Saturday, June 01, 2013

7 Months

Monday marks 7 months since our family of six first came together... at Logan Airport in Boston.

In 7 months we’ve all had our shining moments.  We’ve all had our dark moments.  We’ve  had lots of moments that just feel normal.  Those are the moments I live for. I long for.  The older kids not trying too hard.  Not pushing too hard.  The little one not resisting.

Sitota on the floor playing with her letter cards.  The boys playing the circle game.  Lucy singing/drawing/reading.  

Or all 4 out in the yard, neighbor kids joining in the fray.  Little sister yelling “STOP!”  Or just the sounds of summer as they play and play, coming in time and again for water and snacks and mom watching out the window.

Or all 4 sprawled on the furniture each with their head buried in one screen or another.  

But all 4.  Together.  Squeeee.  Even when I’ve lost my patience again.  Even when they are all over each other.  Even when.

I put her to bed tonight, taking all of the time she needed.  Not feeling rushed or tired.  Loving when she grabbed my face, “I love yoooou 5 times.”  

Have I told you how smart she is?  I like to brag like that.  She knows a lot.  Letters, numbers, and she expresses herself clearly.  She finds ways to tell us even when she doesn’t know the words.  Like in Florida when she gestured to her eyes and said “Mom,  can I have...  can I have my...  Can I have my pool face?”  When she wanted her goggles.

She loves to dance and sing.  Sometimes she says, “Don’t look at me!”  And when we go to one of Lucy’s performances she asks, “Mom,  can I sing up there?  When I am bigger?”

She’s finally trying new food,  and often insists that we close our eyes and cheer for her when she does.

Today was her first trip to Mama’s happy place.  (Ok,   I have several happy places,  but this is a big one.)  We all went to Sebago lake.  She wanted nothing to do with the water at first,  but soon let Aidan slowly bring her into the lake.  It does something to me when I see her lanky little arms wrapped around his neck.  

We’ve come so far,  and with our court date anniversary coming up in August,  I can’t help but replay where we were 7 months ago,  but also where we were a year ago.

This time last year I wrote:

No update.  Just waiting.  "We're working on it."  And the days pass and we get closer and closer to the day the courts close.

Feeling melancholy and frustrated and tired.

Tired body tired spirit.

I don’t remember that day,  but I remember how it felt.  It wasn’t long after we’d gotten word that the orphanage Sitota was at was in dire straits.  No money. No food. No director.  

That was fun.

A year ago I leaned so heavily on my friends to hold me up.  Lucky to have had so many hands and hearts reaching out to me.  To us.  Thank you.

A year ago my adoption network was largely comprised of people I did not know.   Many we met in August,  and cried each other out of Ethiopia after passing court, but long before being submitted for Embassy.  These women knew in a way others couldn’t.  We held each other up.

A year ago we still called her Sadie.  We hadn’t yet seen how every single stranger we met in Ethiopia would light up when we told them her name.  “Do you know what that means?” they all asked.  “She is a gift.”  Yes,  yes,  we know.  

So we decided she’d spend the rest of her life spelling her name.  Just like her mom does.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

17 weeks Home

Gosh,  my goal in writing here was two (or more) fold.  First,  to write in an open way about this adoption ride and second,  to journal the experience for Sitota when she's older.  Because we forget.  We do.  So, lets see how this goes.

6 weeks.  It's been 6 weeks since I last wrote here.  We came home with Sitota 17 weeks ago today.  Is that IT? I remember when I wrote about how she didn't like me very much and I was jealous of the Punks.  I remember when we used to have to make up games that encouraged contact, closeness and affection.

I remember when it felt so hard. Moments still are hard. 

Have you had a toddler who was strong willed and sassy and yelled?  A lot.  A 3 year old who needed naps most days,  but only ever took them when you drove her around?  Or how about one who wakes up most nights,  wakes her sister up,  comes to you and a game of musical beds commences? Have you had a punk who required bribery to try new foods and refused most veggies? 

Yeah, me, too.

