Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Then he said this.

     Once, in college, I was hanging out with a student priest (is that a thing?) in a bar in Guatemala.  All good stories start like this, don't they?  He was about my age, but our worlds could not have been further apart.  My priest-in-training friend had grown up in a rural village in the mountains of Guatemala.  He was an orphan. He told me that as a young boy, he had been adopted by another family, but that he later ran away from them.  I asked him why and he told me that he never felt like he fit in because he was darker skinned than his adoptive family; and that because he was old enough to remember he was adopted, he could never "forget."  He said that even though they told him they loved him and that he was their son, he never really felt like he was theirs.  Oh.  I didn't have words then,  and I still don't now.  It just sucks. As a naive college girl, this conversation made me stomach hurt and opened my eyes, just a glimpse, to the plight of orphans.  I wish I could find that priest friend now and give him a mama hug.
    I remembered of that story tonight because I am praying for God to speed up His healing process for my own boy.  It seems like we've had E forever, that surely enough time has passed for him to feel like he is home.  It seems like all our repetitiousness, our intentional everything, our deliberateness with him would have erased his painful passed.  It seems like it to us.  But we aren't really the ones that lived it.  That live it now.  Tonight, after E told a lie,  I told him that I was praying for the day that he could trust me with all his heart.  He began arguing and I held his hands and told him that even if he lied to me every day for the rest of his life, I would still love him and be his mom.  Then he said
"But what if you want to send me back?"
    Just like that.  Ripped my heart right out of my chest.  My son, that has been home for 5 years, went on to tell me that the reason he comes in our room sometimes is because he wonders if we will send him back to the orphanage if he is bad.  He even said something about how "even the nuns didn't want me after my birth mom took me there."
     So we cried together.  We prayed for God to bring E redemption tonight.  We prayed that he would know in every corner of his heart that we forever his.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

Monday, September 22, 2014

We're back.

SO. I took some time off on the blog.  I realize so many people like to "keep up" with us and I also know that in keeping true to my transparency, a lot of other moms feel like they aren't alone in learning to love their kids.  I'm back.
Here's some highlights of the summer of 2014:

  • Etienne went to summer school.  All day, 4 days a week, for 5 weeks.  We were sad to send him but didn't want to regret it down the road.  He ended up loving every moment of it.  The rigid schedule is good for him; when he knows what is going to happen each hour of the day,he has a lot less vigilance and anxiety.  Which means a lot less hyperactivity to try to be patient with.  We would pick him up every day, head to the pool and stay until dinner.  
  • We spent a long weekend celebrating my grandfather and all things related to Paxton, NE.  It didn't matter that we were in a teeny tiny town in Nebraska- all 6 of us in a hotel room was some kind of crazy trigger for Etienne.  After that, he thought he should sleep in the same room as everyone in his family every single night.  For real.  He did his best to sabotage every routine and plan so that he could end up with his parents (and if possible siblings too) in the same room.  Since we never want him scared, and its so hard to know what his brain is doing, we bought into this for awhile.  Yikes.
  • Ryan, Molly and I were in Rwanda for a couple of weeks and the boys loved having Grandma and Grandpa Camp and Nana and Pops Vacation.  They got to do "things that cost money" and "drink pop a lot".  We are so thankful that our parents love us well.  We can continue to do our Imana Kids work because of their support.
  • Blake played select baseball and did his best to recruit E, but E only wanted to DH.
  • On that note, all the kids watched "Field of Dreams" with Ryan for Father's Day.  And just yesterday, after seeing a long line of cars, Zeke quoted the movie.  #awesome
  • Decided to jump on the no dye, no dairy, no processed foods train.  We are trying this in hopes of decreasing the volumes and amounts of bed wetting and maybe knock E's hyperactivity down a notch.  The no dye, no dairy isn't hard and most days, I already feed us freshly prepared foods. But when I'm baby catchin', it is harder for Ryan.  We aren't doing awesome at this.
  • The boys sat through all (!!!!) of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," by CS Lewis.  This was thrilling for me in so many ways; it's my favorite book and it's the first time I have been able to keep my Rwanda babies attention with a book for more than a few minutes.
  • Ezekiel can run 1.78 miles with me. It's a blast having him as a running partner.
  I'll be back to blogging again.  We've been approaching a lot of our E struggles with a fresh angle. Like everything, it's two steps forward and one step back.  More to follow...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baby cries

     I was taking a hiatus.  I wanted to go the whole summer without blogging.
     Nobody likes a whiner.  And it's always the same old drama.  Dis-regulation.  Hypervigilance.  Lack of sleep.  Lying.  Blah. Blah. Blah.  Yada, yada, yada.
     Gonna spare you the gory details of summer share something beautiful instead.  One of those moments I will treasure in my mama heart forever.  THIS.

