I took her next door wrapped in a blanket her grandma bought her. It says “I love hugs.” I wanted to check her weight, and the healing home next door had a baby scale. Two friends were visiting when we decided to weigh her, so the three of us traipsed across the hall with Cora wrapped tightly. The two night nannies were excited to meet the new arrival, so as we prepared to weigh Cora in the back bedroom, there were 5 adults fawning over one tiny baby. I stepped back and saw her out of the corner of my eye.
Joy. One of our newest arrivals… she’s not quite 5 months old, and she was snuggled into bed for the night, tightly wrapped in cozy blankets. But her eyes were wide open and alert, straining to watch the hustle and bustle happening just mere steps away. As the adults chattered over the new baby, Joy quietly watched… and I watched her.
My heart ached. It isn’t fair. These two beautiful little girls in the same room but with such very different lives. Joy turned her head away from the noise, and as she did I noticed the tell-tale sign of orphanage life. A misshapen head from too long lying on one side. I glanced at my own daughter’s round head… already knowing the curve of it under my finger… the places her hair is thicker and the places it is thin. Even when she’s in the nanny’s arms, I can feel the shape of her head in my hands. It isn’t fair.
Joy loves hugs, too.
It was hard while I was pregnant, but it is harder now… to conceive of these differences. Fate, fallenness, fortune – people have different ways to describe these violations of fairness, but I don’t try to label it. I just grieve and wonder how to have a whole heart in the midst of such brokenness.
It struck me the other morning, as I spent an hour memorizing the shape of Cora’s toes, that my first month with her is my last month in China. The days are ticking down… only a couple of weeks before we say goodbye to many of our friends, who will be returning to their hometowns for Chinese New Year. Thinking about it makes me cry. And while I’m enjoying “nesting” with sweet Cora in our apartment, I realized that each day I spend in the four walls of this apartment is a day I’m not spending with my co-workers at the foster home, going to see/do something for the “last time” in Beijing, playing with the toddlers in preschool, or eating hot pot with friends. I don’t know that I’m strong enough for the month ahead.
God is good and gracious and faithful. I repeat it like a mantra. Sometimes I know it to be true; sometimes I say it hoping eventually I will also believe it. Joy lies alone in her crib; Cora nestles her head into my chest. God is good and gracious and faithful to both little girls. I am learning to be a mother and often feeling inept. God is good and gracious and faithful to me. I am grieving the change in life and fearful about what is ahead. God is good and gracious and faithful in the journey ahead.
He’s sending me reminders of this… often from you. Yesterday I read an email from a blog reader who had never introduced herself before, someone who also lived in China for a season of her life… Her closing paragraph said this:
China changed me in ways that most people do not understand. Coming home was hard but necessary…. oh how I empathize with the plethora of emotions swirling around inside of you. What I do know that is that you must be gracious to yourself in the transition…. be kind to yourself as you grieve what you have lost by coming home… hold the grief in one hand and the joy in the other and know that your Father is, above all things, faithful and good.
I sobbed when I read it. Oh how I need to learn to be gracious with myself… why is that always the hardest of all?
These unrelated and rambling thoughts are brought to you by the sleeplessness of new motherhood. Can I really do this? I’m not sure… they say it goes quickly. In some ways I’m already looking forward to an 8-hours-of-sleep kind of night, but in other ways, I already miss her little fingers and toes.