We have been home from Africa for 341 days.
339 of those days we have been at home.
1 of those days we slept on the floor of my dad’s house.
2 of those days we slept at a condo on the coast when we took the kids to see the ocean for the first time.
But, all of the other 339 nights have been spent in our own beds.
When transitioning from another culture, language, country and lifestyle into a family – we felt it would be best to provide stability and structure for our children. Any major changes seem to cause them anxiety. EVERYTHING can be over stimulating to them – going to Costco, spending the day at the water park, eating in a loud restaurant. We have been living our lives in “sound bites” and portioned out the crazy into small, easily digestible doses.
That is, until last week.
Last week we took Our Great 8 on a road trip.
Just the prep work to get 8 people ready for 7 days of road tripping and camping – Oh. My. Word. Crazy eyes, people, crazy eyes. Watch out.
The morning before we left for our vacation, I just happened to run into another adoptive mom who has bunches of children. She asked me if I had already had my pre-vacation melt down.
I was so relieved to hear that I was not the only mother to experience this!
She assured me that this would be my new norm. I should expect at least one personal crying session before every family vacation.
Mine happened when we were trying to fit all of this…..
into the back of our car. Along with 6 children. And 6 pillows. And 6 “personal items” that contained such necessities as coloring crayons and stuffed animals and whistles (YES!!! My little boys thought they needed whistles for the car trip. Obviously.)
My husband casually mentioned that maybe we could leave the food at home and go grocery shopping once we reached our destination. I
kindly corrected his mistaken assumption. If I was going to take the time to meal plan, grocery shop, and pack the food – then, dad-gum-it, he was going to make it all fit!
Look at how he filled the car to the ceiling. Who needs a rear-view mirror, anyways? Also, please notice the strategic placement of the pillows at the top of the pile. Whenever my husband slammed on the brakes, our children were hit in the head with only the softer items. (I asked him to slam on the brakes when the whistles threatened to overwhelm my sanity.)
We road tripped for a total of 19 hours.
19 hours, people!
And….despite the close quarters, the limited leg room, the flying objects, and the whistles, OUR KIDS WERE AMAZING!!!!
Yes, there were a few speed bumps along the way.
Yes, the overstimulation messed with our minds at a few points.
Yes, we had a handful of tears and a scattering of disrespect.
But…I declare Our Great 8 Family Vacation to be a resounding success!
We visited friends from Ethiopia who are living in the bay area.
We visited Naomi’s best friend from Ethiopia who now lives in Pismo Beach.
We spent 3 glorious days exploring the sand and the sun and the surf.
We spent a day in San Francisco treating our children to a multitude of firsts.
One of the glorious blessings of adoption is the chance to experience so many firsts with our children. Yes, we missed out on first steps and first words. But, there are so many other firsts that we DO get to be a part of.
Introducing our children to the ocean.
Seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and tasting clam chowder and smelling Chinatown.
Demonstrating what it feels like to have fun together as a family.
Laughing together. Playing together. Loving each other despite the fact that we are not perfect.
I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from the week….
“Mom, does Ethiopian chicken’s poop look different than American chicken’s poop?”
“Mom, when we get home can we get goats and chickens and sheep and horses and 2 cats and a new puppy and a hamster?”
“Mom, you talk a lot and you laugh a lot. You are so fun. I like being with you. I am so glad you are my mom.”
“This is my most awesome thing that Jesus made. All of this water, it is my favorite.” (upon seeing the ocean)
And, my favorite quote of the week, from my dear Leah who has resisted our love more than any other….
“I am glad I am a part of this family and not some different family.”
Me, too, honey. I am glad I am a part of this family. There is no other family that could fill my heart and my life the way that you do.