I have another post saved titled, “During Respite” that is supposed to be my thoughts and feelings while Boohoo was in respite earlier this week. It was a cross between respite and a slumber party. It was respite in the sense that she went with a friend who is a foster mom and knows her stuff and a slumber party in the sense that there were two other little girls there (her kiddos) and that it wasn’t only motivated by us needing a break or because of behaviors or something like that. Since we’re moving and we were going to have packers/movers in our house for two days I knew that I could not keep track of the movers and three preschoolers and that Boohoo would have the most anxiety about people being in our house and the least anxiety about leaving. What? Guilt? Me? Yes. Because we all know that a “Good Mom” whoever she is, would have been able to handle all those things, plus done a homeschool unit on the history of cardboard boxes, and make cupcakes shaped like moving trucks and become Pinterestly famous. Alas, I’m not the woman. Actually, I take the “alas” back. I don’t want to be that woman and if you’re reading that blog I’m sure you know I’m not that woman since in the last two years I haven’t even managed to update my blog header.
I was not prepared for our After Respite Response from Boohoo. While she was in respite I stayed in text-touch with my friend and while there were a few surprises (positive and negative) there wasn’t anything that was REALLY surprising. She had a good time without anything overly special happening while she was there. She showed some behaviors. She didn’t show others. It was fine. I still had on my delusional glasses, apparently, because I read into some of her behaviors that some of her stand-off-ish-ness was because she missed us.
I texted my friend that I was a 20ish minutes away (I was not driving the car, at the time) and after a few minutes she texted me back to give me a heads up. She told Boohoo that I was coming and she had a meltdown.
I come up to the house, smiling and happy, but not trying to overwhelm her with ME. She walked out of the room. I give her a minute and follow her, just chatting to her, to my friend. I ask for a hug. She refuses. I try to be playful. I pick her up to hug her. She goes stiff, pushes away from me, and tells me to put her down. I put her down and try to talk to her, she won’t look at me or speak to me.
Internally, I’m having my own flashback to picking her up in Ethiopia, when her nannies had to shove her into my arms, when she leaned away every time I leaned in, when she just shut down instead of risking connection. I understand it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt me, or hurt her, no matter that she thinks she’s protecting herself.
Silent treatment. Blank eyes. I hate you body language. I put her in her car seat, still smiling and talking about being home and other idiotic stuff. I don’t know what I should have done, maybe I handled the whole thing wrong, maybe I’ve handled the whole last two years wrong. On a group I am in recently another mom said that she’s never had enough “me time” for the “luxury” of depression. So clearly, I’m doing things wrong, but stereotypical stigmas are still alive and well!
I talked to my friend for another few minutes while it began to really sink in that maybe this isn’t “just” me. Maybe, fixing how I parent, how I respond isn’t going to be enough. Maybe Boohoo really does have RAD and maybe we’ll be getting an official diagnosis in a few years. Two years and she wouldn’t look at me, speak to me, let me touch her. That isn’t normal. That is RAD.
In the car, she had fallen asleep. Maybe it was sweet, but I also know that’s still a defense mechanism harkening back to our first day together. When she woke up we ate some fast food in the car. She finished her drink, throw it down on the floor, and started screaming. No words, about ten minutes. Then she stopped. She asked me to play “Pocketful of Sunshine” and so I did. She loves that song. I even call her “Sunshine” sometimes. I wish I had my own pocket full of sunshine because two years home and she wouldn’t let me touch her.
I don’t know how this caught me off-guard. I NEVER thought that she wouldn’t want to come back with me, that she wouldn’t want me. I don’t know why, but this never crossed my mind. I know (trust me, I know) it’s been a rough two years, but I never expected this. I wasn’t expecting her to worship at my feet…but I would have told you that she’d be happy to see me, would hug me, would want to come home. But she’s hungry for a different home. one I can never be. She wants a mother that I can’t be. The question that remains is if I can be the mother that she NEEDS even if I’m not the one she wants, deserves, or should have.