The pink cloud has dissipated.
The puppy dogs and kittens have all gone on to greener pastures.
The euphoria surrounding the finalization of the adoption and the relief that “it is done” has faded like the last warm rays of a summer sunset. Now the business of parenting begins in earnest.
This parenting thing is no walk in the park even under “normal” conditions. If you are parenting teenagers that last phrase would be an oxymoron! If anyone has any doubts about it, we are not operating under “normal” conditions.
As any parent of a teenager can attest, you struggle with lots of attitude from the mouths, body language and icy stares of the little chreubs. Struggles with raging hormones, wildly vacillating emotions, low self-esteem, loneliness and poor self-image a but a few of the delights facing parents of teens. Add in a pinch of the negative onslaught coming from todays music, television, drugs, alcohol and just plain old bad influences and you have the makings of a powder keg.
Now imagine throwing into this volatile mix a history of abandonment, emotional trauma, physical abuse or self-installed high walls to protect your inner most self; and that's just a small sample of what an orphan has to deal with.
It has been six months since we first met K in Jaycee's kitchen. In many ways we've learned a lot about each other but in some aspects we don't know jack. There have, no doubt, been countless wonderful moments where we all seem to let our guards down and share in the moments of family. There have been Cheshire cat-like smiles when he proudly shows us his grades from school. He so wants to please and receive that affirmation of affection … that “Atta boy”! Don't we all? How much more does he want it … dare say, need it … after all these years with no one there to pat him on the back?
But there have also been some dark moments that seem to well up and burst forth over those defensive parapets. Sometimes it's a matter of misunderstanding and struggling through the difficulties of language barriers. Other times it comes from a much deeper place in him – a place filled with hurt and anger. Lots of hurt and lots of anger.
No, no one ever said that parenting was easy. It's the most difficult job on the planet. But we persevere. We assure him that we love him. We reaffirm our commitment to our family – a family of which he is an integral part. We also show steadfastness when it comes to expectations and what it means to be a part of a family. We try our best to understand that this notion is completely new him – the notion of a loving family that cares about him. We don't always succeed at that.
This is going to take quite a bit of patience, love and resilience. We know there will be times when we say to ourselves, “We could have done better on that.” But one thing is for sure. We never go back on our commitment to love.