My most memorable Valentine’s Day was 3 years ago. That day, I found myself in the very cold city of Moscow, where I met my youngest love.
I hardly even recognize that kid anymore. A shadow of who he really is. At one year old, smiles were hard to come by.
Quiet, observant, stoic. That’s how he seemed.
We didn’t see any bits of his personality until 3.5 months later, after our court trip, when we finally started to see his goofy and wild spirit come out.
Now, he’s the family wild spirit. He keeps everyone laughing.
A few mornings ago, he woke up sick. Normally, he wakes up smiling, chatty long before the rest of us are ready to hear a sound. On the dark, freezing winter mornings, I joke it’s the Russian in him, better adapted to the dark and the cold than the rest of us. But this morning, I turned the lights on, patted his back and then headed downstairs, knowing he’d get up when he was ready.
And when he did, he just cried and screamed. I picked him up and he started to calm down. A minute later, I tried to put him down again, so I could help Reed and Lena get ready, but the screaming started again quickly. All he wanted was to be held. So, held him I did. In the moments that are usually spent rushing around the house to get his siblings ready for school, we sat on the couch and he pressed his body into mine, positioning my arm around him like a seat belt. He relaxed and quieted.
Those moments of sitting on the couch, holding him, were sacred. I often wonder if I’m doing this parenting gig right. Maybe I’d be a better parent if I had more experience, if I was less busy, if I was just a more patient and gentle person, but you know what? In that moment, Gus would have settled for no one else. In that moment, I knew that I, with all of my flaws and imperfections, was enough for him. He felt loved and secure with me.
My heart keeps jumping to the host kids. The listings for many of the hosting groups are up, or will be soon. I read the little bits of their stories and I wish I could hug each one of them, tell them that someone cares. Parenting a teenager isn’t remotely the same as parenting a preschooler. But, when they’re sick or when they’re hurting, they still crave that love of a mom. They want someone to care and nurture them, too. Not the perfect family, but a flawed and imperfect family who loves them as they are. They all need someone to make them feel secure and cherished.
Maybe you’re that somebody?
Project 143 | New Horizons for Children | Children’s Cultural Connection | Frontier Horizon