I have been wrestling with a lot of things, thoughts, ideas and emotions during this whole hosting thing. I definitely had some expectations and preconceived notions about how this whole experience was supposed to play out. As much as I tried to convince myself that I had those expectations in check, the fact is they were there.
What were they, you ask? Here’s a big one – I hoped that D and I would have this special bonding experience. You know the kind – the kind of father/daughter experience. I don’t think I have that with her – at least not yet. It has not developed as I had pictured it. I kind of let myself get in the way to a certain extent. By that I mean I didn’t always let things develop at God’s pace and in God’s direction. Honestly, I was bummed that it didn’t happen as I had hoped it would. However, it never fails that if I settle for my dreams of things I inevitably short-change myself; God’s plans always surpass my own so I am learning to keep my mitts off the steering wheel.
What I got was a different sort of relationship; one that is complicated – very complicated – coupled with moments of simplicity. Things have happened at their own pace and in their own seemingly bumpy, twisted direction – sometimes it has been a series of fits and starts. D and I have had a rollercoaster of a relationship since she arrived on the scene. Some days have been full of walls coming down followed swiftly by walls going back up. It can be an exasperating journey this hosting business. Whew! It can try your patience and make you talk to yourself and question your sanity and laugh out loud and smile a lot and feel a connection on some level – all in the same day.
Don’t misunderstand me. We have shared some great moments together, moments where it felt like she had been a part of the family for many years. We’ve done cannonballs in the pool, water pistol fights and her tipping us off the pool floats. I loved the time she offered to make cold soup and went to the store with me to purchase the ingredients. Her and Eileen making potato pancakes and a “sweet and delicious” dessert and the two of them boogie boarding in the ocean. I notice that she is a planner and likes some order in her life (like me), she has to ease into things when she gets thrown a curve ball (like me), she cracks her knuckles and eats sunflower seeds (like me).
I read someone’s blog the other day and she was talking about her preconceived ideas about “family” and just where does everyone fit in. When I read that a bell went off. Perhaps that is what is underneath what I have been feeling. Lord knows I have a family that does not fit my idea of the type of family I thought I would have. Yet I would not trade it for anything. I adore Peter and Eileen. I LOVE that guy. I would do anything for them! On Father’s Day this year Eileen asked him “Who’s your Dad, Peter?” Peter looked at me and tapped me on the shoulder. I got all choked up over that.
So if anyone should be expecting the unexpected in this hosting experience it should be me. I feel that D will be a part of this family by the time she must go back to Latvia. Heck, she already is. She has a great big life ahead of her and I pray that she will be happy and loved. But right now she is here. Right now she is slowly easing her way into our family more and more.
I have mentioned before about her relationship with Peter. It is really something to watch this develop as siblings! She laughs at his silliness and share her french fries with him and he allows her to tease him. Peter does not tolerate teasing from most people. Their relationship has grown every day. The other night Peter accidentally stepped on D’s foot. She reacted as one would expect and took him to task over it. Peter felt so bad about her getting after him and/or hurting her that he did not even touch his ice cream for 10 minutes! Normally, that ice cream would have been inhaled in two minutes despite the brain freeze! Yet, later that evening she was horsing around in the living room with him burying him under pillows and tickling his feet. When she stopped tickling him he stuck his feet out as if to say “don’t stop”. Pete doesn’t do that – he runs when being tickled.
I have learned so much about so many things during this process – faith, love, understanding (to name a few). I have seen a stranger touch a young man’s heart and a young man start to break down some walls she built for protection. I see two “parents” using unconditional love and understanding to meet a young woman’s painful issues. Some days are better than others but we make progress. It is an unconventional family in the making. It’s so complicated when human frailty and fears are involved and yet it is so simple – keep meeting those fears and fragility with love, wait for those magic moments with D and stay out of God’s way.