Every Mama has her Day

While ringing me up at the register in JoAnne’s last week, the cashier told me that I was really put together.  It felt nice.  And I know why she said it.  My hair was cute, I had lip gloss on, mascara even!  I was holding my daughter on one hip, my purchases in the same hand I had wrapped around her back and I signed the receipt with my free hand.  My sweet Sunshine was happy and smiling and waving at everyone.  I’m sure I looked like a mom who’s got her $#@& together.  So I smiled and I said thank you and I really meant it.  What I did not do was tell her about the week before.

The week before, I showed up at swim class with no lip gloss and my hair in the same, wobbly, top-of-my-head bun I slept in.  We had five minutes to get ready before we were supposed to be in the pool.  I opened our swim bag and dug and dug  . . .  and dug.  I dug until I hit the bottom and dug back up to the top, refusing to except the evidence before my eyes that I had somehow not brought my daughter’s swimsuit or swim diaper.

I threw everything out onto the bench at the Y, I had to check just one more time.  No dice.  I called my husband to see if he’d maybe put it in her diaper bag and he reminded me that my darling girl had gotten into her swim bag just before we left.  She’d thrown everything out and he’d thrown everything back in, but neither of us checked to make sure she hadn’t made off with something important.  There was nothing for it, we weren’t going to be able to go to class.  It was awful because she loves the water and she loves her friend Fred, who we’ve been in swim class with since she was seven months old.

About that time, I heard Fred outside the door so I popped out to let his mama know we weren’t going to make it to class and why.  Fred’s mom, who is never one to give up, immediately offered Fred’s extra suit if we didn’t mind using trunks as well as one of their swim diapers.  SAVED!  We grabbed the suit, got changed, and had an awesome class and I really wish I could end the story there . . .
IMG_2610But alas, after class, with my sweet Sunshine all wrapped up in her towel (hey, at least we had towels, right?), I realized that her after class diaper was also missing.  Thankfully, Fred and his mama were still there.  They gave us a diaper and we were back in business, all dressed, and ready for snack . . . except that I’d brought her frozen blueberries, which make a great snack when they’re frozen.  These, once frozen, but frozen no longer berries were a dark purple, puddle just waiting to ruin absolutely everything they splattered on.

My Sunshine began to cry, because of course, babies are always hungry after swim class and that’s when sweet Fred shared his Cheerios and we were finally able to conclude what was one of the most ridiculous mornings of my life as a mother.  Fortunately for me and for my girl, Fred and his mama are not judgemental.  We all laughed it off together and our morning was not ruined for any of the reasons that it might have been.

Moral of the story?  When you see a mom who’s got it together, say something nice to her.  When you see a mom whose day is falling apart before your eyes, say something nice to her, too, and if you have the power to help, help without judgement.  A kind word can work wonders . . . as can a loaner swimsuit, swim diaper, regular diaper, and Cheerios!  My sweet Sunshine and I really do have the best friends.  : )IMG_2614

Home

My sweet Sunshine started saying the word “home” this week.  It’s adorable and comes out sounding more like “ooohhm.”  Every time she’s done it, I’ve felt my heart squeeze in my chest.  Home.

I grew up living in lots of places: California, Idaho (four different times, two different towns), Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee every summer, Oregon (two different times, two different towns), and now Massachusetts.  Most of those houses were parsonages, meaning they belonged to the churches where my dad was preaching and we were just temporary inhabitants.  If there’s one thing moving so much has taught me, it’s that sometimes home must be a fluid concept.

I’ve met lots of people who feel a sense of ownership over the places where they grew up or have lived for a very long time: people who have a deep sense of pride in their roots and not just living somewhere, but being part of the fabric that makes the place a place at all.  For someone like me, though, without those particular roots, I have no sense of the places I’ve loved belonging to me, more I feel like a part of me belongs to them: little pieces of my heart, scattered across the country.  I can’t get them back (and wouldn’t if I could) but I can visit them and I feel whole in different ways each time I do.

I think that’s why her sweet, tiny voice saying “oooohhhm” squeezes my heart in that achingly, lovely way.  She is not quite two, but for her, this old, yellow farmhouse by the woods in a tiny town in Massachusetts is  warmth, safety, and fun.  She is surrounded by love here, she can be herself without reserve, and wherever else we go, whatever adventures we go on, this is the touchstone we return to-to rest and refuel.

This little farm already has a piece of her heart.  Maybe she’ll stay here her whole life through and be woven into the fabric of the town.  Or maybe one day her heart will break and she’ll leave a bit here as she moves on–learning to love another place . . . and another.  Only time will tell.

For now, I am filled with gratitude for this beautiful town, this incredible house, and the fairy tale landscape that altogether make my sweet Sunshine’s first ooohhm.

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Firsts and Lasts

I nursed you for the very first time on a sunny, Sunday morning in July.  You’d been here less than an hour, but seemed to know what you needed.  Your father stood by watching over, nurses came in and out of the room, and I answered questions here and there, but even so, it was somehow just the two of us.

