Dr. Steve is a therapist who specializes in attachment issues. I want to say his clientele is exclusively adoption related, but I could be wrong. It happens. For years I have listened to Dr. Steve lead discussions at COAC meetings and more recently I have sat at his feet for any morsal of adoption wisdom every Thursday morning. The man has probably been saying the exact same message for years, but I finally got it. Like, really, got it.
Dr. Steve says we have to find a place a agreement when our kids are activated. When I say activated, I mean acting out, overly emotional, out of control. Dr. Steve says I have to meet my kiddos where there are in the moment and just be with them. This is no easy task for a professional, habitual talker. In agreement mode, I can't fix anything. I just listen and love.
So, I find myself on the staircase with Madison in melt down mode. She won't let me hold her. She is saying things like we're not a real family because we're not all brown, only my sisters are my family. She calls herself dumb and a brat. My heart is breaking and I am struggling with what to do in this moment on the stairs while one of the loves of my life cries crockadile tears. And then I hear the voice of Dr. Steve. Find the place of agreement.
I close my mouth and just listen to what Madison says. I respond with statements like,
That must feel awful
You must feel very lonely
And suddenly Madison is crawling into my lap. She is letting me touch her, hold her. I tell her it is ok to be sad. I tell her we'll just sit here and be sad together for as long as it takes. We sit together for a couple of minutes until she jumps out of my lap and returns with possibly the longest children's book ever written (60+ pages) and hands it to me. I read every word.
The melt down is over. It ended as quickly as it started. We survived. Dr. Steve, in fact, does know what he is talking about and I will never approach an emotional situation the same way. I don't know when the next melt down will happen. I don't know where we will be or who will be watching, but I do know my mouth will stay closed more than it is open. Thank you, Dr. Steve, for helping me be a better mom. And I am sure Maddie will thank you too someday.