Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Real Men Love Barbies

It is Wednesday evening, and I am sorry I haven't had time to blog the past few days. Sleep is non-existent at times, and I am dragging myself out of bed with a deep groan. Tonight is feeling promising though!

Life itself is feeling full of promise as well, my amazing mentors have nurtured me back to a better place spiritually and emotionally, and it is obvious my thinking has become clearer and more focused. I was so in need of renewal this past weekend and God put the right people in my path, and they generously gave of themselves to help me put things in better perspective. I am grateful. I even got treated to a home cooked meal and a quite game of Scrabble Monday night from another mentor, in the shape of our adopted Grandpa!

This is a very hard, long road to walk...especially after the years long road it took to get here in the first place.

We are making it though, ever so gradually, baby steps following backward steps, we are gaining ground.

Olesya is blossoming, there is no other way to describe it. Even Angela is surprised at how much more animated she is. I had the chance to spend our first time alone together going to Walmart the other evening where she wrapped her arms around me walking across the parking lot and continued to be warm, "huggy" and helpful the entire time we were there. I was taken back to the times I spent with my mom when I was a child grocery shopping, and I think for the very first time I felt I was the mother of daughters. Strange, isn't it? The moments when new awareness hits us. Everything has been so intense, so difficult, so guarded since the first day we met them, that this was the first really relaxed moment I have had with either of them without the presence of someone else. Having the boys around has taken off the pressure, Dominick's twisted sense of humor does as well. But this was mom and daughter doing the ordinary day to day stuff, no tension, no interruption, no stress from someone else struggling with emotions. We grabbed fruit (of course), talked about different things she liked to eat, and it felt so normal and natural that I actually didn't feel I was just enduring a trip through Wally World.

And I really, really felt like her mom.

She is opening up in other ways as well, I am seeing a curiosity about the world around her just blooming, and she is better able to find ways to entertain herself. Yesterday it just busted out all over, and she was bouncing around in excitement between the front and back yards as she decided she was going to make a bird's nest out of grass. She carefully crafted it, found some birdseed in the garage and created a cup for it and a small cup for water and set it up outside after spreading seed all over. She couldn't wait to show me and wanted birds to come so badly. She was rewarded this morning as we all stood at the front door watching her bird seed get gobbled up as 2o or more birds descended. Her face lit up, as did everyone else's.

Someone else is ever-so-slowly relaxing as well. The past couple of days have just felt easier with Angela, less tense and more open. I don't know which came first, getting my head on straighter or Angela "giving it up" a little more. Probably a combination of both. But very subtly she is letting me in. It started with me surprising them and hopping on the trampoline to jump with them...Angela was so happy and giggled at bouncing me all over the place.

It carried over into school with her eyes lighting up at my compliments as I remembered something I have always done but hadn't since we brought the girls home. I have made it a habit to brag on my kids in front of them, not necessarily with other adults, but since I first became a mom I have believed in the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy...tell a kid they are great and eventually they come to believe it. So about a week ago I revisited my old habit, saying things like "I am SUCH a lucky Mommy to have the best kids in the whole world!" or "Man, no other mom has kids who are so smart or work so hard! How did I get you guys?" or when doing school work and something is read well or spelled right the first time it is a high five with them and "Awesome!! It is so easy to work with you because you are the smartest kids ever!!! How did I get 5 kids who are all SO SMART???". I have noticed a difference, a brightness and a little side smile as I say such things, so I think it is working on a level I may not fully understand.

The coolest thing is...I believe every word I say. I AM the luckiest mom in the world!!

Dominick has been so intuitive, so helpful, and so aware...actually very un-Dominick-like at times...hahahaha! He has really worked hard at allowing me down time, helping with laundry, keeping things moving when I am behind. It seems that without me telling him, there is this understanding of how much harder this is on me than it is on him at the moment. He has never been quite this aware before, and it is a surprising and wonderful gift not to have to spell it out to him that I am hurting or brain dead or just need some contemplative time to pull myself back together so I can be at my best to face the day to day challenges. I have no idea how any mom in our circumstances (and I know there are relatively few, I'll admit that) can make it without a husband willing to give it his all as well and pick up the slack or do what needs to be done without laying on the guilt or heavy sighs. I am less organized than I need to be at the moment, yet if I am honest I am probably more organized than most mom's are...but it isn't close to being enough. Homeschooling adds this 5th dimension to it all that makes it far more complicated. I need to get more structured in some ways...and train myself to let go of some of that structure in others.

Yesterday was one of those days as was today. There is a whole lotta learnin' going on even if it doesn't come packaged in the traditional "school-ish" package. On a whim yesterday we went to the animal shelter which I described as a "detsky dom for dogs and cats". Both girls are enormously interested in animals, and we were coming home from the library when I decided this would make a good little mini-field trip. Oh my goodness, I wish I had my camera! Both of them were enthralled with the cats and dogs, Angela squealed as one licked her hand and she said "hard mama!" meaning "rough". She had never felt the lick of a dog's tongue before and it was really neat to watch her reactions.

