Gabe and Noah have been part of our family for four months now. There’s so much to say, but I’m struggling to form coherent sentences these days, so I’ll try to stick to a few points.
Here’s one really hard thing about the 4-month point, and three things that I love:
The hard thing is feeling isolated.
At the beginning I was caught up with the novelty of being a mom of four and mostly I was just trying to survive each day, but now I think the reality of my life is setting in.
I remember a few years back, a friend was contemplating having a third child and she said, “I don’t know if I could do it . . . when any of my friends have had over two children, they just kind of disappear — for awhile at least. I think it has something to do with being outnumbered.”
Yes, that is how I feel.
Like I’ve disappeared from my old life.
These days I mourn the freedom of days with just Judah and Amie. Not that it was perfectly easy — parenting is never easy — but we were in a good season together. We were such buddies. We were flexible and active and saw lots of friends each week. I loved the feeling that I wasn’t desperate to get a break from them whenever possible. I felt rested, energized as a mom. We could have a play date or go to the church pot-luck, and I actually got to sit and chat with my friends.
And now none of that is true. I’m not rested or energized or flexible. I don’t have full conversations on play dates or really anytime my kids are around. I see people from church, but I’m nowhere near as involved as I was six months ago. I have wonderful friends, but I’m often way too tired to spend time with them.
Honestly, now that I see this written out, I don’t think it’s so much a four-children thing as a young-children thing. Pretty much any mom of even one or two very young children feels isolated and lonely at times, and is keenly aware of the limitations of her energy and social life. How quickly I forgot those years. And obviously all of it’s compounded by adoption, which is isolating and lonely for all its own reasons.
David and I are doing our best to connect to one another, to build rest into our schedule, but how do you do that when you’re needed by so many people all at once, when home is not exactly a restful place right now? And so sometimes we feel isolated from each other, right in the midst of the crowd. I miss my husband.
But it’s not all hard. Or maybe I should say that this hard is producing things that I love.
Here are three things that makes me happy right now:
1. Getting to know each other.
Four months is not a long time to spend with a person, but still it’s 2,880 hours. If just half of those are waking hours, we’ve had 1,440 hours together, and I’d add a generous handful more to include some middle-of-the-night and too-early hours.
When it write it out like that I can see: We’ve made progress.
The hours, which feel painfully long some days, are accomplishing something important. These boys and us, we’re coming to know each other.
I realize with wonder as we enter certain situations that I can now predict how they’re going to act. I’m discovering that some things don’t phase them one bit, and certain other baffling, maddening behavior is not meant to torment me, but is an expression of nervousness or fear. We’re learning how to comfort them, to make them feel safe. We’re learning how to make them laugh.
We’ve just embarked on a lifetime of hours spent together, and we are bonding.
These days it makes my heart happy to watch the four siblings interact.
David took the older two camping overnight this weekend and he reported that during their exciting, special night with Daddy, Judah and Amie both said, “I miss Gabe and Noah!”
They all love each other; they really do. What’s more, I think they’re growing to like each other. Sure, they fight and get under each other’s skin (it’s amazing how few hours it takes to learn that skill), but there’s a growing affection among all of them that I wouldn’t have imagined possible in four months.
David and I shake our heads in wonder at the influence they have on one another. Gabe and Noah have begun to learn to respect their siblings and their things. Instead of just ceaselessly hungering for attention from David and me, they’ve turned toward their brother and sister for interaction. Judah and Amelie have become less selfish and more generous with their time and possessions — oh yeah, and with their parents. They’re becoming a family.
It’s been a refining fire for all of us, and it’s a gift from God that the struggle has not made the children resentful of one another. I’m so excited about their future together.
Adoption is traumatic for everyone, but most of all for the ones who wake up one day in a brand new house with family that they barely know and didn’t choose. When Gabe and Noah came home with us, they were oh, so brave, but they were hurting. With toddlers, behavior is complex and it takes times to peel back the layers and understand what’s going on in their little heads and hearts (especially when neither one is verbal). They brought a whole history with them, much of which is a mystery to us.
And yet healing is happening. They are settling into this strange new world. This week instead of saying, “I want to go to the red house,” while we were out and about, Gabriel has been saying, “I want to go home.” Maybe it’s just semantics, but to me it’s something more.
This is home.
The two boys are progressing at such a rapid pace that I’m exhausted just trying to keep up. They are full of words and sentences. They are using self-control. They are obeying. They’re making eye contact. They’re showing empathy and compassion and sharing toys. They are eating with utensils, coloring with crayons and markers, trying every new food put in front of them. They are laughing and smiling, sleeping through the night, taking care of their toys, and sitting through story-books.
They are healing.