"You've got your hands full."
Yeah, I know. Thanks for telling me. Thanks for reminding me that I need a lot of luck and prayer. Thanks for noticing that my hair is a mess, my clothes hardly match, and that a little makeup wouldn't hurt. Thanks for stopping me in the middle of the store to smile and share with me your personal views on my family. Thanks. A lot.
Well-meaning strangers approach me often, especially in stores where I'm soothing a fussy baby, re-directing an energetic toddler, and attempting to keep up with a busy preschooler. The comment is always the same. After a once-over, there's the smile, and then the...wait for it...
Yes. I have my hands full. I know better than anyone.
First, overall my sentiment is this: love multiples with more children; love doesn't deplete or divide with more children.
BUT, what does deplete? Time. Energy. Money. Calmness. Predictability.
When we got the call for Baby Z, we were thrilled. The girls couldn't wait to have a baby brother, and their excitement only grew (and continues to grow) when he came home. We arrived home, after being out of state for TEN days, exhausted. We were ready to settle in, hibernate, and then, get back into a routine.
Steve and I discussed the other night how challenging it is to have time for just Baby Z. After all, besides Steve working 10 hours a day and me keeping up with my book promotion, the house, and the basic needs of the kids, there's the extended needs of the kids. Miss E wants to play school and wants me to practice writing letters and numbers with her. Baby E is into EVERYTHING. (If I could only bottle her energy and sell it...) And it's winter. Still. And if it's even the slightest bit warm outside, it's raining. And if we have playdates, they are cancelled due to illness. So the kids, who are used to many many playdates every week, only have Steve and I to entertain them.
I'm pretty good about ignoring my kids. :) By that I mean, it's healthy (I strongly believe) for kids to have lots and lots of free time to get creative and learn through play. I'm not one to hover over my children every second of every day.
But I also balance their free time with time with us. They crave our attention, our approval, our praise, and our discipline.
Throw a new baby into the mix, and he's got to just go with the flow.
But adoption, well, it's different. There's no nine-month pregnancy where husband and wife attend ultrasound appointments together, sit side-by-side at a baby shower, stay up late at night eating craved-for ice cream and rubbing the mom's pregnant stomach.
There's paperwork. Phone calls. E-mails. Visits. Court documents. Lawyers. Social workers. There's a lot of official business.
Then, one day. Plop. Into your arms. Here's your baby.
Happily ever after.
Though we are all thrilled when the child is placed in our arms, when we think, for the first time, this is when the wait is over and this is it! Done with all the work and worry. WRONG. It's just beginning.
Bonding with a new baby, one you haven't homegrown and birthed, takes work.
I talk in my book about the many methods of bonding, but I'm embarrassed to say that I've been laid back (too laid back?) about incorporating them into our everyday lives. Baby Z has to just go with the flow. The demands of the most needy child prevails every time (whomever that is in that moment).
I think it's easy for experienced adoptive parents to forget the importance of a refresher-course. Of remembering and implementing what we know is important with each and every adoption, each child.
Bonding with a new child, like anything, takes work. But there is always reward.
My hands ARE full. Very. I can make a necessary phone call, load the dishwasher, get my toddler a snack, discipline my preschooler, and hold the infant in the same 2 minutes. I have to.
But I'm also trying to yield to God's whispers. When He says to stop and pick up my baby. When He says to have string cheese and apples for dinner instead of spending a half-hour making a more elaborate meal and instead spend time with the kids. When He says to meet my child's eyes instead of using my eyes to focus on a chore or list or text message.
Parenting these kiddos is never going to get easier. I will probably never wake up very well rested, I will probably never have enough time to exercise and whittle my body down to a model's, I will probably never have a clean home office.
On my nightstand, but yet to be read.