Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When Doctors Don't Tell You What You Want To Hear.

Let's talk infertility! To me, it's like a dirty word.  It represents everything that I hate about myself.  And, yet, it is the thing that brought my children to me.  Because let's face it, what are the odds that we would have gone out looking to adopt if I had been popping out babies like seemingly everyone else that I've ever met (not really, but perception is reality and what not)?  I like to think that we would have.  That we would have known that something was missing.  Because something definitely would have been missing.  But, that's not what this post is about.  This is about....infertility.  (Now you have to imagine it in an ominous voice and maybe a scary sound at the end.)

I don't like talking about it.  I don't like how it makes me feel.  I feel like not being able to physically have a child makes me less of a woman.  I failed at doing the most basic thing that females were designed to do.  And, that just sucks!  Now I know that I'm partially dodging a bullet because pregnancy/childbirth is no day at the park but it still doesn't seem fair that I wasn't even offered my turn on the swings.  (See what I did there?)

The reason I'm writing this is that we went through a bit of an emotionally harrowing experience about a year and a half ago.  I'm still thinking about it so I thought it might help to get it out.  Plus I think there might be a chance that I'm not the only woman who has ever dealt with infertility and related things, haha, so maybe someone else will feel less alone. 

So after years and years of getting my hopes up and dashed whenever I was a bit late on my cousin, Antonio's visit (As my friend and I used to call it.), I didn't watch as closely.  Then one day, I realized that Antonio was a couple of weeks late.  Intriguing.  And, then later and later.  It didn't take long for Brian and I to fall off the deep end of hope ocean.  And, we were supremely convinced that this was it. It had actually happened. 

But, the pregnancy test said no.

We calculated and recalculated dates.  We obsessed over symptoms.  We found articles and statistics about false negative results due to timing, low hormone levels, etc.  (You really can find anything on the internet.)

Of course, we checked out menopause symptoms; since I'm not actually 29 like I say I am.  (Don't tell your friends!) But, still 42 did seem young for that.  I obsessively read symptoms for menopause and checked my family history.  Nothing matched up.  And, I tried to be as objective as possible.

By the time a month and a half had passed, it was all over for us, in terms of any objectivity.  We were firmly convinced and very excited.  No pregnancy test in a box was going to stop us.  It was happening.

So we moved on to a clinic and received another negative result.  But, since that was not technically more accurate than the store bought tests, we were not convinced.  After another week or so, we headed  for an ultrasound for an official word.  We may sound like we were grasping at straws a bit but, the fact is it was something.  It may not have been pregnancy but it was something. 

This is the harrowing part.

We sat in a waiting room with young pregnant women.  I wondered if I was finally in the club.  I was painfully aware that this was it.  Either way, I would have an answer and I might not like what I get.  But, what I didn't expect was lack of compassion.

Of course, the Doctor was an older man.  No offense to nice older men of the world, but it didn't raise my comfort level.  I would have preferred a woman.  He instantly started in about how it was probably early onset menopause (Let's give that one scary sound effects, too.)  He then did the internal stuff and showed me on the screen how it could not possibly be pregnancy.  He went into great details telling me what it would look like if it were pregnancy.  It was like someone told him that I desperately did not want to be pregnant and he should reassure me.  When, in fact, he was killing my dreams with shocking casualness.  I wanted to run away, just get out of there.  But, you can't really run from an internal ultrasound.  Not without taking some costly medical equipment with you.  Enjoy that image!  So, instead, I laid there, staring at the ceiling, trying to ignore his words and avoid looking at the pictures of babies all over the walls. 

When he was done, they took a blood test to confirm Peri-Menopause.  Or as I see it, to confirm that it wasn't "our turn," after all. 

Well, as you can imagine, we were devastated.  It felt like a death.  We had named him.  We had planned for him.  (Yes, it was a him.)  And, even though, we understood that he never existed at all, it still hurt.  It was still a loss.  I suddenly related to what a miscarriage must feels like, emotionally.  And, you women who have experienced that loss (and all others), I wish I could hug you all. 

Brian went through a myriad of emotions.  If we weren't so sad, it would have been fascinating to observe the accuracy of the five stages of grief.  He started with denial with his insistence that the doctor was a quack and didn't know what he was talking about; then moved on to the others.  Seeing as I'm not trying to type this with a toddler in tow, we know that wasn't accurate.  (Come to think of it, I wouldn't be writing this post at all if I had a toddler, but the point remains.)

I was just beside myself.  They had basically told me I was barren and old.  Maybe not in those words, but that's definitely what I felt.

And when the nurse called a few days to cheerfully tell me the hormone levels that confirmed early on-set menopause and verify that all hope was lost; I hung up on her. (I haven't done that since my teens!) I blamed her and the doctor.  I was so angry at them.  I think I'm still angry.  Later, of course, I had to call back and apologize so I could get the level amounts and google it to figure out what the heck it all meant.

Eventually, my dear old cousin, Antonio, came to visit.  And, he made up for lost time, haha.  And he has been mostly routine with his visits since then.  It's almost like the universe was playing a cruel trick on us.  But, we are nice folks and I'm not sure that the universe has time or interest in humor so
I don't know.

All I know is that it was badly handled by that doctor.  What if I had actually had a miscarriage, would he have been more compassionate?  Based on a blog that I read about a woman who did miscarry and had to navigate the happy baby picture hallways, I'd have to say no.  (I wish that I could find that post.) 

I just know that it's plain unfair.

