I have been an adoptive parent for precisely one week now. So, obviously, I know everything.
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. But, seriously, here are some reflections about our adoption journey from this week that I need to get down for people that will walk this path after me. (Emphasis on our journey, since everyone’s path is different).
1. I’m really tired.
I know that a lack of sleep just happens to be a part of Parenting 101 but I thought we might catch a break with a 9-year-old.
The kid moves all day, now requires a nightly foot-rub before bed (no complaints from this mom), and is literally asking me for two bowls of Fruit Loops and a sausage biscuit the second I open my bedroom door because he wakes up between 5:30 and 6:30am and is ready to go. It’s like I’ve got a hungry motion sensor in the next bedroom every morning.
Also, how much of a luxury is adult conversation? I mean, he’s totally an adorable kid and I have a feeling I will know all of the Ninja Turtle names by the end of the summer (It’s not hard, mom. There’s only 4.) I understand that talking kid stuff comes with the territory but by the end of the week, I was all, “An adult conversation! An adult conversation! My kingdom for a conversation that isn’t centered on Lego Ninjas!?”
I actually went to the grocery store by myself on Saturday for a break. I called my family and termed the break a “mom-cation”. All I need now are jeans that accentuate my pooch and give me a triangle-shaped butt, and I am good to go.
I know now that the transition will be difficult for all of us. Until we can get into our rhythms with friends to entertain him and scheduled quiet times, we’re all going to be tired.
2. You have to play to the kid you get.
We were all ready to cocoon and just stay in our house and peek out the windows like crazy people and have friends drop off food on the front porch like we’re drug addicts (the patchy, weedy front yard doesn’t help). But, we actually went a little stir crazy much quicker than we thought and we discovered that he’s an extrovert and needs friends his own age. I mean, we’re cool and all, but I don’t compare to a 12-year-old who never gets tired of fart jokes.
I felt like Jane Goodall when we went to putt-putt on Saturday morning, as I observed my son in his natural habitat, amongst members of his own species (read: boys 8-12). He fit right in. Based on my observations, entrance into this group requires a ninja kick and a knock-knock joke about bananas. I think that it filled his cup because Saturday afternoon was actually quite chill, with coloring and only 5 games of Gator Golf, instead of the daily requisite 52.
That surprised me. Most of what I had read said that you needed to take it easy and ease into social engagements, but he seemed to be ready to go. His “high” for the day on Saturday was “making new friends”.
Anyway, I’m so very thankful for the training and research that we’ve had time to receive over these past two years. I ABSOLUTELY think that the time I put in was worth it and gave me a leg-up in understanding how he might be feeling, how to address hard issues, and how to make sure things are out in the open. I think that it all made me a better parent.
Now, we just have to wade through all that information and decide what fits our kid or doesn’t. (PS- I’m working on a resource list of all the most helpful blogs I’ve followed over these 2 years (PSPS- Most of them are adoptee-written.))
3. There is not a choir of angels that follows you around and heralds the big moments.
The expectation: I pictured him seeing his room for the first time as this big deal, where there was like a red carpet and he was just totally in awe, and he just couldn’t stop looking at stuff for 4 hours and we had to beg him to come out of his awesome room and eat dinner. Maybe I pictured that because I’ve been nesting for 2 years and finally, all my hard work was coming to fruition.
The reality: “Oh. Cool. Let’s play Legos.”
I don’t want to use the word let-down because that’s not it. I was not disappointed or crushed by his reaction. It’s just different than I expected.
Alex and I were talking and we’ve decided that adoption is not a small collection of big moments. He will not be waiting outside my bedroom door with flowers and a mariachi band one morning and say, “I’ve thought about it and I’ve decided to call you mother.” Adoption is more like a big collection of small moments. When he calls me mom the first time, it will probably be from the backseat of the car and it will be in the context of asking for food.
Like he uses the word “home” for the first time when we pull into the driveway, covered in dog slobber from the dog park. Like when he feeds me a strawberry (albeit an accidental moldy one) in a sweet moment. Like when him asking us to play a youtube video evolves into our very first dance party and he makes us belly laugh with his Harlem Shake.
I guess I pictured that these moments would be like meeting a celebrity. You think it’s going to be a super big deal. And then you see Yao Ming in a Crate and Barrel in Houston and there are no sexy cheerleaders carrying around a light up sign heralding his presence. Nope. It’s more like he’s just a crazy tall guy looking at an over-priced vase for his side table, just like the rest of us. (True story).
4. I need to carry snacks. On my person. At all times. Which means I need more pants with pockets.
I’m not sure this needs more explanation.
5. The whole experience is so much better than I thought.
There were moments throughout the week when I just had to pause and take it all in. This is my life. This my son.
There’s a verse in Luke that says Mary, the mother of Jesus, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” I’ve always loved that verse and now I feel like I have a richer understanding of it.
God knows the desire of our hearts, ya’ll. And it’s so much deeper and more fulfilling than we could ever dream of.
Thanks Beth for sharing some of your small moments with us. It reminds me of some of my small moments with you girls. It’s the best gig in town.
I thought alot about you this week, mama.
Love this! Haha We instituted a 7am rule last summer! Everyone stayed in their rooms until 7am (play/read/sleep/whatever). And I TOTALLY get you on the adult conversation!! My whole day is filled with audio game quotes (as you experienced). 😉
The small moments thing is a great reminder. We need to remember to keep celebrating those.
Ps. Your whole crew is awesome.
We think your crew is pretty awesome too!
Get foam swords for when he comes back and you will be a hero, then he will have them to not only play with you but also when he has friends over, sword fighting never seems to get old! Loved your comments.
Great advice, Mary! I’m quickly learning that anything can be a weapon in the hands of a 9-year-old boy.
You brought back memories-Although Scott was only a baby what I remember most about becoming a parent is how tired I was. I think maybe for the first few years. Look forward to your post.
Oh, say it ain’t so!
Wow! This is so good! I love your sense of humor and honesty – you made me laugh, you made me tear up! Anyway, I’m so happy for all of you! Jumping into parenthood with a 9 year old is awesome – definitely jumping into the deep end – and it looks like you’re swimming and having a ball!
Thanks! It’s definitely been an adventure.