Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Fifth Forever Family Day!

Same clothes - same post
Happy Forever Family Day 2012

Fulfilling a yearning that I held so deep, I picked her up out of her crib and our eyes met. Holding her seventeen pounds of baby roundness in my arms for the first time felt so foreign - a sensation that I always gracefully dodged when other mothers offered their new babies to me. I guess one could say I was saving myself for this moment - to hold and caress my own daughter. That was five years ago today.

In the days following our first embrace, those clumsy feelings of caring for her were slowly replaced by the kind of confidence and responsibility that only a mother knows as I deciphered her likes and dislikes about everything from how to hold her, feed her and what sort of crazy antics would conger a smile. Mother. I had become one, and though it didn't come in the form of a degree from a chosen university, I was learning at an alarming rate through life experience as I was mesmerized and captivated by her every move. For months time stood still.

Over the course of five years, my parenting comfort level has grown as each new phase of development has eased into and out of our lives together - each one becoming  a little easier to navigate. I would never suggest that I've taken motherhood or parenting for granted, but with her age has come a more mature and self sufficient girl who needs less from me everyday. Whistling, catching her first fish, riding a bicycle, making her bed, reading and writing were all achieved with little to no help from me. 

In fact, our days have become so busy, this Forever Family Day sneaked right up on me. My memories are still vivid and dear, but I dwell on them less often now. It is not because this day is not important or any less of a miracle to me, but though we built our family through adoption, the key is we are now a busy and thriving family and time no longer stands still.

  Just when I figured I had it all sort of figured out,  history repeats itself. Dropping her off at Kindergarten this year brought with it a bit of that nostalgic feeling of uncertainty reminiscent of when we first met. No longer under my wing on a daily basis, that foreign feeling has come rushing back as I watch her face 5 year old struggles and I once again, have to learn yet another facet of motherhood -   helping her navigate more independently , desperately wanting to make things come easily. Where once I searched for the answers to fulfilling her basic needs including how to diaper her, now I am faced with how to handle the cutting of one's own hair, making and trusting new friends, telling the truth and understanding the importance of listening to authority figures. Looking into her eyes with the first bottle I'd ever fed to a child, thoughts of these recent days were incomprehensible, but these uncharted waters have served as a wonderful reminder of how remarkable our journey together has been thus far, and how much I have yet to learn from someone so young and small. 

As was suggested by a dear friend today, in the next five years she will be nearly 11, another five, and she will be driving and in another 5, she most likely will be calling ME to celebrate this anniversary, no longer living full time at home. So it seems these times of growth and discovery that began at our first meeting, will continue to resurface over and over again. It is this reality that makes my head dizzy. How can this be? I can still so clearly recall returning from ISRC in Calcutta, laying Devi on our bed in the hotel and staring at this beautiful child that had just entered my life and having Pat turn to me and say, "what do we do now?"

 I guess we continue to take things one day at a time and on this day we turned to tradition. After school the family went to Gateway to India for dinner to celebrate our forever family day AND the anniversary of Treya's adoption which was finalized on September 16th. She has legally been a Ross for a whole year. That too, sends my head spinning, unable to keep up sometimes with the passing of time. After dinner we told the story of how we first met Devi and how Treya sat at the pulpit with the judge, her arm still in a pink cast. A family photo and ice cream rounded out our evening. Pausing at lights out, I couldn't help but stare a little longer at these two sleepy-eyed precious souls.  Though time has passed, it is pretty amazing how far we have come, from standing crib side holding our baby daughter for the first time to today, living this crazy, but very real life. Happy Forever Family Day!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Flowers, Gleam and Glow. Let Your Power Shine!

 First day of kindergarten

 First day of preschool

 Stealing a lyric from the movie Tangled, typically flowers gleam and grow in spring, but the flowers in our house have emerged, letting their power shine in September! Devi, Treya and even Bengal the dog have made huge strides in development, are taking on new challenges and are sadly, growing up. (sniff sniff) 

Delighted to be enrolled in Mr. Stanley’s class, Devi began Kindergarten yesterday. Since the schools open house last spring, all she has been talking about is Mr. Bones, the skeleton in Mr. Stanley’s class and his ginormous snail shells, certain that this classroom was the one for her. All summer long we’ve prepared for what kindergarten might be like, we stock piled her uniforms and I let her select her own lunch box. I was thrilled that she chose, without coaching I might add, an old school metal box with a unicorn and her name, rather then succumbing to another Disney product. Yay!

As the day grew closer, we started to hear a lot more comments like, “Mom, I’m a little nervous!” or “What if I don’t know anyone?” but with reassuring comments, by the night before, Dev was giddy with excitement. Treya too, was filled with anticipation, as it would be her first day in Room 3, which marks the beginning of preschool for her. 

