WARNING: This contains some spoilers for some material that will be written in upcoming chapters of “Forever in Time.”
I’m so glad my letter made you smile. It’s always rewarding for me to help someone, so I am more than happy to share my experiences with you. From what you’ve said in your letter, you are experiencing a lot of ups and downs.
Let me start out by saying that ups and downs are simply part of the territory of raising little ones, honegrown or adopted. Life would be so much easier (and maybe not quite as interesting) if wee ones came with an instruction manual. But, as you know they don’t. Much of what we learn as parents is trial and error. Nobody is perfect and we all certainly make mistakes. Thankfully, kids are remarkably resilient and won’t hold those happy accidents against us.
Actually, my children were homegrown. My oldest son, Landon, was born during my first marriage. Landon and his father were killed in a plane crash many years ago. As you probably know from reading my profile, I’m in possession of some “extra” abilities that make certain unbelievable things happen. Long story short, Landon was able to return to the living, to which I am exceedingly thankful for every day. If you are interested, I will tell you all about it in another letter.
My other four children are from my second (and last) marriage. I conceived them while on my honeymoon in Paris with Tyrone. I guess there must have been a lot of magic floating around there because we ended up having quads. Yes, you read it correctly; quads.
I am, however, very familiar with orphans. My daughters, Andrea and Aurora, have been volunteering at a very special orphanage since they were teenagers. This orphanage is run by a werewolf (there really are werewolves but very seldom do they ever act like how they are depicted in movies or fiction) who is called White Wolf. Ah, he is a lovely man who has an uncanny knack for locating children in need and taking them in when the situation calls for it. Many of the children, indeed, have had hard lives, but any child who lands up in this orphanage is fortunate. You see, many orphanages are terrible places to be, but this one is an exception; it is a home where they’re loved, nurtured, and cared for. Some are adopted but many are not and remain there until they become of age.
White Wolf and my girls have grown very fond of one another over the years, which led to Tyrone and me helping out in special cases. There are some children who’ve needed some extra TLC and attention, which Tyrone and I are very willing to provide. Such a case brought three children into our lives.
The Cox children lost their parents in a fire. It was a miracle they made it out! Such an ordeal left the two oldest ones traumatized and so fearful! Poor little Layla is deathly afraid of the dark, cries, and clings to the workers when she is put down for bed. Aurora and Andrea say it takes her a long time to fall asleep, and many times, it takes Aurora singing to her for at least a half hour before Layla finally nods off.
Tiffany is the oldest and suffers horrible nightmares on a nightly basis. Rarely does she sleep through the night and often wakes up screaming. She likes and needs to be in close proximity to those she’s come to care about. The caring takes a while to come because she’s so afraid of loving and then losing that person she loves.
Tyrone and I have slowly been able to chip away at that barrier, but there are times she distances herself. Thankfully, the little boy, Cedric, was too young to remember the tragedy.
White Wolf has expressed his desire to see them adopted but feels it’s in the best interest of all three to keep them together. Most families, sadly, only want Cedric, so it has been a rough road. To make a long story short, Tyrone and I aren’t most families. The children have been staying with us on a trial basis to see how we all get on in a family setting. They’ve been doing a bit better and Tyrone and I have grown to love them. Next week, we’ll begin the adoption process so all three of them can remain with us permanently.
With Aurora and Andrea being steady workers at the orphanage for some years, it came as no surprise that they have adopted some children. Andrea and her husband Elton have adopted a tomboy of a girl named Lisa and Aurora and her fiance Silvan have adopted Tara, who wants to be a princess. Landon and his wife Crystal have also adopted a wee girl named Bliss. The three girls are adjusting nicely; it feels as if they’ve always been a part of our family.
So in answer to your musings, yes, many orphans have experienced hardship. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if your Jena has experienced trauma at some point in her life. Those refugee camps are nothing to sneeze at and some are downright horrifying. Most likely, she has experienced more sadness and upheaval than anyone should ever have to go through. The good news is, she has you now and you’re giving her that wonderful, happy, and loving life she deserves and needs.
If you are worried about her ability to form healthy attachments, you could always take her to a therapist who specializes in these things to have her evaluated for Reactive Attachment Disorder. Believe it or not, there is such a thing, and there are therapists who deal strictly with kids suffering from it. It happens most often when kids from 0-2 don’t get consistent care and are neglected for hours to days on end. What you should do to solidify that bond with Jena is to keep doing what you are doing. Comfort her for as long as she needs and and will take it. Give her a lot of affection and play with her often. Simply put, just be there as her loving main caretaker, and that will go a long way.
Along with all that, it sounds like you are experiencing the normal parts of child rearing. It’s uncanny how quickly their moods can change. One minute, they’re happy and laughing and the next, they look so sad that it makes your heart cry. At her age and even if she could speak English, they can’t always tell you what is wrong. In many cases, distraction is the key. Sometimes they can be cajoled into a better mood by something totally silly like a funny little noise or some animal crackers. At other times, they are simply overly tired and a nap does wonders. Again, it’s trial and error and you’ll have to try different things to see what works with Jena.
You’ve hit the nail right on the head. Worrying comes with the territory of being a mom. No matter how old they get, you will always worry. I have five grown children who have lives of their own now, but I still worry.
For example, I worry about Aurora every time she performs a concert. She is a professional singer and is making quite a name for herself. I worry that she works herself too hard and that she does’t always eat as healthy as she should. With her busy schedule and before she and Silvan adopted Tara, she often ate out or on the road; I hated to think what kind of junk she was ingesting. As often as I can and because I still tend to cook for an army (old habits die hard), I take stuff to her and put it in her fridge. That way I know she has some good quality food without her having to cook when she’s dead tired. So you see, once you’re a mom, you never stop being a mom.
