Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Last Year, This Year

Do you remember our Christmas last year? I do. We had hoped to have our son with us to celebrate. Instead, we had a recent picture and our US Immigration Pre-Approval Form. We hung it on his stocking. 

We had no idea how outlandish that wish was when compared to when our adoption was finally complete. Now, December again, we stand at the three-month mark of having our son at home with us. We are grateful. We know him enough to know what Christmas gifts he'd like--Thomas the Train, blocks, building tools, new shoes,  and chapstick. Though he will not be receiving all of those, we have some MUCH better guesses than what we included in our Christmas package to him last year. 

The last picture we received of Silas before going to get him,
and on the right, one taken four months later here.

I remember that feeling of longing I had. I only had a few pictures and paperwork to show for the bond I had with a boy I had never met. I wanted to hold him so badly.

Tonight, I did. After a week full of frustrations and annoyances; a week where I felt like I was going from 0 to 10 (blood boiling) in a flash. What happened?! At once I needed to connect with this child so badly, and now I found myself resenting his neediness. I know, I know, raising kids is stressful and anyone can fly off the handle in a season of added stressors. Nonetheless, the contrast of emotions was jarring. 

But there are so many other contrasts worth celebrating as I look at these two December's: We are securely a family of four. I don't feel like we're a family of three plus one. We are melding by way of routines, sense of humor, eating preferences, and speech patterns. 

They don't usually share a bed, this was taken while they were pretending to go to sleep.
I see the contrast and growth in my oldest son. He has a younger brother--who is a person--not a pen pal or an imaginary friend. He has learned that his younger brother is not a baby, not a character he created that will do anything he wants but rather has a will and a mind of his own. He's learned to share (at whatever measure a four year-old can boast of in this skill set). Everything is shared... with a few, granted exceptions. I see our firstborn really step up the plate with his brother, guiding him in new tasks and first experiences. 

I see the shift in my husband. He's more relaxed--busier with the boys and more dad-like than ever--but more settled. He is more present without the anticipation that gave us knots in our stomach.

It's as if we were all holding our breath a bit. And though the now isn't simple, it's no honeymoon, and it's no perfect happily-ever-after... it's home. A home full of mess, bustle, yelling, singing, crying, laughing, negotiations, time-outs, colds, cuddles, spills, worries and prayers. 

It feels good to exhale before delving into those crazy moments, one at a time. 

The boys with a visiting friend.

I'm looking forward to our adopted son's first Christmas home. We've gotten a few "wow"'s from him as he saw the tree up and then decorated, we're glad (kinda) that he's gaining a taste for the sweets he'll enjoy these next few days, we've watched him bond with family and understand what a wrapped box means. He is the curious sort, and all the more easily amazed by the barrage of new experiences--including ones brought on by the Christmas season! I'm personally looking forward to watching his reaction to having a fire inside the house and to singing "happy birthday" to Jesus.

This Christmas, we have much more than a lonely stocking left hanging on the mantle. I held my little ones one by one while they bemoaned bedtime. 

I would have killed for that last year. 

God is good.

Keep fighting the fight for love and life,