A few days ago Ana posted a picture on Facebook of Jesse along with two little girls that have come to live with us, sitting together on our sofa. We now have three kids under three years old lighting up our lives each day. The comments on that post made us feel wonderful, cared for and supported.
They also made us take an honest look at ourselves.
The raw truth is that we don’t always manage this circus very well. We make mistakes every day. We lose our patience; we get frustrated, we even wonder if we did the right thing at times by having them come live with us.
But then night time comes, and we visit these precious babies while they sleep. That’s when we see beyond ourselves, and instead, we see two helpless little souls laying there, gifts God has blessed us with.
Each night we talk about how we can do things better, how we can help each other out. We humble ourselves in prayer and ask God for forgiveness, and strength to get us through the next day.
The truth is these kids have been through far more than any child should ever have to experience. They are hurt, confused, scared, lonely, angry, and all of that emotion has to go somewhere. Their bad behavior is not bad behavior. It’s them processing everything they have been through, and then being torn from their family, friends, their things and home, then suddenly trying to fit into a family of strangers.
Instinct tells us that their bad behavior needs to be corrected, but that’s the exact wrong thing to do. They need whatever they need to process their feelings in a safe and loving environment. It’s our job to understand what is happening and provide them with what they need so they can start healing.
Dealing with one traumatized toddler is challenging. Dealing with three is a logistical nightmare, and it has felt like we are failing to help them. We talked and prayed about it then decided to try a different approach.
I took one of the girls out today for some one-on-one daddy time because she has really been struggling. We went to the park and looked at flowers. That’s when she wanted to hold my hand. We watched airplanes take off and land. We chased some birds. We met some big puppies that fell in love with her, and we talked about the things a two-year-old finds talk-worthy. For a while, she didn’t have to take care of her little sister or worry about what was was going to happen next. That time today was all about her being a little girl, and it was the best thing I could have given her. She was a different child when we got home.
She has a long road to go, and there will be plenty of wrinkles and bumps ahead I figure, but she and her sister are just little girls. We have the opportunity to shape their lives in a loving and positive way like we have done with Jesse for over a year now.
Ana and I still look forward to bedtime, but the next day is a little less intimidating, and the moments that warm our hearts are a little more plentiful. These children have taught us that love, and the ability to see the need in someone else’s life before we look for it in our own, is how we will change their world.
And ours too.