My darling 4 year old son has had several female caregivers in his little life. Over the period of 3 years, he had at least 5 that I can think of. Five different sets of arms to comfort him when he was hurt, five different faces to kiss at night – that’s a huge number for any aged child, but for a 3 year old it must have been overwhelmingly confusing.
So, looking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised that when he came home, literally 2 days after his 3rd birthday, he wasn’t that keen on getting to know me! He would reluctantly hold my hand when we were out and about, he would suffer sitting on my lap for a few seconds before squirming down, and he really didn’t want to be cuddled or comforted by me thank you very much! It was all about Mr N. He hadn’t had very many male caregivers at all – really only 1 – so he didn’t have the same history there. He was happy to be carried by Mr N, to be comforted by him and Mr N was the one he ran to when he was hurt or upset.
I must admit, I found that so incredibly hard! I so much wanted to be the one he turned to, the one he needed for comfort. I would end every night with ‘I love you’ and walk out of his room to silence. This isn’t hugely unusual for adopted children, and I knew that it would be coming, but it was so much harder than I had expected.
Fast forward 15 months – oh how things have changed. He has now been with me for longer than he was with any other caregiver – and I am really and truly his! When he is hurt or sad or excited, he will run to me before anyone else. He has to sit next to me at the table, and will eat with one hand resting on my arm. In the cinema he will sit as close to me as possible, more often than not resting his head on my arm throughout the whole film. He can’t understand why I can’t sleep with him every night, and he will choose to ‘chill out’ with me in the living room rather than playing with his toys.
And I’m loving every single bit of it! Mr N is still right up there too, but he is up there as a playmate, as a lego builder, a question answerer, a fixer, a rough and tumbler. He looks up to Mr N and we regularly hear ‘My Daddy said….’ or ‘My Daddy is the strongest/bestest/smartest…’ He adores his Daddy.
I am his mummy. At the moment, I am his world and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I know that this period of his life won’t last long – it’s fleeting. I want to hold onto it with both hands as hard as I can for as long as I can, taking internal pictures in my mind to cherish and to look back on when he has moved on from needing me in such an obvious way. I know that he will always be my baby boy, and he will always need both of us in different ways, but for now he is mine – at least for a little while!
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