Friday, May 10, 2013

Celebrating Growth This Mother's Day

Mother's Day is right around the corner and every year it brings me a heart full of gratitude and love for three women who made it possible for me to be a mother (we love you all more than you realize!). The three littles running around here are the best part of my life (next to The Gent of course). And they make me a better person every single day.
This year Mother's Day is extra special because it marks the two year anniversary of meeting Mr. D for the first time. It all happened so fast. We found out about Mr. D one morning, were chosen by his birth mother that afternoon and left to get him the next. When we got to Arizona, the day couldn't go by fast enough. After what seemed like a 99 hour day of waiting, we finally got the OK to go and get him (around 8 p.m. which felt like one of the longest days of my life! lol) We walked into the nanny's house and I looked into those big brown eyes of his and fell in love with him immediately. He and The Gent had an instant connection. Watching them in those first few minutes together is a moment I will forever cherish as all of my fears of adopting an "older" child diminished.
Mr. D was 17 months old at the time and he was timid and quiet. He would quietly whimper in the corner when he needed something. When things were loud, he would hide and when people came towards him he would shudder. If he was tired, he would find somewhere to lay and go to sleep. He ate whatever was put in front of him and he rarely made a peep.

In our family we are silly, we are sarcastic, we are loud, we like to goof around and pillow fights are a staple around here. Our kids are energetic and opinionated. We turn the music up way too loud and dance while we clean. Basically, we can be crazy. I can only imagine what Mr. D was thinking once he got home.
We had to teach Mr. D a lot of things. The biggest thing was that he could trust us, that we were going to help him with whatever he needed. We had to teach him that playing, bathtime and bedtime weren't things to be afraid of. We had to let him know when we were being sarcastic and when we were serious. We had to teach him that we weren't going to leave him and that if we did, even just to go to dinner, that we would always come back. We had to teach him that he could have an opinion, that he could tell us what he wanted or what he needed. That he could have a voice.
I will never forget the first day he spoke up. I made all of the kids chicken nuggets for lunch, put them on the table, got all of the kids inside and we started to eat lunch. Mr. D, who from the moment we got him ate whatever was put in front of him, just sat there. At first I wasn't quite sure why. And then he whispered  "I don't want chicken nuggets."

It was so quiet, I wondered if I had even heard him right. So I asked him what he had said. His big brown eyes dropped and he shrugged his shoulders and picked up a chicken nugget. I was not about to let him eat chicken nuggets if he was actually going to speak up. And so I asked, "did you say that you don't want chicken nuggets?" He peeked up at me and hesitantly and quietly said, "yes, I don't want chicken nuggets." So I asked him what he wanted. He shrugged again, not sure that he should even say it. I couldn't just let it go because this was huge! So, I asked him what he would prefer instead. He shrugged his shoulders again and said, "a peanut butter sandwich?" You got it, dude! A peanut butter sandwich it is!

We have come a long way since that peanut butter sandwich. As I read this article, it completely resonated with me and reminded me just how far we've come in the last two years. I cried, I laughed, and it brought a smile to my face as I watched Mr. D jumping off the couch onto the pile of pillows he had created all while screaming and squealing and making the best sound effects one could ever imagine.
I am so glad you have found your voice Mr. D! Although I will still remind you what an inside voice should be like, it will always make me proud when I overhear you negotiating a show with your older brother or telling your sister how you want to play house and I even get a kick out of it when you tell me you aren't ready to go to bed. Because, you should never be afraid to voice your opinion, share your thoughts, and most importantly ever feel like you are facing this world alone. Love you, Mr. D! So glad you are a part of our family.