A Slice of Humble Pie

A Slice of Humble Pie

I guess when you eat a slice of humble pie, you should finish that first bite and follow it with a heart-felt “I’m sorry”. So, to all those that this is written for and to, I’m eating my pie and saying – “I’m sorry”.

You see, I have been a bit naïve. And because of that naivity…I’ve had a lack of compassion, understanding, and tolerance. “Always walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” has never rang more true for me than it does now. For 12 years, I stood smugly by at every kid’s field day, field trip, awards day, first day, last day- you name it -I was there. My chosen job allowed me to have that incredible flexibility and I am grateful for those years and for that job. I did, however, frown for those kids whose parents weren’t at the awards day, class party, or conference. I didn’t understand NOT being there FOR YOUR KID. How does that happen? How can a mom put her job before her kids?

Then last week…that crazy, event-filled, chaotic last week of school left me standing in the kitchen in tears. I’m talking the ugly cry people – and it came from no-where. I was cleaning dishes for goodness sakes, and the next thing I knew it was Niagara Falls. I was missing, for the first time ever, my kids end-of-year party. Now, let’s get something straight. My kids were fine with this. They understood that I had to choose this year….the awards ceremony or the class party. We chose awards. They were fine. I wasn’t! I had guilt. In my mind I saw them sitting there by themselves while every other kid (EVERY OTHER KID) sat with their parents and took fun end-of-the-year photos, made those summer crafts together, and there they sat-alone. Now I know this sounds a bit, ok – maybe a lot dramatic. It really was a first for me and it wasn’t pretty.

Then, it wasn’t just the party. It was the culmination of everything a working mom experiences. It all came crashing down amongst bubbles in the sink and dirty dishes. It was the fact that packing for our kick-off summer bash hadn’t started and it was 8:30pm the night before we were leaving. It was the fact that EVERY time I visit the grocery store now the kids are with me. It is the dirty clothes piling up in the laundry room because who has time when working, sports, and sleep. It was the frustration at it taking 2 hours to get my nails done because I had to go when everyone else and their mom was there. (I know, real world problems, right?) It was the guilt that my son had some pretty horrific grades in the last 2 weeks of school because I had checked out, knowing he ALWAYS needs me to check-up on him, but I was tired. I’m not special, or asking for pity – I’m finally UNDERSTANDING and HUMBLED.

I am, more than anything, grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to do something I love. I get to help families and babies find each other. I LOVE my job. I LOVE my life, but I now get it. Those kids sitting by themselves…my kid sitting by himself…is proof of a momma who does put their child first. Who loves and would do whatever she could do be there, but must provide food and shoes and financial support for her family. I get it. I understand the tired eyes and the sometimes negative comments at the ball field about life being tough. I AM A WORKING MOMMA, and to all those working mommas out there – YOU ROCK! You do and always will put your child first, even as you drop them off and head into work each day. I am honored that I get to do life with so many of you. So – no momma guilt, you hear? My kid is sitting with your kid on the bus for the field trip and you know what, they are ok! Teach them an amazing work ethic and when you tuck them in at night – lay down and fall asleep beside them…it doesn’t matter if it’s 8:00 – you deserve it.

When the quarterback wants to quit…

I wonder how many games Cam Newton or Peyton Manning would have just preferred to “sit this one out”? How many times did they just feel tired, defeated, confused- yet the Super Bowl was on the horizon and they were THE KEY PLAYER.

Moms (no offense dads), can you relate? How many times would you just prefer to throw in the towel, stay in the locker room, watch from the sidelines – but you know you are THE KEY PLAYER.

There is not a more certain time in our life that this is true than when we are advocating for our kids. Can I get an Amen?  Today – I wish I could say, you know what team?  I need a break.  I’m staying home, checking out and checking in to a cup of coffee, a Nicholas Sparks novel and maybe even a nap!  But you know what?  I’m the key player and my little receiver…my little linebacker….he needs me to stay in the game.

Geez, ladies. My goodness what a job it is to be, to stay, to continue to be your child’s biggest advocate. My admiration goes to every one of you who has a struggling kid, a special needs child, or even just one who needs some help – who have fought and won. Or maybe you fought and are still fighting – my heart hurts for you, applauds you, and prays for strength for you.

