Friday, March 4, 2011

Time is a Circus

Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away - Ben Hecht

In an effort to join the brilliant Claudia by joining in the conversation, I tried to think back to a time when I felt the worst about my attachment with the kids. The clearest example would be when I took Meazi to the circus last September. This was going to be a great outing with some of our closest friends; just moms and their girls. I ended up in tears. When we arrived home I went into the house and wailed to Steven, “She hates me.” I cried later too, to my friend who had gone with us with her daughter. The whole afternoon I had been reaching for Meazi both literally and figuratively. I wanted to hold her hand, she refused. She was doing everything in her power not to sit next to me. She went to my two girlfriends sitting with us with hugs, hand holding and other affection I was hoping would be for me.

This combined with the fact that she had just started full time school two weeks prior had me in some sort of attachment freak out. How could I send her off to a school from 7:30-3:00 everyday when I had just met her? Everything we had been working on would be lost, I thought. I needed more time. If you are friends with me on Facebook you may recall that I spent weeks obsessing about finding a school with shorter hours. I searched futilely for a half-day kindergarten thinking that if I had her home by midday, maybe she wouldn’t completely bond with her new teacher instead of me. I don’t know what would have been ‘enough’ time for me with her, it is indefinable.

There are times with Meazi when I think I will always be Just Julie, a poor replacement for her real mother, and there are more encouraging times when I am her Superhero. The truth is that her preferred parent is usually Steven. Initially this is because he was a  'Festive Weekend Dad!' After not seeing him (due to his inevitable 70 hour work week), she would have a weekend full of fun with him. There were no responsibilities, no reason for him to tell her to hustle up and get in the car, or put on matching socks, or share with her brother, it was all about what birthday party do we get to go to today! Or which park should we play at?!  Now, after Steven having a couple of months with them where he didn’t work, I see that he is preferred by Meazi not because he is more fun, but because he is a better parent- calm, steady, firm but not harsh. She told me yesterday as she described how salt was made, “Daddy taught me that. Daddy teaches me about most things.” And indeed he does.

Some days I pick Meazi up from school and she throws her arms around me and tells me she missed me. Other days she does everything she possibly can to avoid me, grabbing another mom’s hand for the walk to the car. When I feel particularly distant from her I try to engage her in an old fashioned staring contest. She always wins having a remarkable way of not ever blinking. At these moments I take the opportunity to stare into those gorgeous eyes of hers and try to let her know that my eyes are open to her, my heart is open to her, and that I would do absolutely anything to have her sit next to me at the circus.

Melese, my Melese. Oh Melese, my former barnacle! I feel stronger about my attachment with the tortuga. He looks me in the eye, he gives me so much unsolicited affection. He comes to me for comfort. He says “Mommy,” as he throws his arms around me right before he falls asleep. His first word of the day, nine times out of ten, is ‘Mommy.” Although all of this is great, I have left him with someone other than Steven only twice in 19 months- the first time with my mom and dad so that I could go to the dentist, the second time yesterday at the YMCA. The first time was fine, yesterday was not. If he were securely attached I think I could leave him and he would know I am coming back. We will have to work on that.


I think about time now, more than I ever did before. Time is always packing up and moving away. I feel like I am in the middle of a very crucial time period in regards to attachment. I don’t want to blow it. I don’t want to miss my window, especially with Meazi who seems to gain two years, both physically and mentally, every two months. (Already putting an I-touch on next year’s letter to Santa, and constantly asking about getting her ears pierced).


Melese is like a peanut when it comes to attachment, with just the slightest bit of effort, just the tiniest press of a thumb and forefinger, his shell comes off revealing his meaty center, ready for the taking. Meazi, is more of a walnut or a filbert (or insert the nut with the toughest shell imaginable). She needs one of those metal tools and a lot of muscle power to crack open her shell.  Our attachment is a life long process that will change as she grows and develops, as will my attachment with Melese, as he will most likely not remain a peanut forever.

