Friday, July 9, 2010
Last night I told my son a whopper. And I told him it again this morning. I am sure I will tell it to him tonight when I tuck him in to his bed. I told him I would be his mom forever and that he had nothing to fear. These are promises I do not have the power to keep. And so I beg the Lord, even as I write, to see the broken heart bleeding through the ribs of this little boy I love and let me live to be ninety-nine. Not because I am worthy or qualified, but because I am here and these are the arms he has known.
We came home from celebrating our anniversary last night to find Mister agitated and arguing with the babysitter, with whom he had been sharing his special book. He was showing her the first photo we had of him, wrinkled from its place in my pocket during the months between referral and travel. When he saw us he frowned and started sharing his frustration. “I do not have two moms. I just have one mom. She said I have two moms.” My husband thanked the sitter and I scooped Mister into a tight embrace to discuss what, to him, was more than a semantical disagreement. I have been trying for over a year to facilitate Mister’s understanding of adoption in ways that help him piece together his feelings and his place in our conspicuous family. Our conversations have been slow and sometimes he has simply met my attempts with confident argumentation, assuring me that he did grow in my tummy. But last night, as I rocked him and he looked at me, his face washed in confusion and fear, I knew he finally understood his loss and I watched the dark clouds of that loss roll across his brow, a near eclipse of the security he has felt in the almost two years he has been home. I could visibly see him thinking: if it happened once, it could happen again.
And so I looked him in the eye and told him I would be him mom forever. I told him that it is okay to be sad, but that he had nothing to fear. I pressed his head against my sternum and promised safety. And we rocked. Finally I asked, “Do you want to talk about this anymore?”
“No,” he said. “I just want you to sing me a song.”
“What song would you like?” I asked.
“The Lord Is My Shepard,” he answered.
That is the song that I sang to him first: as we rode the bus to the embassy; after the coffee ceremony at whose end I pried him from the arms of his favorite nanny; as we boarded our flight home. So, last night, as he was nearly drowning in the words I gave him to make sense of his hurt, we began again at our beginning.
This morning I had to wake him up and immediately he was sobbing. And he made it clear he would not be going to science camp, so after we dropped off sister, we went by daddy’s office for some chocolate and reassurance. My husband crawled into the back of the van and covered Mister in a long embrace, whispering in his ear. I pretended not to watch as our son cried and snuggled his daddy, letting the chocolate in his hand melt and run down his fingers.
There have been other times I have oversold myself. In seeking gainful employ I pictured the version of me I hoped I could grow into with the wisdom of years. At the altar of marriage I made promises, in earnest, that I knew only the grace of God could cover. But nothing has brought me to my knees like the fist of my son, clutched tightly to my shirt. And so I ask for the privilege to walk beside him for a long, long time.
“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” Psalm 116:1