I scheduled some time with Ashton's teachers to discuss our upcoming (booked, confirmed, happening) trip to Ethiopia so that we could chat about ways that Ash's school-day-life could support what he's about to experience. A wonderful friend sent me this link which contains some great talking points and just generally helpful resources for talking to children about adoption so I felt like I at least had something going in to the conversation. I'll admit that other than the handy dandy printable/linkable resources I felt just a bit more than slightly unprepared. I felt like I should have a list of ideas, activities, be ready to volunteer to come in and read adoption related story books to the kids, something. But on the flip side, turns out that what I had was all that was needed. Turns out that the conversation just needed to be started and his unbelievably freaking awesome teachers would just support us from there. Turns out the feeling of being overwhelmed with preparations can actually be a feeling of overwhelming excitement instead. This is going to be challenging, but it's not going to be hard.
No doubt our lifestyle is a natural supporter in the prep process. We just returned from a long weekend in London where both kids, the 8 month old and the nearly 4 year old , were absolute rock stars. They were hardly fazed by the time zone change and skipped happily to school the morning after returning home at 10PM from a full-day transatlantic flight. And when I say Rock Stars I mean Mick Jagger style, or whatever the farthest cry from Justin Bieber style might be. Bottom line, they travel well.
And all this to say that I feel like I can do this, and I feel like I can do it well, and when I screw up certain moments I feel like I'll be prepared to soak in the humility and truck on from there. Of course tomorrow morning may bring on entirely new feelings of anxiety and Leni may decide that the 14+ hour flight from JFK to Dubai will be the perfect hours in which to finally sprout some teeth (current count = 0) and no doubt I'm going to be a somewhat controlled pile of mush for the first few days in Addis (at best). But, we're going. It's booked. We're prepping what we have the ability to prep and letting everything else just settle in to place when it feels like settling. Because one thing we've found in all of our travels is that pushing something to settle quicker than it wants to just lands you in a giant pile of knotted up stomachs and the urge to eat pasta. Lots and lots of cheesy pasta.
So instead we're just enjoying this. There's still pasta, but of the more flavorful and light basil-laced variety. Ash's teachers are psyched to incorporate "adoption speak" into his classroom environment. We read "E is for Ethiopia" with Ash a few times a week. And we're avidly searching for hotels to stay in while in Addis, Gondar, Lalibela, Bahar Dar, and a lodge to spend our last few nights somewhere in the South.
This is going to be challenging, but it's not going to be hard. Hard is for Advanced Calculus and mastering Chinese as a second language. Revisiting my son's birth country and meeting with his birth mother and exploring the land, the culture, the history of the area that created my son isn't hard. A whole lot of wonderful with a bit of challenge on the side maybe, but not hard.
Psyched. Not completely ready yet, but getting there.