For Day 4 of my co-authors in mothering we have the origin story of Orchid Story! Back when I stumbled into David Dobbs's article in the Atlantic, I had absolutely no clue that I would go on to start my own business. In fact, I probably would have looked at you as if you had three heads if you suggested it. It did happen, about five years later, and the name of my business came from this article and scientific work.
What struck me when I did find this article on the orchid theory was the science to back up my personal experience. Which, interestingly enough, is exactly what happened with Orchid Story the business. This is why I love science so much - it can often demonstrate the validity of our personal experience on a greater scale with actual study participants and data. With the piece in the Atlantic, much of the focus was on genetics, which, as a genetic counselor, is near to my heart. David Dobbs was speaking my language on many levels.
What the orchid theory proposes is that some of us are susceptible, based on our genetics, to behaviors that can be self-destructive. If raised in a non-supportive environment, these children can find themselves with serious mental health concerns, substance abuse issues and trouble with the law. If raised in a supportive environment with an eye to their sensitivities, these "orchid" children can flourish, blossoming into the brightest and most beautiful flowers in the garden.
On the other end of the spectrum we have the dandelion children, who are born with a genetic profile that allows them to grow under almost any circumstance, regardless of environment. A recent image on my Instagram of a dandelion that popped up after six inches of late winter snow is the perfect example.
Can you see why finding this was like stumbling upon a parenting holy grail? Here was scientific evidence of a couple things that had been previously causing me significant anxiety:
1. Genetics plays a role. This was helpful in helping me untangle the chance that my bad mothering was the sole cause of the concerns in my daughter. This may sound extreme, but the idea that I had an "attachment issue" with Carly was thrown around many times by the professionals we consulted. These theory seemed to defy of that possibility. At least in my head it did and that's where things needed to change.
2. There is an upside to these less than stellar genes. Sure, she didn't exactly win the genetics lottery. But this science showed that sometimes, if properly fed, watered, and cared for, these orchid children could be among the most successful adults. One thing I was seriously lacking during those days was hope and this idea provided it to me.
3. It just fit. I felt in my gut, my heart, my intuition - all of it - that this was a possible explanation to an out of control situation in my life. Yes, I may have been blindly searching for some semblance of certainty and control. So what? If this was something that helped rewrite my story, it was well worth it.
Every time I see an orchid, every time I blog, every time I tell someone the name of my business, I am reminded of the possibility that lies inside my girl. What a gift to have found this article.