Tuesday, July 03, 2012

3 weeks home

I know a few faithful and persistent friends have requested more blog updates.  ;)  Part of it is just pure exhaustion and part of it is that I don't even know where to start to document all the moments and emotions and setbacks and successes.  I'll just say--it's a very complicated time!

First, the simple stuff.  Trent spent some bonding time with Asher at the swimming pool and I took the big kids to see BRAVE with my folks.

 The red curly hair comparison was not lost on Syd.  She asked that morning if I would make her hair look like the Brave girl.  I tried to poof it a little more than usual.  :)
 We really liked the movie, although there was a couple intense scenes with a scary bear.  It's not my fave Pixar movie, but I did really enjoy it and will definitely buy it for our family movie library.  I liked the humor and the dynamics of the relationship between the heroine and her mother.  I'm not what I would call a feminist, but I can appreciate that in this movie, the princess did not need a prince to come to her rescue or even to come at all for the story to be complete.  She had an adventurous, wild spirit and it was really easy to get wrapped up with her in her quest to be free of restraining tradition.  Plus, it was just plain fun to have the main character look so much like my daughter!

Several months ago, Aunt Tara brought these shirts back from Universal Studios in Orlando. We finally got them out last week and they were a huge hit!  This pic is a little blurry, but it's still my favorite.





Asher NEEDS a bath every night after dinner, and often after lunch.   The kids argue over who gets to be in there with him, so sometimes I just surrender to the drenched bathroom and let them all pile in.  Hilarity and maternal frustration ensue.

I love watching Asher watch his siblings.  They are so un-self-conscious about life, and he is enthralled.


So, it's been three weeks since we flew home and I think I can no longer blame my tiredness on the jetlag.  :)  I will just blame it on the transition to three kids.  It's kinda kicking my butt!  This was a text conversation yesterday.

Trent: Hows the day going.
Me:  WHY ARE THEY ALL SO WHINEY AND NEEDY?!?!?!

Before I continue my complaint, let me also say that having the three of them together is such a highlight of this season.  A friend asked me to bullet points the best and worst of the last month, and the first thing I said for "best" was having my three kids together under one roof.  The big kids are still in honeymoon (most of the time) with Asher and love him like crazy.  When it comes to him, they are quick to help, slow to anger and full of ideas.  When it comes to the rest of life, however...let's just say school starts Wednesday, September 5th, but who's counting?

It seems that I have several moments throughout the day when all three children are needing me.  Usually in different ways and different places.  This morning we were getting ready to have some friends over for a playdate.  Carson decided to engage in a very ambitious light-saber-themed craft project that needed lots of adult supervision and help (and the type of supplies provided on his PBSkids shows, but that we do not have around, like yards of PVC pipe), while Sydney was in the middle of an off-the-charts screaming, crying meltdown.  Both my bio kids have supersensitive skin and some sensory issues (Carson's were also heightened during preschool age).  If something on Sydney's body is itchy or hurting, THE. WORLD. STOPS.  No solutions or lotions I offer seem to help, no amount of coaxing or bribing can convince her to continue dressing and stop writhing around nude on the bathroom floor or hyperventilating in the tub, which if often where I put her in attempts to soothe.  So I was dashing back and forth between them, as they both were screaming the same thing: MOM! I NEED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!! and meanwhile, the child who probably TRULY needs my attention the most is perfectly happy spraying an entire $10 bottle of sunscreen out onto my bedspread, and pouring my coffee all over himself whilst pooping his diaper.  (Don't fret, it was lukewarm, because it takes me 3 hours to finish a cup.) (The coffee, not the poop you smart alecks.)

I feel a little ridiculous for being so whiney about this all, considering I have many friends who have four or more children and I know it can be done.  Maybe they just have a lot of coffee-stained children and unfinished craft projects.  My friend (whose presence with an iced skinny caramel machiatto was SO VERY APPRECIATED this morning after the aforementioned circus, thank you Christy!) asked how my emotional health was, and I felt I could confidently tell her I'm doing OK.  I'm surprised that THIS (transition to three with one being a newly adopted toddler) is harder than I thought it would be.  Each day I feel far from balanced and together, but even dealing with the attachment stuff with Asher, I feel like God is protecting my heart and I don't feel blue or sad or helpless.  I feel like we have a long journey ahead of us, but our family really seems complete to me. It seems RIGHT. I feel like that journey will continue to progress steadily and someday my complaints will be the same, but different and it won't be a surprise to me any longer.

