It has been a year. Three hundred and sixty six days. (Thanks, leap year.)
Sometimes I think, "I can't believe it's already been a year." Other times, I wonder how it's ONLY BEEN A YEAR. It feels like this kid has been part of our family forever. Try as I might, I can remember only the vaguest glimpses of life pre-Beatrix Nan Yu, much like I have trouble remembering life pre-Olivia.
So much has happened since we first met fierce, beautiful, amazing Long Nan Yu in that government office, since she sobbed and peed on John and eventually discovered the joy of chucking batteries across the room for her new jie jie to fetch.
When I stop and think about what we did... oh, man. We brought a 2.5-year-old kid to a completely unfamiliar place. We told her we were her mama, baba, and jie jie. We took her away from her foster mom and her ayis and from all the sights and sounds and smells she knew. She had to listen to me bust out my caveman Mandarin and probably thought, "WTH is that woman saying? Why does she want me to stop eating an aardvark? I just wanted some damn raisins."
Things could have been SO BAD. And sometimes, frankly, they were.
Despite any rumors to the contrary, adding a toddler to your family is not a piece of cake. I expected some difficulty, of course. What I did not expect, however, is for my 10-year-old daughter to be the major source of this difficulty. Between the OMG HORMONES angst and the upheaval, Olivia had a harder time adjusting than the rest of us.
At times, I honestly wasn't sure who was the toddler. My lap had to become a no-sit zone because if one of them wanted to sit with me, the other did, too, and then there were all kinds of shennanigans (see: Bea licking Olivia's arm) to unseat each other. That picture over there? That was my life for months.
I'm happy to report that they now act like sisters. There are times when they are so sweet to each other, and then, well... "Moooom, she's looking at me! She took my chair!" "Mama, Ohluhvee touch Itchy Frog! No touch!" The other night they were actually engaged in a fierce bout of tug-o-war over a stupid pink Terrible Towel.
Parts of the attachment process have been hard, too. For months, if I dared to walk down the stairs and didn't wait to hold Bea's hand or carry her, she collapsed into a heap of snot and sobs for a good twenty minutes. It made ferrying the laundry up and down the stairs super fun, let me tell you. Even more fun that it normally is.
I often think about how scary this transition must have been for her, and it breaks my heart. Every time she'd wake up sobbing in the night and was simply unconsolable, I cried, too. There were mornings where she wouldn't utter a word, wouldn't eat, wouldn't use the bathroom. It was like she just checked out; she withdrew into her shell to try to deal with all that change and confusion and grief.
I selfishly love this incredible child, but I uprooted her in order to do so. I suspect I'll struggle with this for the rest of my days.
But you know what? The good stuff completely, absolutely outweighs the difficulties and the pangs of guilt. I remember us saying to ourselves last year, "HOW did we get so lucky?" When I'm not refereeing a sibling squabble or putting out the 12th APB for Itchy Frog because ohmygod she will not go to sleep without him but she has no idea where she left him, I still feel that way.
Beatrix is so many kinds of awesome. She is a whirlwind, a chatterbox, a tomboy, a lover of pizza and yogurt and chock-it [chocolate]. She is brave and willfull (perhaps too much) and awfully smart. She recognizes all of her letters and numbers and knows exactly which buttons to push when she wants to annoy someone. Bea loves her some potty humor ("Mama, sing 'papa got Bea's toilet on his head!'") and is a tooting, burping machine. Honestly, it's unreal: She'll burp in the middle of a word and just keep on going like nothing happened. When she doesn't want to do something, you know it. "Bea, time for bed." "NO WAY."
Bea has no fear of heights, speed, or farm animals.
She is curious and incredibly active. The one word people use to describe her? Busy. "My, she's... busy, isn't she?" And man, she is. I thought Olivia was active, but this child could probably pogo from here to Antarctica without stopping. Spring soccer season can't come soon enough. Parenting a preschooler at 40 is way harder than parenting one at 32. She exhausts me in ways I didn't know I could be exhausted.
Bea is also affectionate and snuggly. She told us "I love you" for the first time at Christmas and says it often now. She demands hugs and kisses, which I'm only too happy to give. When she wakes up in the morning (which could be, y'know, 2:55 am), she gathers up her armful of animals and scurries into our room to jump into bed and cuddle. She makes sure Itchy Frog is well fed and that he always has his turn playing Leapster or reading books.
She is beautiful, strong, happy. She sings off key and at the top of her lungs. She tries to make everything into a game. She is silly, loud, and full of joy. I love her like crazy and feel like the luckiest person in the world to have both her and Olivia in my life.
We got another daughter. Olivia got a sister. Poor Bea got way more crazy family than she ever bargained for.