Being home again

It’s Audrey’s 7th birthday today, the end of March, and there’s snow swirling outside my window. Apparently tropical baby skin immediately develops eczema upon arrival in this arid climate. Oh, and also he’ll pick up the latest virus circulating. But he’s also surrounded by more love every minute than ever before. My two older kids have more love and patience and delight in the new baby than even I thought they would, and a family of five feels loud, crazy, and somehow very right.

All of this, together, welcomes Benjamin home. And me.

While I was in Uganda, I did long for home — mostly my two kids at home, but also my own space, the ability to spread out, my favorite foods and my “real” life. But I knew I would miss Africa.

As I was falling in love with my son in Uganda, I also fell in love with his culture and people. There’s a saying that Americans have all the watches, but Africans have all the time. While it was an adjustment to get used to getting one thing done in a day (or rarely, three!) instead of 10, I found that the pace of life there invites all kinds of beauty. They really honor one another. There is always time for a conversation or an impromptu dinner with new friends. They make room — and take time — for the people that cross their path. Back at home, I have my own space, but I’m also in it alone. And I feel ruled once again by the calendar and schedule. It’s so ingrained in the culture, but how do I translate African time to a Minnesota spring (winter)?

A baby helps, actually. A baby’s demands are right-now, whereas teaching patience and other-centeredness in older kids involves asking them to wait. But a baby needs his bottle right now. He needs his diaper changed, now. He needs to be picked up and snuggled, now, so he learns once again, over and over, that we are permanent fixtures in his until-now-ever-changing life. No matter if I’m in the middle of dinner-making or routines, his demands are primary and they affect the whole family.

So Benjamin, along with his birth culture, invites me to slow down once again. And I do. If I want a home environment that promotes love and patience and kindness, I need to build in margin. Wide margins of time, of patience, of flexibility.

And oh, it is sweet to be home. There is a baby filling the once-waiting crib and there is a lightness in my spirit. As I first squeezed my kids and kissed my husband, I exhaled a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. We made it. We went to Africa and it became a part of us — and tangibly, a part of our family in Benjamin. We carried our new son home, and now. Now, the real adventure begins.

First image credit Stacey Montgomery, who blogs and posts other beautiful photos on her blog.

For more photos of our airport homecoming as it happened, go to Stacey’s post here.

And more photos, posted today!

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9 comments on “Being home again

  1. Anne says:

    >Beautiful! Just beautiful!!!

  2. Kim says:

    >This made me cry – with quiet joy. Thank you…because there is a lesson in there for me too. Blessings to you, VanBrunts 5!

  3. Dave and Joy says:

    >Been thinking of you, and praying for you all, throughout each day. What a sweet season God has you in (despite the weather!).

  4. Chasity says:

    >Oh I love this. Can hardly wait to feel the difference for myself. Sounds an awful lot like what I am learning in One Thousand Gifts regarding slowing down time.

  5. Marci says:

    >YOu made me cry… lovely. I am going in 2 weeks to just visit my boys… I am scared. But your post gave me peace. Thanks!

  6. Taryn says:

    >So happy you are home with your beautiful baby boy 🙂 Have enjoyed all your pictures 🙂

  7. becoming 7 says:

    >so glad you are home and that your family is together:)

  8. Stacey says:

    >Love this, Kim.

  9. Jules says:

    >Beauty, sheer beauty.