Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moving Day

Ok, I'm gonna give it a try.
I'm moving.
Blogwise, that is.
Yup, please please go see me at my new home: Another Espresso Please  on Wordpress.
It's a trial run and if I don't like it, I"ll be back here.  But I'm gonna give it a good shot. It'll take me a bit to get the blogroll going and the widgets working and all, so it's a work in progress....but I'll be figuring it out as quick as I can...

So....
the new address:  http://anotherespressoplease.net

Also, I'm all worried that I'll be all alone in the blogosphere, with no one to come have come coffee with me.  My insecure side is flaring; even as my adventurous side is kind of excited about new digs.
So, please update your links (Now, it's a ".net" address.  It's shorter to type in, a quick fix) and come on over!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mama Strength

Today is a kooky day in a choppy crazy week.  I mean, today's parenting had me looking at the clock at 6:38 a.m. and thinking, "I'm done. Uh-oh. I've used up all my parenting goodness already, holy mackerel."

But of course, I wasn't.
Not by a long shot.


Not much later, I went to the school Mass and my sweet Emmy came to sit by me.  Ah, bliss.
After, I got to canoodle with the small boys and touch base after a very tough morning with a wild Little Man...and bump noses to remind him that I loved him "to the moon and back" before he went back to classes. 

Minutes later my eldest called - ebullient - to tell me that he was finished with college, he had finished; all undergrad classes, work, exams, the whole shebang - done.  We whooped it up together on the phone and I told him I was proud of him for a job well done.
A bit later, my other college frosh son called to tell me he was done in another way: drained and depleted with one hard final left to go.  So, tips and encouragement and prayers for him.
Exactly as I was hanging up, an email came in from Marta's teacher giving me a heads up about a meltdown at school and incoming home this afternoon; change just throws this girl under the bus.  Tears there, tears to be here.  Oh dear....and a little bit/lots of dread.
In between all of these were moments, of course, of other mundane mom-job stuff, tending and caring for the bodies and household stuff......and all of it seemed pretty routine.

 And then I read this post of a dear girl/um, friend.   She writes of needing to go to Ethiopia soon, to court for her next child.  To do so, she has to leave her first sweet boy.  And it takes her breath away.  Oh, just reading those words I can conjure up those feelings from doing that very same thing.  I had to leave my small boys to go across the world to bring home my child.  Twice! One of those times was to get one of those small boys {the one who jumped me after Mass while I was hugging his sister}.
And I remembered back to that feeling and those panic attacks and that breathless feeling.  It's awful.  But....I also remembered what came with that.
Mama strength.


It is the strength that we build as moms, in the doing of our everyday tending body and soul of these kids....it builds mom muscle.
That mom strength is resolute in it's willingness to do what needs to be done for her kid.  
Even if it is gaspingly hard.
Even if it is wearisome, tedious, or....dreadful, we will do it.
If it is skittley, or tap dancing happy, or peaceful,  we will do it. 
If it is sorrowful, grief-stricken, we will be there, we will do it.
If it is irritating, tiresome, frustrating, we do it.
If it is funny, or quirky or weird, we do it.
We do what needs to be done; from threading belts through pantloops to pouring juice, from listening through gulping tears to counting down a timeout.
We sit through meltdowns, we endure raging spewing and bottomless grief.
We read, we research, we get status reports by phone on classes and roommates.

We hope, we dream, we pray.
We cook, we clean, we counsel.
We drive, oh, how we drive.


We fly across the world with our hearts lurching up, unable to speak for the love that chokes our words. 
We stand in the gap, or, really, next to the fridge and sink, and we are strong.

I forget that...oh many many days.
It might seem that the strength is only on the good days, but I say it's not.
We only SEE it and feel it on the good days.
But it's there, we've built it in a million uncounted exercises of our heart and body.  To use common fitness parlance; it's our core.  It's mama strength.  It builds on itself in a magical kind of way and draws deep.  It is as real as real is; too bad it doesn't look like a six-pack {abs, people…ok?} or better in a bikini.  But I'd say it's more beautiful, all the same. 

"Old Mother Stitching" by Jurij Subic, 1855-1890

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

They're Here......

Reminiscent of "Poltergeist," eh?



Kinda....tho we are not talking about ghosts, or aliens, or paranormal activity.
 Nope, we are talking about real plague level bugs and grossness: cicadas.
 Less Spielberg, more redneck....


I don't fault you if you confused them with locusts; especially as they increase in their hordes and their noise becomes deafening.  They will swarm mowers and cover trees, make dogs sick as they crunch them like popcorn and elicit whoops of joy from boys who torment their sisters.  You crunch them as you walk, you wipe them off your car window with the windshield wipers, you give big spreading trees on the driveway or sidewalk a wide berth...and wear a baseball cap.  Yeah, really, you get the idea...
But, in fact, they are not  locusts and this isn't divine retribution.

