Now and Then and Now

Yesterday, my new Ethiopian girls (when will they stop being "new?") requested I pick up a bushel of jalapenos. Why? I asked. Raised eyebrows and smiles: To eat? they retorted like I was daft. Then they proceeded to eat them bite by bite with dinner. Even convinced Samantha to join the party and munch on them. The three girls sat, chewing jalapenos with dinner like this is what everyone does. I cannot tell you how much I love being an Ethiopian American family. We are richer, more fun having all they bring, literally and figuratively, to the table.

Later, I showed the girls an article about our church building a new meeting house in a town I'd never heard of in Ethiopia. Mimi got a look on her face. I need to start noticing it because it means she has a story, a slice of information about life before, in Ethiopia. She told me something about this town. That they'd lived there. Stuff like this never makes it onto official documents. I love writing down her tidbits, her memories. She is the keeper of truth about their past. We had no idea. We folded up the newspaper article, put it in a drawer and vowed to go visit this place when we go to Ethiopia.

Tonight I was remembering for the children the day Hubs and I left Ethiopia with Tsega. I recall being faint and vomitty the moment we stepped on the plane. I was in such bad shape I had to be wheeled to the jet way and they did NOT want to let my six-months-pregnant butt on the plane looking like I did. I had LAWSUIT! stamped on my belly and pallid face. But we got on there, me preggers, a tiny, weak, scared-silent infant in arms, and a worried Hubs.

Tonight I told the tale to Mimi and Fikir who have never heard about his adoption story and Brady's subsequent arrival. Mimi stared with horror: Oh Mama, you are strong. I cannot believe you got on zat plane wis two babies. I never do zis. Never.

How kind she is, and wise beyond her years to realize how freaking scary it all was. That flight home was a disaster. I wonder if I would have wanted someone to tell me what was about to hit me. I wonder if I would have wanted someone to stop the wheelchair, pick up my chin, look me in my droopy eyes and say

Three days from this moment, your water is going to break, and you are going to have a very, very early and very sick preemie baby, along with this fragile, malnurished baby in your arms. You will be hospitalized for more than three weeks, and be separated from this new baby you have due to complications from the surgery you're going to have. Your new baby who hasn't had a mother, and just got one: you are going to abandon him again. And the other baby, the one about to be born, he isn't going leave the hospital for four months, in fact, he's going to be moved from hospital to hospital six times. It is going to rock you.

You have a two-year-old at home that needs his Mama and also will suffer trauma from not having you for a month, and a four-year-old who may as well be fifteen for the maturity she will muster from all of this. And two needy babies, between whom you are going to attempt to split your brain and body for the next two or three years....Oh, Scoopy, you are in for a ride, friend. The last few months of bedrest, PICC lines, stress and this sickness you feel right now: Just the beginning.

What would I have said if someone told me all this as they wheeled me to the door of the plane?
Would I have believed them?

In this new year, I feel a profound respect for what our family has been through, and come out of. We survived hard things. And we are still digging away in the trenches. I feel grateful for the hundreds of people who have said a prayer to God or the Universe on our behalf. I feel grateful for the encouraging words, ideas, advice thrown my way. For hugs, knowing looks, dinners, visits, babysitting, kindnesses. For friends that don't judge me when I call and say matter-of-factly something ludicrous like I would like to dump a bucket of cold water on one of the kids. No? Not okay? Fine...

I feel grateful to finally realize that life doesn't have to be easy for it to be good. It may never get easier than what I have right in front of me. It will change, but I have learned to get comfortable with constant discomfort. I haven't been not tired in six years. I may be tired forever. I know this, please don't try to convince me otherwise. I have kids with special needs, I have a lot of children, and someday five of them will be teenagers all at the same time (heaven help me). This, right now, is as easy as it is going to be for another decade or so. And I feel strangely calm about it.

This year is first and foremost about gratitude. Gratitude that we have come so far. It is also about acceptance that there is so much more we have to do and overcome. Finally this year is about connection and relationship building with the six children, and by all means necessary (read: therapy) meeting their emotional, psychological, academic and developmental needs.

To sum it up, I will be shoving at them with all the strength I have compassionate love, good food, good books, Jesus and therapy.

First though, I need to to the dishes. Because it's 1am, Hubs is on an airplane somewhere over the Pacific, and they aren't going to do themselves.

Happy New Year to you all, thanks for coming here and being apart of this.


2plus2mom said...

I have come to the same conclusion...that I will never been be well-rested again. Somehow, just admitting that to myself makes it seem so much more manageable. I like the way you put it - "life doesn't have to be easy for it to be good."

Kyra said...

Happy New Year! Continuously inspired by your strength and your ability to blog at 1AM.

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Mary P. said...

I have just started reading your blog and it is inspiring. I can tell you there will come a time when you can rest. I raised 6 children (gave birth to all of them) and there was a time when I truly thought I would never be able to sleep through the night again. The youngest is now 28, I have 16 grandchildren (plus another one on the way) and life is good (and I am rested).

Jessi said...

I love your family! <3 I still can't believe everything that happened with Tsega and Brady. I was a fairly new reader when that happened and it was just so scary!

Sharon said...

Life doesn't have to be easy to be good. Amen!

Sha Zam- said...

Happy new year friend. Its a good one. ps: you need 2 dishwashers

-Special Mothertivity- said...

I basically love you. And your blog. And your children. And the stores. Maybe someday we'll be FIRL, but for now, so glad you do the things you do and share bits of it with us. You are bettering the world by being in it. Way to go Scoops.