Part Two: Parental Bliss

Hmm, where was I? Smelly brown stuff and in case I hadn't mentioned it, our Zhenya had kept us up for most of the night (NAH, more like most of a couple of nights in a row) with incessant requests to go to the potty (yes, we use this word - thought I never would, but there you have it! Motherhood does it to you!) and just your basic I'm up so why shouldn't the rest of the world!

But we were faithful! We even complied, we literally rose to the occasion! But alas, it continued with even more determination, and believe it, three year olds have a lot of DETERMINATION! Night after night, after night.....(get the picture!) So on this eventful morn, I tried what the book said! In my meager Russian I told her to stay in bed and quiet or Mama would have to close the door (this was my last ditch effort after multiple reassurances and wakings and etc...). I read the book, honestly, and did exactly what it said. But, alas, my daughter didn't appreciate the isolation technique.

Now, if you have a tendency to hyperventilate when the word "discipline" is used, don't panic! Just think of it as "setting boundaries", "child redirection" or some other more palatable phrase. But we urge you to keep reading, as that one simple word has been a LIFESAVER to our weary parental bones. And I say "God Bless It!"

So, here we are weary, inexperienced, insecure and now quite perplexed at the sight of the room I had sooooo meticulously decorated for my long awaited daughter. While this scenario is playing itself out, picture my 15 month old son following me around the house like a newly grown tail. Except this tail has A LOT of lung power and makes his requests in octaves I had never known to be possible. He would make a great choir boy with those kind of musical qualities. But at the moment Mama is unable to invest in the furtherance of his potential musical career, she must attend his aromatic sister who is smelling less and less like roses with every milisecond that passes!

Now, some of you may be thinking: WELL, YOU ASKED FOR IT! This is true! I said those exact same words to myself and to the Lord, who I was now entreating with open Bible and claiming as it were James 1 where He said He promised wisdom to those who ask for it! And I WAS ASKING!

Now, I was feeling less than benevolent toward my daughter, and I was feeling guilty, wrung out and hung out to dry! I was tired, I was frustrated and what's more! I was INCOMPETANT! (how's that for the major pity award!) I would almost be afraid to say it, but I'll be bold and truthful. I even wondered why in the world I agonized so much during my waiting time! HUH! And to think of what was to come! Was I nuts or what! But this is precisely where I can also place the blame on the many of you who prayed for us during our hardship. No slacking off on that responsibility! You also put us in this predicament so now you have to put up with our parental woes! HA!

Depleted and downcast, my 15 month old wailing for my attention and my daughter upstairs banging furiously on the door, held hostage in her beautifully decorated detention camp (I was smart enough not to give her freedom to roam, until I got my game-plan together - HA! I knew that high school diploma was useful for something!). I say to the Lord: "Surely today you have a word for this child." And I did the unspeakable. I just opened my Bible and did the "Whatever I See is the Word for Me!" trick. But God has mercy on whomever He wishes and He hadn't forgotten me or my urgent prayers for wisdom. Wracked with guilt about "to discipline or not to discipline" that is the question! I peeked at what my eyes fell upon and YES to most theologian's dismay God gave me a scripture I could cling to! HALLELUYAH!

Think of my three year old and the benefits of discipline in these mundane matters:

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the GLORY that will be revealed in Zhenya (Mama's version)....For creation was subjected to frustration not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it (God and Mama), in HOPE that the creation (in this case Zhenya) will be liberated and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8: 18-21

At this point, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and renewed vision for my little Siberian Treasure who is sometimes WAY too cute to even think of disciplining! I had to rethink in the long term and not in just what made me feel good. Love involves discipline and kindness all in the same moment. A parent can be angry and yet self-controlled!

I sat down and with my children's construction paper and markers I wrote down our ten commandments for parenting! It is now up on our refrigerator along with this Bible verse.

That was our first week! And believe it! our Siberian Queen blessed us with two more episodes of what one friend called our "baptism by fire", though we all know now what kind of baptism it really was! She is now really familiar with the word YUCKY which we expressed over and over as we plopped her in the tub and handed her every single item to hand wash herself! (as much as is possible for a three year old).

We started to read those nifty parenting books and were surprised to find that they were filled with stories similar to ours. We started to apply our 10 parenting style commandments and VOILA! We started to see her blossom even more rather than withering!

She was more confident and more willing to even love her brother. Why, she spontaneously kissed him the other day and wasn't even looking for an audience! You better believe I threw I party for that one and she kissed and hugged him three more times that day. I started giving her stickers for these, but I find she is more motivated by my approval and shouts of joy than the stickers.

We try to stay on schedule and I find our children appreciate that and know what to expect. Every night when Papa comes home, it's all fanfare and celebration! He makes a point of spending the evening with them and there is usually a big tickle session with lots of giggling and laughter. But we found out that you shouldn't do it just before bedtime or they just get so strung out they can't go to sleep. Then we can only blame ourselves!

The most memorable moments for me are when I get up in the morning (or rather I'm woken up in the morning - 6:00ish) by my three year old. We have a special time just with each other. We go downstairs and she waits on the sofa for me to bring her sippy cup of milk. I make myself coffee and Mama reads her Bible. Zhenya gets a big kick out of it and we purchased a two year old Bible for her and she reads hers (well, right now it could be upside down, but she puts in a good faith effort) while I read mine. When I'm finished I read her a couple of stories and then we pray (short, but sweet!). We then go back upstairs with Winston at our heels to wake up Aleksander at about 7:00 or so. Winston is destined to be this child's dog! He literally howls at his door with excitement! We open the door and in unison say "Good Morning Aleksander!" (sappy but true) He immediately pops up and I take him out. Zhenya then gives him a kiss and a hug and Winston puts in his share!

Kids are great! Parenting is harder than we thought, but God is greater than our weaknesses and we are quickly learning some of the ropes necessary for building lasting foundations.

I love being a Mama! And Erik is a very LOVED Papa! All day long Zhenya asks: Where's Papa? Where's Papa? Aleks would ask, but right now, he's a little fixated on the Mama figure in his life! Hey, whose complainin'! NOT ME!

Thanks for listening!

Erik, Gina, Zhenya (Siberian Queen), Aleksander (Siberian King), and Winston (our beloved Wonder Hound) :o)