Actually, one year and 2 months.
I didn’t think a year meant that much, once we hit that year. I’m just not feeling the milestone, I said. This is still hard, it still doesn’t feel worthy of some sort of “this-is-how-we-were-meant-to-be” record. I suspect that maybe isn’t my style, anyway…that this is how we are will always be what’s important to me… But thatsnnot my point. We’ve hit our stride, I feel–as I said a few days ago, everything feels more established and more settled now than ever before. And I realized, yesterday at Rory’s annual physical, that “one year” is a big part of why.
“One year” isn’t really just some arbitrary anniversary. It’s how we, culturally, seasonally, naturally, divvy up our own lives. Every year the snow will fall, every year the days will get longer, every year the raspberries will ripen and the apples will fill the trees and the pumpkins will be ready to pick. School will start, doctor’s visits will happen, birthdays, annual festivals…we structure a million and one things around an annual calendar, and for Rory and the rest of us together, all of those things will now have happened before. Wemhave entered the great and wonderful stage where nearly everything is “just like last time.”
I don’t think you can underestimate the value of that for someone who, once, when things took a turn for the seriously different from everything that had ever before happened, found herself with a new life, family, hiiom, language and nearly every thing you can think of. Rory is a lesson who naturally leaps into new adventures, and for her to have been so overwhelmed by one really took a toll on her personality. Now, new adventures are easier to welcome because they come in the context of things that have happened before. New people may come visit, but then they will leave, and next weekend we will go to the same party we went to for Labor Day last year. There may be a new teacher, but the classroom and most of the kids and the routine will be the same. She can wear new shoes with an old pair of shorts.
That seems to make everything much better, and suddenly, really truly suddenly, everything isn’t just striding, it’s going rather smoothly. You fight less with your siblings when you have that year base to fall back on. You’re more able to come up with simpler ways to deal with moments when you can see that you will not possibly get your way. Sure, your friend has to leave, but instead of crying or getting yourself into a temper tantrum worth of trouble over it, maybe you could just insist on holding the dog so she doesn’t chase your friend’s car.
From my point of view, we’ve left the realm of “what will she do next.” At last year’s physical, our pediatrician tactfully told me a story about an adoptive parent she knew who felt like she was too hard on her child. “she really had to be, sometimes,” the doctor said, “because if a child she’d known all its life gave another child a push inbfrustration, she knew how far the kid would go next, but with the newer child, she just didn’t know, so she had to be much more responsive and careful abo ut everything.”
That turned out to be very true, and very comforting. But now, for the most part, I do know. Which in many cases doesn’t mean I can be less vigilant, but in many cases it does. I do know Rory, now. I know where she’s going and what she’s likely to do next and whether I need to head her off at the pass. It’s a good, and much easier, feeling.
Without wishing our lives away, I can see the next milestone–the moment when she’s lived longer with us than anywhere else–coming, and again, I can see why it’s not just some arbitrary marker, but a moment with real and deep resonance. These anniversaries mean something more that cakes and candles. They speak to something deeper inside us, the movement of time and seasons that binds us together.
So, in short, one year: now I get it.