With so much emphasis on Wenxin (after all, this whole blog is pretty much about him), people often wonder how the other kids are doing. Are they getting lost in the shuffle?
I guess the honest answer is: Time will tell.
But just as everyone has made sacrifices, everyone has gained so much in the process. Nathan, Julia and Katherine have all gained a brother they adore.
And we are having a lot of fun as a family of six. We spent spring break with Mike's family in the D.C. area. We took a vacation to Alabama to see my folks in June. And we are wearing out our Aquatica passes this summer!
Mike and I are trying to be especially sensitive to each child's needs during the transition. I still make sure each child gets some personal "snuggle time" each day. It's true that Wenxin gets way more than the others, but he's quick to remind everyone, "Mama's catching me up."
Mike spends individual time with each child as well. He and Nathan enjoy some time together almost every night. Mike puts the boys to bed and often hangs out by Wenxin's bed as Wenxin falls asleep. That kid falls asleep faster than anyone I've ever seen; it takes about two minutes! As soon as Wenxin is asleep, Mike sits down by Nathan's bed and they talk about whatever is on Nathan's mind. It's become a special time.
We let each child try a new activity this summer. The girls went to "Annie Jr." drama camp.
And Nathan became a Boy Scout.
Over and over, as I've met up with old friends here in Colorado, I've been asked, "How are you doing?" I usually answer with, " Fine," or "Tired, but fine," if I'm feeling a bit more honest.
I always wonder if people notice the 10+ pounds I've gained over the last year, or the big fever blister on my lip, or the fact that I've chewed every one of my fingernails down to almost nothing.
Hiking together in the Rockies today, we talked a lot about our need to keep physically fit. I think that getting exercise would help reduce my stress level.
But back to the kids: Have the sacrifices that Nathan, Julia and Katherine have made to welcome a new brother in their lives deepened their character and increased their capacity to love? Are they better people as a result?
Time will tell, but I'm hopeful.
The other night, Mike and Nathan were out late, so I had the job of putting Wenxin and the girls to bed. I was exhausted and had no intention of standing by Wenxin's bed as he went to sleep. I tucked him in, prayed for him, gave him a hug, and headed out to the sofa for some much needed "down time."
Wenxin began to cry. In my mind, that was just too bad, because I was not going to be manipulated. I was ready and willing to let him "cry this one out."
After a few moments Julia got up. She gently reminded me, "Dad usually stays in the room talking to Nathan as Wenxin goes to sleep. Mom, he's not used to being in that dark room alone." Julia let me know she wasn't trying to be disrespectful, but she felt like I should do something.
So , right or wrong, I went in and carried Wenxin out to the sofa and let him lie down with me. He was out in just a minute. Mike carried him to bed when Mike and Nathan arrived home.
What struck me most, was Julia's compassion for her little brother. She wasn't irritated that he demanded so much attention. She was able to put herself in his shoes and see why this might be a hard situation for him.
I was very proud of my girl.