I've been having counselling for a little while now - some attachment focused counselling initially for the NC and I (but we're bringing Mini in soon). And some individual sessions for me - all with the same counsellor which makes it easier all round. She has an overall view of family life and how it impacts on me, and she's starting to know how I tick, which helps her understand my reactions to the family stuff.
Today, I had a session on my own, and after a quick catch up with Ada about the week, we began talking about how Mini coped with Dollop's birthday yesterday. In fact, how Mini's coped with a number of parties - for Baby Whizz and Weezy's dad - Pops at the weekend, and then Dollop's birthday too. Or rather, as we usually do in my session, we reflected on what I'd done that enabled Mini to cope.
I still feel very uncomfortable doing this - not the reflection itself, but taking credit for how well that Mini managed the situations. However, this is Ada's role - to help me improve my own confidence in my parenting abilities because quite frankly that confidence is non-existent when it comes to Mini.
I find it particularly difficult to take the credit for the good days, without also taking the blame for the bad days. Several professionals have now confirmed to the NC and I that Mini's behaviour* is not our fault, that he is wired this way, that he'd be this challenging no matter who adopted him, that he has a coercive pattern, that he has suffered trauma, that his early life has had this massive impact on him which makes his reactions what they are.
However, it simply doesn't come naturally to me to accept praise for the good bits, without taking some of the blame for the less desirable bits. That feels a bit like saying 'I'm a perfect parent and I do everything right, all the crappy behaviour is because of the things his birth mother did' or 'When he's good he's my child, but when he's not he's hers...'. Both feel wrong, because despite his start in life, I don't blame his birth mother at all, she was inadequately supported and helped, and with more input perhaps this situation could have been avoided.
And of course not all the credit for Mini's 'good times' is down to me - it's down to Mini himself, his frame of mind, how good school's been that day, it's down to the NC, down to Dollop, sometimes circumstantial and sometimes - for all we know, down to which direction the wind is blowing and what phase the moon is in!
Anyway, back to today. Despite my discomfort (which Ada recognises, but pushes...naturally!), we did make headway, and I could see that some of the things that we'd done leading up to these birthdays and parties really have had a positive impact and have helped Mini cope with what he freely admits is usually difficult for him - having the spotlight on another member of the family.
And - those things were my idea, and my ideas worked! What's more, these things came naturally to me. I didn't have an epiphany; there were no new strategies to employ. When I reflected today with Ada's help, I can see that all I did was naturally respond to Mini's faint signs of unease. And what's more, because I have no recollection of those faint signs, perhaps this means I'm finally becoming more attuned to Mini and his needs.
And being able to identify those things that worked well, means I can use them again and again if I need to.
It's no secret that over the last little while I've been feeling really very rough. I'm no better now, but
these reflections have lifted me today, and whilst I have a long way to go - we all do, I feel justified in giving myself a pat on the back (and treating myself to a cuppa and a piece of cake!).