Little Love Languages

So this week is all about love, right? We’ve got Valentines, we might still be nibbling the chocolates if we’re lucky.  I wrote a post marking the good on Monday.  But I also want to put up a quick bit about a visible love language, mark it too, if you will.  I know there are books on this topic that are all official and researched and backed up with theses and phd’s and whatnot.  I haven’t read them and this post is not that.  It’s another  marker, but personal and specific to our family and this child.  It’s one of her sweetest, so it gets it’s own spotlight.

When you bring home a child that is older, you don’t get the time to slowly and naturally lay down tracks and habits that are unique to the two of you.  You kind of hit the ground running with a presumptive relationship, but without these small but ever so important stanchions in place.  Some of those really important things are the little habits and intimate niceties that you build up over time, typically from babyhood onward.  They are the inside the jokes, the significant looks, the nose tap, the habitual note in the lunchbox, the nickname or ‘secret codewords’.  They are the tiny mundane actions and anchors of a relationship, of family.

In the intentional attachment effort, you can try to craft these things, and you should, to a degree.   But only so much can be done at first, really, so much of it just takes time.  Marta has one trait that started out as good manners, I think.  Or possibly it was insecurity and/or a needy deference.  But nowadays, truly, on a good day, it has become a different thing altogether, it a sweetness, possibly even, ssssh, an act of love or loving feelings (which are just about as good, I’ll take em!).

Specifically, Marta gives.  She defers.  Not anymore with that uncomfortable submissive twinge of the early months;  now it’s from a different spot.  For instance, when we are going to pray our daily rosary, she will grab two rosaries and hand me the one that she likes best.  Every day.  I smile at her and say, “No, that one is good!” pointing to the other, plainer one.  She says, “No! This you.  This me good.” and she pulls her hand away and/or pushes the prettiest one into my hands. And every time I smile and roll my eyes a little, and then acquiesce, often with a hug.  Which makes her grin grow wider.

The reason I know this is different than before is that she has done this for awhile now. I’ve had time to see the change in tone.  When she first came home, she might do it with her eyes not connecting, and her face with that tightness.  Her stress and connection levels manifest in her body language instantly and irrefutably.  She can almost age before your very eyes with the way her emotions play across her body and face.  There is a difference, physically visible, between a tense submissive or worried giving and a relaxed loving or playful giving.  If you see it,  you can peg it in a blink.

Anyhow, not to make too much of all this.  But I think, I want, to mark this too.  She gives to me, to her dad.  Sometimes, on those relaxed days, to her big sister.  She gives the prettiest rosary, the ‘best’ or biggest brownie, will scoot her seat on the sofa over a spot.  We have to say, “No, no, that’s for you” sometimes. Not always. She’s still a kid.  She’s still a moody teen.  But more often now, and it’s sweet.

Marta has a verbal language impairment.  But happily, her language of love is not impaired even so.  She doesn’t need language to communicate when she is relaxed and feeling warmth towards us.  She finds the way to show us, we just have to make sure we are looking. I have to make sure I am looking and seeing and marking it down.  For both of us.

>When rain is just wet

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Rain clouds, Lalibella, Ethiopia
This travel blog photo’s source is TravelPod page: Gob smacked in Lalibella

 I have written before about “marking the good,” especially when you are parenting a kid from hard places and with attachment issues; heck anytime, really.  If you are parenting teens or tweens or many or special ones, ya better try to remember to mark the good.

One of my heroes and blog friend Lisa has recently had a few posts about what has worked and the positive changes.  Go there and be encouraged!  It got me thinking, and reminded me to look again (Yes, we moms have to remind ourselves to do that some days.  Ok, me.) for those positive changes instead of merely looking at the crowded to-do list.   Therefore, as spring is upon us (hooray!), I want to mark a good that is ever so timely:

Rain.

Yup, it’s raining again.  Not snow, anymore, thank goodness.  Spring is upon us. Which means we have entered the rainy season; which in my neck of the woods means downpours and crashing storms, tornadoes, hail, straight line winds, and just a whole lotta water.
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a bunch of rain, and I kinda….forgot.
I forgot about how Marta reacts to rain.
I think I mighta just boxed the whole thing up and set it away in denial.
Because for this particular girl, rain is a big trigger.
It is a trigger to a whole trauma cascade reaction.

Rain in Addis. Rachel Landman, Under African Skies blog

Last rainy season, Marti had only been home a little over six months, ok, eight to be precise (yes, I was counting….).  We had experienced a few rainstorms the first few months she was home, and they always put her into a sad mood and she became very out of sorts and anxious, often angry.
But last spring, as we entered the rainy season, we hit a whole new level.  Marta has loss from cars in the rain, her father.  This is a loss, huge of course, that perhaps wasn’t fully grieved, I don’t know.  But the onset of rain here made it all come gushing forth in it’s own short-looped torrent.
Every time it rained last spring, without fail, it also rained a talking loop that continued for the duration of the storm.  This was a very hard downward spiral for her, and all we/I could do was listen.  Again. And again.  And say small comforting words or sounds, be there, and listen some more.  The need seems to be to say it, out loud, to be heard. I don’t know how many times, or how many times were or are needed.  But, the need was relentless and unleashed with the rain. Much the same way as the rain fell, so did this torrent of words and sad. 
We had rainstorms and sad storms.

And now it is raining again.
But, and this is huge: it seems her clouds are clearing.
She has spoken of “Ethiopia, rain, very bad, hard, car die.”
But, she also has spoken, more, of “Rain nice. No snow. Flowers good. School ok.”

It seems her sad storms are healing a bit.
Because, so far, this spring, rain is just wet.
Rain is not a trigger to spiral cascade of unbearable grief.
The memories surely arise, how can they not?
But I rejoice to see this and pause to give her a big grin and hug.
Because this year, now, she can laugh that her puppy HATES to go out in the rain and shivers and shakes and balks.  She scolds her pup and rubs her off with a towel, laughing.
We can talk about hair and rain and oh my goodness crazy mess.
She mentioned cars and the rain, once so far.  But then moved on after a hug.
Because now, maybe my girl can see too, progress.
Rain doesn’t have to be scary or freezing sadness. 
Maybe it is now ok for her to feel it: rain is just wet.

So I’m finding the galoshes, and marking the good.