Saturday, November 3, 2007
One challenge of motherhood, I am discovering, is discerning when your children are getting "too much", and when they are getting "too little". Though I suppose this applies to belongings, privileges, punishment, sleep, food, homework, chores, and a myriad of other things, I am really just thinking about focus.
Today was supposed to be Anastasia's first Holy Communion. Her godfather is a priest in another city, and we'd planned to go there and have a party afterwards at the rectory. Many of our friends (who like Anastasia and love Father Pung) were planning on joining us there.
A typical part of "First Communion" is "the dress". And, like most moms, I was also pretty much into this aspect of the celebration. I spent hours, I confess, designing in my mind the most glorious all-white sarafan. My good sense, and realization of how much time and money I really have, nixed this idea but I was still quite "into" the veil and the sweater or jacket we'd get for her to wear with her white flower-girl dress from Aidan's wedding. I can't believe I put all this energy into thinking about and discussing what she'd wear, despite the fact that I have often wondered if, for children this age, too many of these details actually detract from the mystery and spirituality of the occasion.
Well, between worrying about "the dress" and who would be coming to the party, what we'd organize to eat, and how we would get to this other parish in plenty of time, etc. I was a little late in realizing that Anastasia had met and surpassed her "limit" of focus. Way, way too much about her. And focus on her creates a lot of stress. Stress results in bad behavior.
I don't quite understand it, but while all children are like this to some extent, I think for children with trauma in their past, the level of focus - and thereby, stress they can take is far more limited.
I noticed yesterday that instead of the sweet, peaceful little girl I love, I was seeing a monster. A mannered, demanding, spoiled-brat type monster. "You can't go home; you have to take me to get a jacket for my dress!" "I don't care about my first communion; I want to spend the night with Sveta and Olyah!" And so on. This really is not Anastasia.
Fortunately, God worked with me in my sleep (He is so good this way!) and I woke up understanding what I should have understood much sooner. Too much! This is just too much for her! Stop now!
So, I have just been calling all the invited guests and uninviting them. (One thing anyone expecting a child, bio or adopted, needs to know is that at some point your beloved child will cause you acute embarrassment. Undoubtedly more than once.)
I think that Anastasia's first communion will take place at the regular 9:30 Mass, that those who wish will congratulate her downstairs at Coffee Bar afterwards, and that hopefully the focus will be on Jesus, not on Anastasia. Where it should be, anyway!