Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It was Christmas, You know?

I am in that middle world where half my life is unbloggable, out of respect for the people it involves, and the people who read. I didn't mean to disappear for almost a month, but didn't have the words to say the highly edited version of what I would like to talk about.  This quandary of a family blog, combined with an adoption blog, combined with a parenting blog, combined with a special needs blog, combined with facebook make blogging a more complicated issue. 

 So instead, here is our month in pictures.  
We posed for family pictures in a 5 minute photo shoot that actually turned out great.  Six kids ALL looking at the camera and none miserable.  Hooray for small miracles.  This was our Christmas Card picture this year.

We cuddled and played and otherwise had many fun times. What we didn't have is any contact, visits, cards, letters or gifts from any members of our kids families of birth.  Another post on that coming.

 We shopped and wrapped and ended up with some very, very happy kids on Christmas Morning.

We worked hard on making some Christmas memories.

And in the end I think I succeeded.

It has been a hard month and I am exhausted in many ways, and so grateful in many ways.  We had a precious Christmas with my father and family.  A Christmas we were told two years ago would never happen.  And yet, the beast that is Cancer hovers over every memory.  Chemo, surgery, hope, fear, death, pain are the giant pink elephants in the corner of every photograph.   My boys are on the brink of adulthood, but still children too, facing adult choices, while we try to preserve the last moments of their childhood, and our sanity.

This journey that is life is not easy.  I have many more grey hairs than I did even three months ago.  And I am Blessed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


'Tis the season.  The Christmas Tree with her ornament on it.  The weather that reminds me that we were nearing the end of our time with her.  I look back on that time with my "other daughter", and the reality of her loss with an understanding today I did not have at the time.  I know that if we had been able to keep her, we would never have the daughters we have today.  I don't know how to fully come to terms with that reality, but I do know that is what it is. 

There is no choice to make.  It's not a matter of who is more loved or who is more valuable, it simply is the reality of loss.  I loved her fully, and I love my daughters fully today.  Without the first, we would have never considered being willing to parent more children again. Because of her, we knew we could and because of her presence, and then her absence, we were willing.

But it certainly isn't as simple as the two replaced the one and life went on.  It's isn't an equation of sum totals of love.  It's apples and oranges or broccoli and spinach or Holland and France.  Equal yet fundamentally different.  Similar yet opposite.  It is truly the unexplainable.

I couldn't share last year's picture with you then, but I sure can now.  And I can share my daughters and how they grow.  Life is truly amazing.

In case you can't tell from the pictures, they are rambunctious, busy, totally adored handfuls of perfection.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Single Moment

It was a hot, dusty afternoon.  I had loaded up my six kids into the van with a firm reprimand to the teenagers that I "EXPECTED" them to have fun.  My husband was off working for the day, and our community was celebrating in fine, small town summer fashion. 

The carnival was here  and so was the rodeo. There was a park full of musicians and children's performers.  We parked.  I loaded the babies into the little red wagon I tend to prefer over my cumbersome double stroller and we seven, together, walked into the crowd of people. 

"Look!" The urgent tone in my son's voice made me pause and follow the line of his finger. 

"That's HER?  Right?  Right?!?"  

And it was.  Now four and a half years old and not the toddler he remembered but the still same little girl that was their sister for a precious year.  We all stopped and stared. 

We didn't approach her.  I would never approach her.  But we stared. 

"Look how long her hair is!"
"Wow, she is big!"
"I miss her mommy"
"She is so, so precious"

And then  "Why is she by herself mom?"

The longer we watched, the more it became apparent that she was alone.  And scared.  And lost.   Her look changed from playful, to fearful, to terrified.  Seconds, and then minutes passed.  And tears began to fill her eyes as she scanned the large crowd of people looking for a familiar face. 

As did I. 

Where was She that took her from me?  Where was the one responsible for her?  Why is MY BABY alone in this crowd of people?  Why was she scared and crying and feeling alone? 

