Friday, October 30, 2009


Here's the reality of my life at this very moment: I cannot watch anything on television or on the computer until the two-year-old in my care falls asleep. He's at the point of feeling that he's missing something if he hears noise other than the clink of dishes into the dishwasher or the fall of water into my glass. This happens with most two-year-olds, and it doesn't stop until roughly the time that you'd like them to sleep less and take more responsibility for themselves. As we move ever-so-slowly-yet-steadily towards getting our adoption paperwork in order, I recognize how much life will change. More than a decade of getting children in and out of bed has taught me plenty. My alarm ringing at 8am has troubled me lately, but I haven't seen the half of it. Once we bring home a baby, I may never sleep again.

But life is always changing, and I've changed with it, mostly for the better, I hope. When I quit taking care of my big kids in order to find more balance, I just rearranged the weights as opposed to really balancing the scale. But that's okay. I'm figuring it out. And I'm figuring me out. This may sound strange if you know how old I am (early thirties, about to turn the corner into mid-thrities, oh boy), but I don't think we ever stop learning more about who we are and what we need and how we can do better with what we've been given. I don't expect to wake up one morning and know exactly when to say no and to whom. I don't imagine that I won't keep resetting my diet with completely healthy foods only to slide slowly back into treatsville. I also don't imagine that I'll be able to roll with all the punches just yet. I still get frustrated. I still get worried. It's better, but it's not perfect. I'm not perfect. Never will be. I suppose I've learned to live with that, mostly anyway.

Four years ago, which seems like a lifetime in many ways, I was heartbroken and hurt and angry. I still am sometimes, but not for the same reasons. It was that time in my life that led to an enormous shift in my faith. I don't write much about faith here anymore; that was part of the shift. But the other part of the shift was that I suddenly realized that for all my own heartbreak and hurt and anger, there was worse heartbreak and hurt and anger being experienced by people who had seen tragedy much worse than being left by a person they loved. That was where it got sticky for me. That was where I couldn't reconcile the good and loving God that so many people assured me was the God that existed with reality. A God who created all things beautiful and lovely and perfect? Sure. But a God who would allow poverty and excruciating pain and rape of children and slavery and every kind of loss? I couldn't get behind that. People can say all they want about Adam and Eve sinning in the garden, and they can tell me everything they know about the Bible and everything being for a purpose, but the level of suffering that exists in the world is still hard for me to swallow and then say a Hallelujah. I still believe in God, but it's different. I still believe in goodness and love, but that's changed, too. I'd like to tell you how I made it all make sense, but I can't. I know it has a lot to do with giving credit where it's due and withholding it otherwise, with accepting that our world isn't perfect and I'm not sure why. Because it still doesn't make sense, and I still don't know a lot of things, but I still believe in redemption and hope, somehow. I still believe that love conquers all. Like most things in my life, I'm still working it out, still rearranging the weights on the scale, not even close to any sort of balance. I don't think God minds. If he does, he doesn't say so directly.

When we adopt our daughter, we will be adding a member to our family--a much loved and wanted and hoped for member--due to someone else's dire misfortune. Our joy will be born out of an entire continent's long and complicated era of tragedy. We will love her and we will nurture her and we will put her to sleep with all the stories and songs we've collected for her, but her story is forever changed because of what never should have occurred to anyone, anywhere. I don't pretend to understand why this happened either, and I don't pretend that it seems 100% right that we should receive a baby that is relinquished due to someone else's poverty or illness or death. But here we are anyway, because the situation is what it is, and children need families, and we want very much to build our family this way. Not because it is right to the core, but because it is the rightest thing that can be done in these circumstances. I believe that I was meant to do it. Even in the days when I doubted if I'd ever get married, I knew that I would become a mother this way. Not because it is noble or good, as some suggest, but because it just seems born into me. Motherhood born of tragedy and loss, but motherhood born of love and joy all the same. When I see her face, I will weep for all these things.

People often mention to me with great excitement that perhaps I'll get pregnant once we adopt, as if that is the ultimate goal. It doesn't seem normal or natural to many people that I would not long for pregnancy; they ask if we will ever have "our own," as if common DNA is the only way to become someone's own. On my best days, I am patient and calm. On my worst, I am judgmental and my tone of voice belies the words that exit my mouth. We are all still figuring this out.

I would do well to remind myself of that more often.

1 comment:

brookeraymond said...

Beautifully written, Mary. What a gift of love you will give your future children.