I just realized that whole paragraph was full of the words "I FEEL."  Ha!  Oh, brother. Dear diary....

OK, I know most of you are curious about Asher!  Overall, he is doing great.  He is a fun and happy little guy, silly and very smart. I see signs of attachment, especially with me as the primary caregiver, increasing daily.  I've been reading up again on exercises we can do to build the bond and connect more.  I focus a LOT on eye-contact with him.  It's so great to have the kids around, but our best moments are when the two of us are alone.  When I hug him, he hugs back, and same with kisses usually.  But we have a long way to go.  I think the little details that are contrasted between a newly adopted toddler and a securely attached todder are the most interesting to me.    For instance, when I pick Asher up, he doesn't fight me, but he doesn't "hold me back."  Know what I mean?  He never hangs his arm around my shoulder or even leans his body towards mine.  He's like a chunky little ragdoll, just deadweight in my arms--if anything he's leaning away.  Although he often responds to his name inside the house by turning his head, if his back is to me, he does not come to me or turn around when I call to him...using either or both of his names.  When we are in public, he is still a major flight risk.  He often wakes up at night crying hard, asking for "mae" which is what he called his foster mother.  :(

Asher has been doing great with meeting so many new people.  We are sticking with a "high-five" policy for friends and family, asking that they hold off on the hugs for a little while longer.  He gladly says "Hi" and "Bye-bye" to anyone and everyone.  He's silly and charming and smiley when we spend time with others.  Which is great!  Unless it's not.  I think the exaggerated version of this is the toddler reaching out to be held by any kind-looking stranger in the store, and it's called "mommy shopping."  I wouldn't say he's to that point, but I am conscious of kind of keeping him close and reinforcing that "I am Mommy, this is Daddy, we're here to stay, you will never go to live with anyone else."  But of course I'm delighted than our family is getting to know Asher and that he's not completely shy of everyone.

The hardest part of this transition for me has been the face-dunked-in-cold-water shock of having a wild toddler boy in the house.  He is like a bull in a china shop, and I am having to re-align my expectations constantly!   If it can be torn, he will tear it; broken, he will break it; spilled, he will spill it, etc.    I think his behavior is mostly very normal curious toddler activities, coupled with grieving behavior (ie: "my life is so out of control, I am going to do something within my control, even if that means I will chew up my food and spit it out all over the floor") and also just testing the boundaries of his new home to see where they are!  But this leaves me in a constant battle during the day of tempering my corrective interactions and our positive interactions.  I've had to verbalize some of this internal dialogue with the big kids, when they complain, for instance, that he is dumping out the blocks AGAIN when we just picked them up.  There are so many things that are off limits for Asher, and so many times we have to say "no-no" that even though this is annoying, it's not hurting anyone or against the rules, so we're gonna let him go ahead and dump them out again.  And why don't we just play with them again too? 

Something that is very often brought to my mind is how earthly adoption parallels my spiritual adoption.  And how this adoption has opened my eyes to how powerful and great God's love for us truly is.  This is so deep and REAL to me right now that I would need a clearer head and more typing time to even attempt to put in into words.  But just know that when I look at my hot-headed blondie, emotional red-head and mischevious little Thai boy, all giggling together--I get a glimpse of how my heavenly Father looks at this impatient, messed-up dishwater blonde mama.  And I FEEL (haha) like it is rocking my world.  In a good way. ;)

I don't know if that is an adequate update or not.  But it will have to do for now.  I have a precious evening mostly to myself (C, S and T are at the rodeo and A is asleep) and I don't want to spend the entire thing in front of this computer screen.  :)  Thank you again, for all the love and prayers and checking in and commenting and, just, all of it.

10 comments:

Aimee L. Salter said...

Earlier today I was looking back to that 'toddler time' in our lives with Harry. He was only one, but I've said more than once that the 1 and 2 years were absolutely the hardest of my life. Boys are cray-cray. There's no other way to put it.

When I was thinking about you, I realized you were adding that 'normal' toddler trouble and energy to a mix where a) no one knew each other's signals, b) there was heightened emotions for everyone, regardless; and c) there's been no transitional learning.

Remember when the others were ten months old and moving a lot more and you got to move the house stuff around in stages?

Then the tantrums (or "noisy demonstrations of free will") began and you started figuring out what kind of things set them off - and trial and error to stop them?

