February 4, 2016
There is this wonderful little person who snuck his way into our lives while our thoughts were very occupied with other things. Although we had a lot on our plates at the time, and although foster care forces you into an acceptance of the fact that you can’t know the future, we still felt like maybe we had some control over how many things we didn’t have control over. You know? And then along came Mr. Smiles, this bright shining reminder that sometimes it’s super okay to not have control over the future, because God always has our best interests in mind when He throws us curve-balls.
One year ago today, Mr. Smiles was born, and a couple days later he was eagerly welcomed home by our other three boys and our girl. Of course I immediately loved him like crazy in his own right — we all did — but I always kind of viewed him as a vessel, a conduit for God’s love to flow down to our girl in a way she could understand. I felt like his arrival was as much for her sake as for ours.
She has been home with her family for a few months now, and it’s funny when people ask how it’s felt to go back to normal, because in our case “normal” has changed. There were three boys before she came, and now there are four. We didn’t go “back to normal,” we’re discovering a new normal! And it turns out this normal is awesome. Mr. Smiles is such an incredibly fun and wonderful baby, and he is adored by his brothers. I’ve had a renewed appreciation for my kids, and an overwhelming thankfulness for Mr. Smiles.
All the same, it’s strange that our girl isn’t in his life. Jack-Jack asks about her all the time, so I know it’s confusing for him that she’s gone. Now don’t get me wrong — I said “confusing,” not “sad.” It is entirely possible that every time he asks about her, what he’s really saying is “Guys, for SURE she’s gone? Like, you’re SURE she’s not sitting behind me in the car right now? You’re CERTAIN she’s not going to pop around a corner and start yelling at me? Guys? Where is she???” Let’s not get overly sentimental here. He’s confused but he might also be relieved. I don’t know. BUT, we did get to spend two afternoons this week with her, a little unexpectedly, and he actually seemed super happy to see her when she got in the car. He whined and whined and acted completely stressed out for the next 48 hours, but that’s beside the point. The point is, he was glad to see her…Even though she’s hardly recognizable now because her hair has all been chopped off (by her? or a professional? questionable) into a boyish pixie cut, which is almost super cute but then not quite at all, and which was surprising because there was this one time I took her to get her hair cut and was later passive-aggressively informed that it’s against her family’s religion for anyone to cut their hair, which I knew wasn’t true because they cut her hair all the time for both good reasons and bad, AND because I’m familiar with the church they go to and they have no rules against the cutting of hair, but they seemed adamant, but I guess they changed to a religion where they CAN chop off their hair…? Whatever. Her hair’s short.
Jack-Jack was not the only one happy to see her, though. She and Mr. Smiles had some seriously sweet moments together, the most significant being that HE TOOK HIS FIRST STEPS TOWARDS HER. You may have seen a picture I posted on Facebook of him taking his first steps in a dentist’s office (of all places), but what you can’t see in the photo is what he’s walking towards. It’s her.
After all this time, he continues to be a conduit of God’s love and grace towards her. He showed off his walking skills once more later that night, but otherwise he has barely walked since — just a step here, a step there. That moment was a sweet gift, God allowing her to take part in a big milestone after barely seeing him for weeks. She was there through my pregnancy, she was there when he came home from the hospital, and now she can say she was there for his first steps.
So, Mr. Smiles, happy happy birthday. I don’t know if you know how loved you are, or how significant your life has been to us. Keep those smiles coming, and I pray that throughout your life, you’ll keep taking steps towards those in need of love.