Another Child to be Proud Of
“Sure,” I said to my son. He wanted to bring home a “sister” for six months from the German household in which he had lived for a year. Being the mother of boys, I geared up for the inevitable challenge that a teenage girl, a German teenage girl at that, would bring to our home. And in August of 2007 life with Lena began. Our lives would never be the same.
I expected mood swings, normal for a hormonal teenager. Lena demonstrated few if any. Lovely on the inside and out, Lena was needless to say, not a challenge. On the contrary she easily made everything in our world brighter and richer.
Her sense of humor and wit complemented and enriched us continually. Moreover, her positive nature encouraged us to fulfill each other, as she fulfilled us. We grew to be more patient, kind and understanding with each other, because she exuded those qualities toward each of us. Her exceptional attitude along with her willingness and enthusiasm to immerse herself into our family life bonded her effortlessly and completely to us.
But Lena brought blessings not only to our family. At the high school she attends she has achieved the status of Valedictorian of her senior class. She also volunteered to work in two church nurseries without any prior knowledge of what that might entail. She eased into this new adventure with the confidence and compassion that has become her pattern for every new experience here. Any friend of mine, or of my sons, instantly responds and attaches to her. Simply put, everyone loves her. Her surprise birthday party in February that boasted about 40 people is yet another indication of how she is loved by a variety of people, regardless of age, race or sex.
I suppose I am bragging like a mother. That is because she long since ceased to be a “foreign exchange student.” It naturally rolls off my tongue to affectionately refer to her as my daughter everywhere we go. How can I help it? Her brothers love her like a sister – they tease her and love her as naturally as if they have known her all her life.
She has not only remained close to my older son who knew her first, but she has won the heart of my younger son, a young man far more reserved, shy, and cautious to get to know people. It is as if they grew up together. His demeanor has become gentler, more sensitive and more outgoing because of her. My older son, who had difficulty transitioning back into America, says over and over that, “Lena saved [his] life.” And I believe she did, by her humor, easy nature and giving spirit.
Yes, I am bragging like a mother. I'm in awe of the blessings Lena has brought into to my life. She allowed me to savor mother-daughter activities like prom dress shopping, pedicures, and heart to heart talks. I was allowed to adopt her for a time; while I did not have the honor of raising her, I had the honor of loving her. She will forever be a member of our family.