There are times with Meazi that are so beautiful. At these times she is like a tin of these, no shell, smooth, ready to be shared and enjoyed.

In a nutshell, (he he enough already huh?) It is a process. I feel privileged to know these nuts. We are working it out. We have the rest of our lives to get it right.

I will always reach for them, whether they reach back or not.


  1. Great post on attachment! I also noticed the fundraising thermometer for the library on your sidebar-it is so close!

  2. This is beautiful Julie. It makes me feel like maybe I do not need to explain my M 's attitude at the park. Your daughter is amazing and the conversations she had with Mihiret showed two girls wise beyond their years.
    : )

  3. I'm so glad to hear your thoughts on this attachment thing. That rules all our thoughts days and nights for what seems like

    I worry that I am confusing or blaming attachment for normal behavior. I can't always tell the difference - hardly ever as a matter of fact.

    Since you found the time for a great attachment post, I'll try tonight.

    Also, are you still sane after being with Melese practically non stop for all this time? If not, please girl, take a walk alone. Also, DO NOT judge what happens at the Y. We had a horrible experience there too when Q was a little bitty one.

  4. I've been reading your blog for a bit now, as I near the time of my own referral. First I must say that you have two of the most beautiful children ever. Ever.
    I really appreciate your posts because you are pretty honest about yourself and your family; and you are articulate. The combination supplies me with the opportunity to see what my own life may be like in a year.
    Thank you.


  5. Love your honesty. And remember, even kids who are completely attached to their parents still cry when they leave them at the YMCA because hey, they'd rather be with you than the Y staff. It's a fact.

  6. Thank you for writing this Julie- I appreciate maybe more than you know.

  7. Oh, Julie. So beautiful and honest. I got goosebumps reading your words because I could relate so well to so much of it. My anxiety lessens a wee bit every time I read these honest posts from people I love and admire. Thank you so much for sharing.

    And in the spirit of sharing, I was sitting on the couch in the middle of the boys yesterday morning. M wrapped his arms around my neck and said I love you, Mama! E said, I love Daddy and got off the couch.

  8. Julie, I was literally holding my breath as I read your post. You described my own family so well! Even the description of Steven could have been Bill: "he is a better parent- calm, steady, firm but not harsh." This is something that pains me so much - not that Bill is a better parent, but that I am not as good as I could be. Anyway, so much more could be said here, but I am at work, trying to make it through this last hour on a Friday afternoon before joining my family at home! There is so much no blog can contain about all of our stories. I hope we get a teeny chance to catch up in LA!!


  9. Truly a beautiful post....thank you for sharing your journey and the vulnerability of it all. Thank you. I feel less alone in this with each person that shares. thank you.

  10. Woman!! Come down from the attachment ledge! Don't jump!!

    Meazi loves you to death. However, she is an independent soul. You can't fight that. You can't change that. My mom told me that when I was little and she'd get in the bed to cuddle with me, I used to nudge her out of the bed!! Now, I'm closer to my mom than any other person on this Earth, including my child. But I just wasn't that kind of kid. You know what I mean? I think Meazi is much the same way.

    As for Melese, he'll get over the attachment issues. His reaction is totally normal. Carter used to do the same thing when I dropped him off at pre-school. At some point, they finally told me that he only did that when I was there. Once I left, he stopped. This is typical of so many kids. Don't overthink it or worry too much.

    You're doing a great job. Don't beat yourself up. Ever. Just keep on truckin'!

  11. So well put! Thank you for letting me read.

  12. This is beautiful Julie!

    A couple of things this made me think about: We could not ever have left Quinn at a gym daycare before he was 5 years old. He would have screamed bloody murder every moment. I taught church sunday school because he wouldn't stay without me until he was...7! Uh-huh. He's my bio kid. It's his personality.

