Ever want something really bad and then suddenly feel terrified you might get it?
I felt that way about marriage.
Loved my man. Loved our love. Couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle…
But then I wondered:
What if my quirky bedhead hair isn’t nearly as cute as I think it is?
What if we run into rough spots and in the process run each other over?
Or when my baby girl Samantha came into the world. I couldn’t wait to see her, touch her, cuddle her close.
But then I wondered:
What if she looks at me, and then looks to heaven: “This is the best you could give me, God? Seriously?”
And then I pictured ten years down the line as she sits in front of a therapist.
“So my mother dropped me on my head… shudder…and now I’ll never become the NASA engineer I was born to become.”
I had a similar thing happen just yesterday.
We got great news . Fabulous news, really. Our boys made it out of IBESR in Haiti. In miraculous time. That means their case files are on to the next step in the adoption.
Best case scenario, we could have them home in nine months.
I was reading on the adoption forum and other parents in the same position were praising God and celebrating with multiple explanation points.
Meanwhile I spent a sleepless night freaking out.
It suddenly became so real. How will we manage our three Haitian children and our little baby girl? How will I cuddle them all? Meet their needs? Help them with the hurt they will carry? How will I not manage to do something utterly stupid… like drop someone on his or her head?
I felt so little and the future felt so big.
I asked God to help me. I asked him to give me perspective. I asked him to make me a better woman than the sniffly mess I was in the moment.
He was so kind.
As the morning wore on, I felt like He whispered something specific to my heart. It wasn’t something I would typically think, so I felt more certain it was from my God.
Loving these children will bring you to life…
I pondered that. I sat in it. Life. Loving and serving these beautiful gifts will bring me to life.
I won’t do it perfectly. I will say something stupid or do something foolish. Prayerfully I won’t drop anyone on his or her head… but I very well might make a mess out of their brussel sprouts or goof up their snowman with my supposed creative genius.
It will be difficult. Messy. Painful.
But here’s where I missed something. In my desire to prepare my heart for my children, I’ve focused a lot on the difficult aspects of parenting: adoption issues, attachment and trauma. Specifically for our Haitian kids, I’ve thought in terms of strategies, techniques – how we can best serve them. I’ve thought about learning the Haitian language and how to cook Haitian food. I’ve broken down parenting into strategy and tactics.
All of that is good. But I forgot how much I will LOVE individual moments with them:
Snuggling them close after bath time
Making snow angels in the winter
Playing Marco Polo as we splash in the rec center pool
Getting flour-covered as we bake Christmas cookies
Making them laugh as I act my utterly goofy self during story time
Playing, laughing, sharing, living…. Loving.
Left on my own, I may enter old age focusing on my creaky knees and growing wrinkles. And I think that’s what God was trying to tell me.
Loving these children will bring our family to life.
Because that’s what love does for every single one of us. As messy, painful, goofy, broken as we all are… loving others changes us. Makes us better. Bigger. Stronger. Littler. Humbler. Weaker.
More beautiful than ever.
We may not get everything right, but these beautiful children will know that their slightly crazy parents think the world of them. They’ll know we would move heaven and earth to see them grow to joyful adulthood. They’ll know we spend hours on our knees asking God to protect, love, comfort and strengthen them.
They’ll know that even if we don’t do things perfectly, we’ll give it all we have. We’ll educate ourselves and get resources and be diligent – but we will also do our best not to forget the joy of simply doing life together…
And then maybe life will come. For each and every one of us.
Disclaimer: I have never – nor do I ever plan on dropping a child on his or her head. Simply added that for dramatic effect.
Just in case anyone was worried.