“The days are long, but the years are short.”
Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.
I haven’t read this book, but the quote has stuck with me for a long time, and I just took the time to google the origin.
Take a moment and just ponder it.
We all tire in the day to day routine. Who am I kidding; somedays we tire in the minute to minute mundane tasks of our lives. We wonder if we are really making a difference; if anything we are doing is really worth it.
In the midst of attachment, bonding, meltdowns, holding our children in carriers, we can all get a little frazzled.
We might find ourselves wishing our lives away or wondering what it will be like when all the children are dressing themselves, bathing themselves, feeding themselves, etc. Really after all this time, shouldn’t our family be adjusted and back to normal? Is that even a thing?
I for one sometimes sit down at the end of the day to reflect on what has transpired during the last 14 hours. I kept seven children fed, clothed, schooled, and alive. I touched base at some point with my older daughters and hopefully loved on my husband not to mention all the chores, tears, and distractions.
We moms have a lot going on, and it can all feel insignificant. These long days full of little moments really do matter even when our tasks weigh us down.
There are times when we find ourselves wondering why our children can’t cope during the day. What is up with all the meltdowns? Why can’t they just go with the flow? Whining over such minimal reasons, many we can’t find the cause or resolution.
If you have found yourself in such a frame of mind, could I share three ways we can all be encouraged and know every single moment is bringing healing and growth to our family.
Three Ways to Know Every Day is Healing:
1. Look for Growth.
When I am tired, worn down, and need confirmation to know every day is healing, I look for growth in my children. I go to a special shelf in our living room which holds the leather binders full of the ‘before gotcha’ documents.
Remember the day you received the call that you had been matched and waited for the file to be emailed to you?
How many times did we read it and imagine the day our child would be home with us?
We poured over the file and read the medical diagnosis, the story of their finding day, and the notes written about their time in the orphanage.
Do you ever spend time remembering them before we knew them?
Have you picked up their file since they became your child?
Have you looked at photos or videos you were given from China lately?
Want to see immense growth?
Compare the child In China then with the child you hold in your arms.
Is there growth? Have they changed? Learned? Begun to speak?
Huge strides have been made and sometimes we all need to stop, pull out the files, and go back to the time before gotcha.
It focuses my heart on the goodness in front of me every time. My child is growing and changing and healing, and they have come a long way for sure!
2. Eye to Eye and Listening Connections.
I am so guilty of more talking than listening. There is so much to guide, correct, reward, and fix with our words, but it takes intentional thought to remember most of the time our children just want our eyes and ears. I’ve written about the Lifebooks I have made for my children here on No Hands But Ours, and they have been critical to the connection between us as a family and them to their China home.
Our youngest, just home over two years, often says, “I can’t know my China.” I am so thankful I can take her to her China book and show her over and over until it’s seared into her memory. This is one of the ways we are able to connect eye to eye and ear to ear.
Another of our children loves to look at the photos we have that were given to us by the orphanage. Most of all she loves the videos. I’ll be honest, I can’t watch them now. When we love as deeply as we do once they’ve been our child for a while, it is hard to see them before love. She makes fun of me in a sweet way that I can’t watch but I am close by answering questions as best I can and validating all the feelings she has while trying to make sense of her past. It’s her story and having the gift of making her own thoughts about it is part of the healing too.
No Lifebook? No worries. Just open the photos on your computer and talk about them together. The more we talk about their story in the day to day, the more able they are to come to a place of acceptance. It might even be a good idea to print some of the photos and make a cheap dollar store photo album they can look at any time they choose.
The eye to eye and ear to ear connection is so important, and the communication we open in the midst of it is one of the most healing of family rituals.
3. Celebrate the Strengths.
I was recently listening to a homeschooling podcast when the host made the most astonishing statement. It was one I had really never given much thought to mainly because it is counterculture to do so.
She said, “Change your focus from the Weakness to the Strength.” She was referring to the one skill your child might be struggling with like spelling or multiplication tables or grammar. Haven’t we all had the expectation that, if our child can’t read, we have to work on reading every moment we can? Or if they don’t know their multiplication tables, we should drill them every day? What do you think that does to our children’s self-confidence? Punches them right in the gut. Look what I can’t do instead of what I can.
What if we all looked at adoption as a strength and celebrated?
If we stopped to count all the milestones and victories they have accomplished?
What if we focused on all the wonderful qualities, character traits, and Chinese mannerisms we see in our children?
What if we counted the times they coped with a situation instead of remembering the meltdown they had today?
What if we just picked them up off the floor and told them we loved them even more when they lose control?
Counterculture just might be the answer.
I see this being a huge step in the healing of our children’s hearts!
Challenge: Create Growing Boxes.
Do you know where all the things for your child from China are hiding? I have wanted to pull all the things together for years and just like when you have friends coming over for dinner and you clean your house spotless,
I decided to make our Growing Boxes to share on this post.
It was a huge deal because we had things stored in bins, on shelves in their rooms, on display in the living room, you get the picture. I had a wish to gather all their China treasures in one place so on days they were struggling for connection or wondering about their past, they could pull out their boxes and take a journey to China.
One of the most special parts of their boxes were their gotcha day clothes and one child’s finding clothes saved by their orphanage. You can imagine the giggling when they held up these clothes and even tried them on to see their own growth.
Such a healing moment when they realized on their own, this was all they owned when they came to be in our family. That was such a raw, sacred moment. I just sat back and allowed them to feast on the blessings they had received through adoption.
We put all the items given to us by the orphanage, foster families, as well as things we bought while in China. I put their silks, gotcha clothes, and pearls bought for them. They each have Chinese money, their files, and CDs of photos.
The day I presented them to them was absolutely precious! It was like Christmas morning opening the gift they had been wishing for. I hope you can see the joy in the photos.
Since that day, they have all asked to go look through their box, and they always come back with a new thought or question. I can’t always answer it, but we talk about what we think to be true and I allow them to create their own story with the pieces we have collected.
I had also kept some special items for my older daughters like their silver cups, baby Bibles, and the dresses/shoes they came home from the hospital in and presented it to them as well. This keepsake was not lost on them either.
We all need a connection to the past and a way to tie it to the present and future. I named the boxes Growing Boxes because as they years pass they, as well as I, can see the Growth and Healing in the Everyday.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30