I nursed you for the very last time on a rainy Sunday in February.  You were eighteen months–some might say too old, some might say too young, but for us, it was perfect.  It was quiet and we were alone, watching the sunlight fade away from the living room window as water drops ran down the glass.

Now, I’m sitting here thinking about firsts and lasts.  All at once so happy and proud of how you are growing up and so unbearably sad that this beautiful time we’ve shared must come to an end.

It’s a feeling I know well a year and a half into being your mother.  I will never forget the first time I went to put you into a pair of newborn sized, footie pajamas and you simply didn’t fit.  Your little shoulders were pushing at the neckline and your tiny (but not so tiny as before) toes were bent against the ends of the footies.

It was an amazing and terrible moment.  I sat on the floor of the bedroom in our apartment and cried and cried.  You were only six weeks old!  How did it happen so fast???  Since then, I can’t even count the number of times you’ve grown out of something I specifically remember looking at and thinking it would take forever for you to grow into.

I love being your mama.  I am so proud of your curiosity, intelligence, strength, and independence.  It’s been my absolute pleasure to give you every opportunity I can to learn so you can do life on your own one day.  And it’s heartbreaking having to say goodbye to a version of you I love so deeply and will never see again without looking at a photograph.

That said, my sweet Sunshine, every time my heart is broken in goodbye, it’s put back together with love that just gets bigger and more as you get bigger and more.  Regardless of how much or little you ever need me, I will always be here.    After all, if you and I are anything like me and my mother (that’s Granny Bee, to you), you’ll be calling about how to make the biscuits, how to get that stain out, and just for giggles over mimosas long after you’re out in the world, making your own way.  : )

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Your Daddy

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He is a strong hand to hold when you’re nervous.

A flip in the air that makes mama nervous.

He is crooked diapers and all the best snacks,

adventures at the hardware store,

and getting to swing a real hammer instead of  just your plastic one.

He is books read in the funniest voices

and silly sounds whenever you touch his face.

He is your rescuer when you cry in the middle of the night

and tucks you back in when all is well again.

He is tall towers made of just about anything that will stack,

broad shoulders that never seem to tire,

and big bounces on your little trampoline.

He is safety, confidence, fun, and big love.

He is yours forever:

your daddy.

 

 

 

My Prayer

Before you read this post, I’d like to make it clear that in no way am I saying adoptive parents cannot love their children as much as biological parents or that fathers cannot love their children as much as mothers can.  This post is about the depth and breadth of the connection between a parent and their child.  How you come into that connection is of no consequence to me.  I just happen to be writing it from a mother’s perspective, because, well, that’s what I am and so that’s what I know.  Enjoy!  : )

.  .  .

My connection to you was instant.  When you were born and they placed you on my belly, I could only say “oh, honey” over and over again.  I had one hand on your sticky back and another around your tiny bottom and no moment in my life has ever felt so precious as that one.  I carry that crystal clear memory in my heart, another copy in my soul, and yet another copy in my mind, to ensure it’s never lost.

My understanding of that sweet, unbearably strong connection has taken more time.  I have slowly come to realize the true magnitude of the job on my shoulders and instead of feeling overwhelmed or terrified, I see that no one on this earth could possibly do it better than me.

This feeling–this lovely, silent secret known only to us, enables me to show you unconditional love so you will recognize it and can give it yourself one day.  It makes me the one you trust first and most and gives me the patience and determination to take care of that trust so you will know how it feels and be trustworthy yourself one day.   It fills me with a grace unlike anything I’ve felt before (since I was a child myself and felt it from my own mother and father, that is)–a grace I give you every day with soft eyes and gentle hands so that you will understand how to both give and receive forgiveness one day.  That is the terrible beauty of parenthood–beautiful because there is no bond stronger, that can accomplish so much and terrible because I have never experienced such awful fear as my fear at the thought of losing or being lost to you.

That is my only prayer, my only wish these days–that you and I get to keep each other.  It happens all the time, just watch the news–mothers who have lost their children and children who have lost their mothers.  We are fortunate to have such an amazing, loving, and dependable village.  I know that if anything were to happen to me you would know love, you would be treasured, and raised well . . . but it wouldn’t be the same.  And I cannot even contemplate losing you in words.  There’s a great, black hole in my mind where that horror lives and I never look directly at it for fear of giving it substance.

When they strike, these fears, I imagine all of the adventures we have yet to go on, all of the memories we’re going to make, all of things I’m going to tell you, and all of the things you’re going to tell me.  And then I send it up, the same prayer every time:

Please, God, let us keep each other . . .

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Where the Time Went . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Deprivation

It was a long night.

My nod to hygiene today was to undo my braid from yesterday and pile my hair on top of my head in case the birds are looking for somewhere to crash.

Sweet Sunshine finally fell asleep for her (much needed) nap about five minutes ago. The dogs and I are in the kitchen looking dazed and afraid to make a sound.

