My heart.

15 Feb

I find myself on the verge of tears often these days.  I’ve always been a crier.  I can cry happy, I can cry mad, I can cry sad or frustrated or full of rejoice.  I can ugly cry in any situation.  It embarrasses me often, such as when I’ve cried at parent-teacher conferences when I find that one of my children’s hearts have been hurt and we did not know or when I took Miles to 1st grade and sat on the side of the gym watching his little self get herded away with a small wave and weary eye.  I’ve cried to the most unsuspecting, but mostly I’ve cried to my husband in all of these good-happy-sad-mad ways.

Lately, my tears, or the verge of them, is because of the goodness God has blessed us with that is finally coming together like a perfect, faulty, hand-made quilt.  Jagged edges, lines not perfectly straight, patterns not necessarily matching, stitches all a mess, but once woven together, it’s perfect.

It has only been one month that I posted our “woo-ing” post.  It was such healing, getting those words out.  And for whatever reason, after getting them out, things changed dramatically in our attachment.  Maybe it’s because we’re getting close to our 1 year together, but I have seen such progress in this past month.

Last night, we continued our tradition of a  Valentine’s dinner of heart-shaped pizzas.
If you call this a heart.
What’s up Pizza Hut?
We spent a good 20-30 minutes in conversation about what each person loves/likes/thinks is super cool about each member of our family.  We started with Miles, and the other 4 members of the family shared something personal that they loved about him.  Then he shared something he loved about himself, too.  My favorite part.

We moved on to Logan and Cora and then Dave and myself.  Hearing my kids vocalize their appreciation of each other, sharing something special about each of us was a great way to remind us all about the cool cats we live with each day. Sometimes it’s easy to look past brother and sister to friend. When we can remember that brother and sister could me BEST friend, it’s a good thing!

Hearing Miles say he loves Cora because she plays with him, and she’s especially fun playing stuffed animals.  Hearing Cora say she loves Logan because he always hugs her in school. Hearing Miles say he loves Logan because he’s funny and Logan loving the times when Dave can play a board game with the boys.  Hearing Cora tell me she loves me because she loooooves me, with her head tilted, eyes squinting looking at me as if there is no explanation needed because it is just a fact.

I remember reading Jen Hatmaker’s “The Truth About Adoption: One Year Later” when we were around month 4.

You’re out of the weeds. Your little one has been pulled from the burning building and subsequent terror and spaz-o-rama, and she is now in triage. You are definitely not out of the woods – the assessments, the precision surgery, the rehab is still to come – but she is out of immediate danger and stabilizing.

Ah, yes, it spoke to me.  We were stabilizing. She was still needing constant reassurance of our committment and love, but we were stabilizing.  And we had a lot of work ahead. I didn’t know then how much work. I’m glad about not knowing.

Here we are at month 10. From Jen’s blog.

You start dealing. You engage Life Books and play therapy and creative ways to honor his birth parents and birth country. You get serious about addressing his brooding and manipulations or whatever coping skills he’s trotting out. He is giving you more amazing reasons to praise him, and you’re no longer resorting to things like, “Um, I really like the way you buckle your seatbelt. You, uh, click that thing right in place every time. Totally nail it.”

Cora, in a passing conversation said last week, “And if you aren’t good listeners to your mom and dad they won’t be your mom and dad anymore…”  and she kept talking and I had to rewind, stop the show, grab her hand, look in her eyes and say, “Honey, mom and dad will always be your mom and dad even if you aren’t a good listener.  We’re mom and dad forever for you and Logan and Miles. Nothing will change that.”

Her response? “OK!” And on she went with her conversation.

How long will it take to sink in that we’re not going anywhere? I’m not sure, but we’re not. And she’s not. And at 10 months in, I can say with all sincerity, I love this girl as if I’ve known her forever.  It would not be possible to love her any more than I do now.  The love I feel for her mimics exactly the love that I feel for the boys I grew and molded and shaped from the moment they were born.

For those of you who wonder if that is really real, can children who are adopted into a family with biological children really be loved as much as the biological children, let me say with a resounding, heart-felt yes. Yes!  Maybe it will take you less time or maybe it will take you more, but I fully believe that with time and effort — sometimes a L.O.T. of effort — love will grow in this beautiful way that you never could have expected.

