About 7 years ago I built a 400 square foot “granny flat” in my daughter’s backyard. She had just had twins and I wanted to be part of this next generation in spirit and presence, if not in agility and current slang. It tested me in ways I never anticipated. It had been a long time since I had been the primary caregiver for any significant stretch of time. Doing for two newborns was a real challenge of my resourcefulness and peace of mind. I was lucky they were healthy and had spent the past 10 months in the soup of a loved, well nourished, happy mama. Well, as happy as she could be lugging around what would eventually be two, 7 lb. babies…
I loved singing them to sleep for naps, laughing with them when anything they thought funny occurred, and reading, reading, reading until they had many books truly memorized. But babies tend to grow up and now those little creatures are reasonably self-possessed 2nd graders and my time with them is less demanding and certainly no longer occupying the majority of my days anymore. I still love my life around this hearth. I see my grandchildren in the morning before school and in the afternoon when they get home. We sometimes enjoy a double feature when mom and dad want a date night. It’s lovely.
But this life path also required that I relocate from a major city to a small rural college town and though I love the pine trees and the cooler climate, I’m bored and
I MISS SEEING FRIENDS. I MISS MEETING NEW PEOPLE.
This is all by way to introduction to the idea of the value of connections. I talk to my friends regularly on the phone, text, and Facebook message (because I try to keep up with the cool kids) and visit as often as possible. For a while this was working well. It isn’t any more.
Fortunately for me, an opportunity arose to get out of the house and meet some new people. Don’t get me wrong, the world can sometimes get too peoply for me, so I was truly hesitant to jump in. So glad I did. What does this have to do with you?
Well, one of the young men I met is right up our alley. At 9, he demonstrated to what was then called CPS, how he had come to appreciate the finer aspects of eating ramen noodles right out of the wrapper; no need for water at all. He was fortunate to be really smart because most days he showed up at school at about 11 am or, often, not at all if dad was in charge of getting him there. He was spending half his life with a dad who didn’t believe books had anything to offer the truly competent human and the other half with a mom just trying to make ends meet once she extricated herself from the abuse that awaited her in her marital home. There were some dark years before and after she left and our little fella did his best to lighten her load, comfort and amuse her. He didn’t want to be any trouble to anyone. That ramen was just fine, thank you very much.
Fortunately for him, he had stewed in the placental, neurotransmitter-rich juices of a healthy but bullied woman committed to becoming a mother. He was then born to a woman committed to doing her best for him. This committed, responsive caregiving resulted in the resilient young man I have come to know. But things didn’t stay this rosy. His was a young mom who was guided into marriage with a much older stranger. Fortunately, his intellect and curiosity have stepped in to serve him well. This guy can read the room! Because our little ones typically think the world revolves around them, he was dedicated to doing his best to keep everyone happy. He asks for very little, is eager to anticipate others’ needs, and is happiest when building cool stuff or fixing broken stuff.
My new, young friend has now found himself with a new extended family that thinks the world of him. He recently gently confronted his stepdad, man to man, and both came away better men for it. He’s learning to express frustration, annoyance, and resentment. He is in therapy and making the space to explore thoughts and feelings that he hasn’t had a chance to express to anyone for too long.
I’m not sure if this has been about his restorative connection to his new family or my new connection to him but I am honored and so happy to have made his acquaintance. I am uniquely honored to be trusted with his story.
- Check out the AZAFAP Event Calendar at https://azafap.gnosishosting.net/Events/Calendar.
- Our Friday night Happy Hour and Tuesday afternoon Coffee Chat continue. Some find me or Nancy and a single other participant; others find a conversation among 4 to 12 people. The topics range from the silly to what hobbies have us in their grip to what life has thrown in our path. If you ever find yourself wanting a bit of grown-up conversation, consider joining us (check your email for the unchanging link).
- The Caring for Caregivers project provides counseling sessions for those who do not have insurance to cover counseling services. Find the information and link at https://www.azafap.org/family-support-services/
- Parent Mentor Partners: AZAFAP has trained volunteer parents as mentors who are ready to help support foster, kinship, and adoptive parents through one-to-one conversations. Interested? Fill out the form at https://www.azafap.org/family-support-services/
- I encourage you to check out what Dr. Bruce Perry has to offer. Find his thoughts at https://youtu.be/uOsgDkeH52o?t=3 and at https://www.neurosequential.com.
Thanks for listening. Maintain yourself so you can be there reliably for others.