Monday, February 9, 2009

Almost One Year of Motherhood

It feels strange to write that. I'm a mother. Even now a year later. I'm a MAMA. Not many who have chosen the path of adoption can say they've had an easy journey to mommy. I cringe when people complain about the job. I just feel so honored daily. Judah makes it so easy. Today, the way he looked at me before puckering his little lips and giving me a big smooch accompanied with an exaggerated "mmmwaah" sound, was worth dying for. I can't believe it's been one year. When I place myself in time one year ago, it is too vivid. We were at the hotel, feeling so funky because of the time change. Just walking around, more like floating around (due to a mixture of nerves, excitement, bewilderment, and the aforementioned funkiness) and trying to take in everything. I almost felt panicked, because I didn't want to miss a moment of my son's country. I wanted to feel it and remember it in my bones. It's days like today, I am just SO appreciative of every little coincidence or incident that led me to today. With my precious little Judah.

I'm so happy that I wrote a little about how I was feeling. This is what I wrote a year ago today:

Welcome Home
We have arrived! Without even a hiccup. The flight was long- but we
were lucky enough to get a bulkhead (which my very leggy husband was
profusely happy about). It took about 1.3 painless minutes to get our
visa (no line, about 4 people waiting to help us). Our luggage also
arrived, which seemed like pure magic, and the minibus to take us to
the Hilton was ready and waiting. I don’t want to jinx it, but I
can’t believe our luck already. We are scheduled to pick up Judah
tomorrow morning, until then it is just the adventures of 2.
Right before we left, I mean, seriously minutes before walking out
the door, I received an ugly comment on my blog. I wasn’t initially
upset, as the words of the sad, crazy, and uneducated don’t typically
affect me. Although “typically” in my life, I am not leaving to be
united with my son. So, this was different. I tried to figure out why
the words of a miserable person made me pause. I realized it was only
sadness that I felt. Sadness that Jude’s world is not more beautiful.
Not more perfect. I am a dreamer by nature, and although I see
misery, I like to pretend that people are even more beautiful than
they are. Tommy once told me, “not everything can be beautiful.” I
felt a pinch of pride that I do try to make things beautiful, at
least through his eyes. It’s so easy to see the misery.
Although we have only been on this journey for a matter of hours, we
have come across an amazing surplus of beauty.

So, we left our house, me having mixed feelings - feelings that were
too surreal and lacking in tangibility to describe. Hope and fear
being most prominent. We parked our car and took a shuttle to the
airport. The shuttle driver, a wonderful Ethiopian man whose whose
love and pride in his country was readily available, gave us helpful
hints for our visit to Addis. He promised that he would be there to
pick us up when we returned to L.A., so he could meet Tesfahun (which
he said was the name of a revolutionary leader? I will have to look
this up).

We got on the first plane to DC and our flight number was #44. You
know how some people have favorite numbers? Like REALLY favorite
numbers…I like numbers, but I’m a fair-weathered-number-friend,
friendly to all. Tommy’s dad, on the other hand, is fiercely loyal to
number 44. This loyalty, I took as a sign…and guess what? All went

Our second flight, from Washington D.C., was also pleasant. Most of
the passengers were Ethiopian and I noticed something atypical
instantaneously. I’m a friendly bird. I smile at people A LOT. I once
asked Tommy is he was sometimes embarrassed about my “bubbly-ness”
with strangers (I can really take it over the top) and he laughed and
said “sometimes”…By the way, I’m not changing this. EVER. So, the
readily apparent difference between this flight and all others was
the friendliness. Generous smiles in return (AND SOME EVEN FIRST).
Heart-warming smiles. I instantly felt healed from the slightly blue
“Judah’s world isn’t beautiful enough for him” state.

The flight was interesting. It was mostly night while we were flying
over Africa. The sand dunes of Egypt and/or Sudan, for as far as the
eye could see while meeting the bright red sunrise, was impressive.
When we were flying over Ethiopia, I instantly had this sense of
pride. Pride so strong, that I had to sneaky cry over it. This is my
son’s country. This is his home. It was almost too much for me to
emotionally take. Then I would see an area that was so heartbreaking,
even from the distance of the airplane, that I had to hold my breath.
Tommy squeezed my hand and said, “I know.” We couldn’t talk about it,
and I don’t think I ever will. But, I know.

We landed in a very nice airport. The people were gracious, and as I
said NO glitches. Our driver said “Welcome home” and it didn’t even
seem cheesy. It felt genuine. As did his eyes. Another passenger in
our minibus was Ethiopian, going home to his and his wife’s families.
He thanked us for being global citizens and for our humanity. For
helping a child who has no one to help him. I didn’t know exactly
what to say, because each person I have met, seemed to give ME so
much. So much HOPE, something I felt slightly lacking when I was
leaving L.A. I’m a sucker for a warm smile.

We truthfully haven’t done much in the few hours we have been here. I
mean, we obviously have tried St. George’s beer and walked around a
bit. The jet lag is fairly intense, so I’m glad that we still have
today to try to become more cerebrally active before meeting our
Jude. I have learned in these few hours that I am passionately proud
of our son’s country. I cannot wait to bring him back. I cannot wait
to share with him the love I feel for the people. I am excited about
possible professional opportunities that may help make the visits
more than tours. I have so much to learn.

Tomorrow we get our boy! I am thrilled and anxious! Ethiopia is
beautiful. Last night I woke up many times. Sometimes I woke up with
a big smile, sometimes with a tear running down my face. This is very
representative of my feelings right now. I definitely feel alive.

It's strange, because part of me feels like I wrote that 5 minutes ago. A larger part of me doesn't even recognize the person I was before I met Judah. His smile, his giggle, his energy and his love, changed my life and brain completely. I just don't think of life before him.


Jocelyn said...

I am so glad you wrote brings tears to my eyes, the emotions, the memories of how I felt when I arrived. I am so happy that we will share such a special day forever. Miss you guys...I am so amazed that Wednesday will be one year since our incredible children were placed in our lucky are we?!!

Lori said...

Oh Dani, I remember this post like it was yesterday but also as if it were five years ago. I know that feeling and it's precious that you wrote the words down. We think we'll remember and we'll never forget, but at the same time it's different. We just see the experience so different being on this side of it (for me anyway.)

I vividly remember seeing ET as we were approaching - I have video of it from the plane which I should post! It amazed me! I wasn't expecting such a huge lit city! Crazy stuff....

Love your heart - xoxo Lor

Jana Kunz said...

Wow, that is beautiful. I was waiting for these kinds of posts at the time, and am so glad you finally talked about it. Yours (and others like you adopting from Aftrica) just warm my heart.

I cringe that people would even write you nasty notes, do they have nothing better to do!!

J'Laine said...

what a beautiful post! I am for a lack of words (which doesn't happen often)-my heart aches to return to ET; as does yours. So, cheers to December! Adventure number two in Ethiopia- I have almost finished my journal of our 2week trip there last year. I will have it done by tomorrow to post-I think you will enjoy some of the pictures.

The Calderones said...

congratulations on your first year of motherhood!!! You have summarized in this post, a feeling I also found in my few months in Ethiopia, as a volunteer. It's an amazing country with a friendliness that makes ones heart ache to return. Thank you for posting it.