Thursday, November 22, 2012

20+12 things for which I am thankful

My second annual Thanksgiving blog no particular order:

1) I have right standing before the Father because Jesus took my punishment on the cross.
2) Five beautiful, healthy, and smart least two more children than I ever expected I'd have!
3) Amazon.  Seriously, I love this website.  Forget about Black Friday; I try to avoid all stores from yesterday on.
4) My in-laws who recently moved to town.  They lovingly care for Shu two days a week, and we are very happy they'll now be a regular presence in our lives.
5) Hummus Girl's school, where I know she is happy and cared for.
6) Princess Firecracker's preschool.
7) Early intervention therapy for Shu, and beyond that...
8) ...a speech therapist who is gifted in her job, a sister in Christ, and has become a cherished friend.
9) My house.  Though I look forward to more space some day, I love this home and its super convenient location.
10) My parents who invest in us and our children almost every Saturday evening, and willingly step in any other time they're needed.
11) The marriage of my beautiful sister-in-law this past September.
12) Dr. Husband's good job.
13) The library.
14) My sweet ride--the white minivan.
15) The gift of a free Tivo, so we no longer have to record programs on the VCR, but beyond that...
16) dear friend Janet who gave the Tivo along with the priceless gift of her love and friendship.
17) My sister who makes me laugh.  I am proud of her.
18) Facebook.  It's good for stay-at-home moms.
19) The freedoms afforded to me as a citizen of the United States.  God shed his grace on us.
20) Health insurance, especially since we maxed it out this year.
21) The easy, joyful delivery of another beautiful baby girl on October 2.  I am a rich woman.
22) Being able to stay home with my children and do the hardest job in the world.
23) That my children each know the delight of at least one brother and sister.
24) The Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, on right now.
25) Every hard-won word that Shu utters.  Well, except "NO!" maybe.
26) Clean water and air, healthy food, cars that run, a computer.
27) This beautiful verse:  Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! Psalm 118:15
28) The gift of worship.
29) Tasty Thai, Chipotle, Jose Peppers, Iron Wok...especially when we have gift cards!
30) A sound body and mind.
31) That we did not have to spend thousands of dollars repairing our home's foundation. 
32) Ten years of marriage to my best friend and partner.  He loves me and our children so well.  

Happy thanksgiving, friends! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

meant to be

Yesterday marks exactly 17 months since Shu became our son.

Our mother-son relationship is not where I thought it would be after 17 months.  That isn't the point of this post, so I needn't go on about it, except to say this:  I always want to keep it real, because hearing from others who kept it true and honest--even when it was ugly--has been a saving grace for me over the past two years.  So what's real for us is that adoption has not been love at first sight, or even love at one hundredth sight.  It is still full of uncomfortable and hard moments.  Every single day.

Four weeks ago this little lady entered our family.

I tried not to worry much about how her birth would affect Shu, not because I didn't care about him but because I knew she was God's plan for our family...and she was on her way.  I did pray for him and for us, choosing to believe that experiencing a newborn entering our family would be healthy, even healing for Shu, and that it would actually benefit him not to be the baby of the family.  I've already seen evidence of this, thank you, God.  His issues are still his issues--no quick fix there--but Shu seems genuinely thrilled with his baby sister and I see a sweet empathy developing in him.

Instead I worried about my own heart, fearing that the immediate and all-consuming love I knew I'd feel  for Baby Girl (nickname pending) would only highlight all that is still lacking in my relationship with Shu.

I prayed.  I cried.  I gave birth to my beautiful daughter.  And I was torn between wild delight over her and guilt that I was loving and enjoying her so easily and instantaneously.  That seems like a reasonable emotion for a woman who just gave birth, doesn't it?  Guilt over loving her baby too deeply?  [No.  The answer is no.]  

Here's what the Lord opened my eyes to see.  I was (and am) feeling all that I should be feeling for Baby Girl.  No guilt or shame necessary.  All our delight in her--in her facial expressions, her funny grunts, her scent, the perfection of her tiny toes--is all that should have been lavished upon Shu from day one by his birth mother and father.  I'm in that camp, you see.  Adoption = redemption.  God's plan to make all things new and bind up the brokenness of the world we live in.  But there are two people on another continent who were unable to give Shu that automatic and abundant parental adoration he deserved.  Enter me and Dr. Husband, two flawed humans trying to stand in the gap, to fill in the deficit, learning to love and delight in a little boy who came to us already broken and afraid and angry.  All the neglect of his first year of life, and all the struggle since then to heal, to trust, to overcome developmental and emotional hurdles?  Definitely not Plan A.

I wrote this the other day to my dear friend (also an adoptive mama):  We are all adoring and delighting in [Baby Girl].  I am so grateful for God's beautiful gift to me--to let me experience one more time the wonder and joy of parenting as it was meant to be.  I do feel like my heart is more tender toward Shu as a result...not that things aren't still crazy difficult at moments, but my focus shifts away from him by necessity, and that helps put things in perspective. 

She wrote this in response (and made me cry, darnit):  Loved your P.S.  :)  You know, I can tell.  I mean, it is obvious she is adored, but you seem...more relaxed.  Softer.  In your element.  I love love love the picture of you holding her in the hospital.  You have this look, like you just found something you'd been searching for, and you're thrilled.  It is my favorite picture of you.  

She's right.  In the effort and disappointment and self-scrutiny of the past 17 months (and yes, I desperately wish I could say those weren't the predominant descriptors, but I'd be lying) it's been easy to forget that I love being a mother.  That's the reason we adopted Shu in the first place.   Yes, I've been mothering all this time, and not devoid of all happiness, of course.  (We've actually had three mostly good and "normal" days in a row with Shu.)  But giving birth to Baby Girl has restored some of that joy of motherhood, that identity of Mommy, to me.  An identity that isn't tarnished even when I'm cranky about the perpetually stuck seatbelts in the back of the van or wishing that a certain child's screaming didn't make me want to gauge out my own eye with a spoon.  

So what's my point?   I love Baby Girl.  I love Shu.  The path to that love is unique for each child.  And that's OK.  God creates a new "meant to be."  He knows how to give good gifts.  He knows how to restore identities.  He loves me whether I'm difficult or easy to love, so he can show me the most excellent way.