I’m quite certain I’ve cried more over the past month than I have in the last ten years, combined.
(I’m predicting a real good year for Kleenex stockholders.)
I haven’t talked a lot on this blog about our impending adoption of an older girl from Uganda. I touched on it here and there, but all the detailed updates have been posted on our adoption blog. I’m not connecting the two blogs at this point, for safety and privacy reasons. But I’m finding that I have more to talk about than can be fitted onto one format. There are some things I’d rather say here than there, and vice-versa.
(Maybe I’m a schizophrenic blogger: one personality there, one personality here??? LOL)
In a nutshell, my husband and I flew to Uganda on January 17th and returned together a week later. It was the longest, shortest, most life-changing week of our lives. And yes, we finally met our daughter, after two long years of relationship building via email, phone and letters.
And she is even prettier and sweeter in person and we just so immensely enjoyed hugging her and loving on her and getting to know her better. We’re praying hard that she is back home with us by the end of March.
But back to the tears.
You should first know that I am not an “easy crier.” I’m just not. Never have been. I don’t find pride in that — it’s quite a shame, really, the extent I’ve gone in life sometimes to avoid tears. I remember telling a therapist once that I was afraid to start crying because if I did, I might never stop. She assured me that would not be the case, ever. And of course, she was right…you get it out and you move on. But I can honestly say that I have not had a single day in the past month that’s been tear-free. Not one.
They started well before I left because I thought I was going to be in Uganda for a month or two and I’d never left my kids that long. It was breaking my heart in ways I didn’t know it could be broken. I sobbed through every shower, before bed, whenever I had moments alone the tears would start welling up automatically. It was tough.
Then the tears came again when a certain someone close to me called a few hours before our flight and completely went off on me for going through with this adoption. It was devastating on so many levels, and I’m still reeling from it, and subsequent conversations, actually. And God is just going to have to heal that mess Himself because I’m pretty near the end of what I can do to make it better.
The waterworks bubbled up again on the drive from Entebbe to Kampala, when I came face-to-face with poverty I’d only ever seen in pictures.
They stung my eyes when I met my daughter, but I sucked them back because she was being brave and strong and I wanted to be, too. Later that night, they flowed again freely as I wondered what she thought of us and if we had we shown proper respect to her birth mother.
They were squeezed down my cheeks through the wee hours that night, as I hunched over the toilet bowl, throwing my guts up in the worst stomach malady I’ve ever experienced (that would linger with me all week).
They popped up at random times as we learned about and saw our daughter’s world. As we saw, smelled, touched the struggles she’s always known and they became real to us, too. As we met the most incredible people, giving up everything to make a difference for kids who have nothing.
And my husband and I were both in tears as he bought ice cream for street kids whose clothes were so dirty, you couldn’t tell what color they’d originally been, who stared at that icy-cold treat as if it were gold and kneeled down to say thanks.
Kneeling to us. Who are we to be knelt to???
We are nobody.
They’re welling up as I revisit that memory, and every day they flow to various degrees as I go back to Uganda a thousand times in my mind.
As a friend said, I’ve been wrecked — but in the most wonderful way. And she’s right. My heart’s been smashed into a million pieces but I’d gladly lay it out there again.
(Maybe I’m a schizophrenic masochist blogger?)
Nah. I’ve just finally discovered — and embraced — the beauty of brokenness.
And God is using this broken couple to give a family to a child who’s lived far too long without one and to begin a ministry to orphans that I hope will continue long after we’re dead and buried.
So it is a good thing, this daily crying, even if it feels only painful.
It’s an odd feeling to welcome pain. I guess in some ways, it’s like spiritual labor — you welcome the pain of childbirth because you know it’s going to be worth it in the end. I’ve been researching the area our daughter’s currently living in, mostly by reading blogs of missionaries who’ve lived there. And I truly have been mortified by some of the things I’ve read.
I’ve also been in awe of what she (and we, while we were there) has been spared from: encounters with cobras and mamba snakes, spider bites that leave dime-sized oozing holes in the skin, severe rat and ant infestations, jiggers. I read about a horrible incident just a few blocks from her current home, where a baby was killed in a car crash and the locals took it upon themselves to stone to death the driver of the taxi responsible — and succeeded. The military had to come set off tear gas to break up the crowd. That was just a few months ago. And then there is always the threat of malaria and other insect- or water-borne illnesses, and all the diseases she isn’t immunized against, like measles.
And not too long ago, all the kids in her orphanage were horrified to learn that a local boy was sold by his uncle to witchdoctors who used him for human sacrifice.
These witchdoctors prey on vulnerable kids, and pay people to lure children their way. And I think of all those sweet kids we met, their soft-spoken ways and I want to gather them all under my wings and protect them. But, I can’t, so I pray to a God who can.
And, of course, I weep.
So if you see me crying, feel free to ask about it. And if you’d rather not know, then just pass me a Kleenex and remember me in your prayers. Because I don’t see this river of tears stopping anytime soon.
But honestly, that’s OK by me.
I haven’t said much on this blog about our adoption plans, but very soon, I’ll be traveling to Uganda to (God willing!) bring home the sweetest school-aged girl. I haven’t wanted to link our adoption blog with this one, because of privacy concerns. But if you know us, and you’re interested in following it, leave me a message and I’ll send you the link.
I’m not having an easy time with the impending separation from my boys. I posted something today on Facebook and several friends left the most encouraging comments. Fellow mothers, they understand what I’m feeling but also gave me the push I needed to keep on facing reality when all I want to do is wave a magic wand over my life and fast-forward to spring, when our new daughter is here and our family is together again.
