Wednesday, April 25, 2012

my favorite things

The other day I spent some time filling out our 12 month adoption post-placement questionnaire for our social worker.  Wow, where has one year gone?  I do not love filling out that form.  Sorry.  I just don't.  Especially since I will have to answer all the same questions aloud.  But I am happy to do my due diligence for the sake of The Adoption Process and The Powers That Be, and more happy that we'll be finished after this last report. 

One of the questions is this:  What are the special activities or favorite moments you spend with your child? 

This question is hard for me.  Every time.  I wish it weren't.   I feel horrible that I can't rattle off a list of a dozen things.  If you've spent three minutes reading my blog you've picked up on the fact that fear and a truckload of emotional dysfunction have often derailed what could and should be "normal" mother-son interactions. 

That's what this past ten (almost eleven) months has required, and what I have painfully, slowly, been learning how to do:  to let go of "normal" and "expected" and typical timelines and all the other expectations I've held dear.  I'm learning to reframe success so that I can recognize it in our present lives, and I'm beginning to understand how to answer that question.  For us.  Today.  Not the way I will answer it another year from now, or the way I wish I could have been answering it all this time.  But right now.

What are the special activities or favorite moments you spend with your child? 

When Shu walks or tries to climb the stairs, and he lets go of my hand because he feels confident and proud of his skills.

When he picks up little bits of trash off the carpet and brings them to me to throw away, catching my eye as if for approval.

When the little bits are actually food, and instead of cramming them in his mouth the way he used to, he is now content to throw them away because he trusts (usually) he will always get enough to eat. 

When I ask his sibling(s) to clean up this or that, and he comes to help, too.

When he finds dishes in the living room and knows to take them into the kitchen and place them on the counter even though I have never asked him to.

When he finds a pen on the floor and brings it to me, knowing he's not allowed to carry around a pen.

When we try something a second time, like touching a pineapple or a feather or Play-doh, even though the first time felt awful and scary and horrible, and I watch him relaxing and trusting and learning that it's all going to be OK and quite possibly even fun.

Not the typical "favorite moments," are they?  Not overtly warm or fuzzy or cuddly or giggly or emotional.  (And despite how it appears--bizarre, I know--we do not spend all our time cleaning!) A bit hard to construct into a questionnaire answer, an answer that wouldn't have been valid six months ago.  

But every one of those speaks to me of RELATIONSHIP.  So for a child who spent every moment of his first 13 months in an orphanage, not in a family, bringing me dishes and helping clean up is huge.  For a child who displayed extreme anxiety about food, no longer eating off the floor is major.  For a child who is still learning, like every other toddler, that "no" does not mean "I don't love you," bringing me the pen is significant. 

We'll keep working on those "fuzzier" activities--the books, the games, the snuggles, the smiles and all the other things that warm the heart.  But no way do I want to overlook our very real, slightly unconventional, but very good favorite moments.  May the list grow ever longer!


Kim said...

Perfect!!! Absolutely perfect!!! No other responses would do!

Sounds like Shu is making great progress! his pace, and that's all that matters. You are a wonderful mom. We have incurred our own challenges lately and it's difficult when others don't understand. Plee know I am praying for you and I am so happy to hear of Shu's progress!!!


Rita and John said...

Oh, Jerusha, they are wonderful favorite things. And they do each speak to how far your son has come in becoming a member of his family. One day that list will be so long that you won't be able to stop typing.

Stephanie said...

I love your ability and determination intentionality in finding those tiny moments that do point to improvement, growth and relationship.

Krissy said...

So amazing! So true and not trivial! So daily - and not just a "one time adventure". So mundane and yet amazing!

Amy said...

Jerusha- I think those are absolutely perfect, valid, wonderful moments! For all the difficulties that Shu has gone through (& therefore you & your family have gone through), you are supporting him & working through them one day at a time. Although it is taking Shu a little longer than some, I just had to let you know that Milo went through some of the same things you're listing. Milo hoarded food, often carrying it in his cheeks (like a chipmunk) for hours!! It's not completely stopped - we still catch him doing it here & there, but it is getting better. We actually count it as a success when he gives some of his food to the dog, though we are trying to curb that particular behavior!

Shu will get there with your love & support. And I would bet that you will someday have the most wonderful, deeply loving & trusting relationship with him - something that is on a totally different level that even your biological children - because you have both had to work so hard for it. I pray for that day sooner than later, but it will all be in His timing. Just keep your eye on the big picture, and don't get stuck in the thorns. :)

Love you! {{{HUGS!!}}}

M. said...

Such a beautiful post! Take heart, my friend, you have travelled a great distance from where it all began. You have poured yourself into Shu. He knows it and he will continue to bloom before your eyes. Rejoice together with your husband for the progress you have today! May God restore ALL that the locusts have eaten!!!

a blog full of weldons. said...

oh dear friend! those are beautiful! i'm sobbing right now, being able to catch a glimpse of shu learning to trust and be a part of his family. those are warm and fussy! they are REAL!! that's the warmest and fuzziest of all! i adore you and i can't wait to meet you someday (i'm determined that it will happen :)