To mom: every year that passes, you are celebrated... thank you for the gifts you have given me and the way you taught me to be a better mom, and person. I miss you constantly.
To China mom: your loss and sacrifice are the reason I celebrate this day as a mother. I am so very sorry, and so very grateful. I wish you peace in your heart.
To the second mom in my life, my sister Karen: you are my rock. My confident. The place I know I can land, and my loudest and best cheerleader. I love you with my whole heart.
To all my family and friends who celebrate this day with me: you are a source of constant inspiration.. Kim, Dawn... through struggle and triumph and ups and downs, you rise above the rest. If I am half the mom you guys are... I am a very, very good mom.
To all those who have lost children, and moms- this day is bittersweet at best- my heart is with you.
Just over a month and the end of the school year is upon us, and my girl leaves the first grade behind. I am often dumbfounded by the passage of time and how we move at super sonic speed from one period of our lives into the next. When I got this photo back from our local film shop, I glimpsed into E's future. There is a maturity and wisdom under her exuberance and silliness. And, well, she is just stunning.
I wonder about her roots, her beginnings. I imagine her parents as exceptional people who were overwhelmed by circumstance. I say exceptional because it's impossible that a child with her particular brand of kindness, happiness, brilliance and beauty could be created from anything less. These are my thoughts, not rooted in any facts. But deep down in that place where instinct resides, I believe myself.
At the beginning of this year, I decided to gather as much of her past as I could for her- joining birth parent search groups, enlisting friends to inquire about her life at that first orphanage before she was moved to her home in Beijing. Having a formal "birth parent analysis" completed (where I learned that just as I suspected, her birth date is in all likelihood accurate, not estimated). Sending in samples of her DNA to map out her ancestry and learn about traits that make her uniquely E. Someday, I hope she will be able to use these tools to help her better understand who she is - that while they will never diminish that primal loss, they will give her stronger roots to stand in the face of all she will never know.
And in the meantime, all the time, I will hold on tight to this warp speed thing called "time"- and watch her grow and mature into the amazing child and person she is and was from that first moment I laid eyes on her.
I have let my writing fall off the map. I find it impossible most of the time to gather up the moments of any day and somehow transcribe them into letters and phrases.
I failed to mark that day when it dawned on my girl (we've spoken of it numerous times since our first week together, but it sunk in about a month ago) that she has a mom and a dad in China, a mom that is not her precious ayi "Jie Jie", but one that gave birth to her and left her. There were weeks where each night ended in tears as she fought to process this truth. No amount of holding her or loving her will ever replace or diminish this loss, but I hope it gives her the strength to face the grief and ultimately, to be a healthier and happier human for it. Grief has such amazing power: it can bury us or transform us.
She is an incredibly smart girl and I am amazed at her ability to recall events or places or people with little or no prompting from me. Her scores in school are great, but she continues to struggle with reading comprehension (tremendously) and finds reward in finishing a task first rather than taking her time and making sure she is reading test questions. But I see this at home too, and I'm not convinced it is entirely that she is rushing through the questions. I think she is (like her mom) a highly visual person, who tunes out a "story" if it is being read to her. My guess is once she has a better command of the language (it being her second, after all), the pieces will fall into place and probably much more rapidly than we would expect.
She has gained 10 pounds in less than a year- massive growth spurt. I look at this picture posted here and think: "I am looking at the future". How much she has changed. Unfortunately, growth spurt equals a high potential for spinal cord issues, and she is having the same symptoms as last year. Full brain and spinal MRI are scheduled Monday with a follow up with the neurosurgeon on Tuesday. I dread hearing the word "surgery" but I will be surprised if we are told anything different. I hate it for her because she is a natural worrier and will obsess until the day comes. Time to browse P*nterest and make a list of fun mommy and me activities :)
She loves her Chinese culture class (weekly) and has language on Friday. She will tell me constantly that she does not want to go to Friday's class, but once she is there, she is (according to her teacher) the first to raise her hand, the only child that understands the phrases/words in context, and is completely engaged. At home, she will ask repeatedly what a word is in Chinese, and so we will sit at G**gle translate and find those words. Yesterday when cleaning the house I found a dry erase board of hers where she had written her numbers in Chinese, up to 10, over and over. So it is sinking in, even if a part of her is fighting it. I just can't cave on this. She has a lot of privileges and the one thing I am insistent about is that she learn her first language (that she was speaking fluently 3 years ago)! It has been incredible learning with her and I am hungry for more and my personal goal is to be fluent as well. Or as close to fluent as is possible.
She is still the happiest person I have ever known. The easiest child even with her multiple physical challenges. She is aching to start archery and misses tennis (not sure what happened to her coach). She loves drawing and painting and will do math problems for "fun". (SO not like either of her parents!). She's an incredible dancer. She is silly and full of life. When she learns a new word, it is used at every opportunity.
She still writes me love notes, every.single.day. That makes me the luckiest mom in the world. I am keeping them in a special box, along with artwork that she made "for mama".
G and I still have not married and this September will mark 4 years since our engagement in China. I am dragging my feet, but not because of him. I just don't want to compromise and can't swallow a courthouse wedding. So, money is tight and it will happen when the time is right.
Hope everything is wonderful in your corner of the world.