Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A few thoughts on the past year…

I have said all too cryptically over the past month and year how hard life has been. And I guess I still have to just stay there in the abstract. But, there have been moments when I wanted to shout it, in all its ugliness, I have wanted to point fingers and hurt others because I am hurt. And one of the hard and sad things I learned is that “hurt people, hurt people.” I have wanted to somehow make things better by making things worse for others hoping somehow it would make me feel better. But over months and weeks and days, a lot of that has started to change. And I have looked back on the year.

I wrote my last post on my little boy, it has been a year, and he has come a long way! And honestly, I think we all have.

So here are ten things I have learned this year…some I have been learning for quite a while, but they have really struck home this year.

      1. To remember the good. I heard it on the radio a few months ago. It was this woman talking about when her husband did something that upset her, like coming home from work late, before she reacted she remembered all the good things he had done. She was keeping a record, but of the good things, not the bad, so when it came time to react she stopped and gave grace. I want to keep record of those in my life, to remember the good, to not stop at the mistakes, and to be kind.
     2.   I have learned that what my mom and all moms always say is true, “If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.” I rarely have walked away from a conversation wishing I had said more, but frequently walked away wishing I had said so much less. I still sometimes write apologies to those I have said too much to, but am doing it a little less as the year moves on.
     3.    There is no one way to be a perfect mom. As soon as I have figured it all out, I have to see I do not have anything really figured out and every day is a day to learn something new or try it another way because it just is not working the way I thought it should or it did last time.
      4.     I have learned that forgiveness is something you might have to wake up and do every. single. day. And sometimes that is discouraging, but it is worth it. And it gets easier with time.

      5.      I have learned that love is a choice, not every day, but some days, and that joy is a choice, not every day, but some days.

      6.      I have learned that being angry is okay. It does not mean the world will fall apart. And in a more scientific way, until I actually say I am angry and deal with it and grief, I will never be okay.
      7.   Nothing is certain. After three job losses that were supposed to be permanent, or I hoped for permanent over the past years. Cancer diagnosis. Moves around the country. And family members that are really sick. I have learned that life is full of uncertainty, and have been reminded that this world is only temporary.

     8.      I read a book this year, The Scent of Holiness, by Constantina Palmer. I learned a lot from it, but one that has stuck with me in these moments, when I want to hear what is happening, to hear gossip, to hear something that takes my mind off me and focuses on how someone else is hurting, it is SO not helpful. And usually all it causes is more hurt and anger. I am learning to wait in those moments, to just wait.

     9.      And I learned I need to listen. I learned that I err on the side of busy and getting done instead of listening. It is often in the second try that I figure it out. But there are hearts and little voices worth hearing, so much more than bathrooms that need cleaning, or emails that need checking.

     10.  I learned what friendship looks like. And unfortunately what it does not look like. But thankfully, there are amazing people in the world who love selflessly and with such compassion. I have been blessed by some of these amazing people who are okay with messy and crying, and who still make me laugh and want the best for me. I want to be like them.

I still have a lot of learning to do and there is a long journey ahead, but I hold onto hope that even in this year, we are being refined and that we will be okay. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Home One Year... You have come a long way baby!

One year ago, on May 7th, 2014, my mom and I were in Eastern Europe picking up a little boy from an orphanage. The responsibility of that was not lost on me. When we traveled five months earlier to meet this little boy, we cried, terrified that we would never be able to meet his needs, they were just too great. But our hearts also knew that he would probably die. He was starving. I have heard many people say we probably saved his life. There was nothing heroic about it though. We just knew we could not stand before our God one day and say we left him there to die. It was more fear than any heroism. When we got there in November it was just a lot of overwhelming, because he was a shell of a person. He sat and stared at his fingers, he rocked and did what we asked, but very unwillingly. We spent about four hours each day just there with him, holding his hand, feeding him a banana, and waiting for the hours to end because it was hard. I hated that it was hard. I hated that I was scared and overwhelmed. But we just knew we had to bring him home. We were told he was fed five meals a day and on medication for an overactive thyroid, that they did everything to make him gain weight, but because he was disabled, he could not gain weight. So, we wondered if it was true, questioned it, but also knew if it was true he at least deserved a family to love him while he lived, because surely no one can live long at twenty pounds. So in faith and fear we stepped forward.

