Updated: Sep 2, 2020
With all the privileges that come with parenting that can include hugs, sticky kisses, and refrigerators full of construction paper art that becomes attics full of boxes of said art, rarely do I hear anyone opine on the privilege of how parenting illuminates your own attachment wounds. But it does. Sooner rather than later, I’m afraid. All your own unmet needs or dismissed feelings come tumbling out right in front of you as your baby cries unconsolably, toddler climbs up that too high jungle gym, kindergartener clings onto you and won’t let go, middle schooler rolls their eyes again, high schooler erupts into panic over needing to understand a life plan, and young adult decides your advice is most unhelpful. Or, not. They do the exact opposite thing you wanted, expected, secretly needed. Attachment. It is there every day, in every interaction. And. It. Is. Hard.
But, a privilege? All those times when I feel suffocated by the overwhelming need to fix whatever has caused the suffering of my child. Knowing that, feeling that, living that, in that very moment, is a privilege? Or all those times when you want to run as far as you can, as fast as you can, from the pain and suffering of the child in front of you. But instead you close the steel trap of the wall that protects you. Experiencing that, right then and there, is a privilege? Yes. A thousand times I would say, yes, and still not think I had made my point. Attachment wounds exist inside all of us, because moments of imperfect love and connection happened to all of us. Some of us felt that repeatedly, some of us just the average amount. But, they happened and they impacted you and because of that, they need to be healed. Think of them as tiny cuts, untended, un-Neosporined, un-band-aided. A little achy, a little guarded. And maybe having existed for so long that you just, forget they are there. Truth be told, if you have a cut on your arm for twenty years, you would have learned how to manage your day to day routines, without giving it much notice, except for the fact that you would have avoided the use of that part of your arm. For twenty years. How difficult life can be without use of an arm. How much more work for the other arm. And I suppose it all goes okay, managed, until you have that child in front of you. That one you love so much. Maybe even that one with his or her own attachment wounds. That just so happen to bang into yours. And now it is a problem. A real problem. An unmanageable heartbreaking problem. Because you can’t leave. And because they can’t change their attachment style without you changing first. And because you didn’t realize before that very moment that your arm had a cut in it and you hadn’t been using it for twenty years. And now, all of a sudden, you have a chance to heal that cut. And use that arm to finally embrace life, just like you were meant to. And hug that child with both arms. What a privilege.
And. Yes. It is hard. Finding the wounds are painful. Heck, it was painful receiving the wounds! The grief as you heal is a journey. But, oh, the love. The love you feel when someone hugs you and you can receive them with both arms! The love you give when you have both arms to embrace others! Worth it? Yes. A thousand times over, yes.