A nest next to MAMA!!!
       My E has had some especially tough nights.  Like newborn feeding kind of schedules.  We never, ever get angry at him.  I offer to snuggle him when he wakes us up but he always gets upset and resists it. He just wants our "help" when he changes into dry pants, bedding, etc.  Lately it has been goofy stuff like "I heard something naughty outside" or "I was just talking to myself a lot."  I know he is afraid of something but he won't or can't say what.  And I can't comfort or give him peace.
     Tonight we were pulling into the garage from running errands.  Etienne started to apologize for waking me up last night.  I told him no big deal, and then I asked him what I ask him every night.  Every. Single. Night.
"Maybe you are afraid or worried about something and you need me to help you pray about it."
     My E started sobbing.  It was the most real, genuine emotion I have seen from my son.  Deep in his heart kind of gut wrenching sobs.  Big, big tears.  Then he let me climb on to his booster seat.  I got to pick my great big boy up and rock him and he didn't push me or tense up. He just leaned into me and cried.
He told me that he is so afraid that his mom and dad will die without him someday.
He told me he is so afraid that he won't know how to drive a car or read a book or "pay for things."
He told me he is so afraid that he won't know how to tell the truth or respect people without us.
He told me that when his mom and dad die and go to be with Jesus, he wants to too.  

"Because, mom, why wouldn't I want to just be with you and dad and Jesus?"

Then I asked him if he would sleep with me and dad.  He finally, finally said yes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014



    It's funny how God reaches us, isn't it?  This morning I was reading through some scripture on hospitality.  The gift used to be peculiar to me; I didn't really appreciate how welcoming someone into your home could be considered a spiritual gift.  Since my hubs is always looking for a reason to smoke meat and our dining room table is the Imana Kids  HQ, we often have a few extra cars in the driveway or a guest sleeping over.  We dig it.  We're totally hospitable, all six of us.
    A good host has fresh towels out, ice tea chilled and kiddos that keep their clothes on while company is present, right?  Wrong.  This is not the same as hospitality.  This is entertaining.  If my desire is to practice hospitality in the biblical sense, it's not about how clean my bathroom is or whether the boys smell or not.  It's about serving His children.  All of them.  The ones that are easy to love and the ones that press our buttons.  We want to welcome others into our space because that's how God loves others.  He meets them where they're at and welcomes them in.
    Paul wrote a lot about others hosting him.  In one chapter alone, he references a girl named Lydia, a girl who tells fortunes and a prison guard, all of whom he goes on to dine and stay with after becoming baptized (Acts 16).  Strangers became family, just like that.

Being at Home

    What makes a house a home?  I think about how it feels whenever I go to my friend Nicole's house.  She's got lots of kids too and part of the reason I feel comfortable is that I know she gets what it's like to herd cats.  There's always a low level of chaos and that's okay.  In her space, I feel loved, safe and wanted.  I can't recall if she has fresh bath soap or whether there are dishes in her sink.  I know that when I'm there, I can let out a sigh of relief. I'm safe and I'm loved there.
     The Greek word hospitality is philoxenia, which means 'love of strangers'.  I know that Paul talked about showing hospitality to the poor and the brokenhearted, the tax collectors and prostitutes.  But I'm just gonna say it.  There are still many days when I look at my son, whom I know with all my being is my son, and he is so far away and distant and removed.  A stranger to me even though it brings me to tears to admit it.  I need to love that stranger better.  I need to show that stranger whatever I can to so that he can exhale that he is home.
     SO.  So just when I think I can't bend any further, God throws me this. How do I better make my baby boy feel that his family is his home?  What can I do so that he can rest well and have peace in our presence?  There are tangible solutions: empty his room of everything other than a bed, restart our rigid after school routine, eliminate activities.  But I also know that I need to check my own heart.  I gotta let go even more.  Part of being hospitable in a biblical sense is meeting the needs of those around you.  We go in these phases where we think we can jump back in to the rest of the world, doing the American run-around-be-too-busy drama.  What my son really needs is less of that and more of us.

Over and over again. And repeat.

