Sunday, November 3, 2013

One less orphan

It's Orphan Sunday. One year ago this week, there was one less orphan. I got to finally bring my son home. So thankful.

The time changed last night. Fall is in full swing here in Nashville and the colors of the trees are especially beautiful this year. Everything about this change in season reminds me of our first days as a family last year. It almost seems like it was years ago and yet, in other ways - seems like just yesterday when we were up at 2:30 am to start our day because of jet lag, when we had to communicate mostly by pointing and a few words I learned in Amharic, when each hour of the day seemed to last forever as we both struggled to adjust to this new normal, when overwhelmed looked like Mihretu scratching my face and trying to bite me, when he screamed anytime the dog got near, when he took 6 baths in a day, when we watched the movie Elf over and over cause he wanted to and that was the only sort of break I got, when sleep was very, very interrupted and Mihretu would freak out if I even started to walk to another room without him, when I was carrying him all the time and my back was killing me, when the Ergo was my best friend, when personal space was a thing of the past, when we were getting to know each other, when setting boundaries and trying to discipline pretty much backfired, when I felt completely lost as a mom but when thank the Lord every new day brought new mercy and new progress.

It's hard to believe it was only a year ago because it's so different now. So fun, so familiar, so silly, so light, so filled with joy. Both of us. I'm so much less stressed. He's so well adjusted. He's smart and his language development never ceases to amaze me. I can pretty much explain most anything to him now and he often says "oh, ok" like he understands it all. He makes me laugh. He's incredibly funny - he really has a great sense of humor. And he just has a way about him that makes everyone love him. He's such a ham. He loves people - I call him my social butterfly. The more people around, the more he hams it up. He's really a great kid. Now that I actually have learned what works and doesn't as far as discipline - he really does respond well. I often uses phrases like "try that again - use your words", "you don't talk to mommy like that. That's not nice". Most often, I have to gently remind him that if he doesn't listen, he will lose a privelege like one less book we read at bedtime or no movie that night. I've had to follow through on taking those things away on many occasions so he knows I'm serious and most often - the mention of it will cause him to rethink what he's up to. He hardly ever has to sit in the time out chair anymore. I think only once in the last 3 or 4 months actually.

It's amazing how much growth and development and change can happen in a year. It was hard at first and some moments still are (it is parenthood after all) but man, I wouldn't change it for anything. I cannot even fathom my life without this amazing blessing in it. I am a blessed momma, that's for sure!

Having a car accident earlier this week sure made me think about life and how much of a blessing it is. What a scary thing. I've replayed it in my mind 100 times since Monday. I am convinced that angels were in that car with us. My friend broke her wrist but other than that - we're all ok. Mihretu didn't even have a seatbelt mark or anything. Not even any soreness and believe me, I asked him a million times if his neck or his back or anything was sore. I'm still sore and it was determined by the xray at the chiropractor that I did have some whiplash but they are getting me taken care of and I already feel like I'm on the mend. Casi had her surgery and we are praying that she will have a quick healing and full recovery. Man, it could have been so much worse. I'm thankful we're all alive. I cannot even imagine how devastating that could have been. It brings me to tears everytime I think about it. When I went back by myself mid-week to get something out of the old van, seeing it again, all smashed up like that, I just lost it. I just sat in it for the longest time thanking God for protecting us. Life is fragile.

I love this life I have as a mom and a director of a non-profit organization and a member of an amazing church that I've called home for 11 years now and part of a community of the most amazing friends I could ever ask for - friends that are pouring into Mihretu's life more than I ever dreamed. I don't even think much about the fact that I'm doing this as a single mom because I'm not alone. I have a huge group of people who come alongside me. I have a supportive family who totally got behind my decision to adopt and love Mihretu to pieces. Super excited that my aunt, cousin and nephew are coming to visit in a few weeks. We are going to have so much fun. I can't wait for them to see how Mihretu is in his own environment and how much he's grown since even July.

I made Mihretu a little "journey to gotcha day" movie with videos from when we first met, when I went back a year later and then again when I went to get him. It's edited in imovie and is about 5 minutes long with 2 songs. He LOVES it and has asked to watch it over and over again since yesterday when I first showed it to him. We talk about him being from Ethiopia and celebrating one year with mommy all the time. I want him to grow up knowing his story so it'll be part of him and never a shock or bad thing. He gets so proud when he says "I'm from Ethiopia." I love that! I want to always celebrate where he came from.

What a journey we are on. I can't wait to see what the next year has in store.
Left photo taken about a year and a half ago. Right photo taken last month. What a difference!

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