Two years ago, today, Alex and I drove down to San Antonio to meet our son for the very first time. We ate lunch at a Panera, brushed our teeth in the parking lot of a convenient store, and then sat nervously in a crowd of parents in the cafeteria of The Kid’s 2nd grade elementary school. It was their end of year talent show and all we knew was that The Kid was dancing. We spent the majority of the talent show bawling our eyes out- through 38 renditions of Frozen, through the kid with the broken arm on the pogo stick, through all of it, until the bitter end, when The Kid burst onto the stage and into our lives.
In that moment, I only had eyes for him. It might as well have been just me and him in that crowded cafeteria. To prove this point, I could show you the video that has me bawling and laughing at the same time, in a room full of strangers and elementary children who were staring at the two weird adults who had completely lost control of themselves.
Somewhat naively, I thought I couldn’t possibly love him any more than at that moment.
I say naively because I was so in love with the idea of him- the boy that I had imagined for so long, the boy that we had read about, but never met. I loved the idea of bedtime snuggles and family dance parties and having a little kitchen assistant.
I was madly in love with the ideal of The Kid that first day. I could not have been prepared for the tidal wave of love that I feel now that I’ve lived two years with the reality of him.
I couldn’t have imagined how funny, how stubborn, how compassionate The Kid is. I didn’t think about how I would feel when The Kid came home from school after a day of feeling alone or elated, depending on how his classmates were feeling that day. I distinctly remember the point when I realized that I could tell from how he walked out of school what kind of day it had been. It shocked me. That’s the kind of thing that mothers know about their kids.
I wasn’t prepared for the reality that motherhood would basically punched me in the face. I was semi-ready for the physical side of motherhood- of being tired, of feeding children, of buying clothes. I was totally unprepared for the emotional side of things, how much it would change me.
I could never have imagined the ease with which we exist now. The Kid uses clothing to indicate his level of comfort. When he came home, it was fake emo glasses, sweater vests, button-up shirts tucked in, corduroy pants (and he came home in the summer…in Texas). Slowly, but surely, he shed those layers as we earned his trust. Now, we’re lucky if he’s not trying to jump naked on his mini-trampoline in the living room. I know that it’s not true, he has a history and a life that happened before us, but sometimes it feels like The Kid has always been here.
I didn’t know that our bad days (which we have, since, you know, we adopted humans and we are humans and humans tend to have bad days sometimes) would make our good days that much sweeter. There have been moments where I sit and have a second to get introspective and it’s like life slows down. A baby on my chest, a dog and son running through a field searching for mushrooms, world’s best dad trying to keep up. Those moments, the goodness is almost too good. I don’t understand why or how I ended up getting to live this life, but, damn, am I grateful for it.
If I could go back in time, to that afternoon when I first laid eyes on the boy that made me a mother, when I thought life could not possibly get any sweeter, my advice to my weepy, tear-stained self would be only two words.