Monday, August 31, 2009
Just kidding - I've never been one to use alcohol to cope with stress. Although the ice-cold dark beer I had about 6:00 this evening following Sergeant's 50-minute meltdown sure did hit the spot. She is continuing to have one huge, drag-out, knock-down fit each day. But she hasn't had one at night since Saturday. I decided she needed to sleep in my bed until we get back on track and it seems to be making a difference with the nighttime tantrums. Our older daughters co-slept until they were four-ish, so this is not a new thing for us. I'm perfectly happy to have her sleep with me for the next year, if that's what she needs to do. It is just so, so much easier to cope with the meltdowns when they happen during the day. Unfortunately, she seems to try harder to hurt me when she tantrums during the day - more energy, I guess! But, we've been working through the tantrums and when she's not having one, she's been pretty awesome. She's getting cuddlier by the day. We are working on compliance and on her understanding that she's not the boss, I am. And that I am a good mommy who takes good care of her. She doesn't get to order me around and tell me what to do. I find it incredibly ironic that her blog name is Sergeant and her Sergeant-like tendencies are actually a sign of attachment issues. Even with all the preparation I did and the reading I've continued to do since we arrived home, this kind of blind-sided me. She did so well for the first 2.5 years, that I never expected attachment issues to crop up now. I'm so glad I recognized them before they got any worse. I've seen improvements already in just a few days, so I think we're on the right track. I'm doing a lot of little things to promote a feeling of security. She has a little book she takes to daycare that has a picture of me at work, so she can look and see where I am. There is also a spot to put a picture of whomever will pick her up and a picture of her back at home. The last picture is she and I together and the caption is "Mommy always comes back." She seems to enjoy the book. For the past several days, I've also put the same yummy-smelling lotion on the two of us and told her she can smell her arm at daycare if she misses me. I've been talking a lot, in an off-hand way, about what a good mommy I am and how I'll always take care of her. When she tries to boss me around, I reiterate that I'm a good mommy and that little kids don't have to be in charge. I've also been making more time to snuggle with her and have tried to change my attitude to be more upbeat and playful. When she has a meltdown, I tell myself that it will only last 30-45 minutes and then we'll get on with our day. I know we're just starting this journey, but I believe we are on the right path.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
So, basically, my first week back at work SUCKED. Work stuff was fine, but Sergeant is not doing well with it. She will have been home for three years in October, and I really thought we were past the point where any significant attachment issues would appear, but clearly, I was wrong. She had another "fit" last night at 3:00 AM, and another one mid-morning. These tantrums are pretty obviously attachment-related, from the reading I've been doing. She's angry with me, but she wants me. She tries to hurt me and then she cries for me to pick her up. But when I do pick her up, she tries to hurt me again. She often complains that I've hurt her when I try to comfort her during these episodes. She has a comfort blanket that has never failed to bring her comfort, but during these episodes, not even the blanket helps. In fact, sometimes when I hand it to her, she won't even take it. That. has. never. happened. before. She's a thumb sucker and she doesn't suck her thumb during these episodes, either. I've decided I need to let everything go but work and kids until things get better. Cutting back my hours is not an option, but I am going to cut out my twice a week workouts and come straight home after work every day. Luckily I'm done at 4:00, so that gives me a pretty big chunk of time with the girls in the evenings. I'm also considering hiring someone to do some cleaning a couple times a month, at least until things calm down. And I've decided not to start Sergeant in preschool next week as I had planned. I think adding another transition/change to her life at this point would be very ill-advised. I'm hoping to find an attachment therapist who is willing to do some phone consultation. We live in a very rural area, so there is no one locally. Trying to do this alone sucks and I would like to know if I'm on the right track.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Well, I've nearly finished up my first full week back at work (I work for a school and have summers off). Because of the divorce, I've increased my hours to virtually full-time. To say that things have sucked this week would be an understatement. Sunny and Smartie are back in school, so it hasn't affected them, but Sergeant is struggling. I haven't worked full-time since Sunny was born, way back in 1999. The most I've worked has been 28 hours per week. Now I'm up to 36 hours and Sergeant is having a very hard time adjusting. She's very obviously quite pissed at me and letting me know in some extremely unpleasant ways. Last night, at 11:00, when I was just about to turn off the light and go to sleep, I heard her crying in her bed and yelling, "no, no, no!" I went to her room, but she wasn't really awake. I tried to comfort her, but she just kept getting more and more upset. At some point, she was awake, but then she continued to tantrum - kicking, screaming, hysterical. She was yelling, "I don't want to go to daycare!!!" Which scared the crap out of me, thinking she'd had some big trauma there that I don't know about (I checked it out today, and I don't think so). This went on for about 45 minutes and there was nothing I could do to calm her down. She was quite combative toward me, but when I would put her down, she wanted me to pick her up (hmmm, ambivalent attachment?). She woke up Smartie, who was crying because she was tired and Sergeant was kinda scaring her. So, I finally put the two of them in the vehicle (Sunny was at her dad's - lucky her) and we drove around for about 20 minutes and Sergeant finally calmed down. So, I put her back to bed and read until 1:30, because I was too wired to go to sleep. Then, she started back up with the same behavior at 3:00 AM. Only this time, she seemed even more pissed at me and I was quite a bit less patient than I was the first time. It went on until nearly 4:00 AM. I finally got her to go back to bed and tried to lie down next to her, but she wanted nothing to do with me. It broke my heart and scared the crap out of me. So, I dug out some of my adoption and attachment books and did a little reading (and crying). I think the transition of me going back to work, probably coupled with the divorce, has triggered some attachment-related anxiety. But even though I understand where the tantrums are coming from and I feel horrible that Sergeant feels horrible, I have a really, really hard time coping with such difficult, nasty behavior in the middle of the fucking night. Then I felt really bad, because I started comparing Sergeant with her sisters at her age, and, of course, they did none of this. Because they didn't spend the first nine months of their lives in an orphanage and I didn't have to work full-time when they were smaller. So, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. On so many levels. So, now Sergeant is asleep. In my bed. Because tonight she did want to snuggle with me and said, "Mommy, I wish you could sleep in my bed with me." But, my bed is bigger, so there you go.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Despite having graduated from toddler to preschooler, Sergeant still has the occasional meltdown when she doesn't get her way. They usually involve yelling, crying, screaming, and a combination of hitting me and telling me to get away, but at the same time, wanting me near. Over the months, I've tried many tactics to stop the madness, including holding her and rocking her, but nothing has been very successful. Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a meltdown, I laid Sergeant down on a fleece blanket and swaddled her like an infant. She stopped instantly. I sat in the rocking chair with her for a few minutes and cuddled her, then we discussed the issue at hand and worked it out peacefully. Since then, I've tried it twice more with the same results. It makes me wonder if some of her meltdowns are attachment-related instead of just three-year-old stinker-related.