Thursday Randoms

It’s wild to think that a year ago I was frantically packing, avoiding saying goodbyes I didn’t want to need to say, and feeling so unsure.

It isn’t easy making the transition from leading others, to leading only yourself.  I miss having a team, but I also love the deeply personal pride I feel after completing a project on my own.

One of my favorite things about being home with my Sunshine is the luxury of doing one thing at a time and giving all of myself to that one thing.  Whether it’s playing with her outside, cooking, writing, chores, or anything else, I no longer spend all my time doing one thing and thinking about something else that needs doing.

Part of the reason I loved this house the moment I met her is that a writer is meant to live here and I knew when I crossed the threshold for the first time that I wanted that writer to be me.

Motherhood is amazing and fulfilling and difficult and precious.  The rest of me is still here, too, and still needs to be acknowledged, exercised, and cherished.  It’s a balance I’m still working out.

Even on our worst days, I miss her while she naps.

Time to go, the dishes are calling, and since I let that call go to voicemail yesterday, I’d best pick up today.  : )

Bye!
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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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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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My Mama Bear

Today is my very first Mother’s Day.  My loves have run to the store while I laze about in pajamas drinking coffee and writing on our couch (Yes! Our couch is in the house!!  But that’s a post for another day).  In other words, I think Mother’s Day is a day I’m going to like.  I had planned to write about how much I love being a mother, but all the words swirling around in my soul at present moment are about my own mama, so here goes.

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(Me eating cookie dough while Mama Bear is attempting to make actual cookies)

I have always loved you, mama.  Yes, even that time I called you a butthole (mere moments before dad put a bar of soap in my mouth) for grounding me when I was sure it was completely the brothers’ fault.  Yes, even when you used to use the Vulcan death pinch on my shoulder to get me to leave church quietly when I was misbehaving.  And yes, even that time in high school when you told me you believed me that I wasn’t doing drugs but I was going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time one day and I was so angry I called a friend and spent twenty minutes reciting everything I didn’t like about you, not knowing you could hear.  Only to be picked up by the police two weeks later.  At least I really wasn’t lying about the drugs, right?

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And I have never doubted your love for me.  After all, I remember you singing songs with me in the car while we went to the hot springs and everyone else was at school and work.   I remember your hugs (always and still the best) smelled like your violet perfume when I was growing up.  I remember you cheering me on at basketball games–a sport neither of us particularly understood or cared for.  I remember you taking me to every mall on the I-5 corridor looking for the perfect prom dress and shoes.  I remember you crying when I tried to sing in church a few months after surgery to remove my thyroid cancer and I couldn’t.  I remember you buying me a blanket that felt like my dogs’ fur when I was in radioactive iodine isolation.  I remember declaring I was going on a spirit quest and while everyone else looked at me oddly and said nothing, you sewed me a medicine bag.  I remember too many memories of you showing your love to list them here.

It’s strange to think that no matter how much we love someone or how well we know them, there are always parts and pieces we never get to see.  Having a daughter of my own, has given me new eyes and, with them, I see a facet of you I haven’t before.  You are incredible.  And not just for keeping four, adventuresome but not always wise, children alive into adulthood.

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How you managed to create so much love, fun, and happiness with so little under such difficult conditions over the years is nothing short of magic.  How you did all that while working and going to school, I will never understand.  I already admired your strength.  I already thought you were warm and giving.  I already thought I knew you.  But this one baby has broken my heart with love and fear and when I think of you now, with all of us and all we’ve been through, I am in awe of your warmth, humor, resilience, and grace.

So, on my first Mother’s Day, I want to tell you again that I love you and to tell you again that I thank you for everything because I truly do.  But I also want to tell you, that this year, I see you a little better, I understand a little more about how much of yourself you have given to us, and I am humbled by all you have accomplished and all that you are.  You are a blessing to our family, Mama Bear, Happy Mother’s Day.  : )

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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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Temporary Insanity

I was standing in the kitchen when it hit.

