Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mindful Monday: 'Opia

This past week, the week we officially began homeschooling, coincided with Yonas getting sick for the first time since he's been home. Just you're average cold, nothing too awful. But man, oh man, it triggered something in my boy. He regressed to where we were at about the two-months-home mark. A screaming, tantruming, rabid mess. He started using Amharic words he hasn't used in four months. Milder, less alarming versions of his previous food issues emerged, he wanted to be carried everywhere, sucked his thumb more, hit me, slammed my finger in a drawer on purpose.

He also started talking about Ethiopia, " 'Opia" a lot more.

On Friday it rained for the first time all August, it was a gray, cloudy day. While Yonas had lunch and the girls were off playing, we had this conversation:

"Baby cry 'Opia"
"A baby cried in Ethiopia?"
"Yeah, baby Ula cry 'Opia."
"Baby Ula cried in Ethiopia?"
"Yeah. Baby Ula sad. Baby Ula hurt."
"The baby cried. The baby got hurt. Did Yonas cry in Ethiopia?"

After lunch I sat down with him and we looked at the pictures of when he lived in Ethiopia. We looked at his friends, the women who cared for him. He didn't seem particularly sad or affected, just happy to see pictures of himself.

I was so overwhelmed in the moment, thinking about how much of his life I won't ever know. He has a couple of scars I don't know the source of, visible reminders of the life he lived before he came to us. But it's all the internal scars, all the pain and grief, all the physical and emotional hunger that I can't ever know that I try to honor but sometimes lose in the face of daily living. His presence seems so natural now, such a given, so right, that it can be hard to keep his losses in the forefront of my mind.

Perhaps being sick shook loose some cellular memories he needed to exorcise. Or maybe he was feeling secure enough to let loose more of the pain. Whatever was happening I found myself struggling not to regress with him back to the pain and fear of when we first got home. It's tricky business, this attachment stuff. We let go, surrender just enough to trust each other so that we can fall in love a little more, then hang on for the unpredictable ride that love unleashes.

I try, I do, to stay open to his heart, to the hearts of all my children. Sometimes I get it so wrong it keeps me awake at night. But occasionally there are moments when I let go of my "shoulds" and give myself space to see what they are really after. What they really need. Sometimes I can actually give it to them. And sometimes all I can do is sit with the awareness of where we both are and it has to be enough because in the moment I can't get any closer.

My practice for mindfulness in parenting, in my life, is to get closer to being with my children and myself wherever we are at any given moment. Whether they are slamming my finger in a drawer or pulling me close and whispering, "Luf you, Mama" in my ear.