Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Seeking Normal Again

The last month and a half has been a little out of control. We rushed to finish school a month early, and managed to get it all completed on May 10th. On the 11th, we attended the baptism of our nephew Jason, and then left immediately for an 11 hour drive down to Isle of Palms, South Carolina. David had business in Charleston that week, and he took two extra days so that we could make it a week-long vacation. We returned home late on the evening of May 18th, and then I had a week to pack, buy little gifts for the boys, repack tubs of donations, get together such necessities as mosquito repellant, anti-bacterial wipes, flashlights and malaria medicine for my nine-day trip to Ethiopia. I left for Ethiopia on May 26th, returned on June 3rd, spent the next three days sleeping, frantically unpacking, doing laundry and repacking, and we left on the afternoon of the 6th for our every-four-years Ocean Isle vacation with David's family.

We've had a great time, but life has been out-of-order for way too long. Combine that with trauma-versary time, and we have a perfect storm for Mr. Sintay. He is frustrated, and unhappy, and whiny to the extreme. He throws temper tantrums like we haven't seen in awhile. Yesterday when I told him to stop hanging on the fridge door, he went into his bedroom, slammed the door, screamed bloody-murder for about 10 minutes while heaving everything he could get his hands on. He's mouthy, and impertinent, and he hid under the bench on Sunday rather then walk into the Sunday school class that he's been attending for a year and a half. He bursts into tears at the drop of a hat. He kicked the back of my seat for 7.5 hours while yawning hugely but refusing to take a nap in the van on Saturday. This picture that Susan unwittingly snapped on vacation last week just perfectly sums up our relationship at the moment:
The thing that I can't allow myself to forget in these moments is that trauma has real, lasting effects. Two years ago this week everything changed again for my little guy. He saw his birth mama for the last time and said a final goodbye to her. Five days later, we took custody of him, and nothing was ever the same again. A friend told me awhile back that she learned in college that memory is actually stored in every cell of our body, not just in our brains. Smells, seasons, sights, sounds, etc can trigger physical pain that mimics the pain we felt when we experienced trauma. My children's bodies KNOW when we've hit a painful anniversary....even if their minds have no concept of the time of year. This isn't something that Sintayehu can master on his own, and this is a child that struggles with impulse control at the best of times. I need to constantly remind myself to have a little more patience right now, to be a little more loving and understanding.
The good news is that we have a long (hopefully uneventful) summer stretching out in front of us. At the moment we have very few plans scheduled. We have stacks of books from the library to read together, puzzles to work on, and games to play. We have extra time for snuggles, and popsicles, eating fresh strawberries, collecting bugs, and playing with Legos on the driveway with the neighbor kids. We remind him that we are a family, that no matter how rough of a day we've had, he is loved beyond measure. We aren't going anywhere, and neither is he. There are constructive ways to handle grief and frustration, and we are modeling what those are. We've been here before. This is not new territory for us. Slowly, slowly, things will come back into focus...and we will hold onto the good moments, which begin to happen more and more often. Peace is coming just takes a little more time....and time is one thing we have.


  1. Wow, I'm exhausted just reading through all that! That picture is so perfect...I giggled only because I know Miss A and I look like that most of the time too! Praying for you guys at this difficult time of year. Last night A just could not stop crying about nothing and she kept saying "I not know why I sad." Well, I knew, it's because today is Gotcha Day. Poor sweeties. Hang in there Momma - you are doing a great job!

  2. Trauma-versary...
    I like the term. I already have 10 days written on my calendar for a vacation in March. I'm not going to even pretend that I will be productive at work that week! Praying for you and your boy as you work through this season of life.

  3. I love this post. I also love your picture worth a thousand words. Lol. I have one like that too. This was a great perspective. I talked to Daniel about his gotcha day in a very low key way on the 26th of July. He then had an awful 27th of July. I think it might be kind of a taboo in the adoption world, but I have no plans now to celebrate the day he came home, or gotcha day next year. I can celebrate it in my heart, but for now, it seems better to let sleeping dogs lie.