    My kid also needs the kind of mercy and grace that I show my guests.  Instead of raising my voice as he (deliberately) defies me once again, I gotta press on with the kind mommy voice.  You know the one; the after the first-cup-of-coffee voice.  And keep that mommy voice going over and over and over again NOT EXPECTING to be reciprocated, however hard it may be.  Because I know in my heart of hearts that at the end of the day, if I am continuing to correct and discipline and correct and discipline my E, he's going to feel defeated and unaccepted, and ultimately, unloved.  Yuck.  I hate to let that settle. 
    I don't know why it's harder for me to feed the poor and show mercy to the brokenhearted then it is to show patience to my son.  But it is.  I gave up a long time ago into whatever I thought "normal" looked like.  Yet there is still this part of me that wants to change things I can't change; and that's the part of me holding my son back.  Come, Jesus, please come.  I want with all my being for my E to feel at home.  I want him to be able to climb onto my lap and fall asleep feeling safe and wanted and loved.  Home.
Tryin' for a snuggle

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hard stuff

     I haven't written much lately because I am just worn out.  We've had a lot of battles to fight.  Hard stuff with Imana Kids.  Hard stuff with our house that won't sell (and deciding to let that battle with the "renter" go).  Hard stuff with our jobs.  And a few weeks ago, hard stuff with my health.  Don't get me wrong; we know our cups run over with blessings.  But we could really use some good news.    
     Sometimes we try to control the hard stuff.  Do we do something, try to move forward, fix it?  Or do we try to rest in  Him?  I often wonder how to find the balance between being God's hands and feet but also being still.  Waiting on Him.  Our adoption has taught us over and over and over again that we have to wait on Him.  We don't have a choice; we can't quickly heal or erase the hurt that orphanage life imprints on a child's heart.  Only our heavenly Father can do that.
     Tonight Etienne was on his second meltdown of the day.  When he gets to spiraling, I've gotten to this place where I can physically separate me from myself...like I watch me in motion.  I think it is the only way that I can respond in an attachment way rather then being angry and mean.  Don't let me fool you, in my head I am screaming and it sometimes takes all my willpower not to swat him.  I made the mistake (again and again) of trying to hold him.  He pushed me away harder and looked panicked.
I said "E, stop, why are you pushing me like that?"  
He said "When I am mad I have to protect myself from you hurting me."
     Kick in the gut.  And the heart.  We've been loving him for almost 5 years. 5 freakin' years.  And still.  His gut instinct is to protect himself from me.  His mama.  Ugh.  This is hard stuff too.
     Do I overreact? Yup, been doing it for years.  Do I get emotional? Always.  Am I a yeller? Not usually, but more now than before I had 4 kids.  Do I hurt my kid?  Oh my.  I pray, no.  But hearing my boy say he has to protect himself from me makes me replay every ugly scenario we've lived.  And people wander why we haven't started spanking him "yet".  Is it my words? Am I mean? Am I over correcting and nagging and ugly?  Sigh.  
     So once again, I am resting. I am waiting.  Be still.  Psalm 46:10..."Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among nations and in the earth."  I have got to let this one go.  I've been trying and trying to be hands and feet to my son but even my hands holding him aren't going to fix it all my son's wounds.   My son whose heart is on the mend.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Turning Away

  For 2014, our house has been talking a lot about repentance.  I really like this definition:

Repentance: to turn away, in both mind and heart, from oneself to God

 For my non-Christian loves, Webster's Dictionary defines it like this:

Repentance: 1. deep sorrow, compunction or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing or the like.  2. regret for past action

