It seems as if this saying still holds true to life once they are home. I wish I could say that with each regressive step, I have this optimist's mindset and see it as a lovely dance, but some days I am certainly seeing things more as a disaster than the Cha-Cha.
Yep, this past month has been trying on various levels. It seems several areas where we were seeing progress with Nora took a turn in the wrong direction and we found her and ourselves a few steps back from where we were. Things she had been communicating to us in clarity, she began mumbling and whispering so we couldn't even understand her. Things she had been doing correctly, she began purposefully doing wrong. Things she had been not as scared of, she began having fits about. We've been dealing with more intestinal issues again. She's been pulling off her sleep cap again after so long of never even noticing it being on. Some issues are a bigger deal than others, but overall, it was a tiring and frustrating month of knowing she had the ability to do things (because we had seen her doing them) but for whatever reason, was deciding she wouldn't do them anymore.
If you haven't met Nora in person or spent a good deal of time around her, you wouldn't really know how strong-willed she is and how well she can "play" a person. Her looks are sweet and she can really crack a person up with her fun, outgoing, smiling spirit, but when she is not getting her way...well...get ready for any one of the following to happen. The exasperated body melt to the floor with a dramatic "Nooooo.....", the stubborn "no, Mommy" and a pouty lip, the screaming fit complete with kicking legs, biting, or throwing things (thankfully this one has not happened often at all), the "I'm just going to pretend I don't hear you while I look away" tactic, or my latest not-so-favorite game...when being caught doing something wrong I'm just going to say "Hi! Hi, Mommy! or Hello, Mommy!" in the sweetest voice possible with a shy smile to try to divert the attention away from what I was just doing wrong. Uuuuuuggggggghhhhhhh...it's unnerving at points. How a toddler can take a sweet and innocent greeting and turn it into the tell-tale sign that she's been naughty is just wrong.
All of these things are a step back from where Nora was, however, in the larger picture, I also know they are moving in the right direction in not the best ways. She came home very dependent on us to make every decision for her and now that she is gaining a voice and a sense of security within our family, there is no doubt going to come testing of that new found place. I have to keep remembering that this is not the end and this is not ultimately who Nora will be or even wants to be--she's just feeling her way through life trying to know what she can do and what she will not be able to get away with.
Now anyone who has had a 2 year old will read those paragraphs and think...well, that's just Nora being 2--it has nothing to do with her being adopted. I would agree with you...and then, I would also add there are even more challenges attached to her than just a biologically raised 2 year old in a family. And that is where it gets tricky to know exactly how to handle each situation. As the Mom, I am constantly questioning, second-guessing, debating, etc. what her actions are really telling me. Is it her strong-willed personality coming out, is it her outgoing personality that I'm not used to, is she detaching from us, is she not understanding what I'm asking of her because she doesn't know those English words yet, is this how she got away with things with the nannies, is this, is this, is this, is this....the list goes on. With every action, reaction, or dis-action, I find myself trying to figure it all out once again. I typically end up frustrated that I really have no sure way of knowing and then taking my best educated guess at how to handle it this time. Those struggles are adoption related. If she would have been born into our family and raised by us since birth, I at least would have had 2 years of background to form my opinions on. I would have known this is her tendencies, this is her "tired" fight, this is her "sugar buzz" craziness, this is something new I've never seen before, etc. but because I don't have those 2 years of observation, EVERYTHING is something I've never seen before and everything is trial and error. Honestly, it is exhausting in an every day kind of way.
In some of those hard moments this past month when I've reacted once again in ways I don't want to towards actions I can't seem to control or correct or have any seeming impact on at all in her, I've found myself feeling very inadequate as her Mama. It's every mom's worst nightmare...feeling like she's just not good enough as a parent. That instead of being in control of our children and doing a great job at training them in the way they should go, we are living by the seat of our pants and trying to not react out of the complete frustration and anger building inside of us. That even though we know God has called us to this place He seems to have ill-equipped us for the journey. Now, I know, those are all lies, but in the heat of another moment where you feel you are the only one in the room completely out of control, they are unfortunately what speaks louder than the Truth. Why is it so darn hard to hear Truth in the moments of desperation and emotional height?
I know God has called me to this and I know He is seeing me through each and every moment, cheering me on, believing in me, and whispering "You've got this, my love, you can do this. I will help you." But in those moments when I'm alone at our house with the kids and no one is seeing how tired I am of being the mom who just had to put my child in time out for the fourth time and it's only 10:30 a.m....well, those are the moments Satan whispers "You can't do this. You aren't doing this. You're not doing it right. The nannies were better caregivers to her than you are. You're making her dislike you instead of love you. You're not showing her the love she needs and deserves. You're not...you're not...you're not... Even though you want to do better, not yell as much, not get so angry, not get so irritated, smile more, love her more...you. never. will. be. able. to. You'll never be the mom you want to be. You'll always be this. This mom who is such a disappointment to yourself and your kids. This mom whose children will one day not call you blessed."
Gut-wrenching, huh. No one in their right mind would believe those lies, but anyone in their tired mind will. Those are the lies I hear running through my head. Those have been the words spoken to my soul over this past month and I'm just worn out and tired. Choosing to believe the Truth takes energy and self-motivation and when you are in the trenches, those two things are harder to come by on your own. It's critical in those times to be covered in prayer and to be immersed in God's Truth in order to fight off the lies. I find when I have those (prayer and the Word), I see life like the optimist in the photo--the steps back are part of the Cha-Cha. When I don't have those, I feel like an utter failure who will never get it right. So, this past month, to be quite honest, I have had both prayer and been reading Scripture, but not to the extent I know I need it to conquer these lies. I am typing this feeling more like a failure than an esteemed woman and mother. Things need to change. For my sake, as well as my children's sake.
So, that's where I'm at. It's not been a glorious month, but it's been reality. Every month along the journey will not be amazingly wonderful. All that to say, this past month has not all been horribly doom-and-gloom around here. There are always silver linings. There were hints of some majorly good God-things stirring in other areas of our family life that I'm excited about. There are some steps Nora HAS taken forward--mainly, those being in her eating habits, her paralyzing fear of animals, and her vocabulary. There were some amazing conversations with each of our children happening in the normalcy of everyday life that I will always treasure. There were good, good, good prayer times I participated in revolving around the people of our church. There were fun get-a-ways and outings where we got to see our children have fun, laugh, run around, jump into a swimming pool with abandon, and FINALLY enjoy the fresh warmer air of spring. There are always blessings to be found in each and every day if we choose to look hard for them.
I'll close this post the way I have been most of these monthly updates...a few photos from this past month as well as a few videos I think you will enjoy seeing. I will also close humbly asking for anyone ready and willing to get on their knees for me and our family to please do so. I need something fresh, Truthful, and powerful to break down the lies stored in my brain and I need a whole new level of love to come from me to Nora. I know it typically doesn't just "magically" happen in the world of adoptions, but I really, really want to at least take a step forward this next month into a deeper level of love and understanding of our little girl. So, onward we march into the next month...or maybe I should say onward we dance. Perhaps next month will not be so much like the Cha-Cha, but more like the Waltz.
Once again, I'm not sure why I've not been able to embed my YouTube videos here, but if you click on these two links, you will be taken to the two videos I mean to have posted here:
|Pampered toes ready for warmer weather!|
|Love playing games each day with this guy.|
|Lily's "crazy hair day" which, I think, turned into more of "cute hair day"|
|Toby, our LEGO master creating his own chomping alligator|
|Lily and I at the Count Basie Orchestra concert|
|Our day trip to the Meijer Botanical Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI|