Eric and I have been trying to teach Noelle to call us 'Daddy' and 'Mommy' to no avail. Eric is still 'Baba', and I'm just 'Ehhhhhh'. I have to admit that this has been hard to take. I've often felt sad that I'm a no-name to her. Noelle bonded with Eric in China over that traumatic medical exam (the day I was so sick in bed) and has never looked back. Our bonding has been a little slower in coming. Now I know that my daughter likes being with me, and loves me even, in her own way, but I was never included in the inner sanctum of Noelle + Baba.
Eric and I have had many conversations about this, and he has encouraged me to hang in there. We eventually concluded that Noelle has had so many experiences with females leaving her in her young life, that she has been holding back from me a little to see if I will leave too. This idea made a lot of sense, and I have been clinging to it while waiting, hoping and praying for a breakthrough.
For 2 weeks now, Noelle has been trying to cut 4 jaw teeth. She has been a major crank - very whiny, fussing, clingy - the whole bit. It has been a special challenge for me, especially since Eric has had to work some longer hours and I haven't gotten much of a break. One of our helpful adoption resources explains that internationally adopted children struggle more than most kids when it comes to something like illness or feeling poorly. These kids tend to regress to much younger behaviors and can act a bit irrationally. No kidding! It's taken lots of prayers and all my strength to get through these days. But surprisingly, in the midst of the pain, crying, frustrations (on both sides), we have bonded. When I have felt bad for snapping at Noelle, she has responded by wanting to be with me even more. When I thought I couldn't lug around my whining fussing child a moment longer, she rewarded me with a hug, a sloppy kiss, and a huge grin. Her discomfort with the teething pain and my discouragement at the difficulties of new motherhood have succeeded in drawing us closer than anything else up to this point.
Just yesterday we were at the kitchen table munching together on an orange at snack time. We were each lost in our own thoughts when Noelle said suddenly, and with incredible conviction, "Baba!" as she pointed to my heart. I was a little in shock. I smiled and thanked her and waited to see what would follow. After a few more quite moments, Noelle repeated the same gesture, as if trying to convince me of something. Wow! I smiled and thanked her again feeling quite amazed. At this point, Noelle began chattering away happily, and we proceeded slurping away on our juicy oranges. Then a third time, Noelle referred to me as "Baba" and my heart sang!
I whispered up a prayer to Jesus, thanking Him for this breakthrough and this precious gift of a daughter. All it took was four teeth and some very sore gums to bring a mommy and daughter together. And inside I shouted, "I have a name! I have a name! It may not be 'Mommy', but I have a name!"