     I think all of us would agree that it's really difficult to change a behavior if we just don't care.  Isn't that why I still drink Vanilla Dr Pepper?  I know it's the same reason my pregnant smokers still smoke. We just don't care enough to turn away from past mistakes.
     For Etienne, Ryan and I have really prayed through accepting how some things will always look or (dys)function.  We really don't want to spend our lives nagging and disciplining and running ragged because our son won't change.  Yet we know his loving, squishy heart and we desire for him to live in a way that allows others to see that heart too.  
     Forget the attachment models.  I'm tired.  I just want redemption in one area of our crazy life.  So we've been giving examples of repentance ("see the snot running down Zeke's face from his sobbing? He's sad that his ninja moves took out the plant"), of conviction when we are wrong ("This mama was wrong to freak out about pooping with the door open, it doesn't really matter, it's just gross.").  We've been working on memory verses in the bible.  And, more than anything, we've been specifically praying for Etienne to repent.  
     Friday night Etienne put a hole in the drywall in the bathroom.  Since he's done this a time or two before, Ryan has gotten fairly skilled at the patchwork and repair.  I can sand and paint.  But GEEZ WE JUST DON"T WANT TO SPEND OUR TIME AND MONEY DOING SO!!!!
     When E did the damage, I didn't lose my cool like i did in the above sentence.  I told him I was angry that he did something he's been asked by his parents not to do many, many times.  I made him clean up the immediate mess on the floor.  While he was sweeping the crumbles, he started crying.  Not his fake, manipulative whine but real snotty tears.  He began telling me how he knew dad would be upset when he got home.  I sent him to his room to pray and then I held him on my lap until Ryan got home.
     This is a big deal.  I realize my skeptics will speculate that he cried because he's afraid of his dad.  He's afraid of his dad being upset.  Any of you who know us know that Ryan doesn't raise his voice, we don't physically discipline E and I can count on one hand the times I have seen my man really, really mad.  I don't care about skeptics though.  I care that I saw and heard a little piece of repenting.  Whatever the root of the reason, it doesn't matter.  We start little and we grow these things big.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Baking Bread and stuff

     Etienne's been having some rough days (and nights).  My E has been home from the orphanage for over four years.  But every moment that he was lying in that cold metal crib, away from my arms, damage was done.  We are still reminded of it.  When he stares right through me and tells ridiculous, absurd lies.  At 3 AM, when he wakes us up because's he's taken his shirt off and undone his bed; my brain flashes back to a memory of rows and rows of cribs, all full but silent.  Our poor kiddo, he knows somewhere in his brain all the things he should not do, but he does them anyway.  His lack of self-control makes me sad, and truthfully, fearful of adolescence. The constant battles he fights, they suck.  It's ugly and it's not fair that everything is so hard for him.
     Honestly, it also infuriates me too.  Remember when you were chasing after your two year old all day, keeping them from hurting themselves and constantly finding a nice way to say "no"?  Yes, that.  There are days that I want to scream that he  is still not convinced of our love.
     The thing that helps is those ugly memories of his first home stop.  Thank you God that I can't forget.  Thank you God that You can make good out of the bad.  Thank you God that I today I found empathy with those memories.
     Trying to embrace the attachment thing, even though it makes me want to pull my hair out.  That means E stays by my side.  We decided we'd do some baking.  Molly made bread, E made banana bread and Zeke and I made sweet potato soup.  All at once.  Music blaring, flour flying, everyone talking at once and no one really listening.  It was a blast.  The only thing he broke was eggs.  Lots.  But no lies were told.  He smiled at me and I wasn't pushed away once.  We laughed that Molly's bread tasted like glue and rotten bananas are fun to squish.   We talked about birth moms and yeast and how the Oscars are stupid.  It was messy and loud and grand.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Birthday Boy

Today Ezekiel is 6.  I can't get emotional about it.  I just can't.  He's my baby.  Our last one.  Sniff.  He's also especially quirky and easily celebrated (most of the time).  If you don't know our Zeke, here's a few highlights of his character:

  • For his birthday, he asked Ryan and I to sleep in his bed with him.
  • The boy can't walk.  He runs, jumps, hops, skips or falls everywhere he goes. 
  • Ezekiel's first six weeks home he cried.  If he wasn't crying, he screamed or he hollered.  It was awful.  His eyes were flat and lifeless.  Then, mid cry on Oct 23, 2009, he stopped, looked at me, smiled a goofy grin and reached for me.  He's been our "sparkly eyed smiley face," as Molly calls him, ever since.  It was such crystal clear evidence of God's grace.
  • Ezekiel loves spicy anything.  For real.  A lot of children with sensory issues have somewhat subdued or delayed taste buds.  No joke, we are getting the kid a ghost pepper for his "Spicy Party" tomorrow and his cake has a jalapeno on it.
  • Yesterday, Zeke got $5 in the mail.  He turned around and tried to give it to Molly for her Rwanda trip.  We stopped him.
  • The boy repents.  Big, huge, silent tears.  It is beautiful and genuine.  
  • We're still smitten.  Every single day I am so, so grateful that I get to be his mama.

First meeting.  Terrified little buddy with "mzungo" mama.

"Sparkly eyed smiley face"

This is actually a normal nightly tuck in.

