Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the day that Joe and I met Xavier. It marks the instant he became our son, the second our hearts were owned by that shy smile with the dimple, and those large dark curious brown eyes framed by the longest eye lashes in the known universe. That first meeting we shook his hand and Joe could tell he wanted more. So he asked, "Do you want a hug?" and Xavier went right into our arms. We all stood together there for a minute, for the first of many hugs ahead.
This was day three of our big family adventure!
After our initial meeting, we went out to lunch with Xavier and his case worker, and the second we walked out the door he ran into some other kids he lived with and piped up with this proud big voice and said "These are my parents!" And it began. This adventure started right off from there and hasn't stopped since. These last two years have been the best and hardest of our lives. The most beautiful and emotional. The smelliest and most frustrating. I've never read so much Shel Silverstein and Joe has never argued with a small person so much over story problems. But these two years make me so excited to see what comes next for all of us, but mostly for the brave, funny, high energy, strong, wild child we have the pleasure of calling our son. Ok, in order to stop myself from crying while writing this entire post, in honor of the last two years crash course in parenting, I've got a top eleven (in honor of Xavier's age) list of things I've learned from being the proud mom to my superb, and superbly challenging, child:
1. Homework sucks, has sucked, will always suck, no matter how old you get. I still hate fractions. But it's a lovely thing to be able to say "I've finished school. This is your homework, not mine. I'm not getting graded here, you are. Let me help you, kid."
2. Being outside for at least thirty minutes a day, even if it's terribly cold or hot, makes us all feel better even if/when we fight it. There are locks on front doors for this very reason. You can go five minutes without a drink or a snack. I know you can. Get back outside.
3. White karate uniforms are the dumbest thing ever invented. Dumbest. I decree they should all be black and maybe made of some high tech, affordable, stain resistant fabric not yet invented. Get on that project, fabric companies!
4. Tide Stain pens are the most fantastic thing ever invented. Hands down. Better than iPhones, better than electricity. Better than Netflix.
5. I have no idea what's coming next in our lives and I'm starting to be ok with that. Just starting to. Ok, not today, but maybe tomorrow or by Friday I'll be getting there. Maybe 2017?
6. If a drum is sitting there in the living room every single child who walks into your house will find it and immediately try to play it. Every single one, every single time. Even if you've repeatedly said, "Don't do it, dude." They must touch the drum.
7. I've never felt more loved in my entire life. Every call for "Mom!", every request for family Wii game or movie night, every polite demand of "Mom, can you make me a smoothie?" at 7:30pm, it all makes me feel needed and that's a deeply satisfying feeling. Every tiny unsolicited "I love you" from that nearly asleep little boy, makes up for the chaos and arguments of the day to day.
8. I've never felt more scrutinized in my entire life. No one but your own child can think it's appropriate to ask in the middle of dinner, "Hey Mom, why do you have a double chin?"
9. My heart is bigger and softer and stronger than I ever knew.
10. A house full of dudes means a house full of farts, shoes everywhere, and smelly socks and dirty dishes. But mostly goofy, easy fun and hugs, and so much wrestling and tickling and shouting. And we only have the one kid.
11. Hangry is a fact. And while you think you're preventing it, it can still sneak up on you like some kind of masked horror movie villain. Suddenly it's there, there's no creepy music to warn you though, and no granola bar or yogurt can be digested quickly enough to avoid a minor melt down.
Thanks for being here for us during the last two years. We've needed you and relied on you, even if you were just listening or commiserating or silently cheering us on, we know it, we felt it and it has made all the difference along the way. A huge thanks to our parents, our siblings, friends and extended family, for taking Xavier for a few hours to give us a fancy date night, for loving him almost as immediately as we did, for being patient, and kind and generous in your attention and time for him, he's a deeply lucky kid to have the extended family and network of cheerleaders that he has. And so are we. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And here's to the next step in this grand adventure together.