Not regularly, not all the way through the night. But what a difference.
There is a sense that we have made it over a huge hump. Things have settled down so much, it is amazing. But it is so early, could it be? I'm sure we will have many instances of two steps forward and one step back. And yet the traveling and first night here was SO intense- it must have amplified all his fears and worries. Now he is learning our house, learning that these toys are here every day, learning that he can have food when he asks for it, learning that I will always be there for him. Maybe he really has begun to settle in.
He is already over the jet lag. Me, not so much. I know old people recover slower. I am no longer feverish, but I still have a sore & swollen throat. I know my body just shut down in reaction to the stress and also the relief of being home. I tend to be strong during the battle, and then collapse when it is over. I have been a jangle of nerves and emotions, almost like my skin is on inside out and I am so overly sensitive to everything. I'm not yet sleeping well, but the few nightmares I was having have stopped.
It is hard for me to reconcile my experience in Uganda with my reality in the US. I love being home, obviously for my family and friends. And I like having my things, I don't wish to give it all up and move back there. I feel wedded to that country though. My heart has changed - I have Uganda in my heart and in my family. I don't want to put blinders on and forget what and who I have seen. I have a sense of purpose, that I can be helpful from here. I hope this proves to be true.
I am still at odds with the ease of my life - with how much I have in excess. I could not get over my first shower- the strength of the water pouring over me, compared to the minuscule trickle that could barely get me wet, let alone rinse out shampoo. And I had a rather luxurious shower in Uganda, with a water heater and everything, mind you. I had to speak out loud: "This is Amazing". I came into the kitchen where there was a bowl of sliced fruit sitting, and I realized I was shocked not to see black flies on it. I got ready for bed feeling so CLEAN. There was no red dirt all over my shoes and feet, blown onto my clothes from the boda boda. There was no sand from the sandbox, no dried food from multiple grubby hands. The roads are smooth and wide and orderly, with cars stopping at red lights and stop signs. Even the less beautiful parts of town seem so well off.
Coming from a first world, a third world is so cheap. Everything is affordable to me. The income that the average person makes there is so unfathomable. That mere cents can make a difference. One single mother was telling me that her monthly rent is 100,000 UGX (Ugandan shillings). This is about $40. It is for a tiny single room, where she cooks outside and has no toilet. For Fort's goodbye party, the care mothers requested ice cream. I found a tub of ice cream for 30,000 UGX. $12. Expensive ice cream, even for me. But unfathomable to compare it to things they have to pay for. To compare to an American rent, if you paid $1000 a month, that would be a comparable ice cream of $300. No wonder it was a luxury.
If this is confusing to me after 6 weeks there, what is going on inside the brain of this little 3 1/2 year old? What does he think of being away from his friends, his aunties, his food, his toys? I can tell he is happy - he is more joyous than I have ever seen him. If you ask him if he wants to do something, he answers with a resounding "ye-EH-es!!". He has not shut down and turned inward since he has been here, something I was anticipating. He has not wet the bed every night, something he did in his first weeks at Kaja Nafasi. Nor has he stopped talking, which I know he also did for a time. He is testing his boundaries, testing his limits, testing ME. Which is good & healthy, albeit exhausting. He eats almost everything (including an entire slice of red onion, which was promptly spit out, with a look to me of how could you serve that?). He loves jobs and responsibilities. He fights them first, but is learning our routine and loving it. He repeats things to me like "time for eating, then to bathe, then for sleeping".
He absolutely adores his new siblings. They love him right back, in their own way. Madeleine loves him immediately & completely, like she has played out meeting him in her mind. Ben takes him in stride, wrestling with him to the on his very first day. They are very similar boys- affectionate, smart & sweet (and a tad crazy). He also said my favorite -"we waited 2 years, and now he's crying??". And Evie, perceptive to the end. She wanted to know why he didn't feel like a brother yet, just like we were babysitting him. I'm so glad she could articulate this very normal feeling.
There is a sense of home for him. Certainly of comfort. Going to bed, Fort counted the people of our family on his fingers. When we got to Fort, the pinky finger, he looked at me wide eyed. "This one is for Fort!!". Yes, I said, we are a family. "A family! A family for Fortune. Ye-EH-es!!".