Does she zone out like she used to? No, she doesn’t, and we can see that she is often genuinely happy. But there are times when I really don’t know what she is thinking or feeling. Her face may be expressionless, or she may even be smiling, but when I put my arm around her, I feel how stiffly she is holding herself, and when I put my hand on her chest I feel her racing little heart…signs that her smile is fake, and she is, in fact, scared to death. But her smile, and calm expression can sure fool you…
I have talked before about attachment, and little M bonding to us. I get asked quite a bit about attachment, and of course it is something I often think about.
It is not something I think about on a daily basis, but it is often in the back of my mind, and sometimes something will happen to remind me how far we still have to go. Usually, it will be when we are around other children…other children who are little M’s age who don’t ask for everything, other children who do not have to be instructed on how to hug (“put your arms around mommy, and give me a hug…”), and other children who just seem to be more secure and self-confident.
Sometimes, someone will ask about attachment, or comment, as my child is
clinging fearfully to my neck hugging me with all her might, that she seems so attached to me… I usually just smile, and then turn my attention to little M to reassure her that even in this new situation, she is safe with mommy. “Safe with mommy” has become our mantra over the past months.
Don’t get me wrong, we have come so very far in the past year. Little M is a totally different girl than she was even six months ago. When I look back at pictures of little M from last Spring, even after she had been home for six months…my heart breaks. At the time, I thought she was happy, and while she was slowly learning that she was safe and loved, in those pictures I see the sadness in her eyes, the often glazed over look, and it makes me wonder…
Will I look back at these pictures a year from now, and wonder how I could have missed sadness, or confusion?
I hope not! But the more I get to know little M, the more in tune I become to her emotions, expressions, and feelings, the more I see how adept our little girl is at hiding fear and big feelings.
So. All this to say that attachment, for us, will be something that we will always be aware of. It will always be something that we work on. But doesn’t every parent? What are some attachment building activities you have used with older children?