Comfort and Discomfort

Day 7 of #adoptersblogtober18

When we went to our Approval Panel, to persuade a group of experts that we would make good enough parents to adopt, I thought long and hard about what to wear. I wanted to dress like a mother. I wanted to dress like someone a child would want to snuggle up to. I wanted to look like a source of comfort. I chose a soft grey skirt and a cotton polo neck. Of course, the outfit almost certainly had no effect on the panel! But, I think it does say something about me, and what I expected to be as a mother.

I still wear soft clothes, actually. I don’t like to wear zips or buttons wear they might catch on a cuddly child. I don’t wear sequins or brooches. I like to dress in a way that invites hugs.

The truth is that the boys need all the encouragement that I can give them. When they were small, they weren’t particularly keen on physical affection. They weren’t even keen on me putting plasters on cuts, or washing dirty faces.

They quite liked wrestling, though. Grabbing, squeezing and poking were all easier for the boys to do than gentle hugs or kisses. When they did hug me, they would turn it into a little competition and ask me to try and hug tighter than them. Now, when both the big boys are taller than me, they like to throw themselves at me in a bear hug that knocks me over (usually we land safely on the sofa, they’re playful bears).

I suppose in a way it summarises out relationship. Comfort and discomfort are tightly linked. Soft hugs are counterpoised with rough pushes.

Getting close to me, trusting me, can be hard for the boys. It can feel scary at the very moment it feels safest. Scary, because it’s safe. Because trusting a grown-up to keep you safe is taking a risk.

I’m amazed and proud at their willingness to take such a risk with me, though I wish that it was easier for them to do.

I don’t know how much I can really do about this tension. Ultimately, the best I’ve come up with so far is to keep on being safe, keep on offering soft edges for them to bump against, and hope that the repeated proof will make a lasting impression.

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