Four sleepless nights in.

There were dishes on every square inch of countertop

coats in our chairs

stacks of mail

baby toys

dog harnesses and leashes and toys

an unopened toaster in the center of the table

the recycling overflowing it’s box in the kitchen

the garbage overflowing its can in the entryway

I hadn’t showered

the coffee was gone

I was trying to pick up

but there was nowhere to put anything

I grabbed a Coronita from the fridge

I knew I needed a moment

a quiet moment

a cold, little beer

and everything would look possible again

but there was no opener.

I began to feel a little desperate

rifling through boxes I already knew the openers weren’t in

and wondering for the fiftieth time this week why we didn’t have a key rack yet.

There are openers on ALL of our key chains

yet I couldn’t find a single one.

But I need this little beer!!!!

I need a little moment,

to close my eyes and imagine a completed kitchen, I love

A pantry with shelves

a living room with furniture

just one moment of peace

if I don’t get it . . .

Inspiration struck,

sweet college years

and sweet, ugly counter top we plan to rip out

so I felt no guilt as I held the beer against it’s edge

and slammed the bottom of my fist into the cap

on a grin

as it flew off with a satisfying pop.

Disaster averted.
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Morning Mama Thoughts

My favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is watching her choose where she would like to go and what she would like to do when she gets there.  She used to be limited to where we put her or what toys we presented her with, and now another layer of her personality is coming through.

My least favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is that there are now roughly 10,762 new and exciting ways for her to accidentally maim/injure/kill herself.  I have nicknamed her “suicidal octopus” because I swear she has eight, lightning-fast arms and they’re all reaching for something dangerous!

We are getting closer to the end of nursing and I’m both excited and sad.  On one hand, I will be SO happy to be able to wear whatever I want without thinking about how hard/easy it will be to nurse in.  On the other hand, because my wild child is always on the go, nursing time has been our snuggle time and I wonder if/how she will snuggle when there’s no need to stop and snack in my arms.

I think about my parents all the time.  Having a child of my own puts an entirely different spin on so many of my memories.  Like when I was twelve and I was riding my horse bareback, with a bridle I made out of baling twine and jumping the irrigation canal/all the irrigation pipe in the field.  If I remember right, my dad was supposed to be watching me, but he had to go handle a work emergency so mom came to pick me up.  She was terrified of horses and I remember seeing her white knuckles on the fence as we thundered up the way.  I have always thought that story was hilarious.  Now I can actually imagine the worry and fear she must have felt that I would be hurt.  To my  mother’s credit, she did not punish me; she signed me up for jumping lessons.  : )

Another hilarious thinking of my mom moment came when I was exiting the restroom and passed a woman and her young son going in together.  It struck me for the very first time that my mother actually taught me to use the bathroom!!!!  Thanks, mom.  : )

I am so happy to finally be in a permanent living space.  Every situation we’ve been in since she was born has been temporary.  She’s been shuttled across the country multiple times, spent countless hours in the car while we looked for vehicles, then apartments, then houses.  She seems pretty happy wherever we are, but I think she’ll feel the difference as we get settled.

A lovely friend sent me a lovely book (The Magic of Motherhood) and though it’s hard to find time to read, my favorite line from the early chapters is, “Your body will be a home to your children.”  How very true.  My body doesn’t look or feel quite the way it did before my Sunshine came along but there is no place where she feels as safe and comfortable as my arms.  No other body will do, it’s only mine that gives her such peace and security–how beautiful is that?

She is swinging in the living room, fast asleep while I sip coffee and write.  Occasionally, I look up and her face swings into view.  If I had known before getting pregnant just how much I would feel as a mother, I might have chosen another path.  It’s frightening sometimes, the depth and breadth of it.  What I know now that she’s here is that I’d feel it all a thousand times for just one of her sunny smiles.

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