Orphanage day. Need I say more?
I almost didn't go today. Almost. A yucky tummy bug has been going around our circle of friends, and I'm pretty sure I caught it this week. Oddly enough, I didn't throw up like everyone else. My stomach just hurt like crazy- like a little gnome man was living inside my belly ripping it to shreds with his garden shovel (yes, that's how it felt.) Not to mention extreme exhaustion with a side order of inability to focus. I set my alarm last night and said to SuperDan, "I don't think I can go tomorrow. This is horrible." I bolted awake this morning at the sound the alarm and said to myself, "There's no way I can stay away from my precious angels. It's just a stomach ache. I can handle it."
Yes my stomach hurt all day anyway. But yet, so did my heart. Even more so in fact.
There were different workers in charge of the baby room today, so I thought maybe I could try holding the babies a bit more without them urging me to put them down. I talked with the workers for a bit, asking them questions about their lives and answering their questions about mine. I always enjoy getting to know each worker, letting them know I acknowledge their existence and value them in general!
#1. They are always shocked that I am a mother. They think I'm a teenager.
#2. They are always shocked that I have a 2 year old at home and take time to come to the orphanage.
#3. They are shocked beyond belief when I tell them my husband watches my daughter while I help with babies there. Husbands don't do that kind of stuff here. (I probably should have also mentioned to them that SuperDan cooked three times this week and did all the dishes as well, mostly due to my 2 "just for fun" coffee dates with friends and several other ministry appointments. Well, I don't want to make anyone jealous or anything...)
So after I established a warmness between the workers and myself, I dove right in to baby lovin'. I helped break up some "he took it from me!" fights, picked up some "oops I fell down and can't get back up" bloopers, and organized the toys across the room so that there was an even distribution amongst the little munchkins (more space, less fights). One of my friends who helps volunteer took some of the walking toddlers outside to play in the fresh air. So I nominated myself "mother bear" of the troops while she was gone, took a peek at the "on break" workers sipping their tea and chatting, then grabbed my one and only chance. I plopped Baby K on one leg and another sweet baby boy on my other leg, and I cuddled my life away. I seriously did not remove them from my embrace for what seemed like an hour. At first they were happily playing with blocks and books in my lap together and considering stealing each others' toys, but after a while they slowly entered in a relaxed state. They both reclined in my arms and hardly moved a muscle. When I turned a bit to grab another toy or help another child who bonked their head, they would both immediately start wailing. So I would hold them tightly in my embrace and assure them that I wasn't putting them down. I kissed their sweet little cheeks and started singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Are You Sleeping Brother John. It was then that I realized they were soaking in their "cuddle time" knowing it was a rare occurrence. The workers don't have time to cuddle the children- the have to feed, wash, change, console, and clean up after 15 babies day after day. Even if they did have the time, it's still not going to happen, sadly.
As I entered my epiphany, I started pondering it even farther. "These sweet angels didn't even know that this is what they needed, until they got it." You know that feeling? You don't even realize how hungry or thirsty you really are until you start guzzling it down? These children are craving touch. They need it so desperately. So desperately in fact, that they started bawling the minute I even flinched a muscle. So what did I do? I cuddled, and I cuddled some more. I tried to read them books and teach them their colors in their language. But they weren't interested. Their eyes became glazed over with peacefulness and they rested their little heads on my chest and just soaked it all in. And me? Ha- I was in heaven.
The day finished as usual, preparing the food, getting the children situated for lunch, putting their bibs on, consoling the ones still waiting for their turn while watching the others eat, cleaning up the mess, picking up the toys, taking off their outer layers of clothing and getting them ready for nap time.
But today was special. I wasn't told to put my little babies down. So. I. never. stopped.
And somehow, in my mind, I'm still holding them. Or rather, I know Father is. Oh how he loves them.
The minute I came home I hugged my feisty two year old, snuggled with her, and held her until she fell asleep. Funny how the more I hold babies, the more I want to hold them, again and again and again. Honestly my daughter is my built-in therapy when I come home from the orphanage. I am all disheveled and teary-eyed when I enter our doorstep, but the minute I hold her and look into her big blue eyes I feel a warmness rushing back through my frigid blood. I can't really explain it. It's difficult to put into words. All I know is that the only thing I can do to calm myself down after the baby house is to embrace my own daughter. I wish all those babies had a mamma to call their own. Oh how I wish.