Zeke: 47 lbs  Blake: 41 lbs

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I asked Ezekiel how his day was.  He said (in his Barry White voice), arms crossed, scowling,
"Great until I got mad at my friend!"
It is really hard for Molly, Blake and me not to giggle when he gets angry.  It's that voice, it kills us every time.  Molly rubs his little dreads as we sit down to get the whole story about why Ezekiel got so mad.
"I was telling all my friends about how I have a birth ("berf") mom in Rwanda.  Then ___said I wasn't wanted by her!"
Ugh.  Another kick in the stomach. Knowing my Zeke-ee baby, I had to remain stoic and play off his reaction.  He gets really emotional ,or really not, depending on the weather.  I decided to hold my own gut wrenching inside for a moment.
Oh sweet Zeke.  He's been listening.  All the nights that we tell him how much we wanted him. All the snuggles and stories of working extra hours, of waking up early to check our emails, of aching arms as I rocked in my chair, praying my boys home.  He was listening.  I am so grateful that my Zeke is confident in his place in this world.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can't buy me love (or friends)

It has been a week since our terrible day, as E calls it.  The one where Etienne's friends mocked his black skin and all that crap.  Sorry, but it is.  If you missed it, scroll down to the previous post.
Here's the rundown in the last week.  His teacher and the other parents think he's fine.  No big deal.  Whatever.  We know that  is how our boy copes.  In his life, he has learned to deal with pain and his defenses are crazy high right now.  Poor E is having a rough time sleeping, leaking through his layers, then not going back to sleep and he's all cleaned up.  He's bullying his brothers and making ridiculously stupid choices.  Totally spiraling.  There is a connection with his behavior and the stress in his life.
Last Wednesday, he tried to sneak food into his bag to give to other kids that had made fun of his skin.  He said "I just want to give this to them so they know I am nice."  Friday, he attempted to sneak his piggy bank to school to give his money away.  During the Super Bowl party, he wanted one of the other little boys to have his watch.  We are telling him over and over again that our friends love us because we are kind and fun to play with.  In his confused, hurting little mind, he can't separate this mess out.
I am kidding myself and others if I say I have found peace with this.  I keep thinking about how the other little kids, yes, they felt remorse.  Yes, they "learned their lesson," they'll never mock or tease a black kid again.  It's great that these kids were molded but it was at the cost of Etienne's heart.  Only God will be able to erase E's memory of the conversation, the tears and the pain.
God found glory in this still.  Last Wednesday, as I was waiting to get my E, a woman approached me, tears streaming down her face.  She said "You are E's mom, right?"  Then she went on to apologize and to express the grief that she and her husband were feeling that their child was a part of the conversation with E.  She said "I know your son won't forget what the other kids said, and I am so sorry.  We are so sorry and we are so sad."  I hugged her and I told her I forgave her and that E had already forgiven his friends too.   She got the enormity of what went down at lunchtime that day.
We've learned a lot since doubling our kids.  One thing I know is that no matter how much suffering we go through together, we always, always feel God with us in the midst.  Our praying together is peaceful and renewing, even if it is just tears and mumbling.  On days like this, the days when E needs crazy amounts of one-on-one time; it just so happens to coincide with Blake wanting to lug Zeke around everywhere while Molly desires to play art teacher with them.  There's no mom guilt when the other three don't want me around.  And for any parent that has more kids than grown ups in the house, we can all agree that is a gift.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We knew it would happen someday.

    I missed a phone call from the Principal today.  A voice mail said that I had nothing to worry about, "E is fine, just an incident over lunch time."  Before I had a chance to return the principal's phone call, Ryan called me with update on what went down.
Our E was mocked because he is black.
His friends told him kids from Africa are toilets.
They said because he's adopted his real mom didn't want him.