Yesterday I was volunteering in the school for Valentines Day.
After the party, it was time to help the kindergarteners get their winter clothes on for recess. Cora started a conversation with a little girl from the next classroom.  I had never met her.  Cora said, “This is Amariah.”  I said, “Hi Amariah!” and continued helping Cora get snowpants on.  It seems every time I meet a new Kindergartener at school from a different classroom, they ask whose mom I am as it’s not obvious in looking that I am Cora’s mom.  Amariah said, “What’s your mom doing, Cora?”

She didn’t ask, “Whose mom are you?”

She knew.

And later in the day, when it was time for me to help in Miles’ room, Cora walked by and saw me.  Not too long ago, it would have been met with a million questions, uncertainty as to why I was in the school but not with her.  This time, it was all about a quick hug and then “back with your class young lady! Mom’s here to be with Miles now for his party.”

And she did. Without question.

We’re finally at that part in life where we’re not “on” at all times.  We are living just like you are, with slight modifications.  Slight. Not huge ones like before.  The past 10 months we were shoved, smooshed, pushed, stepped on, rolled over, dug into, cut up but the 5 of us have found our spot in the family.

Now it’s about watching them grow.  The best part!
We shift from triage and 100% focus on Cora’s adjustment into our family and our boy’s adjustment to their new roles and our adjustment as parents and trying to remember that we are first husband and wife.
We just settle into our spots now.

All equal.
Each loved.

And the best part? We simply live life together as normal as the 5 of us crazies can be.

This past year, I have counted more greys in my hair than I care to count.  I have woken up with a headache more days than not.  I stopped seeing “Jen” as anything more than mom who is called in too many places at once.  I questioned our future. I questioned decisions and life choices.  I cried a lot of tears.  I didn’t think I’d see a time where I could resurface as a person.

I think I’m resurfacing. 

To help heal Cora’s heart and help her understand family and what that word looks like played out in life, I have pretty much shut everything outside of my house and school and church.

Was it easy? Absolutely not.
Was it effective? Absolutely yes.
Did everyone understand? Nope.
Did I lose friends?  I think so.
If I could go back would I do anything different? Not at all.

And I think what is causing me to be on the verge of tears so much these days is that we were never alone.  He never left my side.  He didn’t abandon me. I trudged along finding comfort in verses and songs on the radio and was uplifted just enough to get through to the next day. (sometimes hour.) And the next. And the next.

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most popular Bible verses.  “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

But lest we forget that first came 70 years of exile, THEN came the plans of prosperity.

If you are in the thick of it, your future is coming. You just have to get through the exile.  As for my family, I think we’re starting that propering time. At least it sure feels like it these days.

2 Cor 12:9: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Dave and I = weak. Thank goodness God’s not.


6 Responses to “My heart.”

  1. 2plus2mom February 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    This is so true. We are at 11.5 months, and I completely agree with how relaxing it is to not have to be “on” all the time. I didn’t realize how tightly wound I had become until I didn’t have to live in that place anymore. Don’t get me wrong…we still have PLENTY of work to do, but I no longer feel like two aliens live in my house. They are my family.

    And what IS up with those pizzas?

    • Jen February 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      I’m so glad you are in that spot, too! Wound tight, omgosh, I am *always* wound tight, but this year was intense! haha! We are doing it! We can do it! Dory says it best! “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming….” 🙂 🙂

  2. Lori Davis February 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing, Jen. You are amazing and I am so grateful to know you. I truly do learn so much from you in so many ways.
    P.S. I hope you always know you have a friend in me. 🙂 I feel like going back to 8th grade with the whole FF thing. Always. Love you and your family.

    • Jen February 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      *tears* Thank you, friend. Let’s make some time for real this time. You won’t believe me when I say this, but when I was leaving school today after volunteering, I almost (almost almost almost) stopped by your house. But then I thought you’d open the door and say, “Who are you? Do I know you?” I should have stopped.

  3. heidi February 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Love! Love that that is where you are at. Love that you are willing to share. Just sending Love in general to you and yours. 🙂

  4. Wendi February 16, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Loved this blog!
    And loved getting to know you as we raise our daughters! God chose you as my friend and Cora as Avah’s friend. HE knows what we need.:)

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