March 12, 2008

The Great Balancing Act of '08

What? You haven't heard of it? Ohhhh - well then let me fill you in. It's what happens when you have been waiting for your child since 2005 and finally, three years later, someone actually decides in the great unknown and mysterious world of international adoption, that you might actually be fit to parent. And they don't just leave it there. They go right on and match you with a baby. (gasp!) Then they send you a picture, and a medical report, and a referral acceptance letter. And for about a week - you literally walk, talk, and feel like someone has put you on "C@ndid Camera". You can't quite put your head around it. You smile every time you look at the picture. You find yourself saying "have you met my son?" to practical strangers while you whip said picture out of your purse. You feel elation and a strange tingling sensation in your heart when you talk about him. And you just pinch yourself every couple hours to make sure you're really experiencing the actual referral stage of the process.

But's where the balancing act comes in:

I'm still waiting. I have no new info. I have a (one, uno, singular) picture of a beautiful, stunning baby boy. I have reports about this baby that give me the smallest fraction of information about him and his start in life. I have 12 outfits, a lampshade, a package of wipes, and two packages of diapers. Oh, and two little pairs of shoes for summer.

And we wait. And wait we shall until the end of the month when we get another update from the agency about him. And after that, it's more waiting until his court date is here and gone and we are free to go and get him.

In the back of my mind where the reality of the wait for Keira has grown exponentially from where we started, I can't help but fall back on my old patterns of expecting the worst. Somehow, with all the disappointment wrapped up in the timing of Keira's adoption, I have grown weary and can't quite get myself to do more than just balance on the life-line of his picture.

For instance, this morning I was getting ready for my day and looking in the mirror in our master bath. I have his picture taped up on the mirror and rather than my usual "hi, son!" I just stared at his eyes and his face and his fingers. He's familiar to me. Something about him...sweet and familiar. Before walking away, I reached up and put my hand on his picture and just sighed. Finally I said " son"...


Balancing my hopes against my heart. My luck against my fortune. My future against my past. Balancing my need to hold him and touch him and love him in the flesh against my desire to hang on to what little portion of my life as I've known it is left. Selfish. Balancing my deep rooted desire to be a mother and the fear inside that I will fail my children somehow. Balancing my great love for these amazing children born in my heart, and still grieving in some very small way for the loss of the biological experience.

Trying to make lists upon lists of what must be done for his arrival, all the while laughing to myself because how can you really prepare? Fully? The other day I said to Anton "parenting is like riding a bike - you can't tell someone else how to do just have let them get on the bike, start peddling and figure it out for themselves." I actually got a chuckle from him out of that one. Unfortunately, the parenting bike doesn't come with training wheels. Shucks!

I'm also balancing the prospect of working full time from home when we get back. Throw in the fact that a year from now we'll be celebrating a second adoption homecoming and have two kids under around a year old and I start to get a crick in my neck just thinking about it. This calls for some high levels of organization, structure, and a driven attitude. Do I have that? Hmmm...

Don't misunderstand me - this is not a rant, or a pity party, or a sob story. This is a success story. We have a son and a daughter on the way! Life is sweet and I'm nesting like nobody's business over here in Texas.

But I'm also in a balancing act. As excited as I am - this process has taught me a tough lesson about getting too happy, too ready, too excited, too prepared, too anxious, too hopeful. So I feel myself constantly scaling back my enthusiasm just a touch. Balancing on the wire of what could be and what is. Holding on to my hope, but releasing it just the same. Extending my heart into that little solitary picture every morning and throughout my day - calling my son by name, and yet...keeping him just a little bit in the open part of my palm in case he flies away suddenly.

I know that when he is here - and he will be - this balancing act will become a new one of sleeping, feeding and diaper changing schedules. Of playing and laughing, crying, and consoling one another. Of peek-a-boo and patty cake, and firsts.

I'll be balancing my attempts to even remember writing posts like this and the way "we were" versus the tremendous changes that will have taken place in our home...with our sweet boy and our little daughter.

Balancing my time to try to work in another hour of sleep SOMEWHERE.

Balancing my checkbook to make ends meet.

Balancing my love for AB and my love for my kids.

Balancing my love for my animals and my newfound love of being Quint and Keira's mommy.

It's all about balance, really. And I'm somewhere in the middle of trying to process it all, balance it all, and remember that it's really happening - I'm just trying to keep reminding myself that in two months (roughly) my life will invariably change forever. The face of my marriage will change. They way I see AB will change. The way my home looks and my job gets done, and the order of my days will change. The way I see the world, and how I view things will change in the light of my children and how it will affect them. Even our dinnertime routine will change.

It's overwhelming to fathom how you balance that?

But don't worry. It's like childbirth - millions of women have done it before me and I know it can and will be done right to the pace and tune it was intended for our family.

But for today I hang tight to the line and watch myself - changing - balancing - in this world of adoption. Balancing myself...but ready at any minute to let go and just free fall to the safety net below...

Just let me hold him and smell his hair and curl my hand around his. I promise to fall to the net then...

I promise...


Stacey said...

