Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Perfect Day


We have been busy since getting back to school with testing, and doing a lot of this:



And this...


And even more of this...


So we decided it was time to do a little of this...


And this...


And this...


Which resulted in this...


And this...


And this...



It was a surprise sledding day, as Dominick ended up with the day off unexpectedly so we told the kids at breakfast that we were taking the morning off. We headed up to Cerro Summit, our local sledding hill, and found we had the place all to ourselves.

What a glorious, sparkling morning it was! The warmth of the sun after some fairly bitter cold days recently felt so welcoming, and the silence other than our own voices was soothing. We had a perfect day together as we climbed, slid, laughed, and bumped our way up and down the little slope. Olesya squealed with delight every single time she shooshed past us, and we all reminisced about the ice slides in Kazakhstan and how cold it was there. The kids all talked about the last time they were there without me, how this one had "biffed" off the tube or that one had gotten slammed by another going downhill. It was one of the first times when we have had collective memories to share that are of old lives and new lives, and both were remembered with great fondness.

During our history lesson this week we were discussing what exactly IS history, and then had to write our own histories. Matt and Josh had to write a history of our street, and Kenny, Angela and Olesya had to write a history of their orphanages and life before our family. Angela was deeply moved by the experience, and talked about how she was scared at first to hurt our feelings and talk about her life before...and that it was not awful like so many people think. She had friends she loved, she had adults she admired, and she had a LIFE...something she was worried would offend us if she ever acknowledged it. She revealed that she was quite relieved to learn it was safe to talk about the orphanage and the life she had left behind there, and that she loved us even more for not only allowing it, but encouraging it.

As Angela and I sat there side by side on the hillside this morning watching the boys and Olesya trudging up and down while we waited for the next tubes to be brought up and shared, I glanced up at the sky where wispy clouds overhead were drifting slowly across the mountainscape and I said to her "You know, if you were in Kazakhstan on such a beautiful day, you would forget everything that was around you just like we are right here today, and you would be just as happy there as here." Angela smiled as we both stared upward and said "Yea Mama, but this life much, much happier. We have family now, and it makes the clouds look prettier."

Family does make the world look prettier, and that is true for both parents and children.

When we were all exhausted, we sprawled out together at the bottom of the hill, tubes for pillows, the hard ice packed beneath us, and we talked about future dreams and life as a family of older children. Everyone contributed as we talked about camping this summer, about trips we hope to take, about places we hope to see together. Kenny, ever the planner, was thinking of the logistics while Olesya enthusiastically talked about how we could come up with the money to do what we want.

Sitting there staring into the faces of those I love so dearly, I wanted to capture this moment forever. Our family, so uniquely formed, is going through growing pains. Teenagers await off stage, ready to make their appearance, and our time together like this is growing shorter and shorter. I relish every moment, and find myself urgently holding back screams of "Stop!!! Don't change! I barely got to know the child that was and I am not ready for the teenager that will be!". Adopting older children leaves you feeling like you are always scrambling, trying to fill in the missing blanks while looking forward as the future comes barreling down on you. You cling to moments knowing there are half as many as you have with those you raise from infancy, and it never, ever feels like it is enough time.

It's a blessing that leaves you breathless, yearning, and melancholy all at the same time.

The clock doesn't stop for anyone, no matter how much time you have missed. You step in mid-stream, wading through the churning rapids doing the best you can to hold on tight. You are ill prepared, you don't know the path ahead nor the waterways that have preceded, and you feel the entire time as if you are going to capsize without having the chance to say your last good byes. We all know the waters eventually smooth out, the ride becomes less treacherous, and you realize you made it through safely even without that waterproof map. The distressing part is that then, your fellow paddlers leave your raft and take off on their own vessel...and you are left saying "But wait...wait...we didn't get to ride the entire river together! I missed the best parts as I was trying to hold on! I never got the sweet, safe, easy part before we hit the rapids! Hey...I got cheated!".

Oh, how strong those feelings were today as Angela and Kenny begged me to sled down over and over again with them on the tube, and we gripped each other tightly! Angela is ever-so-slowly beginning to feel more comfortable with physical affection, the last few days her hugs are a little more full bodied, less perfunctory. This morning she clung on with all her might as we flew downhill, bodies lifting up high into the air and landing with a THUMP after having ridden over a little snow ramp. As the tube came to a stop, we lay there giggling together, heads thrown back resting on the snow, bodies arched over the tubes as we were arm in arm...and she didn't want to let go. I moved as if to get up and she said "No Mama, let's stay just a minute more..." So we did.