    He's attached to me more than my husband because, and I really believe this, he's a boy. Not that EVERY boy is more attached to mom but many many are. Girls on the other hand...My sister told me when I was pregnant that she hoped I had a boy and when I asked why she said "because the opposite sex is your 'freebie' they don't have to watch you to figure out how to be a 'girl' and thereby decide you don't know how to be a girl in the right way (but their friend's mom does!) instead you just get to love them. No role modeling necessary." That turned out to be right in our case. Isn't mother/daughter attachment always fraught?
    I love your writing. You're preparing me. Thank you!

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles with Meazi. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who has these issues.

  14. You write this two years, four months and 4 days into having our girls home. Two months into both of them being diagnosed with RAD and PTSD. Not shocking. We saw it coming, but painful none the less.
    Hang in there. Get help. Find those that understand.
    They want to believe in a mom that will stay, but to survive the fear they simply can't. Time, a therapeutic household and love beyond what you believe yourself capable. You'll get there with her. I say that because I have to believe it of my self as well.
    In the heartbreak with you,

  15. Spectacular post as always Julie! Thanks!

  16. You know your writing rocks my world. But this... ah. I'm just going to ditto (cause I'm eloquent like that) what everyone else said- especially Evelyn. Even though as a singleton I'm JUST NOW learning that I have to take the time. Not just give him the BIG time like- years. But the little time- the 2 minute intervals to explain how it works etc. My parenting skills are slllooooww in development.

  17. Beautifully written Julie. I tried to post yesterday but it wouldn't let me at work. Your words always mean so much to me. Can't wait to meet you in person next month. As much as I am in awe of our children who overcome the struggles in their own ways, I am also in awe of moms like you, the blogamigas, and so many others who bravely talk about their own struggles in motherhood and the triumphs...oh those sweet triumphs. May we all have many more.


  18. I forgot to mention just how breathtaking the photographs are too. You capture the essence of childhood and true emotion in pictures. Teach me how to do that, k? :)


  19. As always, I'm left finding it impossible to find the right words to respond to this. Just - I hear you. And I think that your last line - I will always reach for them, whether they reach back or not. - is it, exactly. The whole difficult, messy, lifelong point.

  20. Julie I had no idea about your struggles either !! The way you described Meazi's relationship with you and win your husband is very similar to ours and our situation with our youngest is similar to melese's. I enjoyed reading your post and if you ever wanna chat. I'm here and I get it.

  21. First, I don't think Steven is the "better" parent. He is a different parent and may parent differently, but better belittles how great of a Mama you are...really. Second (I think I said something on Facebook but), Gigi sometimes still cries when I drop her at preschool and sometimes when she is with Grace. Sometimes, our kids will just want us more than anything. To me, that IS attachment. Though I am not an attachment expert in regards to international adoption or adoption, I truly think Melese is attached. He just wanted to be with his Mama, possibly in part, because he has only been away from you for two short times since he came home. We had the same situation when Gigi wouldn't be okay with anyone other than Allen, Me or Grace. She wouldn't even be left with her grandparents who she knows and loves until more recently. Probably after the age of 2. With all of that said, you know exactly what your Ms need and always make sure they get it....I see it through your blog and through my personal interactions with you. That makes you an awesome Mama and if you struggle with attachment, I know you will make it through!

  22. "I will always reach for them weather they reach for me or not." So beautiful, so exactly what it has to be. Beautiful post, as always, Julie :)

  23. Love this. Thank you for sharing the challenges and successes you've had with your two Ms.

  24. Julie, I have a debate going on in my head whether you are a better writer or photographer. Thanks for the brilliant visuals con brilliant words.

  25. Just getting to reading these posts now. You really are a phenemonal writer--I want you to write a book--it could be about dirt and you would hold your reader's attention--that's how good you are. Ok, now I saw how Meazi LOOKED AT YOU when we brought your cake out, and how she whispered in my ear that it was your birthday and that she thinks you are so pretty, that's a child who is connected to her mother--she might struggle at times, but she IS And Melese, he's peanut butter to your jelly.