Attachment School, lent and trust

Lots of thoughts bouncing round my brain as I contemplate the approach of Lent and the two wild boys rocketing around me on this rainy Sunday afternoon.  Forgive the rambling: I need to try to sort out the threads in my head on this blustery day.

It seems that my approach to raising these kids, all my kids, has become more and more a focus on attachment and connecting.  It is a much more holistic approach, in a way, than we used to do….although that seems like an odd thing to say. It’s not that I raised my first sons differently, or less, or with less love or “all in” approach (heavens no, I couldn’t possibly love them more or have done more than I did with what I had at the time)….but rather, that I knew less, was less confident in the worth and reach of the boundless love we had for them.  I/we felt we had to make sure that we filled them with….oh, as much as we could of everything. Every fact, experience, tidbit of knowing, doing, etc…it was rushing past us and could we possibly capture it all?

Now, it seems that the bigger, harder, more intensive thing to do is to fill them, any and all of our kids, with as much as we can of…us. By which I mean, connection.  Our time, our presence, our mindfulness, our ‘no matter whatness” of our love for them…at the same time as we gently nudge ahead and hold boundaries.  We encourage and console.  We trust and hope.  But maybe we don’t have to be doing the DOING of filling that kid-jar of self…rather we need to let them unfold a bit more.

And I think this whole-ness of approach to the parenting, now, is an older, fuller, more relaxed and  more encompassing way, in a way.  Even as it’s a looser, relaxed and trusting way.  And, school, for now, for these little boys, must also run these rails.  Because I believe that it is what will launch them best. It is actually a way of schooling that I can only call Attachment Homeschool.  Attachschool?  A blend of unschool, homeschool, living life, attachment parenting.  Loving no matter what, all in.   If they are allowed to relax into the who of themselves, and secure their attachment to the us of our family, then they have the most powerful launchpad that there is. They will have the toolbox to become who they will and are made to be.

There is a price to it. It is the dear cost of hope and trust.  It means spending effort to beat back the demons of fear and worry and fretting. Mine, of course. It means trusting in these kids, who they are all meant to become.  It means cracking open my rusty crusty soul and trusting in God himself who made them and brought them here, to us.

And so as we approach the desert of Lent, one of my most difficult Lenten exercises will be to trust in the learning of these boys.  To let them relax into themselves and me/us.  To LIVE our family life as fully and mindfully as I can.  To live this liturgical season as fully as I can, with the family and all the kids.  Not easy.  Sounds so.  But, so not.

Because for me to step out into the desert in faith and trust…well, it’s a desert for me for sure.  That’s where all my demons screech and thrash.  But, lent approaches.  I’m girding up.  I’ve got the crowbar out to break open the iron doors of my trust and control and let them step out of that musty box and into the fresher air of faithful hope.  This lent is a time to be still and listen and pray and watch the blooms that are found, even in the desert.  Some of those are the most beautiful; even so for the struggle of it all.


Three days.  I wish you a deeply blessed spare and rich Lent.   I’ll pray for you, if you would, please pray for me.

Restart, with the Fundamentals

We are in the midst of a sea change here in the coffeehouse.  We have made the difficult decision to have Little Man come on  home to do school here, with  me.  Now, we have been homeschoolers from years ago.  School decisions are a per kid, per year, per circumstance decision.  Things shift and change all the time, especially with kids…especially with educating kids.  What might work well one year, doesn’t the next.  What might work badly one year, might be brilliant the next.  Thus, we leave the option of change wide open.  But, we don’t change without tremendous consideration, prayer, study and evaluation….mostly because I stew about things.  But hey, at least it’s not impulsive.

Anyhow, all that is to say that we are back to homeschool, for one: my Anthony and third grade.  The other kids are all doing great, so they are still at school.  He was not.  He is a kid with some issues and layers and this year at regular school (and we love our little school)….the new year has not been good. It’s been eroding connections around here and that, well, it’s unacceptable.  So last week we made the final decision to bring  him home, bring him close.  He’s super smart this kid.  The academics are not the issue.  The attachment is the issue.  We think that if he is supported in working through and building attachment and connection (and this conference last weekend totally hammered this home) then he will both  mature and be able to fly higher with his school.  I’m not willing to accept his frustration escalating and thus his skills and attachment eroding…I”m shooting for gain, for take off. So, for now, he is home.

Monday was the start.  And, what better first task, than to start with the most basic of…everything:  Bread.  Yup.  Anthony made his first loaf of bread, ever.  We read my recipe together, he measured, he stirred, kneaded, waited, watched, shaped, and baked.  It was science and math and cooking…but it was bonding.  He did it. He was thrilled.  So was I.  It was yummy goodness.  And in that first day, we had more CONNECTION than in the past month, altogether. But, it was serious, true eye to eye, intentional focused connection.  (We did other stuff too, not only cook…don’t get all judgmental….)

Anthony, first bread ever and it was delicious!

Now, can you say “Honeymoon?” I can!  Because yesterday, day two, was really tough.  So, we had a one day honeymoon.  But, while it’s tempting to be discouraged, I’m gonna chalk this whole week up to the choppy waters of changing seas.  We, I pray, will find our sea legs.  And we will figure out what works and what doesn’t, the timings, the flow.  If  you have a thought, toss a prayer for us our way.  This is important stuff.  Sure, the school stuff, the academics, it’s super important, vital.  But the connection and heart of this boy? Critical.  It’s everything.

Day two, messier in every sense of the word….but…it’s a work in progress, right?

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.