|Wood frog, the first frog to emerge from winter|
Happy Bonus Day! At least, that’s what I call February 29. How awesome that we all get an extra day this year, and how even more awesome that it occurs on a Saturday. Win, win! I asked my kids last night what we should do on this bonus day. The votes were #1 no school work, #2 no chores, #3 play all day. Well, they’ll get 1 out of 3 (no school work), anyhow. Dream on, little ones. After all, it’s Lent.
Considering this day doesn’t really count, so to speak, I decided to take advantage of it to catch up on ye ole blog here. My husband (my most faithful blog reader) thought my last blog post was my best ever so I thought about just stopping while I was ahead, but who am I kidding. This month was my 6-year blogiversary so how could I quit now?? I’m not sure I agree with my husband’s assessment of my latest post, but I will say that it was one that took me two years think about before I was ready to write it. Needless to say, my perspective on parenting has done a complete 180 in the past 9 years. How easy it is to make our children into our idols and eagerly anticipate when they will reflect our “good parenting” for all the world to see! I was well on that path until God gave me Teflon children, upon whom no traditional parenting method sticks. So, for Lent, I am working on seeing my children as they are, accepting their limitations, trying to see the good, hard as it sometimes is, and ignoring a judgmental world that seeks to find satisfaction in comparing everyone to themselves.
So, speaking of the good, here is the best part of every February for us. Joah turned 9! I am now the mother of two nine-year olds for the next six months. Try explaining that one to people! For his birthday, he requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Easy enough, until you consider that the kid is gluten-free, dairy-free, and tolerates very few eggs. Thankfully, through a vegan friend, I have learned so much in the past few years about how to accommodate his diet restrictions. Joah loved this chocolate cake I made for him! The frosting is also amazing and had no sugar in it. Instead, we used dates. He was a happy kid! For his birthday, we actually were visiting my sister, who has 7 kids, including three boys 10 and under, so they alone made a party. It was complete mayhem.
I often say that Joah is the one who has taught me the most about true love. It is he, more than my other children, who has required the greatest sacrifices, and who challenges me to rise above my own desires in order to meet his. In turn, it is Joah who has the softest, most sensitive heart for those he cares about. Two days after Joah’s birthday, we always remember the birthday of our little Karol Elizabeth, whom I lost in miscarriage two days after Joah turned one. Joah has often referred to the fact that he shares his birthday with his sister in heaven. This year, amongst all the chaos around the quick trip we made to visit my sister, I completely forgot about Karol Elizabeth’s birthday. But not Joah. The morning of her birthday, he walked up to me and told me it was an important day. When I asked him why, he reminded me it was Karol Elizabeth’s birthday. God love him. He didn’t want her to be forgotten. We decided to visit her grave and sing happy birthday to her. It was the least we could do, but for Joah, it was huge. Karol Elizabeth would have been 7 years old now. This coming week, on March 3, we will be celebrating the birthday of her brother, Isaac Anne, whom we lost in miscarriage one year after Karol. I am sure Joah will not let me forget. God bless all my children!
And one more thing about Joah. Something that we adoptive mothers think about a lot is how our adopted child will feel when they get older and start to understand what being adopted really means. We have never kept Joah’s adoption a secret from him and speak to him openly and positively about it whenever the subject comes up. Two years ago, he was able to re-unite with his birthmother, a true miracle and answer to lots of prayer. Now that he’s even older, he’s coming to terms with the sense of loss that I believe every adopted child must face eventually. I know it is a struggle for him sometimes and my heart breaks for this part of his life that I can’t “fix”. This year, as we did last year, our family spent the first two weeks of February writing love notes to one another and hanging them up in the window, where they look sopretty. Then, after Valentine’s day, I take them all down and turn them into little books for each person in the family. This year, as I read over the little valentines hanging in the window, I saw this one written by Joah. I do not know what prompted it (other than perhaps a yummy supper that he liked), but needless to say, it touched me and his dad so deeply. In spite all that I sometimes think I’m doing wrong in the parenting department, little things like this remind me that there is always hope and that God will take care of the things that I can’t.
And not to be left out, the end of February is also a milestone for this little guy, who hit the 3.5 mark yesterday. Maybe it’s because he’s the baby, but it just feels like he is growing up faster than the other two ever did. He may be 3 but he talks like a 4-year-old and is a real chatterbox. Sometimes, it just goes on and on and I have to ask him to please stop talking! Seriously, he’s probably going to be the most extroverted one of the family, which is a good thing. I’ve always said he’s been the cherry on top of my sundae and that hasn’t changed. I wish so much that I could keep him little forever, but he’s not going to have any part of that. I recently gave away the diaper changing table and we have replaced it with a small table and chair that I hope to use for Dominic when we start formally homeschooling him. It’s so bittersweet giving away the baby things but I am old enough now to recognize when it is time to let go and move on, and that time has come for me and my husband. I’ll never have the large family I once dreamed of, but I am beyond thankful for the three children whom I have here and my three in heaven.
|Performing his favorite chore...crushing egg shells to feed the chickens.|
And of course, it all started with this child, the first one I got to hold in my arms. As my oldest and least “needy” kid, I feel like I don’t give him the attention he deserves, and he’s now closer to being 10 than 9. My first decade as a parent is coming to a close. I often think about how I have been a parent now for as long as I tried to become a parent and struggled with infertility. Both decades transformed me into who I am today, for better or worse. None of it has been easy, and all of it has tested me in very uncomfortable ways. I wouldn’t want to go back to any of it and in most ways, I am glad those days are behind me. Perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps that is how God prepares us for our final destination, making sure we always keep looking forward towards being in heaven with him. Maybe it is best not to want to go back, not to want to cling to the past, but rather, to keep looking forward with hope and to be thankful for the coming day, that inevitably brings us closer to our last day here and our first day with him in heaven. This year for Lent, I am thinking of that.
Thank you to Kelly for the link-up! If you’d like to take a leap back, you can find my Quick Takes for leap day 2016 here. Or you can go check out other great Quick Takes at Kelly’s blog here.