Since she came home I have had a hard time reconciling what I had come to think of as "The Two Zenis":
Zeni 1 is Adopted Zeni (AZ).
This Zeni is underweight. She is Ethiopian. She has some post-institutionalized-child issues. She was left on the floor of her home, alone, every day for the first 3 months of her life for 5 hours while her bio mom went to work to make money to buy food. When I think about AZ I feel this huge void of sadness and helplessness and I doubt my ability to be the mom she needs.
Zeni 2 is My Daughter Zeni (MDZ).
She is smart as a whip - doesn't miss a thing, even when you wish she would. She is loud and joyous and stubborn. She wants to do and be everything that her big brother is. She is grumpy if woken up from a nap. She is beautiful. When she gets scared she gets quiet, clasps her hands in front of herself and pulls her shoulders in. She loves to giggle and tell jokes. She just ran a 1/4 mile race, crossed the finish line and shrieked "I win" at the top of her lungs. She is scared of turtles. She loved to read books in our bed and snuggle until she falls asleep. When I think about MDZ I feel proud and joyous and complete. (Yes, I do realize this is all about me and that Z has her own thoughts and feelings that have nothing to do with me, but this is my blog and she can get her own:)
Last week I walked my kids up to the park. They were both in Super Hero capes - Zeni's was red with a yellow star on the back. She followed her brother to the top of a dirt hill into a pit of leaves and rocks (why is there a pit of leaves and rocks at the park? No idea - not a toddler friendly play place and yet the most enticing part of the playground, of course..) and there she was, in the bright autumn sun - teeny, slightly fearful, dwarfed by her huge red cape, the bottom of which kept catching her heels as she plodded on, determined to keep up with her brother. AZ stood at the precipice looking wary of the drop below her. Then, suddenly and with a banshee-like shriek she took off and MDZ trucked her little legs down the hill, cape flying behind, chasing her brother and giggling with glee.
Watching that moment the two became one in my mind.
I was once talking to a wise woman about kids and trauma. She talked about her husband leaving her and three young daughters with no notice and no contact ever to be had again. She talked about how she came (after angst and agony and struggle) to realize that everyone has a story, and their father leaving was now part of her girls' story.
At the park that day I think I got what she was saying. I hurt for Zeni, and she will hurt. I wish I would make it different as, at time, will she. But I have also begun to realize that pain is a part of life, for some more than others, and that it can define you for a time but it will eventually become a part of you which has no more weight on any given day than your joy, your experiences, your love does.
I wish this realization for Zeni, sooner rather than later. I will try with all my might to instill it in her so that when she does come to hurt, questions, anger, sadness and whatever other pain is in her future, she can feel it, live it, and then allow it to become one part of her whole self.