But, the good news is I can treasure those special moments that I had with Brian when we believed that it was happening and felt free to plan and enjoy it.  We may not have gotten to see it through, but what we did get was just great fun. And I can treasure the fact that I have 4 beautiful children who do exist and I'm so very grateful for that.  I love them so very much.

There's a lot of injustice in the world.  A lot of it is way bigger than my pain.  And maybe some of it's not.  All I know is that I still miss that baby who never actually existed because he sure existed in our hearts.

And it would have been nice if the doctor had taken our feelings into account.  It was a baby (granted, an imaginary one), not a Band-Aid.  It didn't hurt less when he ripped it off. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

I don't write about Antwan much.  He's just the sweetest little boy in the world (one of three, anyway) but that isn't necessarily compelling blog material.  Plus, I'm guessing that some of you might think that you actually have the sweetest little boy in the world. ;) His biggest issues are that he is a super fussy eater, is terrible in the mornings, and gets really nutty at the end of the day.  You also probably know kids like that. 

Something else about Antwan is that he has a kind heart.  A really kind heart.  He is the first one who comes up to hug me when I am getting frustrated with the day.  All four of them are really good about that kind of thing, actually, but that Antwan does seem to have a sixth sense about it and knows when I need it. 

When Antwan was a baby, Brian started calling him a warrior poet.  It was pretty accurate.  He was all boy.  He was rough and tumble but had a gentle side that was obvious from the get-go.  As a toddler, he would play with his cars.  But, he would also reprimand his cars for hitting other toys.  And, then, he would check on the injured toys.  "Ok? Ok?"  (Are you ok?)

When we were dealing with the pre-adoptive Lizzie life, it was Antwan who I worried about the most.  (Gotta say, I was also pretty worried about Brian and me, too!)  He had bonded strongly with Lizzie.  When the driver would come to pick her up for her visits with the biological mother, Antwan would be visibly upset and anxiously watch her being driven away.  I would try to sneak out of the house without him but it didn't always work.  I was terrified of a life that didn't involve him growing up with his sister.  Thankfully, that didn't happen and I'm so glad that Antwan doesn't remember any of that.  All he knows is that he lives with his sister, as it should be.

I can think of a million times when he helped me rescue a bug, pointed out when someone wasn't following a rule (especially if safety was involved), or just did the right thing. 

And, the other day just made my heart so happy.

Antwan loves brownies.  Antwan knows I love brownies.  There were only a few brownies left at church and I hadn't made it to the line yet.  He came over twice to tell me to hurry.  He was noticeably anxious about it.  He and I take our sweets seriously.  ;)  And I tried.  But, I got distracted by people as I headed that way.  When he saw that they were almost gone, he snagged the last one and brought it to me.

And, then yesterday, at a picnic, when he heard me joking that I had proved my love to my friend's daughter by giving her the last cookie when she saw that I had snagged it for myself; he came over and gave me his.  I may have made mistakes with my kids.  (In fact, I'm sure of it.)  But, we didn't fail at teaching compassion to Antwan.  Hooking me up with sweets is just a little thing but it was so, well, sweet and it was his impulse.  It makes me happy to know that his impulses drive him to do the right thing. 

Especially when it involves bringing chocolate to his mommy. :)

Yes, I made a point of taking the picture before snagging the cookie. ;)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I'd Like To Buy The World A Goat.

Race is a funny thing.  You hear a lot of contradicting messages from the world.  Be colorblind.  Have pride in your race.  I don't see color.  You know how (insert race) people are.  Why do they segregate themselves?  There is no white privilege. That's reverse discrimination. (No such thing, by the way. It's all just discrimination.)

I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle of these mentalities.  Meaning I can relate to all of them in a way. As a country, we have come so far.  And, yet, we have so far to go.  We are many star date years away from the Star Trek all-inclusive mentality.  But, we're getting there!  But, it really depends who you ask. 

Every day, I read posts from scared black moms in a facebook group.  Why is deep white (or so I've been told) Emily in a facebook group like that?  Because I have black kids.  This makes me uniquely qualified to understand what black moms feel (to a certain extent).  When I hear about a black kid shot, I know that it could've have been my black kid.  And I know that it's terrifying.  When I hear about a black kid judged based on his race, I know that it could've have been my black kid.  And, it's upsetting.

I can relate to the desire and natural inclination that black people seem to have to segregate themselves.  Of course, that's not what they are doing.  But, people want to be around people that have similar life experiences or think the same or struggle the same.  This is not to suggest that every black person in America is the same.  Because that, of course, would be racist.  But, just like it's cool to meet someone with the same name, birthday or from your hometown; it's cool to feel connected to others of your same race.  I'm not explaining this right.  I don't want to trivialize black culture or pretend like I am some great white ambassador because the kids that we adopted are black.  Because in our case, their race was irrelevant as they were meant to be ours, always.

When I was a kid, I heard about the challenges of mixed children.  They were quite exotic when I was a kid.  But, of course, as time goes by, we're all getting all kinds of mixed up.  And, it's totally awesome.  But, anyway, I heard that they had the extra challenge of trying to figure out where they belong.  The expression I heard was "Too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids." 
And I worry about that with my kids and I know that there are definitely challenges for kids being raised by parents of a different race.  But, life is a challenge, in general.  So, I guess it is what it is. 

