She is all the sass and light I love. She told me she thought I was stupid woman within the first five minutes. She asked me about my love life before we left the airport. She had opinions about skirts and American food and my new car (Foo. This is minivan. Big. Maybe it is bus?).
And she hugged me so tight and gathered Little Man in without letting me go. And she was wearing the ring he sent her. And she danced a happy dance in our living room when she saw our welcome home sign. And she said goodnight but had one more thing to say and one more thing until I was sitting on the floor of her room and she was telling me of her friends and her life and her thoughts on the world.
And she told me she loved me too and she was so glad to be here. And then she made fun of me because when she tried to teach me how to say “glad” in Russian, I couldn’t roll my R. Tsk. Americans.
It is hard to describe the emotions that come with this new portion of our life together. Many people have asked if I was excited to see her again. Absolutely. But it isn’t the same as before. Not better or worse…just nuanced differently.
The excitement that comes when hosting for the first time is like preparing to have a baby. You can’t wait, but there is fear, and nervousness, and so many what-ifs. It is flutter and bounce and wiggling with impatience. It is love expectant.
The excitement that comes when re-hosting is like awaiting the arrival of a beloved relation after a long separation. You know the character of the person coming, and there is confidence and comfort in the return. It is joy that fills the core and eager anticipation to see that dear one again. It is love knotted deep in the gut.
And I find that we are already ourselves. Jet lag grumpiness is not hidden. Inside jokes are quickly reignited— and it makes my heart flip when I hear them again. Complaints are aired, and smiles are genuine.
As the children slept in the back of the car on the way home, Stephanie and I whispered out our fears and our hopes together. These dreams and worries are no longer of the un-known, but of how best to love each of these known creatures, these dear ones, both biological and heart-born. We parsed strategies on how to plumb their depths, to soothe their secret hurts, to grow them in maturity, and to help them become more of who they already are.
It is a daunting task, loving these children who have been entrusted to me.
It thrills me to be able to do it with both of them under one roof again.
She is home, and we are dug in deep. She is home, and our world is colored up with her. She is home, and we are happy.