Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mama's Day

"Mama, can you make one of those pretty bows like the ones for our hair?  And can you make a box?  Do you make boxes?  And can you help me wrap the box?  I want to put one of my toys in it.  Then I'll hide it.  For Mother's Day!"

A friend asked me today what I'd be doing for Mother's Day this year.  Apparently, per my 4-year-old's request, I'll be making bows and boxes and wrapping...So I can get a recycled toy from my daughters.  How green of them.

Later on, another friend implored me to enjoy these times, because, in her words, "...when they are sixteen they'll act like they don't even KNOW you.  They won't even CARE that it's Mother's Day.  Trust me!"  Wow.  So I'm going from wrapping my own used puzzle with half the pieces missing to being completely ignored.  That's Mother's Day, huh?


Mother's Day to me is a special day because it makes me slow down and think about what it means to be a mother.  Yes, I'll honestly admit that I hope to get a few extra minutes of sleep, a scribbly handmade card, and an extra-delicious cappuccino.  But my day isn't going to be spent drinking mimosas or at a spa or wearing heels at some fancy restaurant.  It's going to be spent with the two little beauties who made me a Mama.  Thinking about the amazing love we have between us, and how it came to be.  Questioning how I could ever be so fortunate to have the most rewarding job in the world...a mother.  Emmie and Rosie's mother.  I'll also be thinking about Emmie's two mothers in China, and Rosie's one, and how their birthmothers made the ultimate sacrifice.  I'll be wondering how in the world I'd ever be able to navigate this minefield that is motherhood without my own precious mother to help me every step of the way.  Remembering my Nana who raised two children, and opened her loving heart and her home to countless foster children.  Thinking about my other Nana who raised five children, and wondering how she did it.

Truthfully, no matter how we celebrate the day tomorrow, I'm pretty certain my present came tonight.  I was knocked down with some stomach bug out of the blue, and the heartfelt tenderness and love my girls showed me was the sweetest thing to witness.  They brought all of their favorite dolls to lay on the couch with me.  They made me about 10 cards.  They covered me with stickers.  They "read" stories to me.  They decorated the room I was relaxing in.  They kissed my belly over and over to make it feel better.  They even did a musical performance for me.  (Goodness, it's just a stomach bug that will hopefully be over in 24 hours!)  Watching them work as a team and snap to action as soon as I said I felt crummy, hatching plans about how to make me feel better and what surprises to bring me made my heart nearly explode.  This is what being a mother is about.  This is my reward and my present for taking care of these girls the very best I can day in and day out.  And no present wrapped up in a box, no champagne brunch, is better than this.

Getting serenaded by the dollies.

A performance in plain clothes just isn't a performance.  So they
had a costume change and really belted out "Mary Had a Little Lamb."  The
extended remix version.

"We're taking care of you, " Rosie said over and over.  Jeez, gals,
it's just a stomach bug that will be gone tomorrow!

So tomorrow we'll enjoy some time as a family, probably doing some of the girls' favorite things as well as mine.  I know I'll get all teary-eyed watching their excitement as I help the girls wrap and then unwrap my "gift."  I'll look at this beautiful family that my husband and I worked so hard to make and feel like the luckiest woman alive.  I'll tell my own mom for the zillionth time how I finally get it.  I really, truly understand and appreciate everything she did for us.  All of the days spent caring for us.  All of the nights spent worrying about us.  And, most importantly, the complete joy we have brought to her life.  Because there is nothing at all in the world like being a mother.  Nothing even comes close.

Moments of sweet perfection...

It doesn't get better than this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

One Year with our Rosie

Every time someone meets Rosie for the first time, they say, "She's TINY!"  Which, of course, is true.  But for a teeny, tiny little girl, she has a big personality and an even bigger heart.  She lights up any room with pure joy.

One year ago today, we met our little spitfire in a crowded, loud room in Guangzhou, China.  She was sick and timid, wearing a cute pink sweatsuit and slippers.  When I picked up my baby for the first time, I couldn't believe how small she was.  I felt like her little body might slip through my arms.

