Monday, December 12, 2011

Haley Turns 8

Last week Little Miss Haley hosted a party to celebrate her eighth birthday. We made felt flower hair clips and beaded bracelets.

I wanted the girls to take their time and create pretty bracelets rather than just quickly stringing random beads together. My sister Nancy gave me this great idea to draw a little paper template to help each girl select her beads and plan how they'd look together. After they chose their main beads, I helped them choose spacers or tiny beads to flesh out their design.

There was cake with lavender frosting flowers, curled hair, jewelry, dolls, craft kits, wrapping paper, candles, singing, pink bows--the whole bit. But the hard-to-speak truth is this: When it was all over, Mark and I could remember only one real smile, one moment of genuine joy from Haley. 

People never like it when I talk about the damage Haley sustained in her first few years of life. They are right to point out all the ways she is lovely, sweet, strong, thriving, and normal. And all of that is true. But it's also true that my love for Haley has never been the same easy-as-breathing variety I have for my other children. Not less, but certainly different. And her love for me is much more fraught as well.

I think every mother learns that the Hallmark version of love disintegrates in the face of real in-the-trenches parenting. True love isn't perfect. It includes anger, disappointment, frustration. Our children never are exactly as perfect as we'd like them to be, and we are never the ideal parents we would like them to have.

I feel I've learned a lot about true love from being Haley's mother. Our Haley is a holey bucket. The love and attention we pour into her often seems to flow right out the bottom, leaving her no more full than she was before. 

But in some ways, the more imperfect is my relationship with Haley, the more dented our love, the more fiercely I love her. No matter if she idealizes her birth mother and fantasizes about her "real" home and remembers only my failings and rails against me as a mean mom. I will love her and try to fill her and teach her and throw her pretty parties over and over and over again. And I hope that one day she will see that the love we gave her was enough. 


  1. It looks like a lovely party! I hope Miss Haley knows what a lucky girl she is. At least, some day.

  2. I often think about what a gift bestowed upon Haley to be a part of your family.

    Gillian would have loved to have been a part of the party, nice to hear that Haley did have at least one joyful moment in spite of the other moments that were probably more memorable to you than to her anyway.

  3. Although I have no idea what it is like to parent Haley, it sounds like you get a better idea of what its like to be like Heavenly Father. He has so many children who take him for granted, only see the difficult things in their life and blame Him for them. All He does/ can do is continuing to love them and give them blessings that often go unnoticed (fall out of the bucket). I think that if you consistently keep filling her bucket with love its like mending the holes, slowly and surely... not completely, but at least making them smaller.