Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Winter but Spring is Coming

I had  such gleaming writing intentions for January. It was going to be my slow down-take a breather-read more-write more- month. I wanted to write a “3 month home”  update. I wanted to document all of the hilarious observations, statements, and imaginary adventures Cypress tell us of, and the crawling accomplishment, the waving, the eating food, the growth spurt, and other such milestones Sami has reached. I wanted to think out loud on paper about my vision and goals for the new year. To discuss my WORD of the year, a word that would encapsulate my focus and inspiration for 2013. 

But instead, we had almost as many Christmas gatherings this month as we did in December. And at each one I second-guessed myself constantly wondering if it was too much for the girls. We’d been home just long enough to start socializing and felt bad staying home, but not quite long enough to feel comfortable taking the girls to big events where they felt all eyes on them. So many loving, delighted family members anxious to meet these little beauties they had helped/funded/prayed home, to give a smile, a hug, an introduction, a welcome to the family. The girls would sometimes hide their faces in our shoulders in fear and other times act strangely crazy fearless. Either way we kept them very close, prayed constantly for the Lord to give us wisdom if we were over-doing it, and told Cypress repeatedly that if she felt at all scared, she could ask us to hold her and even ask us to take her home and we would do so without hesitation.

 All in all, Cypress loved it. She made so many new cousin friends, showed positive signs of attachment with letting us meet her needs and being appropriately shy, and behaved very well. Sami stayed in our arms the whole time which she thought was pretty awesome, and knowing that she wouldn’t be handed off, she actually became increasingly happier about looking at new faces and occasionally even gifting the new face with one of her prized smiles. She doesn’t give them out to just anyone, their quantity is limited, you know. I think we did the right thing, but I can’t tell you how exhausting and stressful it is for me to be so often second-guessing myself, analyzing situations, behaviors, facial expressions, etc. looking for any sign of a red flag, considering how best to respond. Knowing our family is sort of in the spot light right now, and feeling the tension of our actions being weighed by so many eyes, some in earnest support and desire to understand the girls’ needs, others in possible confusion or disapproval of our actions. 

Slow down? Well the second half of January was a little quieter. That is, depending on how one uses the word quiet. Less plans? Yes. Less high volume in the house? No. If I had a webcam streaming live footage of this house, I am certain I would lose a large portion of my friends, and the remaining ones would kindly send notes recommending counselors, invite me to Bible studies, start prayer chains for us, or threaten me to get my act together lest they revoke the numerous reference letters they’ve written for us. It’s been brutal. Some days I’ve thought, maybe if I just put it all out there, every nitty gritty ugly detail, I would feel better and someone would show up on my doorstep with a latte and some solutions. Or a plane ticket to the Bahamas. Other days, I tell myself, “if you even let people know the half of your chaos you will end up with CPS at your door.” I’ve settled for middle ground. The short story is, Sami has spent more hours of the past month crying, screaming, moaning, whining, and yelling than I care to ever tally. And screaming babies are to my ears what aluminum cans are to a cat’s tail. (If you ‘ve never had brothers to demonstrate such horror, take my word for it, it’s a desperate situation. DESPERATE.). Added to such frazzled nerves are a constant winter headache that takes up residence in my sinuses, and the unwelcomed guest of winter depression who slinks into my house in December and hangs up his vile coat in my closet until forced out by March’s windy sunshine.

 It may sound a little humorous, but such an equation results in some pretty miserable days for all of us.  I am sorry to say there have been far too few moments of laughter and delight, and far too many moments of collective crying and yelling and plodding through days that all feel the same. I find myself doubting my sanity, doubting if I will survive the winter, doubting my ability to ever be a good mother, and doubting my own redemption as I take an up close, disturbing look at my own ugly selfish heart. Can God really love a woman who mothers with such a short fuse? That passes up adorable baby cuteness instead looking only at the frustration of such a demanding season? That throws temper tantrums to rival her own children? That prayed for 3 years for these beautiful littles to grace her home and now wonders at times what in the world she asked for?

 Then my daughter asks over her pizza at the lunch table, “Mom, why Jesus on da cross? I don’t know why Jesus sad on da cross!” And I say “Oh sweetie I know why, let me tell you!” And I tell her the gospel story, and she sits motionless, eyes welled with tears as she listens and tries so hard to grasp a concept even the greatest intellects wrestle. And I’m overwhelmed again. How can I ever point her to the Lover of her soul if I only choose to wallow in my own pain and failures instead of living out loud to her “my sin is so ugly, but my Jesus’s love is so much greater, His grace is so completely sufficient!” She resumes eating and routes the conversation to Jesus’s donkey, while I sit and ponder my own words. “He died for US. For all of our bad choices. Because He loves us. And now when God looks at us and sees our bad choices, He says ‘that’s ok, I forgive you, because you trust Jesus and Jesus died for that sin.’”

