Parenting any child is like a dance, but I see it the most in my parenting of our adopted child. I'm the lead and I try to nudge her along. Sometimes she falls gracefully into step with me and the dance is beautiful to watch. Other times we get a little off beat or our right feet and left feet mixed up. We're still headed in the same direction, but we're just a tad tangled up. Then there are other times that we are flat out dragging one another in opposite directions because we both want to lead. Adoption parenting is a lot like that. Sometimes things are smooth sailing. Other times, they just aren't so smooth, so pretty, so glorious to watch. Sometimes we get where we need to go, but it was a tangled mess getting there. Sometimes we forget steps we've known forever or get jumbled in something that ought to be easy. Sometimes we try to conquer steps that are too advanced for our level. Or we might glide gracefully through something we were certain would have derailed us entirely. You just never know what sort of dance it will be each day. Graceful and slow? Jumpy like a quickstep? Easy and natural like a waltz? We are moving forward....and...a little backward, too.
We've done a lot of moving forward lately. We've also done a good bit of moving backward. Missteps we thought were long behind us resurface. Insecurities come and go. Moving forward doesn't mean all those little things of the past are cured and gone. They may be forgotten or pushed to the side in the moment, but they are certainly not gone.
What does moving backward look like in our home? In our home right now it looks like a little girl who has easily gone at least two weeks without requiring the security of a snack cup in sight at all hours who suddenly needs it again--ferociously. It looks like a big sister who is fumbling with where she fits in her Mama's heart and attention these days, so she does and says things that are out of character. It looks like a big brother who can't seem to fully trust Mama and Daddy to do an adequate job of parenting, so he steps in and tries to parent despite knowing he shouldn't. It looks like a little girl who continues to have night terrors during her naps. It looks like massive meltdowns over food that had long dissipated. It looks like a little boy who suddenly requires full assistance for all forms of self-care that haven't been needed for months. Or little people who won't nap, but need to nap. It might look like a frazzled mom whose temper is short and ability to focus limited. It might be a Dad who doesn't know who to handle first--the disobedient child or the frustrated and at wits end Mom. Or a Dad who has to fight for his daughter's heart (and even mere acceptance) on a daily basis.
So yes, we are moving backward some. Backward is hard. Some of that stuff was hard to deal with when we were there the first time and while it hasn't gotten any harder than it once was, it feels harder. Why? Because you've seen what moving forward looks like. It looks good. Very good. You've basked in the gorgeousness of moving forward, so going backward has a bit of a sting--reopening wounds that were partially healed. Eventually the sting fades, just like the burn of alcohol on a wound, but instead of slapping a band-aid on it this time, you decide to dig a little deeper. What is causing this wound to reopen and resurface? How can we help it heal? For good. So you get down to work at studying the dance and really try hard to master these early steps so that when things get harder you don't have to go back and relearn all the basics. You get the momentum going again and things start moving forward.
What does moving forward look like? It looks like a little girl who is secure enough in her home to simply be tucked in--no rocking or patting or bouncing needed--just simply tucked and loved. It looks like parents swallowing the lump in their throats and contacting the surgeon with a list of possible dates for the surgical repair process to begin. It looks like daily renewal and grace given to each member of this home. It looks like little fingers mastering the pincer grasp for the first time in months. It sounds like giggles and laughter. It includes shoulder rides with Daddy and ball games in the backyard. It's catching bubbles and making sure each one of them pops. It is a meal without a tantrum, a restrained fist that wants so desperately to hit, or a mouth speaking love that would rather hurl insults. Moving forward feels good.
In all this moving forward and backward I am reminded, day in and day out, that this is not always going to be this way. Forward movement will happen with more frequency. Backward movement will slow. It is simply a season. It can be easy, at times, to feel stuck in this season--like it is the bleakest of winters. I pray I don't get stuck there often or at all because I would be failing to see what it truly is. It is the prettiest of springs, this season we are in. It includes the most magnificent of blooms. The prettiest butterflies. The smells are rich and deep and fragrant. Seasons come and go and seasons change. Right now, I am content to stay right here in this season of forward and backward (and some inside out and upside down). Spring really is the prettiest season, in my opinion, and I am glad to watch in this front row seat of mine all the glorious things God is ready to unfurl. Spring is in full bloom in our home. Rich, full, deep, glorious bloom. And I'm so glad I get to be part of it. We are going to dance the prettiest dance we know right through the tulips and daffodils, the bumblebees and ants, the cherry blossoms and pollen. We are going to dance and blossom and bloom. Together.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance......"