My baby is four today! Except that he's not my baby: he's my oldest. And he's quick to tell me that not only is HE not a baby, but his little sister is not a baby anymore either - "she's a toddler", he says.
That means I've been doing the mom thing for about four years now. Want to know my secret? I still don't know what I'm doing! ha ha. I pray. A LOT. And then I pray some more. And in between my prayers there's lots of discipline and snuggles and jumping and running and general craziness. And sometimes mayhem.
I remember leaving the hospital with my newborn first child. We just walked on out of there and nobody stopped us. I half expected someone to see me leaving with a baby and say "HEY LADY! Wait a minute! You don't know what you're doing! You can't leave here with him!" But instead everyone smiled and waved goodbye as Rob & I pulled away in his old Isuzu Rodeo that looked so strange with a carseat in the back.
Lately I've been reflecting on how this next baby's start in our family is going to be so different. For one, we've been waiting for him much longer than a typical pregnancy. Adopting is like being an elephant (they carry their babies for TWO years before giving birth). We've been talking about and praying for "Our Baby in Africa" (as the kids call him) for almost a year now. And when he arrives, there will be no contractions, no late night/early morning phone calls to family and friends to arrange for childcare. He won't be a tiny, helpless baby that I can nurse whenever he cries and make life all better again. He won't already know the sound of my voice or the sound of the kids' voices. Rob can't read to him at night like he read to my first two in utero. We miss out on bonding with him for the first many months of his life.
But you know what? Even though I am the first to admit I"m not a perfect mom, I do sorta feel like I have this mom thing down. I've learned some of the tricks of the trade and my first two are still alive. That has to count for something, right? (just kidding).
I often talk with my friends about parenting styles/techniques and the phrase I find myself saying most often is this: "God gave YOU your child because He knows that YOU know what is best for him/her. Not your parents, not your neighbors, not your friends. YOU know what is best and get to make the decisions." I have some dear friends who parent very differently from the way I parent. And know what? They're great parents. We don't all need to parent exactly the same way to be effective.
And while I don't believe adoption is God's first choice for my child (his birth parents would have been), circumstances are that I get the honor of raising him. And I believe God has a hand in that. He knows who my next child is and has decided that Rob and I get to be his parents. What if I had been too scared to do an international adoption? Or too scared to adopt at all? I would miss out on parenting this awesome kid that I haven't had the honor of meeting yet.
So I'll keep doing this mom thing. And I thank God for those who are on the journey with me. I don't do the Mom Thing by myself - God has given me some awesome friends and family who certainly help me out along the way!