Oh God what are you doing to me.

I called her name. The name etched on my heart for eternity.  I am not even sure I meant to, but there was something in me that could not let her stand right there in front of me, mere yards away, and suffer.

For the first time in three years I called out her name in a tone and voice that once meant Mama to her.  And she turned instantly and ran the thirty feet across a dusty parking lot and without once looking at my face she wrapped herself around my legs. 

"I was lost" she sobbed, "I couldn't find anyone". 

She pulled back from my legs and looked at me.  Calmer now, but utterly confused she realized she didn't recognize me, yet had ran to me because she thought she had. 

She knew my voice, she didn't know my face.

On my knees,  I wrapped my arms around and her and promised her it would be OK.  Encircled by my standing sons who just simply stared in awe at what was happening,  I told her my name was Jen.  That once, a long long time ago I was a special friend and that I would help her find that who she was searching for. 

"I was really scared" she said, tears still streaming down her face. 

I have begged God.  Begged.  Just one more hug.  Please God I need one more chance to tell her I love her.  I need to feel her weight in my arms just one more time.  I need that chance to whisper to her that I will never, ever forget.  Just.One.More.Moment. Please, God. Please.

Now?  Here?  Oh God I cannot do this.  I cannot believe this is happening.  Please let me remember this.  Let me savor every single second.  This is going to end.  Oh God this is going to end too soon.

With instructions to my sons to keep looking for the missing grownup, I took my finger and tucked her hair behind her ear, and took my sleeve and wiped the dusty tears from her face.

"When you were a little, tiny baby and were feeling sad or scared I would sing you this song and it would make you smile"

And there, on that dusty, packed dirt parking lot, surrounded by 1000s of people bustling around to enjoy the celebrations of the day oblivious to a mother's broken heart,  the cry of that heart was heard as she sang a lullaby to big girl sitting on her lap. 

Tanner came back, having spotted who we were all looking for, oblivious to the parking lot drama, sitting a fair distance away visiting with a friend. 

"I love you so much.  I never want you to forget that you are a loved and beautiful girl"

I stood her up.  I placed her hand in Tanner's and promised her that he was a big, safe boy who loved her very much too and he would take where she needed to go.

She walked off once again with a smile on her face, holding the hand of my son as he pointed her in the right direction and she scrambled off from a past she doesn't remember to happily reunite with her present.

And I cried.  A blessing I had begged for.  A curse that ripped off the scab of healing.
And it took me six months to be able to write about. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I am Blessed

We fought.  Oh how we fought.  We screamed, we yelled and we said nasty, nasty things.  We thought that chances were as soon as we didn't have to we would never speak again. 

But my first memories are of sobbing hysterically because I thought she was getting her leg cut off when  her baby leg cast needed to be removed.  I remember endless nights laying awake in bed worrying myself to insomnia that something would happen to her and I would never recover.  I loved her.  I was jealous of her.  I drove her nuts. She drove me insane.  But born 22 months apart, sharing the same life, she was and is my sister.

I remember after a particularly awful bout of teenage animosity, my father shook his head at us in the rear view mirror and said "One day the two of you will be the best of friends".  We glared at each other and simultaneously fantasized of being only children and wondered at our father's sanity.  

Today, there is probably no one else on earth who understands those hidden parts of me like her.  We grieve the same losses.  We miss the same people.  We pray for the same father and survive the same mother. 

She is an amazing mother.  She is passionate and intelligent.  She is athletic beyond my wildest abilities.  She is the best of friends.  I am lucky to be her sister and proud to be her friend. 

Happy birthday Sis.   I love you.  I need you  AND more importantly, I really do like you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Misplaced Trust

It ended well, I promise.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why Blog?

Treading that fine line between being a fun, but rather boring mommy blogger that discusses my cute kid antics and my big kid hockey successes and being an Adoption Blogger that talks about the reality of parenting children in a complicated world with complicated issues is something I face every time I log in. 

