Monday, May 25, 2015
Love is a Verb
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend Together in the Trenches, a retreat for adoptive and foster moms. The purpose of the retreat was to provide a time of rest and refreshment for adoptive and foster moms. And let me tell you, I needed that rest and refreshment.
Other moms put this retreat together just to love on those of us who are struggling in the adoption journey. You all, I have never experienced this before. Someone did my hair. (I haven't had a hair cut since August!) There was coffee and chocolate (name-brand chocolate!) available All the Time. Someone else made bath salts for us. If you're a mom, you understand just how much it means to have someone take care of you for a change.
I have been trudging through the trenches of adoption since 2005, and I am weary. I often feel lonely. But not this weekend. This weekend I saw Love In Action. Love expressed the way I believe God means for us to express it. It's great to have someone say they love you, but to have someone show you that love is an entirely different experience.
I didn't realize how much I needed to be with a group of moms who "got" my experience. To be in a place where I could say, "It's been a month since my five-year-old has tried to stab anyone," and they would understand that that was progress.
These moms got just how tough it is to parent our kids. They understood that sometimes (okay, a lot of times) I just want to hide in bed and pull the covers over my head. I don't want to change an 11 year old's diapers. I don't want to spend the day teaching my five-year-old that we don't hit the cats with wooden blocks. I don't want to spend the day searching for my eight-year-old's glasses because two of my kids steal and hide things. Then there's the lying, the manipulating, the stealing, the food hoarding...sigh. It's enough to drive you nuts.
Can I be honest a minute? (Okay, you know I will. I like to keep it real here.) All parenting is tough. But you enter a new dimension when your kids come from hard places. In the sports world, they have Extreme Sports. I like to call adoptive / foster parenting Extreme Parenting. There are things I just can't talk about with my mom-friends who have not adopted. And while I love, love, love, my non-adoptive mom friends, it was so nice to be in a place where everyone's family looked like mine! Where we shared the same griefs and triumphs. Where it was safe to say, "I'm barely hanging on here," and not fear judgement. Where those other moms understood both the depths of my grief for the pain my children have endured, and the depths of my joy at the hurdles they've overcome.
It was a weekend of finding beauty in ashes. A weekend of walking beside other moms who are laying down their lives daily for their kiddos. Even when those kids spit on them, or hit them, or scream, "You're not my real mom!" These moms keep showing up.
To my fellow adoptive moms. Keep trudging through those trenches. I'm with you. I love you. I support you. I'm in awe of your strength. The width and breadth of your love for your children inspires me. I know you don't always feel that love. I don't either. But love is a verb. You show your love for your kids every day. Some days, just the fact that you get out of bed is an act of love.
Somewhere along the way, I started to believe that I had to be perfect. I forgot that sometimes, just showing up is enough. This weekend, I realized that I don't have to fix all of my kids' issues. It's enough that I show up and walk beside them on this journey.
This weekend I saw love in action, and for that I am so thankful.