Sunday, August 10, 2014

Our New Normal And Oh How Nice It Is!

I am sitting in my home office right now typing this as my son is in my bed on the other side of the house with his nap music on and several books to look at as he falls asleep. He's not asleep yet but he's winding down. And he's in another room by himself. More than just for a few minutes. On the other end of the house. And he's not freaking out - at all. In fact, this "look at books and rest until you fall asleep" thing has been our new nap time routine for about 2 weeks now. And it's lovely. So lovely.

When I think back to those first months when I brought him home just under 2 years ago, I have to pause and take note of how far we've come. I remember when I couldn't even walk in the other direction without him freaking out. I remember when he was literally next to me 24/7. I couldn't eat, sleep, shower, anything without him literally right next to or on top of me. In the middle of the night, while sleeping, he would reach out for me and climb right on me. As overwhelming as all of this was for me, can you imagine how overwhelming life must've been for him? That he would be so fearful of being alone, that even when he was supposed to be sound asleep resting, he was reaching out, even in his subconscious, to make sure I was still there. I cannot even fully comprehend what must've been going on in his heart and mind.

Can I just say how thankful I am for all the healing that has already taken place and all the progress that has already happened? I am beyond thankful. Sometimes in the midst of the new normal and the busyness of life - you forget for a moment where you were 2 years ago. And then you pause and find yourself saying "wow!" Because wow - we've come so far. He's come so far.

He's 5 now. He starts kindergarten tomorrow. And he's only been home with mommy for just under 2 years. Crazy to become a mom and then be sending your kid to kindergarten less than 2 years later. That feels like crazy rapid warp speed - cause it is! He's been at a fabulous Montessori school since 5 weeks after coming home. And he thrives there. His class is mixed ages - 3 to 6 year olds - all in one class. The teacher and assistant work with the kids at their individual levels but having mixed ages has been so perfect for him. He never felt behind or noticed that he wasn't at the same level as other kids his age. Because he never had to be. And low and behold - he's caught right up to his age. Amazing how fast kids learn and grow at this age. And developmentally - it's like 4 years has gone by in only 2. He's grown like 6 inches and although he's still small for 5 - he is catching up in size too. And just in the last few months, has outgrown 2 shoe sizes. My little boy is a big kindergartener now. He had school all summer - summer semester at his school is super fun - Friday is water day where they wear bathing suits and get to play on a blow up water slide, Tuesday is ice cream day and then they have art once a week and then on certain days throughout the summer - they had fun stuff like puppet show day or pony rides at the school or the zoo brought a few animals. He had a fun summer. This past week he had off and he's been asking me all week when he gets to go back to school and see his friends and his teachers. He says he misses them and is really excited to go back tomorrow. Oh how thankful I am that he loves his school and wants to go. As a single working mom, it would be so hard if that were not the case.

As of a few weeks ago, I now get to work from home. We moved out of our office - it was a good move financially and practically since we no longer needed that much space when a majority of our staff are not in the office each day. We certainly didn't need an office space and all the costs that go along with it for only two of us to be there full-time each day. So it's been a good transition. I am loving working from home. I am so much less distracted and get so much more done. I am not spending as much time driving since M's school is close to us. And the dog doesn't have to be crated or home alone cause I'm here. She just lays at my feet and is pretty chill all day. Which reminds me, if you've been reading my other blog posts - we had two puppies. Well, we only have one now. Two proved to be way too chaotic for this single momma. Our house was a constant state of wild. I had a number of friends kindly ask if I might want to consider only keeping one. And I have to admit, I was pretty stressed out. Both dogs are great dogs. But when you had them together - it was nonstop wrestle, bark, growl, roll-around mania!! So I reached out the agency I adopted them from and had to admit I didn't know what I was getting into and was too stressed out to handle two and ask them to help find Buddy a home. They were so gracious and kind. And I was willing to keep him until a home was found. It took a little over a month but he found a great home. We are even still in touch with the people and got to have 1 playdate with him since. I LOVE having only 1 dog and Mihretu is loving on her so much more. With two, whenever he would try to love on them - they would both jump all over him and it got overwhelming to him as they got bigger so Mihretu was mostly not wanting to interact with them at all. Now that we just have 1, he's constantly playing with her and hugging her and wanting to know where she is at all times. She even sleeps with us now and just stays in the bed the whole night. I still lay down with him till he falls asleep so she does too. I almost always fall asleep for a few hours too and then get up in the middle of the night to go to my bed. She just comes along. In the mornings, Mihretu comes into my room and climbs in bed with us and we all snuggle for a bit before we get up. I just love it. Very good decision I made to just keep one. We know now - we are a 1 dog family!

Between only one dog, getting to work from home and all the great progress Mihretu has made, including our new naptime routine where I read him 1 book and then turn on his music and leave him in the bed with several other books to look at and I go to the other end of the house to work or do whatever - our new normal is really nice. I still have my moments where I very much lose my patience and have to apologize. And he still has his meltdowns and he's definitely got a sassy side. Lately he likes to argue about most everything I ask him to do. Or blame the dog if he makes a mess but doesn't want to admit it or blame me if he trips and falls and gets hurt - even though I'm nowhere near him. He's kind of in this blaming someone else stage. And arguing stage. So it's not like it's all roses and chocolate over here but it sure beats the survival mode we started out in.

That 2 year Gotcha Day Anniversary is rapidly approaching. On October 28, 2012 - I arrived at the Care Center and walked out a few hours later with my son - never to have to leave him behind again. I didn't know exactly what to expect or what our journey would look like - I had a pretty good idea that it would be hard. It was and is - but in much different ways than I had thought it would be. But I also never could have imagined or known how amazing this kid I get to call my son would be. How much everyone who knows him would love him. How silly and smart he would be. How resilient and strong he was. I didn't quite know how much life was going to change or in what ways but I knew that I was making the right decision. I've never doubted that. And the more time goes on, the more grateful I am for the courage to make that decision and charge into the unknown with this little guy. Hands down the best decision I've ever made. I can't wait to celebrate our 2 year Gotcha Day! Lots to celebrate indeed.

LOVE our Ethiopian family

We just returned from Ethiopia and oh boy - my heart is completely wrecked. Mihretu and I traveled on our own last March (2018) over his ...