Motherhood. Wow. It's overwhelming to me, in good ways and bad. Cora's precious and beautiful, and I'm growing to love her deeply. (I don't think I was one of those moms who bonded the minute I laid eyes on her... But, I know it is growing and those feelings are "overwhelming" in their own way.) Some days I feel like I have it under control. And then there are mornings like today, which find me dissolved in tears sitting on my bed staring at a baby I can't get to stop crying. Jacob came down with a cold, and in an effort to keep Cora and me healthy, he's keeping a bit of distance. I know it is for the best, but this morning it left me feeling very alone. That's the other kind of "overwhelming" I feel... an "I can't do this, let's go back to the way it was before, what were we thinking" feelings. This too shall pass, I know...
One of my fears was that having a baby would so alter Jacob's and my relationship that I wouldn't recognize it. That hasn't happened, really. It has been a big change, and we know that right now is the hardest part as we adjust and figure out a new normal (especially in the midst of all the other big changes), but I think now we have something bigger than ourselves to focus on. We've been patient with each other and worked together as a team. I know we can do this... and when I see him looking at her like this, my heart melts a little.
We've had to start saying goodbyes... Though we don't leave until Feb. 11, most everyone else has already left. (At least our Chinese friends.) They are all going to their hometowns for Chinese New Year. And so the goodbyes began. Most of them haven't been quite as hard as I imagine, mostly because I feel very deep down that I am not saying goodbye forever. We will be back. Maybe not to live, but certainly to see the people we love. It's funny, we came for the children, we stayed for many other reasons, and as we leave, what we are most going to miss most are our friends. Friends who have loved and cared for us in amazing ways... who have taught us the true meaning of "community" and showed us that independence isn't always the best way.
Meeting Alison, our oldest China friend. (Not in age, but in length of time known...) :)
Alison's kids and their friend peek at Cora in her bag.
Cora meeting Nancy, who came to visit from Inner Mongolia. Nancy was our Chinese teacher when we first arrived.
We got to have a girl's night before we left... some of my closest China friends. Grace (foster home Chinese director), Debbie, Ganlu (foster home web designer), me, and the other Grace (foster home medical manager)
Yesterday they had a goodbye party for us at the foster home. Everyone went around and shared memories, thoughts, and words of encouragement with us. They had a powerpoint with pictures and video from our last three years in China, and then had a time of prayer and a meal. It was precious. The things people shared helped me see that we were able to make some kind of impact -- we'll never really know how big/small, and that's ok -- not only on the kids, but also on the staff and community. It's funny, the things they said about us reflect the version of ourselves that we always aspire to be. Compassionate, humble, servant-hearted, friendly and loving... they don't remember the days when we were self-serving, angry, arrogant, and unkind. (And yes, there were plenty of those days.) There was once a day I elbowed a pushing lady out of my way on a crowded bus... When she asked in an irritated voice what my problem was, I sarcastically retorted "What's yours? Why are you pushing?" (You should know that pushing is TOTALLY acceptable here... I was the only one irritated by it.) If she'd been at the party, her memory of me wouldn't be the same as the other ones shared... I want to grow to be the kind of person who leaves the "aroma of Christ" in all circumstances and situations. Not just in the ones where I'm "ON" and in "Christ-like" mode. I guess I just don't want there to be an ON/OFF switch for that. (How did I get on that from a general description of the party? Oh well, blame my bone-tired momma brain.)
Letters and emails and notes and comments continue to pour in from so many of you... telling us that you're praying for us, sending us your love. Offering help/support in things as diverse as baby supplies to places to live to job leads! You're writing us words of encouragement and keeping us close to your hearts. I can't express how much it means. When I'm overwhelmed, I regularly take a deep breath, close my eyes, imagine all of you praying for us, and try to steady my heart on Him, remembering that those are the ones He keeps in perfect peace. Thank you for journeying with us.
Every post needs a little icing, so here's Cora in one of her more awake moments. Really this is for the grandparents, who rarely are able to Skype with us during her most awake times.