Thursday, May 28, 2015

In which it becomes a fact my mother was actually Superwoman...

I'll tell you right now there's a lot of reflection that comes with adding four kids at one time.  Reflecting on yourself and your needs and wants and their needs and wants while managing a home, a marriage, individual relationships with each child, friendships, extended family, I mean the list could literally go on forever.  Most people have some time to you know, ease into certain aspects of their life changing and make adjustments along the way as needed but we didn't so here we are and this is life and it's beautiful most days and I'm not asking for special treatment.
My mother had seven children.  SEVEN whole children grew in that precious woman's belly and became seven whole children that needed her all day every day until...well I still need her all day every day but in less of a change my poop pants and more of a HOW ON EARTH DID YOU DO THIS kind of way.  Ok lets be honest, perhaps recently there are some days where poop is in my pants.  ;0)  I always tell people (mostly those itching to get out of the house and become "adults") that I didn't find true appreciation for my mom until I moved a thousand miles away for college.  It was then I figured out that she did a lot of freaking stuff for me!  And then of course when I became a mom for the first time we could exchange stories of the usual first mom concerns and laugh it up but I'll tell you...crap just got real when I became a mother of five over night.  Like so real that daily I'm reminded how much more she did for me than was even humanly possible.  I know I said thank you but Lord knows I didn't say it enough because the fact of the matter is if I said thank you every single time that saint of a woman did something for me I'd have said it to her about 25 times a DAY at least.  This role?  It's huge.  And quite frankly?  It's thankless most days...in fact there are times where I even ask for thanks.  I am almost ashamed at myself for what I imagine was the same behavior I exhibited as a child that my own children do when I place their HOME COOKED meal in front of them and at least one complains that I put five pieces of sausage on someone else's plate and only four on theirs.  For the love.  How did they know I show favoritism with sausage quantity?!  I digress...with us specifically we aren't teaching this masterful art form of being grateful to children we've had since birth, we're teaching it to children who haven't been taught it consistently if at all and that my friends, is hard.  Onward and upward, we'll get it figured out and a rhythm will happen...and just like my last post there will be moments where the thank you's are organic and the appreciation is expressed in others ways too.
This morning, I called my precious mother on the phone and was only able to utter five words before bursting into tears.  "I just want to say"...thank you.  Thank you for the late night runs to the store to get an item for a project I told you about at the last second.  Thank you for making me food every live long day.  Thank you for staying up late to switch the laundry so I could wear something special to school the next day.  Thank you for being funny and letting me see you be funny.  Thank you for wiping my butt and for teaching me to not pee and poop my pants and for cleaning up my puke.  Thank you for doing my laundry and picking up a toy I left out on the floor that the dog probably would have eaten that you warned me about leaving out ten times.  Thank you for being there.  For showing me what it looks like to take care of a home and a family, for teaching me how to cook, and for trusting me when I deserved to be trusted.  Thank you freezing my juice boxes so that at lunch when it came time to drink it was still cold.  Mama, thank you so much for praying for me especially now.  The beauty of the similarities we share as "mother" don't have a single thing to do with HOW we came into that role in the first place.  Babies in bellies, baby pick ups in conference rooms or airports.  She gets it.  She gets my exhaustion and my despair.  She gets my complaints and she takes it all in and just assures me that there is pay off eventually, with phone calls just like the one we were having in fact.  My mother was and is still superwoman, I am convinced of nothing less.  So if you're mother is still living, or if you were raised by someone who filled this role in your life, please call her.  Thank her for changing your life by simply taking care of you.  She deserves to hear it, and she deserves to hear it a lot.  And if for some horrible reason your mother was the furthest thing from the woman I described above, please know...there is redemption in a changed path.  Commit to do and act opposite of the woman who played no real part in showing you these values.  There is real beauty in the choice of making that promise to yourself.  YOU deserve it.  Undoubtedly.



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Monday, May 25, 2015

In which we discuss "the gracious one"...

Can we talk about this girl for a minute?  

