Saturday, February 27, 2016

big kids

There comes a time in every mama's life when her children are no longer toddlers at her knees nor babes in her lap. They are moving, growing (sometimes smelly) kids. Getting-to-be-big-kids & then just big kids. You remember when you were the mom at the playground sucking in a breath every time a big kid played around your tiny tot. You would glance around, hoping & praying, that their parents were tracking on them so that a collision could be avoided. As they climbed up the slide & over the play equipment clearly too large & loud for what the playground was intended for. Now you realize you've become the parent with the "big kids" at the park. You are receiving the silent messages from mom's of littles that you once sent out. Bittersweet as it may be there is nothing to be done. Infants & toddlers grow into preschoolers who emerge into kids.

When you awake one day & find yourself here don't be alarmed. It happens. And I hear they get even bigger (and smellier.) As a mom of an eight-year-old boy I am still not sure what makes him tick. It seems like an ever-changing delicate balance of push & pull. He gives a little information & I try to get a little more without pulling too much. I learned recently of the boys & girls in his second grade class who have "girl friends" & "boy friends." I casually asked with my a pit in my stomach if he happened to have a "girl friend?" My relief was probably obvious at his quick dismissal of the idea. He's not ready for that he says. I then just as casually (read as just as crazily) let him know in as much of a non-lecturing voice as possible that there is absolutely no rush. That he has his entire life to have a "girl friend" and that for now how about he just stick to liking Lego's & mud-thank you very much. By that point he was itching to get away from his casual crazy mom so our conversation came to a close.

But it reminded me of the times I've been told to be interested in the little things they have to say. Whether you are hearing about the Lego castles they've built for the 345th time or listening as they exclaim in great detail about who their favorite Pokemon is & why. Things that quite honestly we could care less about & almost always, always, come as we are in a rush to fix dinner or have just sat down for a moment of peace & quiet to ourselves. Apparently the moms who've gone before us say that if you actually listen to these ramblings & prattle that when they grown into kids & then even bigger than kids they'll keep talking to you. The conversations will shift from their favorite Star Wars character to who they have a crush on. No longer will they be talking about how good that Bernstein Bears book is but they'll be figuring out with you what college courses they're interested in. As difficult as it may be during some of the more difficult conversations we have with them-some easier to keep our crazy in check then others-the point is we need to keep them talking. And if they aren't talking we need to figure out a way to get them talking. I don't think that just happens. I think we have to try to cultivate an atmosphere that lends itself to dialog. Whether that means as we work side-by-side or as we learn more about or get involved with an interest they may have, or even sitting through an insufferable episode of Phineas & Ferb (anyone?) then our hope can be that if they see we are interested then the sharing & connecting & trusting will continue on through the years as we figure out this being-a-big-kid thing together.

Monday, June 22, 2015

It was & then it wasn't

It's occurring to me that when you shout from the rooftops that your going to be adopting a girl from Ethiopia & then suddenly your not that you should probably: A. Have never shouted said news in the first place (always a problem for me) or B. Shout equally as loud when plans change.  Even if said plan change is heartbreaking, embarrassing or just plain confusing.  If we invite people into our lives to share the joy we should be willing to invite them in just as much for the mourning.  That I'm learning is easier said than done.  Good, joyful news rolls off my tongue with ease. But sudden painful news sometimes gets stuck.  The words don't form as easily.  My shouting is more of a hoarse whisper.  Anyone?

When my husband & I decided that postponing adoption until our two boys are older would be best for our family , after the initial raw grieving, I went into hiding mode.  Of course we told our families and those who'd offered to financially support our adoption, those who were already planning a fantastic fundraiser, those who had wanted to throw us showers & had given us items.  But, from the rest of the world I hid.  I deactivated my facebook account, I deleted any mention of Ethiopia from Instagram or this Blog (I'm putting my previous posts back on now because that is part of our story & just deleting a draft doesn't make it so.  Who knows how this will all weave together in the story of our family someday.)  I know it sounds so immature but I couldn't bear it.  Something we'd been talking about & praying about for eight years was finally happening.  The girl we imagined we'd be welcoming into our family was all I thought about.  We prayed for her, we talked about her, we planned for her even though we didn't yet have a name or a face she was here, you know?  A check had been written, documents had been signed.  This was happening. And then it wasn't.  The loss was almost unbearable at times.  The tears ran with a fluidity I didn't know possible.

