Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Real Meaning of Awkward

"Hi, Hannah.  It's nice to meet you.  I'm your new mom."
"Hi, Ashley. It's nice to meet you.  I'm your new mom and this is Hannah, your new sister."
"Hi, Amy.  It's nice to meet you.  I'm your new mom and these are your new sisters, Hannah and Ashley."

Let's just say awkward, times three.  

Here's proof in the form of a picture:

I don't know if anyone out there has perfected the very first adoptive pre-placement visit, but I do know that I haven't.  Each time I met one of my girls for the very first time was incredibly awkward (with an emphasis on the awkward).  Emotions run high.  Excitement skyrockets.  You can't even put into words how you've longed for this day to come.  You are on the proverbial edge of your seat.  And then....long, awkward pause.  Your new kid is a stranger to you.  You are a stranger to her.  So, you stumble through the best you can.  You ask what she likes to do, how was her day at school, what did she eat for lunch.  Cheesy?  Yes.  But it's all you have.

I was flying solo when I met Hannah for the first time.  It was easier the second and third time because there were more people to interact with.  Easier, but still awkward.  Imagine this conversation in the car on the way to meet Ashley for the first time.

Hannah:  "I don't know what to say."

Mom:  "Me, neither.  Good luck."
Hannah:  "I thought you would have some helpful advice."
Mom:  "You thought wrong.  It's going to be awkward."
Hannah:  "What should I say to her?"
Mom:  "I don't know but if you think of something really good, tell me so I can hurry up and say it first."

Sounds funny, but it was painfully true.  I just couldn't come up with anything.  What you want to say and what they will be open to hearing are sometimes polar opposites.  I would love to rush in and give her a big hug.  I would love to assure her that this crazy ride she's been on is about to come to a stop.  I would love to let her know that this new family God has given her will never abandon her.  But none of that is going to seem true to her.  The truth is, we are no different to her then the people she passes by at the grocery store.  

So you tread lightly.  You make small talk and keep things light.  Sometimes they open up and are willing to talk about themselves, but sometimes they say very little.  Every kid is different.  

Then she moves in.  You don't want to treat her like a guest, but that's what it feels like.  You help her unpack and show her where things are.  You show her all the things you've bought for her, maybe new towels, toys and shoes.  You try to go about the day as if everything were normal, including her in that "normalcy".  But it's anything but normal.  It's weird and strange and uncomfortable for everyone, but mostly for her.  

Thus begins your new life together.  Awkward dinner table conversation.  Awkward bedtime rituals.  Awkward car rides.  Awkward board games.  Awkward corrections.  Awkward everything.  But then something wonderful happens:  Awkward becomes everyday.  It becomes common and routine and wonderfully ordinary!  It becomes life together.  Then one day you wake up and can't remember life without her.  She's a part of who you are.  She adds her own spark to your family that you can't remember living without.  

Think about that new student that comes into your classroom mid-year.  Doesn't your heart break for her a little.  New school.  No friends.  Nothing familiar.  Don't you just want to give her a hug?  I do.  What about that student who comes mid-year having changed families?  Even bigger hug!  Joining a new family (or classroom) has it's awkward moments.  Sometimes awkward is okay.  It's kind of like the doorway that gets to the familiar.

Don't get hung up on the awkward.  It goes away, as soon as she realizes you won't!


Andi said...

Jennie - Your blog is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I've spent the afternoon catching up on most of the posts and have already shared it with lots of co-workers and others. Please, please keep it up. It's excellent prospective for parents but it's applicable to so many other things as well. Thank you! ~Andrea

A House Called Home said...

Andrea -
Thank you for your encouragement. It really has been fun chronicling our journey. Thanks for being such an integral part of it!
- Jennie

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