 It's just bugs.
Lots of them; for 4-5 weeks or so.  
They arrive here in the south on a 13 year cycle and my big boys are laughing at the memory of them and the other kids...well they are not sure what to think...yet.


Me either.  It could go either way; as a trigger to freaking out and anger by my daughter who hates things that mess up routines, as a trigger to freaking out by another daughter who freaks out at any flying bug and bolts inside in paranoia, as a trigger to mischief and pranks by boys big and small...too, too hard to resist (all boys...even the dad person, ahem).

 
So, we will wait out this cycle and be very glad it's only once every 13 years.
Summer fun!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Look Closer Again. And again


Look Closer, Again
I wrote this last year.
I think this has to be an annual post maybe.
Because we cannot should not forget.
And I don't know how to say this differently.
So, I'm saying it again and again:
The faces are the same.
They are joined by new ones.
But, mostly, they are the same.

So, I'll say this as many times as it needs to be said:

Today is World AIDS Orphans Day.

These are the faces of the littlest ones.

Not necessarily the youngest, I mean, the littlest.

These are the ones it's so easy to pass over and look beyond.

But these are our children too.

We are so bombarded with causes and pictures that it's easy to get overwhelmed, desensitized, numb.

But look at these faces.

Really, look at them.

These are kids.
They are orphans.

They lost their moms and or dads to AIDS.

See them with your heart and soul.

Do something.
Give them the dignity and humanity to really SEE them....
Then say a prayer for them, donate, reach out...
...touch them, hold them, hug them if you can, even.

They are just kids...our kids....who have a future, or should.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Measuring. Or, how to make yourself crazy in older child adoption...

Measuring.
We do it all the time.
I could go on a tear about how we as Americans do it, with everything, but that might be a whole 'nother post....and the point is that we do it consciously or unconsciously...ALL THE TIME.

But let's stay focused: as parents we measure...what? Everything, right? Right!
And no matter  how you became a parent, you still measure everything..right?
Hmmm.  Think maybe not? Well, consider:

My Chris, this pic makes me laugh...goofy baby pics, gotta love em.

If you are having a baby, by which I mean, you are pregnant and are gonna literally give birth to a child...from the very moment you find out you are pregnant, there you are: measuring.
You measure how many weeks along you are, you count the days since your last period, you count how many months ahead til your due date.  Then you go to the doctor and they too immediately start measuring: they measure your belly for the first time (and they will keep that up until it just alarms you) they measure your weight (again, this continues to a shocking gain - unless you tell them to 'quit that' as I did when I just couldn't take the numbers on that scale anymore).  They measure and they measure.  Thus, it's no surprise that you are unwittingly indoctrinated into this habit of measuring and by the time that baby pops out - or, if you're measuring, is pushed out after 21 hours of labor that felt like 45, taking what must be 3 years off  your life with the effort - you are measuring without even realizing you're doing it.  And of course, they whisk the baby away and do all sort of measuring with fancy names like APGAR and fill in fancy charts and graphs with the incessant measuring.


It doesn't end there, once you are home you measure the amount the baby sleeps or doesn't, how much they eat or don't, or if you're nursing, how often and how long, you measure their hair with your fingertips and count their toes again and again just to be sure they are all there and as cute as you remembered 5 minutes ago.  Then you start the next phase of measuring which is only slightly less number based: the developmental milestones.  As you can see, it just goes on and on and on, in one form or another...the rest of their measured little lives!

Now it's easy to think, "Aha, but I'm adopting, that doesn't even apply to me." 
Well, hang on Roy Rogers...sure it does.
Because if you're adopting an infant, well you get ALL the infant measuring from the moment of birth onward and then some.  Yeah, you're gonna get those APGARS and count those toes, don't think you'll skip that part.
Sweet Sarah

But you get the added perk, to make up for the personal belly measuring, of measuring Your. Entire. Life. in order to see if it measures up to the standards of your social worker, the agency, the judges, the police FBI feds government, even if it measures up to Homeland Security if you're adopting internationally.  Nope, you don't get a "pass" on measuring in the adoption lanes.
So yeah, you'll be measuring your weight after all, and your spouse's, your other kids, even your dog's weight (Think I'm kidding about the dog? Check out our dossier, I kid you not).  You'll measure your finances and traffic fines, your health and your fitness to parent, and on and on. Let's not even get started on measuring and counting the wait!
Finally, when that happy day comes and  you are holding that little one in your arms, well, you will sob with amazement and then you'll go right back to the measuring game like the rest of the parents.


But this post isn't about that, not really.....
This post is about the measuring done in a whole 'nother zone: the zone of Older Child Adoption.
In that world, that lane of family building, the measuring takes on all new meaning and form.

And, it's not good.

