Tonight I was poking around in blogland and stumbled onto this post at Shell in Your Pocket. This one really struck an emotional note for me.
More is Caught Than Taught.
I don't know where I heard this. It's been so long ago that I can't credit the phrase to anyone. Wish I could because I'd like to meet him or her again so I could beg for more pearls of wisdom!
Our children are little sponges and they just seem to absorb us. Despite my best efforts and intentions in parenting, it really boils down to what I live out in front of my children. What I live out is really what they reflect.
Shell in Your Pocket has this lovely and sweet story of how Shell lays out her daughter's clothes at night in preparation for their morning routine and how her daughter lays out the clothes for her doll. She is "catching" her mommy's parenting and love. She is reflecting her mommy and absorbing all of it.
My youngest daughter turned 5 this week and reading this story brought to mind a memory of my sweet daughter and her doll. My daughter would send her doll on foster visits. Off with an imaginary stranger (visitation worker) to a supervised visit with the doll's other daddy. Then her dolly would return and she would care for it and love it. She did all the normal dolly play....just insert foster visitations. You see, our daughter came to us at 13 months old as a foster daughter. All attempts at reunification with either birth parent failed and we were pleased and blessed to adopt her 2 years later.
I remember watching this and it would break my heart. My mind would flood with so many thoughts of which I can summarize....children should not have to go through this. I must admit that I felt both sorrow for my daughter and anger toward the adults that failed her and forced her to enter foster care.
But, somehow after reading Shell's story of her daughter and her doll clothes, I am reflecting on my daughter's story in a different light. I have read many books on parenting and adoption and have attempted to apply various parenting techniques and tips gleaned from these books with varied results. In the end, my children just seem to "absorb" me....little sponges that they are. All of it...the good and the bad. (Yikes!) Previously I thought my daughter was absorbing all the ugliness of foster care and that despite my best efforts at being purposeful in my parenting, I was failing. Wow was I wrong! She was learning to be a mommy with a heart big enough for loving on hurt children and their families. In her little girl and dolly way she was playing out the best side of foster care....she was reflecting my love.
I love her and pray she never loses her optimism and resilience! I have a brave little girl!
PS....She never did play out the "ugly".... her dolly never suffered...she just loved her when she came home from visits.
Picture of our daughter on the morning we adopted her. She received an Bitty Baby as her adoption gift from us. She's such a little mommy. She immediately stuck a bottle in her new baby's mouth!