Life as we know it: We now have a routine to most days. We all wake up at generally the same time every day, and know the basics of what’s needed to get the day started. Cypress reminds me often to “put lotion on you” before she gets dressed. She likes to say the prayer at lunch time. It usually goes something like this “Dear Jesus, thank you dis food, be with Daddy work, in Jesus’ name AMEN!”
Sami’s lunch now consists of avocados, cereal, or sweet potatoes, or some strange mix of the above. She is generally agreeable with whatever I feed her, and only had one day of grimaces and full body shivers when I introduced avocados before she decided they were ok too. Other than managing to throw the whole bowl of cereal on the floor one day, she’s done very well.
A typical lunch time conversation between Cypress and I looks something like this:
Cy: Daddy napkin?
Me: no, just Cypress and Mommy for lunch.
Cy: Daddyz work?
Cy: Daddy almost home?
Me: Daddy comes home when it’s dark.
Cy: No sun?
Cy: Mommy Ebbyz big teeth!!
Cy: Jazzy woof woof!
Cy: Who iz Ebby’s mommy?
Me. I don’t know hunny.
Cy: Mommy Ebby Woosha! (Amharic for dog) Followed by Amharic words for banana, flower, water, plate, etc.)
Me: good job, thank you for telling me!
Cy: Grama Bec truck?
Me: No, Grampa Larry has a truck.
Cy: Mommy, Tatum’s house!
Me: mmhmm, that was fun, huh?
Cy: Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY! Sami sleeping?
Cy: Mommy who izat? (used for “what is that”, “ whose is that”, “who is that”.)
Me: That’s our neighbor.
Cy: Zat house?
Me: Yep that’s their house.
Cy: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy (looking for a new conversational piece) Candle?
Cy: Grama Bec mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s mommy’s? (I tried to explain that Grama Bec was Mommy’s mommy. That one has yet to register.)
Me: Yeah kind of.
Cy: Mommy Arsema bottle? NO! Sami bottle? YES!
Me: That’s right.
Cy: Mommy mommy mommy, uncle Landon silly!
Me: yep he’s silly.
Cy: Monkey Heee Heee Haaa Haaaa!
Me: mmhmm, eat your lunch please.
And a few minutes later we repeat all. We have officially entered the questions and conversation phase, I cannot express to you how mutually fun and exciting and terribly brain frying it is. Her language acquisition is incredible to watch. She memorizes knew phrases by repeating them quietly over and over to herself. I will tell her “I’ll be back in a minute” and I’ll hear her saying repeatedly to herself “be back in minute, be back in minute”. She has never expressed frustration over not being able to communicate, but rather laughs at our attempts to repeat her words, and then goes on to a new subject if we can’t find some mutual understanding. However, after 800 times of being asked where Ebby’s mommy is, and “who izat” to endless items around the house, I start hearing a buzzing in my head and tell her I think her going down to jump rope in the basement would be a really good idea.
Fitting for this phase, her new most frequently used phrase is now “I dunno”. Her two most missed-used words currently are “tomorrow” (she thinks the high school we drive by is tomorrow…?) and “almost”. We are almost doing a lot of things around here. When I’m tempted to go a little bit crazy in my head over incessant and terribly abstract conversations that cycle throughout the day, I can’t help but smile to myself and shake my head in wonder. Is anyone surprised that I would have a daughter who craves constant conversation? No?? I didn’t think so. Seriously, God builds families. And He doesn’t require genetics in order to make them share resemblance. It’s mind blowing, really.
Speaking of resemblances, I have a little one who requires sleep in a most demanding manner. She can hardly keep herself together for an hour and a half between naps. I often hold her off until two hours. It gets seriously dramatic, and the drama is usually contagious. She is a sensitive little miss. Sometimes my walking out of the room is grounds for complete panic. And she doesn’t panic quietly. When I’m mumbling to myself about her neediness, I hear voices in my head that sound very much like my Mom’s saying things like “Oh Carrie, you were my needy child. Always wanting held. Craving attention. You didn’t like to play alone and always wanted to be right next to me.” I feel like this might be some sort of retribution.
