Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Post placement

Forget the three-year process that finally brought us to Korea to meet Jude! The week in Korea was the longest part of the journey…I’m convinced that the three years I had at KCC was to console me while I waited those three years for Jude, and I’m also convinced that if I had not had camp to consume me, I would have quit this long time ago. I’m patient, but not saint-patient.
Before we were allowed to take custody of him for good, we were only able to visit him for an hour each, on Monday and then on Wednesday. I first laid eyes on him and thought, “wow! He got so big!” Like he was a nephew I’d seen in pictures for months before I finally got to meet him. Jude was on his best behavior every time and continued to be for the next several weeks. He sat on my lap and let me feed him mushed up strawberries from a spoon because he was being polite and because he liked strawberries. We played with him and when we left after each playtime, I felt nothing.  I almost felt like saying, “Uncle Hans and Auntie Susie will see you on Wednesday little buddy, be good!”
I was a bit alarmed and worried that I had such detachment to this child who was suppose to be mine. They were dead set on giving this human being to me at the end of the week and I panicked a little, and then began doubting myself. Maybe I wasn’t really meant for this… How can I be a mom when I feel like a teenager myself? How can I look into this face and not fall in love right away? Am I dead inside? Then, on the long ride back to the office from the foster home, I was a little bit relieved. I was glad that I had a healthy sense of attachment, and had to remind myself that I would never fall for anyone at first sight, not even if he was a really cute baby. There will be days, months and years before I will truly love this boy, and knowing me, when I finally do love this boy and make attachments, it will be real. I was even surprised of myself for not being overly emotional when he ran out of the kitchen to greet us, but I’m glad that I didn’t over-romanticize the first meeting because I wanted it to be real and lasting, not of whim and circumstance.
It was on a Thursday, when we were finally allowed to take custody of Jude and minute I walked in and saw him with his foster family, I had to swallow down tears. It wasn’t that I was jealous or felt that romantic surge of love for him all of the sudden, but because I felt genuinely sad for them…the foster mom, the dad, the brother and sister and for Jude. For the last year, they were a family and he was obviously happy with him. We sat down and his foster mom told me last minute tid-bits about Jude that she had forgotten to mention when we first met at her house on Monday. It was a little bit weird to be hearing all the details you should already know about your baby from somebody else. I was reduced to a 16-year-old babysitter again, receiving instructions about the baby’s feeding time, bath time, bedtime, and little antidotes to soothe him when he cries. The last meeting was quick, I signed multiple papers and it was so fast, I could have signed up to join a gypsy circus and I wouldn’t have known until I was riding an elephant in North Carolina somewhere. They rushed us out and the foster parents weren’t allowed to come down the elevator with us. We were told, “you go down first with Jude and then the foster parents can leave.” We allowed them to say bye to Jude, but he wandered into the hall with us without even looking back. There were no tears or signs that he will miss them, and we stepped into a tiny shoebox of an elevator cart. Like in some cheesy-Korean melodrama, as the doors slid closed between us, I caught a glimpse through my sobbing tears, the foster parents finally crying for their foster son.
I had no idea what I was to do with a baby, I kind of felt like a dog that chased a car and caught it. What does a human baby even eat at this age? Well…thus far, he survived two months with me even though most days I feel like I’m a delinquent mom, letting him watch violent Halloween Simpson episodes, watching him pick up  and eat random food off the kitchen floor, then asking “yummy?” and always forgetting to bring extra clothes and food when I leave the house. I’ve been so use to being busy all day being productive, I was falling into mild baby blues and when a friend asked me if I had cried yet, I replied, “I feel like crying right now.” People have told me parenting is hard, being a mom is hard, but no one REALLY knows until you have an actual baby pawing at you and demanding something (I don’t know WHAT half the time) but SOMETHING every minute of your day. Then I realize that I had asked for this…to be home with this baby…and I almost forgot that he was once half way around the world and I impatiently waited for him.
It’s still only 2 months in and I can’t imagine my life without this little one. Its amazing to me how quickly he attached to me (literally…to my hip) and it’s also amazing that I have fallen in love with someone so quickly for the first time in my life. I finally do love him and sometimes… I even like him. : P Just kidding…but not really. Even now, we catch Hans referring himself as Uncle Hans instead of daddy, but Jude definitely knows he’s not his uncle...we think.  I feel I’ve lucked out in some ways… he didn’t cry for 4 hours grieving and passing out in exhaustion, then to wake only to start over again like other babies have in the beginning. He was reserved. I was worried he wouldn’t attach or I wouldn’t attach to him, but we did…we definitely did. The only complains…um…I mean concerns, I have are ones every toddler goes through at his age. People say he looks like a good blend between Hans, my brother and me. He loves Kim chi jjigae (Kim chi stew) just like mom. He’s an Aquarius and a sign of the horse just like mom. Maybe all those things are much ado about nothing, but for some reason God gave us these tiny commonalities to bond me to him. I’m definitely in Haneul’s world or “Haneul-nah rah” (In Korean, the direct translation of heaven is Hanuel/sky world). J

Sunday, July 15, 2012

To be a good mom

The days I feel I was a good mom are the days my baby seemed content. Not the kind of contentment that comes from getting all that he wants and prefers, but the kind of contentment that comes from getting all the attention and love he can get from mom. When I lie down for the night, I think to myself "I cannot do that again tomorrow...I just phyically cannot possibly do this." Then in the morning, I wake up, walk into Jude's room and I look into his flushed plump face with a pacifer corked in his mouth and I say to him, "Good morning my baby!" Then I do the day all over again, I endure his whines, his flickle heart that demands "up" and "down" from my arms all day long.

