In all the activities of this summer, there have still been pockets, though small and brief. Pockets of quiet. Nothing on the calendar. No plan. No obligation. In even smaller pockets are the times my child will retreat. Away from me. In low vibration. Casually overwhelmed. Retreats to her room. Temperature controlled. Lit for a calming ambience. Soft blankets in her own space. Surrounded by her “things”. White noise of the air purifier…and I am aware that I can not compete.
I am left uneasy as she hides away. In those spaces. Especially when my responsibility is not elsewhere. Not detracting from her. Even though I may understand that need the most. Even though I don’t feel shunned when I myself have chosen ‘alone time’. So few and far between, the instances, they are precious to me. Not causal to being ignored somehow. But more of a reward. A reward for making it through another event, another work day, another piece on the calendar with a brave face and friendly voice. A steady hand. Lucid and engaged. The reward is peace. And disengagement by choice. So I try to be supportive. I try to let it be.
Even though I do understand, and I do. I worry about any one thing becoming a habit. Any one thing becoming a crucial comfort. Any one thing becoming a go-to for emotional survival. Any one thing that can be so unattainable. Any one thing so easily obstructed by life. And by others. That scares me for her. Because I’ve felt it too. The loss of those comforts. And it scares me.
In a moment last week before vacation, I hadn’t seen her most of the day. I asked her to come draw with me. Watch a show. Anything. She was busy with games on her tablet. Passing through for a snack. She was unfazed and content. I walked down to the playroom and spoke out to her. Out into silence. Through the floors separating us. “Just come down. You can bring your tablet. I won’t bother you. I just want to spend time with you.” And it was then I stopped cold in my own tracks. One of those moments. I sounded so familiar. To myself. It was time to look at it.
I was bartering my own silence and a promise to be innocuous…in exchange for time with her. Togetherness. And it begged a very specific question to any possible interaction. What, then, would be the point. How would it be anything but pity. If she relented. How would it be anything but guilt she may feel for having separated herself. That’s not what I’m searching for.
But I know now what this is. And why I do it. It kept me up quite a few nights. But I think I do know.
I could question many things. Till the cows come home. Why she would choose to disengage from me if it isn’t me she’s avoiding. If I care for her, why won’t she allow me to spend time with her. It is in all those questions that I was losing sight of the heart of the reality. My reality. Deeply rooted in an understanding and need of my own privacy and seclusion, my reality is still simply…I need her to know, without fail, that I am here. I need to know, from her, that she knows I care. And that is what I was searching for. Validation of those things. And only those things. It isn’t forced time or conversation that I want. Ever.
In desperation for that validation, I bargain myself down to silence. Vow to speak only when spoken to. To be on standby for needs and interaction. Genuinely. Regardless. When I am not needed, for anything, I have to step outside of my own questions. I have to let her be. I have to support the disengagement. I have to accept that I am not as valuable to her as her withdrawal from me in those times…learning as I go.
…And I have to trust that she knows I am here. And that I care.