Bad Dreams

A little known fact about me: If you wake me up at 5am, I am generally a nice person. This is really saying something because if you wake me up at 7am, you’re likely to get your head bitten off.

My children have learned through painful experience that you do not stand outside my bedroom door; nor do you lay in wait in the hallway, springing upon my recently woken person with excitable words and loud voices. You wait until I have eventually made eye contact, with a cup of coffee in my hand, before you approach me softly and tenderly with your reasonable requests and soliloquies.

Very early this morning before the sun was up, I had a kid disturb my sleep. A tenuous cry of “mom? I had a bad dream!” resounded before said child launched herself under the covers beside me and started sobbing. Being the weirdly nice person that I am at this ungodly hour of the morning, I was able to calm her down and eventually get her back to her own bed.

As she was climbing into her bed she said to me ” It’s not like I had a dream about monsters chasing me or anything. I dreamed that you and G had gotten a divorce and you’d given me to another family.” As my heart broke for her, my immediate response was ” I could never give you up! you’re mine!”

This kid has been the hardest one for me to connect with. Because of the late age she came into my life, and the extreme global delays she was experiencing, not to mention the trauma already existing in her little body, our attachment has been fraught with difficulty. I’ve really really struggled with this one. She’s taught me more about patience and grace than any other child I’ve come across..but in spite of herself, and in spite of myself, she is still mine!

This little daughter of mine finally has a daddy. After being rejected by her birth father and overlooked by her adoptive father, she has found a father in G. She absolutely adores him. She is terrified of losing him. She is terrified of losing me.

This early morning episode reminded me that all my kids are carrying around scars and trauma from my divorce. It reminded me that they need to be told they are loved, they are needed, they are seen. It reminded me to make sure they know G and I are committed and in love. This means taking time for each other apart from the kids. This also means showing them with our actions that we love one another. As much as they respond with “ew! gross! so inappropriate!” they need to see us hugging and kissing and cuddling. They may protest on the outside, but on the inside, there is security in seeing with their own eyes that we are in love. That their world isn’t going to fall apart in that way again.

G and I are off to a hockey game tonight and Nana and Papa are on grand-parenting duty. Hockey games are not super romantic, but that’s not the point. The point is we are taking time to do something together and enjoy one another’s company. We are investing in our relationship. For ourselves and for the kids.

May our hockey teams win! and may our kids know they can be secure in our love for them!

H

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Gregory Pappas

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