Sunday, November 17, 2013


I stayed home from church this morning because my toddler threw up last night.

All. Over. His. Crib.

Ah, the joys of parenting.

He actually threw up the night before, too, but after an entire twenty-four hours of puke-free bliss, we assumed it had been an isolated event and fed him accordingly.

Alas, we were mistaken.

I have to say, my husband is the best puke-picker-upper in the whole wide world.  I don't do well with puke.  When I'm around it, it takes everything in me to not become a sympathy puker, if you know what I mean, and while I'm positive that my husband doesn't enjoy scrubbing vomit from various textures of fabric and floor coverings, he does so immediately and without a word, leaving me to tend to the distraught little puker.

I really love that man.

Anyway, my poor baby, my little Mr. K, is two-and-three-quarter years old.  Not old enough to explain that he's feeling nauseous, not old enough to understand that he's about to throw up, and definitely not old enough to aim for a bucket, hence the crib-full of nastiness. (Mr. K is not a fan of his puke bucket, not even after we decorated it with vehicle stickers to make it more "inviting").

One thing Mr. K does know at his tender age, though, is that Mama and Daddy love him and will take care of matter what.  He is unmistakably secure.  As soon as I heard him scream last night, I rushed up the stairs and into his room.  I picked him up, I carried him to the bathroom, I wiped his face and his tears, reassured him, gave him a bath, dressed him in clean jammies, sang to him, and snuggled him until he was ready to go back to bed.  Then Daddy brushed his teeth and carried him back upstairs, tucking him into his freshly washed bed.

He felt safe.
He felt loved.
He felt like the most important person in the world.

While bathing my pruny toddler last night, washing away all evidence of sickness with bubbles and giggles and rubber duckies, I couldn't help but compare this situation with the first time Miss M was sick in our home, only months after she came to us.  She was four years old.  Like Mr. K, she got sick during the night, after we had put her to bed. 

We found her in the morning, wide awake and caked in dried vomit.

Why?  Why didn't she call for us?

She didn't feel safe.
She didn't know she was loved.
She had learned early in her life that she wasn't the most important thing to anybody.


Attachment is a real thing, people.  It isn't just a parenting style, it isn't a belief, it isn't some sort of philosophy about never disciplining your children and letting them do whatever they want.  Attachment is something that every single child needs, and especially in those critical first three years of life. Children need to know that their cries will be heard and their needs will be met and that they are important and valuable and priceless just because they are, and not because of what they do.

Hug your babies.  Hold them.  Rock them for hours, sometimes even in the middle of the night when your eyelids will hardly stay open and all you can think of is sleep.  You'll have the rest of your life to sleep, and only these precious few years to shape your baby's world.  Give your babies your time.

And those toddlers, discipline them in love.  Don't spoil them, teach them to obey and to help and to do nice things for others, but also read books and share secrets and plant sloppy zerberts on their bare little bellies.  Hug them and wrestle with them and tell them you love them. Every. Single. Day. Spend as much time with them as you can, treasure them, and they will learn that they are treasures.  Give them the best chance at life: teach your little ones that they're important.


It took several years, but Miss M now readily seeks us out whenever she doesn't feel well or is in pain.  We can't always fix it, but we're so thankful that she now knows that we love her and seems to understand that we want to take care of her.  We're working on helping her to believe that she is priceless...a child of the King, created in His image, and worthy of being loved.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mama and Miss M

My blog has been hijacked this past year by often-dreary accounts of Mr. J and his attachment-influenced journey into adolescence.  I'm kind of an emotional writer, and, especially when I don't have a ton of spare time (any homeschooling mamas with five kids at home want to vouch for me?), I tend to sit down to write only when the emotions are high and I feel like I'll burst if I don't get them out.

Which is why my fourteen-year-old son, who has frequently dominated my emotions, has also dominated my posts for a long while.

In my preoccupation with Mr. J, though, I'm afraid I've neglected to update on something miraculous and incredibly important:

My daughter, Miss M, is doing really, really well.

Actually, if I'm being completely honest, Miss M and I are doing really well.

This fall, I began my third year of homeschooling Miss M.  This means that she and I have been predominantly together since June of 2011, when she finished second grade. 

It's been two years and five months. 
That is a  l o n g ,  l o n g   t i m e .

In the beginning, I wondered how I would ever survive being with my daughter nearly every waking moment.  If you recall, she was an extremely difficult child to be around.  I'll leave it at that, but if you look up any posts about Miss M from a few years ago, you'll get the picture. (Look under the RAD posts tab at the top of the page if you need a refresher).

On top of that, at the time that God asked me to homeschool, I was a frustrated, hurt, angry, bitter, traumatized and (more than I care to admit) unforgiving Mama. 

No one likes to talk about it, but parenting RAD kids often brings out the worst in us.  The beautiful intentions of helping and healing and loving that hurt child get pushed to the back burner as each day - day after day, year after year - becomes a matter of survival.  You become a control freak, because all a RAD child wants (every waking moment) is to control you, and you start to become paranoid about the motives behind every little thing your child says.  On top of that, even "good days" are not good days, because of the anticipation of them becoming "bad days" in a moment or less. 

There are no easy, relaxing days in a family with traumatized children; RAD parents are constantly on edge.

So, needless to say, after she finished second grade, I felt like I needed to - even deserved to continue to send Miss M to school, even though it was a toxic environment for her. 

But God had other plans for us.
Miss M is reaching for healing!

Two years and five months into this journey of forced togetherness, my daughter and I are (for the most part...tween drama aside) peacefully building a mother/daughter relationship.  Things aren't perfect: Miss M still has goals to accomplish on the path to her healing, although she's come remarkably far, and I definitely have a ways to go on my journey to become like Christ, but we are both moving forward.  Together.

In the beginning, I doubted that it could ever be true, but I'm a better person for having spent these last twenty-nine months with my little Miss M, and she's a much healthier and happier girl for having spent it with me.  I thought God was crazy when He asked me to give up my life, in a sense, for this child.  I understand now that the best place to be is always inside of God's will.  Follow His leading, trust Him, and the rest will somehow fall into place. 

I'm very proud of my daughter; of the vibrant, empathetic young lady I've seen emerging from the broken shell of RAD in recent months.

And I'm very thankful to God for using Miss M and her struggles to overcome some of the worst in myself.

I'm beyond excited to see where He takes us next.