In those first few days in China, there was probably nothing that Rosie wanted more than to slip through my arms.  She wasn't super happy with any of us, but she definitely liked me the least.  It broke my Mama heart to be shunned by the little person I had yearned for and dreamed about for months.  Whenever Baba left the room or was out of her sight, she would look at me with sad eyes and say something over and over that we later found out was "Baba come back."  Even though I knew in my brain that she didn't know any of us at all, I still felt hurt and like a failure.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't take it personally.

Rosie threw some tantrums that were so wild that we feared our little sweetheart would hurt herself.  She was confused, sad, and unable to communicate with us.  As a result, she would throw herself on the floor and do what we nicknamed the "crab" where she would crawl on her back wildly to get away from us. During these tantrums, she seemed to have no regard for her own safety, nearly "crab crawling" into the walls.  We ended up strategically placing pillows all over the floor in preparation for these tantrums.  She liked none of us during these times.

Unlike our first days with Emmie, there were certainly moments of laughter and smiles.  Rosie ate and played and was very responsive to us.  Her little personality as a jokester began shining through very early on.  Although Emmie was struggling with having to share her Mama, Rosie benefited greatly from Emmie's presence.  This was a time when Emmie's amazing heart really shined through.

During the past year, we have watched Rosie blossom into an amazing little girl with a huge personality.  Her language has come along much quicker than we imagined it would.  She is as smart as a whip, and doesn't miss a trick.  She loves to dance and sing.  Her favorite outfit is jeans and a monkey shirt.  The little girl who was terrified of grass and sand and the ocean loves feeling it between her toes and splashing in the waves.  She has a very adventurous spirit.  She is goofy and funny and silly.  She is definitely the sidekick to Emmie.  The color commentator.  The Ed McMahon to Emmie's Johnny Carson.  She loves to make people laugh, play jokes, and act goofy.  She has a contagious laugh, and the little dimple under her right eye is a perfect sign of her happiness.

When we met Rosie, she didn't care about hugs or kissing boo boos or any of that.  She'd fall, get up, brush herself off, and move on.  We had to teach her that kind of love and tenderness.  Now, Rosie can show us that she has an amazingly tender heart.  If someone coughs--anyone--she asks, "Are you OK?"  She loves kissing boo boos, and will pat you on the back, saying, "It's OK, honey" if you are sad.  Today she walked by me in the kitchen and said, "Ooh! I forgot something!" and wrapped her little body around my leg and kissed me.  "There you go!  Perfect!" she exclaimed.

One year after we struggled in China, Rosie is a Mama's girl.  Well, and a Baba's girl.  And an Emmie's girl.  She loves us fiercely, and tells us all the time...right out of the blue.  She gives kisses and hugs freely and often.  For a little person, her hugs are some of the tightest, most heartfelt hugs I have ever experienced.  When I kiss her goodnight, she often pulls my head to her chest and asks me to lay it there.  She takes her tiny little hand and strokes my face with a tenderness I only dreamed I'd experience from her.  "You my Mama," she says over and over, with a look of perfect contentment on her face.

This little girl has come such a long way in just a year.  She's had an awful lot of medical "stuff" to contend with, in addition to basically learning a new life, and she's making it look easy.  And I, of course, know it is not easy.  She is strong and brave and someone we could all look up to.  And she's my daughter.  Our daughter.  Emmie's sister.  Grafted into our lives, into our family, into every fiber of my being.  Just when I think my life can't get any better, that my heart can't get any fuller, it does.

Thank you, Rosie, for letting us love you, for accepting us--with all of our imperfections--as your family.  We are blessed and honored and forever grateful.  Happy Rosie Day!

Those first few moments....

Our first glimpse of tiny Rosie.

Not too sure about Emmie yet.

An hour after we met.
Rosie looks (understandably) dazed.  My hand is on Emmie's head
because she was devastated I was holding her new little sister.
One year later....

Just chillin' it in a patch of dandelions.  She even makes
weeds look pretty.

From arch rivals to best friends.


Our loves.

What better way to celebrate Rosie Day than with Chinese food.
Rosie (the kid who never eats) ate her weight in fried rice and wings.

Eating Chinese food, just like we did one year ago today half way
around the world...

...except here you end Chinese food meals with Jell-O.  Didn't
see a lot of that in China