It Got Normal
I don't know when it happened.
I have no idea when it changed.
But last night after our youngest daughter had come out of her room to get a glass of water, said goodnight, and went back to bed, I put down my book, turned to my husband and said,
"It feels normal now."
He looked at me and after a moment let out a "Hmph" of agreement. (There are very few on this planet who can tell the difference between his "Hmph" of agreement and a "Hmph" of dissatisfaction, but luckily I can.)*
It happened slowly. It snuck up on us, but sometime in the past while, between the gentle morning wake-ups and the nightly tuck-ins, we transitioned as a family into a new normal. Our youngest daughter has been in our home 7 months now. (We are awaiting her adoption papers to be finalized, but that may be delayed now because the courts are shut down due to the virus.) The first month felt like the longest month of our lives. The first three months took what felt like 6 years. Not because she was difficult, but just because we were all so hyper-aware of each other and the adjustment to change was monumentous.
When you adopt a child the learning curve is steep. You have to get to know this new person who is in your family and in your house everyday. You watch every move they make, and they watch you in return. Its emotionally exhausting.
I have to imagine that adopting a preteen must be similar to what its like for new parents when they bring home a baby and their whole life changes from that moment on. Except imagine that baby has heaps of trauma and wants to talk about it all the time.
Like nervous new parents who check on their sleeping infant several times in the night to double check that they are breathing, I spent the first few months constantly aware of our new child and her well being. Does she feel safe? Does she feel loved? Does she trust us yet? Is she lying about that? What foods does she like? Did I hear her crying in her room? Does she like it here? Am I too intense?**
She organized our fruit bowl and hid things when she broke them, desperate to earn our love.
Now she is sassy and complains when she doesn't like what's for dinner.
And its awesome.
I can now go into her room and complain about what a pigsty it is without worrying about how it will effect her emotional well being. Because I know her. I know she'll just laugh and say its not as bad as her big sister's room, and that will be the end of it.
She's chilled out.
I've chilled out.
Somewhere subtle, it snuck up on us....normal.
And the new normal is good.
*As I was writing this he walked into the room and asked "what are you doing?" I said "Writing about you." And he just let out a "Hmph." in responce. I dissolved into instant hysterics which he did not understand at all until he read what I had just been writing about.
** The answer to this is almost always yes.