Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The magic of the one-year mark

If you adopt a child you'll hear "just wait until it's been a year..." or "you won't really find your new 'normal' until one year at home" or "all of this stuff will be a distant memory once you hit the one-year mark."

Oh, the hype.

Let me clear something up for you, sweet unsuspecting momma.

There is nothing magical about hitting that circled date on the calendar except that you survived and everyone survived along with you.

At the one-year point your child (consciously or not) may remember the year before, the trauma that happened, the loss... and grieve again.

At the one-year point you may be disappointed in your level of attachment. Them to you, or you to them.

At the one-year point you may be still struggling with lies, sneakiness, language barriers, trust issues and resentments.

At the one-year point you may still be grieving the life you had before.

At the one-year point you may believe the lie that "this is as good as it will ever get between us"... and it may be your marriage you're talking about.

At the one-year point you may be struggling more than you were at the one-month point and feel like a failure.

At the one-year point you may still be "one day at a time" surviving.

And it's okay.
It IS normal.
It will get better.
It may not ever look like you thought it would... but it can be beautiful in a different way.
This is not the end of the story. The story isn't over until the day you meet Jesus.

It's called being a parent. Parenting is sacrifice. Not in the "ohhh look what awesome people we are for our huuuuge sacrifice" sort of way, but in the daily "this sucks but I'm doing it anyway because I know what's right" kind of way. Every time you respond with patience and kindness when every fiber of your being wants to snap and look like a guest on Maury Povich... you've sacrificed. You've grown a tiny bit and you're becoming better. Every time you look up, give your full attention and don't send the child away but listen to the story about the pretzel that looked like an A or a V depending on the way you turn it... you've made progress. You're getting there. You're doing it. Bit by bit. Day by day. Moment by moment. And you're succeeding!

It's been one year since we brought our 5 home and yes, there are still struggles! Yes, we love our family! Yes, I still snap and freak out when someone uses the wrong verb then makes it plural. Yes, I fail and toss and turn at night thinking about how my children will only ever remember me losing my junk over the 15th spilled drink of the night or the time I wore noise-cancelling headphones while eating dinner because they could NOT for the sake of their lives and mine use their inside voices.

But then I have little successes:
a boy comes all the way back inside to give me a hug before school because he forgot;

one tells a sister to 'go get mom to help you' instead of being the parent this time;
"Mom! Did you see me?!" and I did.

And I realize... we're doing it.

It may not be magical at the one-year point... but I'm here to tell you that the 2 year mark is coming. Then the 3-year. Then the point will someday come when your child has been in your family more than they ever weren't... and THAT is magical.
No, that's redemption.