This is the conversation Mikey and I had this morning on the way to my mom’s. Or at least, it’s my best recollection of the conversation Mikey and I had this morning on the way to drop him off with my mom. Mikey has been told that he’s adopted, but we’ve never really gone any deeper than that. I wasn’t expecting some of these questions for a while. He totally caught me off guard.
Mikey: Where was I before I was born? Was I in Heaven?
Jenny: No, you weren’t in Heaven. You just weren’t in this world yet. You weren’t anywhere.
M: How did I get to you? Did somebody bring me to you?
J: awkward pause…(The stork, Santa Clause, God…??) Yes, a man named Brandon brought you to our house.
M: He just brings lots of babies to their homes?
J: Yeah, kind of. He brings babies who don’t have a safe home to a safe home.
M: Did he get me out of a cage?
J: What? No!
M: Does he have babies in cages at his home and he takes them to another home?
J: No! You were not in a cage…. (Crap!! How do I deal with this??) You were born in a hospital just like every baby and then he brought you to our house.
M: How was I born?
J: (Dear Lord…) Do you remember when Brady was growing in Aunt Ashley’s tummy and her tummy got big?
J: Well, you grew big in another mommy’s tummy. You didn’t grow in my tummy. You were born and then Brandon brought you to our house.
M: Why did he bring me to you?
J: Well, that mommy didn’t know how to take care of babies so she let you go to a new mommy and daddy so you could be safe. You came to us and we adopted you.
M: Her tummy was scary?
J: (Well, yes but…) No, her tummy wasn’t scary. She just didn’t know how to take care of you and she knew that we did. She wanted you to be safe.
M: And you saw me and you loved me?
J: Absolutely. Forever.
M: Did Brandon bring Jackson to your house?
J: No, Jackson grew in my tummy. My tummy got big big big and he was born at the hospital and we brought him home.
(Here we went through SEVERAL members of our family and talked about how all of them were born in the hospital and their mommy’s brought them home.)
J: Did Brittany and Katie grow in my tummy?
M: No. Did they grow in Mimi and Poppa’s tummy? (The previous foster parents)
J: (trying not to laugh) No, they grew in the same mommy’s tummy that you grew in! That’s why they came to live with us. Because they’re your sisters!
M: Oh, they’re my sisters. I want some juice. Can I get some juice, please?
As of last week I am now taking a ten week (twice a week) belly dancing class. How about that? And you know what? It’s fun and it’s actually really hard. And I suspect that after about 30 hours of belly dance instruction, I should totally be able to preform all over the world. But I’m pretty sure that the only people who will ever actually see me belly dance are the other 6 ladies in my class. And maybe Jackson and Mikey because I have to come home and teach them some of what I learned. I need to make sure I give them plenty to talk about in therapy when they’re grown.
This picture is actually a picture of a prenatal belly dancing class, not the actual class that I’m in. But it’s the first one I saw on google images so there you go.
If I had it to do all over again, I’d pray more with my kids. I’d lift them up more. I’d abandon the housework and play with them for hours on end. If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t overreact. I’d let them glue macaroni all over the walls. I would remember what’s really important…all the time. If I had it to do all over again, I’d be a perfect parent. I’d have perfect kids with no resentments towards me. I’d have kids who have the fondest childhood memories of any kid.
When I hear the phrase “If I had it to do all over again, I’d….” my ears close up. I stop listening. Because I’m pretty sure that if you had it to do all over again, you’d scramble to do your best just like you did the first time around. You’d fail. A lot. You’d know the right things to do and you wouldn’t do them all over again. You’d love your kids the best you knew how and every night lay in bed wishing you’d done something different, only to do the same stupid thing the next day and the next and the next.
I appreciate advice from people who have traveled this road. I really do. But sometimes it’s apparent to me that parents remember their childrens’ growing up years with far more fondness than the reality that was. They remember themselves better. They remember their children sweeter, more obedient. They remember themselves often as “uninformed” rather than overwhelmed. If only I’d known… then I would have done…
I love my kids dearly. I play with them often. I treasure them. They are my world. But I’m pretty sure that if the phrase, “If I had it to do all over again…” comes out of my mouth, it will be followed by “I would fall into sinking despair because that was the hardest time in my life and I don’t want to relive it.”
Instead of telling me your perfect scenario if you had it to do all over again, how about tell me what you did? Tell me what you did that you feel good about. Tell me how you failed. Tell me how you think those failures have affected your kids. Be honest with me. I won’t judge you. I don’t need your hypothetical Candy Land dream that’s unattainable. I don’t need your beautiful, but false painted picture of how it was when you raised your kids. As well meaning as you are, that doesn’t give me hope. I just need you to shoot straight. I just need you to help me feel less crazy.
They tell me to blink and they’ll be grown. Well, I keep blinking…
So there’s this baby that we’ve known about since before she was born. Worried about. Prayed about. There’s this baby that we were asked to adopt. There’s this baby that we just couldn’t manage to take too. Because four kids is already a lot. She’s been a burden on my heart since the day I had to say “no.” This baby I’m talking about looks shockingly like this baby…
And then there’s this family. This amazing and kind family that we’ve been acquainted with for years. We go to the same church. We have a similar circle of friends and acquaintances. There’s this family who has wanted for a very long time to adopt a baby. They’ve had more disappointments and heartbreaks than I can imagine. They were almost ready to give up.
And now, much to my amazement, that little baby, who we just couldn’t take, has made her way to the arms of this sweet family. And the burden that I’ve felt since we said “no” has lifted and I am no longer worried about this baby. And all the while I was worrying and feeling guilty about this baby, God already had it all figured out. I worried that my kids would never know her. I worried that she would be alone in this world. I worried that someday she would be angry with us for saying “no.” That they would all be angry. And now this family, who we were only acquainted with before, will become lifelong friends, extended family even. How could they not?
For now she’s just the baby of some friends. She’s just a baby that we’ll get to hang out with and watch grow. She’s just a baby that my kids will play with. But someday, when their little minds can grasp it all, they will know the story of how their little sister came to live in the same town as them, go to the same church as them, and be surrounded by the same people who love them. Someday they will be told how the God who created them saw fit to give them the gift of friendship even though they will have different last names.
I stand in awe.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27
“You heavenly Father loves you. He has a plan for your life. He is in control. You are not forgotten.” This is what I will tell my kids. This is what our friends will tell this baby. This is what I’m telling you now.