He met me at the door, squealing with delight when his eyes caught mine. He raced through the doorway and grabbed my hand, pulling me toward his cubby before I could even say “hello” to his teacher. He ruffled roughly through the papers in his drawer before finding his treasure. He held it up to me, eyes dancing with delight.
I am thankful for my family.
His little hands were clasped under his chin, waiting. His mouth wide in laughter, eyes alive with his signature joy. He studied my face to see what I thought.
He is thankful for his family… for ME.
Thanksgiving is still such a new holiday in our home. Our 6 year old is only celebrating his third American Thanksgiving today, surrounded by people who love us and have worked to bring him home. This year represents the first holiday we are spending with others, having cocooned and celebrated holidays quietly at first because the excitement of them was overwhelming to his system.
The significance of his drawing and the words accompanying it are not lost on me. It is a reality we live with everyday that family was not a guarantee in his world. Especially now that he has a baby brother who joined us biologically, we see the glaring differences in their childhoods. It is as though there is an entire room in the home of JM’s world that I cannot enter no matter how hard I try. I was not there to soothe him during the nights. We did not nurse, I did not help him gain his first teeth or take first steps. For every time my youngest calls “Mommy!” and I answer him, there is an accompanying cry from my oldest when he was young that went unanswered or was answered by someone else. Some who was not me. Not his mommy. I cannot wrap my mind around the reality that for almost 4 years, my boy didn’t have a word for someone like me. He didn’t get to call my special name and have me answer over and over for hours and weeks and months and years. Not until he was 4. That’s a really long time.
We didn’t know for sure if he would accept us as his own. Learning what “family” means has been a slow and delicate process. And yet here we are, an excited boy waiting eagerly to show his mommy the Thanksgiving paper he made at school that tells me in black and white that he understand who I am and he is thankful for me.
I’m thankful for you too, kiddo. I cannot imagine our world without you in it. Mommy’s heart cries a little bit each time I realize just how long we were without each other, but your rejoicing in the here and now helps me remember that although our pasts have shaped us, they certainly don’t define us. This Thanksgiving, you’ve given mommy a special gift, little one. Words to tell me how much I mean to you. How did you know that’s what I needed just now? You are gift to us, son and I thank God today and everyday that He brought you into my world. Shine bright, my happy boy. You make a difference to the people around you every time you are so happily yourself.