Princess loves me and isn't afraid to show it. She still gets scared sometimes and is terrified I won't come back from Orlando - not so much that she thinks I'll abandon her, but that something outside of my power will keep me from returning. It took her about a year and a half to feel comfortable expressing it, but she loves me. I'm her Mommy. She's my baby. She likes it that way. And, obviously, so do I.
She ran down the driveway as I was leaving for the grocery store the other day to give me "one more hug" through the window. (That same day, she ran after Hubster's car because she wanted to drive around the block with him to test his car's battery.)
Last time she spent the night at BFF's, they went to McDonald's before they brought her home. She still had soda left, so she brought it home. I noticed she had written in small letters, "I miss my Mom. I REALLY miss my mom." on the side of her cup.
Hubster asked her, "What about your DAD?" She said, "I ran out of ink." It actually did appear she ran out of ink.
There are little things like that every day - usually multiple times a day. So many moms on this journey of raising a traumatized kiddo don't see their love returned like I do. Their kids aren't willing or able yet.
I think it makes such a huge difference in my energy level and patience. I like to think I'd have the strength and desire to fight for her to heal either way, but I'm so thankful I get back so much more love and sweetness than screaming nastiness.
I feel lucky to be her mom every day - even during the screaming nastiness moments (like last night when she screamed for two hours because I have a stomach bug and broke my promise to take her to Chipolte or this morning when she copped a nasty attitude in the school drop off line. Perhaps I spoke too soon about things turning around yesterday!)
Love isn't all you need. It isn't enough. Patience, strength, research/knowledge, energy, the ability to deal with rejection, trial and error and so much more are also necessary for special needs parenting. But love that is clearly expressed both ways must make it so much easier.
I posted this and than saw that my pal (who I get to hug in person in Orlando in March!) wrote about love today, too. (Read her post here!) She explains that the love she has for her biological sons is "fluffy" love because it's always been there and has never been tested. However, the love she has for her daughter, who she adopted from Ethiopia around the same time we brought home Princess, is hard work. But she says both types are just as real.
This really struck a cord with me. I have both versions of love with my girl. We have lots of the ooey-gooey-fluffy-easy love, which is what I referred to as making the rest of it - the hard, head-banging, dragging us both through it kicking and screaming type love, seem so much more doable.