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.


Ms. J said...

Oh my goodness, that sounds excruciating! I am not sure how long your daughter has been home from China, but she is still quite young, and has had a lot of life changes in a few short years.

I am going to try and pastan article here that might give you some starting points:

The one expert mentioned, Diana Schwab, is the one who works in conjunction with our pediatric practice (which is about 90% international adopted kids). We have had several consults with Ms. Schwab, and she was VERY helpful. So, maybe google some other stuff mentioning her, or consider a phone consult -- might be worth the money to have a phone chat?!

Some other random thoughts . . .

* Perhaps stop calling it "daycare" and instead call it "School," like her sisters go to? Ask the older sisters to speak enthusiastically about school, so then she will have a more positive frame about her own day

* Clue in her daytime caregivers about all of the changes at home, and ask if they have noticed anything

*Re-examine your routines, and makes sure there is sufficient reinforcement and consistency . . . right down to the number of books read at night, and which ones they are, and which toys are in her bed to snuggle with.

You are FAR more experienced of a Mom than myself . . . but maybe something I wrote will spur a thought or technique you had forgotten about or need to re-employ, ya know?!

I greatly value having you to check-in with about these exact same issue, so please feel free to get in touch with me should you need support, brainstorming, and so on. We both know how frightening those freak-outs can be, and how helpless we as their mothers can feel.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear that things are not easy at the moment. I have so far been more a reader than a commenter, but I have been going through very similar happenings with my older son a couple of months ago (he is now almost four). We have not been going through major transitions during the time, but I am also almost exclusively parenting by myself - which is hard and I wish you lots of strengths! What worked for us was talking about this in a "grown-up" way after the meltdown and agreeing what we would try to do next time it happens. It helped. We did not come up with a magic solution and it did did not make meltdowns go away but I think we actually both felt better during one - as much as one can say that...