Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Love for Dr. Steve

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
How sad

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.

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