There is a part of me that wishes I was more anonymous because it is impossible for me now to write about some of the more difficult parts of our journey because of the necessity of protecting my children, and our family in this community of readers from judgement, or worse, pity.  There are too many friends, family members, teachers and peers that read and so I choose to edit myself.

I could share about endless missed visits, ignored letters and of my anger and frustration of children not deemed important enough to make an effort to know.  I could talk of a normally stoic child clutching a photo of a birth parent while sobbing hysterically over the reality of how abandonment by the one person in the world who is supposed to love you forever really feels, and how it feels to be the other mother of the same child.  I could talk about how awful bullying is and how awful it is to be the parent of the bully and at the same time understand your child is doing the best they can due to no fault of their own.  I could talk about crazy reactions to medications, and how to advocate for your child with doctors and teachers and therapists.  I could talk about screaming fits that make you wonder if the neighbours are going to call the police this time, or wait until your child actually breaks a window.  I could talk about violence and aggression inflicted on a parent or a smaller sibling by a child whose brain has been affected by the choices of their birth parent.  I could talk about typical teenage parenting issues amplified by kids with extraordinary experiences.  I could talk about watching for developmental delays praying that the inevitable diagnosis might just be wished away. 

I could, but I can't because I am not brave enough.

However there is a need for writers courageous enough to share the reality of parenting extraordinary children honestly and with courage.  They are needed because those of us living this need that support.  We need to know that we are not alone in this journey.  That our children, however exceptional, are normal in their experience.  We need resources and ideas, concern and friendship that these brave bloggers provide through their community of sharing.

One such writer is my friend Rachel (aka Tudu / Tudusamom).  I have known Rachel for several years now through the adoption writer community.  She has been a friend, a support and an educator.  We exchange Christmas cards and frequent emails and sometimes long distance phone calls.  She honestly shared the traumatic, harsh, horrid and amazing reality of parenting a large sibling group of special needs, formerly sexually abused, mentally ill and very, very loved children on her blog.  I listed her blog on my own blog several months ago as one of my all time favorites.  

I would link it again but I can't.  I can't because she was forced to sign an affidavit promising to stop blogging all together by a social worker and a Department of Family Services that decided that her blogging placed her children in "imminent danger".  That apparently talking about the reality of parenting special needs children, including the good, the bad and the really, really ugly, is not allowed in the state of Georgia.  And because Rachel has written a public, and completely truthful account of life with special needs, and very difficult children, this same social worker is now attempting to remove the children from their home and family.  The same home and family that has worked endlessly and tirelessly and for years to help their children heal and move beyond the trauma of the abuse they suffered while in the care of their family or origin and in the care of this same DFS  system.

You can read more of this saga here.  If you have benefited from Rachel's writings I would encourage you to reach out to support her, and her children during this awful time.  Even if you would never blog yourself as honestly and as bluntly has she has, her children, without a doubt, cannot handle the trauma that DFS is trying to inflict on them this time.   Their recovery, as much as it is, is because of her skill and efforts as a mother.  I am a better mother because Rachel shared her journey and now she needs my support, and I am honored to provide it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

She Worketh

Because life wasn't busy enough or because I temporarily lost my mind.  Or because maybe I was too busy to notice the extra child hanging around, I took a job.

Now for me, this is a perfect job.  I am paid - actual MONEY - to home school a child at home.  A child that goes away and I am not responsible for feeding, clothing or putting to bed.  On the surface this seems like a great scenario.  I can work from home.  I can help a child.  I can feel useful.  I can earn some money to pay for my children's hobbies that are startlingly expensive.

The reality is that it is alot more work than I expected.  Combine a learning resistant child who is at least two or more grade levels behind, a compressed school day which requires we achieve a large amount of work during that most favorite time of the day formerly known as JEN'S COMPUTER TIME but publicly known as Nap Time and I am more stressed out and busier than I thought possible. 

