We walked out of church — baby in the arms of daddy… a few bigs walking behind him and I trailed behind with my two little loves born across the ocean with their hands folded in mine. We jumped in the van — and out of no where I just said, “Who wants to go skating!?”
Did I just say that?!
Richard looked at me like I’d lost my mind because of nap time for baby — but with the rainy weather and kids full of energy quickly jumped on board with this idea. We stopped for lunch and then off to “Let’s Roll” we went.
Man. Have we come far.
For years… years… after bringing home a child through adoption—it felt like we tip toed through life and every outing we made…
Where are we going?
How many people will be there?
What are the smells? Will there be snacks? A bathroom close by?
Is it a new environment?
Should we take two cars so the other parent can run home with the child having a meltdown?
This isn’t everyone’s new normal after adoption — but for us.. it was. This became our thinking process for years after bringing home our children.
I smiled as our van entered the “Let’s Roll” skating parking lot. When did this happen? All in one car. And outing after church. I smiled listening to everyone’s excitement…
Roller blade or skates?! This is going to be so much fun! Thank you mama for taking us! Daddy, is the baby going to watch?!
We lined up. Got our skates and laced up. Daddy agreed he’d rather hold baby and watch us. And the fun began…
But. As I skated – I started talking to Jesus. (I mean, isn’t that what any 40 year old mom would do who hasn’t skated in 20 years?!) After I begged him to allow me to leave in one piece and not break my back – I told Him how thankful I was for today. For this new season. For all of my children and the different ways He brought them to us. And then I felt He was telling me to just be quiet, take it in and listen. And as I listened to everyone around me — mostly my own children – I realized He was speaking… how skating… was so much like…this adoptive parenting journey.
I’d been reflecting a lot lately on how we need each other.
We need other families to walk beside in those first years.
And as we begin to thrive… we need to be the help and support for other families newer to this journey of parenting kids from hard places.
I listened to my children… and it was almost like I could hear the theme of what this journey can often be like to many…
I can’t wait to get out there…
I know I can do this…
Mama — I’m going to take off… watch me!
I can do it by myself!
Oh sweet loves… hold my hand.
No — I can do this alone.
How hard can it be?
Go on and skate mama. I got this. I can do it on my own.
Oh sweet loves… hold my hand.
The falls came.
One had tears.
Another laughed and got back up.
Fall after fall…
No. More. Laughter.
I need help.
Why can’t I do this?
Why is everyone else going so fast mama?
I don’t like this.
She just bumped into me.
I really don’t like this.
Why are we here?
I thought I wanted this – let’s just go.
But I want to do this.
Oh sweet loves… hold my hand.
It was harder than they knew it would be.
I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.
Another had tears. Why did I think this activity was a good idea? Deep breaths.
Yes. You can. But at first — you might need to hold my hand. Sweet love — hold my hand.
No. I want to do this on my own.
Okay. So off I went — skating. Round and round I went… because I had done this before. I’d been there. But someone had once held my hand and I could more than survive now on this rink. This was actually… fun. They watched. And then I came back to them.
Watch. I said. Watch how those who are skating move their legs. Watch their feet. Watch how they move — even how they some times dance while they do. And then, realize this – most of skating well is in your heart and your head. You have to believe you can and leave fear on that rail. Just move your feet and legs the way they do — the way I do… straight at first. This is nothing like how you used to walk – you have to reteach yourself how to move forward – but believe you can.
And you are going to have to let go of that fear and hold my hand. I’ll help you! It’s okay that you need to hold my hand at first. It’s okay to need each other.
Oh. My. Heavens.
I thought as I listened to the dialogue between me and the kids — and those words to the kids could be said to adoptive families new to this journey too.
I hear you loud and clear Jesus.
Because this talk wasn’t just for those needing to ask for help and watch other families – but this was also for me… a family beginning to thrive.
There are temptations on both sides. I am tempted to skate to the music because we are in our groove now – and for years and years I’ve done it over and over. And my kids – and newer families – are tempted to never to let go of fear or ask another for help or vulnerably admit they are struggling and need help.
As I helped one of my more struggling skaters — I realized even I couldn’t help him. His dead weight was too much for me – and over and over and over when he would fall I would fall with him. Granted we laughed while we fell, making the falling more bearable. But he needed more help than just me. Together we walked to get this “skating walker” made of PVC pipe and wheels.
Getting more help did require more sacrifice (it had a cost and a bit of pride lost) — it was the skating walker that helped this little guy struggling the most get in his groove the fastest of all. AHHHHH… I thought…
I thought about the adoptive families the Lord has brought to us—to walk this journey with…those that He brought to hold our hands… and the times they helped us see that maybe we needed more help.
I rejoiced remembering how getting that extra help has helped us thrive. Sometimes that help was physical therapy or counseling. Some times that help was even counseling for our marriage because as parents of kids from hard places there is added stress and added challenges as you navigate some pretty intense waters together.
I realized as I helped those that didn’t know how to skate — it was often painful for me too. Those little people would run right into me —step on my toes — not always take my advice — and some times I just wanted to skate to the music. Goodness, I couldn’t even hear the music when I was helping because there was so much fussing and coaching and cheering going on!
I realized that when we are doing well as a family — some times it is easier to want to just thrive and move forward. But scripture is very clear that we are to comfort others with the same comfort we have received — lifting one another up—helping one another up…over and over again.
We have to be willing to go back to the hard places we are no longer in and walk side by side other families encouraging, coaching, comforting and cheering. They, too, can do this! And as we walk with other families, pretty soon… you, too, get to hear the music again. Only – together. And that, my friends, is where it gets really fun and exciting on that rink.
I shook my head to wake myself up and find my children again as I realized what the Lord was reminding me to do as an adoptive family. On both sides of the coin, and to always be brave to be vulnerable whether needing a family to walk with or in looking for a family to help lift up. I came closer to my little guy on the skating walker now pushing it faster and faster…
I got it mama! he screamed. I got it mama!
His hand reached out for mine and I took it… both of us leaving that skating walker by itself on the skate floor. We were skating together — hand in hand. He wasn’t falling or even pulling me nor was I holding him up. Together. We were skating together. And… I heard the music. And so did he!
I held my breath because it was beautiful to have my hand folded in his – this sweet child who once refused to fold into me or even let me rock him. ”Sweet Caroline” played loudly as we went round and round that wooden rink with many others skating around us weaving in and out as we laughed…. “Hands, touching hands… Sweet Caroline… reaching out, touching me, touching you… Good times never seemed so good… I’d be inclined to believe they never would…”
I smiled realizing my life will never, ever look the same because how the Lord led us to grow our family.
Nor will we ever look again like families who don’t grow with trauma or loss.
It may seem we have to slow down, miss out some times or do a lot of things differently than others — and we might even feel we will never thrive like families who haven’t grown through loss.
Those speed skaters — they look good don’t they? But.. they aren’t us. And I like us. Because those speed skaters? Well they skate without needing or wanting to hold another’s hand. There’s no wanting or jealousy here to ever be them again or ever (not that I ever was —but this journey sure calls for a lot more help!) — and I can appreciate the art of how they roll (no pun intended) without jealousy or want.
Because once you learn to roll again holding the hands of those who once were very broken… the music will never again sound the same. Look bravely and boldly for others you can champion, comfort and walk beside — and look bravely and boldly when you are on the other side needing help too. Praying for you all as you step out and let go… we are in this together. And together is the best place to be.