|My Ever After|
Suddenly I am fully awake. I fling myself over and stare at the time. It is 20 minutes til the hour. It is my daughter's 8th anniversary of her birthday and we have 30 cupcakes to deliver to school along with her, when the clock hits 9:00. It is about a 7 minute drive and we have no time to spare.
I pull on some shorts and hurry from our bedroom, through the study, down the hallway, and burst into Aleksandra's room. There she stands fully dressed and ready to go. Oh, I am such the bad parent this morning. It is her birthday and I am running late!
I run back into our bedroom and do the Tom Cruise slide as I turn the corner. I have to skip the shower (thank goodness I have no hair now) hit the toothpaste and deodorant... tug on my clothes, slide into my unlaced shoes, splash coffee into a travel mug... grab my daughter and cupcakes, push open the garage, get into the car and pull out of the driveway.
It is now 10 minutes til the hour.
We hold on tightly as I dismiss the posted speed limit as an annoyance and I run red lights with extreme prejudice (some have cameras on them... I know which ones). We make the turn and fly down the road. It is at this moment that I begin to feel that something is not quite right. It is really foggy, and not as bright as ususal. I dismiss this as simply fall weather setting in.
And then I notice that we are the only car on the road. Usually there are a nascar's worth of parents jockeying for position on this street. No-one wants to get stuck by the ridiculously long light at the final turn. Again... I refuse to think of what this might mean... I have a mission to make it to school before the big hand hits the top of the hour and we are just gonna make it.
I come to the final turn and screetch into the school parking lot, expecting to see the look of disapproval that I typically get from the principal. I prepare my smile for him...
but he isn't there. The parking lot is empty. Completely empty. The creeping feeling that something was wrong... that sense that I had refused to consider because... surely it could not be the case. That feeling now elbowed its' way to the forefront of my mind and then forced me to look at my watch. We were 5 minutes before the hour.
5 minutes before the hour... an hour too early. Seriously.
I am such a champion of a parent. I had to laugh at myself as we did a donut in the parking lot and now began our drive back home. Aleksandra gave me grace and just rolled with it.
So now, realizing that we had an hour and that I no longer had to mission impossible it to beat the clock, my mind had a moment to catch up with the reality of the day. It is Aleksandra's birthday.
For an adoptive parent... birthdays are a bit of a mixed bag. Certainly there is the normal celebratory happiness that comes with the significance of my child having successfully maneuvered her way to another birthday. We reflect on the past year and we remember back to our first memories of her and our family. And these memories are beyond all value.
And as I reflect on our story... my mind shifts gears, as it does every year.
I think of a woman in Russia. I wonder what her thoughts and emotions are today. I have to believe that her heart is a little heavy. I become aware again of the intense emotion that she must have felt when she made that decision to chose life, have her baby, and then surrender her to strangers.
I hope she is ok today. I hope she knows that things are ok... it has worked out for her daughter. Her decision has provided our family with completeness. I wish I had some way of letting her know. I want her to know that Aleksandra is safe, and happy, and loved. I want her to know that Aleksandra has a brother, a pink bedroom, and a puppy.
I want her to know that we decided to toss out the name we had chosen... that when we read the name, "Aleksandra" and knew that her birth mother had called her by this name... we were immediately compelled to keep alive this tie.
I want her to know that we love her, we respect her, are forever indebted to her, and that our family is eternally grateful.
But we have no way of communicating this. And so... we pray for her. And each year, on this date... our hearts reach out to her. She is a hero in our lives.
As a parent of both a biological child and an adopted child... let me be a witness as I tell you that it makes absolutely no difference. Both are fully ours. Completely. Incredibly. We found that when she came to us that everything was simply, "just right."
I love this phrase, "just right." I'm sure that I heard it somewhere before... probably at some goofy business seminar or church sermon. I remember calling it, The Goldilocks Principle. I use this on occasion at home with the kids. In fact, it came up at dinner last night. The kids had butter knives and we were helping them learn to use them to cut their dinner. If they cut too softly, then knife wouldn't cut through the meat. If they cut too aggressively, the whole plate slid and the table shook. I explained that the secret to much in life is simply finding that place where things are, "just right."
Here, at the night after her birthday... I am struck by the degree of which this Goldilocks Principle is manifest in our lives. If you have ever seen her and her brother together... well then, you know a little of that which I type. They are inseparable. I sometimes think they can read each other's minds.
My daughter is amazing. She is beautiful, and smart, and her smile heals my soul. She is my Goldilocks and her being in my life is quite perfectly the stuff of fairy tales.
This is my Ever After.
Then Goldilocks sat down in the chair of the Great, Huge Bear,
and that was too hard for her.
And then she sat down in the chair of the Middle Bear,
and that was too soft for her.
And then she sat down in the chair of the Little, Small, Wee Bear,
and that was neither too hard, nor too soft,
but just right.