I’m listening to a series of talks right now on “Effortful Growth.” It’s by my friend Jordan, and he’s arguing (in a nutshell) that we need to put some elbow grease into life if we want to be fruitful. Healthy things grow, as the saying goes, so we should want to do that.
I’m in what you’d call a high-effort, high-growth season. Holy guacamole it’s intense. I spend part of every day dizzy from how fast this new life spins. The thing is, though, the challenges aren’t the things you might expect.
You’d think I’d be growing in, um, SUDDEN PARENTING SKILLS, right? But nope. To be honest, I run that part of life mostly on instinct. Sure, I read approximately 1,000 parenting/adoption books before The Cherubs arrived. And I have good parents, which helps a lot. (Although sadly, I can’t always rely on “What would Mom & Dad do?” for answers, because there’s just no way to replicate the sheer volume of laughter that would have ensued had I ever asked them to buy me a $300 electronic device that would allow me to communicate 24/7 with the rest of the world while ignoring their request that I clean my room.) But between memory & a few helpful conversations with friends, I’m staying pretty well afloat here.
Instead, my major area of effort and growth (or, more honestly described, WHAT BAFFLES ME EVERY SINGLE DAY) is one thing: FOOD.
The Cherubs want three meals, every single day! Stranger still, they want those meals to include different foods. Those of you who’ve followed my story know that I could live happily forever on baloney sandwiches & cheez-its, and that it took me the first TEN YEARS of married life to remember, on a consistent basis, to thaw some sort of protein in the morning so Steve or I can cook it in the late afternoon. Sure, we might have six nights of chicken followed by one night of steak tips (all served with a seemingly endless side of rice), but I made the effort, we were fed, and thus I got to put a little check on my (imaginary) Personal Growth glitter chart.
The Cherubs are not AT ALL impressed with my newly honed defrosting aptitude. They BALKED at the chicken/chicken/chicken/chicken/chicken/chicken/steak routine. And while they’ve been remarkably open to trying new foods (and gracious in admitting that the taste buds they arrived with craved mostly chemical food products and high fructose corn syrup) they have no idea how rarely the worlds of “New Foods” and “Our New Mom” have intersected.
But God help me, I am trying. I’ve made delicious pot roast and disgusting chicken wings. We eat all kinds of things with tomato sauce (which I loathe) and our refrigerator door is filled with all manner of condiments, because to The Cherubs, happiness = flavor. This has probably been the most difficult part of adoption for me, this making of food I don’t want to eat. But one of the things I’ve learned (or confirmed – I always sort of suspected) is that food isn’t a purveyor of comfort to me. I’m so grateful to be well fed and to be able to feed my family. But baloney or boeuf bourguignon? It really doesn’t matter. So I’m making effort, trusting that for these young lives in which food does sometimes bring comfort, my growth will produce good things for all of us.