But, I always look for opportunities to expose my kids to their African American culture or to give them an opportunity to be around other black children.  But, it's not like you can just stand on the street and say "Hey! Can we be friends??"  And we happen to live in a predominately white area so the naturally occurring opportunities are limited.  But, when it does happen, it makes me so happy.  I don't know how much it matters to the kids but it matters to me.  When I took the kids to gymnastics and discovered that most of the class was black or mixed, I was thinking "Yes!" 

Maybe that's crazy, I don't know.  But, at least my heart's in the right place! 

And, the other day, my friend (who also adopted transracially and is also a homeschooling mom) discovered an African American homeschooling group and sent a join request right away.  She then requested to add me.  Paige has a random teddy bear picture on her facebook but I had a selfie with a horse.  She was accepted right away.  But, I waited hours to be accepted and it was really bugging me that I was still pending.  I was ready to make a bunch of black friends and expose my kids to all kind of awesome things.  :)  Finally that night, I changed my profile picture from me and awesome horse to one with my whole family.  And I was in the next morning.

They must have wondered why on earth the white girl with a horse wanted in their group, haha! 

That really has nothing to do with anything.  I just think it's funny. :) And I'm so looking forward to the upcoming field trip.

Anyway, when my son ended up at an alternative school, it was a not-so-great "opportunity" for him to be around more black children.  Unfortunately, these are not-so-great kids.  Unlike William who is a good kid who made some bad decisions; a lot of these kids have very little interest in being good kids.  Hopefully, that will change for them.  Because life is long and these middle and high school years really aren't.  (Despite how they feel at the time,)

So he's found himself in the situation where he is too white for the black kids.  And they tease him for it, mercilessly.  When they found out that he can't rap, they were even more convinced that he doesn't belong.  Of course, I'm thinking that he shouldn't want to fit in with angry, trouble-making kids.  But, that's not how it works.  Instead William has started cursing more.  It's hard to stop it from seeping into your vocabulary when you hear it all day, I get that.  But, what really disturbs me is that he has started writing rap lyrics.  I have found many disturbing things that belonged to my children through the years but my "little boy's" rap is pretty high on the list.  I have to admit that as far as raps go, it was pretty good.  But, the n-word and the b-word? :(  I was so appalled.  But, after learning the reason, we sort of let it go.  For now, anyway. 

When I take them for haircuts, I take them to a "black" barber shop.  They are great and after the first haircut, I understood why Kaleb didn't want to go to Hair Cuttery when he learned that's where I had been taking William and Antwan.  Anyway, William didn't want to get a haircut.  He said that the black kids would make fun of it.  I suggested lines/designs in his head.  (That's super cool, right?)  He was afraid they'd make fun of that, too.  When it comes down to it, kids who are determined to mess with someone will make fun of anything.  William really can't win here.  So we went with short and basic.  He was a little upset but it was better than kind of long and unpicked.

While we were waiting, I talked to Kaleb about it.  Black kids have short hair cuts, too, right?  Lines are cool, aren't they?  He agreed but what I remember more is that I have never felt so old and white in my life, haha. 

When you come down to it, it's hard to be a kid who is struggling to find his place in the world.  It's extra hard to be a kid who is struggling to find his place in the world and has to figure out where he fits in racially.  It's all just hard.

All of those things are hard when you're an adult, too. 

So, really, it's all just hard. 

Race is complicated.  All around.  There's just no simple way to understand how the other side feels and we should stop pretending like we can.  We should also stop thinking of it as the other "side" for that matter. I can relate to the challenges of raising black children because I am raising black children.  But, I can then go out and enjoy my white-ness and take comfort in the knowledge that my children will enjoy a bit of white privilege because of who their parents are.

But, at some point, the kids will be judged because of who their parents are and undoubtedly, they will be aware that it would be simpler not to be in a transracial family. But, hopefully, that will be short-lived.

All I know is that people should be judged on an individual basis but they aren't and might not ever be.  Pride in your culture doesn't equal segregation but maybe sometimes, it does.  Admitting that racism exists doesn't make you a racist.  It makes you open-minded. It is hard to fit in and we should all try to teach our kids to be accepting of others and stop the judgmental trickle-down effect as much as possible. My kids are neither too white or too black.  They're just awesome.  But, I don't want my son to be a rapper.  I mean, unless he's going to rap about unicorns and rainbows.  I will also accept superheroes... ;)

I have no solutions to offer.  I will continue to worry about my kids.  And I will worry a little more because they are black.  I just will.  I will educate them on their culture, their history, and try to instill a sense of pride in their race.  And I will teach them about other cultures, history, and try to get them as fascinated with the UK as I am.  (Did someone say family trip abroad??) I will teach them to treat everyone with respect and to try to do the right thing at all times, not just when it's convenient.  And hopefully, they won't ignore all these lessons.

And I will do a bunch of field trips with the African American homeschool group because it looks like they do some cool field trips and yes, I want my kids to feel less different.  I am particularly excited about Diamond D Ranch because there will be cow feeding and goat petting involved.  I mean, we can all agree that goats are cool, right? ;)  We could probably solve some of the country's racial problems if we just got a bunch of goats involved!

Just a thought....

I don't know this person but I wish I was this person.

I know these three, though. :)

An argument could be made for the societal benefits of deer, too.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adoptive Mothers Are Just Mothers.

I’ve been seeing a lot of mothers’ day posts going around.  Well, really, I have seen two.  I just keep seeing them.  One is asking moms to post a picture of their pregnancy, their infant children and their children now.  The other is a survey about the delivery and birth of their first child.  I have four kids, but right away, I can’t participate. 

