How are things REALLY going?

9 May

There is this well-known fact that blogs, especially parenting blogs, double-especially adoption blogs are all sugar-coated.  We live in a perfect world, we have no problems, my kids never fight, I never lose my temper, we always eat our vegetables, my patience is incredible, my love of my spouse is constant and always kicked in high gear, I do arts and crafts and laundry and cook amazing, well-balanced meals.  I am super mom. Perfect and awesome and it’s all because of me. I am NOT that mom, I lose my temper, I hate kid’s crafts (that’s terrible!!), my kids argue, does taco night count as veggie night? My world is not perfect, I grumble at Dave far too much and my laundry is the bain of my existence.

I had a friend send me an email that asked me how it’s REALLY going.  She, too, is adopting a 5-year-old from Korea and is waiting to travel. (her blog) He lives in another orphanage in Seoul.  Then, my friend Wendi is also bringing home her sweet 4.5 year old Avah, one of Cora’s orphanage BFF’s next week. (How’s that for positive thinking, Wendi?) Here’s her blog. And let’s not forget Grace, who adopted Cora’s orphanage sister, Sarah. (her blog) Older child adoption from Korea is rare, so we’re so blessed to have connected to the few who are in the KOCA club. (Korean Older Child Adoption) Yes, that did just come to me. Yes, it is silly.

So, now that we’ve been home for 3 1/2 weeks, here it is! All laid out.  The good, the bad and the ugly of what we’ve learned so far.  Although I can very easily slip into the gloomy side of life (as was apparent when we were waiting to travel), I must say that I have done very well in staying positive in the past month.  So, with my hardships come positives because we have SO MANY more positives than negatives.

We are adjusting.  We are exhausted.  We are falling short in some areas of life, but we are really trying our best.  I wrote thank you notes in the dark the other night while she was going to sleep. The relief I got from that was overwhelming. I feel things piling up on me, but I’m having grace most times on myself.

Logan is doing just fine. Honestly Logan is so happy with his sister and he’s getting a few breaks here and there and he’s just my easy-going, laid back kid who is in love with his little sister. Miles on the other hand is working hard. School doesn’t come as easy for him as it does for Logan so we’re finding homework to be a tough thing to undertake at night.  Add on the fact that Cora’s yelling my name constantly to look at her and it makes for tough focusing. He’s been looking for more attention than ever before and I’m doing my best to show him that he hasn’t been replaced, he is LOVED and he is my sweet, sweet Miles.  I don’t see any jealousy issues right now, but Cora does show favor to Logan and Miles notices that.  We’re working on that.

Cora sleeps all night long! No waking up. Cora is 100% potty trained! Not one accident ever.  Cora is not afraid of the bath or washing her hair! Love the bonding bath time.  Cora is in LOVE with Hugo now. SO glad.  Cora loves her Appa now! SO happy. (But blog post to come about that!)  Cora is speaking a million words in English, too!  She is this lively kid when the boys are done with school, but still very timid when it’s just her and I.  We’ll get there.  She is SO smart. Brilliant even. 😉

We were prepared for HARD. Life is not HARD right now. Life is hard, but life is not HARD. Cora’s a joy! I know I say that a lot, but she really, really is! She is fitting right in to the family with almost no struggle.  Are there hard things? Yes, of course, but life is NOT HARD.

I picked this picture because to me, it speaks to me about where we’re at.

“Cora Help You”.  Do you have things that your kids say that drive you bonkers?  Cora help you is mine. My sweet Cora is so independent that she wants to do everything by herself. Everything. EVERY.SINGLE.THING. She says “Cora help you” about 50 times a day and what she really means is “Back off lady, I want to do it myself.” 😉  Her shoes, her zipper, opening her yogurt, pouring on her sauce, brushing her teeth, washing her hair…I mean, I can’t really go into how often or what this word entails except for the fact that it is everything. EVERYTHING.