As parents we grow with our kids. We have learning curves, build stamina, and develop theories.

You've just been thrown in the deep end my sister. And I admire your willingness to go there - and SO glad you're seeing Him in all of this because I imagine it's SO consuming.

And now I'm at risk of writing my own blog post. So instead I'll just say I'm praying and admiring from afar. Keep going. It's worth it!

Sarah Carter said...

Gracious girl - your posts are like water to my thirsty adoptive-mama heart! I LOVE hearing how you FEEL :) Thank you for taking the time to paint a small picture for us of what the last few weeks have been like. I am still so in awe of how God has brought you all together, and am so so thankful for the beautiful picture of God's love for us, his adopted children, as you described. Very good perspective and gives me something positive to focus on as we continue to wait for our Ghana babe. Sending you love and prayers for more and more attachement breakthroughs this week!

XO
S

mom2mom said...

You amaze me. I have coffe stained children and unfinished craft projects. I think that's the norm for moms with multiple children. ;) You guys are doing so great, Jen. Praying and thinking of you all the time!

Pascale said...

Yeah, three kids....it's a lot (you people with four, five, six kids, I am in awe of you. I can't imagine the patience you must have. More than six? My brain can't compute). Like you said, there is always someone whining, if not all of them!

I agree wholeheartedly with Aimee - you're dealing with so many factors here - bonding with Asher as a family and as a mother, supporting your biggies through their transition, dealing with a grieving child. But the thing that sticks out most for me, perhaps because I'm going through it too, is that it's the summer! You don't get a break! You are expected to provide nonstop entertainment, snacks and cheerfulness and man is that ever hard! I have no advice to offer on surviving the summer months, because I'm making it up as I go along. When I find the answer on pinterest I'll let you know.

In the meantime, just know that you are a good mother, that taking a break by hiding in the bathroom is definitely allowed (maybe during Asher's nap though, so you don't lose ALL your precious coffee), that your friends will no doubt drop everything to come rescue you if need be and that September is coming. Routine is coming. You can do this!

Pascale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nina said...

So blessed to have gotten a high five with a big smile from Asher. One day I will be able to give him a hug. All in the right time !!

woosterweester said...

Jen, as a mom of four girls, it is I who am in awe of you. Truly. God is giving you grace and strength beyond measure and it shows in the way you tackle each and every new situation. I echo the comments of everyone above. Multiple children can be H-A-R-D. You are finding your routine, not to mention overcoming language barriers, dealing with grief, etc. And HELLO a toddler instantly became your son. Love him to pieces? 100%. No question. But, to say it isn't a crazy challenge would be insane. I love my kids completely but there are days where I am stretched beyond my limits, and that doesn't even remotely compare to bringing home an adopted child. You will find new depths of patience you never knew existed. My carpet is ALWAYS stained, my floor is vacuumed MAYBE once a week, there is always a toilet left plugged or unflushed in the house, my kitchen floor could be confused with a dirt path, and I have been known to leave laundry in the washer until it smells musty. But once I learned that that was OK, and that it is totally NORMAL, I have an easier time letting it go. (Btw, I totally hated when people would tell me to let stuff go because I wanted to fire back, "Easy for you to say. If I let too much go we'll never be able to dig ourselves out.") You WILL find your new normal. And there is a secret to multiple children: it actually gets easier than one child. Yes you have many times more fights and bouts of whining to deal with, but you will have much more laughter, games to play, kids to entertain each other and you, and memories to be made. The world will look at you crazy when you let your kids go to a restaurant in their swimsuits and Disney crowns, and the yard might go unmowed...but you will not regret one minute. So, from one mom of multiples to another, you are doing an AWESOME job. The measure of awesome is in the way you love your kids and it is fully evident that there is a lot of LOVE at your house. And P.S. if you're like me and on occasion get overwhelmed and have a freak-out moment on everyone or raise your voice, forgive yourself. Your kids are gonna know that even when you might accidentally over-correct them, it is rooted in deep, deep love. May the Lord give you the strength you need today to do the incredible job of molding your children for Him. Hardest, most rewarding job in the world. Love you friend!

Becky said...

I think you summed up life quite well. Praying for all of you still. Love you!

Deanne Marie said...

What a lovely blog and family! And the new addition is such a cutie! My sister and I are both adopted as well...and I would love to adopted when I am married as well. :)

Hayley said...

In all your chaos and handling of it, you continue to be an encouragement! Blessings on you!!

Hayley