Do any of you ever have those days where you look at your children and think to yourself "I love you so much that my heart feels like a volcano waiting to explode!!!". I know we all love our kids, I know we take delight in them, but there are those moments that just get you and you trap them in a little box to bring out when things aren't so good. Now don't get me wrong, my boys are no different than others, they can be obnoxious and loud and messy...and right now we are going through a paper airplane phase that is driving me nuts because Matthew has an entire ream...yes, 500 sheets...of old office paper that he is determined to turn into an air force ready for battle. If I step on another paper airplane...or plastic army man...or Lego (man, they hurt!)...or Matchbox car...I'll sputter and fuss and complain, and then I'll stop and realize that I spent years walking on clean floors and that I almost didn't have this pleasure! Coming to motherhood in your mid-thirties as opposed to your twenties brings about a certain maturity that puts things a bit more in perspective I think.
But I digress (this often happens, you'll just have to stay with me to see where I am leading you! hahahaha!), back to those special moments. I have one son who is more introspective, less social, more focused on the task at hand and at moments could totally do without people period. Matthew is 7 and has always been content to do things on his own, although don't get me wrong, he is not anti-social, just more of the engineer-type personality. Josh is our social butterfly who happily flits from one person to the next with joy, and now that he is well bonded he returns to our arms contentedly as well, but it is obvious that he will be our outgoing child. I know, labels aren't good, so sue me! Anyway, suffice it to say that I have the wonderful experience of raising two total opposites and I get to enjoy the determination and concentration of a builder as well as the musical love and dancing spirit of a left-brainer. There are moments lately when I wonder if Josh's innate outgoingness will overshadow his older brother's intensity, even once the "cuteness" of a 3 year old fades.
But God gave me the right children in the right order. Matthew, bless his little soul, was the calm, easygoing child I needed while faced with Josh's attachment explosions. He reminded me through words and drawings that I WAS a good mom, that he loved me very much, and that he understood. His maturity during those times amazed me, and I know it wasn't at all what he had bargained for in a brother. But he was kind, gentle and very patient with Josh and he seemed to understand without it being said that Josh needed him in a different way. He needed Matthew to not lose his temper, to model calm, peaceful behavior, to show him love when he couldn't show it himself.
Yesterday, I had one of those "moments" that I realized are not experienced in every household. Matthew is leaving for school and he calls out to Josh "I'm leaving..." and Josh comes running and they hug and kiss each other. Then as Matthew is almost out the door, Josh jumps up one more time to kiss him again. We have had days where dropping Matthew off at school Josh has cried all the way home because Matthew didn't give him "one more kiss". How many 7 year old boys will even kiss their younger siblings without prompting? How many 3 year olds will care to give their sibling a kiss good bye? While we were in California visiting my mom a month ago, my boys spent more time on the phone chatting with each other than Dominick and I did! They have such a strong bond, sprinkled with boyish antics.
I am so deeply in love with my kids, I think I have an extraordinary family hidden below the surface of what others see. Sometimes it is like this secret that I get to hold on to forever, these moments that others don't get to have within the loving arms of our family...this family created not of blood connections but out of the decision to act lovingly until you feel it. I am NOT in love with "T" yet, and I have always marveled at those who say they are in "love" with their prospective adoptive children before ever spending a moment with them. But I am determined that he is my son, that we will love one another deeply too. I know that love won't be instantaneous nor necessarily easy, but will take time. He is an utter stranger to me, other than seeing his photos. How could I be in love? Yet how could I make the decision to adopt him before ever meeting him? Because it is a decision one makes on faith, hoping we have discerned God's plan for our life correctly. It is a commitment (I know, it's the "C" word that everyone in our society today tries to avoid if at all possible) to act lovingly when I may not yet feel it (just like with my husband if we are having a bad moment), a commitment to take this child and make him my own even if he doesn't look at all like me or have any of my mannerisms or any hint of Cindy in him. It is my comittment to help him discover who he is inside, what his gifts are, how to experience and grow to appreciate a family environment.
When I look at our most recent family photo taken at our niece's wedding this summer, I see 4 smiling faces staring back at me, connected by nothing more than commitment. Soon that will be 5 faces. What I do see is love formed despite differences in skin color, facial features, personalities, and blood type. I guess what I am trying to say is that I see a family.