But it is good.  I think.  Maybe? 

I have a million bloggable thoughts swirling around in my head.  On openness, on disappearing biological parents, on trying to maintain a positive yet honest relationship with a biological parent who is actively addicted, on explaining adoption and family to a 2.5 year old, on parenting teenagers, on why people who adopt a special needs toddler shouldn't be surprised when that toddler grows up to be a special needs teenager, myself included.   And on that note how to find and maintain sanity for mothers. 

And I have exactly 4 minutes from the time I finish home school and Jayde wakes up.  Did I mention that time change was just a sad and hopeless excuse for Jayde to sleep less?  LESS.  You don't even want to know.

But I am going to tell you anyways cause I enjoy sharing the pain. 

This is Jayde.  She is 20 months old and a bundle of energy.  Her attention span is 10 seconds.  No, that is not an exaggeration. 

Here is Jayde pretending to take a nap.

Here is what happens when you leave household items unsupervised for 10 seconds. 

How many parents does it take to change a light bulb? 
TWO apparently,

Then there was the time we went to visit a friend in her just purchased not yet move into home.  As she was showing me the two back bedrooms which took a grand total of 40 seconds, Jayde and Taya were playing in the living room.  The living room with the fire place full of ashes.  The living room that I just spent four hours shampooing the carpets to try and get the ash out of. 

And now my time is done.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween

Now as soon as I get the pumkin in the garbage I can begin to think about hauling out those Christmas decorations!

Our cut off age for dressing up and expecting the neighbours to give you candy is 14.  So our one 15 year old opted to take the two year old with him trick or treating and absconded with all her candy (which is just fine with me!) and our 14 year old left the house not in costume, and came home with it mostly off.  Someone was avoiding mom's camera I think!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Disappearing Act

6 kids.

7 hockey practices a week. 

10 hockey games a week.

2 gymnastics practices.

3 days of Parent Participation Preschool.

1 each PAC Meeting, Bible Study, Church Service, Nursery

21 meals for 8 (or 9 if the neighbour kid shows up again) to prepare.  21 snacks for many to provide. 

1 trip to the bathroom every 20 minutes for every waking hour of the day for each girl, spaced 10 minutes apart just to keep things interesting.

And somewhere in there I have to grocery shop, do laundry, parent (ugh! Teenagers! ugh!) and then try to remember I blog. 

Things have been busy.  Some good.  Some bad.  Some awful.  Some wonderful.  My parenting skills have been stretched and my ability to take care of myself enhanced.  I am learning to reach out more to those who have walked this road before me.  Honestly, I did not understand how emotionally devastating parenting teenagers could be.  And not because they are doing anything BAD but simply just by the their very existence in a brain disordered state of craziness that is apparently perfectly normal when you are a teen.  And perfectly horrifying when you are a mom. 

I love my children but these prickly porcupine alien creatures who have taken over their bodies?  They can leave anytime and give me back my sanity when they do. What makes me cry is to realize that before I am done, I will have been parenting teenagers for 21 straight years.  If  am this exhausted 3 years into it, who or what will I be in another 18 years?  The gray hair is quite literally popping onto my head.

We are seizing the moments between hockey trips to squeeze in good memories and celebrate the joy that comes in raising a large family.   There will be a time, short months or years away when I will ache for all my children to be sleeping under one roof.  I know that.  I know it at a cellular level and so I remind myself to be present.  I am a good mom.  I love my children more than my own life.  I know, deep down behind their resentment of my mere presence and horrific insistence of eating supper together and not beating up their brothers, that they love me too. I have been told that chances are the aliens inhabiting will leave and my God-fearing, kind, sweet and loving sons will return, although much older, wiser and hopefully living independently and paying their own bills.  A mother is allowed to dream.

Enjoy the happy moments!

And it's not totally on accident that there are no pictures of smiling teenagers to add to today's post.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I am at a loss of words and really am in no mood to offer any advice except to say that parenting is HARD WORK.  There is the type of exhaustion that comes from two toddlers that are inquisitive and active and don't sleep very much.

