This parenting journey is something else. I keep telling myself that I must grant myself some grace. It's been 18 days ... only 18 days since we've been home ...
18 days to learn how to be a parent to 4 children under 9.
18 days to help a little Chinese boy explore life in a family
18 days to spend all day, every day, with an ESL student
18 days is just not much time.
So ... I need to celebrate the progress we've made and acknowledge the chance to learn from my mistakes (because oh I'm making them constantly).
One area of this journey has been particularly on my heart as of late. It's this absolute dichotomy of hard things juxtaposed to Spirit-given joy. Let me use yesterday afternoon/evening as a specific example ... I'll spin the story for you so you get some clear mental pictures.
It's 5:45 on a Monday evening. Steve's not yet home (picking up child #1 at ballet). So, it's 3:1, and, as every mother knows, the 4-6 p.m. hour is prime time for some of the best parenting EVER. Benjamin is doing homework (he still has make up work from China), Madeleine is setting the table and Joshua is doing his typical 5:30 dance-like-I've-never-eaten-and-can't-wait-a-second-longer in the kitchen. This dance includes periodically clutching both of my legs together and shrieking "MOMMAAAAAA" on repeat at full volume until I stop preparing the dinner, stoop down to meet his eyes, and assure him (only with tone since words obviously don't carry much meaning yet) that dinner is on the way. I momentarily detach my precious son from legs in time to place the vegetables and the freshly sliced apples on the table beside the bag of chips that Madeleine has decided will pair well with our pizza (thanks to friends we had a Papa Murphy's gift card to use). Before I can turn back to the sweet boy I gently pulled off my legs I see the unthinkable. Joshua has reached the oven. He's reaching for the door - because, again, (I've-never-eaten-and-can't-wait-a-second-longer and she put what I want IN THAT WHITE CONTRAPTION). I trip over Madeleine, yup, knocked her clean over, lunged at the boy before he ever got that door open a fraction of an inch ... and screamed "BOO TWAY!!!!!!!!" Joshua startled just long enough for me to slam the lock on oven door (is that what that is for? I've really never used one in my ENTIRE LIFE) and slump to the floor, ready for my own tears. There's not room for Momma's tears, though, because ... I've got one 4 year old daughter screaming because her pride is hurt. One 3.999 year old son screaming because I yelled (and probably freaked him out) ... And a 6 year old who is so sensitive that he cries simply because other people are crying. I'm hyper ventilating ... AND I'm making mental notes to read up on all of the other safety features on the appliances as I kiss cheeks, wipe tears, work to renew a normal resting heart rate ... oh, and finish prepping dinner.
Sigh ... Thank you, Jesus, for protection, for the fact that I was watching .... for the fact that I was just a few steps away ... for the fact that the most we suffered here in this very, very common scenario was a few tears (and probably a little over-reaction on the part of a Mommy).
I mentioned a dichotomy ... So, here's the other half ... That very evening ... maybe only about 90 minutes later ...
We were preparing to read together (we're close the end of The Magician's Nephew), and we had a little extra time. I suggested we turn on the Mandarin worship songs from school. We hadn't done this since Joshua came home, and I felt like it was a good idea to try (translation: the Holy Spirit was prodding me and, obtusely, I thought it was my idea until I realized later just how clearly God ordained it was). As song after song came on, I watched a change come over Joshua. He tuned in ... he watched. He focused. He listened. He TRIED THE MOTIONS. He mouthed the words. He was INCHES from the screen - captivated by the familiar words - and what's more - the familiar faces. It never occurred to me, until I watched this as an adoptive mom, how powerful the faces are. Chinese American children are singing these worship songs, in Chinese. For my boy - who is away from the familiar - he is seeing faces that are familiar ... faces that look like his ... and those faces are singing powerful truths of Scripture and of God's Word.
I wept. This time no one else was weeping and I had the space to do so.
Tonight, as we started to clean up dinner, Joshua pointed to the iMac in the corner
"Do you want music, Josh?" I asked.
He nodded furiously, scampered down from the table and parked himself right there ... ready to listen.
Does it strike you as coincidental (if you believe in those things) that the translation of the song he loves is so powerful?
You are my life; you are my song.
You're my salvation, when all my hope is gone.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, your presence surrounds me the same.
You are my strength, Oh Lord, you are my shield, my song
My solid rock, on you I stand, I trust in you.
The song is embedded below so you can watch the entire 3 minutes if you wish. I strongly recommend it. And as you do, picture a little boy, far from home, clad in dino pajamas ... learning so much, and being so brave. And thank the Lord that someone far greater than I stands to surround that little boy - someone far stronger than Steve is his strength, and shield and song.
Tonight as I go to bed (and pray that all of my precious sleeping babes have deep and restful sleep), I thank God that though I sometimes want to change my name - change it to avoid the constant screams of MOMMA MOMMA MOMMA (from all 4 kiddos) ... God never changes His name. He's there for us, each of us, as our strength, our salvation and our hope.