Saturday, September 08, 2007

Eight Months - A New Normal

Today marks eight months since we went from being a family of three to a family of four.

When I woke up this morning, I thought back to our first night with Lana, eight months ago tonight, in a room in the Elegant Hotel in DaNang, and being, if I recall correctly, more than a little bit terrified. And freaked out. And not sure if I we would make it.

I'm sure that I wasn't thinking about what our lives would be like NOW. At the time, I was concentrating, very hard, on getting through each day...of getting through the trip, of getting home...of getting to know Lana...of getting to know how to instantly mother a four-year-old daughter. It was all so overwhelming, eight months ago.

For a long time after we came home, I wondered when I feel "normal" again. The first month was especially hard. (I wrote about how hard it was here: ).

I sit here in a flurry of self-reflection - some self-indulgent naval-gazing, if you will. Back when I wrote that "darkness" post, I asked if I would feel better in six months or in eight months. And on this anniversary, I can certainly say that I don't feel that darkness today. My life is not "normal" in the way it was before we brought Lana home. But, I believe we have achieved a new normal. It's no longer shocking to me to realize I have two children. The words "my daughter" roll off my tongue without the slightest hesitation. She is my daughter. I am her mother. Not the only mother she remembers - but, the mother who will be here to hold her hand when she wants to know more about the other mothers. The ones who came before me.

And I hope that she understands that no other mothers will come after me. I don't know that she does...probably not yet.

I will tell you honestly that I do not understand Lana the way I understand Gabriel. There are times when I look at Gabriel and I feel like I can the hear the wheels of his brain working. When I feel, instrinsically, precisely, what is happening in his head. I don't ALWAYS feel this way (although I find him most frustrating when I don't feel that way), but I don't know that this means I have a stronger bond to him than I do to Lana. I know other mothers who, when laced with enough tequila, will admit that they understand one of their children more than the other(s). I would venture a guess, that if you asked my own mother, she would tell you that she has almost always understood the motivations of my brother J~ and I, but that the motivations of her other children remain a mystery much of the time. But I won't pretend to think that this means she loves J~ and I more than the other four. Only, probably, that of her six children, J~ and I are the most LIKE HER. And Gabriel's personality is more like me than Lana's - and I don't have the energy to dwell on whether this is nature or nurture, biology or proximity. And it's not really the point.

The point is that, sometime between January 29 (when I wrote the Darkness post) and today, sometime, some day that I cannot pinpoint, this new normal began.

Lana woke up this morning and asked me for "Faffles". She scampered into my bedroom and said, "mama! I want faffles and choc-o-lat" (she pronounces chocolate very carefully - she takes her chocolate very seriously, just like her mom.)

I went downstairs and made her waffles and spread Nutella on them. (Which, by the way, is pretty much sinfully, decadently delicious, but, not the kind of thing you want to indulge in on a regular basis unless you are a 35 pound girl who has only gained 3/4 of a pound in six months.)

We sat at the breakfast table together. She ate her waffles and said, "Mama. I love this. I love this faffle. I love faffles, mama." After a while, she looked at me, with my morning bed head, and said, "mommy, your hair is....[look of deep thought on her face]... messy. My hair is not." (This was wholly untrue - her hair was as much a mess as mine was, if not more.) Her face was screwed up like she was thinking so VERY hard. "No mommy, not messy...not messy...your hair is..." she made a motion in the air, with her index finger, rolling and spinning her hand, while she said, "your hair is like this".

"Curly?" I offered her.

"Yes! Curly! Mommy! Your hair is curly." She thought for a minute. "My hair is not curly."

That's true. My hair is curly. Her hair is not. Somewhere on the other side of the planet, I wonder if the straight haired woman who gave birth to this fascinating creature is thinking about her today. I hope that she knows, that here, on this side of the planet, this curly haired woman loves this little girl, whose life is being shaped by pieces of both of us, very much.



Blogger Nicole - Raising Animals said...

That curly-hair-part of your post made me tear up! I think about stuff like that all the time, and I don't know that Kinhly is old enough to have those thoughts, but when she does, I trust those moments will make me tear up too.

Sunday, September 09, 2007 8:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

I love reading about you and Lan. It helps me to see how your bonding has progressed so far and to read about the difference in the way you 'know' your kids. What you and Lan are building is so beautiful - she is opening up and confiding in you, and I bet she'll always feel safe telling you what's on her mind. You are a great mom.

Monday, September 10, 2007 1:25:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I hate that I haven't had time to check in very often, as I allways find your posts to have something of value for me. Today it is the comfort of knowing that with time bonding can happen- I struggle with my own "darkness" these days with Hoss and Little Joe: there are days when I really feel like a babysitter and one who is not very fond of her charges, at that. Since they are going to be here for a long time (lots of legal stuff to sort out before they are even "adoptable" by anyone, and we are not sure yet if it will be us) I keep hoping that things will "click" and I will feel like a mother, not a babysitter. You and Lana give me hope that it is possible!

Monday, September 10, 2007 1:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love that my daughter is so different then me. I was so shy and so sensitive. I was so afraid of everything.
My little girl is tough and strong and social. She is not afraid of anything. She will talk to anyone. I love her iron will and determination.
She went to soccer camp this year. I would have caved in a mass of tears the first day, the first time the marine type coach blew a whistle at me. Not my little girl, she just turned around and asked him to fix her pony tail. He did too.

Monday, September 10, 2007 1:43:00 PM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Beautifully written. Thank you so much for sharing. "Faffles" --that's cute. :)

Monday, September 10, 2007 1:56:00 PM  
Blogger S. said...

Yes, tears here too.

Monday, September 10, 2007 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I know I'm so incredibly late to this post, but it struck such a cord in me.
How very precious...faffles and choc-o-late.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 1:36:00 PM  

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