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10 Things Being Elvie's Mom Has Taught Me
When I became a mother for the first time, I felt like it opened up my heart and my whole world view in a way that I never could have anticipated. Being Zinashi’s mother made me a better person and taught me so much about myself, other people, and the world around us. I knew that adding Elvie to our family would bring a whole new level of discovery, but to be honest, I didn’t think it would be significant in the same way that becoming a mother for the first time was. Turns out, I was wrong. It’s not simply becoming a mother that changed me; it’s that each of my daughters has things to teach me. This first year with Elvie has given me more than I ever dreamed possible. Here are ten things that mothering Elvie has taught me that I’m not sure I could have learned from anyone else.
Of course there are more than just ten...
My gut knows.
When we started our adoption process in February 2012, it looked like it would take at least a year before we even heard of a child that might need us, but my gut said that we’d bring a baby home by the end of 2012. It defied logic, but I felt that it would be true. It was, and my gut hasn’t steered me wrong since in regards to bringing Elvie into our family and getting her the care she needs.
Elvie is perfect, and she always has been.
When Elvie came to us, she had significant physical differences to the lower part of her body and needed a lot of medical care. But I fell in love with my baby just as she was, and no one can tell me that she wasn’t just perfect from the very beginning.
Sometimes Elvie needs me to be insistent.
I’m not usually the type to demand what I want; I’d rather just go along to get along and let things be if it’s not hurting anyone. But Elvie needs me to be her advocate, to get her the absolute best care possible and not stop just because I feel uncomfortable. I’ve had to learn to be firm as well as nice, to look to Elvie’s needs first and the feelings of the adults who are giving her medical care second.
There were so many things we had no idea we'd need to do.
It started with that first hospital stay. We’ve got to think on our feet and get things done even when we’re surprised by them. I’m still learning as I go along; for instance, now that we’ve experienced hospitalization with Elvie while traveling, I know to bring her medical files with me if we’re going to be away from our home city, even for a short time.
I can't stay stuck when there are things to get done.
It would be so easy to be flummoxed by situations we’ve found ourselves in as we’ve cared for Elvie, but if I want to do my best to mother her and care for her, I’ve got to bounce back from little unpleasant surprises.
I can't do everything.
I have wanted so badly this year to keep up with everything that I did before Elvie came to our family, but it hasn’t been reasonable to do so. I know now that there are some things, at least for this season, that I need to not worry about. Maybe my thank you cards will be late or won’t get sent at all. Maybe I will be unable to eat as well as usual or exercise as regularly. Maybe I won’t get to go on a date with my husband for awhile. Those things can wait; this is just a season.
Everyone is trying hard.
Until I was in a position that forced me to be less than what I believed was my best, I didn’t understand how hard it can be to balance meeting your child’s needs with everything else. I will never again judge anyone for the condition of their house or the behavior of their children. There are always things we don’t know about, and I want to give others the benefit of the doubt, as I hope that others do for me.
People have helped us so much.
Friends, family, and even people we don’t know well have stepped forward to help us in so many ways as we’ve worked to bring Elvie into our family and then addressed her myriad medical issues throughout this year. There were times that I would wake up nauseated because I was so worried about something, only to receive a call or an email the next day from someone offering to help us.
My kids come first, always.
I thought I had a pretty good handle on what my priorities were and why, but when Elvie came along, it became clear that sometimes absolutely everything else has to fall by the wayside to meet the needs of both of my children, and I learned that I was more than okay with that.
It's been a hard year AND a joyful year.
This is something I learned directly from Elvie herself. She is leading by example. There were times that she would have a painful procedure done, and she would be sniffling and crying into my shirt afterwards, but then something would catch her eye that tickled her, and she’d start laughing, even while she was still crying. I want to be just like her. Life may get a little painful, but there is often something to smile about, even when things get hard.