I’m finding that as the departure date grows nearer, I am absolutely drinking in the simplest moments with my kids. I snapped these pics the other morning, of cutie-pie Jonah in his jammies, playing on my bed. It was such a warm and happy moment, with the golden morning light filtering through the blinds.
I didn’t want to forget what he looked like right then. I didn’t want it to end.
I probably shouldn’t even bother wearing makeup when we go to the airport, because I know I’m going to be sobbing all the way. I mean, how do you leave this level of cuteness behind?
It isn’t just sadness over leaving my kids that will bring on the waterworks, but also the overwhelming excitement, anticipation and nervousness over what is to come:
What if our daughter doesn’t like us?
What if the judge refuses to grant us guardianship?
What if someone gets sick?
What is going to be like sticking out like a sore thumb everywhere I go?
What if takes way longer than I’m anticipating?
What ifs. They can drive a girl crazy if she lets ‘em.
So my goal for the next few days is to not lose myself in worry and fear, but cling to the love we’ve built in this house and the fact that God has allowed us to share it with one more little soul.
That’s not a small thing at all.
Sunday night was the Downton Abbey Season 4 premiere and for months, I’ve been planning to have an elegant dinner/tea party to celebrate.
I confessed to my husband that I’ve always wanted to have a frou-frou tea party to celebrate my birthday, but who throws a birthday party for themselves? So this gave me the PERFECT excuse!
We had a lot of elegant fun, and some food that would’ve made Mrs. Patmore proud!
My sister brought hats and boas from the boutique she used to own. Dressing up was every bit as much fun as it was when I was a little girl. Maybe even more so.
We even had a proper footman to serve us! Meet Elias, valet-wanna-be…
Our menu was fairly simple and included several British favorites, such as asparagus soup, Yorkshire pudding, and mashed “tatties”.
Here are the recipes that were requested from last night’s affair. (Click to see them larger.)
I hope you enjoy them as much as we did! All of us agreed that this must become an annual tradition!
Long Live Downton!
As the new year has arrived, everyone’s thoughts are turning (as they usually do) to fitness and dieting and exercise.
I’m beginning to lose count of the number of people I’ve seen sharing this post on Facebook, about how having a baby means that you’ll never have your pre-baby body back again. It’s a sweet sentiment, and I get why so many moms I know are moved to tears by it, even though my own reaction was far less emotional. The conclusion is that having carried a baby is far more incredible than having the perfect body and it’s a trade-off any woman should be proud to make.
I noticed that the author of it mentions that she’s just 21, and that might explain the disconnect I felt reading it. I’m 45. I could BE her mother. Thankfully, one of the beautiful things about acquiring years is that I’ve had the time to work through that kind of body issue stuff ages ago.
It’s not like I’ve really had a choice but to reach a place of accepting this body I’ve been given. I’ve always been heavy, due to reasons I’ve elaborated on here extensively in the past. Maybe because of that, I never felt I had that much to lose to pregnancy to begin with. Or maybe I remember what it was like to be bulimic, and how that period of my late teens was the closest I ever got to thin, and I know I never want to return to that miserable self-abuse no matter what kind of slenderness it brought me.
Happiness in this life (for my adulthood, anyway) has always required a great deal of body self-acceptance. Because if I never got to the point that I could be happy with me, as I am, I’d spend my days wallowing in well-padded misery. And who wants to waste their life doing that?
Another disconnect with me regarding this piece is that there is not one molecule inside me that resonates with the idea of pregnancy leaving me ugly. I think pregnant women are some of the most beautiful things in all God’s creation. I’ve always worn my stretch marks with pride — after seven years of infertility, heartbreaking repeated miscarriages and wondering if I’d ever hear someone call me “Mama”, I wouldn’t have cared if pregnancy carved deep purple lines across my FACE. I just wanted to have a baby. And blessedly, I went on to have three beautiful boys! Every single time, it was a miracle, beginning to end and long after.
That’s not to say that I don’t carry proof of the toll of pregnancy on my physical self. My abdominal muscles are shot and I doubt I will ever be able to tighten them again without re-connective surgery. Something similar could be said for my pelvic floor. My chest more closely resembles the cover of National Geographic than Vogue.
But ask me if I care. Because from a cosmetic standpoint, no…I can’t say that I care at all.
Now, there are physical discomforts linked to the other issues, that I’d rather live without. Hopefully someday, I will be free of them. But the dark circles from lack of sleep, and the doughy belly, and sloppy ponytail are like badges of honor to me. And it makes me sad that we live in such a beauty-obsessed culture that young women even have to have epiphanies like the one linked above. Why can’t we just be free to love ourselves, inside and out — including the imperfect bodies we’ve been given? Why can’t our stretch marks, our scars, our extra pounds be exalted for what they are — proof that we’ve been somewhere, and done something, and not just anything but the most amazing thing a woman ever gets to do?
Think about it! We got to partner with God in creating another human life.
He looked at you, and me, and trusted us enough to let us do this amazing thing, and how sad to think we ever let our minds sink to a place of shame over the physical result of going on that adventure!
There’s a verse that says our names are carved into the palms of God’s hands. Zachary, Elias and Jonah are carved into my hips, my belly, my thighs.
Those faded pink and white lines spell out a love that I get to carry with me forever.
And for that, I will never, ever be ashamed.
If you’d like to know what my typical mid-December day looks like, here’s how it goes:
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
And nothing ever gets done except keeping up with the daily goings-on of a couple hundred people and filing away several dozen new craft, exercise and recipe ideas that I’m not likely to ever actually create.
Clearly, I need an intervention!
(But can you relate? Can I get an “Amen!” from anyone else reaching near-panic over the fact that it’s nine days til Christmas and hardly anything is done?)
Kari Apted is a writer and speaker residing in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. She writes a humorous weekly parenting column for The Covington News and freelances for various publications.more»