Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You did a bad job...and I love you.

I am longing for Gracie to have a sense of security in our family.  She seems happy.  She is generally just a ball of bubbly, giggly enthusiasm.  She wants to try everything and is sure she can do it "by myself."  She is cuddly and affectionate, and just can't get enough kisses and hugs.  But I still just have a sense that she does not have a sense of permanency here.  She has a strong drive to perform well.  She constantly asks if she's doing a good job, whether she's eating her dinner, coloring a picture, making her bed, or doing a silly dance.  If any of her siblings have displeased us, she needs to know if they have done a "bad job,"  and then needs to hear that she, indeed, is doing a "good job."  For several weeks the language she used was "good girl/bad girl" and "good boy/bad boy."  She wanted everyone labeled this way, and frequently wanted to know that she was a "good girl."  We were finally able to discourage this labelling (she would even label inanimate objects as good or bad:  a book was a "bad boy" if it fell on my foot!), but we still haven't diminished the approval seeking.  Honestly, there's very little she ever says or does that would be categorized as a "bad job" even if we wanted to do so, but sometimes I wish there was.  I wonder if she feels safe enough to scream or rage or tantrum.  If I'd been through all that she has in the last two years, I think I would throw a tantrum or two.  I love her so much.  And we just keep telling her we love her.  And she just keeps working and working to earn the love that she already has.  (Sound familiar?)  This might sound crazy, but lately I've taken to finding opportunities to let her know that she's not doing a very good job.  For instance, she's a horribly messy eater.  She's very aware of it, and makes sure I notice that she cleans up after herself if she makes a mess.  So I take the opportunity to tell her that she's not doing a very good job eating neatly.  I say it with a smile and a wink.  Sometimes she smiles back and asks if she's eating like a little piggy, and I laugh and say yes.  I tell her that she's not doing a very good job eating neatly, and that I love her.  I point out all of the crumbs on the table, chair, floor (and sometime on the dog who has taken to sitting under her seat), and I tell her she's really messy.  And that I love her.  I almost wish sometimes that she would completely let loose and scream and cry and bite and hit and kick.  So that I could gather her up in my arms and tell her that I love her, and that I will always love her, and that it doesn't matter what she ever does, she is going to be my little girl forever. Then maybe she would know and trust in her heart that it's true.  That she doesn't need to earn her place in this family, and that she will never lose it.

Isn't that what we all need to hear?  And isn't it what God wants us to hear?  I hesitate to draw this parallel, because I am so far from a perfect mother.  Let's just be honest; I'm going to fail her.  I'm going to get annoyed and impatient and...well...I'm going to sin against her (I already have).  But she and I both have a Father who will love us perfectly.  We don't have to earn it.  In fact, there's absolutely no way we ever could.  She and I are going to do a "bad job" on some level every single day, and He's going to just love us. I want her to know that love.  I'm longing for her to know it from me; to feel safe in my arms.  But ultimately I want her to know it from Him.  So I'll keep letting her know...very gently...that sometimes she does a bad job.  But I love her.  And I'll keep trying to soak up that same lesson for myself while I'm at it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes

Today we went to pick berries.  It's a family tradition that we haven't missed in years.  Usually we pick blueberries.  We all love blueberries, and we try to pick enough to freeze some, but inevitably we end up eating most of them before they make it to the freezer.  Last year (actually tomorrow it will be exactly one year ago), we went to the same berry patch we visited today.  It was a beautiful Thursday afternoon (just like today), but the mood was quite different.  On "berry day" last year, we had just received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security informing us that they would not yet approve our application for adoption.  I think I remember crying (Jim's pretty sure I did, but he says I cried a lot that during that stage of our adoption!)  I wrote a post about that day here, in which I described the berry picking as cheap therapy, and I really needed it. 

Today was a different kind of day.  Unfortunately we pretty much missed blueberry season, but the raspberries were abundant.  And, of course, we're no longer waiting on anyone's immigration approval, or frazzled from filling out paperwork.  But even better, I can now look back on the past year and remember story after story of God's abundant faithfulness along the way.  I can look back and see that on the worst days, when I cried and felt overwhelmed and uncertain, God was not only paving the road home for Gracie and Little Man, He was also refining me and showing me His heart. 

So today we picked berries.  Lots and lots of raspberries.  Jim doesn't even like raspberries, and they're highly perishable, so I guess I'll be freezing most of them for smoothies.  (If anyone reading this has any great raspberry recipes, please pass them along!)  But it was a beautiful day.  I wasn't needing any therapy, but I was soaking in the joy of watching my family giggle and sweat in the late afternoon sunshine.  Hearing Little Man give raspberries the name "yummies" as he begged Sweet Pea for more.  Seeing Sunshine and Boo schooling Gracie on the finer points of berry picking.  None of us really cared about the raspberries, but none of us wanted to leave, so we kept picking. 

Here's a picture of our berry picking day last year:

And here's the picture from today:

I sought the Lord and He answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 34: 4, 8

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sisters and Best Friends

Last week we got some information from Ethiopia which confirmed what we had already suspected:  Gracie is not 3 as we were told, but is actually 4 (turning 5 in September).  Which means that she is less than a year younger than Boo, who will be 6 in December.  Fortunately, for now at least, Boo is still able to take the lead often since there is so much Gracie can learn from her.  The two of them enjoy each other tremendously, but there is definitely a sense of competition between them at times.  Boo wants to play the big sister role that she was expecting, but Gracie sometimes doesn't want to be "big-sistered"!  Fortunately, Little Man is more than happy to be babied, so Boo can always turn to him when Gracie wants to exert her independence.  

Overall, Gracie and Boo are a great match.  Undoubtedly so, because God chose these two to be sisters before we ever imagined it.  They are upstairs now, tucked in together in Boo's bed.  I guess Kindergarten should be pretty interesting at our house next year!