Monday, May 6, 2013

The Training Wheels Are Off

Francis traded in his training wheels this weekend and under Mommy’s watchful guidance, learned to ride his bike on two wheels. 

But for Francis, who has been with us for just seven months now, it means so much more than just ditching the training wheels and learning to ride a bike by himself.  For Francis, this is a symbol of how far he has come in seven months with us, and the fact that this awesome little boy was able to learn to trust us – to trust me – and to learn to fly.

As I’ve said before, there was no “honeymoon period” with Francis.  We brought him home and hit the ground running.  He was afraid to have another mother figure in his life and he made that very clear to me with some unexpected and painful behavior.  He couldn’t tell me what he was afraid of, and all I could do was take an educated guess – and be there for him.  We found treatments that worked to calm his anxiety and he started working with a speech therapist.  Mommy and Daddy didn’t give up on him.  For the first time in his life, Mommy stayed with him.  His drawings started to change.  Family portraits went from having three sad faces to three happy faces.  For the first time, he was genuinely happy.  He took me by surprise one night when we were outside playing.  He had made friends with a family that came walking down the street, and he introduced himself formally for the first time using his new last name instead of his birth last name – something he had been opposed to even learning for almost six months.  I was floored.

Then, last Friday, as I was checking my e-mail, Francis was sitting at the table drawing on an old receipt.  He asked me how to spell “finally.”  I spelled it for him, and then went to see what he was up to.  This was the result…

My sweet boy finally found his family – my family is finally complete. 

So here’s where I see that Francis’ ditching the training wheels was so much more than just learning to ride a bike.  Francis was afraid of falling from the bike when he started, but he was still willing to trust me to hold that bike and then set him free.  He was willing to listen to me and believe me that I wouldn’t let him go until I was ready – me – the one person who, up until recently, carried the most risk.  (After all, mothers leave.  Mothers are not to be trusted.)  Yes, he fell, and he has some bumps and bruises like any little boy who just learned to ride a bike – but those bumps and bruises are so symbolic of the bumps and bruises we’ve earned in our journey to become a family.  But what joy when he jumped off his bike and came running to me – to me – and shouted, his arms wrapping me in a bear hug, “Mommy, I did it!  I did it!  I love you!” 

You did it.  You defeated fear with more strength than most adults I know possess, and now you have nothing to do but fly!

 "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Lao-tzu