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Letters to My Sons, Part 1: The Gege

2 August 2018

My meatball. Man Cub. Baby Therst. Kid Therst. My “merciful gift from God.”

You are five-and-a-half years old and for the last (almost) year of your life we have been talking a lot about “brother.” One of my favorite parts of this whole crazy adventure has been watching you own China and then slowly fall in love with your “didi.”

.

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Since we saw his face and read his file a few months ago, we’ve been talking about him even more. We’ve been telling people about him and getting excited about him and planning for him, and you have been right there with us.

But I know there’s something else happening in your heart too. Something you’re probably not fully aware of yet, although you will be in the coming months. I wish there was a way to prevent it, or even to establish a step-by-step plan for dealing with it, but I don’t think there is.

It started when we first got Jude’s file. I’ll never forget the moment. We sat around the table and I read the list of his developmental milestones off the computer. “Can recognize and count numbers. Can recognize basic shapes and colors. Can read some characters …”

We were excited—not because these were somehow outstanding achievements, but because they were normal. We hadn’t dared hope for “normal.”

But you made a calm, unaffected comment that shattered my heart:

“Huh. He’s better than me.

Daddy and I protested and explained and encouraged and hugged, although you didn’t seem too upset about it at the time.

Still, I saw it.

Several passing comments since then have reared their ugly faces, as though just to let me know they are still around.

And then the other night you laid in bed and asked me how I could still love you the same and also love Jude. You told me it didn’t make any sense, and that you were sure I was going to love you less. I met your eyes as they stared through the dim nightlight shadows, trying to pull some imaginary secret from mine, and begged you to believe me.

But instead, you worried aloud about, “What if he’s faster than me?” “What if he’s stronger than me?” “What if he’s better than me?

I hugged you tighter and—in between kisses on your perfect, soft, freckled cheeks—told you over and over how much I love you and how special you are to me. I listed everything I could think of that you’re good at, and I promised again and again that no new person or perceived shortcoming could ever ever take the smallest crumb of my love away from you.

You never accepted or agreed, but you stopped arguing as you rolled over to face away from me.

I wrapped one arm around your chest and pulled you in and hugged you close and explained again that new kids come with new love. But even as I whispered, for a fraction of a second there in the delicate stillness, I cancelled the whole adoption.

We never would, of course, and you’d be furious if we did, but in that moment I hated myself for doing anything that would cause you do doubt my love. Even though I know it will turn out better for all of us in the end, I couldn’t bear the idea of you feeling—even for one night—that I loved you any less than I always have.

And you don’t know this yet, but it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

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So many things are on hold this month while we try to penny-pinch before travel. It feels like every day I have to remind you that we’re not going to do something we used to do—drive through Starbucks on Wednesday morning, or go out to breakfast on Saturday—because, “we need to save money for bringing Jude home.”

For a five-year-old who has only ever been an only child and hates disruption, you usually take it remarkably well. You remind me that brother will like those things too when he gets here, and you—somehow—seem to understand. You’re on-board for the sacrifices that we’re making.

But sometimes, at the end of a long day, when you thought Chick Fil-A on the way home was a sure thing, the disappointment breaks through, and I’m reminded how hard it is for anyone when it seems like everything is about someone else.

And when he does come home, so much is still going to be about him: healing him, transitioning him, guarding him, getting to know him. I know you are going to be a great big brother in all of those things too, but I don’t pretend it will be easy.

(You will also come face to face with the reality of sharing your room and toys, which you say you are ready for, but probably in blissful ignorance.)

I promise we will find a way to make some things about you too, but it won’t ever be the same and I wish I knew how to be sure that you will never, ever doubt how much we love you. The story of Jude coming to our family is already a story of miracles, but your story is too.

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You are the culmination of four years of prayer and hope and tears and more prayer, and every time I look at your face I remember all of it. And I wish I knew how to make you understand.

That I’m really not being silly when I tell you that I have to kiss you lots or my heart will explode with love. That I never knew I could love anyone like this, until I held you. That I never knew I could feel so whole as the first time you patted my face with your fat baby hands and said, “Luf mama.”

I wish there was a way to make you understand, even for a moment, but there isn’t.

So I will continue to smother you with kisses until you fake karate chop me away. I will continue to hug you tight (even in front of your friends) and whisper that I love you to the Andromeda galaxy and back, and I will continue to sing silly songs—slightly off key—with your name in them while you attempt to shout me down.

Mostly, I will continue to pray that God would guard your heart through the coming storm, that nothing would be able to rob you of the confidence you have in our love, and that you would be strong for a little brother who desperately needs you.

This is a big thing—bigger than your small heart is used to—but I know that you will be a merciful gift to Jude just as you have been to Daddy and me.

I love you so, so much, my sweet boy. More than all the stars in the sky.

Always and forever,

Mom

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Photos:
chuttersnap
Fabian Blank
Zoltan Tasi
rawpixel

 

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Gloria permalink
    2 August 2018 2:27 AM

    Oh Lex, I hope you are keeping copies of all these posts for both boys to have when they get older. There is so much love, so much of your heart in them. What a wonderful keepsake they will make. Niah and Jude are so blessed to be part of your family. ❤

    • Lex permalink*
      2 August 2018 7:23 AM

      Thanks, Gloria. I hadn’t really thought about it, but that’s a good idea! ❤

  2. Elizabeth Bautista permalink
    2 August 2018 10:16 AM

    Aaaaand now I’m crying at my desk 😭 you guys are such loving parents..I’ll have you guys in my prayers. Also your blog is such a writing inspiration for me, you’re a great story teller 💙

    • Noemi permalink
      2 August 2018 10:52 AM

      Same, girl. Same. 😭😭

      • Lex permalink*
        2 August 2018 7:02 PM

        Those preggo hormones tho … 😉

    • Lex permalink*
      2 August 2018 7:01 PM

      Aww, thank you and thank you!

  3. Jenny permalink
    2 August 2018 12:29 PM

    I want to comment something different, but honestly, every post you have makes me tear up.

    • Lex permalink*
      2 August 2018 7:02 PM

    • Jennifer permalink
      5 August 2018 5:37 PM

      Same. Crying at my desk. No mother has ever loved her children better.

      • Lex permalink*
        6 August 2018 9:15 AM

        LOL. I dismissed him from the dinner table last night by supervising the last bite that went into his mouth and then muttering through a sigh, “Fine. Go … away.” So let’s not get hasty with Mom of the Year awards just yet. Haha. 😉

  4. 2 August 2018 2:15 PM

    Thanks for letting us listen in on your process in such a tender way Lex. Wonderful.

    • Lex permalink*
      2 August 2018 7:03 PM

      Thanks for coming with! Seriously, the writing is therapeutic itself, but so is just knowing that our friends are tracking with us. It really, really helps. ❤

  5. Dani Evans permalink
    4 August 2018 8:24 AM

    All I can muster up right now is 😭😭😭. Love your writing, love your story, love you and your family! Thank you for sharing it all 🙂

    • Lex permalink*
      5 August 2018 3:42 PM

      Thank YOU for all the love! ❤

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