We celebrated Lily's birthday today. Of course, with most abandoned babies, it's hard to really know the exact date they were born unless the biological mom leaves it with a note. The orphanage gave Lily the birthdate of August 12. So we will go with that.
Husband's parents came in from Louisiana today so we decided to party today. Lily chose Chuck E. Cheese's as the party place and we invited all the family to join us.
Lily has only had a couple other parties in her life. The first one she had was at the orphanage almost two years ago when we send her a big cake to share with her friends once we accepted her referral. I have since talked to her about that day, and she definitely had no idea why she was getting that cake. Even if the nannies there had told her that she was going to get a family, she had no clue what a family was. In fact, you might remember me telling you that when we got Lily she didn't even know the difference between male and female.
The second party Lily has had was last year on her birthday when we had her huge birthday party and I made hundreds of cupcakes (which she didn't even eat because she didn't like cupcakes, and still barely does...ironic since we raised a lot of money selling cupcakes)! But last year Lily was still learning about birthdays. Since then, she's had a good year to watch and learn from other kids at parties and this day was different...SHE KNEW WHAT THIS DAY MEANT! AND SHE WAS SO EXCITED!
I have to tell her that moms and dads show they love their kids in lots of different ways. I explain to her that we show little baby Po we love her by kissing her constantly and squeezing her and baby talking and what not. I told her that while we show her love a little bit in that same way, once a kid gets older we can also show love in more ways. Like sending them to a good school, making food for them, telling them what a great job they did. So this morning I told her that another way we were going to show her how much we love her is by making the day really special for her and getting all the family together in honor of her. She got it. Boy did she ever.
"Mom, today I am star? Mom, today I get presents and nobody else? Mom, today I get lots special?"
YES LILY. TODAY YOU ARE THE STAR!
When I watched this video at home I kept replaying it and replaying it. I watched her every little move, her eyes wander around to make sure she is doing everything right and getting the most out of every moment.
I can remember when I got married. My oldest sister told me that I needed to enjoy every moment and soak it in and quit being an emotional bride to be! I needed a wake up call as I was getting a bit stressed and whiny the night before! The next day I got up and realized the moment I was in and enjoyed every moment. I wasn't all a blur. I was taking in every moment of my wedding day.
That was Lily today. And today I reeeeeally felt like she was my daughter today. Somedays I feel more like she is than others. Although I love her unconditionally everyday, some days are tough and we are both working through things that children who live in an institution for 9 years need to work out.
But tonight as I watch the video and grab photos from it on my iPhone, I really feel a lot of love and compassion and joy and happiness for my Lily Love.
She's doing so good. It's hard. Can you imagine? But she tries endlessly to be like us, her new family. She's learning what families do and what they don't do. She is learning all about this new life in America with a family, even still as she has been with us about a year and a half.
And she's really doing so good.
Because we have so far to go to get Lily to be a healthy whole person, we can sometimes not look at her progress enough. But tonight I am just glowing thinking about all her progress. The girl is a fighter, tough as nails. But deep down, she's beginning to open up her heart and all the institutional Lily is starting to break away to get down to the real Lily who feels and knows love!
The other day Po had to get blood drawn. I didn't want to take Lily with me because I knew she would enjoy it too much, but I had no choice. So as Po is starting the scary process of realizing something not fun is about to happen at the lab, Lily cannot hide her excitement anymore. She has always LOVED to see others in painful situations, and she finds great joy when others hurt themselves. Yes, I know. Not right. But she's learning!
So I used the situation (as I do almost every single situation!) to teach Lily. I asked her if she was getting a spanking from Daddy, and I was in the room laughing at her when she cried, how would she feel. She of course shook her head and I knew she wouldn't like it. So in my therapist/mother kind of way I began to ask more about how she felt, making her absolutely use words to describe it and me not giving her any to agree it.
She finally said, "My heart would be sad."
We have worked a lot on this. It's really hard to teach someone compassion. Go ahead. Try it! And let me know how it worked out for you!!! And because Lily is smarter than a baby, but not as smart as her age, it's a unique situation to try to explain to her what she SHOULD be feeling when she doesn't.
Well, today, Lily's heart was glad. In fact, it may have swelled bigger than ever before in her life today. And yes, it was just a big furry rat and some pizza. But to Lily it was more. To Lily is was the GOOD FEELING OF BEING LOVED!!!!!!!!!
Every day a little better and a little further than before. Life with Lily is never dull or easy. But I've never been more proud to call her mine than I was today. In the video I see a precious little girl. Almost like a normal little girl who is reveling in the moment of being the star, and she's not begging for attention or acting out or breaking boundaries or invading personal space to demand it. She's receiving it knowing fully what it is and that there is always more to come and enough to go around in our family and that she will never lack.
in this moment, she was looking to me, as her mother (sniff sniff) like kids do (sniff sniff) when they look at their mothers for affirmation that they are doing the right thing and likewise, that their mother is watching this moment in their lives with them!
So happy we got Lily!!!!!! Worth it all. Every day. Every moment. To know and feel loved. Powerful!