The past few months have held a lot of healing.  There is still confusion as to why we'd be given this compelling, lasting feeling if for not such a time as this.  There is wonder if sometimes it's really just about being willing.  There is wonder if we let fear talk us out of what would have been an amazing opportunity to grow our family.  There is curiosity whether this is really postponed or whether it's not.

But the one thing I know is that in the last week alone three dear friends have asked me for updates on our adoption journey.  They didn't know.  Because I didn't say so.  Because I chose to stay silent rather than share the hurt and confusion that hit me with such ferocity I didn't see it coming & when it landed I didn't know what to do with it.I have sat at this computer numerous times to try & share our new news, but I had no words.  Even now my words seem insignificant, but I wanted to share where we were on our journey with dear friends near and far.  I wanted to thank you for praying for our family & for all the excitement you've shown for us.  Your support has meant the world to us & we apprecaite you sticking with us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An open letter to a bike thief.

Dear Punk person who stole our bike,

What you may have seen as an invitation to us was just an open gate.  Maybe we left it open in a moment of forgetfulness or maybe it was just naive to think we had to close it to keep people off of our property.  I wonder what you were thinking as you strode or drove down our driveway.  Did you notice the apple trees had been pruned?  Did you see the chalk drawings on the cement?  Did you notice the kids bikes also & considering loading them up in the back of the trike?  Were you hoping the neighbors dogs wouldn't bark? Were you surprised when the motion light came on illuminating the carport where our trike was parked?  Did you stumble on to it or did you know it was there?  I wonder what has happened in your life that  you are out in the middle of the night sneaking around people's backyards & taking things that don't belong to you.

What you didn't see were the memories we had in that trike.  The time my  70-year-old mom tried to ride it but it looked like it would tip over each second she was on it.  You didn't get to hear the laughter than ensued from that.  Nor did you hear the glee that my kids had every time they rode in the back & we were going downhill.  You didn't' see my husband painstakingly measure out & cut the back seat/trunk to specific specifications. You didn't see the glee he had when it worked! Nor did you see him sand it and paint it so that our kiddos wouldn't get slivers.  You didn't see my kids get their picture taken by it when my husband rode it with them to Bike-to-school-day.  You didn't see the blanket in the back or the fun we had with it.   You didn't see the Christmas my husband's mom gave it to his dad. You didn't see my husbands dad give it to him.  Fortunately for us those memories are for keeps.

You also missed out on seeing the fear in my kiddos eyes when we said it had been stolen at night while we were sleeping.  You didn't get to hear the millions of questions they asked all coming back to "why would someone do that?"  You didn't hear the panic in their voices as they asked if  you were coming back for their bikes.  You didn't stick around to see my husband striding down the street looking for you.  You didn't see the frustration in his eyes as he's hard a hard couple of days & this didn't help.  Nor did you see me snicker as I realized it had gotten a flat the other day & given how heavy that trike was I am glad it wasn't an easy getaway for you.

What you may not know is that I'm rooting for you.  I am hoping you'll have a change of heart.  That you'll know you don't have anything to prove & that you won't be one of the 85% of bike thieves in our county that strips bikes down for parts or tries to sell them elsewhere.  I am hoping that you'll bring it back that when I glance out the window I'll see it parked happily back in it's spot.  It isn't so much about the bike at all, but about how I want to my kids to know that a bad decision doesn't make a bad person.  I want them to grow up knowing that poor decisions can be made right again.  Maybe I'm being naive again but if hope is seen as naive then so be it.  Regardless we will get over this make no mistake about that.  It was after all just a bike.   You on the other hand I'm not so sure.  This may have been a first time for you or maybe it is a series of times that now has landed you on a path to bigger things.  What I wanted you to know was that it's never too late to turn around.  To trace back your steps & begin again.  That's why I'm rooting for you.

The person you stole from last night.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Girls just wanna have fun.

