Tuesday, February 6, 2018

full circle

It's been interesting over the last 3.5 years watching things come "full circle"- in my mind, this is the concept of when something that was once painful comes around again and is redeemed- no longer painful. Throughout the years of infertility and waiting, there were plenty of things that became painful triggers for sadness and grief- but Millie's presence has redeemed them one by one. "Full circle" things tend to be things that are cyclical, that roll around every so often on a schedule, and therefore can accumulate memories and expectations. The first time the event occurs post-trauma (and in my case, the trauma was the years of infertility, waiting, and our failed adoption), I find myself remembering the hurt of the event previously, but now having Millie to make new memories that hopefully wash away the pain previously associated with the day.

Some things came full circle quickly: most holidays, for one. Each pre-Millie Christmas hurt. Each was a reminder that another year had gone by, that this was the Christmas where I was supposed to have a baby...each brought another social media feed full of other people with their happy kids and cute babies. But once Millie was born and a few short months later Christmas rolled around- it just wasn't painful. It was life as I'd thought it should be. The life I'd hoped for. Christmas came full circle.

Christmas 2017. Completely perfect, because she got the Paw Patrol bath toys she'd been religiously begging for all month!

Some things took longer. Her birthday, to be honest. In some ways, her first birthday was difficult- while it was absolutely the anniversary of her birth and her life with us, it was also the anniversary of her losing her birth mother. I felt that. I mourned that when it happened, and I remembered it on her first birthday. It was the anniversary of the enormous, nearly overwhelming stress that covered me during Millie's first few weeks of life, as we waited to pass through each (what felt) excruciatingly slow phase of her adoption to pass and finalize. The stress of those days was pretty damn fresh, even a year later. And so while obviously there were many things to be joyful for and celebrate on her first birthday, I don't really feel like the concept of "hooray, baby's birthday!" was really redeemed until her second birthday. By then, the stressful memories were overwhelmed by the joyful ones and I could really celebrate and eat cupcakes with the reckless abandon one would expect me to. :)

Look at that cute little two-year-old Millie!!!

As we're well into our fourth year with our beloved girl now, most things feel like they've come full circle to me. Name a holiday, any holiday!, and my gut reaction will probably be happiness and excitement. (Whereas in, say 2013, you could say "St. Patrick's Day" and I would get teary because the previous year on St. Patrick's Day I'd just known that next St. P's day I was going to have a baby to dress in green, and now I didn't, and therefore St. P's Day is a big bummer...that's kinda how it worked for me.) I have happy memories of every holiday from the past few years, and excitement and high expectations for happy ones to come. Holidays are happy again. Full circle.

So it's kind of fun and exciting when I find a thing roll around that hasn't yet had the chance to come full circle. I'd kinda thought I'd gone through them all already. But the other day I realized that another one (our last one?) was coming: the Winter Olympics.

You can laugh, but it's true! I love the Olympics, both Summer and Winter. I believe this is well-documented here, haha. But our last Winter Olympics was in February 2014. A few short months after the excruciating loss of our first maybe-baby, and before we knew about Millie (although it should be stated that she was probably an adorable little fetus with lots of opinions hanging out in Mama J's tummy at this point). Although my personal involvement with the Olympics is limited to sitting on a sofa and watching them on TV, I still remember the pain and sadness I felt while watching them last time. It's like this dark cloud that covers my memories of hours on the couch watching other people twirl and speed across ice and do amazing things. (Although I would be remiss not to mention that I do have SOME happy memories of the 2014 Olympics- mainly when we happened to be in Texas for the weekend and stayed with the Joiners and watched the Olympics with them!) 

I remember during the summer 2016 games how redemptive it felt to watch them with Millie sitting in my lap. She didn't know what was going on, but I remembered the previous games and just noted the supreme differences in my life from 2012 to 2016. How much greater the joy. It was wonderful. And now I get to do it again- wipe away just a few more less-than-stellar memories and replace them with joy.

And joy it shall be. If you keep up with me on Instagram stories or Facebook, you might have noticed that Millie is SUPER EXCITED about figure skating these days. She is ALL IN! 

Behold one of our (many) magnificent lifts.
Her current passion is having us find old Olympic figure skating videos on YouTube. She will watch for two seconds before shrieking "WE DO DAT MOVE!!!! PICK ME UP!!! I NEED TO DO DAT!!!" Matt and I have to take turns being her partner, and we're frequently scolded because we aren't as amazing as the people on TV, but we do our best. I mean, we've lived in Georgia our whole lives. Gonna have to lower those expectations, skating snob.

My favorite is when she's taking a break from her skating and she watches the Olympians, she'll point to the female skater and say "dat's me," and point to the male and say "dat's Daddy." ALL THE HEART EYES.

Oh, my other favorite is how she requests to watch the skating. "Mama, we turn on da TV and watch da skaters so I can DO MY MOVES!!! I need to do my MOVES!"