I’m on my third cup of coffee, but already have that feeling that no amount of coffee is going to clear the fog from my brain.

Our kitchen is a wreck (though I did wreck it for the noble cause of two blueberry lemon loaves, one seed bread, and homemade pitas!!!) and my only goal for the day is to clean it up.

The seed bread for sandwiches needs some work.  We sort of combined recipes and while the flavor came out perfectly on point, it didn’t rise as much as I’d like it to and has the density of a dying star.  The pitas got off to a rough start because whoever wrote the recipe said quarter inch when what they meant was an eighth of an inch, but after the first two, we figured it out and the rest came out perfectly.

Okay, I do have one other goal and that is to write an update or three about Mac n’ Cheese Manor to include: settling in, strange plumbing, and the discovery of mold (not a devastating amount of mold, but mold nonetheless).

Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Memories

My sweet Sunshine, you are currently rifling through a box full of spices in the kitchen, tasting some containers before dropping them at your feet, while others are tossed over your shoulder without so much as a cursory glance.  I’m not certain of your criteria, but you do seem to have a system.  I love to watch you explore–touching and tasting absolutely everything–cataloguing your environment with the precision and care of a scientist.

I folded and put away most of your nine month footies today because the necklines are beginning to stretch and your tiny toes are pressing uncomfortably against the feet.  It hurts every time–putting away bits of the present that somehow, without my noticing right away, became the past.  It is so strange that these moments which are molding and redefining me as a person and a mother, you will not remember.

You will not remember how I shrieked with joy when you took your first, wobbly steps or how I cried in relief and squeezed you tight after fishing that wad of drool-soaked paper out of your mouth.  You will not remember crawling around the yard, picking dandelions and trying to eat pebbles under my watchful eye.  You will not remember dancing in front of the oven door, giggling at your reflection.  You will not remember the way you turn diaper changes into the baby version of a greased pig contest.  You will not remember throwing all the spices out of the box.  And you will not remember your silly mama, sitting at the kitchen table, crying while she writes you love letters from your babyhood.

And oh how I love you, my baby.  Though our time together this way is short, one day, in the not so distant future, we’ll be making memories you can keep.  Until then, I will continue writing (and crying) you a path back through the years to the curious, determined, and much-loved baby you are so that while you may not remember, you can at least have a glimpse of your sweet, small self through your mama’s eyes.

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We

Some of us have c-sections
and some of us labor.

Some of us do not have epidurals
and some of us do.

Some of us give birth
and some of us become parents in other ways.

Some of us put together nurseries
and some of us make room for our babies in our beds.

Some of us bottle feed and
some of us breast feed.

Some of us sleep train
and some of us are sleep trained.

Some of us go to work to provide
and some of us stay home to provide.

Some of us use cloth diapers
and some of us use disposables.

Some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by experience.
And some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by circumstance.

Some of us do a little bit of all these things.
Others across the world do very few.

Yet, even with the varied paths we take,
we are the same–
Bonded across oceans of difference
by our incomparable love
for our children.

Angels

There are many types of angels: guardian angels, messenger angels, archangels . . . and angels who swoop in from Oregon to rescue tired mamas from piles of dishes and laundry, watch over sweet babies while their parents have a few hours alone together for the first time in months, and smite ancient, peeling vinyl from bathrooms as well as molding dry wall from laundry rooms.  I call that angel my Mamatu (AKA Carl’s mom).  : )

For the past week, my Mamatu and my niece have been staying with us for a visit.  I was embarrassed before they arrived because our house is so far from being even remotely guest-worthy and with all the appliance/electrical craziness, I had no dishwasher or working dryer until this past Monday.  And even doing what dishes I could during baby nap-times and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I simply could not get ahead.  On the first day of her visit, she just got up, went into the kitchen and cleaned it.  Completely.  Dishes and all.  Over the next few days she breezed through the laundry, removed the nasty vinyl from the master bath, cut the molding drywall out of the laundry room, sanded and caulked the walls, and continued to do the dishes every day of her visit.

It certainly cannot be considered a vacation!!!!!!  But I am eternally grateful for the desperately needed help.  Now that the basics are caught up, I’ve already done the few dishes in the sink this morning and done meal prep for dinner tonight and the baby has only been sleeping for thirty minutes!  She gave me just the boost I needed to (mostly ; ) stay on top of things.  Along with that, she delighted and entertained her granddaughters every day with walks and silly fun, allowing Carl and I a much-needed date and freeing me up to reorganize our bathroom and clothes, removing the things we aren’t using so that we only have a few boxes to contend with each day instead of the fifteen or so we had been living out of for the past month.

In summary, God bless and keep my amazing Mamatu, who came and vanquished the worst of the chaos.

We all love you so very much and promise that the next visit will be more play and less work!  And thank you for the beautiful angel you made for us, every time I look at her, I think of how gracious you are and how much you’ve done to help us kick start a good, new life.  : )
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