     I hung up the phone and puked.  Then I cried and I prayed for my son.  After that, I put on my best face and headed to get my kiddos.  The principal and his teacher told me that he "handled it well."  By the time he went back to class, he only mentioned to his teacher that a couple of other kids had been good friends to him when he was sad (thank you, God, for this).  Sweet boy.
     But his daddy and I both know how he internalizes everything.  After school he came up to me and pushed his head hard against my stomach, his form of affection.  Everyone climbed into the car, all chattering at once and no one listening.  I asked E if he wanted to talk about what happened.  He started to cry and told his siblings about his bad day.
     Ezekiel cried.  Blake yelled that he wanted to beat the kids up.  Molly hugged him and told him how much we wanted him even before he came home.
     We decided that we would sit in the van, in the school parking lot, and we would pray for those kids.  So we did.  E said he had already forgiven them.  We talked about how God love those kids too.  And that we have to forgive because God forgives us.  E's so awesome sometimes.  Then everyone cried some more together.  Molly and Blake both prayed again for how thankful they were for their brothers.  Followed by McDonald's for ice cream.  I can't even believe how the four of them handled this.  All of them lost a little of their innocence today.  Those bullies, they hurt all four of my babies with their words.
     Sigh.  To be honest, it was hard for me not to show how pissed off I was.  Now I am just sad.  These classmates, they've heard my adoption speech.  They've all had E help them tie their shoes and hold the door open.  And still, this.  We knew that someday our black boys would face racism.  I think that I had convinced myself that our family's presence, our feel-good adoption month speeches and our frankness at discussing our various shades of color would somehow avert my boys from the sin of the world.
     Really, a parent can only protect their child for so long.  It sucks to see your baby hurting.  It sucks even more when it is because of discrimination.  And it reiterates my belief that being "color blind" is stupid.  I won't fool any of my children into thinking that race doesn't matter.  Because, unfortunately, as we were reminded today, our family's love is indifferent to skin color, but the world's is not.
    The only remedy here is God.  Those parents and their children, we can try to remold their stereotypes;  kill 'em with kindness.  Ryan, Molly, Blake and I can tell our boys over and over and over again how much we want him.  We can take E to a black barber shop, we can move into an all African town, we can read every book written on trans racial families.  Yet until Etienne and all of his little classmates know their worth-that Christ died for them- then I don't know that much will change.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


     It's been a couple weeks since I've written.  In the back of my head, I have a little reminder button that alarms after I hit a week mark of no writing....I've hit snooze a lot lately. :)
     For 2014, I have decided that my word is SWAY.


verb  /swei/
1. To swing back and forth or to and fro. See Synonyms at swing.
2. To incline or bend to one side; veer: She swayed and put out a hand to steady herself.
a. To incline toward change, as in opinion or feeling.
b. To fluctuate, as in outlook.

I always have a prayer for the year that I write for each of my family members.  The first week of the New Year, Ryan was working in Rwanda, so I had extra time to pray and reflect. Something God revealed to me in choosing this word was that maybe some of the struggles that we have in our day to day functioning wouldn't be such a struggle if I could bend a little, like a tree.  Maybe if I let go of what I want.  Like, if E can not walk upright, if he persistently crashes up and down the stairs, but he doesn't do structural damage, how much does it matter?  Why do I need him to fix his gross motor skills?  Sure, we need new pants every 3 months but the thrift store is just down the street.
 If Etienne constantly fills his pockets and hands with trinkets or trash, it really doesn't matter to the rest of the world.  He can just check all pockets, crevices and holes for garbage before we load the laundry in the washer.
Yet there are some things that I can't sway on.  Trust being one of these absolutes.
Overnight, I heard Etienne up in his room.  His diaper layers had leaked and he was crawling back into a soaked bed.  I whispered for him to let me take the sheets off and after some resistance, he moved out of the way for me to strip the bed.
Later on in the morning, I reminded him that we don't want him sleeping in a wet bed and that he never, ever "gets in trouble" for wet bedding.  He looked at me, with that flat expression that splinters my heart, and said

"I can do it because I don't need your help."
 On the surface, maybe this isn't a big deal.  Maybe it's just him voicing his desire for independence.  But coupled with leftover breakfast bars hidden in his pillow case or the temper tantrums when I cut his food reminds me that there was a time before I was E's.  There was a time when he had no one give him food, wash his hair or kiss his boo-boos.  
So I can not sway on that.  I won't sway on earning his trust.  That's our absolute.
In case you missed it, Ryan and I, along with some dear friends, have started a foundation.  In the first 3 weeks of January we have both returned to Rwanda on individual trips to work.  I feel the judgement, "Well, that can not be good for the children, when their parents are coming and going."
 Let me tell you this.  Me coming home to my Molly, Blake, E and Zeke is healing.  It's promoting trust.  It's a live demo of what we've been trying to teach E for four years.  Our family, our love, our commitment, it doesn't quit or go away.  (Honestly, the reprieve is great and E's behavior is a little better when we get home.)
 So if you notice that E's clothing is falling apart, it's because his mama decided to sway on that.  His crazy 'fro may look increasingly disheveled but he won't be alone in the middle of the night.  I may force him to cover every cut and scratch with a band-aid and I will probably continue to annoy him when I try to rock all 65 pounds of him after a hard day.  That's what mamas do.