Five months later I went back with my mom. It was in the middle of one of the biggest trials of my life. It seemed in the months and weeks leading up to our pick up trip that we were going to face every obstacle possible. And a year later it has not ended. Sometimes I wonder if it has been a mixed blessing. Because the difficult things that come with adoption have paled in comparison to the rest of my life.

BUT, that day,one year ago, I walked into that orphanage and wondered if he would remember me, his mom. I had told him I would come back. He did not recognize me. But then they told him, "It's your mom, she came to bring you home." His tears stopped. He looked around the room. He climbed off my lap. He went to my backpack, he looked at me, he signed, "more." He remembered me. Every day we came in November we brought a little food, and we taught him the sign for "more." He remembered me and the sign and he backpack and that I brought food! And hope filled me. That empty shell, held a little boy holding on to hope.  This picture shows him right after he signed more and I was giving him his banana. I asked if I could, they said, you are his mom, you can give him what you want. It was so hard to comprehend, the responsibility of taking care of this fragile little boy.  It was a lot for me to wrap my head around.

This is a picture of us leaving the orphanage...

And this is a picture of him the day after we picked him up. I hated this picture, I did not even want to take it because he was just. too. small. But I wanted to remember. He weighed twenty pounds. I believe a lot of that was in his head. I cried when I saw him like this, how can someone be seven years old and weigh twenty pounds, how do you survive. But he did, he survived. 

And now he is THRIVING! It has been one year. He now weighs forty six pounds. He has gained twenty six pounds in one year. He has grown six inches. I had to rubber band eighteen month clothes around his waist, now he fits in size 4T. He is actually a little bit chubby. He has learned some sign language. He is working on talking. He can say mama. We have worked so long for that. He makes many more letter sounds and says, "Ok" "Hi" "Hot" "WOW" and many more "words" that we think we hear. He understands and follows directions. He makes HUGE messes and tries to help clean up. He eats a lot. He laughs and cries. He gets angry and likes to joke around. Just today he chased his four year old sister to tickle her and then hugged her. He is learning to play. He pretends to do school and asks for help on his "lessons." One of his favorite things in the world is church. He loves going to church. His favorite T.V. show is "Good Eats." He says "UGGHH" when I ask him to do something he does not want to do, or covers his ears and says, "NANANANA" so he does not have to hear me. He is working on potty training, and loves to say, "thank you." and give me five when he does something right. He loves to sing, and often "sings" along to songs that are familiar. And when he hears a song he knows he gets really excited! He has opinions about what he wears and his shoes, he loves to wear moon boots even in the heat, I think because they are easy to put on. Whenever he leaves without his brother and sisters, he makes sure to give everyone a hug and kiss goodbye. He hates to be left out. He always wants to be with his family. We are still learning how to be a family, what that looks like. He amazes me and makes me want to pull out my hair almost every day. It is amazing the change of one year!

These were taken just days after coming home...

Home two months...

Home 6 months.....

Home 9 months....

Home 1 Year....

You probably would not even know he was the same kid, the shell of a boy we met in November of 2013, the little boy I met last year who only wanted to eat and sleep. He now hugs and kisses me, tells me "no." and acts like most of my other children. We have a long ways to go. And there is a lot of hard, but he has come a long, long way. And we are so thankful he is our son! 

When we were waiting for him, before ever meeting him, I had a dream about him at 15 years old. He was sitting at our kitchen counter laughing and smiling about something. There are glimpses of that young man now in the Bozhi that I know today! 

I tell him every day how happy I am I get to be his mommy and how happy I am that he is my son! He is a blessing!