7 was a big year

Just tucked my 7 year old daughter to bed for the last time, she turns 8 going on 23 tomorrow!   She is simultaneously my oldest and my youngest.  She was in foster care on her 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th birthdays (at least, there might be another one in there).  She is a bunch of beautiful and painful things all rolled up into one amazing little soul.  Words can’t quite express how much I love her.  Her kindness and light despite all of the darkness in her life is honestly awe-inspiring on a daily basis.  It sounds cheesy and cliche, but she truly teaches me how to be a better person on a daily basis. 

When I tucked her in tonight, I asked her how it felt to be going to bed as a 7 year old for the last time.  Without missing a beat, she replied, “seven was a big year.”  Ha!  Coincidentally…. it was a big year for us, too, but I was curious what she meant.  She looked at me like I was crazy (I get this look approximately 742 times a day) and told me, “well…we went to Florida!  (Insert significant pause) Oh, and I got a family.”   Oh, and you got a family?!  Does that not come before Florida?  Just sayin’.

I am so crazy excited to give her her ( bright pink) guitar tomorrow! When all else fails, we connect over music.  On really rough days, I can get my guitar out and she will come snuggle into me while I play.  Some days, it’s all we can tolerate of each other, when both of our walls are up high and the past is too much.  It’s enough.  I’m excited to learn to make music together, much like we have learned to be mother and daughter over the last year.  Seven was a big year.

Image

 

Warrior Moms: A Poem

Warrior Mom

 

I didn’t sign up to be a Warrior Mom.  

It was awarded to me by default:

I showed up to mother a baby. 

In the early days of our adoption, 

I clanked around in oversize Armor that hung heavy and slow.  

It took me awhile to realize that it had been designed for me to grow into.

 

I’d been outfitted as a Warrior Mom

  but didn’t understand what I was fighting.

It was with fear and steel  

that I dealt with awful knowledge: 

I was fighting for the love and affection  

of a baby who no longer trusted.  

 

Making a child’s world right

is all-consuming and never-ending.  

I figured out why I wore Armor: it held me up at the end of the day.  

So many invisible dragons to slay!

  I battled for my baby

  and I battled to be her mother.  

I took rejection — arrows glancing off metal — and came back for more.

  I demanded a place in the life of my daughter

  and I learned to share her with her past.

 

I became a Warrior Mom

and ditched the Armor, but kept the shield.

Not for me, but to protect the child that became mine

through sweat and tears and years of no sleep!

 

Who knew this Mom could tilt at windmills

angry feelings and powerful ghosts?

I don’t cook, can’t sew, won’t craft

but I learned I could fight

and I don’t give up.

Sometimes it takes a Warrior Mom

to claim a child who has gone past love.

 

Untapped, under-appreciated,

a Mother’s Will is Mighty.

It can make love spring from metal

And change Armor to open arms.

 

~ by Jean MacLeod

Image

i said it twice cuz it’s true

Mother’s Day.  Holy moly.  I learned two things:

1) I am really, really lucky.  I know that’s really cliche.  It’s also really true.  I have these three crazy blessings, all three of which came to me in the most miraculous ways.  Birth is just this insane miracle of all miracles.  Much like the first few days of his life, I STILL stare at Jax and think – we MADE that!  A-mazing.  And for A and J to just fully accept me as their Mom (and Jax as their brother and Charlie as their Dad…) and allow us to have the family we always wanted…there just aren’t really words.  I think we won some kind of kid lottery.  (Someone remind me I won the kid lottery tomorrow when they are all acting like insane circus clowns and I’m getting phone calls about their less-than-stellar choices.  K?)