Treya's first haircut since being home, preparing for preschool

For breakfast, I made the girls’ favorite, banana cashew pancakes with smiling faces to fill them up with energy and by the time we were all dressed, all I could see were calm, cool and confident girls with a slight case of excitement giggles. Naturally, we did the mini photo session on the front porch, which couldn’t be done fast enough for our eager ones. 

 Treya's thank you card to her daycare teachers

Because my work day typically begins before the girls are even awake, I rarely get to drop them off in the morning. Treya was thrilled that I was there. Taking me by the hand, she showed me her new cubby and art box. Next, she proceeded to show me how she washes her hands first and then chooses her first activity. There was no doubt in my mind, what she would choose. The girl loves to color. So with big squeezes and kisses, I wished her a good day as she settled in coloring the word September and I was off. 

Trying to steal a peek at their classroom

Next we drove to Devi’s school and joined the swarm of people who were arriving for drop offs in the Kindergarten area. You could just feel the excitement mounting as kids would call out other kids’ names as they were spotted approaching. Others were peeking into the windows at their classroom anxious with anticipation. While the boys all ready had uniform shirts half way untucked with beads of sweat forming on their faces from their rough play, the girls stayed tidy in their skirts and dresses, feeling fancy and dressed up. Finally the first bell rang and Mr. Stanley came out to greet us. The kids all lined up against the massive brick building looking so small and when instructed, marched into the room to find their cubby and tote bag and then find a seat. I was quick to catch Mr. Stanley’s wording “you can choose to sit anywhere TODAY”. I am certain in a few days, that will change :).  I know that Devi knew about 6 or more kids from preschool, most of which are girls and sitting together is probably not a good thing. We watched as the classroom became organized, took a couple of photos, gave kisses and were off. 

Ready to march in!

As I headed for the car all smiles, I was suddenly overcome by emotions, having no idea where they came from. It’s not like I saw her evolving baby face flash before my eyes, or anything like that, but by the time I was in the car, I was bawling and I couldn’t make it stop. Recently, I have caught myself pausing every now and then, still so in awe that these children have willingly accepted me as their mother. It still can be so mind blowing to me at times, but this days out pouring of emotion is just not like me. I was a mess. Such a happy and exciting time brought tears? I was not expecting that at all. I have been so looking forward to Devi having a teacher to share her philosophical wonderings with. Just lately she asked me, “Mom, what color skin does God have? I put the question back on her and she responded, “He has brown skin like me”. So then I said, “Do you think God is a girl or boy?” She retorted, “That’s silly, mom. God is a boy. God is a boys name....Goddess is a girls name!” And, Trey...brimming with so much confidence. The kind of confidence that does not come from a parent, but comes from life experience -  now so brave to wave and ask others’ their names every where we go. This is what we’ve been striving for and there I sat bawling about it. I quickly gained my composure on the way to work, but I can’t tell you how eager I was to pick those girls up at the end of the day. 

Devi has only half days this first week and so she was picked up and taken to the daycare/preschool for the remainder of the afternoon.When I arrived, I saw my droopy flower, her eyes showing that her first ever napless school day was taking it’s toll. She was playing, but so very quite for her. I knelt beside her asking about her day. She reported that the two recesses were her favorite thing and that she really liked the surprises in her lunch box. I had also given her a homework assignment of my own. She was supposed to meet and become friends with one person that she didn’t know. “His name is Timone, mom” was the answer I got, which brought me the biggest smile as I imagine how and why she chose this particular boy. 

Ready to go on the first day

Once home, Treya was non-stop chatter about the room, what they did, a certain boy's birthday coming up and how I needed to go the monster store to buy him a present because he likes monsters, and how then she would draw a picture to put in the card and I was supposed to wrap it. This went on for nearly an hour while I cooked dinner and each word was spoken in that matter of fact bossy tone she had become so accustomed to. Devi, on the other hand, went upstairs, changed into sweat pants and promptly fell asleep on the playroom floor. It was such a sound sleep, we had a hard time waking her for dinner. Poor baby. 

Our proud poochie

Give them a little sunshine and watch them grow is an understatement. When I arrived home after my workout that evening, I found that Devi had rallied and had learned to ride her bike without the training wheels (that she insisted we take off last week, as she was a big girl now). Bengal went on to graduate from his positive approach puppy school with flying colors and Treya had finally run out of things to say. 

Day one of these new adventures proved to be a complete success, with our eyes set on the horizon, eager to see what tomorrow holds. For Dev, it is her first bus ride to school, Treya I’m certain will come home with a mouthful of interesting things to share and with luck Bengal will leave the plants in the yard alone and be a well-mannered boy. As for me, just pass the kleenex as I see the future full of firsts that just might bring me to tears...again!