What did I do last night?  Oh you know.  The typical mom thing.  Met up with some girlfriends & under the cloak of darkness went to the new playground in our town.  Complete with headlamps & all.  We went to try the new zip-line out.  For ourselves.  With no kids.  As I prepared to leave the house with my headlamp & beach towel (because let's face it I am a mom & the seat might be wet so we'd need a way to dry it off) my kids were protesting in the whole unfairness of it all as they readied themselves for bed.  My oldest couldn't figure out for the life of him why I needed to go to the park at all much less at nighttime?  It dawned on me that the poor kid doesn't even know that moms like to have fun too.  He has been just as perplexed with my annual trip to the roller rink.  I love roller skating but for some reason I  just go on my birthday.  Like for some reason since I am having a celebration it is allowable to enjoy myself.  For some reason I think roller skating isn't permissible for me any other time.  Anyone?  Maybe it isn't roller-skating or zipping at a kids playground for you maybe it's crafting or skiing or horse back riding.  Whatever it is why do we limit ourselves? Why do we hold back as moms content to create fun experiences for our kiddos or our families but when it comes to ourselves we hold back?  We dismiss.  We put-off.  Or maybe it's just me & you all have it figured out & are out having a ton of fun. If so, call me!

This morning after my kids had awoken I said "Aren't you going to ask me if I had fun?"  And instead they said "Was anything broken?"  They were much more worried about whether or not my friends & I had left their playground intact (we did) than they were about me having fun.  And I don't really fault them on that as I think we can all agree young kiddos do have a hard time seeing past themselves & they aren't used to seeing me have fun.  They are used to me running errands, taking care of things, going on walks, and reading & doing a few exercise videos here & there.  They don't see a lot of mom having fun just to have fun.  Sure I have foot races with them in the yard.  I roll down the grassy hills with them.  We have a ton of fun together...& I am not trying to take anything away from that or lessen it in anyways.  I am just saying maybe it's time to give ourselves permission as moms to have a little more fun?  Just because.  Because it's a good thing to model. Because it helps make you feel a little more alive.  Because fun can be thrilling & it can help us to dream & remember what we like to do apart from lovingly care for our families. It helps us to see ourselves more as an individual rather than just are role as mom . It helps our kids see that we are more than just a mom.  Being a mom is a big part of who we are & what we do.  But, isn't it okay for their to be a bit more?  Isn't it okay to take a few trips around the rink feeling the wind fly through our hair & enjoying the music just because?  Isn't it okay to holler in the night on the zip-line with your friends cheering because another friend went super fast?  I think it's more than okay.  I think it would help us to take ourselves less seriously.  And when I refer to "fun" I dont' mean take up a new insanely expensive hobby that requires certain clothing or equipment.  I mean lay on your back & notice the cloud shapes.  I mean go discover a new trail with your girlfriends.  Whatever it may be chances are that when you were a kiddo yourself you found it really fun.  Hula-hooping, bike rides, swimming, twirling in circles outside, we can still do these things.  (And I hear you friend who is sighing or rolling your eyes as you read this because the stage you are in with your baby or your toddler really doesn't allow for time away or time to yourself much less even going to the bathroom alone, but hear me when I say this is not forever.  There is a time just around the bend that although it may be hard to see it is coming & you will have free time again.  I promise.  Hang in there.)  For the rest of us there is  room in our full & busy lives to add them in.  They won't take away from anything & they might just make us better moms.

I'd love to hear what you do for fun or if you aren't doing it yet what would you like to do?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What's Next

It took me by surprise.  I didn't even see it coming.  I was clicking away eager to be done with the insurance inquires & to enjoy my quiet since my four-year-old was napping for the first time in years.  (It was sacred time if you know what I mean).  As I clicked once more I only saw the "Congratulations & welcome to the Ethiopia program". I paid no attention the the 10+ attachments or the long letter that followed. I simply saw that & I sobbed.  Like instant puffy face sob.  On the floor but trying to be muffled since said four-year-old was napping kind of sob.  I didn't have anyone to share it with.  I was able to savor it.  To soak it in.  To exclaim.  To wonder.  To Praise.  I actually said "Shut-up!" to the computer before I fell to the floor in a puddle.  I really didn't' believe they would accept us.  Whether was an act of self-preservation for my heart or I just really believed that I was utterly taken aback by their decision to allow us to move forward.

