You don’t know this, little boy, but you’ve worn me out today. You, with your hunger strikes and your refusal to put your shoes on and your complaints about driving every time we leave the house. You, with your always “carry me” and your constant squeezing and feeling and touching and needing.
Oh, but I love you and I’m so glad you’re here.
Today we swung all the way. From the deepest of love to the maddest of mad.
Today we talked about your Chinese mom and you were so glad but oh, it hurt too.
Today you cried in your bed when I wouldn’t read you that third story because when you tested the boundaries you found they held firm.
Today I felt the deepest grief when I felt your tears and I had no way to know how deep they went. What made you sad? Was it having limits and having mom say no? Was it that you didn’t like your food? Was it that you miss China and and all your friends and your old life?
“What could I have done better?” is the question I ask myself constantly. “Am I kind enough, good enough? Do I love you well?”
And your tears, they felt like confirmation that I hadn’t done enough. That my love would not be big enough to make you well.
At bedtime when you cried, you would not tell me you loved me but you let me stroke your back as the hot tears burned your cheeks. And I asked, “are you wanting to go back to China?” and you said nothing until I finally left you there in the bed when you told me you wanted to sleep.
But more than an hour has passed and you are still awake. You have called me back and you have showed me your loose tooth and made me look for your snake. You have asked for food and unearthed your candy and chewed it all up. You have questioned me continuously about the tooth fairy your sister has informed you of.
And when I tried to leave again you called me close and you pulled me down to the bed and you whispered in my ear ” I want to stay in America”, and then you kissed me.
And that isn’t very much, really. And it doesn’t tell me what made you sad or how much it hurts or what I could do to make you better. But it tells me that you are made of brave stuff and that you will risk and risk and risk again. And that this new life still feels worth a try.
I’m here, ready to keep risking too.
We can do this; let’s hold on to each other.
Hold on tight.