Four years ago yesterday, you walked off an airplane into our lives. Your world was flipped upside down, and honestly, so was ours.
Four years ago today, your father and I sat on your bedroom floor after fighting you to sleep. We looked at each other, and your taty said, “Can we even do this?”
Four years later, we are still doing it.
This, though, has been your most challenging year yet. It’s the year I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and run away by myself. It’s the year we’ve had to reevaluate all we thought we were doing right as parents, throw those ideas away, and start again — multiple times.
This is the year I’ve shed the most tears.
Life with you right now, it’s hard.
Your PTSD is stronger than ever. You’ve gone from attachment disorder to intense fear of abandonment. You’re controlling and manipulating while being sneaky and defiant.
You have no understanding of other people’s pain – physically or emotionally. Since you have toddler brothers, one with major medical conditions, it’s all completely overwhelming.
It is rough here.
Despite all of this though, if I could go back in time to chat with that girl (yes, I was still a young girl back then) sitting on the floor in your bedroom, here’s what I would tell her:
“Yes. Yes, we can do this. And we will do it. To the end.”
I’d also tell that girl that parenting would look nothing like what I was imagining back then. Our family would never align with that picture I was envisioning. You, Sweet Nasko, would struggle so much, even with the smallest tasks, but we would still do it. We would parent you, even if it doesn’t look like the way our friends parent their children.
Most importantly though, I would tell that girl, your mama, all the things you would go on to accomplish in just four short years.
You would learn to spell and write your name. You’d be able to go to school and have great days listening to your teacher. You’d slow down enough to read books with us, and eat entire meals without fleeing from the table – eventually even staying for seconds! You’d finally memorize all of our people’s names (we have SO MANY people — friends and family — no wonder it took a while). You’d learn to sleep through the night too.
You would go on to respond appropriately when we expressed our love to you. You’d learn to make excellent eye contact while speaking; and oh goodness, how you’d speak. Your vocabulary would blossom before our eyes as you learned to communicate through sign language and then speech. And then you would never be quiet again.
You’d become so comfortable in water (well, as long as you could touch) that you’d teach yourself to do front flips. You’d beam with pride as we took the training wheels off your bike the week your baby brother was born; I feared we’d have to return to the hospital, but you rode that thing like it was what you were born to do. You’d get so proficient that you’d keep up with us (or we’d keep up with you) on four or five mile rides.
Despite your significant cognitive delays and speech delays, you’d learn memory verses and definitions of virtues. You would easily recite the Ten Commandments (usually after you’d broken one of them!).
If I could go back and talk to that girl sitting on your bedroom floor, I’d tell her not only could we do it, but we’d also excel at it.
We’d take you, a desperate and lost little boy, and we’d give you a family. And as a family, we’d celebrate your accomplishments and stand beside you in your failures. We’d cry tears of frustration when you would regress, but we’d still remember your life has meaning and purpose.
And everyday, even on the hard ones, we’d thank God that we did do this. We’d thank God that you walked off that plane into our lives four years ago.
Love, Your Mama