I don’t begrudge anyone their memories of those special moments.  And I truly treasure my memories of adopting my children.  I don’t treasure all the fun adjustment struggles that followed, but still.  And I can imagine how amazing the experience of giving birth would be.  I’m sure that not all of the parts are amazing, but the miracle of birth and life, that’s pretty epic.  And I can’t compete with that.  But, it was amazing to be told that our boys were ours as a judge ceremoniously slammed his gavel.  (I assume that he did, some of it was a blur)  And it was amazing and indescribably relieving to be told after a year of uncertainty that our daughter was our daughter forever. 

But, the reality is that Brian and I never got to experience what you experienced because of some random decision by Mother Nature, God, or the man in the moon.  And it hurts us.  It hurts a lot.  I have to add before anyone wonders if I would trade my children for the biological experience.  The answer is no.  I am 100% committed to them and so grateful that they are mine.  But, honestly, what I do wish is that they were my biological children.  I wish that I could have had them from the beginning, held them in my arms as babies, spared them any moments of living without a mother and father who loved them, kept them from ever having to be asked about their “real mom,” (Seriously, world, stop using that term.), and to just have every single memory that I could have with them.  Because just like the universe brought us together, it also robbed us of some of their moments.  I wish I had those.  And, of course, I want to be able to post a darn picture of me looking bloated and uncomfortable (and not just because I was premenstrual, haha)!

I know that I probably sound all  overly-sensitive and what not.  And, I am, of course. :) It's just that I waited years to be part of this club and over the last few days, I felt a little left out of it.  I’m not asking for special treatment because I adopted my children.  I’m just asking for you to realize that I am a mom, too.  And to remember that adoption is a legitimate way of becoming a mother.  It was a choice that I made.  And if I feel a little left out, my kids might feel that way, too.  And, honestly, that’s what I’d like the world to remember more.  I can only imagine how it feels for them to know that someone else gave birth to them.  And, in our case, that person made some really questionable choices so that must be even more confusing.  I don’t know how much they think about the fact that I am not their biological mom and if that messes with their heads.  I don’t know but I know that they must think about it more than they let on.  I know that because smart people, in articles that I have read, said so! ;)

Before I get too off-track, let me just say that I am a mom.  You are a mom.  The similarities in those roles greatly out-weigh the differences.  And the magnitude of that role is bigger than the way we got those roles.  So fill out your surveys.  I don’t blame you, I would.  But, if you see a post floating around that is a little more inclusive, maybe post that one, too?  Because I love to talk about my kids, I think everyone has picked up on that!  We don't need to be specially included when posting about different kinds of moms.  We are not one step up from fur-moms and single dads.  Not hating on fur-moms, though, cause I sure love my fur babies!  But, the point is I am their mom.  Not their adoptive mom.  And you are not their biological mom. You are just their mom.  We are moms.  And I might not be able to tell you about my epidural or how long I was in labor, but I know what it's like to wrestle my child into his shoes, endure a public tantrum, panic because my teenager is out past curfew and I'm imagining the worst, question every choice I make, wonder how I'm going to make it through the day, and moments later, marvel at how amazing they are. 

And, it might seem silly to get this deep over a few silly facebook posts but I worry that it is indicative of how society views adopted children.  Different.  Not bad.  Just different.  Well, kids feel different enough, no matter who they are.  Mine are particularly in trouble because they are stuck with this nutty lady for a mom. 
Luckily, they are a little nutty, too! ;)

So let’s just make them feel a little less different.  It’s not enough to treat us the same, but it's a start!  But, please, also, think of us as the same.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hospitals Have Great Mashed Potatoes But I Don't Want To Go Back.

A handful of weeks ago, (has it really been that long??), we found ourselves at the hospital with William.  My experience with hospitals is limited.  I had a hernia operation when I was a kid but most of my memories involve me grossing out my friends by showing them my incisions. I also remember my mom surprising me with hand-made stuffed animals to distract from my fear of needles when it was time for the I.V.  (Side note, I love my mom.  And my Dad! He doesn't crochet but he gives awesome hugs!)  I have visited a few people who had babies.  But, that is a different hospital all together, figuratively speaking.

This time, I was signing William into an emergency clinic and then later following an ambulance to the hospital/his home for the next couple of days.

It all started when I observed William randomly fall a couple of times during the afternoon.  I didn't think too much of this because despite the fact that we are not genetically related, he has inherited my clumsiness.  Not long after, I went to do a drop-in pet visit (if you don't know, I'm a pet-sitter.)  When I came back, he was "off."  He said he had a headache and when I tried to give him Ibuprofen, I really saw how off he was.  He couldn't get the pill into his mouth and he kept spilling the water.  He was getting less responsive and I was caught between the feeling that I needed to take him somewhere and the equally strong feeling that I didn't want to spend hours in an emergency room if he didn't really need to be seen by a doctor.  Was he tired?  Was he faking for attention?  

When I got Brian involved, he said he should go to the doctor but he was mostly suggesting it to give me piece of mind.  It didn't take long for us to both know that we made the right choice.  William soon became like a different person.  It was like he had a stroke or suddenly developed a brain injury (I kept re-playing the falls in my head to try to remember if he had hit his head.)

He was uncooperative with every test that they ran.  He cursed a lot.  He totally freaked out when they did a cat-scan to the point that they had to put him in restraints.  He had hallucinations/delusions.  But, they did manage to run the tests and everything came up normal/negative.  We asked him a million times if he had taken something or if someone had given him some "candy" that he didn't recognize.  Both the tests and William said no.  I was terrified that he had some sort of psychotic break and that the William that I knew was gone forever.  And, at that moment, all I wanted in the world was to be home arguing with him about doing chores. 

