After 7 different blog title attempts, Braeden says, “mom, just start writing it and figure out the title later.” Just when you think you’re in your own little world…you find out someone else is in there with you. 😉
I’m sure everyone is wondering, (hopefully pleasantly), “why are you posting again so soon?” I know it’s only been a couple days since the last post – but after mulling over my words and sleeping on a few run-on sentence ramblings I realized what is bothering me so much. I think so many times the updates from other adoptive families that I read, and the questions people ask of us, center largely on the new family addition – the adoptee – and whether the child’s transition process is deemed a success or failure. The black and white lettering on the screen and recounting of days/nights are like necessary oxygen to our lungs as adoptive parents, but many times what is missed is the foundation, the glue that quite literally keeps each day rolling one into the next.
For us, this foundation – besides first and foremost being God our Father Who daily gives us grace and a fresh spirit to make wise decisions and love without bounds – this foundation is the collective body of our 3 other kids. As I overheard Kris recount on the phone earlier this evening, they “gave up their entire summer”, which is so true. Even though we warned them that this first summer home from Haiti would largely be focused on Wesley and family time, they all without complaining sacrificed countless sleepovers, friend activities, sports events, all sense of normality and comforting experiences, to spend in complete and total “Wesley’s World”. They spent evenings creating traditions of reading bedtime stories, bike riding on summer nights, inventing silly inside jokes, bonding, bonding, bonding, burying each other in sand, jumping waves, teaching moments and concepts like money, value and the importance of saving (he is currently hoarding his $42 that he’s saved all summer with the intention of purchasing his very own ukulele!). They have bravely withstood the absolute wrath of a 7-year-old and his grumpy excommunication from good grace, and stood there waiting when he turned back around – simply to show him that they will never leave. They have endured annoying tagalong additions to their big-kid sleepovers and activities, endured long hot days watching soccer games, and banded together for emotional support while Kris and I dealt with meltdowns in the other room. They have laughed at countless silly jokes that make no sense, watched Minions and Lego Batman umpteen times, and played 47,000 games of spiderman chutes and ladders. All of these activities and more make for an entire 3-month span that revolved around a new member of their family that wasn’t a cute, cooing, entirely dependent baby that you could stick in a crib and rock to sleep if you were bored…but one that pounced on you at 7:00am insisting that you wake up, always got first pick, and never got the same punishments that you received when you were 7.
These kids have shown a maturity far beyond their years, consistently believing in the bigger picture – and fully understanding that each fraction of a moment that you spend and invest into this little man shapes the little man he will become days, weeks, months, and years from now. Their perseverance has been humbling, their honesty and truth have been inspiring, the laughter unavoidable and contagious, and I have never been able to see my 15 year old son wrestle with a younger boy the way that he does with his little brother. After 15 years he is finally able to be a “big brother” to a BOY – which is worlds different than having sisters, because you can’t have fart wars with your sisters, and you definitely can’t punch a sister in the arm without mom or dad grounding you for a lifetime. I cannot tell you how many mornings I curiously go upstairs to look for any rustling signs of life only to find the two boys giggling and wrestling or playing their game of “hey, dude. Get off my bed!” while they pin each other down. As many pseudo-brothers as Wes had at the orphanage, there is no replacement for a living, breathing, loving big brother who would protect you at all cost and has literally given up his “normal” existence for your companionship and partnership for the rest of his life.
The girls are the best big sisters a kid could have. Abby and Wes are the best of friends, playing and exploring constantly, and also the first to bicker and fight (youngest, closest in age, a complete given, and Abby is used to being the youngest and got her “position” messed up!). Logan morphed from being the “babysitter” personality into the coveted oldest sister position over the past month – she moved from simply entertaining to fully engaged, let’s roll around the floor and be silly and have a dance party and dive off the diving board like a chicken – sister. Wes loves these kids incredibly – although he would probably still never admit it – at least not to us, and this kind of deep-rooted emotional exchange would never have happened had our kids not just dropped everything and focused on bonding with every fibre in their being.
I listened to my first, tearful, honest communication from one child about how sometimes they wished we didn’t have a 7-year old – that it was frustrating and that sometimes they felt like I forgot about them or didn’t see them, because I was so focused on making sure Wes was okay. I knew this conversation would come eventually – it doesn’t make it easy to hear, but at least I wasn’t completely surprised. But it did remind me that we aren’t perfect. I can’t be the perfect mom, wife, or friend – but when someone calls out a behavior that isn’t ideal, I would be dumb to not take that as a challenge to learn how to do something better, to change, to grow. And so, I listen, I love, and I try to make changes. I pray for strength, wisdom and grace – for patience even though I know that’s the #1 thing never-to-pray-for.
The past 3 months have made their mark, and shaped a new boy from this little man. Wes arrived smiling and pleasant, eager to take on the world, but unsure of how to do that any way but alone. Over the last three months he’s learned to depend on other people – his family, to seek refuge and help from his siblings, to laugh with others, to cuddle up and just sit in the quiet of an embrace, to receive praise (we’re still working on this), to accept challenges and reprimands, to adapt, to grow, to become stronger, and more confident. He is learning to love – and to forgive, to bestow grace and dole out mercy.
These days are beautiful, even though when the breeze blows the right way you can still catch the fragrance of pain and broken places that linger in the cracks. We’re getting there – but we are getting there together – as a family unit – all of us.
The McGreevey SIX.