That Rare, Highly Desirable Commodity: Me.

March 28, 2010 Attachment, guest post, KJ 8 Comments

A guest post, contributed by KJ Dell’Antonia (aka Lola Granola). KJDA is a writer (for numerous publications) and is mother to four children. Her youngest, Rory, was adopted from China in July 2009. She blogs about life at Raising Devils.

It has been a rough trip, these last six or seven months, and there were times when I thought I’d never look at Rory and feel just unadulterated happiness. I thought I’d always see the shadow of the things I had trouble with — the way her arrival changed our family, the way it affected my relationship with the other kids, the fear I had that letting her fully into the family would somehow weaken the bonds I already had. There were a lot of things that helped: time, watching this little pumpkin struggle with leaving her foster family, and suddenly realizing that what seemed like sheer deviltry was Rory struggling in a different way, and watching a friend bring home a child Rory’s age, and — another realization — figuring out that adopting a three-year-old meant both making the adjustments you would for a baby, and making totally different adjustments. Not, unfortunately, making fewer adjustments — which I think is honestly what we’d thought. In other words, this was totally new and it was ok for it to be hard.

Which it was.

But we got there. Therefore all should be right and all things in the world should be of a happy rightness, except when they’re not. But now that we’re all in good shape — rolling along as a family, thinking more about speech therapy and soccer than about bonding and adjusting — I just want to be there. But not Rory — she wants to revel in it. Which means that every time I kiss her or love her up, she follows me around, touching me, leaning on me, every gesture asking for more. I try, I do. It’s not like I put out limits — sorry, only six hugs a day for you! — it’s just that I lose patience. I am not by nature a person of great snuggliness, and I am a person of a natural business, and I just — look, if I walk into the bedroom to put a book on the nightstand and then turn around and trip over you, I’m going to be frustrated, ok? I am not that interesting. You do not have to follow me quite that closely!

Then I feel like the dysfunctional boyfriend — oh, no, I only love you if you don’t call me. I draw her in, she asks for more, I push her away.

I know — I should grow up, and give a little, huh? I swear I do. But her well seems so bottomless just now. That’s a sad fact that makes me want to fill it, but I don’t know how much I’ve got. Today I sat down, and she sat on my lap, or curled next to me, for a solid hour and twenty minutes, patting me very gently, snuggling my arm, twisting my earrings. I tried to think of it as like nursing a baby — I certainly put in these kinds of hours under the other three — and that helped, some. But Rory didn’t get up until I got up, and I know she was disappointed. I know Rory loves me, and her new family, but some new mother would have had it in her to just let Rory soak and bask in her love and physical affection. Instead, poor Rory got this used-up model, happier wiping counters and baking cookies than pinned in under a child that really needs a snuggle. I’m going to do what I can to give her this. I just don’t think even the very most I can give — even when I, as a friend said to me recently, “put on my big girl pants” and do the right thing — is going to be as much as she needs.

Today I found myself setting boundaries. I love you, I said, so very much, but I’m not going to snuggle just now. And then — I love you, but I need this much space (as demonstrated with hands) just for me — because she was hovering, not snuggling, but as close as she could possibly be, and with hands out, fingering my magazine, touching my drink.

How awful is that, really? I love you, but snuggle time is over? I love you, but you need to be farther away from me now? I feel bad just writing it. Horrible. But I am who I am, and I can snuggle for a while, and then stop, or I can snuggle reluctantly until I just can’t take it any more, and all patience for the day is gone. I know she needs me. I know she needs this physical affection. I am trying.

I don’t think I realized how tough it would sometimes be to try.

8 responses to “That Rare, Highly Desirable Commodity: Me.”

  1. a Tonggu Momma says:

    This so resonates with me, especially since my daughter and I both have sensory issues, only she is sensory-seeking and I am over-sensitive.

    She was a bottomless well for years. She still is, to some extent. It got to the point where I finally cut myself some slack, realizing that she needed to figure out how to meet some of those needs herself. Sounds harsh, I know, but not so much when you realize I held her for about three to four hours a day our first 18 months together, carried her during my chores and even co-slept. And then I held her for about 1.5 to 2 hours a day for the following two years after that.

  2. Elizabeth@Romans8:15 says:

    We just adopted a 2.5 year old in November 09 and I am so feeling you on this. He is recently just wanting to snuggle and love and be held, which is great….for a while. He is always underfoot. We are actually going to put our house on the market, because I never realized how tiny our kitchen is until I had to do everything with him between my legs. I am like you–a doer. I like taking care of them, cooking, cleaning, taking them to activities. It is HARD for me just to sit and snuggle. I do it as much as I can, but it isn't always my first choice.

  3. Sarah says:

    My family and I are in the process of adopting so I've taken in every word you wrote. I'd like to think of myself of a snuggler but I'm afraid as my boys have aged I'm more of a doer. So, I'm looking to my formal education as a Lactation Consultant for insight. When you breastfeed a newborn, you are forced to sit down and snuggle with your newborn 8-12 times in 24 hours. They start out nursing for hours, then as they get older it's only 5-10 minutes. I'm wondering if giving our adoptive children that frequent snuggle time they need and then gradually weaning them to shorter snuggle times would still meet their needs, yet maintain a doers sanity? Since we haven't brought our baby girl home this is just me thinking out loud, totally lacking the wisdom of experience. Thanks for getting me thinking! 🙂
    God's blessings,
    Sarah 😀

  4. Shirlee McCoy says:

    Lola, have I told you lately how much I love reading your posts????

    My four bio kids are all snugglers. I have never been. I had to learn to sit and snuggle long before Cheeky arrived. Which is good for both of us. Cheeky always wants to be in my lap or holding my hand or leaning over my shoulder. The patience wears thin, but the love grows. You capture that truth beautifully in this post.

  5. Raina says:

    It's like you wrote my thoughts. I have another 3, plus 1 adopted 6 year old.

  6. Donna says:

    I really appreciated reading this. I had one kid who would only sleep if she was laying on my chest and one who never EVER wanted to be hugged or snuggled for the first 18 months after we adopted her. It's much easier to bond with an affectionate child. At least it was for me. But it was EXHAUSTING and I know you can relate to that!

    The first five months we were home with our first daughter (the one who slept on my chest for those first 5 months), she insisted on sitting on my lap while I used the toilet. Sure, I *could* have put her down but I found that it was extremely difficult to answer the call of nature when my 15 month old daughter was screaming hysterically at my feet.

    In time, it gets easier. At least it has for us. And one day I'm betting that our girls will roll their eyes when we dare to ask them for just one hug. When that day comes, I think we'll remember the early months we spent with them and we'll smile.


    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

  7. Stefanie says:

    I can SO relate to this! I find that although I am a snuggler, it's almost always more pleasant when it's on my terms. When I'm not feeling particularly snuggly, it's VERY difficult to do… sometimes I do my best, and others I have to give myself a break and explain to my kiddos that mama needs a little space. For me, it's a much tougher road to navigate with my adopted kiddos b/c I so badly don't want them to feel unloved.

  8. Nicole says:

    WHOAH! I could have written this post! In fact, I HAVE walked into a room to do a quick something to then turn around a trip on a kid! Thanks so much for posting this!

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