Wendi was telling me that in one of her videos of Avah, Avah was trying to put on a pair of gloves and it was SO hard and frustrating for her little 4 year old self to do, but she kept trying and trying until she decided she couldn’t get them on and then dropped them.  She didn’t ask for help from the caretaker sitting there, she didn’t get help offered, either.  If she couldn’t do it herself, it couldn’t be done. This is Cora to a tee.  It’s how these kids were raised! Find a way to do it yourself. Usually it’s fine and I let her see that I CAN help. Though I offer, I don’t force my help upon her. I help Miles and Logan often and that she can ask for my help any time.  We’re slowly seeing her ask for things, so I have faith that she will start seeing me as someone who can constantly meet her needs.  She doesn’t have to “help you” for everything. Mom’s help. Dad’s do, too.

Meals are tough. When we got Cora’s info when we were in Seoul, it said she wasn’t a picky eater, she’d eat anything and she had a tendency to over eat, so they asked me to be sure to watch her portion sizes. HA! Apparently that’s only Korean food.  The kid is such a picky eater I can’t even tell you how hard meal time is. We throw away so much of her food it’s not even funny.  She has not “given in” to one “American” dish at all.  (Not even toast! Or muffins!)  But we are ready to settle down and start making one meal a night again.  This mixed up jumble is just too much and it’s killing my creativity in the kitchen.  Grace told me that Sarah is eating what they eat, but they are able to communicate in words that this is supper and we are having this.  Cora will just not eat. Period. Nothing. And I don’t know if that’s the lesson I want her to learn yet. She’ll simply say, “No thank you” and be done.

The days are long and the nights are short.  When we drop the boys off at school, Cora turns into another child.  A quiet, clingy child who hardly says 2 words all day.  She isn’t naughty or crying or anything, but she’s visibly so sad that her brothers had to go.  2 minutes after being reunited with them at school and she is laughing and happy and giggling.  It’s hard to figure out what I should do about this.  There are only 5 (I think? 4 maybe?) weeks of school left, so we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and keep frequenting the parks, etc. She does so much better when we’re doing something active. So do I.  We have great nights, though, and she’s just so much more willing to be involved with Dave and I when the boys are home.  She DID live with 50 other kids, so it TOTALLY makes sense.

Dave’s the rockstar now. I will post more on this, but Appa, now starting to be known as “Da” is a full member of our parental unit and has taken over the role of favorite.  There are pros and cons and questions to this change. More to come on that.

I won’t lie, I miss my quiet time. This is year 2 that both older children have been in school.  I was able to get my work done (yes, I have a job, and it’s not easy right now to get it all done), my shopping done, my laundry done and I got to spend time listing to music that kept me focused on the important things in life. Now I have to fit work in at night time when all the kids are in bed, grocery shopping, well, that’s tough and you’d think that because we’re home a lot, laundry would be easy, but let me tell you how hard it is when I have to carry a 40lb child up and down the stairs when I go up and down the stairs along with a basket of clothes. Not happening.

Parenting her is visibly different and people drive me crazy. (NOT graceful.) People tend to offer suggestions to me when I’ve not even said a word to them. Or even looked at them.  “She’s awfully big for you to be carrying?”  (Um…OK? Thank you for your thoughts on that?) “You could push that cart easier if you put her in the seat instead of your arms.” (Yes, yes I could. But you see, her legs are wrapped around my waist and her arms around my neck and she’s showing me she’s not feeling the seat right now.  And seeing I can’t speak her language and she’s scared, I’m going to carry her and push my car with one hand and pray for strength to get to the checkout line.)

Mom at the library to her 2-ish year old daughter at the train table “Sweetie, I know her mom is doing it for her, but I think you’re a big enough girl to do it yourself” (Um, really?  Yes, I am doing it for her…WITH her. You see, she’s never had a mom to do it for her like your “sweetie” has so thank you for pointing out that I’m showing my 5 year old how to connect the trains and that you disapprove.) “That big girl is in the seat swing, so we have to wait until she’s done.” (Yes, yes you will.) “You should have her count in English, not Korean. She’s going to need to know that when she starts school.” (Don’t even get me started.)  People really?