The measuring that is done in Older Child Adoption is not nearly so factual or innocuous.
This measuring is more insidious and unconscious and, frankly, is a big huge bear trap.

Because what they don't tell you in the adoption books is that we moms, we measure us
We measure ourselves against the first mom, against our ideas of what a perfect mom is supposed to be do or how they should appear (...again, like in the fashion ads, it's always the Benetton mom..but I don't have a stylist following me around every day..I know you thought I did, lots of folks make that mistake...but I don't). 
But even all that, that's not the worst of it.
The measuring that is killing us, we moms who have adopted older children, and/or children from the hard places, is the measuring of our feelings.
Our FEEEEEELINGS.
Hear that screeching just saying it? Yeah, my voice goes up an octave or two, on the hard days, when I even say that word out loud.
But taking our emotional temperature, checking in with our feelings (love, like, affection, annoyance, disdain, dislike) most of the time, is a trap.
I'm not saying never do it.
But I'm saying  you need to do it far, far, far less often that you think.

In fact, I would like to point out that I believe we moms, in this circumstance of Older Child Adoption, tend to take our emotional temperature...constantly.  I think we, without even realizing it, are always having it on our radar scroll, just like our own personal emotional CNN.  It's our ENN (Emotional News Network).

But this is one of the huge differences in older versus younger or infant adoption.
These feelings take longer, there is more to build to learn to absorb to work through...for all parties.
In older child adoption the primal human process of bonding is skewed and twisted all around.  The trauma that is inherent in older child adoption (and it is, always, to varying degrees) and/or the prior family experience all influence the new bonding, and it's efforts; what it looks like, how it plays, how it stalls, what form it eventually takes.
For all involved, all of it, every bit of it, takes time.  Unknowable, unmapped time.
These older children come to us as whole persons; with personalities and traits and hearts already formed and molded to a very very large degree. 
And so, if any or all of you are taking that emotional temperature, if you're measuring constantly or even daily (much less hourly or minutely)...you will lose your mind.   You're setting the stage for crazy.

So stop it.
Yup. Stop it.
Stop the measuring!
I might tattoo that, too, on my forehead so I can look at it every time I brush my teeth.
Stop the measuring!
Measuring implies a mark that must be reached.
There is no mark.
A dear friend told me, at the very start of this last adoption, "Don't take your emotional temperature every day.  Just don't."
She's right.
Another dear friend told me recently, "Stop being so hard on yourself and measuring to what you think it's supposed to be.  What if this, right now, is ALL it's supposed to be? This.  This IS good enough."

And I guess that's what I am still chewing on, hence this looong rambly post.
But I think we mom's, me, need permission to accept that we don't have to measure every moment, every day, every thing.  We can stop the ENN scroll bar.  We don't have to even know our emotional temperature.  We don't have to feel our emotional temperature.  Once more: Love is not about the feelings.
So, let's stop scanning our feeeeelinnngs.
And let's kick that bit of crazy right out of our days.
With older child adoption, we are here. We are in place.  We are doing it, all of it.


And that's good enough.
By any measure.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May. Month to pray.

And now it is May!



It is a month to pray the rosary; to start if you haven't ever done it and wondered about it. 
To learn a bit more about it if you don't understand it (no it's not deifying Mary, it's asking for prayers). It's a month of springtime and beauty, and I have found such comfort and grace in this prayer of contemplation.
This video above is from last year and is about praying for our dedicated priests.  Most of the priests in this world are good holy men, who give their lives in service and prayer, for us.  They can certainly use some of our prayers, right back.
Think about it.
It's easier than it looks and it's May!
All the hip folks are doing it!
Happy May!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oh, Mercy Me

Divine Mercy

Painting, "Divine Mercy" Michael O'Brian

It is Divine Mercy Sunday.
I don't know about you, but I need all the mercy I can get.  
For quite some time, I didn't pay much attention to this devotion.  It seemed goofy, in a way. Sorry, but it did. I sometimes shy away from things that I haven't fully looked into and/or fully understand. And also, frankly, the more sentimentalized  traditional imagery and ever more sentimentalized editions of this devotion didn't set well with me, or my oddball aesthetic.  I know, shallow perhaps, but there it is.  My reality.

Anyhow, but as I learn more about this devotion, I am learning about the simple beauty of it.  And I think it is what we all crave.  Mercy.  Just that.  Just a little mercy. 
To that end, the Church recognized today,  the first Sunday after Easter, as Divine Mercy Sunday.  Because Easter is ALL about Mercy, Divine Mercy.  If it is not about mercy, really, there is no real reason to even get out of bed.  But it is.  I know it, heart and soul. 

So today, I join in the prayer:

"....for the sake of His sorrowful passion, 
Have Mercy on us, and on the whole world."

Happy Easter...still easter....yay.....
**reposted from last year, because this says it for me**