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Thursday, September 15, 2011


Down here in Georgia, the summer heat is dwindling away and the signs of fall are everywhere. I always look forward to the changing of the seasons… by the time a new season rolls around I’ve gotten sick of the heat, the cold, the pollen, the dead leaves and whatever else has gotten on my nerves over the last three months.

I tend to spend the last few weeks of most seasons wishing it away and looking forward to greener pastures. Then the season ends and, oddly, I’m sad and I miss the old one. So it is with my children. In parenting, I go through seasons. I get tired and frustrated and bored and I wish for greener pastures…And then once they’re gone, I just want them back.

When we adopted Hannah and Joseph, it became an entirely new season around here. We all had to make a lot of changes and, with each change, I grieved a little bit. Delighted as I was to have our new ones home, there were times that I mourned for the way things used to be. (Side note: I do not feel guilty or like a bad adoptive parent for admitting these things on my blog. I experienced the same kind of feelings every time a new child entered my home – whether by adoption or the regular old way. It just takes time to adjust to having a new person(s) join your family).

One change that particularly bothered me was the new bedroom set-up. Last December, both Madeline and Davis had to give up their own rooms, their space, their clothes, their toys and their own everything in order to make space for their new siblings. Hannah moved in with Madeline and Joseph moved in with Davis. So we had a “boy room,” a “girl room” and baby Charlotte had a tiny nursery down the hall, next to the master bedroom.

Neither Madeline nor Davis ever complained about this arrangement, not for a minute. They shared their rooms, they shared their things and they delighted in this. I know these are valuable lessons for my children to learn. And I want them to learn to share, to sacrifice and to understand that they are not the center of the world and they never will be. But I still admit, I had a really hard time with this one.

I mostly struggled because this new “roommate arrangement” changed our family dynamic and our routines so drastically. I missed the way things used to be…especially with Madeline. Madeline is my oldest and anyone who knows her will tell you -- she’s something pretty special. I used to sit on Madeline’s bed and talk with her at night, just the two of us. After the adoption, we still sat and talked – but it wasn’t quite the same.

I tried to cuddle with both girls under the covers and read to them at night, just as I'd done with Madeline. But, at first, this was hard and um, rather unpleasant. Not only was reading and listening an entirely new skill to Hannah and Joseph, but they both came to us not speaking a single word of English. Neither of them were particularly interested in sitting still and quiet at all – but definitely not for long chapter books, with no pictures, being read in a foreign language. It was a struggle and it was a bummer and I really took it hard… because this was my special time with Madeline. I was entitled to this. This bedtime routine was my God-given parental right. Or so I thought.

So I responded in the way that any reasonable, mature, Christian adult would: I pouted for a while. Sometimes I cried and stomped my feet. I complained to my husband and my friends and sometimes I complained to God. But ultimately, I knew I had to ask Him to soften and change my heart on this matter. And little by little, He did.

Bit by bit, we fell into a new normal -- it wasn’t the old way, but it was a sweet new routine. Over time, Hannah and Joseph learned English. They both learned to sit still, to listen and to even enjoy books. I learned to choose a better variety of books at different reading levels.

But, most importantly, I learned to make extra room in my lap, my heart and my life for whatever God was calling me to do. After all, as a "wise woman" once taught her children, you're not the center of the world and you never will be.

It's not about us. And the more tightly we cling to our stuff, our plans and our ways, the less likely we'll be to fulfill His purpose for our lives.


LauraC said...

Thank you so much for sharing; it is actually the most encouraging to those of us not quite where you are (we're still learning, waiting on the Lord's timing) to know that things are not perfect. Well, we certainly know that in our heads, but when everything seems perfect, it's hard to feel it in our hearts. So thank you for sharing your struggles and reality to the rest of us.

Shannon Evans said...

I really love to read other moms' struggles. It paints a truer picture and lets everyone just breathe one collective sigh of relief that we aren't the only ones!! Thank you for sharing something so personal. Love ya friend!

Anonymous said...

Ah man! Why did you have to write this today, when of course, I'm feeling OVERLY selfish and entitled to the way my life USED to be? As much as I don't want to hear it, I need to, so thank you.


Gabby said...

I love this post, and you will think it is ridiculous, but sometimes I rush through the nighttime rituals because I am so dag gum tired I can barely hold my eyes open. Now that my kids are middle school aged and in to a lot of activities that are later in the evening (including church nights), their bedtime is much closer to MINE!
I still cherish the nights we read, but mostly we pray, learn our verse, and do a quick snuggle (with the dog right in the middle of it all) and call it a night.
Love that you recognize when God is teaching you, sometimes it takes me forever to get the simpliest of messages.

Griffin said...

Amen, Shelly. Thanks again for remind us of good truth about God's will and His ways!

Anonymous said...

Love that line, "make extra room on my lap my heart and my life for whatever God was calling me to do." Sums up life around here these days pretty nicely. Encouraging words. Thanks:)
Stephanie O'D

Courtney said...

thank you. i needed to hear this today.