Both of the little people take good naps in the afternoon, and because they love to sleep so much, it is usually no problem to get them synchronized. I am so thankful. During this time, I get a facebook and chocolate fix. Or do some paper work and eat cookies. Or fold clothes and watch Parenthood and eat chocolate.
Sami often takes a third nap in the evening while we eat dinner. Cypress asks me at least four times a day when I’m holding/rocking Sami, “Again sleeping Sami?!” In a most incredulous tone.
These are the little things of this phase that will soon be out grown but I don’t want to be forgotten.
- Sami loves to imitate to the best of her ability.
- My favorite is her clapping. It is so stinkin cute.
- And when she whispers “dada” in my ear.
- Cypress singing non-stop to her baby, to Sami, to Ebby, to her fans using her microphone (also known as a baby bottle).
- When she makes up her songs, nearly every other word is Jesus. Jesus Loves. Love Jesus. Jesus Jesus. I don’t even feel like I’ve sang to her that much yet, but regardless, she loves to sing about Jesus.
- Any unidentifiable animal is a squirrel.
- Anytime a door (closet, bedroom, basement, etc.) closes between us, we must exchange multiple fairwells. "Ciou Mommy. Goodbye. Ciou. I love you. Goodbye. Ciou. Mommy ciou."
- And to my great enjoyment…October and Octopus are still used interchangeably. I may be letting this one slide for a while.
One month in for Momma looks like this. A little less tired…some days. I’ve managed to get in one workout, and consume a lot of cookies. At some point this equation will need to be rectified a little. I continue to be taken aback by these girls’ adaptability and my own floundering. And their extended grace on the days I’m most undeserving. Cypress never fails to comment on my konjo (beautiful) hair when I’ve skipped my shower and have scary bedhead. (She has had to ask twice to see if I have underarm hair, so she is looking out for my hygiene. I’m happy to assure her that I at least have that one covered.) Some days I’m caught off guard when I give her too short of an answer or a less than warm direction and she responds with “Ok. I love you Mommy!” Some days I put Sami to bed in a hurry, my rocking time short and my arms tense with frustration over her crying. Yet she awakens so happy to see me and so ready to cuddle.
When I hear my sharp tone of voice or short words come out of Cypress’s mouth I cringe. These girls a like a mirror, and some days I really don’ t like what I see. Today I am so overwhelmed with the impression that this is as much about my own learning and refinement and repentance as it is about their instruction and guidance. I’m getting a clearer look at who I was when God first loved me. And who I still I am so many moments and days when I let my flesh make the judgment calls instead of the Spirit of Jesus. I want a life that is engaged in the Kingdom, sold out completely to the work that Jesus has started in me. Yet I find myself at war with a person inside who seeks comfort and always the path of least resistance. “Yes Lord, give me a purpose and a mission! But please, no shorter nights, interruptions to my normal routines, illnesses, surrendering of my own dreams, sacrifices to my social life, and PLEASE no fussy children, they really stress me out.” And then the Holy Spirit ministers these words to my heart. “Jesus came not to be served but to serve. And to give His life as a ransom for many. (mark 10:45)” And this too. That there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for those dear to you (John 15:13). I see it a little more clearly every day I live in this broken body. That none of this is about me nor can it be delivered by me. I can’t draw on my education or my instinctual love for children or my passion for orphan care or my grit and determination or my belief system in order to love and parent these girls. It’s only and all about God’s love flowing through me. I am nothing on my own. Now if only myself would be crucified once and for all and quit interrupting the love flow.
So to summarize the first month: Sami is learning to eat and grow teeth. Cypress is learning to speak English. Mommy is learning lessons of faith from her littles. We share many smiles and giggles and songs. The Love that brought us all together is knitting our hearts tighter to each other every day; I can’t imagine life without them both. They inspire me with their courage, melt me with their unsurpassed cuteness, and draw me to our Abba who has loved us all out of our orphaned state of despair. And even in our busy, hard, exhausting days, they stir me. I see them at our dinner table, blossoming in the love of a family, and I wonder…who will fill our two empty seats?