Monday, November 1, 2010

Parenting from a Different Vantage Point

By Doris M. Cush

I was home making cookies when our son asked, “Mom, who’s that girl?” “Oh honey, that’s the baby Jesus in a manger under the Christmas tree.” “Who’s she?” “What do you mean ‘she’?! You’re kidding, right?!” I mused. As I glanced at his clueless disposition awaiting my response, I clearly remained dumbfounded. Normally, this could have been an adorable moment, but since he only graced our threshold less than a month ago, I realized my husband and I were parenting from a different vantage point. Adopting an older child means being prepared for the unexpected. For us, the key lesson was learning how to confront our child’s past as we learned to define our future together as a family.

At four years old, our precious bundle of joy came to us with his hurts, hang-ups and habits. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t the least bit surprised. We were hoping for a longer “honeymoon” period. But for better or worse, we prayed through our son’s night terrors, public meltdowns, unwarranted outbursts and unexplainable insecurities. We were determined as a family to trust the Lord with our little boy’s fragile heart. We forged ahead flip-flopping parenting roles between “dastardly villain Mom” and “amazing superhero Dad.” In the process, God taught us how to turn dilemmas into precious, teachable moments.

With so many from which to choose, I can remember a particular event like it was yesterday. It was our son’s first city bus ride and I had planned every detail perfectly. We would go to the library for story time, have lunch downtown, walk to the old-fashioned candy store for a treat and take the bus home.

But ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men! By the time I realized the library wouldn’t be open for at least an hour, I was well into Plan B. After 20 minutes of browsing through a department store, I was sitting Indian styled on the floor protecting the head of a screaming banshee from doing bodily harm to himself all under the watchful eye of a city police officer. “Dear Lord, please help!” was my repetitious prayer.

Giving up on the outing, I finally tossed our son over my shoulder trekking four blocks to the bus stop and home sweet home. With each step, my agitated petitions were being answered. His flailing lessened and the reality of the morning’s events sank in as we boarded the bus. Fear had been talking and I had to look beyond the behavior to hear what it was telling my son.

“Sorry, mom,” he repeated through his tears. And my arms, which previously carried him down the street like a sack of potatoes now warmly embraced his worn-out frame. He buried his head in my arms and slept the rest of the way home. I quietly offered up prayers of thanksgiving.

Our son came with no instructions, but what child, adopted or not, does? And yet, the only true, how-to manual any parent has at their disposal is God’s word. As parents, we learn to “trust in the Lord with ALL our heart and lean not on our own understanding.” We learn to embrace our children through love, consistency and constancy. And if all else fails, we learn to stand, reaching out for support from loved ones and wise counsel from professional, Christian therapists.

Well, three months after baby Jesus was put away with the rest of the Christmas decorations, I got to experience another precious moment. While running errands, our son recited the entire resurrection story from the backseat of our minivan as we sat at the stoplight.

“Mom, guess what? See those crosses? That’s where Jesus and the two thieves were. One’s with him in heaven and Jesus isn’t there anymore!” “Him? He said,’ him’!” I had to hold back the tears when the light changed and our son resumed playing “smash ‘em up” with his action figures. That precious moment caught me marveling at God’s handiwork. And from this particular parenting vantage point forged from consistency and love, the view was quite spectacular!

Doris Cush provides true-life musings on her blog, Embrace His Truth ( Infused with humor, encouragement and a bit of “real talk,” she loves bringing truth to life’s common misconceptions. Doris’ spare time involves more writing, ministry, teaching, crafting and songwriting detail with her husband, Dan. Their adoptive vantage point includes 11-year old, Jakji and a 4-year old Rhodesian Ridgeback-Beagle mix, Ginger.