Goodnight. I love you.

I’m almost gushing the words “Good night. I love you!” these days to my children. It’s as if I’ve been reenergized. I’m louder and more self-assured. I was muted and less exuberant before, I think.  Of course, I loved my children. But was it really necessary to say the words all the time, every day, I wondered?  I certainly didn’t want to force them to parrot me.

Some of my reticence was, no doubt, a product of adoptive parent “entitlement issues.” We open adoption advocates, we lovers of birth parents, in our darker moments, question whether or not we are “entitled” to be our children’s parents. Sure, we were “chosen” to parent. But do we really deserve this privilege when another mother/father so lovingly birthed our child and continues to love him/her? Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, I think I hesitated to overstate the obvious “I love you” to give my children room to choose to love me too. It wasn’t/isn’t a given. After all, they have these other parents – their first parents.

All my children, ages nine to nineteen, are living in our home again. There is more to do again – more food to buy and prepare for consumption, more laundry to be done, more shoes to trip over and dirty socks to pick up, more people to remind of their chores, more clothes and equipment to buy and keep up with, more appointments and activities to schedule, more transportation needs, more disagreements to mediate, more potential for accidents or bad decisions to avoid or cleanup, …

Part of me thinks my recent enthusiastic pronouncements of love for my children are selfish. There is no denying John and I felt tremendous sadness about sending Skye to Texas. Were we doing the right thing? We missed her so much. But all evidence points to the conclusion that we did what needed to be done to help her turn herself around. She is home now, but that doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing from here on out. … And then there was Emily, off to college. She started college last year full of hope, but became increasingly unhappy as the year wore on. Now, she is back at home too, going to the community college. There is no guarantee of smooth sailing for this child either.

All the Falco children are home again, and I feel like a mother hen, happily flapping my wings to gather her chicks back into the nest at night for safekeeping. I won’t always have my chicks in the nest. But, after the year we just survived, I’m appreciating how precious this time is. They will each eventually go out – some bouncing back, others taking flight and, possibly, never returning. They will build their own nests and hatch their own chicks, and I may or may not play a significant role in their nest building. For now, I can make the rounds – traveling from one bedroom to the next – announcing proudly: “Goodnight. I love you!” But the miracle is hearing the words that follow: “Goodnight. I love you too, Mom.”

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