>Marking the Days: Attachment Edition

>Last week I wrote about being the Second Best Mom.
Part of that post pointed out how hurt I was by Marta’s perception that EVERY day was hard with me, in one way or another. I mean, talk about massive “mom fail.” As I considered all this however, and talked it over and through with dear coffeedoc….it became clear that we needed a way to mark that really, NOT every day was awful.
We have had, truly and real time, some or many good and happy days.

This is not to diminish the concept that every day IS hard in that I am not her first, adored, mom and thus it is INTRINSICALLY hard, more difficult…the building of this new relationship.
Because that concept is accurate and true and will be in play for, um, ever.
But I’m not sure if my daughter meant something as broad spectrum as that when she made a kind of rueful, “Oh well, that’s the way it is” kind of face and told me that every day was hard with me. I think, I worry, that she was remembering every day as hard. Therein lies a problem

When we globalize (using terms like “always””never”) any problem, as we, or I, am so wont to do, reflexively…then we are shooting ourselves – and whoever gets swept into that global memory vault – in the foot.
We are really kind of crippling that relationship.
At the very least we are seriously undermining it and any progress that is being attempted.

I don’t want Marta, or me, to remember EVERY day as bad. Or hard.
Because they are not.
I tend to be a cynic and/or pessimist to some degree and I can EASILY zip right over there and rememer only the hard stuff too, so I ‘get’ this.
But it’s a mistake.
I think it’s our human nature to remember the bad, perhaps because it stands out glaring against the good. But that pondering gets all big and philosophical and is a whole ‘nother post or series of them (And probably best done by someone far above my pay grade).

Therefore, in order to offset this tendency, dear Coffeedoc had his usual brainstorm and came up with the idea of Marking the Days.
I know, no surprise that, the man loves a spreedsheet and a system. He got a degree in engineering for pete’s sake, no wonder, he can’t help himself.
I, who got my degree in art, usually roll my eyes at his systematic tendencies because they come about as naturally to me as breathing underwater.
But this one, I was ready to hear, what with me being all broken and hurt and blue….

Thus we have, for the past week or so, been Marking our Days.
And I’m posting because it’s helping, a little bit, so it’s worth marking in it’s own right.

Here’s how we are doing it; both low tech and high (because that’s appealing to the teen side).
Every night, right at bedtime, as Marta comes to me to say goodnight, I stop and say “Oh wait! We need to mark the day. Was today a hard day with mom or a good day with mom?”
And she, so far, has chuckled and said, “Good day.
And I have said, “Ok, here we pick ‘green, good day,’ Me too, ‘green, good day with Marta.’
And then I hit the green smiley face for each of us on the little Iphone app that Coffeedoc modified for me. And we get that satisfying “zing” sound. She smiles and hugs and goes off to bed. I tell her each night, if it was a “hard day” that’s ok, we can pick the red sad face. So, far she has picked green happy face. I’m sure soon enough she will pick red sad face. {Now, the cynic in me is sure that as soon as I say we’ve had only good days so far, we’re doomed to a bad one, right away….aw} Then in the morning, on our big ol’ calendar (hub central) on the fridge, I draw a smiley face by her intitials and by mine in that block for that day. That’s the low tech, luddite version; but also a constant freestanding visual.

Now all this may seem so simplistic and even stupid. And it IS simplistic, but it’s not stupid at all. I think it’s very smart (thank you tom).
Even the process of stopping and marking that day, at bedtime, is a theraputic thing to do.
It shows her that I’m paying attention, to it all and to her and to her perception of our time and interactions.
It shows her without telling her with words (that are hard to understand) that this is important to me too.
It shows her that I care that our days grow better and better.
It shows her without telling her that it’s okay to have different days and that one day is just that: ONE day.
It shows her visually and behaviorally that it’s easy to remember one small bad thing and forget all the good things.
It shows her, clearly, in electronic light plus inked calendar poster, that she really DOES have good days.
It shows her, I hope, that I know I’m not her first mom and that I understand it’s hard for both of us and we are working on this together.
Our hope is that even this tiny little process can have some benefit.
Our hope for all this tracking is to be able to also have her be able to start tracking and seeing and feeling the healing in her heart and the grief by the building of a new good relationship with her new second mom.

Because second place can still be very good.
Second place can still be a place of happy goodness in and of itself.
So we are marking our days, hard good, red green: baby steps with smiley face stamps.