No such luck.  Instead, sometime around midnight, we were transferred to the hospital and I was soon (Well, not soon, nothing happened quickly.) following an ambulance on the longest drive of my life.

So eventually, Brian and I found ourselves in a hospital room with William.  Waiting, just waiting.  We agreed that when the doctor came, I would head home so I could take care of the animals, take the kids to my parents in the morning and then head back.  Little did we know, the doctor wouldn't come until 4am.  We explained everything to the doctor like we would about a million times over the weekend to different doctors, he checked vitals, said something or other (I really don't remember now) and he left.  I went home, spent half an hour updating people and went to sleep (kind of).  I got up an hour later and worked my way back to the hospital.  It was insanely hard to function on an hour of sleep and I am exhausted now, just writing about it. haha.  But, I got through. 

We spent the day explaining things to different doctors, learning that more tests were normal, and watching William come out of it (whatever it was) more and more.  He was very quiet and lethargic  but he knew who he was and where he was.  He had no idea how he got there, though. 

Meanwhile, Brian was amazing.  If anything good came out of this, it was a reminder of how much Brian loves his kids and how good he is in these types of situations.  When I sat there, unsure of what to do, Brian just did it.  He kept him as calm as possible, cut up his food, made jokes, etc.  I felt paralyzed by my fear.  I held my own; I don't want to imply that I was in a fetal position in a corner, haha, but he really was very impressive. :)  And our friends and family were just as impressive.  My parents and sister covered Lizzie and Antwan,  Kaleb covered the animals, although it's possible that he complained a little. ;)  Family and friends checked in, visited, etc.  It's awfully nice to know that we are not alone.

By the next day when he was discharged, after MRI's, blood tests, examinations, etc, etc; he was practically normal.  They never figured out what it was (the leading theory was that it was stress-related).  But, they did find other medical issues that I need to follow up on.  For example, my son has an abnormal sacrum (tail-bone area)!  Who knew?? So, anyway, the beginning of our summer is going to be filled with doctor appointments. Yay! ;)  Truth be told, though. I'm looking forward to it.  You know, taking steps to make things better for him and what not.

So, about a week later, he was back to his recent jerky, teenager ways.  I was just devastated.  All my efforts to create a calm, less stressful environment seemed futile.  Letting the small stuff go seemed pointless if he wasn't going to.  Finally, one day, Brian, William and I had a talk.  (Not to suggest that we hadn't talked before but this felt more productive.) We started with emphasizing that I am the mom and therefore I get to make the decisions. So while he might not agree with them or I might even be wrong, his current method of yelling, refusing to comply, and slamming things was not an allowable response.  I kept asking him what is wrong?  What is really wrong?  He kept saying nothing.  I kept reminding him that he accused me of never sitting down and talking to him and then pointing out that I was in fact sitting down and talking to him.  And he kept saying nothing.  Finally, we learned a couple of things.  He feels unwanted and un-needed.  This is no great revelation but it's still true.  And sad.  He also said (after some good old Emily prodding and maybe some dramatic "Just tell me! Why are you so mad at me???") that he's not really mad at me.  He's just already mad and whatever I happen to do (justified or otherwise) that upsets him, sends him over the edge. I thought I was very clever when I asked him if he was like the Hulk.  Cause, you know, that's Banner's secret!  He's "always angry!"  On a side note, I watched The Avengers last night. ;)   Anyway, he wasn't impressed with my analogy but I sure was.  Either way, I was glad that his anger directed at me wasn't really all about me. 

So things have been a little better since then. He's been a little more cheerful, communicating his feelings more, and he's been better about keeping the anger in check, especially when reminded. I've done a little better about letting the small stuff go.  But, seriously, how hard is it to pick your underwear up from the bathroom floor??  ;)  I think we're both trying and that's really all you can expect from anyone, right?

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sometimes Actions Do Speak Louder Than Words.

Brian and I are always fascinated by the way Lizzie expresses her love vs. how the boys express their love. Each of the boys freely gives hugs and will tell us they love them.  But, Lizzie. She doesn't like to say "I love you." She will hug but usually turns her back to lean in to the person she's hugging. She really doesn't mind the hugs and she definitely has no issues with human contact.  Her favorite spot is curled up on the recliner with me.  But, she's just never been demonstrative.

Lizzie was here the earliest in her life. Kaleb was 13, William was 5, Antwan was 13 months, but Lizzie was 2 weeks.  For Lizzie, there isn't an inkling of a memory of any other reality. I think she's very fortunate in that regard. I have the memories to deal with.  I have to remember but I'm so glad that she doesn't. Anyway, from almost day one, she has been showered with affection.  She has been made to feel like the most special little girl in the whole wide world.  Mostly cause she is. :)  She doesn't have that unfortunate unfillable emotional bucket with a hole in the bottom that William has.  And she doesn't have his fear that one day we won't love him anymore.  God knows that could never happen. But, still she holds back.

It's not an issue for us.  We know she loves us and that she is happy.  It's just interesting how different kids develop and deal with their realities.  And since she's been home with me, full time in homeschooling land, we've gotten closer.  Now I make a game out of her reluctance.  "Sure, you can play the game but you have to tell me you love me!"  I will get a rushed "I love you" back and I will cheer wildly until she grins and goes about her business.  When she asks me to sit by her at dinner, I'll say "You want me to sit by you because I'm your best friend??"  She'll roll her eyes but smile and say "yes."

