I Was Thinking…
Yesterday my first born turned 18! I can’t believe how fast the years have gone. He has grown up to be such an incredible young man – I am so proud of him! I was thinking through his childhood, letting the memories flow, and one of the things I recalled was how I worried about how having hurt children in our lives would impact him. I remember being very sad about it a few times, wondering if we ruined his life. There were some very ugly times in our home. He was treated horribly by his adopted sibling and, worst of all, witnessed her horrible treatment of me over and over again.
I decided early on that the boys needed to understand the whys of the hard behavior we lived with. I was very clear about the fact that when you lose your mom it causes great pain and confusion. I let them know that while the behavior was not acceptable, it was understandable and that I believed that if I stuck in there long enough she would heal. I chuckle when I remember having told my boys many times that they hadn’t lost their Mom, that I have been with them always so that ugly behavior was not acceptable from them – they saw it getting attention and tried it out now and then.
So we struggled on. Sam was always a kind and gentle little boy. Quick to smile. He took the girls in right away. Did the big brother thing even though he was only six. My three sons quickly became acquainted with Barbie dolls and princess dress up clothes, not just super heroes! The six of them got along pretty well at first; they were like three sets of twins. Their ages were very close boy to girl…3 and 3, 4 and 4, 6 and 6 so they really paired up. But aggressive, bossy and eventually dangerous behavior became almost a daily occurance and life changed for that oldest pair (and for all of us).
As we muddled through, I kept an eye on my son. He kept trying to be close to his sister, but she couldn’t do it and would eventually push him back in some way. He would forgive her and try again. I was proud of him, yet concerned for his heart. He expressed worry for me at times too. To his face I would assure him that I was okay and that I knew I could take care of all of them no matter what! I reminded him of the whys and encouraged him to continue to be forgiving. However, sometimes I would shed some tears behind closed doors for worry that he would become bitter and filled with anger.
Flash forward to a couple of years ago. Sam and I were on a long car trip together so I decided to breech the subject. I asked him how he now feels about the fact that we adopted. How had it impacted him? I urged him to be perfectly honest with me because it would help me help others. Well, Sam shared that he was glad that we had adopted his sisters. He said he felt like even though there were hardships along the way, it had definitely made him a better person (cue the waterworks for the Mom). Sam said that he feels like he can see a person for who they really are and he feels like that is a gift he has. He went on to talk about how he wished he and his (twin) sister could have been closer and how that was disappointing, but that he got that she just couldn’t. One really incredible statement he made was this…"I don’t know how you could have taught us to be empathetic to others Mom, I mean that has got to be hard to teach if you are not living it." He is right it is hard to teach – you really have to live it.
So, this week as I look at the man my son is becoming, I smile. I am proud. The last two years are full of him being in the world and relating to people on the fringe. He easily offers those in need his hand, his friendship, his loving smile. His goals include becoming a teacher and teaching on the Red Lake Reservation. He said to me this summer, “Mom, it is great when I can make a kid smile. But when I can make a kid from Red Lake smile I know I have made a difference in their life!”
Did our difficult journey mess him up? Nope, I would say not! It ultimately helped form him into an incredible, empathetic and loving man! Can’t wait to see the next 18 years unfold!