Mostly we've stopped playing the "is this adoption related behavior or toddler related behavior" game.  It doesn't matter too much at this stage of the game.  She requires the same tender lovin' limits to get through.  There are moments though, when we make note.  Rob was putting her to bed last week and they were saying prayers together,  and Sitota suddenly and quietly filled up with tears.  Stoic,  and making great effort to hold herself together.  Her little nose red,  her eyes filled, her lips pressed together in determination.... it tears me apart.  "It felt different." Rob said.  Who knows if she was grieving a loss or just wishing she was playing with the other Punks? 

We've been swimming, and she is making great strides.  She looks forward to it, for sure.  We stay in the pool for an hour or more most times.  She stayed in the childcare at the Y for about 10 minutes without tears,  and we talk about going back for longer.

She's clingy. A Mama's girl.  But she's accepted the alternating nights of Rob and I coordinating her bedtime rituals.  She is a creature of habit and cycles through books.  Right now it's Olivia and Llama Llama Home with Mama.  She wants to go to the Degas painting in the Olivia book.  I think she wants to actually go into the painting,  but it would be interesting to see how she'd do at an art museum.  She also asks to go to the Cosby Show with great regularity,  and once she pointed to a photo of her and her friend at the care center and asked if we could go there "later?"

She's tired of the Punks getting in her face and asking for hugs and kisses.  They love their sister and are slowly driving her crazy.  She loves to be with them when she gets her was,  but she's bossy and yelly when they aren't bending to her will.  Still a couple steps away from normal, but it's getting there.  They are getting there.

She's also tolerating dogs more now.  Mostly.  Rob and Sitota went to bring Clay to a friends house where they have an English bulldog.  She was scared, but warmed to the point where she came home telling me about how the dog was kissing her leg.  That weekend,  we went to have dinner with some good friends who have a sweet border collie mix.  Nervous, sure,  but she did great.  Huge strides.

We still look at pictures a lot.  We snuggle a lot. Potty training is going pretty well.  We get exasperated and we get tired and we laugh.  We do all of those things. Often.

The other kids are doing well,  and we have stopped asking,  "is this an adoption issue or a Punk issue."  Doesn't matter,  we are wading through the tender lovin' limits and we feel like our heads are popping off on a regular basis.  Life.  Teenagers and tweens and toddlers.  New reality show?

And Rob and I are having a night out next weekend,  and that will be good too.

And now my meter has run out, and I have to go get Aidan from his 1st art class at Maine College of Art.  I hope it went great and this will be a positive experience for him.

Thanks for hanging out for a few minutes.  It feels good to get this stuff out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

This is Grace

I was sitting on the floor next to Sitota's bed.  We'd just read books and said prayers and she was so close to drifting off to sleep.

I know,  it's been awhile since I've written anything...  that's partly because toddlers are supremely exhausting.  It's also because of Christmas concerts, preparations and celebrations.  It's somehow because of Newtown, the grief and the hurt.  It's also because even when everything is going well...  adding a new family member is deeply deeply draining.

I'm not going to be able to say this well.  This I already know.

When I sat beside her tonight, I knew I had to try.

There's a sweetness in a sleepy baby,  a sweetness in the look from the warm round face,  and the big bright eyes.  It's too much for me to resist.  It must be Grace in action, because it washes away all of the messy moments.  If you're a parent,  you know that sweetness.  It's our fuel.

Before I knew what was going on, tears were flowing down my cheeks.  I just wanted to ask her, "How are you doing?  How is this Maine thing working out for you?  What do miss most about Ethiopia?" And oh! my! God!  I wanted to plead.  I wanted her to answer me.  While she still remembered Ethiopia.  I wanted her to put words to what she's been feeling.  I needed it.

Which isn't at all what it's about.

I am so sorry,  sweet girl.  I am so sorry that you had to leave your complicated first home.  I'm sorry that your early life wasn't what it could have been.  I hope that we'll not forget or belittle your losses.  I wish... oh, the things I wish.

Yes, the bedtime routine gets tired.  I wish often that she wanted her Daddy to put her to sleep on occasion...

But I am done complaining.  God knows I need the Grace that comes with sweet sleepy babies.