On February 28, 2011 we walked off a plane and began life as a family of five. We have a few plans and ideas for how to celebrate the upcoming first anniversary of this amazing day, which I'll share below, but first I want to tell you about how I was recently and unexpectedly whisked back to that moment - the moment our family was together for the first time.
The boys were playing on my parents' computer a few days ago, watching home videos of themselves and their cousins. I was half-watching, half-checked-out, relaxed and thankful to have a moment of peace at the end of a busy day. N clicked to the next video and my head snapped up to see a fuzzy-headed brown-skinned boy being led onto an escalator by a tall, handsome white guy: shock. Tears. I have never seen this footage. Only now do I vaguely remember my brother having a video camera, but in the aftermath of Z's arrival I had forgotten all about it.
As N clicked through the videos one by one I couldn't hold back the emotion. A year ago I experienced that momentous day through the lens of exhaustion, jet lag, unrealistic expectations, and healthy dose of fear. My memories of it are colored by the sleepless nights and tantrum-packed days that followed. Watching those scenes the other night felt like recovering something precious, like the long-awaited fulfillment of a promise, like scales falling off my eyes. It was pure gift.
Viewing the event through the camera's perspective made me see it all with new eyes. So much beauty jumped off the screen: the genuine excitement and joy of my family members, meeting Z for the first time. N's gentle sweetness, taking Z's hand and leading him around the baggage area. The easy smile D gave his new brother, already trying to make Z laugh. And his mother, eyes bright with exhaustion and something else: a love she didn't know she was giving, receiving. She kissed his forehead, he clung to her shirt and rested his cheek on her chest. At the time those exterior acts of affection felt false, while the swirls of frustration, fear, and ambivalence under the surface seemed all too real... but watching it now I see that I had it backwards. I see a mother who loves her son. Her fear and self-condemnation breaks my heart: I want to give her a hug, bring her some strong coffee, look her square in the eyes and say, "You're doing just fine, mama. Just fine."
We finished watching and D asked me why I was crying. I told him it was because I just realized I am the luckiest mommy in the whole world. And I am.
*Oops I forgot to write about our plans for Family Day 2012... more coming soon.