For over a week now, I have been fostering a mother cat with her four kittens from the Sonsini shelter. I have been amazed by the patience, the commitment, focus, as well as the clear boundaries that “mama” has for her 4 kittens. She seems to always keep an eye out for her family, even though at times she looks truly exhausted and all she wants to do is sleep.
She will let them play with her tail, climb all over her, and let them nurse. At other times, she will walk away, clearly indicating that she is no longer available. She will climb on high places where she cannot be reached, and after a few meows of protest, the babies will move on and begin to play with each other, eat, or go to sleep.
Unlike cats, we human beings will take 25 years to have a fully developed adult brain. In both cases though, a lot happens in the earlier years in fact, everything happens for us in the first 7 years of our life when it comes down to attachment, how we form our sense of self, and how we relate to the world.
A few years ago, Dan and I, fostered girls and learned a great deal about the “lack of mothering,” and the impact that it has on all levels (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual). I saw in “full action” through teenage “acting out,” the difficulty that these girls were facing in establishing a basic healthy relationship to their body, themselves, and others, that was respectful, self-caring, and nurturing. It led me to read and educate myself on the concepts of attachment disorders, and how to re-build the bond. I came to believe that it is possible to begin a new kind of mothering (with the help of current healthy relationships with others), and to mend the broken heart with patience.
All self-abandonment is a reflection of the abandonment that we suffered. When I work with women and their food issues or self-esteem issues, I support them in believing that they truly can have what they want in career and life. I help them bridge the gap between what has been missing and what is needed to supplement for that internal support. This situation is very close to me and I can only teach what I have learned. At age 8, I was placed in a foster home with my brother (which was then followed by two others), until I decided to live onmy own when I was 16 years old.