Here we are, a year and a half post-adoption with the girls, and just when you think things can't possibly get any better, just when you think you are fully bonded and securely tied one to another, you learn that God has something even deeper in store for you. What a gift Love really is.
Dominick and I were just talking in the car about what a miracle Angela is. This is not to leave out Olesya, but she has always been a cuddle bunny from day one. There was nothing prickly about her whatsoever, and she was easy with her affection from Day 1. Angela, on the other hand, was the one who the caretakers at the orphanage warned us not to expect too much from. They said "She will always be a respectful and good daughter, but she will never be one who likes hugs. Don't expect her to be as warm as Olesya, she will never be like that." They were right...at first. That girls stiffened like a fence post when hugged, she perfunctorily hugged back because it was expected and proper, but it was quite obviously a gesture she suffered through.
A couple of mornings ago while in the shower that conversation popped back in my mind, and I literally laughed out loud for a moment. If only they could see the transformation in Angela these days, they would never recognize her. Interestingly, even this week we have seen changes in her...something a little unexpected as I thought what we had was already wonderful, but it seems there were still a few bricks left to be pulled down from the wall she had built so long ago.
I have no idea what caused this little shift, but Angela has been positively cuddly this week. She has reached for my hand all the time, asked if we could snuggle in bed together one evening where we both crawled under the covers and giggled over YouTube videos for a couple of hours...her head on my shoulder and her leg slung over mine. Even sitting at the kitchen table the other night she found my feet with her toes and gave me a foot hug :-) It is something I often feel from Kenny, when he comes up and gives me a hug as his entire body sort of melts into me. Lately, it is almost as if Angela wants to crawl inside my soul and curl up there, resting.
And maybe...just maybe...that is exactly what she wants.
Of all our children, it is Angela who has weathered the most emotionally. It is she who desperately needed to feel she had a safe harbor, a place where she could lay her 13 year old weary head and simply "be" for awhile. I can't even begin to put into words what it feels like to know that she has found that place.
We spent the evening at my buddy's house tonight, and early in the evening I found myself with not much to share about what's going on in my life. There are times when this stage of life for me seems a little dull (Don't laugh people, hear me out!). I have little that happens in my day to day life that is of consequence, and it seems I never have a whole lot to add to conversations these days. There is a sameness to each day, and few are interested in the fact that this morning was simile and metaphor morning in writing, and that yesterday my day was spent up to my elbows in laundry and frustration over fractions. Not exactly stimulating dinner conversation, and I realize that, but it is the sum total of my life right now. Unlike a regular teacher, I have no colleagues to share a little gossip with in the lunch room, nor parents to chat with. It is just me, myself and I along with my five little students.
But I think I realized something tonight, and that is that maybe it is that very sameness and dull routine which has allowed a blanket of security to fall gently over Angela. Maybe that which at times keeps me from being a stimulating conversational companion is what allows space for attention and trust to develop. If me becoming a very boring person is what it takes to help my child heal, than I willingly rush headlong into the World of Boredom.
Then there is another reward for our decision to have me become a homeschooling mom. Today we received the results of last spring's state testing (CSAP). I don't have actual numbers yet, but get this...Kenny, who started off last year being held back in 4th grade and reading at a mid-late 1st grade level moved to completely proficient in reading for his grade level. We did it!! We have a long way to go in figuring out how to work with Kenny's other deficits, but this was one HUGE success that I didn't expect so quickly. Kenny looked at me with the biggest grin on his face when I gave him the good news and said "Mommy, you promised me you would help me learn to read and you told me I wasn't stupid. You were right!! Thank you for teaching me, now I can read anything!!"
Somehow, that sort of surpasses anything else I might find to be more important to be doing right now with my life. Thanks, God, for the reminder of what is real...what is my true calling in life. It is NOT to be witty and full of wonderful conversation, it is NOT about being viewed by others as fascinating or to have false pride in some job that I mistakenly think is somehow more important than the job You have already guided me toward. It is NOT about me at all, really, and yet it is.
It is about me in the sense that it is shaping me into a different person, one who is gradually coming to recognize that who I am...and who I am becoming...is about more than what others think of me. Oh, of course I have always given lip service to saying I don't care, but I certainly do care and always have. We all do, and very often we care way too much. It is about me putting my own needs aside somewhat, as others come first...and about recognizing the great sense of accomplishment that can come from helping others succeed.
Mainly, it is about following a different path and trying to do so with grace and awareness that for this season, I am being who God is calling me to be. It may have come as a complete surprise to me, but time and time again I receive affirmation that this oddball path is the one I am supposed to be on. It is a path with no recognition attached...I will learn humility. It is a path with no financial reward...I will learn fiscal responsibility. It is a path with many frustrations and challenges on a daily basis...I will learn patience. It is a path that is still off the beaten path...I will learn courage.
Most importantly, it is a path that leads to a previously motherless child settling into my arms as naturally as if she had been laid there at birth. It is a path that leads to a child who faces enormous challenges on a daily basis because his brain just doesn't work the same as others knowing that he is not alone as he faces the world.
Yea, it's definitely all worth it. No engaging conversation I could participate could ever be as rewarding.
I guess I'll go on just being boring old me :-)