Once I collected myself & called my husband I was able to look through the attachments & the letter.  The forms to come, the fees to pay, oh my. I still don't know how it will all get accomplished.  I still don't know how it will all work out.  I still don't know if she'll love us right away or not.  I wonder about her favorite color. I wonder about her parents, siblings, aunts & uncles.  I wonder if she'll be so mad that we took her away from her country & her sights & sounds & smells that were familiar to her.  I wonder if she always be sad & miss those she's lost or who lost her.  I wonder where I'll take her to get her hair done & if she'll mind that I'm not very girly.  Basically I'm all over the place.  These are things I've wondered for a bit but haven't allowed my heart to go there.  I am free now to hope a little & plan a bit.

I try to explain to my boys that this could take a while.  A long while.  I fret that maybe they don't' understand what we are about to embark on.  Then I have to wonder, do I?  I have to remind myself of course I don't!  We've never done this before.  Sure we started & stopped many times but to actually be at this point is a first for us.

So what comes next?  Lot of paperwork.  Like lots.  We are in what the agency refers to as the "paper-chase" phase.  That leaves little to the imagination.  Then the home study.  Which I can't even go there yet or I'll get worked up in a tizzy.  Right now it's just best if I only do the next thing as I was already thinking of how we needed to make sure no light bulbs were burnt out because obviously that is a sign of a neglectful parent, am I right?  Oh my poor husband.  What he is going to go through as that approaches.  His honey-do list will have a list.  We would love to have you along with us on this journey.  I may over-share (fair warning) but your questions are welcome & your encouragement & prayers are crucial.  So I am off to buy a ream of printer paper (& some light bulbs) , settle in with my signing pen & do the next thing.

Friday, February 6, 2015


It was a night I just needed a word.  Like a thirsty person in search of a well.  Anyone?  All day my head & heart had been a flutter.  Flutter may be too sweet of a word.  Maybe more like being hit over & over with a battering ram.  We've been in the process of deciding whether after talking about it on & off since 2007 if we are finally ready to proceed with adoption. Obviously we're a little slow.  Too many years of fears & feelings of inadequacy have side-tracked us making it easy for us to talk ourselves out of this amazing possibility.  We now know that you don't have to be any sort of super-hero, green lantern or otherwise, to adopt.  Nor do you have to be made of money although that would make the fundraising a whole lot more doable. You just have to be willing.  Willing to jack up your so called "comfortable" life.  Willing to see what loving others really means for you.  Willing to take a leap.  To lean in & trust.  We just don't want to talk ourselves out of it this time.

So back to the thirst.  I was just up to here with not knowing if we were doing the right thing.  Would it be financially responsible?  Would I really be okay if adding another kiddo meant no vacation ever?  Would I be okay with consignment store threads & goodwill finds?   Even though we'd already submitted our preliminary application to the agency.  Even though we were poised & ready for the next step.  To apply for the Ethiopian program.  Hoping they would welcome us in with open arms.  Even though I was still going back & forth & second guessing & wondering & figuring the figures.  Thoughts again creeping in of "Who do we think we are?  Why us?"  were just enough for me to wish we had a bottle of wine in the house or at least wish my husband wasn't working nights  so that he could be here to wrangle our two sons because I'  But there was no wine & no husband so alas my fellas & I sat down to read their bedtime story out of the Jesus Storybook Bible.  Best kid's Bible of all time.  I have learned so much from this sweet book which constantly brings it back to Jesus page after page.  I whispered in the quiet of my soul, "Lord, Please"  My son chose the story of Jesus feeding the 5.000.

  "But they were wrong.  Jesus knew it didn't matter how much the little boy had.  God would make it enough, more than enough." 

"And Jesus knew the One who in the very beginning had made everything out of nothing at all.  How hard would something like this be for Someone like that?"

Really?  Really?

Do you not love the times when you know?  You just know that you know that it was meant for you.  It puts it all in perspective.  Who am I to fuss over whether or not this is a sound financial decision or not?  Will I just trust?  What is another kiddo to feed to Someone like that?  Sound naive?  Maybe.  To me it sounds like trusting & believing & trusting & believing some more until our daughter comes home.

