To My Wife, On This Mother’s Day

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MOTHER & SON, ON THEIR FIRST FULL DAY.

Hi Honey,

Time is flying by and today is another Mother’s Day.  Today, Jacob and I celebrate our good fortune to have you in our lives.  You are so worth celebrating (both what you do and who you are) and the only regret that I have, on this day, is that I do not celebrate you enough the other 364 days of the year.  The fact that you never hold this oversight against me is just another reason why today is a happy day.

Although, I also remember that not too long ago, Mother’s Day was the hardest of days.  Of course I celebrate and give thanks for my own mother today (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!), but this one is for you, Carita.

I remember how “motherhood” eluded you.  And, by extension, us.  I remember how you waited and how you despaired and how you prayed…I remember how brave you were.  But it always felt like the unwinnable prize, the unreachable goal. Motherhood was that inaccessible club that you couldn’t get into, like the United Club Lounge at Tokyo Narita that we enviously peeked into on the mid-point layover of that 24-hour-long trip to Asia.

I remember the doctors’ appointments.  I remember the heartbreaking calls inevitably following those doctors’ appointments.  I remember the needles and the injections.  I remember the surgeries.  I remember looking at our bank account statements and wondering if we’d just spent our savings on yet another fruitless pursuit.  I remember our unborn children.

And, when even your capacity for hope and faith was exhausted, I remember God’s grace carrying us – from those days to this day.

I want to still remember those days.  Especially today.  It’s not as if all of that just went away when you became a mother.  I know that Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for you, as I know it must be for many others. We know others who are unable to have children and those who have lost children. We know those who have lost their mothers and those who never had someone to even call “mother.”  Today must be a complicated day for them, too.

It is the seeming lack of nuance surrounding Mother’s Day that prompts my thoughts today.  It never felt like there was room on Mother’s Day for both the bitter and the sweet.  As if, by acknowledging the sad and broken things, we couldn’t celebrate the joyous things anymore. Or, if by celebrating something joyous (for, indeed, Jacob’s presence in our family is joyous) it betrayed the memories and significance of harder times.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, at least not for us.  We can have room for both.

So, today, I celebrate with you and I celebrate you.  I celebrate the day that God made you a “mother” and each day since.  I also remember all of those prior days that made up the steps along your journey. Thank you for allowing me on the journey with you.  I love you.

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Homecoming

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) is a federal law intended to ensure that children placed out of their home state receive the same protections and services that would be provided, if they remained in their home state.  Due to the estimated length of time it would take California and Texas to process our adoption paperwork, we originally expected to remain in California for a couple of weeks.  We got some unexpectedly good news that we’d been given clearance to bring Jacob home to Texas this week!  We’ll spare you the rest of the legalese.

We had some awesome, generous friends make our stay in California an enjoyable blessing. They even threw us a celebration party on Tuesday, our last night there. They brought gifts, prayed for us, and just rejoiced with us.  Our four days in Southern California were full of blessings like that.  While it might seem like we were “stuck” in SoCal for a few days, it was more like we got to introduce our son to his California family, such was the excitement of our friends.  It was a great picture of friends, who’d shared in our sorrows, now sharing in our joy.

On Tuesday, we boarded US Air flight 548 from Orange County back to Austin. Obviously, we’ve never flown with our child before.  I do have plenty of experience flying with other people’s children, though, and that was enough to pray that Jacob would make a good traveling companion.

I’m happy to say that Jacob slept through both legs of the trip.  In fact, save for an “incident” involving diapers, peeing, and his mother (which I’ll let her retell, if she desires), he was virtually trouble-free.  It was a truly clutch performance on the part of our 10-day old.

Even so, we were pretty tired by the time our plane landed in Austin.  It was already past 11:30 pm.  By the time we gathered our things, we were one of the last people to disembark (which I suppose I should start getting used to).  Carita has Jacob and I have our carry-on bags.  As we make our way to the escalators, down to Baggage Claim, we are greeted with this sight:

Balloons. Posters. Camera flashes.  And cheering loud enough to fill all of Baggage Claim at Austin Bergstrom International Airport!

Some of our friends made a late night trip to the airport to welcome us home! Friends from our church community group, friends who work with us. Old friends and new friends.  Young friends (like Cohen Chen on his dad’s shoulders) and not-as-young friends.  Faithful, caring, loving friends.

After a long and tiring trip, during which we both felt a sense of “Okay, now comes the hard part!”, we are greeted by this heart-warming sight.  What a poignant reminder to us that we are not alone; neither in this adoption nor in life.

This homecoming also makes me think of another homecoming.  The author Frederick Buechner once wrote, “Faith is homesickness.”  The journey of our Faith is a journey HOME.  I think of the Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews 12, of loved ones who’ll go before me, of angels singing…and of seeing Jesus face-to-face.  “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner that repents,” according to Luke 15. If the heavenly host rejoice over the repentance of just one of us, I can’t even imagine the scene in Heaven when all of us finally come home!

For the friends who sent us off with blessings, the friends who welcomed us home on our return, and the friends whose love and affection from afar carried us along the way:  Thank You.  You have given us a taste of Heaven.