Sorry I've been a stinky bloggy friend lately. I plan to keep in touch much better this summer. I'm so excited about having our first summer with Daniel home that I'm just about to pop. I promise to post lots of pics of Daniel's first summer at the pool, first sight of the beach, first 4th of July as an American citizen.
This is the time of year of final exams, end-of-year report cards, and honors day assemblies. As a mom, sometimes I wish I could get some kind of report card on how I'm doing. I wonder what kind of grades my kiddos would give me in how I care for them, serve them, discipline them, and love them.
I know that because of their maturity levels their grading system might be a bit off--deducting points when I don't let them eat candy or make them clean up. And I have those days that I feel I should be in mommy detention for not handling something patiently or reacting to a situation without first covering my words and actions in prayer. Still, it would be nice to have some kind of evaluation for this big job with little recognition.
Perhaps the report card I'd like to see the most is the one from Daniel. He spent the first five years of his life being abused and neglected by his birth mom. (I share a bit about his past here and here.)He spent the next 3 years in an orphanage without a mom. I feel a tremendous responsibility to write a new definition after the word "mother" in Daniel's mental dictionary.
I sometimes envy my husband Brad a bit. Daniel has no memory of his biological father, so Brad is writing the "Story of Dad" on a clean, blank page. Daniel's "Story of Mom" includes a "bad mom" (as he refers to her) and a "good mom." There are five years worth of pages in his heart that record her actions and words. Although we visited him often throughout our two and a half year adoption, I've really only had five months of his life with him completely in my care.
Occasionally I get little "job evaluations" that make my day. He often says, "Mom, you're a genius!" The funniest things impress him--like watching me cook on the grill, or drive the car, or fix a toy that he thought was beyond repair. He's watched me paint backdrops and make costumes, plan birthday parties and bake birthday cakes, clean out closets and host dinner parties, read bedtime stories and sing lullabies. Things that aren't a big deal for my other three, yet leave Daniel watching in awe like I'm putting on a magic show.
He'll often ask: "Who taught you how to do that?" Often I give credit to my parents, a teacher, a friend, to instructions in a manual or on the computer. Often I give credit to God for those things that moms just know how to do because we are made in the image of our Heavenly Father.
The other day he said, "Mom, I don't think anyone taught my 'bad mom' how to be a good mother."
Such a simple statement that broke my heart. It spoke volumes about how he's processing his hurt from the past. I'm so grateful that he recognizes that the problem wasn't him--that he doesn't think the abuse and neglect was because he deserved it or that he was unlovable. I'm glad that he can see that his birth mom was broken--that perhaps this is what she was taught in her own life that most likely included that same kind of abuse and neglect.
I hugged him and told him some day he'd be a great dad. And he piped up, "Because I have a great dad to teach me how."
Oh my--holding back some tears with those words. It looks like Brad and I both got good grades on our report cards from Daniel. I must say, I've never been so proud to have made the honor roll.
More Than Lots,
P.S. I had just finished typing the above post while my kids were cleaning their rooms. They surprised me with made beds, toy/clothing-free carpet, and a huge card shaped like a cross. I think the artwork was inspired by my retelling of the "rowing the boat" story. (This analogy is oh so lovingly told when certain members of my family are expecting mom and dad to do all the work.) I think they could tell I was worn out and not thrilled with the chorus of whining when I asked them to help. They made the below artwork to say sorry and say thanks.
I think it's the most beautiful report card ever.