The title sounds incredibly morbid doesn’t it? It wasn’t, but it was also a conversation mom needed to have, it was also a conversation I didn’t expect to be having on this blog. But here we are. There were several in-depth, sometimes contentious conversations in the on-line adoption community about bonding and attachment this past week. People got upset, angry, hurt, worried. I both get it, and don’t get it, I can understand the fear because of adoption, I can’t understand assuming one voice means all voices. This post talks about how both conversations intersect.
I want to talk about my take on attachment (apparently you shouldn’t confuse bonding and attachment or use the terms interchangeably) and also the last conversation I had with mom, not the last time I saw her, the last real conversation because it seems to all be inter-connected and explains many things about different attachments.
If I take the different types of attachment described in this article, my attachment with dad was organized and secure, with mom I can’t say that, although I don’t think I’d go so far as the next type of attachment, it’s closer than the first, so it would have been organized and avoidant (with caveats). Having said that, while they need standard measurements to work from, relationships across time can seldom be put in neat little boxes. Personality similarities and differences factor into the equation especially as time goes on, then add in adoption based on my observation of both adopted and non-adopted families. There will also be other aspects that are unique to each family.
Dad was always my go-to parent, my primary caregiver in that respect, although mom was my primary caregiver. Dad always had my back, always made time to fix what was wrong, he was also very similar to me personality wise and in the interests we shared. It also went both ways, I was the one person who could cheer dad up when he was in hospital or the care home, mom would call me to go do what she couldn’t. At the same time, mom was also important to me, she worried about me, I worried about her, we just had different personalities, different interests, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a loving relationship, it was, it just wasn’t the natural easy-going relationship where you just get the other person. I don’t know how to describe it any better, the relationship with dad was easy, words weren’t needed, it just was, it was free from maintenance. With mom, she needed a relationship to be continual contact, my sibling did that, with her false words of flattery and love mom needed to hear, needed to believe were true (they weren’t, never had been) but my sibling was very good with games. I’m not a flowery spoken person, I don’t need ongoing contact, my actions speak louder than my words, dad was the same, the connection we had told me the morning he passed, that he was gone, and I needed to go help mom, mom didn’t know how I already knew he was gone when I walked in the door.
But getting to that last conversation, at the end, perhaps mom finally realized that actions show more than words ever can. That last conversation started with her saying; I didn’t think you could step-up, but you did. A complement and rebuke at the same time, and perhaps a hint of acknowledgment, because she never really got my physical limitations because I looked fine, therefore, I must be fine, but at the end over many months of continual trips the exhaustion showed. I think it was also recognition that she’d be wrong about me, wrong about my sibling. We talked a bit more and then she said; I should have tried harder, I knew what she meant, that she hadn’t accepted who I was, that she’d needed me to be more of who she needed me to be, and that she regretted that. I replied, no regrets mom, no regrets. That seemed to ease her mind, but she’d needed to acknowledge our relationship wasn’t perfect, it seemed to give her peace to do that. I didn’t need it, I knew mom, her heart, her soul, her needs. It never bothered me that our relationship was different from my relationship with dad, different people, different relationship. The difference in our relationship never made me doubt her love for me.