There are moments when I really see quite clearly how blessed we all are, when it is not this faint, blurry picture of what I hope is true, but when it is presented to me in blindingly clear colors, like going from black and white to Kodachrome (and yes, that always will be #1 for color clarity in my book!). This family I have is remarkable in many ways, but sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who sees that. Tonight, we were in the car on the way home from "game night" at church. We stopped at McDonald's and surprised the boys with an ice cream cone. We try not to do such things often, as we don't have a ton of money to blow and we also make a concerted effort not to spoil the boys too much, to keep things simple for the most part so they appreciate the little things in life and don't have to get bigger, better, broader things to be grateful. You should have heard the cheer from the back seat as we pulled into the parking lot after Dominick had fooled them and said he was going to turn around to go the other way. We went inside and as we ordered, and Matthew asked me "Mommy, how come you guys are doing this for us?" and I said "Silly, because we love you!" and he and Kenny both gave me a great big hug and said "Thanks Mommy!" and there we stood in the empty McDonalds, arms around each other, heads buried in my tummy, and all 3 of us just remained there for a bit enjoying that feeling that comes only from being loved.
Later as we left with full tummies and our sweet tooth sated, I asked everyone in the car "So, what is the one thing you love most about our family?" and everyone had to answer. You know, as parents we realize we may see our family in a certain way, while our children view it through very different lenses. So I was curious what the responses would be. Here they were in order which they were given, the exact words:
Matthew = Happiness
Kenny = We are Joyful...like LaJoy!
Joshie = We are kind to each other
Dominick = We laugh a lot
Cindy = Peaceful
There are so many families in this world who do not have these gifts to come home to every day. I am so glad that this is what my children carry around in their hearts each and every day...that their family is filled with love and joy, with laughter and peace. After we were home and all three boys were settling down in sleeping bags on the floor at my feet with the warmth of the fireplace on their shirtless little torsos, Matthew added "Mommy...I know one more thing I love about our family...that we always share. No one is a bully and we help each other all the time!", this being said after each of the boys was helping one another get blankies and pillows and everything arranged.
During our drive home and after making our list, it was as if something opened the floodgates for Kenny and he talked and talked about our family...how wonderful it is, what good parents we are, what great brothers we have, how sad it is that some parents are "mean" and don't love their kids as much as we love them, and how he understands it is our job to teach all of them, and that I am a good mommy because I teach them everything. Dominick quietly spoke next to me saying "Wow, we have two deep thinkers and didn't know it!! How did you do that??"...as if I had any control over that at all.
Watching Kenny as he helped wash Joshie's hair in the tub, as he towel dried Matthew as Matt leaned on crutches after bathing, seeing Matthew's wholehearted grin as he gets a kick out of something cute that Kenny said, or as Joshie offers to help me with groceries saying "I'll take care of that for you, Mom"...it makes every moment of frustration, of gentle nagging and persuasion, of talking often about what makes a good and functional family all worth while.
I have participated a bit in online dialogues this week about boys versus girls, older child adoptions and people's incorrect preconceived notions about girls being more affectionate or easier to raise, or about generalized statements about how very few older child adoptions work out well...and I obviously beg to differ and couldn't keep my mouth shut, surely antagonizing a few people while garnering cheers from a few others.
Today I received a gift unlike any I have yet received from my sons, it is one that shows unequivocally how the idea that boys are not affectionate, open or loving is total and pure bunk. Matthew was working on his homework this afternoon and had dumped the contents of his backpack on the kitchen table. I was doing the usual sifting through of notices and graded papers when there, on a single lined sheet of paper, Matthew's heart was laid open to share with me. It was a Valentine letter to Dominick and I, scribbled in his not yet perfect 8 year old penmanship. Before reading it I asked him why he hadn't given it to us on Valentine's Day, and he first said "Because I wanted to add more to it" and then added "Besides, I am just like Daddy!" who is notorious for buying cards early and hiding them, then forgetting where he hid them and I find birthday cards 5 months after my birthday or Christmas cards when doing spring cleaning. As I began to read, my grin quickly turned to tears...here is what he wrote, misspellings and all:
Dear Mom and Dad,
have a specktackeler valentines day. I hope your valentines day is the best one you have!! I always loved you from the day I saw you I always wanted to tell you that I love you so so much but I love you so much i can't tell you.
What he could have possibly added that would make it any better, I don't know.
Yea...you go ahead and try and convince me that boys are not affectionate, that boys don't show their love, that they are all hooligans and ruffians with wanton disregard for the hearts of others. As I drift back in my mind to the rooms full of beautiful boys languishing in Kazakhstani and Kyrgyz orphanages all because of their gender, as I read so many pre-adoptive parents bemoan their fate at having to wait months if not years for the referral of an infant girl, I literally shake my head. The joy people are missing out on, the love they are rejecting that is waiting for them right now but comes in a package with boy parts rather than girl parts...it is beyond description. I know people have their reasons, and I respect that. I guess I just don't understand it sometimes.
And as they wait for their "young as possible" baby girls, I will envelope my Big Kazakh and Kyrgyz Boys in my arms knowing that no one on God's green earth could ever be more fortunate than I.