I'm spinnin' this week folks, thanks to Jen over at Sprite's Keeper. And this week's spin is all about adventure. Unfortunately, my life hasn't been all that adventurous (unless you count in the bedroom, RAWR). I haven't traveled all that much, I don't jump from airplanes or climb rocks. I don't even dare drink expired milk. As my husband will tell you any day of the week, I am usually over-cautious and don't enjoy danger or the threat of injury or death. But there is one adventure that I signed up for some years ago that has never failed to be a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, and the greatest adventure of my 29 years.
This adventure has consisted of tears, laughter, learning, growth, anger, frustration, blood, sweat, and most importantly love. It started unconventionally, as a stand-in mom for a 1-year-old boy with a loving, albeit misguided young father and a confused, immature mother. At the ripe age of 21, I was mature, but still only a fraction of the woman I would become, and needed to be, to be a mother. But motherhood enrolled me in a whirlwind crash course, whether I was ready for it or not.
The little boy won my heart, and the hearts of my family, until one day he was indistinguishable from any one of us. But there was pain. And hurt feelings. History that wasn't easily forgotten. And an extraordinary amount of frustration as we fought with his mother to work out what was best for him. Two households wanted him, one for the right reasons and one wrong. One household had security, love and support, but wasn't the household that the court favored, even when it became clear that the other household was an inferno of negativity and inconsistency.
When his mother got angry, she refused to send him for his weekends with us. When she got overwhelmed with the everyday challenges of motherhood, she called upon me to come rescue her and take him away. When the pressure became just too much, she would suggest that we take him for good, but as soon as she reached an upswing in her mood, she offer was swept off the table and tucked away until the next time she couldn't take it any longer. This emotional extortion created tension and a fear of never knowing what she was going to do next. There was no letting our guard down, no relaxing. We knew that if months went by without an incident, it was only a matter of time before that other shoe would drop.
Until one day, when the little boy spoke up. At 4 years old, he knew what he wanted and where he wanted to be. Amazed that such a young soul could be so aware of his surroundings and what was good for him, we kept a close eye on him and listened intently to everything he had to say. He told everyone that would listen that he didn't want to go with her, that he was scared of his stepfather and that he wanted to live with his father and I. The day he told his own mother that he didn't want to live with her, she called and said she gave up. And that was the beginning of the next adventure.
We got custody of him that spring, with her surrendering her guardianship and agreeing to visitation every other weekend. At this time, I was working full time and going to school at night, as was my husband. With help and support from our family, we got through this "adventure," but it wasn't an easy path. Sometimes I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Could I do this? Could I really be the mother that this little boy wanted and needed so badly? I doubted myself a lot during that time, but there was something inside of me that propelled me through each day and hurtling over each obstacle. I know now what it was. Maternal instinct at its finest.
Things got easier, but never uninteresting. Back to court for various issues and drama in his mother's life kept the adventure plodding along, many times leaving us feeling spent and empty. We got married and we moved into my in-laws' house to save for a home of our own. It was there that we found out that I had infertility issues and we started treatment so that by the time we moved out, we would hopefully be able to get pregnant. But the universe had something else in mind. Another adventure unfolded, taking us quite by surprise.
Although earlier than we had expected, we were thrilled, and I was elated because I had yearned for a child of my own and was so scared of not being able to carry my own little bean. God blessed us with our daughter on April 26, 2006, and our family was complete.
Luckily, this little blessing fit right into our family as if there had always been a space just waiting for her to fill it. The little boy loved his sister, and she worshiped her big brother from the first day she laid her tiny little eyes on him. This is where the fun part of the adventure officially began. Seeing my two kids, one grown inside of me, the other who chose me, getting to know one another and falling in love. It made me fall in love with each of them, one for the first time and the other all over again. And although things will never be perfect with the boy's mother, and sometimes my heart breaks a little when he tells me he "wishes he had come out of my belly" like his sister, I know that I was born for this adventure.
The adventure continues every day. And sometimes I wonder why I got myself into this insanity. Sometimes there is no sleep. There is fighting, and yelling, and crying, and whining. But there is also the most infinite love, and the most savage bliss. In this adventure called motherhood, I have also found out who I am, and have learned more about life and love than could ever be learned from books or poetry. It's exciting, and you never know what is going to happen next.
Isn't that what the best adventures are all about?