Our anniversary was simply acknowledged with a family hug, the four of us embracing – as we have on so many occasions throughout those three years – in a circle with our arms wrapped around each other and squeezing as tight as we can until somebody complains that it’s too tight or that they can’t breath and then (and only then) we loosen our embrace.
It’s a bit of a family ritual that came about from those early days when we were thinking of anything that we could do that incorporated the word family, anything that would help us bond together and get the boys feeling that they belonged and that we were indeed a family.
It’s a simple – but actually quite intimate ritual and on this occasion it certainly belied the true magnitude of what we were celebrating. We had been a family for three years which meant that both our boys had spent longer with us than with their birth parents or their foster parents .
Three years and we could finally reason with ourselves that they unquestionably saw us as their parents and their only parents, no more sharing with ghosts of the past, no more fearing that although they clearly loved us that they in fact loved other people who have parented them more.
We know that they were probably foolish fears, but we carried them with us regardless and it felt good to finally let them go.
It has been an amazing three years, not easy by any stretch of the imagination (but nobody said it was going to be) and in spite of the tough times what we remember most are three years full of hugs and kisses and of laughter and of love and of learning.
For the boys: learning about us, about who we are, about our rules, and about our expectations.
For us: learning about who they are, what their – very different – needs are and well… just learning how to be parents.
Part of that learning was just how much a hug can mean – especially a family hug.