Over the weekend we were playing outside and Millie was getting some toys from the garage. She noticed my dusty Rollerblades shoved back on a shelf and exclaimed "we have ICE SKATES!?!?!?!" with lots of excitement and wonder in her voice. I pulled them out and explained that they were like ice skates for people that don't have ice. Obviously she demanded that I put them on, so I did, and I very gingerly shuffled around the driveway for a minute. She looks at me, dead-pan. "Show me your MOVES, Mama!"

Ummm...I'm 35 and really, really out of shape. I am likely to perish just standing here on wheels. These are all the moves I've got, sistah.

"Dat not amazing. Can you twirl?"

Do you wanna spend the weekend in the ER with me??

She turns away from me, done with these shenanigans.

"Daddy, where YOU ice skates? Show me you moves!"

She. Is. A. Mess. A really cute mess.

I know I've said it a thousand times, but every minute with this girl is a gift. To be sure, some of the moments are less enjoyable than others, but still- such a gift. The joy she brings, the life she restores to the parts of me that felt dead...I will never get over it. She can diss my skating skills all day long, I don't care- this babe just keeps on filling the world with light, and I cannot get enough.


  1. I can obviously relate to a lot of this! And funny that you mention the Olympics- they always have significance to me because we were going through IVF during the Summer 2012 Olympics and I will always remember the anxiety/fear/hope I felt during those days. Now that the twins are here, I experience anxiety/fear/hope for different reasons, ha!!

  2. The Olympics hold a place near and dear to my heart too, as I was on maternity leave with my second after an infertility struggle. Thirteen years later I can almost smell his little baby head! Then he walks by and I smell teenage boy. Yuck!!!!

  3. This post really makes sense to me in my experiences with post-partum anxiety. There is a dark cloud that hovers over a lot of experiences and the only thing that lightens that is time. When I think back to the first few months of each of my kids' lives, it goes like this: Trent/Drew - I can look back on it without the lens of PPA clouding it - enough time has passed for me to gloss over the PP and think fondly about it, Paige: not so much - actually thinking back on this time last year makes me sick to my stomach. It's still too fresh and raw and I can't really think about it much without wanting to cry. And that sucks in so many ways. It's hard to be in the moment and be wishing away your baby's first few months so you can just feel better (so much guilt for that), and it's hard to think back on it and feel sick to your stomach, you know? A very different experience than yours because I got those babies, but I can totally understand that 'trauma' (for lack of a better word). I'm so glad you're just about to celebrate your last? full-circle moment and it'll all be good memories from here on out!

  4. God is good!
    I am honored that you share you and M's story with the world and a witness to answered prayers.

  5. Disclaimer: My comment sounds so informal like we are actual real-life friends, rather than me being just a girl who religiously checks your blog and instagram for updates because I love to "hear" your words and see pictures of your beautiful family! Wow - I actually sound like a stalker; promise I'm not. :)

    Okay - so some how my first comment, which I entered soon after you posted this most recent post, didn't make it. I probably hit the wrong button because I have four littles who are getting wiser each day by stealing my brain cells. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I have been reading your blog since before you adopted. Reading this post just brought tears of joy to my eyes and a warmth in my soul because of God's perfect design of your full circle. Love and joy radiate from Millie's eyes in every picture you post. Gratitude is always overflowing in your words. Your story and your family is such a beautiful example of God's love and adoption of us. We are an adoptive family as well (three bios, one international adoption) and it's such an encouragement for me to read your story and updates.
    And, as a mom of littles, I totally get that the blog/social media, etc., gets put aside for actual living in the real and now. Just know that for those who do read your blog (me!), your posts are much appreciated! Your stories about Millie - oh my goodness, hilarious!
    As a fellow mom who loves makeup and used to be into it more when I had a "real" job, I would love an update sometime about your new makeup routine since becoming a mom. Any new products to rave about? I very much enjoyed those posts in your pre-mommyhood days.

    Finally, it is my 2018 goal to read more books. Something that often gets pushed aside for my children because after reading to them I'm often too tired for me. I am in awe of how many books you read and loved seeing your list for inspiration. You probably already know about this fellow mom and podcaster/author, but in case you don't, this (to me) is like the Erika version of the Book Club Mommy. If you have time (ha - I know you don't) seriously listen to this most recent post because as I was listening to it today, it prompted me to come back and comment because I know you have mentioned you are in a book club. Just listen as Sarah describes how the way our children are taught to read and analyze books today steals their love of reading. I don't know why, but I thought you might enjoy this as a fellow mom. I can already sense your wisdom and love for books will probably impact Millie differently than most of her peers. You are setting an amazing example to her that will cultivate her love of reading - so, I don't know, just thought you may enjoy this podcast as a fellow voracious reader. :)
    P.S. - I am not a promoter or anything of this podcast/book. Just a fellow mommy living the crazy hard and amazingly beautiful mommy-life who loves your blog and is inspired by your love of reading. Thanks for sharing glimpses of your life with us! Have a great week! :)



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