In early October I had to do something I never thought I'd be able to do. Give up the adorable room I'd made for my daughter Birdie. I know it sounds silly, it's a room and it was only going to be for 8 months. But I had poured blood, sweat and tears (during my bed rest with Birdie I cried many tears in this room!) so I had really grown attached to the space and the decor... and the dolls. I loved everything about it and being the neat freak I am- I loved that both children had their own space that I could meticulously organize. Two times a day. What? Anyway, bottom line- I love COMFORT! Who doesn't? Now, Birdie- she really couldn't have cared less about leaving the room. She preferred her brother's room actually. I mean, she was 15 months when she got kicked out and Mo moved in... and so the story begins....
We didn't sign up to do this- to be host parents. I guess you could say God kind of signed us up. Mo's exchange student company contacted us the Summer before a group of students from multiple countries came to our small town and asked if we'd consider hosting a student for the year. WE SAID NO. I mean, our house is less than 1,200 square feet... and we're living on a youth pastor's salary and a wannabe party planners dreams... it was an obvious decision for us. A month later we heard through facebook about 2 exchange student boys who were pulled from a home that was not a good fit for them. Who could deny 2 boys with broken English who just wanted to stay in America?!
We took them in as their "emergency home" and committed to a week until a right fit was found. As in 7 days. Soooooo...5 months later Mo is now living here as our child, as in we are in total control of this teenager. It's very weird as a 32 year old woman, playing "mom" to a 17 year old boy. Some days are funny when Shawn and I plot to prank him, scare him, teach him our views on American culture, explain to him that "Mo Fo" and "Mo Jo" are not ok nicknames. Other days I just want to scream- "I want that room back! I miss my Lalaloopsies! (I mean, Birdie's Lalaloopsies).
Today was one of those days. I walked past that room, with it's open door calling me in and I saw those curtains I made hanging so sweetly, and my inner brat just wanted it all to be Birdie's again. And not because of anything he did. He is so sweet and respectful and will do anything I ask. Even pull out an A on a history test by studying for a week straight when we tell him he will get a tutor if he doesn't bring his grades up. Even when my inner brattiness rages, I know this is the right thing for our family, it's stretching us and opening our eyes to how else we might open our home. Comfort should never replace what is the right thing to do and I hope I am always willing to sacrifice ruffled curtains (and much more) in order to show someone love.
Cormac, my 4 year old- really had a hard time giving up his alpha dominant "oldest child" role and for 3 months I questioned if this was a good decision for him. He had days where he'd cry, "I don't want him here anymore!!" but after some time he began referring to Mo (Jiang Fang Mo) as his "Chinese brother" and when I finally heard it- I wanted to cry. Like seriously. Cormac now greets everyone with, "ni hao ma?" and has nightly sword fights with Mo. It's really special. Cormac, at 3- had to learn to sacrifice half of his room to his baby sister who destroys lego towers and cries at 5 a.m. It's a lesson I don't think he'd have been taught so soon if it weren't for Mo coming to live with us. And he's so close with Birdie now he talks about keeping her in his room forever (trust me son, it's gonna get awkward).
Mo leaves in mid June and I wonder what kind of affect it's going to have on the kids, I mean- China is a looong ways away. We're going to miss him like crazy but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. There are also 2 things to look forward to as we approach June... the fact that we're going to throw him one heck of a going away party- I mean what exchange student has a party potentially featured on HWTM? And #2... that me and those curtains will be reunited.... I know you're dying to see them... so enjoy...
xo Party or Die xo