Monday

 "Don't hurt me, Mommy," she said tonight. 
We were cuddled on the couch watching Disney's Hercules, during which Meg, the embattled love interest, mumbles something to young Herc about how it's easier to be alone, because that way no one can hurt you.
 Just moments earlier, I had found myself thinking, "Now how is a four-year-old supposed to interpret a concept like this? A child this age is not going to understand the concept of romance and heartbreak. She's going to think that this woman is afraid that the muscle-bound man might hit her."
 Secretly I was hoping that her mind would just gloss over that moment and move on with the story. So when she said, "Don't hurt me, mommy," I thought she was playing out that idea in her mind.

I put my hands on her shoulders, looked her in the eyes, and said, "Q, you know that I would never, ever hurt you, right?"

"I know, mommy," she said gravely, returning my frank stare with her night-black eyes. "And I will never, ever hurt you."

And then she said, "I'll love you forever, Mommy."
 Let me step back several years and say that, when we were taking adoption classes prior to our trip to China, one of the many warnings that the adoption counselors gave us was that a child from an institutional background in China will often take longer to trust the women in their lives, since most of the caretakers are women, and therefore the children have already been abandoned (in their view) once (or twice, if you count the original abandonment) by women that they cared for. Therefore, we were told, the child might hold out affection from the female partner in order to protect themselves from further heartache.

Q has always been a happy and optimistic child, and we had very few attachment issues during our early times together. She accepted us, had fun with us, seemed to love us. She was always a happy, humorous and smiling child, a creature of joy. 

But I have to admit that during the first three years she always gave her open affection more easily to her daddy. I did not feel outcast, as I had feared. She gave me plenty of love as well. We were very close in many not-so-physical ways, and life was good and fun and full between us. But the openly adoring glances, the broadest smiles, the easiest affection was always for her daddy.
Only in the past month or so has there been a noticeable shift in her affection toward me. It was as if a floodgate had opened abruptly, and her affection was flowing at full volume. She started hugging and kissing me unprompted. She would throw her arms around me at odd, random moments. When she was sad or scared or hurt, she would no longer put a hand on my chest to hold me off when I would try to comfort her. She would kiss without prompting, instead of offering a peremptory cheek when asked for a kiss. She would blurt out "I love you, Mommy!" without my saying it first. She even began to write the letters of her name intermingled with the letters of my name: "Q-M-I-O-U-M-M-Y", when she was perfectly capable of writing both "Qiu" and "Mommy" separately. 

"I'll love you forever, Mommy", my new, preternaturally-mature daughter pronounced with intense gravity. "Even when I'm angry."

"And I will love you forever, Q," I told her, making my best effort at not allowing the tears to well up in my eyes.

She nodded once, pragmatically, as if a deal had been made, and we could now move on with our lives together.

20 comments:

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

So beautiful. I got teary reading it.

Michele said...

Snif. Beauty beyond words.

Anonymous said...

I could not be more happy for the three of you.

jen laceda said...

This brought tears to my eyes, Maia. What a beautiful moment. I don't know how you held it together at that moment. I would have beeen bawling my eyes out. Have you ever imagined, that as parents, we could ever feel this kind of unconditional love? I certainly didn't expect it.

Kate said...

This is such a great story. What a gift to have such a wonderful daughter.

Heather said...

As a mommy of two adopted kiddos I am getting you loud and clear!! Happy New year to you and yours...

the justins

Yanyan said...

I am so touched and happy for you all...

kenza said...

So beautiful! and so beautifully written. We can read your hearts, your tears, your hopes... Thank you!

Jannine said...

What a lovely conversation; you have a remarkable daughter.

Stefanie said...

Thank you for sharing so beautifully what must have been an incredibly intense and overwhelming moment - almost a marker in your relationship as mother and daughter.
And how wonderful that Q feels so loved and safe that she can share what is on her heart so completely with her momma :)

Two Kayaks said...

Oh, Maia. How incredible.

Meg said...

It is a journey. I think the process can take our little SN kiddos a bit longer due to surgery and treatment. Mama is typically (but not always) the one managing doctor appointments and therapy. It has taken Soph longer than I would have expected given we were "attachment parenting" like crazy by wearing her, sleeping with her etc.

Colleen said...

I love how you can open your heart so entirely when you write. Beautiful moment and story, wonderfully written. Love to all of you~~C

Cavatica said...

Beautiful. I've always felt lucky to be the recipient on earned love. Its a special wonder of adoption. This is another time that your QQ reminds me a bit of our BB, who is at once very mature, yet quite innocent. Its an interesting mix.

FDChief said...

A wonderful moment.

Now. Print this out, put it in your treasure box, and take it out and read it thirteen years from now after your lanky teenage daughter has just slammed her door sobbing "You don't love me! You've NEVER loved me!"

Because if I've learned anything from thirteen child-years of parenting, I know that tug-of-war that pulls and tears on your heartstrings will never end until you do, or she does.

I'm not sure how we tally up the final outcome, but surely moments like this one must weigh heavily on the "good" side of the scale.

Love to both of you.

laurie said...

oh my gosh that melts my heart, such a private profound moment for you to share with us,,thankyou,

Amélie said...

The most beautiful love story. You write beautifully about it.

....... said...

i had a sensation like that although Max has been here only for two months. I noticed that Max is happier when Sebastian comes home than when i do. i thougth it was so, because in the institution where he spent his first 10 months of life, he was taken care off by women only ...

paula

www.paulasoldo.blogspot.com

Jeanne-ming said...

Bawling my eyes out....
It may have seemed a stretch to you, but not to those of us who peek into your world.

and is she really four? No!
Maia....Happy New Year.....missing you.
Jeanne-ming

Yoli said...

I have been there and know of what you speak of so eloquently. Hugs to you and dear Q. Gorgeous photo shoot.