Monday, May 9, 2011

Your Mother and Mine

We were supposed to have heard today if our first court date went well. We were supposed to have bought some plane tickets by tonight. You know how that goes. Don't count your "supposed to"s before they hatch.

All we know is that the in-country staff "couldn't be reached" today, so we couldn't find out if we got our favorable letter for our adoption or not. We're supposed to hear in the morning. Supposed to.

Today I've been thinking about attachment. Abe does this thing when he gets tired where he climbs up on my lap, sticks his thumb in his mouth and covers his face with my hand. He takes really deep breaths, like he's breathing me in. He's a scent-oriented guy. When I told him my sister was flying out to be with him while I'm in Ethiopia, his first question was, "Does she smell good?"

When Abe's face is covered by my hand, he's usually asleep within a minute or two. He did this on Mother's Day afternoon, and it was maybe my favorite part of a really good day. He didn't fall asleep because he heard his best friend outside and ran out to play. These moments are so sweet. They are what makes me pretty sure that our little boy is pretty attached to us.

A few months ago, the smart funny lady at one of my favorite blogs started a topic about attachment that many people responded to and wrote about. I never did for two reasons: 1. I found it hard to find the time and 2. I was afraid that I wouldn't have anything useful to say because we were one of those families whose attachment seemed to happen with a couple of days. Even the in-country staff noticed the difference in Abe's personality with a day. He'd lit back up. He seemed to know instantly who we were. He wanted us over anyone else. It's like we couldn't get enough of each other. We did a lot of breathing each other in.

I know that with this little 5-year-old girl it's most likely going to be different. Before Abe, I think I knew what it meant to mother a baby. I could anticipate all those physical things like bathing and changing diapers and the weight of a baby asleep on my chest and making silly faces to induce giggles. All these things happened within our first few hours with Abe. But what does it mean to mother a 5-year-old daughter? I really don't know.

Who is Bee? What does she like to do? What makes her laugh? What makes her cry and how does she best like to be comforted when she is sad and confused? Does she like to have her back rubbed or her hand held? Does she like piggy-back rides? Will she want me to paint her nails and tie her shoes? What books should I read to her and songs can I teach her? Will she want to brush and braid my hair (oh, I hope so!)? Will she be patient with me as she teaches me some phrases in Amharic? Will I know how to comfort her when she starts missing her friends in the care center? Will I be able to pick up on her cues that she's freaking out about all the monumental changes going on in her life?

When will we feel attached? I really don't know.

I want to see her face. I want to watch her play. On this first trip (on which I may be leaving next week), I don't get to tell her who I am. I can only meet her and watch her. I can't even begin to fathom what this is going to feel like. Will I erupt in tears when I find her in the crowd of children? Will I feel nothing? Is she going to wonder if I'm there for her? What will our interactions be like? If she sits next me, am I going to have to resist the urge to scoop her closer and breathe in the scent of the top of her sweet head, the one with those beautiful diagonal braids?

I can't even begin to imagine what this is going to be like.

One thing for sure is that I am so thankful that my friend is going with me. My friend with a heart the size of...Texas. My friend whose eyes tear up faster than anyone else I know. My friend who is stubborn and determined. My friend who is going to be the one to be there with me as I behold for the first time with my own eyes the beauty of a little girl we've been calling our Little Bee. A little girl we pray becomes our daughter.

I will be the mother of a daughter. Holy crap. I am filled with fear and longing at this thought. Mothers and daughters.

More than anything, what I feel is anticipation for the day when she is here and standing on the step stool in our kitchen, beside me baking. Or coming home from school telling me about her day. Or laying in her bed with the fairy sheets talking with her little brother. Or making friends with the amazing little girls her age we are lucky enough to have in our life. Or trying to braid her mama's slippery hair into braids like hers. Or rolling her eyes and then laughing as her dad as goes into one of his actor-y routines.

This beautiful little girl has lost her first mother. I will never replace this mother. My prayer though is that at least I am gentle enough to be like the mother Wendy sings about. I hope that one day, maybe many years from now, when Bee is away from home, she will feel homesick for me the way John is in this scene. Whenever I hear this song playing from the other room (which is about every other day considering that we live with Peter Pan), I tear up. Every time. I hope I will kiss her cheeks enough and be the angel voice bidding her good night, the helping hand guiding along, whether she's right or whether she's wrong.

Beautiful Little Bee, I will try to be worthy of my post.


Christine said...

Oh, this is beautiful. I can hear the longing in your words.

Claudia said...

Goosebumps. Actual, literal goosebumps.

Like Christine says, I can hear all those emotions that are coursing through your veins right now. So moving.

(ps I LOVE your attachment story with Abe).

Sharon said...

This hits so close to home this morning-I can't even begin to comment right now, but I'll try to later or I'll shoot you an email.

p.s. You're going to be great!

Julie said...

Oh Lori.

il panettiere... said...

Do you know how awesome I think you are? I hope so. I really do.