But, the thing is she does love me and I am her best friend, for now, anyway.  Although, I know a couple of little girls at church, though, who are working on taking that title from me. ;)  And, although, we would've thought she would be the one who would fling her arms around us all the time because she felt so loved and ridiculously secure; she shows love how she feels comfortable and that is just fine, too. :)

It makes every "I love you" special, no matter how I get them.  And, most importantly, she knows we love her, too.

So when she drew me this picture on Antwan's dry erase board (without any bribing or manipulating on my part, haha), I was beside myself.  :)  I don't remember the last time that she drew a picture like that or actually wrote the words down.  When she shyly showed me, I did my best to downplay it.  But, inside, I was squealing, happily.  To me, this is amazing. :)  Yes, I knew she loved me, but it sure is nice to hear it....well, see it. :)

This is totally my phone's wallpaper now.:)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

My Son And Honesty...Or Lack There Of.

I've been trying to write this post about William for awhile.  (If you are reading this, by the way, that means he is cool with it.)  I get a little written and then plan to go back to it and then get sucked into the mom trenches.  Before I get back to finish, something else has happened and I have to basically start over. You should see all the versions, it's like reading my diary. A fairly depressing diary but you get the point. ;)

So, here's a short update.  (Just kidding, it probably won't be short!)

William has always been my most challenging child. In some ways, he's my cheerful, funny, cooperative little man.  But, in some ways, he's like a bad boyfriend who will tell you how wonderful you are and lie to your face as he cheats on you with your best friend.  This was the analogy that I shared with him, the other day. I'm willing to wager that it was lost on him. But, to me, it makes perfect sense. It's that awareness that you can't trust someone and it makes you afraid to give of yourself completely. And, yes, I know that I'm the adult and he's the kid (no matter how grown up he might feel), but it still sure is hard to be lied to.

We've been in a vicious cycle for years. He lies, we get upset (to varying degrees), we give him consequences and reassure him through gritted teeth that we still love him and always will.  Then he promises not to lie anymore and the cycle continues. All children lie, of course. But, William takes it to a whole new level and I get to the point that if he says the sky is blue, I'm walking outside to go check myself. (To steal Brian's example.) I constantly suspect him and that makes him mad and frustrated.  But, it beats trusting him and then finding out that he was lying.  Maybe it beats that, I don't know.

We know that some of his lying is due to his basic fear that he is not worthy of our love and that we will, in fact, stop loving him if he admits that he did something wrong, didn't really brush his teeth, didn't do his homework, forgot to walk the dog, got mad, yelled at his sister, etc.  It's hard to be convincing when we are so frustrated but we have promised him over and over that we will always love him.  The counselors have promised him that we will always love him.  The clown at the circus when he was 6 promised him that we will always love him (it's possible that I'm exaggerating slightly).  But, it doesn't sink in.  It also doesn't sink in that lying is always going to make things worse.

And, of course, some of his lying is due the fact that he just can't seem to resist.  And now that he has embraced his adolescence and all tendencies associated with it, everything is just plain harder.

So, that's my rambling intro to my actual story.  Here's the deal.  William wanted to go to back to public school so he could go to high school.  We had our hesitations but he and I were butting heads at home (I refer back to his adolescent angst) and I didn't feel like he was really learning anything in virtual school, anyway. So we investigated how to make it happen.  It was a pretty simple process.  Simple to sign him up, but not exactly simple for him to do his time at the alternative school for the box cutter incident. (  But, that was what he wanted and Brian and I were leaning towards sooner than later but hadn't officially decided when. 

I was so worried about how he would survive with all the "bad" kids.  I was afraid for his safety.  But, then it all changed.  I was still worried, of course, but I guess you could say that I felt a bit less sympathetic when I caught him trying to steal a charger from Walmart.  I was lucky enough to come around the corner in time to see his attempt and stop it.  This time. Who knows how many times I didn't catch him. I was devastated. It was New Year's Day and it seemed like a pretty bad omen for how our year would go, with him, anyway.  My paranoia was pretty dead on because, wow, it's been rough.

With this great revelation, we decided that alternative school should definitely come sooner than later and I soon found myself driving to a not-so-nice part of town and signing my son up.  I listened to the rules against bringing anything, not being allowed to speak, metal detectors, searches, etc.  And I couldn't make sense of how we got there.  Part of me wanted to scream that he didn't belong there and the other part of me was terrified that he did.  The only thing that my parts could agree on was that I hoped it helped him, scared him straight, whatever you want to call it.

For awhile, it was business as usual. I mean, lousy business that involved him catching a bus at 530 a.m. and telling me stories about kids yelling at teachers.  But, business as usual, none-the-less.

It didn't take long for more drama. Then more drama. William tried to buy drugs on the bus (we don't believe that, though.), William had a phone hidden in his room for 3 months that he got from who knows where and then, William was suspended from school.  I'm being vague on the details of that for William's benefit.  But, oh how I want to spill all so somebody can tell me what in the world to do.

So, we soon found ourselves going to another manifestation meeting and another disciplinary meeting so we could find out what his next consequence would be.  (It turned out to be extended time there.)  But, this time, there was no point in making a statement. There was no "Don't send him to alternative school! He only did these things because he was being bullied and felt unsafe."  It was true then but it's not true now. While he is still getting messed with, nothing he is doing is a direct reaction to that.  Not an obvious or justifiable one, anyway.

