I’ve learned time and again not to get too comfy with life. Whether it’s a house, a job, family size, or a favorite pair of jeans. And it seems like every time I do, God comes along beside me, and gently, but urgently, leads me into a new direction, toward a new place, where even my favorite pair of jeans no longer belong.
I don’t know why I try, but I do. To find normal. Like a lost puppy that’s run away or something. The funny thing is I don’t even like normal, never have (puppies are okay). But something inside of me longs for it every now and then. For the predictability and all that comes with it.
When returning from Brazil I had expectations. I expected life to be hard. I expected the boys to reject some of our family ways. I expected the kids to fight. I expected Christmas to be a huge challenge. I expected Sundays (and going South Bay) to be one of the hardest days of the week. I expected to never have a taste of our old normal again.
I basically expected life to be really, really hard.
And I accepted that very likely reality.
Adoption isn’t for the faint of heart and I wasn’t about to start pretending it was now. Paperwork (and the waiting process) is just one, seemingly small, part of adoption. It’s the raising, training, and discipling part that’s hovered over me this whole time like a ton of bricks. We’ve been entrusted with two, very broken, souls to help repair, nurture, and lead to Jesus.
But surprisingly my expectations were wrong. It’s not been at all what I expected.
- The kids are getting along well. They have moments of bickering, but much more like “normal” sibling conflict.
- The boys have had an overall positive response to our home and day-to-day life routine.
- Christmas went really well with no emotional meltdowns from anyone. Each kid got two gifts to open along with a stocking- and they were able to celebrate the others. We celebrated with Filipe’s family on Christmas and my family a couple days after (where they each got a couple more gifts both times).
- And the most surprising is that Sundays are the best days of the week. The boys go with the girls to Baykids and enjoy the experience (even though they don’t understand anything).
- The biggest blessing is that we haven’t had any sleep issues (yet). All five kids are in bed and (mostly) asleep between 7:30-8pm. A huge win and how/why Filipe and I are still sane.
Are there challenges? YES! There are many. This week I felt so overwhelmed by the lack of things I could do including reading (much less responding) to texts and even posting on Instagram. I guess I measure my level of busyness to the frequency of being able to post pictures about my life. (I’m sure there’s something wrong there, but that’s for another place/post.)
- The maturity of our boys is not at all what a normal 9 & 10 year old would be (which is a very normal part of adoption). They are much closer (emotionally) to my almost 5 year old, which is probably why they get along so well. They continue to regress (one more than the other) which I see as a healthy sign- and though I know it’s good for them, it’s not always easy in the moment.
- They have no understanding of love. Choosing to love doesn’t make sense to them. And showing love to someone who doesn’t deserve it doesn’t make sense to them. So, they have to see it. They have to see from me and Filipe that we will respond in love toward them even though they are responding in anger toward us. It’s so much easier to talk about than to do.
- Portuguese is the primary language spoken at home (and yes, I’m speaking it too!). I may not be able to have a heart felt conversation about feelings, but we can communicate basic needs and get through the day without Filipe. (Google translate mostly works great too.)
- Going to playgrounds/parks didn’t start very easy (very overstimulating at first), but we’ve worked through that and it’s better.
- The desire to learn English isn’t a high priority for the boys yet, but we’re working on that.
- Homeschooling isn’t a high point of the day, though it’s not the lowest point either.
- The immediate response to request is still, “NO”, but actions say otherwise (baby steps).
On a bigger note, SCHOOL. Lily and Cailyn started back to school a week and a half ago now (back at their old school). And we’re all saying “Hallelujah” to that. While finishing out the year homeschooling everyone was what I thought I’d do, as soon as the fog of Christmas faded, I quickly decided otherwise. It was the biggest decision I made this year so far (and I made it very quickly), but I’ve never felt such peace about a decision so immediately. God clearly spoke, I acted, and things fell perfectly into place. One thing I now know (in case there was a doubt) is that I’m not called to homeschool (outside of unusual circumstances). When it comes to school, I’m a much better cheerleader than coach- and I’m going to be a great one! I don’t even have a picture of their first day, they were so eager to get back to their friends and go. Oh well, that’s how it goes.
Not only did the girls start school, but Efraim started preschool two mornings a week this week. It was a sad/joyous day for all of us.
Preschool is cool.
But not when Daddy has to leave.
I’m working with the big boys to get them ready for school in August (both academically and emotionally). Come August, all five kids will be in school, and I just may throw a party.
Ever since we came home from Brazil on December 4th, we haven’t had one week that’s the same as the next. This week was the most “normal” we’ve seen with how our schedule will look, but I don’t get my hopes up too much. I’m just taking it a day, a week, a month at a time right now.
I recognize my life will never be normal, and I like it that way. These days I’m following Jesus with a lot more anticipation than fear, a lot more excitement than anxiousness. And it makes all the difference. The journey can still be scary, but more like a roller coaster scary, where you want to keep going back again and again.