When the social workers were visiting us back in May, one thing they pointed out was to expect that things can get bad again (we had been going through a relatively "smooth-sailing" period). They said that it's normal for behaviours to regress in the second half of a year home. They also warned us to be constantly reassuring about our then-upcoming trip to Canada - that Sofia would probably feel insecure about leaving her home (especially without her Pappa). I probably should have taken this more to heart. She seemed fine about the trip - she was really looking forward to visiting Uncle Steve again and meeting her grandpa in person, not just over the webcam.
But, we had a ton of issues while we were there - I even posted about some of the problems with food. Looking back, I don't even remember what most of the issues were, I just remember there were many bedtimes overshadowed by arguments and anger. It was during one of these episodes that Sofia threw out the first "You don't love me. You only love boys." and boy did that hurt. I totally get, from her perspective, why she said that . . . she thought I was treating them differently . . . and I'm pretty sure I said words like that to my parents while I was growing up (what had happened was that the 3 of them - Sam wasn't with - were misbehaving and were sent to their rooms . . . Sofia was whining all the way there . . . I went in and told the boys they were going to bed early and to put their pyjamas on and they did [they recognized that I had reached my limit of patience] . . . I went downstairs to tell Sofia the same, and she freaked out - refusing, crying, screaming, etc . . . so I was angry and left the room - that's when she said I didn't love her).
However, that was just the beginning of the verbal daggers she has begun throwing at us.
Lately, we are being told things like:
- I don't like you.
- I don't love you.
- It doesn't work to live here.
- I'm leaving.
- You can go away (as in go find another place to live, not leave me alone for a few minutes)
Of course, I'm constantly making mistakes. I have too much of a knee-jerk reaction to outbursts . . . and, this, I'm working on. In this way, Sofia and I are SO much alike - very reactionary. And, she's been having lots of outbursts lately . . . they usually begin with one of us telling her to do something and her deciding it's something she won't, so she refuses. It can be as simple as where to sit in the car. She'll have one of two reactions - whine in a really loud voice (which is like nails on a chalkboard) or completely refuse which begins an argument that leads to the "verbal daggers". It used to be that she was only like this with me, but now she does the same with Stefan. And, she does it with attitude . . .like teenager attitude. Having taught teenagers, I knew this would be something for us to expect . . . I just didn't know it would happen at age 7!
All this being said, I think maybe the new puppy has something to do with a spike in difficult behaviour . . . change is not always a good thing . . .
So, here we are, struggling to raise our spirited, willful child. . . trying to discern which behaviours are temperament and which are PI, and deal with them accordingly. We so dearly love this child - and even though we understand that her pushing us away is a form of self preservation, we still make mistakes along the way. We know that God planned, long ago, that Sofia would be a part of our family. She is a very special child - so incredibly smart, it's mind-boggling, yet so stubborn and short-tempered at the same time she must be my daughter! We know that we are blessed - we have 4 healthy children, we live in a wonderful place and we have a roof over our heads.
Despite the fact that I am not the mom I wish I could be, I'm so thankful for my family!
I am also thankful for blogging friends, like Ondrea, who often seems to write thought-provoking posts on things that matter to my heart. This is something she posted last week (August 21) that truly touched me (it's from the "Jesus Calling" devotional):
"I am a God who heals. I heal broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken lives, and broken relationships. My very Presence has immense healing powers. You cannot live close to Me without experiencing some degree of healing. However, it is also true that you have not because you ask not. You receive the healing that flows naturally from My Presence, whether you seek it or not. But there is more - much more - available to those who ask. ..... When the time is right, I prompt you to ask for healing of some brokenness in you or in another person. The healing may be instantaneous, or it may be a process. That is up to Me. Your part is to trust Me fully and to thank Me for the restoration that has begun. I rarely heal all the brokenness in a person's life. Even My servant Paul was told, "My grace is sufficient for you," when he sought healing from the thorn in his flesh. Nonetheless, much healing is available to those whose lives are intimately interwoven with Mine. Ask and you will receive."
I don't really know how to end this post. I didn't intend for it to be something negative - only a glimpse at the reality of our lives. In a way, it was a process for me to write about it so I could reflect, and not just dwell on the dark stuff. It was also a wake-up call for me that I can't do it all alone - God called us to adopt and he will carry us through the difficult moments:
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
And, of course, I must include a photo of the sweetness that makes it all worthwhile:
The little Russian princess is turning out to be quite a tomboy, what with 3 older brothers and all . . .
PS As I was reading through old posts trying to find the ones to link back to, I came across these words in another post:
When I came down the stairs for the last time, Sofia called me into her room one last time.
She looked at me and said, "I very, very love you, Mama."
Sometimes I wonder if I am deserving of the love of this child. There are so many times I am not the parent I want to be. So many moments I wish I go back and do-over.
But, tonight, she made me feel like I must be doing something right. We have come so far in our relationship. This is such a good thing.
Gosh, maybe I need to copy, laminate and post those words on the wall in the bedroom so I can be reminded daily that's it's not always a struggle.