Friday, December 2, 2011

Mommy Leave??

About five weeks ago, on October 26th (I know this because I keep notes!), Seth and I had an interesting conversation...not that different from a conversation other adoptive families might have.

Seth had done something to one of Matthew's toys that Matthew had repeatedly asked him not to do.  After Seth blatantly did exactly the thing that Matthew pleaded with him not to do, Seth and I found ourselves upstairs in the boys' bedroom talking about making mistakes.  Seth told me that he didn't make in, never.  I said that this must be very unusual because I sure make a lot of mistakes - sadly, I make mistakes every day.  I asked him if he thought it would be ok for Matthew to take one of his toys and do to it what he had just done to Matthew's toy.  Seth was visibly (and audibly) outraged and said "no" very emphatically; he said that he would be mad if Matthew did that to his toys.  After some time, he appeared to realize the inconsistency between his actions and his statements, but was still clearly reluctant to acknowledge that he sometimes makes mistakes.  I didn't push this issue, but I did ask him what made it so hard for him to say that he makes mistakes sometimes.  His response??

Seth:  "Seth make mistakes, Mommy leave?"

Shit, is what I thought...not a word that normally comes first to mind, but he just blew me away with that casually-stated question.  And suddenly, things that I'd been suspecting about Seth clicked into place; for months the kid has been trying to be a really good kid.  He works hard at life.  At everything.  There have been many, many issues to deal with but one thing has never changed:  he tries hard...even when he invariably messes up.

I asked him confirmation.  "Seth, are you asking me if I will leave you if you make mistakes?"

Seth:  "Yes."

Me:  "Do you worry about this?"

Seth:  "Yes."

Me:  "Do you worry that Daddy and Mommy will take you back to the orphanage if you make mistakes?"

Seth:  "Sometimes.  But I think no."

(I thought whew - at least he's pretty sure we won't take him back)

Me:  "Seth, please come and sit on my lap for a minute."

He came.  I asked him if he would still love me if I made a mistake - he answered with a resounding "yes, Mommy."

I then asked him if he would leave me if I made a mistake.  Again, a definite response.  "No, Mommy."

I then told him that, similarly, I would never leave him because he makes a mistake; and I told him that he was not ever going back to the orphanage.

He asked if he would be going back to Ethiopia.

I wasn't sure what he needed at that point, so I asked him if he wanted to go back to Ethiopia to visit.

Seth (emphatically): "No!"

I told him that we would never make him go back to Ethiopia unless he wanted to go.  I said that he might change his mind someday and that it would be very ok with us if he wanted to go back for a visit, and then come back home to Mommy and Daddy.  He asked if we would come with him someday if he wanted to visit; I said "yes."  His whole body relaxed.

At this point, the enormity of the stuff he was asking about sunk in a bit more and my eyes filled with tears.  I hugged him and told him that someday he would understand how much Daddy and I loved him and that it didn't matter to us if he made a million mistakes.


  1. hugs. hugs hugs hugs.

  2. WOW! It's like there's a direct link between his developing brain and his mouth! What self-awareness, and that he felt safe enough to express his fears to you.

  3. Oh Ruth, I am so glad he had the courage to tell you that! What a brave boy!(and by the way he has a fantastic mom!)

  4. What a very hard, but amazing conversation. I can't even imagine what goes through our children's mind during those hard first months after being with their forever family. It is wonderful that Seth verbalized what he was feeling. What a turning point for your family.

  5. Oh Ruth, thank God he told you what he was thinking and worrying about.

    I remember Bereket asking why I worked at an orphanage and why he had to go after the summer. He meant my school. It was so sad but we were thankful he told us.

    Can you imaging having these worries and keeping them in?

  6. Poor little guy! Your heart must have broken into a million pieces with that comment.

  7. It is such a blessing when their vocabulary and trust start to kick in and they are able to articulate the fears that they have been carrying around. I found with our kids that once these types of fears were articulated, they needed reassurance over and over, but eventually, they began to believe that they were here to stay and that nothing they could do would make us stop loving them or leave them.

    I'm so glad he spoke up and it sounds like you handled it perfectly.

  8. oh Seth....
    Ruth, you are SUCH a good mom..such a good example of doing the hard work of REALLY parenting, being that safe place, listening..thanks my friend. I love love that he told you his heart and you heard it and now he knows even more how safe he is.