Look who fell asleep on the couch tonight.
We had just finished reading scriptures and she literally dropped her book and was asleep within minutes. Too much Harry Potter?
Gabby is the second of two children who joined our family when they were older. I've said before that it amazes me when children who have been through hurt and loss can go from stranger status in a family to forming bonds of love and attachment. It takes a lot of courage to keep trying to love after so much loss.
Enter attunement. (Spell checker says that's not a word but I know it is so stick with me...it means being "at one" or at harmony with another human being. ...Probably no accident that atonement and attunement are close to the same word but that's another blog for another day.) For Gabby, attachment and attunement certainly are not automatic, but from day one she has responded readily to our attempts to connect with her and she allows herself to attempt being "at one," in the kind of attachment that only parents and children can enjoy.
Tonight after scriptures she put her book down and flopped down on the couch next to me. I said, "Ok. Go brush teeth and go to bed."
She sort of a mumbled an "ok" response that really meant, "I'm tired. Can I just lay here for another minute?"
"Gabby, let's go brush your teeth and I can lay down with you tonight."
I knew she was tired.
Sometimes in our attunement attempts, I lead, like when she's sobbing and can't stop. I can sit next to her, put my arm around her, and take a long deep breath. Literally within minutes she responds with a deep breath and starts to calm down. Every time. Without fail. Amazing.
Other times I follow her cue. Tonight she lead me.
I read her cue: "I'm exhausted and don't want to move."
I reached over and put my arm around her shoulder and sighed in response. My message back to her: "I'm here and I'm ok with you being here. Go ahead and go to sleep."
And I got to hold my nearly 10 year old daughter as she fell asleep. No words were communicated about the plan to just let her sleep on the couch tonight. No words were needed. But when I put her pillow under her head and her blanket over her, she said, "Thanks mom."
As much as I love the cuddly form of a newborn and their steady gaze as they form the early stages of an attachment relationship, there is nothing like connection with a child who, against all odds, is connecting with a parent in an attachment relationship. There is very little in Gabby's life experience that would lead her to trust adults, so I marvel at her heart that is so willing. Wow! It's moments like this that make me feel like the luckiest mom alive. I have to pinch myself sometimes to believe it's all real. I get to share my life with this girl forever and ever and ever.
A miracle. Really.
Countdown: 4 more sleeps to Gabby's birthday. 28 more sleeps until she's legally and officially ours. (Yes, the July adoption date didn't happen...turns out our judge is out of town a huge part of the month and his docket was full...so we're still counting days.)