Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When We Feel Undone and Unstrung




I cringe as the shrill noise strikes my eardrums, like the clashing of cymbals or fingernails on chalkboard.  The serenity and first blush of morning is punctured, like a needle to a balloon, as the sharp, high-pitch staccatos ricochet throughout the house.

The little bitty girl in the tip-top loft bed is making happy sounds, but not the normal soft musical rousing.  Her voice careens down the hallway, like a megaphone, reverberating off walls, and shaking the foundation.

After twenty minutes of the piercing noise, I consider it quite plausible a horse or a flock of seagulls has moved in during the dark hours of slumber.  Whatever the creature, it is creating a bizarre high treble whistling or whinnying.

With a steady flow of caffeine coursing through my veins, I journey the honey stained floors to solve the mystery.  Flipping the switch on the wall, a picture illuminates, from my vantage point, of a puppy and a frizzy, raven head.

The woolly, stuffed poodle dances the rim of the pine bed rail.  Four-year old toes peek below the rail, and wiggle the bright snowman fleece pajamas.



"What are you playing?  Is it a horsey?," I guess.  A flock of seagulls is my next bet.

"No, it's a dolphin!," she declares.

"Oh your doggie is a dolphin."  (Of course).

"Yes!," she giggles, revealing her silly wide-toothed grin.  The puppy bounces with the ceaseless, ear-splitting sound of a dolphin.

"Come on sweetie, let’s get up and go potty," my arms stretch high to help her down.  It is the time for rush.  Chaos.  Carpool.

She stops her play, dark brown eyes lock with mine, "I  had a dream last night that all my mommies died."

The tempo of the morning immediately shifts.  For this moment. 

"Really?  What happened sweetie?"

 "The mama with the…

She squints her eyes, and wrinkles her forehead as she thinks hard.  If I listen closely between pink and cream toile curtains and the pine bed, I can probably hear clattering and rumbling of her brain's childlike attempt to reach into the recesses of fading memories.

The name finally comes to her, "The mama with the B name…she died."

Quietly, I say, "Oh, you're talking about your birth mom?"

Somber dark eyes peer over the rail searching for answers.

"Sweetie, it was just a dream.  She’s okay, she’s not really hurt."

"But I dreamed she was killed by a man with poison and a knife," she replies while making the motions of stabbing her chest.

I suck in air.  Deep.

She is right.  This dream, her life, must feel like a death in so many ways.  For the first time in three years, she hasn’t seen her birth mama for the usual two hours, twice a month-- it’s been over six months since she's seen her, and it's unlikely to happen again.

I shift my feet and search for words, "She's not really dead sweetie."

Pensive, she gazes over my shoulder, her mind turning.  Her face scrunches and I know she's devising a plan.  I sense it stirring in the air of the room, like the heater that's circulating warmth, there’s something happening in the space between us.  Her four-year old mind is circulating, solving a problem, as if picking the lock of her past.

Memories have been slipping away like the unstrung beads of her princess pearls, beads bouncing across the floor.  Her life has been upended, unstrung, and she will likely walk this ground of questions for a lifetime-- attempting to fit beads back onto the string and make sense of her world, her story.

Eyes bright, she has the answer.  "I know!  How about you take me to visit her?"

"I’m sorry, sweetie, I can’t do that.  I wish I could."

 "Why?"

"We just can’t, sweetie."

"Well, people used to take me to see her," she remembers transport workers who used to drive her to visits.

"Yes they did.  You had fun with her didn’t you?"

"Yes," she answers.

"I’m sorry you can’t do that anymore honey.  How does that make you feel?"

Tiny hands twist in her lap, the earlier playfulness gone from the room.  All is quiet a second.

Her gaze casts down at her hands, twisting, "It makes me feel sad."

"I know, it makes me sad too.  I’m so sorry.  She loves you so much."

I hold the bitty girl tight and squeeze, wishing I could squeeze the grief away for her.  Just like the fleeting thoughts of a child, she hops down chattering about breakfast and princesses.  The conversation gone for now.

We repeat this on some level almost daily, as memories surface and she has questions.  It used to undo me, send me to my bedroom weeping;  however, people who know much more than I do, tell me this is normal and healthy.  This is her way of processing her story and trying to fit it all together, the jumbled mess that it is.

Isn’t that all of our stories, though, on some level?  A mixed-up, messy picture that only the Father can redeem?

My heart is still sore from the brokenness of her story, but I also know beauty comes through pain-- the walking through, the rescue, the deliverance.  I can only walk beside her, love, and pray, as I do with all my children.

With all my kids, it is messy and imperfect and raw.  Who knows how to parent?  For real?  I sure as heck don't know what I'm doing.  But, I am grateful for the perfect Father who does.

I am confident He is doing a great work in all our hearts.  I am despairing less over Little Bitty's story, and embracing more of my own story along the way, as my eyes focus on the face of the only Rescuer.  The One who restrings the broken pieces of our lives.









12 comments:

Lisa notes... said...

Oh wow. What a hard thing to have to explain. But it sounds like you are doing a great job in letting her have her feelings and express them to you. Keep up the good work.

Melanie Singleton said...

Thanks Lisa- His grace!

Alecia Simersky said...

Wow, what a heartbreaking ordeal for her to have to go through. I have someone in my family going through something very similar and it's just too hard to understand as an adult, so I can't imagine how hard it must be for a little. I think you are handling it beautifully. Letting her ask her questions without getting angry and showing her so much love. That's what she needs. All the love.

Michele Morin said...

May God richly bless you for walking through this attachment experience with your little dear, and may He give you wisdom and grace to continue letting her open her heart to you as you did in this conversation you've shared today at Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood.

Joanna Sormunen said...

What a hard to thing to explain and to understand. Blessings to your in your daily life!

Davy Jolene said...

Thanks so much for sharing. We are new to foster care, and I just had the first "send me to my bedroom weeping" experience this week. The brokenness of foster care just sucks the air right out of my lungs sometimes. The parents that love their children, but rightly have them taken away. The children that love their parents unconditionally. Those of us who are second parents (or third, fourth...) who love them and can't imagine how confusing it must be for them to let themselves love us. The authorities who have the responsibility to basically guess what is best for the children. It's a complicated mess, and it's hard to know who to root for and how to care for the little ones in our care.
Thanks so much for sharing. It sounds like you are doing a great job with your precious little girl.

Melanie Singleton said...

Thank you - you've said it better than I ever could! Such a dichotomy of emotions. So so hard. A friend said recently she hates foster care, but the love comes when we are face to face with the child. Loving the child and hating the brokenness. Thanks so much for your comment.

Melanie Singleton said...

Thank you Joanna!

Melanie Singleton said...

Thank you dearly Alecia!

Melanie Singleton said...

Oh thank you so much Michele!

Lisa Smith said...

Wow! Parenting is so hard. I can't imagine explaining that...I'm learning to stop asking why and start trusting Who. Praying your baby girl does too.

Melanie Singleton said...

Thanks so much Lisa!