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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Circle of Friends

Sometimes life just really throws you a fast curve ball. Sometimes you feel so lost and alone, you don't even know where to turn for help. Sometimes the noise of this world drowns out God's voice so much, you forget that you need to listen more carefully and instead you simply stop listening altogether.

That was me three years ago, while spring gradually eased into summer.

The Husband and I were brand-new parents. We'd arrived home from China with our little Tongginator three months prior and ours wasn't a smooth adjustment. We did receive help and encouragement from our family and friends, but I still felt so overwhelmed and so isolated. No one in our social circle had ever walked in similar shoes. And frankly, I didn't even know where to start if I did share. Nor did I know if I'd be able to stop once I opened the floodgates.

During my first few months as a mother, I felt on the verge... of what, I couldn't say.

And then God sent someone to me, someone very special, so that I would remember to listen for Him. During the late spring of 2005, the Husband decided we needed to attend a picnic sponsored by our local Families With Children from China (FCC) . He felt strongly that we needed to rejoin the land of the living and try to connect with others facing similar issues.

I didn't want to go.

I didn't want to pin a fake smile on my face and listen to others talk about how quickly their child adjusted to life within their family. I didn't want to bump into travelmates and watch their children play and walk and feed themselves in a developmentally age-appropriate way. I didn't want to explain to others why strangers sometimes erroneously labeled my child autistic. I didn't want to go.

But I went.

Because the Husband thought it was a good idea.

We arrived at the picnic early because we didn't know how long the Tongginator would last at such an event. The Husband, master camper and picnicker extraordinaire, selected his perfect spot for our blanket: under a tree with no shade. I secretly rolled my eyes at THAT choice, but bit my tongue and spread out our blanket anyway.

Then I ate crow.

Because the Husband? He is smart.

And a non-shady spot under a tree at 10:45 AM becomes the only shady picnic spot at noon. God used that shade to send me a very personal and loving message, a message that said I wasn't all alone.

Canuck K and and her husband Iowa arrived at the picnic late, looking tired, dusty and overwhelmed, with screaming twin toddlers in tow. Canuck K approached us hesitantly, a stranger unsure of our reaction, wondering if they could share our blanket (because they forgot theirs at home) and, more importantly, if they could share our shade under the tree (because it was HOT, y'all). My eyes darted between her weary face, the girls' screaming mouths and Iowa's slumped shoulders. Then I patted the blanket and said, "make yourselves at home."

On that fateful day: the Tongginator (age 15 months)
and one of the twins (age 21 months) ... probably Spice ...
no, Cinnamon ... no, Spice ... oh, I don't know!

Canuck K told me months later that she didn't think we'd say yes. Her twin daughters, Cinnamon and Spice, also newly home from China and transitioning just as slowly as the Tongginator, tended to garner a "there's no room" reaction quite often. But on that day, with me as the inn keeper, oh, how wrong she was.

During the first moments of what would soon become a friendship, as I looked at a mirror image of my exhausted, deer-in-the-headlights expression, a repetitive thought continued to circle through my brain: "thank you, God." We connected that day, Canuck K and I. During the coming months, we grew to become sisters of the heart. Over the course of the next three years, our daughters formed close friendships.

And this year, our circle of friends expanded. Our weekly playgroup now includes another set of twins, Peaches and Cream, and their mom Strawberry. The girls are "bestest friends." They don't just enjoy playing together, they TREASURE one another.

Our Tuesday morning playgroup continues to bless me greatly. Parenting the Tongginator is a wonderful challenge, one that often leaves me feeling quite exhausted. (If you are a regular reader, I'm sure you can put two-and-two together as to why.) My Tuesday morning fellowship with Canuck K and Strawberry helps to fill up my cup. More importantly, these past three years our Tuesday mornings acted as a lifeline, a gift from God, one that continually pulled me back from the cliff edge that often felt just a few feet away.

And this all started because of God's immense love for me.

The Husband's stubborn insistence.

And some shade.


Becoming Me said...

What a beautiful post...adjusting to parenthood is so trying. I am so glad that you are no longer in this place

Rochelle said...

I loved reading this! After reading your profile I figured out we have a few things in common! We have an internationally adopted child. (I posted about our story on my blog over a year ago, it's called The Delivery.) I just graduated with a BA in Psychology. And I still can't figure myself out! LOL! (I'm starting my master's in Counseling Psych - so maybe there's still hope for me!)

Great blog! I'll be back!

Linda said...

This is just about the sweetest post and picture I've seen this week. I think it is. You win. Lovely blog.

discombobulated said...

One of your most beautiful posts. Up there with the Vinegar and Oil post. It gives me warm fuzzies. I'm glad you got over that horrible hump...and are ready for the next one life throws your way. Your ability to write is amazing.
Again, the Husband seems to good to be true.

discombobulated said...

correction: too good to be true

prechrswife said...

That is a precious post...

Cheri H said...

I love following YOUR blog! If only I could find someone like you around here. Thanks for this story, it makes me feel like I'm not alone!