As I walked down the hall, carrying my little boy, I could feel his whole body convulsing with the sobs he was trying so desperately to stifle. My heart felt the weight more than my arms did, as I casually wiped his tears and snot off of my face. I sat down by his bed, with my boy cradled on my lap like a tiny baby, his lanky legs long enough to rest on the floor beside me. The sobs quieted as his body relaxed, arms still clutching. Desperately holding onto what he could not lose.
We knelt beside the bed, like he insists we do every night, and prayed to Jesus in two different languages. He prayed long and hard, words I could not understand. I prayed for my little boy's heart to heal, for him to feel secure in our love.
Tonight instead of tucking him into his bed, saying goodnight and leaving, I crawled into the bed next to him. He had started sobbing again at just the suggestion that I might leave his side. We lay face to face, hands intertwined...his eyes searching mine. A serious scowl lined his brow. He stated, very matter of factly, "YeYe, Nai Nai bye bye". I replied..."Yes, Ye Ye and Nai Nai (his most recent foster parents) bye -bye". He has talked about them many times and occasionally asks about them...but this time it was different, he was just informing me of the way things were. He then burst into tears again, eyes locked on mine "Mama no bye-bye". I resisted letting my own tears fall, glad for the dim lighting in the bedroom, and replied confidently "Mama no bye-bye....no more bye-byes".
For the next several minutes we just lay there, and I sang to him. The sobbing slowed to an occasional hiccup, as he listened to familiar tunes and at one point began to sing along to "Jesus loves me". I choked back my own tears, as I listened to my brave little boy sing about Jesus love in words that only remotely sounded like English, and as he made sure to do the action for the line "he is STRONG". One arm just wouldn't do...he had to have lefty up there showing "strong" too.
"Little ones, to him belong
They are weak, but He is strong"
We are so weak....but he is more than strong enough. His strength is made perfect even in all this weakness. He is stronger than this great big hurt hidden away in a tiny little body.
Silas, who wandered into the bedroom concerned for his brother, crawled in next to us. "Mom, I think he's afraid to sleep alone. I'll sleep down here with him "(he usually resides in the top bunk, over Elijah). So with a kiss for each of my "twins" and a "Wo ai ni" into each of their ears I left my two little boys curled up together like puppies in one little bed. One trying desperately to be brave, the other one gently stroking his brothers hair saying "It's ok, Di Di is here" (DiDi = brother). They both fell fast asleep within minutes.
Today was one of those tough reality days.
It was payback, not totally unexpected, but with more intensity and with a greater depth of pain than I had anticipated.
Last night I went to met up with about 25 other ladies from our church family for an evening of food, encouragement, prayer and conversation. I really wanted to go...not all for selfish reasons (although the thought of spending an evening visiting with other women, without the children was quite appealing...and cabin fever can take it's toll in winter). I really wanted to get to know the other women in our church better. We are in a small, but very fast growing, church plant ( I think it's doubled in size this year) that is filling up with young women, new believers, university students, and lots of young moms (and expectant moms). I have had trouble connecting with any of the more recent additions, and many of them I've never even met. So with visions of chocolate and laughter in my head I headed out onto a snow covered highway and drove for 2 1/2 hrs to a room brimming with women...all of them with their own struggles, challenges, hopes, and fears. We encouraged each other, we prayed for each other, and we were vulnerable. Because of the weather, the late time, and the distance home I spent the night at a friends home and drove back this morning.
I knew that it would make Elijah nervous...I knew it wasn't ideal, but I figured he'd be fine at home with Daddy, Aili and the rest of the kids. It seemed we had made it through the worst and maybe just seeing that mom can leave and come back again would reassure him. I think he did fine that evening (despite Daddy having to work late)...but by morning it all fell apart for one little boy.
I drove home with tales of misery reported to me on my old style flip cell phone. I'll spare you the gory details but it was pretty classic...there are sections written about this very thing in the trauma parenting/ adoption books. His behaviors all pointed to a little boy who had retreated somewhere dark, and terrifying, and who was resorting to any means necessary to feel some sort of control over the situation. It was messy, messy again,...and then messier...and then messiest. Full on body function warfare....only my son was the victim and trauma was the aggressor.
Needless to say he was exceedingly happy to have mom home again. Although the "happy" turned very quickly to obsessively clingy. I expected that, and was happy to spend a lot of time in the snuggle chair with him...despite the house looking like chaos. One thing I'm learning is that there is no quick fix. A snuggle may help the tears subside, but under those tears the fear is still just as real. By supper time he couldn't even eat (and this boy loves to eat), all he could do was sob, deep, heart crushing, body wracking sobs. Any time his body was not touching mine, it was like someone had just died. It's such a different kind of cry than one of my other kids just being whiny and wanting my attention...it was desperation. A primal clutching for survival, by a boy who has known far too much loss in 6 years.
So that is how our day ended. My heart breaking, feeling badly for leaving when he obviously wasn't ready, my eyes stinging with unreleased tears, and the vision of my two little boys curled up together in bed. I know that this, in the long run, is just a blip in the healing process. Just a little set back that I'm sure he'll rebound from by tomorrow...but it's a solid reminder that there is much more complexity here than we sometimes realize. The truth is...behind his silly happy personality, his constant repetition of the same probing question "Mama happy?", his eagerness to please, his continual showing off of his new skills, his rush to clean up his toys, and his desperate clinging....is a little boy who's convinced he will be sent away, or left behind.
"My grace is made sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" 2 Cor. 12: 9,10
Soli Deo Gloria,