Ah, the nightmares! They’re awful, indeed, especially for the one having them. For children, it’s especially frightening. All you can do in those situations is to comfort Jena as best you can and to show her you’ll always be there for her. She’s young so she will probably outgrow them in time.
It’s great that the two of you spend so much time “talking.” You will be amazed at how quickly she will learn new words. Wee ones tend to pick this up by osmosis. Something you could do to help increase her vocabulary is to get a little picture book and “read” it to her. Point to a picture and say the word to her. Try to get her to say the word. You will have to repeat this a number of times but you’ll be surprised at how fast she’ll learn. As you say, i’ts time together and that truly is what counts.
Och, you poor dear! You’ve taken on a mighty big challenge and doing it alone! Cut yourself some slack, my friend. Even in the best of circumstances, there are some bad moments. I know how hard it is during those times she rejects you. It could be a number of things. Again, if they are overly tired or hungry, they get VERY crabby. In turn, that can make us as parents crabby and cause us to lose it. You’re human, Meadow, and nobody can be happy and smiling all the tine. I understand that awful, low feeling after delivering a scolding remark. Believe me, I’ve been thee and done that many times. Show her you love her and she’ll come to understand that you’ll never stop loving her. It will balance out and kids, in general, are very forgiving. I don’t think Jena is going to hold this against you and yes, I think she forgave you. 🙂 Don’t worry.
At tines, it’s best to let them be. It’s good that you had something to occupy yourself with in your painting. Your description of what happened after that is very telling in a good way.
It looks like Jena speaks Urdu, which is a language spoken in that part of the world where Jena come from. She was asking “How are you?” when she said “Ap Kaisi hein?” When she said, “Kafi weqt se ap ko dekha nehin!” it means “Long time no see!” The fact that she was pouting at seeing you is good because it means she missed you.
There are times when you will feel like you’re at your wit’s end. We all need a respite and there’s no shame in that. Once in a while and if you have someone you trust and who Jena likes, have them sit for her and you take, say, an hour just for yourself. Indulge in a relaxing bubble bath or grab some dinner at a nearby restaurant. You will be amazed at how refreshed an recharged you’ll feel after that.
It’s also a good idea for Jena to have a play date with another child. This way, she’ll be able to relate to other children. There are also some “Mommy and Me” kinds of activities that you and she can participate in. Again, it gives her a chance to be around other children and you a chance to have some adult conversation, which we all need.
Oh, and it’s a good idea to get an Urdu-English dictionary or use something like Google Translate to see what she is saying. If you want her to retain her first language, you need to find someone who can speak Urdu with her on a consistent basis. Otherwise she will lose it over time if there’s no opportunity for her to use it. The old adage is very true: If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
There is no need to apologize for all the new mommy talk. It’s natural that you’d feel overwhelmed and have a lot of questions. I truly enjoyed hearing about your life with Jena and how you are coping. Things will plateau, just hang in there. Cherish those golden moments and do your best to take the more unpleasant ones in stride. Eventually, there will be more and more of those golden moments, I promise.
You asked me to tell you about myself. Well, here goes. 🙂
My Grandda Liam brought me up after my parents were killed when I was but a wee thing. It was just Grandda and me and we were like peas and carrots. My life was pretty ordinary, or so I thought. Things changed dramatically when I was thirteen.
I came down with a horrible mysterious illness that nobody knew how to treat. I was given three months to live.
Grandda stayed by my side every minute, but my condition steadily grew worse.
Out of sheer desperation to keep me alive, he made contact with Mathilda, a woman he hadn’t communicated with in years. It turned out that Mathilda was his mentor and the only one who could save my life. Grandda was an honest-to-goodness wizard who set aside his magic in a misguided endeavor to protect me. While I was ill, he took up his magic and once I was well, delivered the news to me that I was a witch.
Mathilda became my mentor as well as a mother to me. She was there for me during the darkest times of my life, which I will tell you about in another letter if you are interested. Anyway, we are still very close and always will be. Both of us are immortal and indestructible, so when I say always, I mean it literally.
As you can guess, I lead a very full life. Fortunately, my kids live nearby so we get together for Sunday dinner regularly and more often if we can.
I am an author with a number of best sellers under my belt. I like to do most of my work early in the morning and spend afternoons and evenings with my family. One or more of the kids drop by every day for a visit, which I love.
I also do professional work as a singer and musician. I play the piano, guitar, flute, and a few other instruments, and am a classically trained singer.
So, that’s in on an ordinary day. I keep my magical skills hones, and Tyrone and I enjoy traveling from time to time. I’m Vice President of the Witches’ Council, so there are meetings i must attend sometimes. All of that keeps me busy and as Grandda says, it keeps me out of trouble. 🙂
I will save more for another letter, as this one has gotten long. I will leave it at that for now. May the stars always twinkle when ye gaze into the night sky, and may love always warm your heart as the sun warms the world.
Author’s Note: Thank you to Shafer249 for the use of White Wolf and for creating orphans for his orphanage. Pictured here are Tara Banks (McBeth), Layla Cox (toddler) and Tiffany Cox (child). Tiffany got a little makeover once she and her siblings came to live with Lenora and Tyrone, and their name will become Landgraab once the adoption takes place. Honorable mention goes to Bliss Newell (Atherton) who will likely be pictured at another time.