I have a child that struggles. I have a child who has become the topic of most conversations here lately – the conversations with teachers, doctors, psychologists, therapists, more psychologists, friends in specific professional settings, friends who I value and trust their opinions. Conversations about testing, modifications, failing, eligibility, medication, ADHD, processing disorders, speech disorders, and on and on until I can’t even begin to decipher who said what and which way to turn.  Then there is the research – oh moms, don’t we have to research? Google becomes our best friend and our worst enemy. Knowledge is power and how can we advocate without the proper knowledge?  Hours on the internet trying to make sense of a foreign language in which acronyms reign and we feel we need a Phd to even understand our options.

Now hear me – this is not a “cut” on dads, but come on ladies. Right? We do need their support, though. They are a sounding board, my reality check, my shoulder to cry on – these men are important. What I know, though, is that for some reason it’s engrained in us, part of our DNA to FIGHT for these little ones entrusted to our care.  It’s like a momma bear – Please be like the momma bear. Because Today – I’ve cried, I’ve had at least 4 hours of conversation in which my brain hurt with professionals and educators, I’ve been tired and for a split second – wanted to give in and then this happened. May it cause you to suit up again, pick up the ball and keep on playing.

We were sitting in our kitchen doing homework (we had tried to get started on this assignment at least 5 times already), and I decided to have quite the grown up conversation with my 9 year old about all this stuff. We talked about his brain, what he thinks, a normal brain (I’m convinced there is no such thing), connectors, and school.  We talked about how he feels at school, staring at an incomplete assignment, a blank piece of paper and he said, “mom, my brain just stops.” I took his face in my hands, eyeball to eyeball – and I said, “buddy, who is your number one fan?” He pointed to his father and myself.  Then I said – you know all these conversations I’ve been having, we’ve been having, the evaluations you have done…all of that is because WE ARE GOING TO FIGURE THIS OUT.  WE ARE GOING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE SCHOOL EASIER AND THINKING EASIER AND WRITING EASIER – I PROMISE.

Girls – at that moment…I saw a glimpse of hope. I saw a huge crocodile tear of relief followed by many tears, followed by my tears…that he knew with 100% confidence that his Star Quarterback was staying in the game. And not just the game – his Star Quarterback was taking him all the way to the Super Bowl.

Ladies – stay in the game! Advocate like a momma bear and don’t you stop until you WIN.  They are worth it and it’s worth it.  Ask the hard questions, be THAT MOM, research and educate yourself and then do what you know is best, regardless of the popular answer or choice.

You have a cheerleader right here! Yep, this girl is proud of you and is wearing your team colors and shouting from the sidelines for you to Keep On! It might feel like small work, but those tiny treasures will reveal themselves in time – Keep Playing Momma!

Come and Find Rest

Come and Find Rest-

So, this one is different. It’s not adoption related. Tonight – it has to be life-related. Tonight as I finished pacing my bedroom floor to reach my 10,000 steps on my new Fitbit and cuddled up in bed to read my nightly devotional- rest doesn’t come easy.  In fact, rest hasn’t come easy for a while now.  I’m weary!   This is not the after-Christmas, family is gone, decorations are up, and now it’s time to breathe tired!  I have that every year when the holiday rush is over.  This is weary. Soul draining weary!

This last month has been a roller coaster for us. No, really it’s been mostly an uphill climb and I’m so ready for the fast-paced, thrilling descent.  It started with my dad’s unexpected news that he would have a quadruple bypass the Monday before Thanksgiving.  A quick change of plans and the boys and I were ready to take to the road the day before surgery.  If all went well, we would visit with dad in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day and then hopefully, he would move to a rehab facility before we left to return to Georgia that weekend. The surgery went well and once he was moved to the heart ICU, our journey really began.  A 12 day journey that included a ritual of sorts.  Park, walk through the hotel maze to the ICU (totally would have rocked out my Fitbit if I had it then), push button, door opens, wash hands, push another button, door opens, walk over to dad not knowing what we would find.  I stood by his bed as he struggled for oxygen, stumped the nurses with his heart afib and lack of O2. Then there was the lack of sleep and the delirium that set in.  Day after day, visitation hour after visitation hour, the news was steadily changing and the set-backs numerous.

