Thursday, August 22, 2013

And then there were seven -- Welcome Baby Grayce

There was a call.  A familiar voice on the other end and an announcement that my girls were big sisters. 

A Baby Girl. 

No. I said.  No.  

We are done. 

We are DONE. 

"Just come see her, please" the voice said

"They've asked you to take her"

And so I visited.  A tiny baby.  Alone. 

My baby. Our baby.  

God's Grace is Sufficient.



 And today she is, finally, ours.  We are a family.  

Seven kids.  

Two tired parents.  

God's Grace is Sufficient. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Well Done.

I cried this weekend like I have not cried in years. Emotion so deep and so overwhelming that despite my best intentions I could not keep it in.

When you are handed a child, either a wee baby just snatched and pushed from your body, or a screaming toddler terrified of your strange face or a silent preschooler angry at their exploding world, a mother, a good mother, hands them their heart.  This little person holds your world, and they become yours.

There are the good times that poets and mothers often write about, and remember on Mother's Days or in impassioned essays on the wonders of motherhood.  There are horrible times that only are spoken about in hushed tones in a therapist's office or in the knowing, silent looks of other mother's of teenagers whose hearts are bruised and broken.

There is terror, and passion.  Anger, pride, adoration and again more fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of what failing your child means to their life.  Fear that every decision is the wrong decision and that any decision could break them, or break you.

And then there is success. Success in the form of acknowledgement.  Success in the form of surprise scholarships.  Success in the form of a child who has reached the end of his childhood and is about to run full onto an adulthood full of potential.  And they run into your arms and cling.  And you sob.  You sob because every fear, every worry, every prayer comes to this great day when your child glows with pride and potential and hope, and you, for just a brief moment, allow yourself to grasp in the reality that you did a good job.

This boy, this man-child, is my son.  I raised him.  Through good times and through bad times, through deep valleys and great joys, through my mistakes and his.  I never let go and I never gave up and this weekend the pride in him, and the pride in a job well done on both our parts gave me pause.

Congratulations Greg.  Congratulations Me.







Saturday, January 19, 2013

Those Amazing Few Days

Her very young mama is my friend.  A friend I have supported throughout the years.  She didn't have custody, but she did have needs and she needed a friend.  Someone to ask for a ride, advice, help.  And then again, with a new baby last year so reminiscent of the baby I once held in my arms, she needed babysitting, and rides to AA, and support when the tears of anger and frustration and pain slipped out at how very difficult her life had been to that point.  I was her friend because I felt that was what I was being called to be.  I was her friend because I loved her too.

Maybe our mutual love of the same little girl that neither of us got to raise was enough to glue us together but either way, all those years ago when I promised that baby girl that I was committed to her and to her family for life, I really meant it.  I just hadn't ever imagined when I made that promise  that it would be six years of loving them without her present and no hope of anything different, but it didn't change my promise.

The week before Christmas, there was a hurriedly arranged court session, quickly signed documents and a phone call I never, ever expected to receive.  "Hey, I am getting custody back of J, do you want to come for a visit?"

Why yes.  YES I FREAKING DO.  I may have danced.

There had been increased visitation with her Mom over the last few months, and we had been privileged with spending some time with her throughout the summer and fall.  Strange moments I was incredibly shocked to have been blessed with.  The sight of my 2 daughters, whom I never even imagined being mine but became mine, and the little girl I had begged God to let me keep, but He had taken from me, playing together.   TOGETHER.  3 little girls that I loved with all my heart playing together.  It seemed a moment I couldn't quite believe was real.

There were tears after these brief visits.  Caden, my sweet little boy, who was only 5 when she left continued to grieve her loss and then grieved her present.  Her life is harder than you would want for any child, but particularly a child you love, and his young brain tried to process the ever apparent hardships she faces.  He sobbed those sorts of deep hiccup sobs that even when the sound stops the tears continue for hours after.  He missed his baby sister, and this so apparently needy, hurting little girl was not who she could have, or even should have been, and he saw that.  She was now a friend, and not a sister, and to him that will always be one of the greatest losses of his life.  
Jazzy, Caden and Jen 2006
So when I got this call of another chance for a visit, he weighed the invitation very carefully.  Not sure he could handle the pain, not sure he could handle NOT seeing her when he had the chance to.  I knew I was going, J had specifically asked her mom if I was coming to visit and asked that I did but I left the decision up to Caden.  It was at the very last moment he decided to hop in.  "I don't have to play with her if it is too hard" he explained "I will go swim with someone else".

We were meeting at the local pool and it was to be her birthday party her Mom had put together for her little girl, now almost 7.  Her and I share a birthday. The chance to celebrate with her again filled a desperate cry of my heart.

We were the only people that showed up.

