As difficult as it is for me to fathom, we first met Sophia six months ago today. She was put into our waiting arms and we could hardly believe how lucky we were. Sophia was less impressed and immediately started to wail and continued to do so for the next hour, or two.
So many things have changed since that day. I resigned from my position as a police officer, we moved to Michigan, bought a house and set about getting to know Sophia better. I look back at photos of us in China and, in some ways, she seems like a completely different girl. True, she is still a spitfire and has the greatest variety of facial expression I have ever seen, with the exception of Jim Carrey perhaps. But she no longer seems so sad. She smiles constantly and can't wait to tackle each day. Sophia is so full of unbridled curiosity and confidence. She loves to celebrate her achievements and when she masters a new skill, she looks up at us, claps her hands together and says 'yeah'!
We have watched her learn to crawl, pull herself up, stand, walk, run and now, she even walks backward very rapidly. She says a few words; da da, mama, nana, dock (dog), ott (hot), baba (baby), sock, toe, yeah, and her all time favorite, 'uh-oh'. She loves to play on her baby grand piano and play with her toys. She now demands the music be turned on (repeated banging on the media cabinet) and is full of joy when Colin dances with her. She hugs us, kisses us, and even will blow us a kiss when one of us leaves. She actually pets the dog quite gently, tickles his feet, and tries very hard to kiss the horse's nose.
She will try almost any food but is starting to have an opinion about which ones she would prefer to eat. Pizza, home-made chili, yogurt and avocado rank as top favorites. She hates our attempts to wean her off the bottle and pouts furiously when we hand her the sippy cup. Most of the time, she will eventually drink from it, but she lets it be known that she is only doing it because she felt like it.
Now that the air has turned crisp, Sophia LOVES spending time outdoors. She will go to our front door and tap on it, and then turn around to make sure that we saw her request. She eagerly holds out her arms to get into her puffy jacket and will start to move her feet really fast because she is so excited at the prospect of helping to rake leaves.
Speaking of helping, she truly does want to please. Sophia is in charge of feeding Marz twice a day, with a little help from us of course. It cracks us up, because she will deliberately drop a kibble or two so she can say 'uh-oh' and then bend down and pick it up in her hot little hand. When she has emptied the food into his bowl, she will triumphantly return the empty scoop to the dog food bucket and even closes the cabinet door. When we bring out the vacuum, she is transfixed. She follows us everywhere and even pulls the cord along, even it means tripping one of us. She is starting to help put away her toys and valiantly attempts to wipe her tray after she is done eating.
As I mentioned in a recent post, she is starting to have quite a temper on her. When she doesn't get her way about something, she is apt to throw herself down on the ground, flailing her arms and legs. We work very hard at choosing our battles wisely. We believe it is important for her to have clear boundaries and limits but we want to be careful not to crush her sense of self and attempts at independence.
I think perhaps that is one of the most difficult things about being a parent-achieving a balance between setting limits and encouraging independence. In my line work, all too often I saw the results of parents who made the mistake of placing a greater emphasis on being their child's friend, rather than his or her parent, with disastrous results. And I saw the counterpart too, children who rebelled from the stifling influences of super controlling parents. We hope that we are navigating through this minefield with delicacy, determination and sensitivity, but I guess no one ever gets it 'just right'.
In all those months of waiting, is everything what we expected it to be? Yes and no. I think it is easy to fantasize about having a perfect family and having everything just 'click' into place the moment a child is put into your arms. The every day gritty reality of it is something quite different. The sleepless nights, the poopy diapers, and the temper tantrums are not always my idea of perfection.
The hardest thing to get used to is the routine. Get up, diaper change, feed Sophia, change Sophia, dress Sophia, run, take a shower, play, feed Sophia a snack, diaper change, play, feed lunch, diaper change, play, feed snack, diaper change, feed dinner, play, bath time, read bed time stories, then you start all over again the next day. Colin and I have a running joke...he just says 'Groundhogs Day', and I know he is referring to the movie where Bill Murray relives the same day, over and over again. There is quite a bit of that in child rearing. Although our routine may be the same, Sophia rarely is. She usually has something up her sleeve and it ensures that life is rarely dull.
I became a stay at home mom and I don't regret that decision for a moment. Do I miss working? Sometimes. I miss some of the people I worked with and miss having adult conversations on a regular basis. However, I get infinitely more satisfaction playing with Sophia or teaching her a new skill than I EVER got from writing a traffic ticket. I know I made the right decision for me, for us. I still have a strange feeling when I come across photos of me in uniform. I worked very hard to become an officer and I was proud to be one. But I'm equally proud to be Sophia's Mother.
In regards to Colin, he was so afraid that due to his work related long absences that Sophia wouldn't know who he was. Nothing could be further from the truth. She adores him, gets sad when he is away and is totally ecstatic when he comes home. He is an amazing father and Sophia would be the first to say it, if she could say all the words.
So is it what we expected? Perhaps not all of it, but since Sophia became a part of our family, in so many ways, our life has become better than either of us could have imagined.
Colin and I are not perfect and neither is Sophia, but we fit together perfectly, and that's what counts.