It makes perfect sense. The gnawing on his soother, his toys, his fingers, the t.v. remote… The excessive drool, so much so that Daddy suggested “Hooch” as a new nickname. The fussy night-time waking, for the past few nights anyway. The vampiric tendencies: “Mommy doesn’t LIKE it when you bite her shoulder sweetie.”
Except, my notes say he has all his teeth. It’s in his file. I clearly remember that.
“Must be his two-year molars,” says Foster Mom. At his second birthday party – which, you know, should have also been a clue.
I am a Mom several times over. I was a daycare teacher, in the two to three year-old class, no less. How did I forget about two-year-old molars? What am I, new?
He may be number four. And I may have oodles of experience, even special needs experience. But, I’ve only been parenting HIM for less than a month. I’m new. And some days it feels like I’m starting all over again.
Once again, I’m that awkward, but endearing new mom who packs WAY too much in the diaper bag, but forgets the diapers. Or pull-ups in our case, which is how B ended up wearing her little bro’s tiny diapers to church. At least we had pjs, four snacks, a list of emergency numbers and plastic rain ponchos… just in case.
Once again, I’m the eager rookie for whom every decision is absolutely crucial and the subject of endless research. You know the ones, who quote parenting books verbatum, desperate to do things “right.” Except in our case it’s adoption books, but I suspect this is equally obnoxious.
Once again, I’m the anxious helicopter parent who never completely relaxes at a playdate. Humming with a constant, low-level stress the minute we step foot outside the house. So not my usual style, but here I am: sterilizing soothers! The last one was lucky if I licked it off after it fell on the ground.
There are so many firsts these days: first meetings with cousins, first restaurant fiasco (outing, I meant outing), first taste of peanut butter, first trip to the zoo… with so much uncharted territory still ahead.
Despite hundreds of pages of information, hours of discussion with Foster Mom and somewhat stalkerish observation of the boy at all times, we don’t know each other the way most Mother-and-Son teams do. I don’t instictively know what he needs or wants. He doesn’t instinctively know what to expect from me.
But we are finding our way.
On Saturday, we had foster family over for a backyard BBQ and, as B put it, “super-fun-happy-birthday-cupcakes.” He was surprised to see them at first, but soon he was making the rounds, getting hugs from everyone. With a smile so big it MUST have hurt his face. Eyes constantly darting around the yard to make sure that everyone, yes, ALL his family from then and now, was here. He laughed and played and generally put on a charming show for us all.
And every once in a while he would check in for a little cuddle and reassurance. Not from foster mom (whom he obviously still adores). Not from Daddy (who usually gets top billing). From me.
And for the first time I FELT like I was the Mommy. Not by sheer strength of will, because I love him and want this so much. Not by order of the great province of British Columbia. Not in theory or in circumstance, but instinctively, in both our hearts.
I have faith that these moments will come more and more frequently until they melt together into a constant reality. That there will be days when I can’t remember NOT being his Mommy. And it won’t seem surreal and strange to have this little man in our lives, but so normal that adoption and its drama fades to the background.
So here’s me and my boy, slowly, but surely, finding our way into each other’s hearts.