Before we adopted, I couldn’t have told you what I’d like about having children. I had hopes, of course. But they were more a sense of what life might feel like rather than specific dreams I could articulate. Once we were IN it, it wasn’t at all as I’d imagined. Some things were harder than I expected, many things were just different. But an important through line to this story is how certain things bring more joy to my life than I ever would have guessed. For example…
I have attended LOTS of soccer games now, and they are so my favorite. Fast paced action, a chance to cheer…all while relaxing in a lawn chair in the sun. It’s glorious. I knew I was hooked when I stood on a muddy field in the cold rain last year as our team lost by what felt like a hundred goals, and I was still incredibly happy to be there.
Also my favorite: Middle School musicals. I CRIED last year as #2 took the stage as part of the herd in The Lion King. Full on soggy face. I knew how hard she’d worked to learn the songs and dances, and was in awe at how the huge ensemble cast pulled off a show that was really entertaining. I never would have had these moments without the Cherubs. Hakuna Matata!
Even more than these things, though, I like our conversations, and what I learn just being around them.
I tend to approach kids as people. I’m not all that into games or crafts or activities, but I love hearing what their lives are about, how they see the world. Both of the Cherubs are interesting. The things they say as they’re just going about their days broadens my perspective in ways I NEVER would have anticipated.
It would be easy to imagine that this broadening has been about the big things that seem obvious: race, generational differences, what it’s like to grow up in hard circumstances. And there’s been some of that. But most of what I’ve gleaned from the kids is more subtle and unexpected. Things like…
When #2 Cherub talks through her strategies for approaching challenges, the way she thinks is incredibly logical and proactive. She really goes for things that matter to her. When something doesn’t work out as planned, she regroups, comes up with a new approach, and tries again. I can’t tell you how much being around her pushes me to raise my game and do likewise.
#1 is a captain of relational management. He can read & recalibrate a room like no one I’ve ever seen. (If you run a business right now, HE is the guy you’re going to want in charge of office culture & employee retainment in a few years.) I don’t understand precisely how he does it, but his emotional agility is off the charts. He’s taught me so much about the power of quiet observation and choosing your moments to speak.
On a lighter note, thanks to the Cherubs, I now know that the Timberland boots I bought in January (which were known as sh*tkickers when I was growing up and not at all cool) are now incredibly desirable and fashion-forward. Cue the first moment EVER where both Cherubs are impressed with my attire :)
I guess my point is that when I remember to interact with my kids the way I do other kids – as people, not life management projects I’m trying desperately not to screw up, there’s a reciprocity to our relationship that is really rich. It can be challenging to keep that in the forefront of my mind in the midst of all the parenting, but it’s so worth the effort.
It’s too easy to let the challenging parts of adoption define the narrative. But they are not the whole story :)