Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day from a Special Needs Mom

It's Mother's Day! Got home from church a bit ago and my crew made me a very interesting, I mean, special lunch. They are taking me to dinner later tonight and but this meal will be hard to top.

I've read a lot of beautiful, poetic tributes to mothers the past couple days and didn't feel I needed to attempt to do the same. Kind of feels unnecessary to serve my picnic of peanut butter and jelly sandwich-like prose after dining on a gourmet dinner of words.

But I did think it okay to reheat an old post I wrote when we started our adoption from China two years ago (that we put on hold when we found out I was pregnant with Victoria). I reread it the other night as I was pondering what our new little girl might be thinking knowing she has a family coming to get her in a few months. I wonder if she's excited about the new life ahead of her; I wonder if she is afraid of leaving all she knows behind. 

I wonder--if given the chance to look through a hundred files of "waiting families"--if she would choose us. I wonder--if given the choice of who her new mother would become--if she would choose me. 

I am grateful that had I been given the choice of mother, I would have chosen the very one that God gave me. She died 9 years ago, but her legacy lives on. And I have been so blessed by other mothers given to me by His grace--they are known as sister, mother-in-law, aunt, and friend.

And I'm so very grateful for the 6 precious children that God has blessed me with. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank Him for each treasure.

When we were doing our homestudy, I had to make a listing of all the "special needs" that we would consider. Once we knew we had fallen for Xin Xin,  we spent many hours researching her condition and talking with doctors about what kind of long-term care she would need and how we could improve her quality of life.

And here's what I discovered. There was no "special need" on any listing that outdid my own "special needs." I felt that it would only be fair for any prospective adoptive child to be given the same information on this possible mother with full disclosure of all imperfections.

My file would read something like this:

She goes by the name "Kathie." She is considered an "older parent" (over the age of 40) although there are no grants available. Should you choose her, it is with the understanding that by the time you are in high school, others will think she is your grandmother.

She will need reading glasses to read you a bedtime story and may not be able to stand upright after sitting Indian style at a tea party.

She has many well-meaning behaviors that may cause extreme irritation. For example, she will take millions of photos of you but has no actual photography skills. You will have to put up with the auto-flashing and shutter-clicking, but you'll only have out-of-focus pics with your eyes closed to show for your patience. 

Small toys not put away will mysteriously disappear. She can't stand "happy meal" items that didn't make anyone happy and you should note that these items are quickly donated or discarded.

She will sing you lullabies in spite of the fact that she has the vocal range of three notes. Every song will sound like "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

She will want to dress you until you go to college. This may not be an issue in the early years, but by the time you are a teen, you will be wondering if you can escape through the air-conditioning vents of the dressing room during a shopping trip gone bad.

She will occasionally go freaky with the food she serves--going gluten-free, low-sugar, wholly whole wheat, and completely organic. You may try to trade up lunch items at school but no one will want a protein bar that tastes like cardboard in exchange for their Little Debbie snack cake. And then there are moments that she passes a Krispy Kreme establishment and the "hot donuts" sign is on. You should not call her a hypocrite if you'd like to partake of the white-flour, sugar-glazed manna that she is about to inhale.

She will often seem completely unfair. There will be movies and music and TV shows that everyone else is allowed to see and hear, and you will be the ONLY one not watching/listening. If you ask why, she will simply respond with "Not Philippians 4:8 standards." ("Whatever things are good, pure, lovely, think on these things. . . .")

When you need clean socks you will be directed to a laundry basket solely dedicated to socks who have no partner. It is your job to play matchmaker and find two that are somewhat the same size and color. Good luck.

You will be fine if you need this mom to provide help in proofing papers, annotating poetry, and diagramming sentences, but you will up a creek without a scientific calculator if you need math help past the 6th grade. The Pythagorean Theorem makes her break out in hives, any attempt to find the area of a complex polygon will reduce her to her lowest common denominator, and she would rather poke her eyes out with a protractor than check your math homework.

She is a strong advocate for enjoying God's creation. She will pull over on the side of the road to behold a sunset, a rainbow, or wildflowers growing among asphalt. She will make everyone stop what they are doing to hear the birds singing outside and make you watch butterflies instead of TV. She will insist that you run outside at night to marvel at the stars and require that everyone pose for a picture with the first flower of springtime (which will no doubt capture you not smiling and cut off part of your head).

Although she cooks with love, she also cooks using whatever she has in the pantry and with the fewest number of ingredients possible. All her recipes are named something that ends in the word "surprise" (some surprises are better than others) and it's a safe bet that these culinary creations will never be featured on the Food Network. 

She absolutely can not handle whining or pouting. If there are words/sounds/looks that even hint at ungratefulness, you will be forced to select an item from her "consequence jar." On this little slip of paper, you will read your consequence (for example, wiping down baseboards and window blinds) for attempting to voice your concern. It's her sick way of teaching you a lesson while having you do a chore that she hates to do herself.

She suffers from Broken Record Syndrome. For example, you will hear phrases such as "good behavior equals privileges, bad behavior equals consequences" repeated till you think your ears are going to be permanently damaged.

She is a cryer. She will cry at your classroom doorway on the first day of school and at your ballet recital or soccer game. She will weep the first time you get your hair cut, swim without floaties, and ride a bike without training wheels. She will wail at birthday parties, graduations, and your wedding day. (Note: We are not talking delicate tears caught in monogrammed handkerchiefs. We are talking big ugly sobbing, sometimes snorting, pass-that-woman-a-box-of-tissues kinds of boo-hooing.) She is also a hugger and a kiss blower. You've been warned.

She might have attachment issues. Every single time another child is added to the family, she worries and wonders how she can possibly love the new one as much as the others. (But she, thus far, has had no trouble attaching to the ones God has given her.) 

No matter how hard she tries, she will never understand what it feels like to be taken from your home country, to lose the only family and friends you have ever known, to have to learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, and acquire a taste for new food. 

She will often feel overwhelmed in caring for your physical and emotional needs and wonder if she will ever be the mother you deserve. She won't understand that some days you need special care and other days you just want to be treated like everyone else. 

Sometimes she gets tired, sometimes she feels stress, sometimes she loses her patience, sometimes she says things that she wishes she could take back.

She is a sinner, in need of a Savior, living in a fallen world, raising children who are sinners, in need of a Savior, living in a fallen world. And this means that she is flawed, that she will make mistakes, that she will need forgiveness. 

And this is why she often feels so unworthy to be the mother of those precious children God has already entrusted her with and why she is so grateful for every child He brings to their family. 

Hoping She Chooses My File,


sierrasmom said...

I love this post!! You are so right! I just caught up on your last few posts. Your daughter from China is precious!! I love those videos....what a gift to have them!! There is such a sweetness about her,. I can not wait to follow your journey!! I hope to write more blog posts...I miss it!!
Love and blessings,

Sarah Foster said...

I stumbled upon this on facebook (I'm Olivia's math teacher at PCA) and appreciate so much your words. Cannot wait to hear more about when you get to meet Ella.