This is the age the little girls turned a few days ago. You may wonder why I choose to mark this particular anniversary. On the face of it, it seems a bit random. Well, it's because this is the age that TM was when we adopted him. Consequently, I have been thinking a lot about this age and how I perceived him as opposed to how I perceive the little girls.
And my first thought is that they, G. and L., are so little. So little, yet so aware of everything. But even with this awareness, there is still so much they don't understand and the line between make-believe and reality is still so blurry. Three year olds definitely live within their own universe.
The trouble with this line of thinking is that in the end it just isn't fruitful. I can second guess myself until the cows come home and it won't make a lick of difference. No matter how much I wonder if I fully appreciated just how little TM was for such a momentous event to occur, I can't make it any different than it was. I can't go back and prepare myself differently than what I did. Short of experiencing it, on some level there is just no way to prepare yourself for the experience of parenting a newly adopted child who hates you.
It is natural to want to go back and parent this child differently, to be more patient, more understanding. I have learned a great deal about myself and about therapeutic parenting in the ensuing 7 years. If I were to be in the same situation now, it would be very different. But I am a very different person and the path it took to get here was long and hard. And my feelings of deep love that I have for this child have developed and grown over these seven years as well. I know him and love him in a way that was not possible in those very early days.
I may not have that exact little boy to parent and love again, but our God is a God of second chances. Every day I have the opportunity to love this child as he needed to be loved back then. In long talks with the therapist, she sees the difficult behavior as a positive thing. (I cannot tell you how much I hold on to these words. It would be worth the hour and fifteen minute drive just to hear that one thing.) In childhood trauma, part of the child gets stuck at the age the trauma happened. The reason we have a 10 year old who often acts like a three year old, is that the three year old who got 'stuck' is coming out more and more. The therapist says this is showing us that TM trusts us enough to let this part of him out. That he feels we can handle it. And every time this three year old makes an appearance (a fairly regular occurrence these days), I am given my wish to be able to go back and do things better. And every time I am able to give him the support and love he needs when he is at this age, the more healing can take place.
I won't kid you, it is still hard. I am still an imperfect mother. But I have hope again. Hope that by getting a chance to reparent this scared little three year old still trapped within my son we can help him develop and grow and become the healthy young man that God wants him to be.
It is the ultimate do-over.