On a certain Saturday as I was sitting in the cafeteria of the hospital with my aunt and uncle – I received a panicked text from my sister-in-law saying my brother was being rushed to the hospital. He had passed out and couldn’t breathe. The suspected diagnosis –a blood clot. He is in Africa – certainly not a quick plane ride away.  We waited, 7 hour time difference to complicate matters, middle of the night texts back and forth, and we waited.  It was, indeed, a blood clot that had broken off and entered both lungs. He is a lucky man indeed!  A few days in the hospital and some scary realities, but he was able to go home.  Praise God!

I prayed often during those weeks. I prayed in the waiting room. I prayed in the car. I prayed sitting beside my dad’s bed in the ICU –but each time I am certain someone nearby could have heard the loud BANG of the prayer hitting the ceiling and returning to my void ears and mouth.  Has that ever happened to you?  We know the power of prayer and that we are called to intercede for people with prayer – but sometimes, this time – it just didn’t seem to stick! I was numb. Empty!  Thank heavens for the hundreds of other, faithful people who were praying for each circumstance.

Then, enter a child with a whole lot of anxiety and a search for a diagnosis with therapists and tests and evaluations to the equation on the days we were home and you have yourself a mom on the brink of bat-shit crazy. (sorry, but that really is the only word that fits)

Days turned to weeks and after 36 days, my dad came home. Amen is all I can say to that.

So – why the recount of the last month and ½? Why the blog about our 2015 Family holiday?  Well – I’ve learned a few things that maybe, just maybe you can relate to.

  1. LOVE really does conquer all. When you love someone through sickness and back into health – you realize that really in the end – all that counts is relationships and love.
  2. Having a sister is like cookies and milk, batman and robin, peas and carrots. It rocks and it rocks even more when the duo can knock on each other even in the midst of drama. If you have a sister – do what you must to build that relationship. It is like no other!
  3. Anxiety is a beast! It’s not talked about enough, covered up too often, and lingers long after the trigger is gone. (more on this later – that could be an entire dissertation)
  4. Christmas comes – whether we are ready or not. Ready to sing, to gift, to be merry? It comes all the same and while this Christmas wasn’t the merriest for me, there were those that were hurting far worse and that fact alone is humbling and I pray it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
  5. Lastly? This is the best! Ready? All those times I couldn’t pray? All the times I still can’t find the words at night as I’m praying over my children and dealing with anxiety, and ready to move forward, past this last month and ½ and a bit frightened for the future – Guess what?Romans 8:26-27 – The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.                                                                                                       My weary soul rejoices – I don’t have to say the right thing, in the right order, or even know what words should be uttered! Because He says, Come, you who are weary and I’ll give you rest!

Mom, Can I Be Adopted?

Mom…Can I be adopted?

So.. I worry! I know, I know – “Be anxious for nothing” and “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life” and “Do not worry about your life, what you eat and drink.”. Straight from the mouth of Jesus – I get it, but still…I worry!  I worry about my kids, and our future, and sickness, and death. I worry about my family, and others, the world we live in and how to equip my kids to live in it.  Am I alone?  Do all moms worry like I do?  Is anyone else plagued in those silent minutes/hours before sleep with all the “what ifs”?  I think it’s a bit in our DNA as moms, isn’t it?  To worry! I believe every mom worries to some extent, and then when you add another component –something different – like adoption – the worry can take on a mind of its own.

But wait – I can fix some of that. I can take care of some of those worries – like his self-confidence, and his questions, and his birth mom, and his ½ brother, and his dad….and, and, and. How? I tell him His Story.  His amazing, beautiful story of Oklahoma, and a quick flight out, and Wendy’s and our hotel, and how I laid him on a hotel comforter without a blanket under him and my best friends called right away to tell me to “GET HIM OFF” that germ ridden bed, and the airport –oh, the airport with friends and family and signs and the Welcome Home. I tell him all of it!  Over and over in the hopes that some of my worries will be extinguished if he knows his story.  And he does – he can repeat his story and tell anyone that asks about every detail.