Then at night, I lay down in my bed thinking to myself "I can't do that again tomorrow. How can I possibly?" This little face that God gave me lures me and cajoles me to spend time with him in the morning shaking tamborines and playing the key board that plays Cookie Monster sing "ABC" then congratulates us for singing so good, it's almost better than cookies. What makes mothers stare at their little ones all day is that you don't want to miss the moment that he does something so cute that causes you to die a little inside. I usually tackle that small little frame and smother his face and neck with kisses, almost to suck the skin off of him. These days when he is pleased with the pleasure on my face and I am happy with his happiness, these are the days I feel like I'm a good mom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Road to Hell

“The safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts”

I've been having this sick knot in my stomach and I do the things I do when I'm anxious and off. Peeling my hang nails, skin around my fingers, rubbing my tongue against the inside of my lower teeth all day long without noticing it because I'm so consumed. At the end, I'm left with bloody, raw fingers, nails short and painful, raw tip of the tongue and sore from the pressure. I don't notice and when I do It's because I'm in too deep, there is no more skin to pull, nothing more to rub and everything hurts. 

I am especially irritable and sensitive, not loving, impatient and I can't overlook small things that could be glanced over at my healthiest. I know I have been consumed with something other than Christ when I find myself bloodied and raw. There's nothing else to sobbatage, nothing else to rub raw in my life that I find myself hating everyone and everything I know. How easy I slide without knowing, how soft the underfoot that I don't know I am stepping down the stair way, down to darkness. 

I open my journal and it's dated April something, at least it still dated to this's only been two months and gradually and inevitably I've forgotten my identity and the steadfast rock I hold onto. The one root I hold onto while everything is sinking sand. "Remember" he says, always he says that...on alters, at communions, in scripture but I still forget. I don't know why He says this until I realize that I did forget. Road to hell isn't hard and furious, and by the time you go hard and furious, you've been traveling on an unmarked road, with gentle slopes and soft underfoot. You ignore and ignore, you push down, self medicate and self soothe with pacifiers, warmth of another, and mental vacancy, until that warm water gradually turns deadly hot. 

But He always says come..."Come to me and I will give you rest. But if you prefer not to come, I will wait till your soul wakes to its weariness." - John Piper

KCC 2012

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained"

In about 6 day or 5 days, KCC will start again...but this year without me. I'm sure that just like all other years, the kids will be pile into their dorms, picking out their bunk beds next to their besties, and shrieks will go out as long distant friendships see a close in the vast gap between them. At least for a week, things will go the way it should and people that love each other will be carefree and not think of the worries of the world. Just as years before counselors will go on teaching their lesson plans, carry out day games, evening endeavors and dispense KPs, mostly as jokes rather than true punishment. Then the week will close in on the end of camp and Korean Food will be served, camp fires will be lit and tears will shed as another week of KCC goes down in history. But this time without me.

It makes me feel like KCC in itself is an entity in itself, that no one owns, that no one runs. It is a vessel that carries burden, tears, happiness, closure, healing, first crushes, last kisses and lost identity found again. KCC carries in itself, a magic that no one creates or re-creates, plans or cancels, but it exists in some Godly, heavenly way that we can only say we were once part of it and we were blessed. I say without me, because I haven't added or taken away anything while I was at KCC but it was added onto me and taken away from me. I truly feel the loss as we come dangerously close to camp, but I don't feel a void because although physical camp isn't foreseeable in my future, relationships are clear in my present. I feel a certain peace knowing that no matter what we do to it or do for it, in the end, KCC will carry on to be good and pure.

I once thought that I couldn't possibly let of the people at KCC and I don't know if I ever want to, but it seems I can. I thought I would grow old at camp and I'd be KCC grandma, baking cookies, applying band-aids and kisses while the young wiper snappers carry on their lesson plans, day games and evening endeavors. Then the week will inevitably close in on the end of camp, Korean food will be served, camp fires will be lit and tears will be shed for another generation of campers grow, a whole team of counselors move on.  For whatever reason, I had the chance to be here and be a part of something no one can explain to "others" outside of camp. I am beyond lucky and honored to know these kids and the counselors I love. Maybe in the future, I will be a part of it again, but for now it still goes on next week...without me.