There is the type of exhaustion that comes from teenagers making stupid decisions.  Decisions that affect themselves, and others.  Decisions that hurt themselves, and are hard to watch and worse to be involved in.

And then there is the type of exhaustion that comes from quite honestly not knowing if you can survive the trials of raising them to adulthood.  Maybe I wouldn't be so tired if I didn't love them so much but loving them any less is not an option. 

Parents of teens (or adults) I am looking for advice.   How did you stay sane through the crazy years?  Right now, sanity seems like a far off dream and a laughable goal.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And the house falls down

Last week I wrote about our home we own in the community we used to live in that is now valued far less than it was when we bought it 13 years ago, and certainly less than what we owe, and how the roof went on it this week and needed replacement and how our hoarder renters gave their notice?  You remember all that? 

Ouch.  Ouch. Ouch.

This week in the home we live in,  our hot water tank started to leak.  This happened the day before our numerous house guests arrived, and the day after  I got out of the hospital. Oh and apparently it was leaking carbon monoxide too.  Immediate replacement required.  In the middle of that, the doc called to inform me that scar tissue from my kidney surgery caused a bowel obstruction - thus the pain and hospitalization -  and that may require surgery again in the future.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Today I walked in the door after driving some of the kids to school and as I took off my shoes a slow and continual drip.drip.drip rained down on my head.   The boys had left a jug of milk on the kitchen table and in my absence the dogs had knocked it off the table.  It had poured through the ceiling and into the basement.  This was 15 minutes before the house appraiser was due to arrive so that we can renew our mortgage on this house.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.   

Actually I think I might have said something else repeatedly that cannot be typed.  Or repeated by my 2 year old.   

It is a strange phenomenon when things are really good in some areas, they must be really bad in others? 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Celebration of Family

It started with a trickle of company, crested with a house full of guests, and ended with grateful hugs and sad goodbyes.  And at a time when it could have just as easily been snowing, the son shone with a warmth that was far more reminiscent of a glorious July day than early October.  It was a weekend to remember.

First, we celebrated Tanner beginning his transition from child to man.  His "Rite Of Passage" 13th birthday weekend. 

A tradition we started with our oldest child, gleaned from the traditions of other families and other cultures.  We surround our sons with some of the most important men in their life.  Men they love and men they respect.  Each man given a task of imparting their own unique wisdom of how to become a man on the topics of Faith, Sex and Dating, Character, Work Ethic and Family.  And each son, nervous before it starts, has been glowing with pride at the end. 

I cannot say enough what it means to me as a mother of so many sons to see them cherished by others.  Our family ties are not determined by blood or race or location, and these men, family by choice and commitment,  come from far and wide because they love my children. 

And Sunday our focus turned to our daughters and their addition to our family.  Our chance to stand before our church family and thank them for their support, and to make a commitment to raise the girls to the very best of our abilties before God and man.

It was crowded and busy and very, very loud around here this weekend.  And I loved every.single.minute.  Kids might have had to sleep on the floor of the laundry room, and the 9 year old crammed into the toddler bed he was sharing with his sister was only SUPER CUTE for the first half of the night and cooking large meals and endless bags of garbage was alot of work, but it was worth every minute.  It was good. 

A time to celebrate.  Days to remember.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

And then God said "Rest"

What a weekend it was.  A 13 hour round trip with a 15 year old and 9 year old to attend the funeral of a loved one and celebrate her life.  It was wonderful and tragic and beautiful and exhausting.  Throw into the mix some extensive teenage angst, news that our first home that we bought 14 years ago in a tiny community with a depressed economy is now worth SIXTY thousand dollars less than what we paid for it, and by the way the roof is leaking and our long time renters are moving out.  And did you know they were hoarders?  No.  Neither did I.  But our Realtor was happy to let us know right before he suggested that we consider just letting the bank take it over because selling it is going to be expensive.  And right, we still owe HOW MUCH?  I am not sure they let you carry a mortgage when you no longer own the home. 