We honestly don't know what to do anymore.  We are so angry.  He is so angry.   We get more angry because we don't know why he has the nerve to be angry.  And that probably makes him angry.  Etc etc.

In the midst of all this, I try to remember to tell him that we will love him no matter what. But, I don't act like I do.  I mean, sure, freaking out when these things happen, taking him to the alternative school, giving him consequences; these are all ways of showing love.  Because if we didn't care, we wouldn't bother, right?  He doesn't see that, though.  But, I also feel like I can't spend a lot of time showing the love in more enjoyable ways, being silly with him, being happy, etc, because that will send a message that all is ok.  Because it's not.  It's just not.  (It is no secret to me that this method is not effective, either.)

I am so tired.  For the last 9 years, I have gotten burned over and over again.  And, I know that it's part of parenting.  But, I hate feeling like I can't let my guard down because when I do, I will be made a fool of.  And, again, I know, welcome to parenting.  I guess I just thought that those good times would actually be good.  Not just good because I hadn't found out the bad yet.  It hurts me so much that he can lie so easily.  It may seem like I am being overly-dramatic and that's because I am!  haha.  But after years of little lies and big lies, I am just so tired.  Tired and, yes, overly-dramatic. ;)  I am tired of not ever being able to take him at his word, I'm tired of now checking his pockets after we leave a store and not letting him leave my side.  I am tired.

We love him to the moon and back.  But, we don't know how to save him.  We don't know how to get him off this track.  He has such a good heart and he wants to be a good person (not to say that he's not, but you know what I mean).

I feel like I am in a secret longitudinal study by a psychologist somewhere.  She is studying how childhood trauma during those pesky formative years affects the rest of a person's life.  The answer is a lot, apparently.

Now the trick is how do we fix it?  Can we fix it?

Is his increase in rotten choices just the beginning of more bad stuff or is it just a particularly rocky patch?

The only thing that I do know is that this is one complicated relationship that I can't and won't leave.  Even if it makes me crazy in the process.

And, I'm sure it will. ;)

So, I'm trying to take one day at a time.  Even if almost every day is filled with an argument or a discovery.  I'm trying to find ways to show him that I am still on his side.  But, honestly, I usually fail miserably.  I have so much anger and hurt inside me and I don't know what to do with it.  I can only hope that when I do verbalize that to him, he can understand that.

But, sometimes, he is just a kid holding a bunny

or helping to plant seeds in a garden.

He's posing with a scarecrow

or pretending that wrap-around post dialation sunglasses are cool.  

And sometimes, he reminds me that he loves me by writing "I love mom" in chalk in the driveway.  And if I could find the darn picture that I took of it, I assure you it would be very touching.! ;)    

So, sometimes, I feel a little less dramatically doomed.  The struggle will continue, I have no doubt of that.  But, if we love him and he loves us, we are already ahead of the game, right?

They say that love conquers all.  Well, I guess that we are going to put that theory to the test. :)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

And Life Just Keeping Going.

It is amazing how hard it is to keep up with my blog with half ok my kids home.  I thought that homeschooling would free up so much time but it turns out time flies regardless of whether it's filled with obligation, school work or fun.  But, I'm not complaining.  I'm just observing.  I love having them home with me...most of the time. ;)

So, William started alternative school at the beginning of the year for many fun and not-fun reasons and life has been dictated by what "adventures" he had at school each week, ever since.  For awhile there, I was surprised if the dean didn't call at the end of the day.  But that's another blog post. But, other than that, he's enjoying riding his bike and driving me crazy.;)

Kaleb has been keeping a fairly low profile.  His attitude is great, does all kinds of sweet things for me and we are getting along better than ever.  This, of course, means that he's getting away with tons of things and enjoying the fact that I haven't picked up on them yet.  But, I'm not gonna lie, I'm enjoying the blissful ignorance.

Antwan is Antwan.  He is still obsessed with orange and a math whiz.  He gives great hugs and doesn't like getting up in the morning.

And Lizzie is an amateur chef and remains the animal whisperer of the house and maintains that we need more pets.  Although, I assure you; we do not. At least, that's what Brian tells me! haha.


Brian is doing great at work, got a raise a handful of months ago which made everything easier, and is steadfast in his no more animals stance but has already caved several times since declaring that.  (I think he loves us.)

And I just want a few more hours in the day (every mom's dream), an automatic vacuum to call my own, Batman on speed-dial and, as always, a horse.

There you have it, the unsolicited update on our life! 

Also, we took a trip, no one fought, and nothing went wrong.  Weird, right?  Haha.  It was pretty awesome.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

This Is Real.

I try to use moments as opportunities. As I've mentioned before, we watch Supergirl and Kara/Supergirl is, of course, adopted.  I enjoy the opportunity to point out how she and her Earth family are truly a family despite the fact that there is not a biological connection.  It plays right into my master plan of making sure that my kids are secure in their reality. And, although, I know that they will (and might already) have questions about their biological family (beyond what we've already told them), I only hope that when these questions come up, their connection to us is strong enough to handle it.  And so far I think it is.

So Lizzie was watching a scene where Supergirl went to see her biological mother.  Well, actually, it was more of a hologram recording of her because she actually died on Krypton.  Sorry, not the point. Here is the point.  When Kara was talking to her, Lizzie asked "Is that her real mom?"