And we spent 2 hours eating cake, playing, swimming together.  The baby got passed back and forth from his mama to me, his favorite aunty.  I tossed one girl, then another, then another up into the air.  We laughed and played. and the entire time my heart was screaming "THIS was the way it was SUPPOSED to be".  We were supposed to have been an extended family all loving on the same kids.  We were supposed to have been ok and happy and all willing to share and love and support the same little girl.   My heart processed equal parts grief at the 6 wasted years and amazement that this moment had even come at all.

When it was time to go, she turned to her mom and said "PLEASE can I go to their house to play?"  and her mom said "Sure".

A single word that gave my son and I the best possible Christmas present we could have ever received.  Time with HER in our home.  Jazzy was coming to our home, that had been her home,  for the first time since she was 18 months old. And the next day, and the day after that. And 2 days more after that.

Jazzy and Caden 2012.  The BEST day of his life he said.
There were tears again, but this time from her as she begged to stay.  This journey is going to be hard and probably complicated.  But without a doubt, I know that she heard the words she needed to hear from us.  She HAD been loved when she was a baby.  She was STILL loved by those that had loved her then.  And we would always, always be here for her if she ever needed us to be.    

I will talk about those days another time, but for now, we are thankful.  She has gone back to where she was before, with a chance of a permanent custody change later this year.  We don't have visits right now or even updates.

But this Christmas I took a picture of the 7 children I have loved with all my heart in front of my Christmas tree.  6 are mine, 1 is a child that was mine but still owns her chunk of my Mama\s Heart and that will be her spot forever.  It was our Christmas Miracle.


Christmas 2012


Christmas 2006

Sunday, January 6, 2013

All is well with my soul

There have been many hard birthdays.  You know this.

This is not a hard birthday.

This is a miracle birthday.


 \
SHE came back. My baby J.   Just for a visit.  A Miracle Visit.   2000 hugs.  A million memories.


So many years of tears.  Too many years of a broken heart.  Too many "managed" birthdays that were barely survivable.

Today I smile.  I held her. She posed in front of my Christmas Tree.  She looked through her baby book.  I held her in my arms and told her I loved her.

And I healed.

And I thanked.  It was truly a miracle beyond my wildest expectations and even if it is months or years before it happens again, TODAY she knows I love her.  That I loved her with all my heart.

And finally the scab on my heart healed over.  And the tears are tears of joy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tentacles

Grief, that strange beast, never really lets you go.  I held my 11 year old this week as big tears slipped down his cheeks.  "I miss her" he says.  Five and a half years later, he cries for the baby that was his.  Tears triggered, I am certain, by his big brother leaving for a summer job and a hockey future.  It's there. Loss. Still.  I wonder if it will always be for him?  A burden he never needed, but he is altered forever because of it.  And he misses his brother now too.   

I lay sleepless in bed.  My heart is frozen in terror for a friend who has been told, after four and a half years of raising her babies since infancy, that because they are 1/16 and 1/32 a different race, the system has deemed her an unsuitable adoptive mother for them.  2 weeks notice.  Say good-bye and by the way, if you're too upset by this, they will be moved with no chance for last moments.  Because someone, somewhere thinks that this is the best plan.  You are good enough to raise them, just not good enough to be their mother.

I pound out letters of appeal and support.  I google names and addresses trying in vain to find a way to save this mother, and those children, from the pain of the journey I have been.  I scream at God about the insanity of a system that seems to make no sense.

Best interest?  BEST INTERESTS OF WHO?

It is trying to make sense of the senseless.  Find hope in the hopeless.  


But behind the fury is the loss.  It drives me. 


And I miss my son.  I am pretty sure kids shouldn't be allowed to grow up quite so fast. 



Friday, June 22, 2012

Letting Go and Growing Up



I saw his picture, this little stranger that would become my child.  Big brown eyes, a cautious smile.  "Observant" said the description, and "wants a mom that will give him popsicles" it continued.  "Greg feels deeply and watches closely.  He is sensitive and internalizes  his emotions."   He had endured more in his four short years than any child, any person, ever, should.   "My son?", I thought.  "I don't know you at all" but I loved him. 


I met this scared little boy.  Terrified and grief stricken.  His world, all he knew had imploded and was gone.  And then he was mine.  I rocked him that first night for hours.  I cried with him at the loss and pain and horror he was experiencing that made him my son and made me his mother.  

But become my son he did.  And we became a family.  Through tears and laughter, hugs, play, learning and endless hours of rocking we simply became.  Doing things very right, and doing things very wrong.  And I promised that little boy I would never, ever let him go.  That I was his mommy forever and ever and nothing would ever change that.  I promised him a thousand times when he told me he was scared he would lose us too.  When he told me he wasn't sure he wanted to be mine.  When he told me he worried that someone might take him away.   "Forever, and ever, and ever" I said.  "I will be your mommy forever."     



