If a few months ago we were standing on the edge of yikes, getting ready to jump headfirst into becoming a family of six through the adoption of our two daughters, I think it's safe to say we have now jumped, survived the initial shock of being in water way over our heads and are now learning to breathe.
I didn't say swim because we sorta already know how to do that; we're just modifying it for these waters.
That whole breathing while swimming thing, especially, takes practice as we navigate these waters of adoption and parenting, attaching and connecting.
Because did you know pretty much you can hyperventilate while trying to swim? Or even forget to breathe?
It's true. In real-life swimming and in metaphorical-life swimming.
I think I've gone back and forth about a dozen or so times (per day) between rapid, panicked breathing and forgetting to take a breathe. Some of my friends who have larger families say this happens a lot, adoption-specific issues and trauma-related issues aside. I've come to think if parenting many children is a lot like swimming through a choppy ocean then it would be safe to say that parenting children who have endured trauma is a lot like swimming through that same choppy ocean with occasional (and sometimes often) bursts of intense storms. And sharks. Yeah, don't forget the sharks.
At first I was taken aback at the complexity of parenting four children and also the extreme range of emotions that occur when the family dynamic changes suddenly and rapidly and in a not-so-usual way. Add trauma in ... and that's where the breathing correctly comes in real handy.
We've been home for about seven and some weeks now, and we spent a month in the girls' home country getting know each other and bonding, so I often have to remind myself that we haven't been at this for all that long when I start struggling to stay above water.
Of course, like every journey in life, there is joy along with the hardship. Mounds of it, in fact. This journey is no different. We've seen God do amazing things to bring us together, and we've also seen Him work in insanely intricate ways in each of our lives during the last several months.
But in order to see all of that, any of that we had to stop swimming for a little bit, take a breather and rest long enough to reflect and see above the waves.
Perspective and all.
It's like that, you know. In real-life swimming and in metaphorical-life swimming.
So we're enjoying the beauty of the journey more and more, and, by the grace of God, we are learning to breathe.