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Delightfully Messy Joy

Lessons from Mamahood

When my neighborhood magazine, Solterra Living, asked me to share my story of becoming a mama, I was so honored. But, wow, little did I know that it would take me six weeks to complete it.

Writing about waiting, God, adoption, Korea, parenting, and my first Mother’s Day in 1,000 words max was no easy feat. Every time I sat down, I’d start off talking about our two-week government quarantine, and that experience alone would take me to the length limit.

And even when I would know how to whittle things down, Little Man would be waking up, driving his tiny tractor across my forehead, asking for another snack, or literally getting ready to somersault into my lap. But with a little bit of patience and a LOT of attempts at hiding in the bathroom (Keyword: attempts), I eventually figured out how to tie it all up.

And now, I feel inspired to share it with you, because the lessons I’ve learned can apply to any season in life. They’re also things I need continuous reminders of, and perhaps you need them, too.

So, without further ado, I’m honored to share this piece with you.

Hi, neighbor! Brit here. Perhaps you recognize me from the wellness articles I’ve written in here or maybe you’re thinking, Hey! That’s the gal who’s always running around the tennis court with her kiddo. (Why play tennis when you can be an airplane or run from a tiny monster?) Or maybe you chimed in on my mom-dating-is-so-awkward post in the Solterra Facebook Group. Whatever the case, I’m honored to share my family’s story with you.

My husband and I were born and raised in Lakewood, had mutual friends, went to CU-Boulder, and later worked in the same building, but never met until a blind date in 2010. David built his career at Deloitte before becoming Director of Finance at an international food processing company, and I’ve worked in everything from journalism and marketing to life coaching and golf course management. David’s the dedicated numbers guy who is hilarious, loves a good “rom com,” and could eat Front Room Pizza every night. I’m the multi-passionate butterfly who loves deep talks, kitchen dancing, and Nitro Cold Brew.

After six years of marriage, seeing 22 countries, and living in Germany for two years, we moved into a townhome in 2018 with continued hopes of starting a family. That year was extremely challenging, but it led us to something we had always planned for: international adoption.

On October 22, 2018, we started the paperwork, and two years later, we brought home JeeWoo Moon Stueven from South Korea. It still shocks me to see those words in writing. It felt like that day would never come.

Parenting is delightfully messy. It’s wonderfully challenging. It’s the most paradoxical thing I’ve ever experienced. But deep in the tension of those dualities is where we grow. While stacking Legos, folding laundry, and crinkling ALL the dried leaves and flowers along Solterra’s sidewalks, I’ve been reflecting on my journey. Here a few of the million things I’ve learned:

The longer you wait, the better the taste.

There’s a reason why slow-cooked ribs make the world stop and why scotch tastings are at the end of a long tour. There are countless reasons why it took 24 months of waiting and 52 nights in Korea to bring our boy home. Every hiccup was a divine delay that strengthened our faith, deepened our gratitude, gifted us time to experience Korea, and connected us with lifelong friends.

Stop expecting the worst.

I thought two typhoons would cancel our flight or toss us the “several hours of turbulence” that the pilot braced us for. But we landed smoothly. I thought our 14-day, can’t-leave-your-room quarantine would be insanely hard. But it turned out to be one of the most comical and memorable experiences we’ve ever had. (Keyword: memorable. #neveragain)

I thought the flight home would be a nightmare, but JeeWoo was a champ. Then, we thought he wouldn’t eat, sleep, or smile for the first month. But he debunked everything…tenfold. He adjusted better to this new life than David and I did!

When the worst *does* happen, trust that something better is at work.

Just as seeds can’t sprout until they’re covered in heavy soil, I believe that the hardest seasons are what grow us the most. If it weren’t for my infertility and the dark places it brought me to, I wouldn’t know God in the ways I do and we wouldn’t have been led to JeeWoo. If it weren’t for the confusion and isolation that came with transitioning into motherhood, I wouldn’t know myself like I do now.

If you feel invisible, you’re far from it.

For someone who unknowingly thrived on being acknowledged and thanked, becoming a mom was a wake-up call. But I’ve since discovered that 1) I’m not alone in this feeling, 2) God always sees me, and 3) some of the most vital things in this world — oxygen, electricity, plumbing — often go unseen. Being the electricity of the family is a magnificent force to be reckoned with. Its ripples are more powerful than we think. Like Mother Theresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

If you don’t wake up earlier/journal/work out/shower, all is not lost.

I’m a huge fan of a strong morning routine, but what happens when you stay up late catching up with the hubs and indulging in Netflix? You delete social media from your phone and suddenly you have peace, ease, and tiiime. You double your water intake. You put lipstick on — even with sweatpants on. You blast Queen and teach your three-foot shadow how to play air guitar. You make roses out of Play-Doh, journal during show-time, and seize. the. day.

Blink, and this season will be over.

I often fantasize about writing for hours in a quiet home, saying yes to work opportunities, and, well, going to the bathroom alone. But I’ll miss so much from this fleeting season: the long hugs I sneak when JeeWoo’s watching Pororo, his little hand reaching for mine, him saying, “Silly poop!” as he pins me down for post-diaper-change kisses, and, and, and. I sometimes cringe at him needing me for almost ev-er-y-thing, but I will ironically miss that the most…very soon.

So as Mother’s Day approaches, a day that has historically been heavy with waiting and wondering for me, I’m faced with more dueling feelings. I’m beyond grateful that my boy is home and thriving, but I have that same wondering in my heart as I think about his birth mom and foster mom and honor every single woman enduring waiting or loss.

But in each of those stories, I trust that something big is being written. And in all of the struggles, I hope that something even greater is found: delightfully messy, wonderfully challenging JOY.