Lately, Stella has developed a streak of telling us all what to do.
“Mama, sit. Daddy, down. Toby, come. Toby, cooooome! Mama, down. Nani, gooooo. Nani, nooooo. Mama, play. Mama, draw. Daddy, jump!”
And the commands continue.
Today was no different. Of course, we don’t always submit to her every command. We have our boundaries and she needs to learn hers as well. So we pick and choose the moments as they come. And today, there was such a moment so sweet.
I was in the kitchen clearing the dishwasher to get ready for another load. And then there it was. “Mam. Mam. Mam. Maaaam.” I debated for a moment, but decided to leave the door-wide-opened dishwasher to see why she was calling for me.
As I walked into the living room, I see her lying down, faced up. “Mam, down.” [Her little hand was patting the floor, motioning me to lie down next to her]. I paused for a moment [I had a ton of work to do!], but decided to comply with her demands this time around.
So I got down to the floor - laid on my back facing the revolving ceiling fan - right next to her. I mirrored her every move, which she found hilarious. She giggled. I giggled. Delight, comfort, bliss and peace were written all over her face as we enjoyed that moment together. And then I was reminded that it was not always this way. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in this past year.
While in China, during our first two weeks with Stella – our days were not at all what I had expected. As her mother, I pictured that I would be the one to comfort and nurture her when she screamed and cried. I pictured that I would be the one to feed, change and bathe my baby. I pictured that I would be the one to soothe her to sleep in my arms.
To my surprise, I never thought I’d be the one causing her to scream and cry. Hitting, pushing me away, screaming bloody murder, crying in fear were pretty much what welcomed me every time I got close to Stella or if Pierre walked out of the room. This broke my heart big time. And to be honest, many times I felt like an outsider watching Pierre and Stella build their relationship and bond together. Jealousy quickly snuck its way into the picture. Exhaustion also claimed the best of us which I’m sure didn’t help the situation.
I felt alone. On certain nights when everyone was asleep, I went to the bathroom and just cried. I questioned God.
“Did we make a mistake? Is Stella the child He chose for us? I never held our first two babies. I never even held Toby as a baby. And now, I can’t even hold this child. Why was He letting this happen?”
And then through all the crying and questioning, I felt so selfish. I told myself that I needed to shake off these feelings because it should be all about baby Stella.
“How could I be so selfish with my own “needs and wants”? Here is this little person who has been waiting for a family. She is the one who really needs us.”
But I couldn’t shake off those feelings and emotions.
I felt like I was dying inside, but I chose to do whatever I needed to do to make this family work. Washing bottles, warming the milk, packing the diaper bags, LOVING on Toby, ensuring everyone got to eat, paperwork was in order, meeting our guide in the lobby on time - were some of what I chose to focus on.
Don’t get me wrong though. I still cried. I still questioned. And I still wondered. I even withdrew emotionally for a period of time. And it has taken a lot of work and time to get to where we are now.
Things are always more clear once you “arrive on the other side” [for the most part]. If I were to give advice to that mother in China, whom I call myself – this is what I would say to her:
Go ahead. Question God. Don’t feel guilty at all. Yes. His plan is the better plan. Yes. He knows what’s best for us. And yes, He is all-knowing. These are reasons why you can question Him. Questioning God will keep your dialogue going with Him. Questioning God will lead you to His answers. Questioning God will add to your relationship with each other, taking you to another level of deeper love and surrender. You will soon realize how real His presence truly is in your life.
Keep that picture of yourself nurturing/soothing your child - tucked away somewhere. Don’t throw it away. It’s going to take a lot of work. There will be a lot of boundaries you will need put your foot down on and defend. Loving this orphan child will be completely different than the natural way. Completely out of the ordinary and paradoxical. Sometimes things may take awhile to figure out; may not seem to be working; may feel like it’s going “backwards”. But just keep going towards that picture you tucked away of being a mother to this child. Because one day, you will realize that somehow you got there, together.