Little: Mummy? Did my other daddy remember to give me tea when my tummy mummy forgot to?
Me: Sometimes he forgot too. His brain was poorly too and he couldn’t always remember things.
Little: (pauses) You won’t forget will you mummy?
My heart breaks into a million pieces when I have these conversations with Little. I never know whether I’m saying the right thing. I know that I have to tell her the truth, I can’t pretend that her ‘other daddy’ remembered because he didn’t. And Little is a bright wee button. She’d already worked out that there should have been two people taking care of her, so if one couldn’t, the other one should have. She’s asking questions to find out if her thoughts are correct.
I’ve been re reading Creating Loving Attachments by Kim S Golding and Dan Hughes this week and I looked again at the pyramid of needs. It really brought home how differently my children are coping being with us. Little feels safe enough to start exploring her trauma. She knows that she is safe, her needs are being met, she is connecting with us, she is developing empathy and her resilience is building. She is able to talk about her past because she feels safe in her present.
This is not the same for Big. After two years of being with us, she does not feel safe. She does not get comfort from being with us, she is not developing empathy and her emotional needs are based very much on the now, there is no future and no past. Big cannot start to mourn the loss that she feels until she feels safe enough to do so and I am so very sad that my eldest child still lives in a place of fear. That she cannot come to me when she is hurt. That she cannot talk about things she is excited about or scared of or nervous about.
I don’t know if there is more I should be doing for Big. I don’t know if what we’re doing at the moment is enough and that by doing it everyday, she might one day feel safer with us. I don’t know if she goes to bed every night convinced that this will be the night that she is moved to somewhere else. I don’t know if she wakes up every morning thinking this will be the morning that mummy has gone and she will be alone.
I do know that my Big girl spends most of her time feeling scared and she covers this with anger. I know that we’re trying our best as a family to help her feel less scared. I know that we have a long, long way to go. I know that the thing that keeps me up most nights is wondering what else I can do for her. What she needs from me. I know that I just wish she could tell me. I just wish that we could have a conversation about it. But until she feels safe in our family, she’s not going to be able to do that. So I have to keep hoping that we’re moving in a direction that is helping her, that we’re doing the right things for her and one day, that she might start to feel a little bit less scared and a little bit more safe.
The best bits
We went to the beach this weekend. A log was being brought in by the tide. Both the girls decided it was Stickman and wanted to rescue him. They both got absolutely drenched but were very pleased when they got him in!
On one of our walks this weekend, Big said, ‘The woods look very beautiful today. I like the leaf colours.’
Little and I did the weeding yesterday. It actually transpired that when I finished a patch, she was putting them back in. ‘I putted all the pretty flowers back in mummy!’