mother.

She rallies when the chips are down and shows up to cheer when the sails are high.

She trudges through dark of night for a gallon of milk, and braves the brutal sun to see the bat swung by her wee-ist tyke.

She holds a steady heart during a good old tantrum, and five minutes later plans a family trip to the ocean per chance a whale spotting might delight.

She bites her tongue when a blistering quip is just right for the battle, and sometimes to her chagrin out it all tumbles.

She can be long suffering in truly ridiculous ways, so she rarely sees anything but the last cold pancake with one bruised berry on her breakfast plate.

She can joke about painful things, though in the quiet of her private space she is raw to the bone.

She laughs and cries like her life depends on it, and frankly sometimes is actually does.

She holds her children when they need love and safety; adoring the former while hating every minute of the latter.

She works and studies and cleans and tidies; and picks up and puts up and keeps right on going toward the things that matter.

She is a perfect blend of Super Girl and Wonder Woman, even though there are times when she feels more like a rag doll who has lost some stuffing.

She is strong and tender; tough and kind.

She means business and is, by her child’s account, uncool in the most inappropriate places.

She endures all things, giving up only occasionally on make-up, hair-cuts, and the latest fashion.

She pulls-off this whole child rearing thing every day because she was made for it, and once in a blue moon she wishes she wasn’t.

She is a contradiction; both symphony and garage band in three-quarter time.

She is amazing and dazzling in her ability to juggle.

She is love in action, rarely resisting the third request for a tickle or a snuggle.

She is terribly flawed and beautifully human for sure.

She is committed and dedicated, as only she can be.

She takes time for herself, when internal combustion nears.

She is on a mission of her own making; on this you can trust.

She falls down and pulls herself back up, because her family needs her.

She has soft eyes to comfort the most fearful heart, and a stink-eyed, hairy-eyeball like nobody’s business.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

She has the laser focus of a Jedi, whenever her child is at stake.

She is love.

She is certainty itself.

She is a mother.

…and mom love matters,

Ce

Ce Eshelman, LMFT is an attachment therapist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

picture of cover

 

Available on Amazon.com.