Like even as I'm writing this my eyes are filled with tears reflecting on what has now been our life these last almost six weeks.  Four and a half years ago her eyes met mine in a conference room here's-your-new-baby-meet-the-birth-mom-sign-these-papers-good-luck-new-parents-goodbye exchange and we began this insanely delicate life long relationship of mother and daughter.  She was the easiest baby to get to smile.  She was beautiful, to the point that in any given shopping trip or outing I would have no less than five people on average stop and tell me how beautiful she was.  Being that I'm average looking at best I began to wonder how I would parent someone whose looks on the outside didn't dictate their worth entirely.  Tyler and I joked frequently about how we would parent a "pretty" child!  We began sprinkling in more "you're so smart"s and "you're so kind"s and commented on those things that internally make her the most beautiful little girl.  With parenting so much is done with this kind of thing in the beginning years with almost little to no visual pay off to even know if its working...until the day you bring four kids into HER house, to use HER toys, to need HER parents, and who aren't necessarily as receptive to "us" being family to them yet.  From the beginning of this year long process I prayed specifically that she would be accepted into their already existing family and vice versa, that she would accept them into ours.  She called them her brothers and sisters right away and drew pictures of us all together before they even came home to us.  At night time when we would say prayers she would almost never forget to pray for them and a few times a week ask when they would come home to us BUT when it came time to put actual actions with those words?  She freaking delivered.  And I wasn't surprised at all.  My girl, she's clutch like that.  Like a kind gracious ninja using hugs and laughter as her weapons, she is the very essence of believing the best about someone and I seriously am so proud of her.  Has it been all fun and games completely void of meltdowns or new behavior?  Of course not, she's only human.  Has it been filled with moments where she fights for what's right, thanks God for them during her dinner prayers and looks like a giddy little school girl when she's going to bed with her sisters?  Yes.  And those moments?  They are so worth it.  They are reassurance to us that being gracious and kind are more long lasting than being beautiful and we have a front row seat and are her biggest fans.  To my first girl and the gracious one, when I get to wake up and see your face in the morning I count myself as the luckiest mama in the world.  When I hear your laugh, hug your neck and kiss your cheeks I never want to stop.  Thank you for being to me what I never knew I needed.    



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Saturday, May 9, 2015

In which five little people sign their name on my Mother's Day card...

Today I received a Mother's Day card in which five little people signed their names, two or three of them truly feeling the connection with me as their mother and another two or three who probably still aren't sure just yet.  This holiday is different for a lot of reasons and in the spirit of full disclosure I can honestly say, I don't feel the connection with all of them yet either.  In fact, I said to Tyler the other night after the worlds largest meltdown..."Is it wrong that I just want to take Emery out and celebrate this day with just her?  What does that say about me?".  And how many of them wish it wasn't me they are celebrating tomorrow but instead the foster mom they just spent over two years of their life with or their biological mom who even though she left them alone for hours at a time still carried them in her belly and are connected in similarities like hair, eyes, and skin color.
One of the tricky things about raising children who are adopted is that this holiday?  It can wreak havoc on their psyche.  All week in school the two oldest worked on little projects here and there that they are supposed to give me for mother's day, and my question is...do they even want to?  All of these reflections, all of these questions and musings are not my Debbie Downer moments at all, it's just the reality of the way we chose to build our family and the hurt that is associated with these very traditional holiday's.  Do we deserve a medal?  No.  Do we want people to feel badly for us?  Never.  Do I want other adoptive parents to know they aren't alone when navigating this rocky terrain?  Without a doubt.  Parenting children from tough places is hands down the hardest thing we've ever done before and we knew it would be.  We didn't imagine this mentality of "oh sweet mother and father, thank you ever so much for giving me a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear.  However can I serve you this evening."  Sometimes I describe it like there are five little fires burning, lets just call them burn piles so as not to be dramatic.  There are five little burn piles going and we naturally must tend to the one that is getting a little out of hand, sometimes this requires both of us.  When it doesn't the other runs to the next bigger pile and helps keep that one under fire code but then runs back quickly to previous burn pile because the wind has kicked it up a little bit and it needs managed closely.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  For the last 23 days we have tended to these burn piles some days with success and other days with complete failure...and each morning we have to wake up, dust ourselves off and start fresh.  Start with forgiveness.  Start with grace and mercy.  With kindness and love and with the promise of the love of a Savior who has us all hemmed in tightly.
Here is what I know.  Next year will be different.  Next year there will be connection with most if not all.  Next year that week of school will still bring back painful memories of those they miss but I have a little bit of hope that when someone says the word "mom" instead of a question mark, my face will be the one flashing in their mind.
To my little fires, I know these days have been tough and I know that you're tired and that probably more than the fingers on your hands you have wished to go back home to what you know and stare into the faces of those familiar to you.  This little fire dance we're doing?  We'll get it sooner or later and it'll be the best ever and we'll win competitions because of it.  Because we chose to spend hours practicing it and perfecting it and it will become very secondhand to us, very normal and we'll look at each other wondering how in the world we lived our lives separately for so long.  Until that day comes, we'll mess up.  We'll miss some dance practices but we'll get back up, dust ourselves off and promise to do better next time.  I love you.



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