2008: Steph Timeline

stephtime08

Age: 4

Major Events:

  • We adopted the girls in March 2008.
  • Stephanie was in a preschool for children ages 2,3, and 4 years old with anger issues.
  • Mimi and Papa were the reason we made it through the first year (and most years following). Mom did the kids’ laundry twice a week for longer than she should have. She usually left a meal in the crock pot on my counter once a week.
  • Our small group was important to us.
  • Our family was essential.
  • Nate helped us feel like we were still human. He was over a lot. He was our go-to babysitter. More than anything, he kept showing up and ignored the mess.
  • Nate and Daniel (and their buddies) liked to hang out with us. They came over after bedtime and stayed late.
  • Mom and I bought the girls Easter shoes. Stephanie had a full out tantrum in the shoe store. They had been home for less than 4 days. Neither Mom nor I had ever experienced anything like this before.
  • Stephanie refused to follow simple directions. She refused to take off her shoes when we came home. She refused to wash her hands before dinner. She refused to come to the dinner table. She refused to take a bath. She refused to go to bed.
  • Stephanie was sweet to everyone but me. One day I called Andy to come home because I couldn’t get her calmed down. When he walked in, she flipped a switch and was sweet. If Andy didn’t know me so well, he would have thought I was being a baby. He went back to work because everything seemed fine. I sent him a text, “Just pretend to leave,” it said. When Stephanie thought he was gone, she started yelling and attacking me again. Andy came in the back door and surprised her. I still remember Stephanie’s shocked look and the way she melted into a sweet little girl in front of our eyes. After that, Andy never doubted anything I said (unlike therapists and case workers and residential treatment center staff).
  • Mother’s Day was not fun. It hasn’t been fun since.
  • There were moments when Stephanie would hug us or curl up on our laps for a movie or a story, but usually it was only for what she could get.

I have made it to the beginning, working backwards through the timeline project. I wish I could chronicle a list of sweet events. There were sweet moments. However, the perspective that working backwards through this timeline project has given me is this: Stephanie has lived a life of constant refusal.

She would argue about taking the first bath of the evening, so we would ask someone else to take the first bath. Then she would argue about wanting to go first. No matter what we offered, she wanted something different. No matter how often we attempted to adjust to her wishes, she wanted something different.

It has always been like this.

It remains like this.

We keep attempting to play a parenting role in Stephanie’s life. What I’ve discovered from this timeline project is she has always refused our influence in her life…unless there is something she wants, unless there is something she is gunning to get.

It has always been like this.

It remains like this.

Being Stephanie’s parents has been a crash course in humility. It has been a crash course in self-control. It has been a crash course in offering kinder truths. It has been a crash course in a number of things. It has especially been a crash course in keeping our marriage strong and learning to love one another…always over and over.

Stephanie has always wanted to be in control, even when she didn’t know what she was attempting to control. Stephanie finds control by blaming me.

It has always been like this.

It remains like this.

There appears to be no good fruit that has been reaped from being Stephanie’s parents. This does not mean that good seed has not been sown. This does not mean that we won’t continue to hope for the best, advocate for logic, and hold firm to being Stephanie’s parents. This doesn’t mean that we don’t miss the person we know Stephanie can be.

It has always been like this.

It remains like this.

No matter what, there has been constant hope. It was hope that spurred us to adopt a four year old enrolled in a preschool for young children with anger issues. It is hope that remains —  hope and faith and love, and the greatest of these is love.

It has always been like this.

It remains like this.

See all of Stephanie Timeline posts here.

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3 Comments »

  1. I do believe that things happen for a reason. . . there was a reason for you becoming Steph’s parent. Sunday our minister talked about the shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35: Jesus wept. That just pierced my heart. When he was here on earth, he felt all our feelings (good and bad) He knows exactly what we are going through, walking beside us . . . even when we think he isn’t listening or doing anything. He weeps. Kids have asked me, If there is a God why does he let Daddy hit Mommy? Why did God let my Dad die. . . I have struggled with these hard life lessons. I don’t know the answers. Maybe that is all we need. . . God has a plan. We may never know the answers or we may farther down life’s road.
    I love your writing. . . I love your bravery to share your courage, your sorrows, your struggles. We are right there with you. Love you much. Have courage for today! One day at a time! One step at a time . . . always looking for joy. You taught me that!
    Love you, Shirley

  2. I’m glad for you that you’ve finished and after all this, perhaps it helps that you are firm, still, in your convictions, Ruth. Like so many things, answers don’t always come easy and though you are strong in the beliefs, Stephanie has to find her way, too. Thinking of you all often and always sending my best wishes!

  3. Felt my heart thump when I read Nate’s name. I remember.

    I’m thankful you are sharing your story.

    I wish I lived nearby.