Marching forward...

Time is a shifty beast, messing with perspective.  When it feels like you are in the middle of a hurricane, each second feels like a lifetime, heavy and hard to breathe, and yet looking back, it can be viewed as an afternoon windstorm that flew by.
It has now been 365 days since our girl moved in for good.... in typical foster care fashion of a last minute call, everything belonging to her thrown in big black plastic bags and an old kitchen appliance box, as well as a case of expired nutrition drinks.
Those ten days before might have been some of the worse for us all. Not knowing if the back and forth would continue endlessly or when those in charge would actually listen to reason and get their heads wrapped around the fact that regardless of the process, the team, the paperwork, the bureaucracy... a little girl's life, her physical and mental health and well being, were being negatively impacted... in our view as much or worse than the neglect that originally got her where she was.  The helplessness of not understanding what to say to her, our other two children, or ourselves because it wasn't fair, it didn't make sense, and the whole process was ridiculous.
In this year, we have all learned and grown together.  The little girl who once shyly and unsurely clung to my leg while she warmed up to her new family now can hardly wait to see them and doesn't even look back to see where I am.
She has taught us, as all kids do, that they are each different people who need different attention, different rewards and consequences, different space and time to grow, but always lots of patience and love.
This girl has found her voice. She still speaks so fast but loud and so much more clearly.  She is so smart and so funny.
I just love when she finally makes progress with something we have struggled with, reinforcing that we are on the right track...when she rocks her baby dolls, sings them our songs, or in her mama voice tells them to be patient/nice/not hit/use the potty, etc.

All those times I haven't given myself enough grace or credit and feel like I've been too hard or too mean melt away when I see her do the right thing for others or when someone else notices and comments on her doing well.
It melts me when she'll say "I'm so proud of you mama", "I love you honey", "how was your day?", or "will you 'nuggle with me, mama?".
I remind myself over and over that your chronological age isn't your mental or emotional one. That your grit and determination will be qualities that make you a strong, independent woman and powerful leader who doesn't take no for an answer.
I hate that while you won't know any different, you will more than likely start preschool without officially having our name.  That I will have to remember to tell everyone, loudly and often, that no matter what that paper says, you will tell them who you are, that you always have.
This parenting life isn't easy, especially when this whole process hasn't been what we were first told.  But this life and these fabulous gifts we have are so good.


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