Before I became a mom to two little boys from hard places, I had all kinds of grand ideas of what I envisioned motherhood to be. In fact, I even knew what kind of mother I was going to be. I knew what issues I was passionate about. I knew what mattered to me and what I stood for. I believed organic was good, processed was bad; natural was safer, chemicals were dangerous; plastic never, glass and wood always; technology nada, nature only. I thought I had it all figured out.
I had a game plan and I was going to follow through, gosh darnent!
And then it happened. On February 15, 2008, I received a phone call from our adoption agency. There was a little boy in Vietnam with medical special needs. He was 4 months old and he needed a family. “Would we like to be that family?” they had asked. They sent his picture to my email box. With one click of the mouse, my life changed forever. I saw my son’s face for the first time and I was totally smitten.
My heart saored and my stomach turned flips. Was this really happening? After all these years, was I really going to be a mommy? Was this precious baby really my baby? I had never felt so much joy in all of my life. I felt like I was flaoting above the earth and waltzing through the clouds. I was going to be a mommy to Little Man.
Little did I know at the time that the next 6 months would be the most grueling, soul-crushing time of my life as we waited and fought tooth and nail to bring our son home. What turned into a political battle of wills between two nations resulted in one of the darkest times of my life. After watching our beloved son grow up through pictures in an orphanage 10,000 miles away, we finally boarded a plane to Vietnam after a long, hard fight. Our little baby that we hadn’t even met in real life yet was nearly a year old now. He was hardly a tiny baby anymore and we prayed he would be resistant to the wounds of institutionalization. Oh how I wish he could have been.
After 36 hours of travel, my son was placed into my arms and immediately all the would-of, could-of, should-be’s fell to the ground. The most important turths of life selectively came into focus. My son was safe, alive and in my arms. We were all together. The battle was over. Little Man had survived his first year alone in an orphanage. We were all alive and safe.
That evening-our first evening together as a family of three-I would learn just how dark and horrible the downward spiral of institutionalization can be for a child. And in that long, sad night, I said goodbye to all my frivalous mommy plans and laid a new path instead. It would be a path of healing, of gratitude and of awareness. It would be a path whose goal had nothing to do with being trendy, popular, mainstream or full of ideals. My new path would hinge on the fact that life is so fragile, so short and so magnificent that I needn’t worry about the small, fleeting issues of daily life. Maybe the trauma of the preceeding months had reshaped how I saw the world and motherhood. Maybe I was just too busy and overwhelmed to even care. Or maybe I was just so grateful at the chance to be a mother to this child that nothing else even mattered. All those other issues seemed so silly compared to what I now knew to be important.
While I still prefer to stick to my ideals when given a chance, I don’t worry if I fall short. Because around here, that happens often, especially now with a special needs child in the picture. Somedays we are lucky if we even check one issue off of the list. And I’m okay with that. I am so thankful that this new path has taught me time and time again to take nothing for granted…to find joy in every day and to remember that life really is a miracle. Enjoy it now and everything else will fall into place. Or at least you won’t feel guilty if it doesn’t.