And then we were six.  Oh how I worried that my serious, sensitive son would feel replaced by a new baby. Instead, Greg claimed his little brother.  "He is mine from the very beginning Mommy" said Greg  "I've never had anyone from the very beginning".   

Oh the good years.  The endless memories.  The laughter. The trips.  The times with home schooling or the times at hockey.  I cannot find the words this morning to encompass those endless days that today feel like they passed in a blink of time.  But they were good.  So good.  And I thought they would last forever.


Those years now, feel like they were filled with endless fun.  I am sure there were hard times, but from the distance of time and perspective, they are ingrained in my mind and heart as simply good. 

I didn't realize it then, but a reality of motherhood is that kids grow up.  And my son did too.  He found his passion.  It consumed his life, and in turn my own. 







 The teen years were not always easy.  I fought for my son harder than I have ever fought for anything in my entire life.  The hard times were very, very hard . The good times were hard to see.   But still over and over again, that scared little boy needed to hear that through hell and back, I would be his mommy forever.  Nothing.  No one.  No mistake, no choice, no attitude, no bad day would ever change the depth and the quantity and the foreverness of my love for him.  Ever.  



And we won.  Through anger and grief and identity seeking and many tears. We won.  Our beautiful son came out the other side of those years with maturity and wisdom and peace and gentleness and a smile. 



Today I do the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  I say good-bye.  My baby, my scared little boy, my rambunctious tween, my obsessed hockey player, my rebellious teen, this beautiful brown eyed child I love with my entire heart -- my son --  is becoming a man.  He has a job, and a car, and a wonderful place to go.  It is an adventure.  It is right.  It is good.   But it is away.   I know he will be back, many months down the road, but these years of my six children under my roof, and within arms reach, are over.

I promised to be his mommy forever but I forget to make him promise to stay my little boy.  And so I have this man-son.  He is exactly what I would want my man-son to be.  He is kind and funny.  He loves deeply and laughs even deeper.  He is passionate and silly.  Responsible and wise, argumentative and silent.  He still observes and sometimes you have to dig pretty deep to find what he is feeling.  He knows that God has His hand on his life in a way that is sometimes scary and sometimes baffling.   And he is mine.  But starting today I have to share him just a little bit more than I want to with the world.


His story is not over.  In fact, really, it is just beginning.  But the chapters of his life that include the time that I got to be His Mommy will be some of the best of my life.  And I am so thankful that I got to be the mommy that proved to this young man that sometimes, really, you are loved forever and for always, no matter what.  I scoffed, many years ago, at a book that made me laugh at the mother that could not and would not let go, but today there is a big part of me that thinks that standing on the street corner screaming as the silver car holding my son pulls away to head down the highway, "I love YOU FOREVER!  I like you for ALWAYS!  As long as I am living, MY BABY YOU WILL BE!", is probably a really, really good idea. 


Greg, I love you.  More than you can fathom.  I am proud, so very proud.  And today, you leave with a piece of my heart.  Forever and always.  All our yesterdays, today and all your tomorrows we are here for you. God be with you my son


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teenager Thursdays


Fifteen.  15.  Fifteen.

You say that word to any experienced mother and she will just sigh, nod, whisper "I understand" and hand you a tissue.   As of this week, I will not have a single 15 year old in my house.  I will have a 17 year old.  A 16 year old.  A 14 year old and the 3 littler ones.  BUT for 6 blessed months I will not have a 15 year old.

Twice I have survived this journey.  More importantly, so have both my oldest boys.  Barely.

Just think, I only have 4 more kids to go.

Parenting a 15 year old boy is similar to running into a brick wall.  Think the Great Wall of China sort of brick wall.  You can't go over it, you can't go under it and trying to get through it feels close to impossible.

I advise a good friend you can vent to, a case of red wine and a really, really good therapist.

Because if you survive it, the payoff is apparently 17.  17, when the glimpses of the adult your child is becoming become more frequent.  17, when they offer you a chair in a crowded waiting room.  17, when they thank you for cooking them dinner and they know, almost, how to have a polite conversation about something other than themselves.  

I had heard stories about being the mother of teenagers.  I really thought that my 'spectacular' parenting and strong desire for harmony would mean we could sail through these years in a sea of calm mutual respect and personal growth, working together towards our combined goals of my peace of mind,  and their maturity and independence.

All the mothers of preschools just hopefully smile and nod.  All the mothers of teenagers laugh.

Parenting teenagers.  Never dull.  Never easy.  Always rewarding.

And now I have two that drive.   Where is the Ativan when you need it?



PS  Sorry for disappearing for the last, well year or so.  Hockey season absorbs everything.  Teens and Toddlers absorb the rest.