2) Mother’s day is really painful for a lot of people.  I really try to be sensitive to other people’s experiences, but I honestly don’t know that this truly occurred to me on more than a superficial level prior to this year.  Adoption has connected me with a whole lot of people struggling with infertility.  It has also given me a new perspective on the kind of pain and grief that birth mothers must experience.  Lastly, watching my older two kids struggle with the grief of losing their birth Mother was really, really hard.  They are too young to be able to articulate it or process it very well.  I’m not even sure they know why the last week has been so hard on a conscious level…but deep down, their bodies know that a piece of them is missing while they make their mother’s day crafts.  It’s hard.  Mostly, its hard to watch my kids be grieving.  Secondly, it’s hard to deal with the behaviors that is sadness coming out sideways.  Lastly, it’s hard to admit they DO have another mother.  I’m the baby of the family, and I have never been great at sharing.  Right, sisters?

I was kind of tired and crabby from a long (but fun!) weekend tonight, and J and A were engaging me in a major game of whack-a-mole.  (Whack-a-mole = close one kid’s door and another kid’s door pops open)  This is mostly under control, but gets pretty extreme during times of high anxiety or stress (i.e. mother’s day).  For the 800th time, J yelled “MOM!”  I opened his door and asked, “WHAT, J?!” in a pretty irritated voice.  “Good night.  I love you.”  We had already said our good nights, so I sighed and told him one more time before shutting his door.  Didn’t make it up the stairs when I hear, “Mom?”  Sweet Jesus give me patience.  Opened his door again, and before I could bust out my “serious Mom voice,” he spoke.  “I said it twice cuz it’s true.  I do love you.  You are the best Mom in the world.”  Adios, irritation. 

Lucky.

Image

 

Healed Enough to Cry

This weather is triggering all kinds of early memories of our forever family.  Because of this, I was curious what the exact timeline was.  I just looked at my early blog post, and sure enough – I created this blog on May 3rd, 2013.  One year ago today.  One year ago today we were grieving and frustrated and unsure about our future.  What a difference a year makes!  Little did I know, one year ago today, the insane rollercoaster we were about to hop on!  In addition to that phone call one year ago that told us we were not selected to adopt the sibling set (10 and 12 year old boys), we also received a call for our three kids. 

We went out geocaching today (WHY did no one introduce me to this earlier?!).  One of our searches took us to the park where we went the first day we had T, J, and A for a weekend.  I have a picture of the four kids wading in the cold water…I had to sneak the picture because I wanted to sneak a peak to my parents and sisters of these kids we so instantly decided were ours!   Felt a pretty strong “pang” of sadness about T.  The more time that passes, the more I wish he was here.  Initially, we were so overwhelmed that it really kind of felt like a relief.  Now it mostly just feels like a hole. 

One of the first weekends we had the kids, about a year ago, J had an incredibly nasty fall off his bike.  Face. Met. Pavement. I am not an over-reactor, honest…this was BAD.  (Confession: my second thought after he hit the ground was, “OH MY GOD – we can’t send him back to his foster home/social worker like this!”  Second thought…stop judging).  He didn’t cry or even say a word, and hopped up.  His eyes were glazed over from pain, he was bleeding profusely, and he had a goose egg the size of Kansas coming out of his forehead.  He pretty much stiff armed me when I tried to check him out.  “I’m fine,” he said.  Oh, sweet boy, you are not fine.  You are not fine physically, and you clearly are not fine emotionally.  Despite his protest, I scooped him up.  I told him, “In this family, grown ups take care of kids that are hurt.”  I held his rigid body close while I held an ice pack to his giant swollen and bleeding head.  It was the moment I went all in, and I remember it vividly.  I’m going fix your  swollen head, and I’m going to fix your broken heart.  I vowed that someday, he would trust me enough to tell me he was hurt and let me take care of him. 

Last night, Jax was swinging a stick around and it hit J’s hand.  He started crying (real-life actual tears), he ran to me yelling “MOM!,” and he put his arms up for me to pick him up like a toddler would.  I picked him up, and he rested his head on my shoulder.  We must have stood like that for 15 minutes, with my legs about to give out and his legs dangling almost to the ground.  One of the most awkwardly beautiful moments of my entire life, really. 

One year later…healed enough to cry. 

Image