I haven’t been the best blogger since we got home from China. Life has been full, as I’m sure you can imagine, and it seems like I spent every moment taking care of some small person. I’m grateful for what feels like an extra dose of energy and patience in my heart these days—I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s helping me find joy and deep gratitude in a season that could just as well be frantic and hectic.
We have finally passed through the crazy jet-lagged re-entry, and we’re settling into a new rhythm of life that actually feels really good to me. Getting enough sleep is a miracle—I feel like I can anything if I can just get eight solid hours of sleep. I’m not getting that EVERY night, but I am getting it enough nights to feel like myself again.
Maya and Sam are doing really well with this transition too. They are sweet, lively siblings—always willing to lend a hand with Matthew. Neither of them have said to me, “I wish Matthew hadn’t come home to our family,” which I consider a small miracle. I sort of expected them to have a tougher time. But instead they have a lot to teach me about acceptance, about not over-thinking everything, about just allowing relationships to develop naturally.
Sam, especially, has surprised me with his affection for Matthew. I expected him to be the most jealous and to have the hardest time with this transition. Instead he’s the sweet one—he kisses Matthew and hugs him all day long, and Matthew absolutely loves the affection from his big brother. He’s really attentive to Matthew’s needs, bringing him a toy or a blanket when he needs one, running to get a towel to wipe up Matthew’s “burble” (that’s what we call spit-up in our house).
And Maya is also such a great big sister. She’s helpful, thoughtful, and really attuned to what Matthew needs. Really, both my kids have surprised me with all their affection and love towards their littlest brother.
But perhaps the one who has surprised me the most in all this is Matthew himself. He is learning something new every day. I predict that in less than three weeks, he’ll be walking. He’s strong—he pulls himself up on anything he can find (chairs, the handle of the freezer, the coffee table, my pant leg). Instead of the army crawl that he did in China, he’s doing a real crawl now, up on hands and knees. He is starting to babble and make sounds that resemble English consonants: Gs and Ns and Ps. We sit him in the high chair during mealtime and let him experiment with food (normally rice cereal and applesauce) and he’s actually starting to put some of it in his mouth. He cracks himself up all the time—and he’ll just sit on the floor and laugh. He still loves his mama’s tickles, and he’ll pull my hands back down to his soft, squishy thighs just so he can laugh some more.
I find that I wake up each day grateful that our boy is home, that our trip is over, and that we get to spend another day learning to be a family. I still have moments when the enormity of what we’ve done hits me, and I feel a little overwhelmed. Parenting three children is harder than parenting two children. But then when I think about the alternative—my sweet boy still living in his orphanage in southern China—I feel a rush of gratitude that he is here with us.
We had our first visit at Children’s Hospital this past Monday in their craniofacial clinic, and we felt so supported and encouraged by the staff there. We received many complements about how beautiful and healthy our boy is, which was such a gift. It looks like the first surgery Matthew will have is the cleft lip repair, and it will be sometime in early August. We’re still waiting to schedule the specific date, but we have decided to move forward with the first surgery as soon as we can. The lip surgery is actually a fairly routine thing—it’s mostly just a plastic surgery that will leave Matthew with some stitches that will need to heal. We’re told that it’s only a few days of intense recovery before he feels pretty much back to normal, which is really amazing.
I was tickled to meet Matthew’s surgeon and find out that he himself is an Asian male. Nerdy me, I looked up his last name and see that it’s Cantonese in origin—so my Cantonese son will have his lip and palate repaired by a smart, handsome, Cantonese-American doctor. I know that’s not really a big deal, but I thought it was kind of sweet for Matthew to have that connection.
We continue to be well cared for by friends in our neighborhood (and friends in other cities too) who come and bring us meals and hugs and warm care. I know that perhaps it’s a bit overused, but I love the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” I really believe that’s true, and we are feeling the warm warms and deep love of our village in so many ways these days.
Sam’s 4th birthday is on Friday, and we will celebrate with a family party on Friday night and Sam’s first “kid party” on Sunday with 7 friends who are his age (that was very important to him—to only have people who are his actual age). Aaron’s mom and sister are coming tomorrow to be part of Sam’s special weekend, and to see Maya’s ballet recital on Saturday evening. It’s bound to be a full weekend, but we’re so looking forward to being together with family and friends to celebrate our sweet almost-4-year-old.
And the sunshine today, on the Summer Solstice, brought streams of yellow light into our house all day—which didn’t really matter because we spent almost every waking minute outside, enjoying what felt like the first REAL day of summer around here. Maya’s done with school next Wednesday, and then we will really relax into a summer schedule. Lazy days are our number one priority!
|Sam plays with his brother|
|A neighborhood walk--Matthew loves riding up on Daddy's shoulders|
|Practicing with food|
|His thumb still tastes better than the food|
|Sweet big sister!|