Friday, April 29, 2011

This Is Why

It's been a while since I've blogged. I think about it from time to time, but when I sit to type words it often seems either insignificant or repetitious or inane. Over the years of my life as an adoptive parent I have consistently asked one question, "Why was I party to adopting twelve children?" Claudia and I trade barbs about the whole experience every once in a while. When things are filled with joy and activity and even success, there is a sense of fulfillment that wells up within my soul. But when the situations we confront are joyless and routine and disappointing, I sometime feel resentment.

It's not resentment toward my children, actually. Not usually. When I'm annoyed and irritated it is with my own choices. And it is in those moments when my question, "Why did I choose to adopt twelve children" is tinged with cynicism and discouragement. The past week has actually been a pretty positive one, following our quite enjoyable Easter weekend when everyone, except John, was able to join us on Sunday.

So, it's been a good week, and today has been a very nice day. Friday is typically my day off (often Saturday is off, too, but Friday is often my only "complete" day off during the week), so I look forward to the opportunity to focus on those tasks I like to get done. It's often kind of a domestic day ... laundry, grocery shopping, preparing dinner for the kids, cleaning up. Today I had the opportunity to do some of those tasks while watching grandson Isaac. For four delightful hours we shared the space of a nearly quiet house. Claudia is out of town doing a training today, and all of the other kids are at school (with the exception of Rand, who works tonight).

Isaac is now six months old and a charmer. He is affable almost always, full of smiles, giggles and gurgles. We started the day with strained peas followed by a bottle of formula. He prefers green beans, so the peas went unfinished. After lunch we sat together until he burped, then I put him down on our bed for a nap. Today's nap lasted only about forty-five minutes, at which time he awakened with broad smiles and sparkling eyes. If only I could wake up with such excitement for life. His diaper needed changing, and as we engaged in the process he decided to let loose with another brief shower that created a liquid line on the fresh sheets I had put on the bed earlier today. It's funny how a smiling grandchild can engage in such an unconscious act without even a cross word from his grandfather, while the earlier generation would have at least received a verbal harrumph.

With a clean diaper on, we went into the kitchen, where he played in his high chair for nearly an hour while I cleaned and began to make dinner for the rest of the family. I was surprised at his endurance, but finally it came to an end. Although he didn't cry once (during his four hours with me), I could tell by the change in his vocalizations that it was time for something new. We came back into the bedroom, where he sat on my lap as I checked email and glanced through today's mail. Our desk tasks were interrupted with several repetitions of "bounce." He has recently discovered his legs, and loves to propel himself upward (with a little adult assistance).

As he projected himself upward from my legs, I assisted with his effort, accompanied by a shrill glissando from his adoring grandpa, "Boooouuuunce!" We can do the repetitions about five times, and then we stop. My out=of-shape biceps and his propensity to vomit after more than five bounces upward govern our time of fun. Throughout the process it is a delight to witness his glee, his visual adoration, his vocal pleasure.

Before his mom came to pick him, we changed his clothes. His first outfit had become drool-covered, and it was time for something fresh and handsome. While he ate some more formula, I held him in my lap, transfixed by the delight of my first grandson.

And then I am reminded once again why I adopted twelve children. I always thought it was to offer them a better life and more opportunities than they might have had in their first experiences of life. For some of our kids that will prove true. But I realize today, more than ever, that it was for the next generation, for my grandchildren. Maybe between the efforts of my grandchildren's parents and us grandparents the world will be a better place for them.

I can't predict whether it's a better world for them yet, but I know this. It's a better one for me.