No one can imagine what each day is like right now. Unless you have experienced such unusual and abnormal parenting situations, it is impossible to explain how every single day feels compressed, how we desperately want to cement relationships before dating arrives, how we worry about all that is lost that can never be made up for, how learning grows exponentially and at the speed of light. Just as I think I have it all figured out, someone changes once again, and everything has to be rethought.

It's precious, it's precarious, it's perfect.

Oh, the times, they are a changin', and keeping up is no easy task. I don't know if I am mentally or emotionally flexible enough to make it. I don't know if I am capable of letting go, just as we solidly gained a foothold. I don't know if I am wise enough to know just how much to give, and when to reign in. We want a different kind of family, we want one of those whose ties are strong and yet not crippling. We want one whose children and parents are close in adulthood, where proper boundaries are respected and yet a relationship of mutual love and joy at being together are experienced. It takes time to build that, time and the presence of the Spirit. We are short on one, so we need to rely more heavily on the other.

A perfect day...sunshine, laughter and love. Sure, mingled within was a little yearning, a little sorrow, a little worry. But we were together, all of us, and that is what counts. The future will come and bring with it maturity and mistakes, pain and pride. It's awkward for everyone, this growing up that is inevitable.

I just wish we hadn't missed so much already. But I am sure glad we have the gift of what we have been given. It's enough...it's perfect.









10 comments:

Dee said...

Wow, you captured the feelings of adopting older kids SO beautifully, Cindy! I just thought today that in only 5 more years my son will be done with high school. I am so not ready for that! Then again, Alesia is at college now and still living at home, so I might get a little more time with him. We have an excellent 2 year college nearby.

I love the photo of Angela in closeup. She is a beautiful girl, and that photo shows it off. I don't think you will have to worry about dating issues for a while. She's a good girl, and she's still learning the ropes of being an American. She's also not exposed to all the nonsense in a school. Huge blessing there.

You might show the kids my grandmother's cookbook, since it's almost 100 years old. That's my latest blog entry.

Stay warm!
Dee

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you. Great photos of the kids...will show them to our little person who has been begging to go sledding this year, but has been deprived of snow. Best, Kelly from Vegas

Anonymous said...

You have a remarkable way of living in and enjoying the present. When the present moves into the future, you will be there to enjoy it and flow with it. You are my model of parenting. I'll try to use it for grandparenting.

Love you and your beautiful family,
Lael

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words, Cindy. What a special day you had, sledding and talking with your kids. I know what you mean, as I can't even imagine having our last two girls leaving home "on schedule", with their classmates. We shall see what transpires between now and then. I've talked about it with them, making sure they know that's an option...wanting them to feel secure that they don't have to leave home "on time", while also trying to build their confidence that they might indeed be ready academically. It will be a longshot in terms of schoolwork, and why would we want to only have these short years with them? If they do move away to school on schedule, they will have lived in the orphanage as long as they will have been home. We'll play it all by ear, idividually with each one.

You are having some amazing conversations with Angela. What a miracle, her heart having opened up to you in such amazing, secure ways. I know daily it's a process, with much being said and experienced in between posts. Thanks for sharing your lives. I know you are an encouragement to others adopting or contemplating adopting older kids. It is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!

Nancy in the Midwest

MaureenJE said...

First, I love all the pictures. It looks like you had an awesome and memorable day!

Second, your history lesson really struck me: "Angela was deeply moved by the experience, and talked about how she was scared at first to hurt our feelings and talk about her life before...and that it was not awful like so many people think. She had friends she loved, she had adults she admired, and she had a LIFE...something she was worried would offend us if she ever acknowledged it."

Wow! I (and many other people I'm sure) do assume that the children in the orphanages are just so glad to get away, but it really does make sense that this is their "family" and life they are leaving for the unknown. What a powerful thing to remember.

Carol said...

I love this post, Cindy! I know you have your ups and downs, and it is so nice to see you having a "Perfect Day". Everyone looks GREAT... their happiness shines through. Beautiful photos... and beautiful kids!

Christina said...

Love this post, and I AGREE with it all... so hard know how hard to hold on and how much to let go... I keep saying, but I am only a 5 year old mommy.... and life marches on... we will have a teenager this time next month...

DawnJ said...

Tears pour.

Thank you for sharing your perfect day and your beautiful family.

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

I so enjoyed that glorious day with you!

Becky said...

Beautiful post Cindy, thanks for sharing.

Hello, Adulthood...But Not Goodbye, Childhood

During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...