I’m back! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back on here and write this post but I have very little free time any more and it took everything I had to crank out all those travel posts! I needed a few days off so I could breathe and spend more time with my little ones. Because, thankfully, I like spending time with them now! I’m not sure I could have written that sentence 3 weeks ago. Coming home was hard. Much harder than I thought it would be. That first week home was tough.
Maybe I should back up and re-visit the end of our first night at home. At the end of my last post, I was in tears. These were not happy tears. These were tears of exhaustion, relief, and total fear. I know it was nearly midnight and I know I had been awake for 4 days but coming home felt nothing like I thought it would. The chaos with the dogs, the fear from the cats, the crying from the kids, and the knowledge that THIS was it – THIS was my life now – it was hard to take in. During our week in [Capital City], I had experienced a myriad of emotions regarding our adoption and our children. There were many moments of happiness and joy but there were also more times that I care to admit when I really wondered why we had ever started this journey. I think that’s normal. I would assume that’s normal. I hope that’s normal.
Let me say that my feelings had NOTHING to do with the kid’s behavior. They were angels. For the most part, they still very much are. I am constantly amazed at how well they are transitioning. (I’m also still waiting for the $hit to hit the fan because it can’t be this easy. It just can’t.) They, of course, have had their moments when they have cried, or fussed, or acted out but, so far, they haven’t acted much differently than most kids their age. And that week we were in [Capital City], they really behaved incredibly well. I know it must have been overwhelming to be in a new place with new people but they handled it remarkably. I think it helped that they were together. They definitely have a very strong brother/sister bond and they genuinely seem to care about each other. [A] looks out for [G] and makes sure she understands what’s going on and [G] wants to do everything her big brother does. I am so very glad that these two sweethearts get to grow up together. It breaks my heart to think that they could have been split up.
Anyway, back to me. I’m not sure if that week in [Capital City] really counts as far as family time goes. Even though we had some great moments and we definitely did some bonding, the conditions were extremely stressful and there was a lot of just waiting for it to be over. It was hard to focus too much on becoming a normal family when our situation felt anything but normal. Add all that to the stress of traveling across 3 continents and I hope you can understand why I was in tears that Saturday night. And I hope you can cut me some slack. It was the end of a very, very long trip – one that really started 11 months ago – and now that it was over, the new journey we were just beginning was extremely overwhelming.
I went to bed that Saturday night hoping and praying that I would wake up 100% in love with my kids and my drastically different life. And I did! Everything was perfect! Skipping through lilies into the sunset perfect! Or not. That first day was tough. All things considered, they were great but, the thing is no matter how well behaved they were, they were there. They were always there. Always. They always needed something. They always needed attention. They always needed me. This was totally new for me. See, I’m a pretty low-key gal. I like my peace and I like my quiet. I like my routine and I LOVE my structure. I’ve been working and/or going to school from home for almost 2 years now and so I have a lot of alone time. I’m not used to being needed and wanted all the time. Or hardly ever. I mean, I have 10 animals that I take care of every day but that is normal. It didn’t feel normal 6 years ago when we first got the dogs and I freaked out over that but then, once I got used to it, it was normal to have 2 dogs. It didn’t feel normal 5 years ago when we took in a pregnant cat and suddenly had 6 kittens and I freaked out over that but, once I got used to it, it was normal to have 2 dogs and 7 cats. It didn’t feel normal at ALL when we took in another stray cat last spring and our whole house was crazy chaotic as we integrated her into a house already full of cats and dogs and I freaked out over that but, once I got used to it, it was normal to have 8 cats and 2 dogs. Do you see where I am going with this? Change is hard for me. And then it’s not. But we were still in the “hard” phase.
And it was very hard for me to feel like these two little people, no matter how adorable, weren’t invading my space. And changing my life. Because, to be honest, I liked my life before them. I had nothing to complain about before them. One of the reasons I wanted to adopt was because we have been blessed beyond measure and I wanted to share this wonderful life with children. I believed that having children would take my good life and only make it better. Well, that first morning, it didn’t feel better. It felt wrong. It felt like I signed up for mogwai but, instead, got gremlins. They were very needy and very loud and, again, they were always THERE (Has anyone else ever noticed this about their children? It’s not just mine, right?). For someone who gets annoyed when [L] is on vacation and at home for a few days, it was difficult to deal with.
And to make matters worse, I wasn’t really feeling that special connection that makes the hard work worth it. I know that makes me sound like a shrew but I would be lying through my fingertips if I said anything other than that. I liked these kids, I thought they were adorable, but they still didn’t feel like MY kids. They were still strangers in a way. And now they were strangers in my house. We just didn’t feel like a family. And because, at that time, it felt like I was stuck with somebody else’s kids, it was hard for me to adjust and accept it. It was like I was back on that plane to Brussels and I wanted out. But, we had metaphorically already taxied down the runway and our new life as 4 was now taking off whether I liked it or not. Where were my pills?????
Pills, however, were not the answer – it was time. A few more mornings waking up to those beautiful faces. Time to get used to quirks and learn likes and dislikes. Time to unpack, clean, and get organized. Time for [A]‘s scabies to clear up! Time for all of this to feel normal. It definitely didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t even happen in a week. But it did happen. It’s still happening. The ups and downs are feeling worth it. These beautiful babies are definitely mine. And not just because I have papers that make me legally responsible for them. But because I love them and want them and I am their mommy. I’ll try to write again tomorrow and explain some of the things that happened during these past two weeks that helped create the bonds I now feel. There were no magical cure-all moments but there were flashes of sweetness and understanding that solidified our status as a family in my heart. And there are more and more every single day.