Then, one day, a new worry entered. We were once again sitting at dinner, the 4 of us, talking about his birth mom and a new chapter in his adoption story, and my youngest son –our biological son –our blonde hair, blue eyed, looks just like his daddy son said, “mom, can I be adopted?”  PAUSE! AN UNCOMFORTABLE LAUGHTER. PAUSE!  My answer was something witty, and fun, and loving – I’m certain of it, but to be honest – I don’t remember exactly what I said. You see – I had been so busy giving myself and my thoughts comfort by telling Isaac his adoption story that my child birthed by “normal” means was yearning for his own. Maybe in his mind – if he was adopted, he, too would have an amazing story.  This wasn’t the first time I had this thought. I did realize, early on, that Aiden needed a story and I would rock him in his room, and tell him the story of how Travis and I waited forever, and how we didn’t expect to ever get pregnant, and how we found out and how excited we were – his name was heard at the ball field the first time and I knew it would be Aiden Lane –named after his really cool Uncle “D”.  But I had forgotten – time had passed and while Isaac’s story was evolving – I so desperately needed to be telling Aiden his story, too. Over and over so he could tell you every detail.

So, what have I learned? That every child, adopted, fostered, birthed, grandbaby, niece, nephew – needs a story. A “Once upon a time”, beautiful, sequel worthy story!  So – tell those babies a story. Take a moment, embellish it with incredible, personal details and then in those silent minutes/hours that plague mom’s right before sleep – smile a HUGE, worry-free smile as you relive their story!

10 little numbers, and a moment in time!

  • There it was…her name on my computer screen. Her name with 5 exclamation points. Her name on my screen at 8:45 am beside my cup of coffee, beside my day’s to-do list, in front of my desk chair I was settling into for a day at work at a job I love. Her name. A name that has been spoken of in our home with great sentiment. A name that has been questioned in our home and a name that was filled with uncertainty and curiosity. A beautiful name – Alissa!!!!!
  • My heart fell to my feet – was it excitement, anticipation – I’m still not certain, but as I opened up the email and saw 10 numbers strung together with dashes – it opened up a world for us that had never existed before. Isaac’s birth mom, Alissa, had given me her phone number through a case worker for me to call. The caseworker, that I had asked with trepidation to “look into” finding Alissa and seeing if she might be open to some communication with this little curious man of mine that was asking to speak to his birth mom, had succeeded. There it was – a 10 digit number, jumping off the page that THIS JUST MIGHT BE a moment in time…and guess what? It was! An absolutely beautiful moment in time.
  • I left work that day and called the number from my car so I could speak to her first to see what her comfort level might be and to just begin to get a sense of who she is…again. After all, when you meet someone for an hour or two on the day you are first holding your son, time passes quickly, and details are blurry and your focus is skewed. It was in a Wendy’s restaurant somewhere in Oklahoma and I just remember her quiet spirit. Her unwaivering resolve for Isaac to grow up in a home that could provide what she couldn’t. Was she still that person? Did she remember? Did she love? Did she expect something from us?
  • I called – she answered and as only a proud momma can – I told her he was beautiful, and smart, and witty and loved his brother, and loved karate and SHE…YES SHE – had so much to be proud of. There is this whole nature vs. nurture debate..and I certainly don’t know the answers, so for me – He is the perfect example as all adopted kids are –of a seamless combination of the 2. It’s a partnership, a duo, a gift of God’s Grace that Isaac is part Alissa and part Me, and Travis, and Aiden.
  • She was open to beginning that relationship with him and so – Isaac and I made a list together of things he wanted her to know and of questions he had. Nothing deep – after all, he is 8 and the most important question was “did Cailen (her son she is parenting) like Minecraft?” Oh, to be in an 8 year old’s mind – what innocence! So, we called! She answered – and for 20 minutes we simply had a chat. About pets, school, favorite subjects, foods, and Cailen. He asked – she answered. She asked – he answered. We hung up and he crawled in his daddy’s lap and played Stickman Golf on his tablet. Life carries on – but for me and certainly for him one day…It was a moment in time!
  • What happens from here? I don’t know? She can call –we can call – she can email –we can email. Will there be a relationship? When will the hard questions come? Will she walk away? I don’t know, but what I do know – is that a child who knows they have been loved by 2 moms all his life – now can put a voice, a name, and a person to the unknown. I believe there is a part of him that is a little settled more tonight – knowing that somewhere, across the US, there is someone with his name and his eyes, and his cheeks that knows his voice too!! All because of 10 little numbers!