So there you have it. The volume is still on high. The writing has not happened, either because the chaos is too loud, my heart is too muddled, or I simply can’t muster the energy when the house is finally calm, and instead I sit and try to regroup before the next round begins. We’ve had some very hard days, and I am too easily distracted by the hard and miss out on the good. The good of Cypress’s delightful stage. Sometimes I fear I may sound as if I’m showing favoritism. It isn’t about loving one more, it’s simply an age preference. And Cypress is at what surely must be the best. Still little enough to need me, to like to cuddle, and even let me rock her to sleep on occasion. Yet big enough to express her feelings with words instead of crying, wipe her own bum, clean up her messes, say the most amusing things, entertain us with  her creative play, ask soul searching questions, and tell me at the most unexpected times, “Oh Mom you so cute! I love you Mom!” while she strokes my hair and smothers me with kisses.  And the little miss has some stellar moments amidst the yelling too. Like yesterday. As I walked through the house in a fog, I came into Sami’s line of vision (which usually results in immediate crying) and she looked up, raised her hand in a wave that resembled a Hitler salute and said “HA!” (her version of Hi). 

Stay tuned next week, I hope to share some updates/accomplishments/quotes. And maybe, if I’m inspired, my month overdue new year’s post. 

That’s all for today folks. We are still here. Looking for fingerprints of Jesus in our messy life.


  1. Living in the trenches with you sister. Give yourself a little slack. A webcam into my house would certainly make you feel better but I'd rather not have CPS come a knockin' either :) This is definitely a season. When you look back in hindsight, you will see how fast it goes and how it never really gets easier, just different. We have Ty's adoption to help give us perspective and I can honestly say he spent at least 6 months in pure shock when he first came home. We're praying for you and we love you!

  2. Oh Carrie. The post adoption fog lasted for months around here. It took me so long to feel like things were actually going to be okay and then the very next day it would all unravel again! And if CPS ever comes to my door, I think I'll shove all currently in the house out the far window and we'll take off running. Yep. Some days are just that bad. I second guess myself on a more than daily basis and catch myself asking..."Why did God trust me with these four little ones again?" Hang in there. While your family will likely be in the spotlight for quite a while yet (it's just the nature of adopting), life will take on a normal that is likely unique to your family. I forever have to remind myself that our family is unique and I cannot compare us to you or anyone else. Love you!

  3. DITTO on all that's been said!! Oh the second guessing......sigh...I've went to bed in tears more in the last 9months than all the other nights of my life combined!! Before adopting, I felt like I was a decent mother and a pretty nice person. Now I'm not sure there is any nice in me some days. Ever heard the term..."fake it till you make it" ? Some days I just grit my teeth and FAKE it. The crying...I don't have out right crying....but we had MONTHS of fussing. Over everything...and nothing. We've had melt downs and temper tantrums...glasses flung at my head, feet stomping, teeth nashing tantrums.... Had Iley on the couch for 40min. fussing because I told her not to do something and she shook her head NO at me. I told her she can't tell mommy no...she needs to listen and say..."ok Mommy" she refused and kept shaking her head. Well lets just say it was a loooong 40 minutes until she finally whispered....ok mommy. I have read "The connected CHild" and it has wonderful advice....but somehow the words and concepts escape me in the heat of the moment. I have cried out in desperation to God..."Please take over!!! I can't do this" But I'm still here....still doing it...and you know what....I'd do it again. :) Hang in there and know you are NOT alone, and you are an amazing mother, and the crying would try the patience of a saint!!!

  4. Oh my goodness. I just had to read part of this out loud to my husband. Your part about the webcam... oh my, that is perfect. What mommy HASN'T felt that way at some point? Thank you for putting this hard, hard journey into such beautiful words. It IS hard. It is. You are not alone.

    If it brings any small bit of relief... we've been home six months now. And almost as if a light switch were turned, we seem to be doing better at this six month mark. She is really starting to feel like she is just one of us... and not one of us that we are trying to acclimate into us. But really one of us.

    Even though I've not been in your exact shoes, I feel your pain. You made me smile. I will be praying for your family. For life to loosen up on you. For peace... and maybe a moment of quiet. Hang in there. And thank you for sharing. You never know who your story might inspire. :) Thanks again for speaking the truth. :)

    Love - Brandy Wade

  5. thank you and bless you, carrie, for the raw truth. we are still waiting and not being able to stand it that one more day is going by without our kiddos home, and yet deep inside my heart i know this is so real and praying the Lord will prepare our family for these days. and praying He will be your strength! you are doing what you can, and God will do the rest... AMAZING THINGS!