Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Come What May and Love It"

Now picture this in the middle of two large adults on a
queen-sized bed.....yep,,,,

I woke up just after midnight early this morning to my almost 40 lb. three-year-old crawling over me to get “in the middle” between me and daddy.  What he really meant was that he wanted to sleep near daddy—it just happens to be in the middle next to me.  He is a daddy’s boy for sure.  I lay there for a few minutes wide awake, torn between taking him back to his bed or letting him stay.  But, that only lasted for a few seconds, before I was swept up in his sweet presence, and I put my arm around him as he quickly fell back to sleep.  Sleeping with this child is like having a noisy windmill in bed.  Arms and legs everywhere, teeth grinding, occasional snores.  But even with those possibilities, I was caught up in his face this night, lying there peacefully dreaming of who knows what—bikes, monster trucks, chocolate chip cookies, jumping off the highest thing he can find.  I noticed how angular his face has become with the loss of baby fat, and touch his beautiful, shiny, silky jet black hair--the thing that garners the most comments from other people.  It occurred to me in that moment that everything I held most precious in this life was gathered together on that mattress.   An approximately 5’ x 6’ space on this vast earth held everything that makes life the most joyful for me.  This last week, through a few different experiences, I have come to accept that this may be my family.  I had hoped to have a big family, and as every year passes, and the number in my head slips farther down from what I had wanted, reality has begun to set in.  I have been fighting it.  We hope to adopt at least one more, and I have been hoping this last time through the adoption process would bring a sibling group of two.  But, I have started to wonder if I am fighting something that just isn’t meant to be.  And I have started to wonder if there isn’t something else out there I am supposed to be doing.  I have been praying to have more children for as long as I can remember.  But, this past week, it struck me that that is not the hand I have been dealt.  And it’s not a sub-par hand.  It is just a different hand.  
Easter Sunday.
Which means there is something else out there that will fill in the gap.  Something else I am supposed to be doing that is not meant for a friend with five children.  It’s not better.  It’s not worse.  It’s just mine.  It’s my own, individual mission.  And the longer I push for something that is not meant for me, and ignore the gentle pushes to pursue other things, the longer I keep from enjoying the blessings that will come from that other pursuit--the one meant for me.  And the longer I will look to my little family gathered on this small mattress in the middle of the night, and not feel it is enough.  And it is enough.  We still plan on finishing this second round of adoption, but this will be the end of it, and I will be happy no matter what.  And in fact, I look forward with a fresh excitement as I let go of old dreams, and open my mind and heart to new ones.  “Come what may, and love it.” (quote from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin) 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why I Have to be a Great Mom.

Trying to get a picture with the
new "light hat".  D insisted on
pushing the camera button
and picking the filter. Took a few
tries, but we had fun and what else
matters??  Nothing else matters.

I’ve written many times before about the scrutiny applied to adoptive parents, and I’ve expressed how, even though I know it’s necessary, it is hard to take sometimes.  It’s so invasive, and every area of your life is investigated to make sure you are good enough.  John and I used to joke that we don’t look good on paper.  Divorces.  Abuse in our families.  John was arrested twice, both of which were dismissed within 24 hours, but one of those was for domestic violence.  An argument with a girlfriend led to a revengeful call to the police, which led to an arrest.  And a subsequent breakup…. And the list goes on.  It doesn’t look good when you’re trying to prove you’d be amazing parents!  But, interestingly enough, these are the things that have pushed us both to have the desire to be amazing parents.  I won’t speak for John, except to say that his growing up with an incredibly abusive father and then living with a single mom on welfare certainly has its lasting repercussions.  I will speak to my experience, and how it has pushed me to try to be the best mom.

I experienced the divorce of my parents and the breakup of our family when I was eleven.  A couple of years later, my mother remarried a man who turned out to be a psychopath.  Most people associate that word with a dangerous killer, but it’s really a personality type and is much more common than just in headline criminals.  My stepfather is/was one.  He still is, but he’s not my stepfather anymore.  I won’t go into all the details—that’s a story for another time.  Suffice it to say, he had an impact on me—on all of us.  He was destructive and manipulative.  He could be charming and he could be scary.  I know now that he was a coward, but in the moment, you don’t always know that, and you don’t know if this will be the time he will snap and do something much more drastic than you thought he was capable of.  I felt very out of control, and I think there are lasting effects from that still with me today.  He could be so cruel, and then the next morning would be joking around.  And, when you are young, that is just so confusing.  I have continued to have dreams over the years of being attacked and never being able to defend myself.  I freeze.  I can’t scream.  I can’t fight back.  It’s awful.  I was never attacked physically by him, but I think that feeling of being out of control has stayed with me.  We had confrontations—screaming, yelling, struggling over things, I did get shoved to the ground once but that wasn’t as bad as having gasoline thrown on me.  And he was a smoker, so I knew there was a lighter in his pocket.

Anyway, I will stop there.  My point in sharing this is that I have never wanted my children to feel the fear or neglect or insecurities that I felt.  Every day I work so hard to make sure that D knows how much I love him.  I hug him and tell him how sweet and handsome and smart and strong he is.  I look him in the eyes and tell him these things all day every day.  I try to not seem frustrated to be parenting him, because I want him to know that I love being his mom.  I never want him to feel that he is a burden.  When he is grown, I know he won’t remember a lot of his childhood, but I want him to remember how much I loved him and how much I loved being with him.  That is my goal.  It is what I work for every day.  It means more to me than most will know, without knowing the whole story.  If I can do this one thing, then I will have been a good mom.