So, in a nutshell, we’re REALLY doing well! I may be frazzled, my back is killing me, I might be craving normal food on a regular basis, I may miss my quiet time and work time  and my morning shower and I may have backed up laundry and dishes, but imo, it’s about perspective…let’s consider for a minute what CORA has had to give up and change here.  If she can do this, I can do this.  If she can take on a new language and a family and a new identity, I can certainly steer the cart with one hand while holding her (heavy!!) self, if she can overcome all that she has, what do I have to complain about? I am not alone in this and when she realizes that she is not alone, either, I think everything will mesh easier.

It’s funny the songs that played such a huge role in my adoption process have taken on a new meaning.  Jason Gray’s Remind me who I am, which I LOVE, reminds me to have grace on myself in the hard moments.  Matthew West, Strong Enough’s Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I don’t have to be strong enough.” gives me strength.  And Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” is my verse right now.

I am not strong enough, I am not doing this on my own and my patience and strength is not coming from myself.  I ask you to keep my family in your prayers as we continue to transform our core group and I ask for your grace if I’m not quite able to jump into life yet.  And maybe I ask you, if you really know me, that just because I am in this weird in between stage of being unable to jump back in doesn’t mean that I’m not craving people and a glimpse of the old Jen who had a clean house and put together life and the ability to say, “Do you want to get supper one night?” ;). And just because I have my arms full of sweet kid at school pickup doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t appreciate a call or email check in.  I’d love to chat over coffee at the park, too!  I miss people right now.

Is life hard? yep! But not HARD. Only because of God’s hand in this. So thankful for that.


8 Responses to “How are things REALLY going?”

  1. Lydia Smith May 9, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    The phrase that drives me crazy is: “Why no me?” As in why are you getting to have all the fun and I’m not included? This applies to such varied situations as painting my nails, chopping vegetables or putting things in the oven, driving the car, and cleaning the toilets. I hear this phrase at least 60 times a day; and while I patiently give our 6-yr-old son the best explanation I can, secretly I’m about to lose my mind!

    • Jen May 10, 2012 at 1:35 am #

      Lydia, YES! haha! I love this! THANK YOU for sharing this with me! How is he doing, for the most part? I’d love to know!!

  2. Minna May 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    hi jen 🙂

    try buttering two slices of bread and making a grilled cheese, or even include an egg in there if possible. the last time we went to korea my mom made her a little sandwich like that and she ate it all up! maybe it’ll help with the transition to american food.


    • Jen May 10, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      I am trying it tomorrow, Minna! So far every time we’ve offered her bread, she’s said, “No thank you!” But grilled cheese it is! I’ll let you know what happens. 🙂

  3. jason song May 10, 2012 at 2:30 am #

    I’m Korean American living in Korea. Even Koreans who doesnt’ like eatirng raw bread like the morning toast (Korean style, recipe above). Im pretty sure Cora must have had some exposure to this sandwich as they are sold by street vendors all over Korea. Hope it helps.

    • Jen May 11, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Hi Jason, hugely helpful! I’m going to try this this weekend! 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with me. I wish I was in Korea right now! 🙂 Loved Seoul!

  4. Sarah Kim May 11, 2012 at 12:44 am #

    You are so strong and she is so blessed to have such a loving, caring mom (& family) like you. Although it’s hard to see now, someday you may even miss holding her so much. I will pray for strength for you all. God bless!

    • Jen May 11, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Sarah, we are totally the blessed ones! Such a good point about missing holding her and I’m actually going to tuck that away when I don’t want to carry her down the stairs for the hundredth time in one day because you’re right! I had my 7 yr old son in my lap last night and OH how I longed to have him need me to carry him just one last time. 😉 Thank you for your comment!

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