Our little man is seven months old!!
He is, as Dane would say via Alice in Wonderland, growing in Muchness every day.
He’s started waking up crying sometimes, which honestly he didn’t do for the first few months we had him. Maybe once or twice, but very rarely. Now, every now and then, he won’t make a peep and then all the sudden he’s screaming bloody murder.
I always go right in and pick him up, and it’s amazing the levels of distress a little puppies-and-trucks-clad tiny person can reach in a matter of seconds. I always think to myself how this is the time in his life when I teach him, by repetition a hundred times a day and every day of the week, that whatever he needs, he will be taken care of. At some point he’ll reach the stage of needing to learn how to deal with things on his own, but for now my job is to just snuggle and soothe him all day and all night, if that’s what it takes. (I mean not ALL day and ALL night…)
So the other day I was standing there doing the baby-rock-back-and-forth, and I always kind of talk to him, sometimes without quite realizing it, just to be saying soothing things. You know how people do with babies, they’re like “It’s okay,” or “Shh-shh-shh,” or whatever.
I said to him “Hey now, you’re okay. You don’t have to freak out. I will always come for you. I will always come and get you, every time. If you are hungry, I will feed you. If you are wet, I will change you. I have you, I’ll always come for you.”
Because that’s what we’re doing, you know, even just the patting and the humming and the rocking back and forth, we’re teaching them that they’re not going to die, basically. Babies are like “I’m happy!” and then as soon as they’re hungry/wet/cold/poopy, they pretty much think they’re going to die, so they scream. Life, until your ‘golden’ years, is basically (ideally) one long process of sort of learning how to process and handle things, starting with this rocking and shh-shh-ing, to going to the fridge to get your own snack, to figuring out a mortgage and planning for retirement, etc.
I was just sort of idly thinking about the process of teaching a kid that they’re not going to die, because I knew at this particular point he wasn’t hungry or wet, and he had just burped, so he was just by himself and scared. Until I came in, I mean. And how eventually, he will be picked up enough times when he is by himself and scared, that he’ll start to just know that he’s going to be fine.
So I was saying this, “Every time you’re hungry, I feed you, and every time you cry, I’ll come.” And then I stopped all the sudden, and I said, “well, you know. As long as I can.”
Now. What I thought of at that particular moment, which was a few days ago, was how a lot of people say how they could never do this. That’s a really common thing people say when you tell them you’re a foster parent: “Oh, I could never do that.” I get that, I really do. But at the same time, what I thought at that particular moment, was that I was UNBELIEVABLY – like, words cannot express – so grateful that I got to do it that time, to pick him up and calm him down that time, and all of the times I’ve gotten to do it, instead of never even having had the chance. That is what I thought at the time, how grateful I was to have done it for 3 1/2 months and to get to do it for however long I get to do it.
I’m not gonna lie though, for some reason writing this right now it’s maybe a little bit more of a misty-eyed-type experience than it was then. But that’s okay. And I’m still more grateful than sad.
But you guys out there with “forever” kids, bio or adopted or whatever (not sure what the “whatever” would be, but I don’t want to leave anyone out), the thing is, that’s all you can truly positively say, too. “I will always… As long as I can.”
Sometimes I think I bring the little dude to too many activities, when he should probably be left in the nursery or something. But I’m telling you right now, I do not like leaving him in the nursery. I’m just being honest. I love the nursery people, at church or anywhere else, they are marvelous. But when you do not know for sure if you will still have your child by the time the next month starts, you get maybe a little jealous for his time.
I recently joined a committee, and in agreeing to join this committee I LATER found out that I had sort of been automatically drafted into about seventy other committees. Now, there are any number of things that are very worthwhile to do with my time, that might not be able to include the little one. He is not the sum total of my purpose in life, at all. But I will go to the MAT over something that asks me to spend time away from him, and if I do not see a clear and direct purpose in my personally being there, I’m not joining. I don’t mean an activity has to revolve around me, but it needs to be important, and I need to be important to it.*
I know I have only been parenting this child for a few months, and that it gets tiring, probably, I’m sure, and that people do get to a point where they enjoy a little break. (Like toddler-hood.) But I feel the cost of every activity I have to do that won’t include him, I really do. One day, whether that is in two weeks or eighteen years, I won’t have him any more to just look into his face and hug and tell him how precious and invaluable he is all day long. So I’m not giving any of those moments away lightly.
But you guys out there with “forever” kids… the thing is, that’s true for you, too.
I’m not trying to be fatalistic, here. I’m not trying to make anybody fearful. I am not fearful for this child. I might be later, but really right now I’m not, because that’s meaningless. What will happen will happen. Fear has nothing to do with reality one way or the other. But I have to know I’m doing everything I can NOW, which is all I have for sure.
*This also brings to mind a particular soapbox I have about why we feel the need to separate everything out so much, generation-wise. Have you ever been to church, for example, in a “developing world” country? Everybody’s all up in the same place. And parents are like “well, right, easy for YOU to say, with your baby, what if you had a 3-yr-old that you were trying to keep quiet and still for an hour??” Well, why would they need to be quiet and still? In other cultures, the kids run around and play with each other, and the people are just so interested and engaged that they don’t need total utter silence and comfort to be able to participate in what’s going on. I’m just saying. I don’t know why everything has to be so orderly and perfect and silent and facing-one-direction. Just food for thought…