A metaphorical moment came when Olesya was in front of the cage of a small black and white terrier mix of some sort, and that poor little thing was shaking violently at her presence. It tentatively stepped forward, only to back up as we approached. Olesya was patient, gentle with her voice and touch, and eventually after many stutter steps the little dog approached close enough for her to pet. It was amazing to watch and I explained to Olesya that the dog had been hurt by it's owners and was scared of people because it had been abused. Angela stood back and watched this so carefully, and I have a funny feeling that she too understood what she was seeing on a very different level.

Little steps I need to remind myself, lots of backward steps...then progress.

And we ARE making progress, even if at moments it is at the cost of my heart. The past couple of days have been better, Angela has allowed me in a little more. I can touch her on the shouler without her pulling away. She came to me to ask me to see the rash on her back (the breakouts are much worse right now, poor thing...MD appointment next week if I can get it booked) and then came into my room tonight asking me to put some creme on it...a first time to be allowed to really touch her, then she lingered as she asked which side of the bed we each sleep on, and giggled at the airbed. I am going out of my way to compliment her often on many things, and she is beginning to seek out my approval on school work, etc. When I hugged her good night in the bedroom tonight, it was responded too with more vigor than ever before, a little more comfort with each passing moment. How I hope we make it to a deeply rewarding relationship for both of us!!

This is hard, it is hard on each and every one of us. But it is working and I need to remain focused on that during the rough stuff. We have terribly sweet, kind daughters to compliment the amazingly gentle sons we get to parent. I am blessed beyond all measure to be home with them right now, to have suffered financial losses that pushed us to give up the restaurant in Gunnison and have me home. At the time I panicked, yet again lacking faith and trust in God to take care of us and have a larger plan for our future than I ever would have imagined. If you had asked me at this time last year if I could imagine our lives looking like they look right now I would have laughed so hard!! We regrouped, we refinanced, we reconfigured our lives....we realized we could give up more. We have not a single regret, for our lives are richer and fuller than most I know.

And for all the heartache and tension that sometimes lays heavy across us, there are joys that are higher than most would imagine. I get to see the look of astonishment when my new daughters pet a rabbit for the first time. I am here at the end of the school day to hear Joshie crow about his new charm for walking club. I am present for the moments of discovery when a spider is collected in an old plastic Easter egg and put in with a cricket just to see what happens.

It is being there for the bird seed and the Oobleck and the beginning phonics that are struggled through with short vowels and long practice that make it all worth while.

And the way my kids each ran to the car to hug me unbidden when I returned Saturday night from class, each offering all of themselves with firm grasps and tender kisses...and the one who couldn't bring herself to still running and waving brightly...I get filled up in different ways I guess.

As the kids all gathered around the TV tonight to watch a Barbie movie from the library, and Josh saying in all seriousness "This is a good movie! I am glad Olesya got it.", it was ever more apparent that the girls have added a new texture and diversity to our lives...and I have sons who are open to the experience and appreciative of more than most boys would be.

Oh yes, it IS hard to do this odd blending of strangers, but you learn so much more about yourself and you stretch and grow in ways you never expected. You also learn that real men love Barbies...and I for one happen to think that is kind of cool.


Anonymous said...

Very, very wonderful to read of the inroads you are making, Cindy. I know that even as it is wonderful, it is still very hard at times. But what a gift you all are to each other. I can relate to the joy and challenge of parenting, learning more and more about myself...some things I wish I hadn't needed to know...and seeing myself continue to grow. It's hard to explain, the realization that this is hard and yet also a great opportunity to see God work in amazing ways. Having to "focus" much of the time on hundreds of small details can be both exhausting and wonderful at the same time, as we see ourselves being stretched in new and wonderful and fierce ways.

The bird nest story is poignant! What a wonderful God, to bring those birds to her offering. So many analogies there.

Praying for more and more good days filled with tons more shared discoveries about the world and life in an all embracing family.

And way to go Dominick...and God for giving him the insight into your heart and the issues you are facing right now. Good, good guy you have there.

Michelle said...

I hope it was Barbie and the diamond castle because that is BY FAR the best Barbie movie! haha. I can sing all of the songs.

Anna said...

I was touched by the bird story. thats God and my "little code" WHen I am low He sends a bird or a butterfly..... yesterday it was a male cardinal and my favorite song just happened to be on the radio. I gasped because he just surprised me in that moment. Real men play kitchen and baby dolls too..... just so you know...... You are being stretched and molded. He is the potter.

Anonymous said...

Okay, maybe I could learn from your kids. After all I believe in tolerance and acceptance--but Barbie? I'll work on it.

Delighted to know your girls are enchanted by animals. (Those I can love and accept. Now if Barbie were a dog...) When they are ready for baby pigs, we'll put together an excursion. Adolescent chickens will be involved also.

Please don't apologize about your blogging. Just because the only life I live is through your blog doesn't mean that you have to blog just for me, or everyday, or about every little thing. (I don't care about the dust or dishes or...well, if you saw my house, you would know that is true.) Take care of yourself. In the end having parents that care about themselves is how children get parents who can care for and about them.

Way to go Team LaJoy!


Kelly and Sne said...

So wonderful to hear that there are more "ups" than "downs" as you continue this journey to becoming a "real" family! It is great that you are documenting them too. Some of the most significant moments I only realized were in retrospect!