So here we go.  We are going to be submitting our application to the Ethiopia program & hoping it is accepted.  We'd love your prayers.  We'd also love your kindness if we forget to show up somewhere or if we double book ourselves (sorry friends) or if you run into us & we are all wild-eyed from being up to our eyeballs in paperwork & my hair hasn't been properly de-frizzed.  If your one of our friends who's gone before us on this adoption journey we'd love to hear from you.  You advice & your what I'd wish I'd known when...  But most of all we just want to thank the Lord for this opportunity to build our family a little bigger in this unique & special way.  We are beyond humbled & we are hopeful.  So let the journey begin.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I am a good mom. And so are you.

Are their any other mama's who are just weary?  Weary of believing the lie that we are failing at this motherhood thing?  Believing that we are a bad mom?  Just because our every-day-real-life doesn't live up to the pinterest worthy lives we think we should be living?  Or maybe it's because your kiddo isn't in enough extracurricular activities or you yell too much or get frustrated too easily or don't care that their homework is late or you let your baby cry it out or they never cry it out.  You wear them or you don't. Too much screen time. Not enough play-on-the-floor-with-them-time. You co-sleep or you don't even know what co-sleeping is.   Whatever it may be we might laugh & shrug it off  yet we buy into it.  We whisper to ourselves in the quiet of our hearts"I am a bad mom."  We laugh with our girlfriends "I am such a bad mom!" Yet somewhere along the line we started believing it.  We started holding ourselves as a mama up to a mirror that someone else held & no longer was it enough that we were given these kiddos to do something no one else could do for them.  No longer did it matter that they were our hearts walking outside of our bodies.  No longer did it matter that we were trying our best.  What mattered & what reverberated around our heads & our hearts were that we were  failing.

The other night as I was making a birthday cake for my son & I use the term cake loosely for what constitutes as a birthday cake at my house is a pan of chocolate chip cookie bars topped with frosting.  Pin that.  No crumbs & no weird soggy leftovers. Even though my kiddos love it & even though I love it for the lack of pressure & the presence of ease I felt inadequate.  Making the cake at 9 pm was the last thing I wanted to be doing anyways.   (Parenthood was going to be on later so as you can see I didn't even have a choice about going to bed early.)  It suddenly occurred to me as I was memorized by the blenders going round & round that my "cake" as ordinary as it was did in fact not make me a bad mom.   I don't have the gift for making elaborate character themed cakes.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  Pretty sure no kid ever looked back over their childhood thinking that only if their mom had made them a millennium falcon cake for their 7th birthday than then everything would have been better.  Actually I realized that I'm not even a bad mom when I use my outside voice or my kids don't make their beds.  What is a bad mom anyways?  And if you were a bad mom would you even care?

How dare we cheapen this experience as being a mom with feeling lousy & thinking we aren't doing a good enough job.  How dare we belittle ourselves by thinking that other people would do it better.  How dare we lessen ourselves even a moment longer by thinking that by not doing insignificant things perfectly that it is somehow reflected in the kind of mom we are or the kind of children we raise.  Isn't that when we beat ourselves up the the insignificant?  Being tardy to school.  Birthday parties.  Acting out in public (not us our kiddos) whether or not the excel at a sport.

What if we stopped talking to ourselves in such a way?  What if we said aloud " I am a good mom!" in order to replace those lies with some truth?  Simple, right?  What if we whispered it to the inmost part of who we are?   If we said it over & over would we begin to believe it?  Would we be able to reach out more & encourage each other more if what we saw in ourselves we recognized in others? Wouldn't that be something?  Would we be able to laugh at our messes?  To realize that the messy kitchen is actually something that no one else on the planet cares about?  And if they do then that's their issue not ours,  What if we just gave ourselves the grace we so desperately want to be able to extend to others?  Would we stop trying to create an experience for our kiddos & instead live the life before us?  These kids we have are not commonplace.  How much time have we wasted focusing on what's gone wrong instead of rejoicing on what's gone right?  Anyone?  May not change the world but it just might change our lives & the lives of those who call us mom.