I have been asked by a few people how it feels to parent girls...especially instant "tweens"...versus boys. After 1o years and 3 boys, one would think it would be totally different, and I guess in some ways it is. Here are a few of the things that are different around here these days:
1) Girls innately notice things and pick them up. Dirty dishes on the table or socks on the floor, they get picked up where the boys could walk by them for years and never notice their presence. Don't get me wrong, if I ask them to pick them up they do so without complaint and quickly, but they don't SEE stuff the way girls do! That has been a nice surprise.
2) I was going to say their room is much neater, but as the newness has worn off it is gradually becoming more comfortably messy and in fact they were giggling about it today. It doesn't bother me, in fact I kind of like it...it signals they are truly home in their own hearts.
3) They are more aware of emotional cues, nuances and subtle body language. You don't have to hit them over the head with a brick or explain why someone did something or acted a certain way.
4) Their socks are just as dirty.
5) Peeling potatoes with someone who walks up and grabs a peeler to stand next to you is awfully nice.
6) Olesya is another mom in the house, someone "has my back" and makes sure everyone has water bottles, jackets, etc. It is cute and not at all in a way that usurps my role, just very natural for her as she is a born mommy.
7) Thank you God that they are not too girlie! Just enough to feel I have daughters, not enough to intimidate me.
8) Their hair is so soft after a shower...
9) They are each very different kinds of girls, both in personality and body shape. I get the best of both worlds.
10) It is nice to say the words "These are my daughters." and have it be real, not just on paper or in dreams.
Interestingly, I guess though I am definitely noticing some things are different, I must be different myself. I don't see huge differences between the kids or maybe it is that my focus isn't on seeing differences.
To me, they are human beings, unique and interesting. I am looking more for gifts to capitalize on, areas needing support and encouragement, intellectual and emotional areas to nurture and explore. Male or female, we all need love, we all need to be noticed and made to feel special, we all want desperately to belong. That is not gender specific. I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't see standing before me a "girl" or a "boy", but instead a beloved child of mine. Period. And each and every one of them from oldest to youngest intrigues me, and is one of my top favorite people in the world.
I was thinking today as we walked into the school to pick up Josh and Kenny that I am so fortunate at this stage in my life to spend my entire day with people who are so interesting to me, and whom I truly like so much (let alone love!). They are kind and polite, intelligent and focused, curious and deep. I don't know at all why we were selected out of every possible adoptive parent out there to parent these specific 5 children, but I am eternally grateful to feel as if we won the lottery 5 times over! I know they may not be special to anyone else, or that others do not view them through the semi-rose colored glasses I wear all the time, but they really are so easy to be with and such a pleasure to Dominick and I each and every moment of the day we get to be with them. I guess every mom feels that way about their kids and that is nothing unusual :-)
One thing I personally am making a point of is complimenting as often as I can. I quickly realized by their reactions (and it wasn't a surprise either) that neither Angela nor Olesya has ever been complimented much. The look on Angela's face the other day when we were in the car and I turned to her and told her she was a beautiful girl was one of complete and unfeigned surprise. I heard a "Oh no Mama, me no beautiful."...ah...if she only knew. Maybe we will keep it a secret for awhile :-) Olesya just turned bright red, grinned from ear to ear and said "Thank you Mama!". What a shame that for over 10 years no one made them feel special.
No one, that is, but us. Oh how it is coming out how they LOVED our insignificant gifts and letters! Not a day goes by where I am not reminded of some little piece of candy I sent them, today it was a package of lip gloss that both turned to me in line at Walmart and said "Mama...Internat...you...present..." and then went on to tell how they had shared it with Shoura and Tanya, their friends. If people only realized what a difference a small sponsorship or letter can make in the life of an unloved child, more people would do it. Regardless of the possibility of adoption, knowing someone in the world thought about you long enough to send you a card or encourage you in school really does transform lives and is never, ever forgotten.
So while Girlville is a lot of fun, I am not seeing a ton of difference from Boyville. They each are kids who have grabbed our hearts, they all are deep little souls who are so much fun to travel through life with.
I guess the truth is, we don't live in Boyville or Girlville. We live in LaJoyville and that is a land altogether different and wonderful.