Ahhh, the tween years. Snippets of what’s to come are emerging.
“Hello! Are you there, Mom? Do you see who I’m trying to be?”
And I think to myself, I wasn’t expecting this. Not yet. Time to buckle up…
My oldest daughter has always been the quietest and easiest to raise, up to this point. I tell or show her something once and that’s been it. Until recently.
Josi read the first and second books of the Twilight series. I explained to her that she would not be allowed to read the others until she was a teenager, due to the subject matter. I believed that would be that. (It always has been.) Well, she has asked me, almost daily, if she can read the others. I got her hooked on Harry Potter, but she’s already read four of the books in one week. I’m scrambling to find something else to fill her head.
I’ve told her no make-up. Bright pink eye shadow covered those beautiful lids of her’s this weekend. (Actually, she did a nice job.) Josi smiled a daring smile at me when I asked her about it. I decided to let it go; these are the little battles not worth fighting. I’m sure others are brewing.
She wants to shave her legs, concerned with some of the dark hair that is appearing. I have to look really hard to find it.
She wants her own room. Perhaps in two years, when Holden goes off to college.
These are all little things. I continue to hold her close – my daughter, already almost as tall as I am. She fills me with gratitude. I realize these times will fly by and how I handle them as her mom shapes her and our future. For now, I want to be in the path of her spark, essence, and joy as she explores and discovers who she is.
Sometimes the whole family isn’t on-board with the decision to adopt, especially if the adoption is of a child that differs ethnically or racially.
My father–in-law was, Bruce, “concerned” when we told him of the decision to adopt from China. He said something once and then kept his feelings to himself. That alone spoke volumes about how he felt. This was a man I loved deeply, but was known to tell the occasional off-color joke. Mark and I had already made our decision and proceeded with the adoption. No one was going to dissuade us. We hoped he’d come around.
One of the adoption support networks, Families with Children from China, Indiana, creates and sells a beautiful annual calendar. My father-in-law saw it and told us, “I can’t wait to meet my granddaughter.” We were so happy to hear that his heart was open.
When we arrived home with Josi ten months later, Bruce was there to greet her at the airport. After Holden, he was next to hold her. She went right to him. He held her close, kissing her, his face infused with love.
Bruce came over the next morning, but Josi pushed him away after feeling his beard. She didn’t like the scratchiness of his whiskers. He returned later that day, clean shaven. She snuggled up with him.
Bruce came daily, always making sure he had no beard. Josi had her own special name for him – “Pa”.
I never heard Bruce tell another off-color joke or allow one in his presence. He opened his heart to his other grandchildren as they came home, embracing them with his unconditional love.
“Why adoption/why did you adopt?”
“Are you done?”
The above questions are those that I am asked on a regular basis.
There is so much published and discussed about listening – how to be a good listener, how to be an active listener. I’ve read and heard it all and taken it to heart and put it into practice. Listening is an important skill set when raising four kids ranging in ages seven to sixteen.
But, there is another kind of listening. It’s the non-verbal listening that resonates deep within the essence of who I am. Listening with my soul.
This is the listening that directed Mark and me to adopt. Listening took us to China. Twice.
Convinced we were done expanding our family, we began to give away the baby gear. And then the most wonderful thing happened. I found myself listening again to the kind of message that wouldn’t be denied. In short, we adopted our beautiful son from Guatemala.
Are we done? We think so, but we continue to listen.