Okay. So. What’s my name again? Mami, I think that’s it. The A is soft, not quite a short O sound, but not a short A sound either. This is what my daughter calls me most often. Jarod answers to Ababi, same sound for the A as in Mami, and we’ve had quite a time remembering to make the switch from Daddy to what Zinashi has dubbed him. But we love that she called him that on her own, and we very much want to keep it. We very much want to keep a lot of things that might change, or that will likely change. The way she prounces ciao, babbling in something between Sidamigna and Amharic, falling asleep against our chests as we rock her to sleep at nap time, walking with that funny little butt wiggle she has. Every day I look at her face and think, “Oh, if only we could capture that for longer than we’ll have it.” She will change soon, and too quickly for my taste, though I do look forward to seeing the person she will become at each stage of her life.
We are slowly figuring out life at home. By trial and error we discover most things, though some things come quite naturally. I know now that if I do not shower in the morning before she wakes, it will take at least two hours to get out of my pajama pants and ragged hoodie. I know that she prefers to be swaddled and rocked at nap time, but will fall asleep between us in bed at night with no rocking. I know that she will only play with a cup of tea, not drink it, even if she asks for it, but will drink hot chocolate to the dregs every morning if I set it in front of her. I know that she does beautifully, at least outwardly, even when the schedule gets too full, but there are small tip-offs that she is stressed. She needs to be held more, she doesn’t want to sit on her own at the table, she’s just plain cranky. I have my own tip-offs, mostly being that I feel very tired and start to cry at the end of the day if we’ve done too much. It is hard to say no to people who love Zinashi and want to do nice things for her, but it’s a skill I need to develop quickly. And the truth is that if I’m too drained to do something, it’s not good for Zinashi either, because then we’re both tired and overwhelmed, and one of us needs to be the grown-up here. Zinashi is only three years old, so that leaves me to do the job if Jarod is not around, or even if he is. There’s nothing wrong with having two grown-ups in this house. So we live and learn and prepare ourselves to speak up when it’s necessary. We also learn to take breaks even when there are still a kajillion things to do, like organizing the luggage we’ve unpacked or figuring out where to put the extra things that go with having an extra person in the house or how to pay for an unexpected car repair*.
But so far, we’re doing all right. Zinashi is thriving in our own space, and so many things have settled down that were a challenge, most notably sleep issues. She also just generally seems more secure, though we still have a long way to go. But overall, life is just better. We are so grateful for the time we spent in Ethiopia, and I wouldn’t have wanted any less time there, but we are also enjoying the (relative**) peace of home life. In particular, I love our mornings, when it’s just the three of us in the house, and breakfast is on the table and we’re just being a family. It feels good. It feels really, really good.
*Welcome home! Your car is $2600 worth of BROKEN!
**So many people want to meet Zinashi, and we are having meals delivered every three days besides (thank you, kind meal bringers!), that a day has not gone by that we haven’t seen at least one friend or family member, usually more, sometimes for an extended period of time. So while we won’t begrudge people the chance to meet our girl, I also will be forthright and say that it is more stressful than I’d like, and that I am working on finding a better balance.