Oh how you have touched a nerve with this post. So heart touching and it just brought back a flood of memories as we waited for our children. Especially James, I had waited seven years for him and we had just gone through a failed adoption a few months before, so as we went through the months awaiting his arrival I was constantly trying to balance the emotions and feelings that threatened to over flow at any given moment. I held on to the the ultra sound picture his birthmother had given me with revrence and fear, with love and hope yet at the same time I would try to protect my heart knowing that it was already to late and I was totally in love with this child. The blessing of it all wat that in the end God was faithful and the little boy now sitting in my living room is everything and more than I could have every wished for. I still sit in awe at moments that it actually happened even almost seven years later it amazes me that he is mine. I am looking forward to the post with your arms curled snugly around your littl Prince and I know I will find a look of pure rapture in your face. Praying that day comes very very soon. Stacey

4D said...

It is like fly fishing. You send your lure out and reel it back in. That is how I hope. I allow myself to send it our and go to that happy place. But then to protect myself, I reel it back in.

Let it fly out and float in that happy place. You both are going to be awesome parents.

Keep smilin!

AW said...

I'm an off and on lurker. But this post is bringing me out. :-)

I understand how tough it is to balance, whether a parent or not, whether waiting for a baby or not, it's so hard.

I heard a sermon awhile back that basically said we aren't meant to balance. We aren't meant to have our lists or plans or schedules. That we are meant to "be still" at the feet of God. To let Him balance for us. Easier said than done of course, but I find the imagery of sitting at His feet a calming one. Nothing about our lives is a surprise to Him. May be to us, but not to Him. So when I get shell-shocked, overwhelmed (in good or bad ways), I try to remember He is standing there next to me...just waiting for me to let Him take my hand and lead.

I stink at following. Getting better. Thank goodness He's patient! ;-)

Briana's Mom said...

I really could have written this post myself. Beautifully said...

I protected my heart too for so long, I wasn't sure when to let my guard down. I don't think it really felt real until I was on that plane to China.

Life will change dramatically. No matter how much you prepare, you will never be 100% ready. Briana is in my house and I still am not ready - LOL! She is like a hurricane running through my house every day. There are hard days and there are great days. But every day is a blessing - and it is wonderful!

You have so many moments to look forward to and I am so happy for you!

Carrie said...

This is so true no matter how your children come into your family. The hope of motherhood is fragile and wonderful and scary and perfect. You are on the brink of a life vastly different from the one you live now. Better, harder, and more challenging, but oh so worth it!

This post brought back all of those feelings from each time we added a child to our family. Thank you for the memories today... and the tears.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

Love your post...
I know it is hard..
I am one to protect my heart also..
When the day comes I will be soooo HAPPY..
Have a Great Evening..

Anonymous said...

Hi C,

I think you have a better insight into my reactions (or lack thereof) during the past year.

After losing out on 6 placements in 2006 - it is hard to let your guard down, even when your wish is finally answered.

Whenever life offers us a new opportunity, it often results in losing something else with which we have become familiar; so in the rejoicing there is also a mourning for what has been set aside or left behind.

There can be no joy without sorrow, no reward without payment, but it is that give and take, that helps us to be grateful for what we have, when we have it.

You have so much to offer, enjoy all of the moments leading up to your rewards.

You are amazing.

Love V

Christy said...

That was an amazing post. You are so correct with the balancing act. With all the disappointment of China and the wait increasing, I too thought the rug was going to be pulled out from under me at any moment. It did get yanked when I was skipped in China and didnt get our referral. Then, once we got our referral for Mia, I kept thinking they were going to find out she was adopted domestically or soemting was going to be wrong. It was like I just could not relax and enjoy.

Anyway, my advice woudl be to be cautiously optimistic-- if you can do that-- but we are sooo happy for you and I cant wait till we get to see pics of your little man!!!

Christy :)

Dena said...

You are amazing, I agree with V. It is a weird place you are in, this "middle place". Not quite here, not quite there.

I really don't know if there is a way to do this other than exactly how you are. I know I didn't begin the all out excitement, let myself enjoy it, until we were on the plane to China.

Becoming a mommy for the first time is a freaky thing! You will be great, better than Britney, I promise.
Somewhere down the road, you realize that it all feels normal and right.

I am so excited for you two, wait - 3...wait, make that 4!

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing ability. You write so well. Have you ever thought of writing a book?

Stephanie said...

Reading what you write always makes me smile. You and I friend, are side by side in this journey of adoption to be first time parents. I share the same "balancing act" and I have the same fears... I just can't help but be incredibly excited for you... you are so close to getting Quint. Like you said, that net is out there for you and one of these days (very soon) you will be able to free fall and enjoy the ride!! :)

Kristy said...

Beautifully said.... Hang in there this too shall all pass also. God puts us through these waits with the intention of a lesson to be learned. So at least once a week I try to reflect on what I have learned, and boy have I learned alot. I have also gained so so much, such as people like you who touch my life in ways they dont even know they do. It won't be long, he has a master plan and it will be revealed to us soon. God bless you and your family Christie.

Love, Kristy
lid 4/21/06

ps I am in La Vernia, Texas, down by San Antonio , where are you?

Anonymous said...

Well written article.