This past weekend, we had our three month follow-up visit with our social worker. Ethiopia requires a social worker to check in on your family at 3, 6, and 12 months after bringing the kids home. After the one-year mark, you're required to submit a picture of your child and a summary of how they're doing every year until they're 18. I appreciate how the country has implemented such a process to ensure the well-being of their kiddos, and it makes a great time marker for us adopted families. Almost like the ebenezer stone of adoption...
It's crazy how much things have changed for us over the past three months. There have been changes in our schedule: Sleeping in until 7 AM is a rare treat. Our only quiet dinners are the ones we have after the boys go to bed. There have been changes in ourselves: Prayer is a much more frequented activity in my life. We are much more intentional in conversation with each other during our down time. And thankfully, there have been changes in the boys: Micah no longer "log rolls" on the ground when we tell him no. Sami sleeps through the night like a champ, no longer demanding bottles at 2 AM.
So to commemorate those early days of sleeplessness and border-line sanity, I'll share a story that fell through the cracks. Originally, I had planned to post it as "Motherhood's Maiden Voyage," but then all the drama with Sami's seizures went down and that never happened. So here goes...
We had been home from Ethiopia for about three weeks. Kevin had been around the house more than normal in case I couldn't handle something with the boys. But during that particular week, he had agreed to help out at an English camp out in the countryside, leaving me home alone all day long with my new little friends. I felt I was up to the task and even wanted to honor the occasion by taking the boys out. Again, I'll emphasize all by myself.
Just to set the record straight, taking the boys out all by myself is quite a different ordeal in China than in America. There's no minivan with car seats parked conveniently outside my front door. Instead, I strapped Sam up in the Ergo and figured I'd have Micah toddle along at my side until we could make it to the gate of our apartment complex to get a taxi. It seemed like a feasible enough idea, so I loaded up all our stuff right after afternoon naps and set out.
These were before the days, however, where Micah really enjoyed holding hands. And before the days where he realized that mama's voice carries authority. The back alley where we had to traverse isn't actually the safest stroll either. Zooming cars, careless bikes, open manholes, stray dogs, puddles of unidentifiable substances...enough to make a new mama hold on real tight to that little boy's hand, despite his many protests.
But catch a cab we did and off we went to the indoor play place at one of the fancy new malls in town. I thought I'd even try to take a picture of us all on our little adventure.
Well, you get the idea. A happy mama and her little guys in a cab destined for a fun afternoon of playing. We even exchanged pleasantries with the cab driver, which went something like this:
Driver: Are those your kids?
Driver: Both of them?
Driver: Are they twins? (a very common question here)
Me: No. They're a year apart.
Driver: A year apart?!?! Why did you give birth to kids that close together? You should wait longer before wanting to have another one.
We finally arrived at the play place, where Micah had a blast and made quite a few friends.
But unfortunately, this is where our afternoon began to derail. I knew there was such a thing as evening rush hour traffic but, being the avid bike riders we are, I forgot that rush hour starts at 4:30. Now to a typical suburban American, rush hour might just mean sitting through a few extra lights or braving your way through gridlock on the freeway. But for us urban folk, it means a battle to the death to get a taxi. When cab drivers are heading for their shift change, nothing will convince them to stop for another fare.
So we left the mall and headed to the street. Micah was not pleased about leaving, so he was screaming. Micah got even more upset when I spotted even more open manholes in front of the mall and relinquished his walking privileges. Sam was not pleased about something and I had lost his pacifier somewhere along the way, so he was screaming as well. I was also convinced that one of my children had made a pleasant deposit in their diaper, which I wasn't about to attempt to deal with at the moment.
I walked and walked and walked, carrying both screaming children. One strapped to me, one wriggling to get loose to reclaim his freedom that had so maliciously been scooped away from him. Driver after driver turned me down. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I spotted a cab and bolted toward it, despite the fact there were people already in it. I knocked on the driver's window and gave him a nearly-sobbing spiel of my ordeal: how my kids were hungry & tired, how my apartment was very close, how I would leave him my first-born (or first-adopted in our case) if only he would acquiesce to help us.
I doubt it was my well-composed Chinese prose that convinced them. I doubt it was my offer to bestow upon him one of my crying babies. More than likely it was the crying babies themselves (Chinese people HATE to see kids cry and will do almost anything to mollify them). But whatever it was, the passengers in the cab paid the driver and left the cab to me. I have no idea if they had even reached their destination, but I didn't really care in the moment. I was just happy to be on the way home!
So perhaps the maiden voyage of this mother was a little harrier than I had anticipated. But it made for a good story in the end!