My heart broke for a moment. All my preaching about correct terminology and the damaging message that it can send when some words are used and those words came out of my daughter's mouth?!  It's just not fair.  I have always bristled at the use of "real mom."  Biological mother, yes. Birth mother, yes.  But, what I've been doing all these years is nothing but real.  I'm her real mom. Anyway, with impressive fake casualness, I said "That's her biological mom, yes."  I then tried to let it go and instead focused on the fact that she was curled up under a blanket with me.  And that was exactly where she wanted to be. :)

I think too much. I know this. She didn't mean anything by it, just like the well-meaning people who often use those words don't mean anything by it.  I know that her choice of words meant nothing.  Still didn't love it, though.

There's another show that I watch. This Is Us. And, wow, it is good.  There are so many storylines that are relevant to my life. Transracial adoption and reconnecting with biological families are at the top of that list. Anyway, in an uncharacteristic move, I decided to sneak an episode in before surrendering the tv to the kids. I didn't think anything of it since they were entertaining themselves but then William sat down to watch and started asking what it was about.  I gave him a brief synopsis and we started to watch.

It started with a scene with Randall's biological father. (Randall is black and was adopted into a white family.)  I was keenly aware of how they were portraying the reconnection as a successful situation. And I was just as aware that I don't particularly want William to go looking for his biological father. The father he has is pretty awesome, after all.  Now don't get me wrong.  I understand that it might happen and I will support it when and if it does, but I'm not going to lie and say that I "want" it to happen.  Anyway, I selfishly turned the show off after making an excuse that I couldn't hear the tv, anyway.

I wasn't proud of myself.  I know I'm supposed to be a bigger person.  But, when it comes down to it, I'm still kind of mad.  Really, really mad that I couldn't get pregnant in the first place and that I now  have a complicated life that might later result in a complicated reunion.  Which will end with me in tears, no matter how it goes. I cry easily so that's not necessary as dramatic as it sounds. ;)  But, t's important that I emphasize something.  I love Kaleb, William, Antwan, and Lizzie.  They are my children.  And I wouldn't give them up for anything in the world.  And I still believe that it was all meant to happen this way because if we had created our family through biology, we may not have known to go looking for them.  And that would truly have been tragic.  But it would be nice to take away some of my insecurities and all of theirs.  It would be nice to watch a show without feeling like I need to do damage control.  But, of course, now that I've vented that out, I am remembering that protecting your children is just part of life and all parents share that; no matter what their situation.

So, I have to remember that turning off a show won't stop William from wondering about his history and we will continue to answer any questions he has.  And I have to remember that sometimes a word is just a word (especially when it's coming from an 8 year old!).  And I just have to hope that they are just as unwilling to give me up as I am unwilling to give them up.

And, I have to remember what else Lizzie says when she talks about adoption.  She makes it a group effort.  She says things like "when we got Kaleb."  And, the other day when she was asking me about when she came to us. (I was trying to clarify something that I had said earlier about how she was with us at 2 weeks but that we adopted her officially at 12 months.)  She said "So I was a baby when we got us and then we adopted me later?"  For her, adoption is who we are and what we do (as evidenced by the insane amount of animals we've also adopted, haha.)  It's us. To steal my new favorite show's title - This Is Us.

And, she was one of us all along.  They all were.

And just as they are really our children, we are really their mom and dad. And we always will be.   Real.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Resolving To Be Better!

It's a new year and I definitely am one to succumb to the allure of new year's resolutions.  And I have several.  I want to declutter, spend more time with friends, save money, and as is traditional, I want to lose weight!  Or as I like to call it, I want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I want to lose weight, but more importantly, I want to be healthier. I want to have energy and have less back pain. I don't want to eat more vegetables, but I want to feel like I did. So, actually, I want to get better about remembering to take my vitamins. haha.  

I also intend to have a partner in crime.  My pug, Frank. He's one of the only beings I know that is lazier than me.  (I'm not really that lazy, but Lizzie says I am so she must be right.)  Frank sleeps all day and only wakes up to eat or go potty. I'm really not exaggerating. And, honestly, I'm quite jealous. ;)  But, he's not healthy and he is definitely in need of losing a few pounds. So, good news, Frank! We're getting in shape!

This is going to come as a shock to Frank's system.  He is philosophically opposed to walks and has been known to take naps mid-walk, guilt his human into carrying him, or score a ride in the stroller instead. 

But, he needs the exercise. And, I need the motivation.  So I'm doing it for my dog!

I'm also doing it for my children.  They need me to lead by example and they need to be healthy and active, too.  They are already pretty active, but it wouldn't kill them to eat better. 

Regardless of what they think. haha.

So, I'm all set-up with my fitness pal app. I've already put my calories for the day in, I've added in my 5 minute walk and I've thought hard about exercising a lot.  I'm happy to report that according to the app, I have 40 calories left for the day!  Ok, maybe I shouldn't be happy to report that since I haven't had dinner yet, but still, for now, I am within the limit.  Anyway, it's only my first day and apparently, there is no beginners luck for me so I will have to just do better. :)

So tomorrow, maybe I will have one less piece of pizza and if I'm feeling really crazy, I will skip my morning pop-tart, and be way under the 1200 calorie limit.  :) (I'm just kidding, I would never skip my morning pop-tart.) I'll have to think of some other options...)

This resolution is gonna be tricky for me. 

But, I don't think anyone is going to suffer more than Frank....

No, please don't make me walk!

Ok, I walked. Can I sniff a bush now??