Because of the relationship with her bio mother I have struggled to bond with A. We have moments where it goes well and we’re really getting along. But then there are some days…our arguments sound more like I’m fighting with a teenager instead of a 4-year-old. Ages 0-3 laid the foundation for the dynamic in which she knew, KNEW for certain, her bio dad loved her, and her mom didn’t. (Abusive, yet he was kind; she mistook his attention for love. There was abuse from her bio mom with no love at all. Sadly, the opposite was true for her brother.) We’re teaching both kids love is safe and doesn’t injure. Sean and I do not want these dynamics from repeating in our household, yet the kids operate under the impression Sean and I are the same as their bio parents. They continue their part in the cycle of abuse because that’s what they’ve always known.
So A and I argue. Last Friday night, out of desperation I told Sean I’ve got to find a way to connect with her or we will still be fighting this way when she really is a teenager. She does not know how to show love to a mother. She does not know how to receive love from a mother. I can’t unsee the things I’ve seen. I can’t unhear the stories I’ve heard. We’re at an impasse. But for the sake of my mistreated, angry little girl I have to be the one to try. It is not up to her. She doesn’t know any different, but I do. So, I prayed and asked God to help.
Boy, did He ever! God came through in a big way.
One of the ideas Sean and I discussed that night is getting a small table and chairs for her room that she and I could sit around and do tea parties, paint nails or just talk. Typically, her bedroom is used for throwing tantrums and reenacting some of her worst PTSD moments. This is a way to reclaim the space in the name of LOVE. It also gives me a chance to start teaching her how to graciously host and befriend others. Appropriate social skills are lacking.
Fast forward to the next afternoon. Out of the blue, our neighbor shows up at our door. “I was just wondering if y’all’d like these?” In his hands were a red Mickey Mouse Table and two small chairs. They have two small kids who no longer use the set and he thought of us.
The Lord heard my conversation with Sean and desire to connect with A. The God of families heard my heart and acted upon our behalf. He moved in the heart of our neighbor and provided exactly what I needed to start bonding with my daughter, to show her love. I am humbled and in awe.
Last night, I surprised my little girl with a princess tea party laid out on her new Mickey Mouse table. I covered it in a pretty table cloth and set the table with flowers and my wedding china. I made a show of inviting one of her stuffed toys and we had cookies and tea. It was magical.
I found an old prom dress for myself at Goodwill which instantly became a princess dress with the addition of A’s purple Disney tiara. A has all these dress-up clothes she got from her nanny, a cousin and for Christmas but never really plays with them. It dawned on me the other night I don’t think she knows how. She didn’t grow up immersed in Disney and princess land. Last night, she wore three princess dresses. (Like any other woman, she kept wanting to change them until she found the PERFECT DRESS. One dress wouldn’t stop singing an Elsa song. “For the first time in forever!” It kept going off at inopportune moments. I have a picture of her looking out-of-sorts in the corner frustrated with it. So cute. It was hard not to laugh.)
There were no arguments. No disagreements.
Getting ready for bed, the tea party was all she talked about. Usually, she’s scared to go to sleep; worried a “bad guy” is going to come get her. We’ve spent hours assuring her that that’s not gonna happen and she fights sleep but last night for the first time (in forever!) since she came to live with us, at bedtime, she was able to get her mind off her past and focus on the future. You could see the excitement in her face as she laid down. All she could talk about was who to invite next time. And what dress she wants to wear. What dress she wants me to wear. How we were both such pretty princesses. Again, I’m humbled and in awe. God worked it out. Is working it out. It’s very exciting.