I remember, back when we were taking our adoption classes (a lifetime ago!), the therapists explaining to us about how to handle ourselves at our first meeting with our child, and during the turbulent first few days together. I remember them warning us that we were going to be stressed and shell-shocked, that we would not feel bonded to the child yet, but that it was of utmost importance that we work on keeping our minds and bodies calm. They said that the babies could sense stress in us, and that they would take their cue from whatever emotion we projected. Whatever it takes, they told us, work on projecting calm and self-assurance.
I do think I have a fair amount of self-discipline, and I did work very hard to make sure I stayed calm for "the meeting". I think I was fairly calm on that day. And the first few days with QQ went more smoothly than we had any right to expect. But I think, really, more credit goes to her than to us.
This child that we are lucky to call our own has a ready, eager and fearless spirit. She just has a profound joy in life, even when circumstances are at their worst. And since bringing her home, I have realized that she has probably done more for me than I have done for her in this department! I actually find that she has calmed me down. That I am more easygoing, less stressed and more adaptable thanks to the calm and easy pleasure that she projects.
Here's an example: This morning, QQ and I had to make the long, looooooooong trek down to far eastern Aurora in order to have our first meeting with the ENT surgeon who will be inserting her ear tubes in a couple of weeks. Mike had to work today, and I said I'd take her. I mapped the location on Google, and set off. Now, M. has lived in Denver almost his whole life, and knows it inside out. For me, it's a different story. Aurora is completely out of my comfort zone - a part of town I simply never have a reason to visit. It's also a sort of suburban maze out there - much more complex and far, far less intuitive than our historic part of the city. What I discovered once I was out there is that the map I had did not show the smaller street names, and though I thought I'd be able to figure out where I was going, the situation turned out to be much different than I expected. After an hour and a half of driving south, and then driving in circles, I finally located the street I needed. It was five minutes to our appointment time, and I figured I'd made it. But the area was a maze of business parks, strip malls and more medical buildings than you'd think practical. I ended up having to backtrack five or six times and stop at three different medical parks to beg for directions. Each time, of course, I had to unbuckle a sweaty QQ from her car seat, haul out her diaper bags, traverse enormous parking lots...only to discover that no one really had any idea where the particular medical park I was looking for might be located. ....Trek back to the car, wrangle my sticky kid back into her buckles and straps, re-pack our luggage, and set off again in a new direction.
I was very quickly on the edge of tears, as ten, fifteen, twenty minutes past our appointment time ticked by. I felt bad for QQ, and I felt like we were never going to get to see the surgeon, and that we'd have to make this same trek all over again next week.
But to my surprise, each time I got out of the car and opened the back door, I was met with a lop-sided grin and a pair of comically waggling eyebrows. In spite of the heat, in spite of the fact that she hadn't had her nap. In spite of the fact that she'd finished her juice and I had no more to offer her. In spite of being strapped and re-strapped ad nauseum into her backseat torture device. In spite of the fact that her clothes were soggy with juice and drool, and she probably needed a diaper change...in spite of it all, my kid was having a great time. She's like a Who from Whoville, celebrating after all the Christmas presents have been plundered.
Her glass was half-full, not half-empty.
I even caught her giggling up into my face as we jogged through yet another endless hospital parking lot on yet another futile venture, and I had to grab her by the cheeks and kiss her right between the eyes for being such a trooper.
I had fully expected her to melt down completely before we ever made it to the right building. I thought the doctor visit, with a lot of poking and prodding in her ears, would be a nightmare after all that, and that she'd probably cry the whole 45-minute trip home. But upon at last entering the correct waiting room, QQ instantly charmed the family of an older boy who had recently had his bone-graft surgery for his cleft. The receptionist made room for us in spite of the fact that we were now 40 minutes late. And the nice family held and played with QQ while I filled out seven or eight pages of paperwork. QQ soon had the entire staff of the offices, plus everyone in the waiting room, hanging on her every coo and giggle. She sailed through all the ear and hearing tests with a million and one smiles and only a few tears, and had the head nurse walking her in circles around the office in her little leather shoes just to watch her giggle at her own progress.
"Wow," said the nurse, shaking her head in wonder as she reluctantly left the room to help another patient. "She is.....amazing!"
Amazing she is indeed. My child turned what should have been a nightmare of a day into a cakewalk. Her calm, her happiness in the face of even the most unpleasant circumstance, make me feel calm by proximity. She actually diffuses my stress. I find that it's easier for me to work, that my attention span is improved, and that those things in life that, "pre-QQ", felt like enormous hurdles, now seem like a breeze.
Wait a second, wasn't I supposed to be the one who calmed and soothed her?
What, did we adopt Mary Poppins? I fully expect all the zoo animals to know and love her upon the occasion of our first visit...perhaps even call her by name ;)
(Oh, PS, the good people at Gordman's rescued my phone for me. All is not lost!)
(PPS - Thank you aunt Chrissie for the scrumptious PJs, Vivian for the bear-in-pig's-clothing, and NaiNai for the handmade papoose quilt. Aren't they awesome??)