It was one month ago today, the 10th of March, that we first met you. And it’s so hard to imagine that we never knew you before then. You feel like you have fit right here since forever, and yet I still catch myself, wonderingly thinking, is she really mine? You are pure mystery and totally known, all at the same time. You are the answer to my dreams, and yet my dreams of who you really are, haunt me with the not knowing. Our language and cultural barriers, in ways make us like newborn mother and child, physically present, yet existing in worlds impassable by language or experience. I want to know you more, that is my constant desire. To hear your thoughts, to listen to your words and understand, to recognize your every facial expression, to know you inside-out.
And isn’t this the longing of Papa God for each of us. Not so much to see us “holy” but to see us wholly.
I mourn that you were never in my belly, not because it makes our relationship any less, but because the level of intimacy we experience now makes me long for the physical intimacy of your skin growing inside of mine. I wish I was the one to feel your first kicks, to push you into this world, to wonder at your vernix-covered skin, to nurse you. I am so thankful for your first mother, but I am also jealous of the gift she was given, to be the one who brought you to life, who heard your first words, saw your first steps, spoke your first language. Oh she must have been a wonder to produce a child like you.
You’ve been with us a whole month, but there is still so much new. So many firsts. I remember how, today, on your one month family anniversary, you tried ketchup for the first time, with your home made hash browns and eggs and bacon. And you liked it. And we all said, “you’re truly American now.”
It was today that you first sounded out words in English, using Starfall, and you right away decided that “a” and “the” were extraneous and unnecessary and just plain old stopped using those. 🙂
Today, I watched you run across the school playground with a friend, for the first time. Little by little you are fighting the inner battle to pursue friendships across the cultural/language barriers. I am proud of you.
At school today, you gardened with me, for the first time. With your classmates, a few at a time, you and I supervised and taught kids to plant cucumbers, hot peppers, and pumpkins. You hated getting your hands dirty but you loved being important enough to lead.
You went to your first dance class, there at school, and I watched you learn the coffee grinder, a hip hop break dance move. And I thought I had never seen anything so surreal as you learning break dance on your one month anniversary home.
This afternoon you got the mail for the first time, walking with Daddy across the cul de sac to the mailboxes, in your sunglasses with three shimmering mardi gras bead necklaces on, and a pearl bracelet and high heels to boot. You wanted to open everything and you found a bill with an extra envelope inside and you and daddy paid that bill right then and there to fulfill your wish of walking back to the mailbox with something important to do, like put mail inside.
And after that we made cookies together for the first time, you and I. You measured every single thing, and cracked the eggs, and mixed the batter and set the timer, and put things in the oven and in general didn’t need help at all. And boy, were those cookies good, made with so much delight.
And it was only yesterday that a little girl, age six or so, on the school playground, asked me about you. She wanted to know if you spoke English? And when she learned you did not, she wanted to know why did you speak Chinese and I speak English? I told her the simplest way I knew how: that you were born in China and I was born in America. So she asked “why?”. She wanted to know if I was your mother why don’t we speak the same language, why weren’t we born in the same country? I love how small children don’t notice race as much as they notice other things. And I told her that you were adopted, and all the while you were too busy playing to even notice us talk. And she asked “what does that mean?” So I told her . . . . how you had a first mother who loved you very much but wasn’t able to take care of you, so you got me to be your second mother and I am your forever mother who will take care of you always. And she wanted to know, of course, with the intensity of one who fears a sad thing happening to her, ” why couldn’t her first mother take care of her?” And I said, “I don’t know why.” And she said, “yes, but why?” And I said it again, that I didn’t know why. And then she asked me one more time, “yes, but seriously, why???” And then I just said all I knew how to say, that nobody knows why your first mother couldn’t care for you, but that I am your mama now and I will care for you always.
And that was when I almost completely lost it out on the school playground right in front of a little six year old girl.
Happy one-month-family-anniversary, Ava bird.
From your forever mama.