In other words I was fairly stressed. And then I got sick.

Yesterday I ended up in the hospital and was admitted for an overnight stay.  5 doses of morphine later, an embarrassing episode of explosive vomiting on an X-Ray tech and too many IV meds to count, I am feeling better.  And still without diagnosis but lots of specialist appointments in my future.  Fun. Fun.

I hate morphine.  It knocks me flat, runs me over and leaves me for dead for about 24 hours.  I think that was what the doctors had in mind when they gave it to me.  Apparently I need to take a nap.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Cousins I Love

I have talked alot on here about my Maternal relatives mostly because in recent memory, they were my predominate responsibility.  My immediate family on my Maternal side was small and intimate, my immediate family on my Paternal side was large and boisterous.  As death and age struck us, our numbers on the Maternal side grew smaller and my direct responsibilities grew larger and thus more dominate in my ramblings on here. 

Where as on my Maternal side my grandmother modeled a life of minimalism and piety with evening "parties" that consisted of the tiniest glasses of juice and a single chocolate bar cut into pieces to be shared quietly between three of us, my Paternal side brings back memories of a smoke filled kitchen, too many cousins to count and much laughter and shouts across the room in alternating English and French with a whole lot of Labbats thrown into the mix. 

With my parents' separation and divorce, and the raw and misunderstood emotions of a teenager in the middle, and the plentiful excuse of my own young marriage and babies, my attachment to that large side of my family loosened.  Add distance, and many of the cousins doing the same thing as we reached out and branched out creating our own families, and there was a raw and empty space where that side of my family had once been.

What I began to realize though was that the legacy of my Paternal side of my family never left me and I felt it every day.   Whereas my much loved Maternal side epitomized most facets of  the fun in dysfunctional, my Paternal Grandparents celebrate a marriage of near seventy years.  On their 60Th wedding anniversary, my grandmother turned to me and said "Jennifer, you will make 60 years too".  Her blessing rang in my ears constantly when Shel and I faced troubled times in the years following.  They raised 6 children through war, through polio, through many hard times and through it all they clung to each other, their family and their faith.  In so many ways I am who I am because of their example.  All of us cousins are.

And now we cousins who were once relegated to the kids' table on our grandparent' porch are all 30 and 40 years old and parenting our own bunches of children.  Through the miracle that is facebook and email we are now granted glimpses into each other's lives.   This past summer my cousin Carol called us together for an impromptu Cousin Reunion.  Not all came, in fact it was only a small fraction that could, but it was wonderful and affirming and most importantly so obvious that the love and connections that had been nurtured as children had stood the test of time.

This weekend we will come together once more.  My grandparents face the impossible task of burying one of their daughters, my cousins' mother and my Aunty, Viv, who passed away last week.  No doubt, we will mourn this first loss from our immediate circle with tears but also we will celebrate who we are.  We are family.  We are large in numbers and stronger because of each other.  We will laugh together, we will cry together, we will pray together and we will drink together of the lives we have shared. 

I am proud to be one of them and I am proud to enfold my children into this incredible legacy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Ruin Your Teenagers' Lives in 5 Easy Steps

Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart.  Or the sensitive.  Or the weak.  But apparently I have discovered easy steps into the Sacred Circle of Moms Who Ruin Their Kids Lives.  Just ask my 15 year old.

So, follow these easy steps and you too can join me:

#1)  Be elected to the Parent's Advisory Council of your teenagers' high school.  As a duty of being a PAC Board Member agree to be the chaperon at every school dance this entire year.   Make sure to share this with your children while giggling madly at their good fortune of always having a ride to and from the dance now.

#2) Accept the Facebook friend request from your son's girlfriend.  Then chat with her regularly when he is in the room but not allowed on the computer.    Make sure you share cute anecdotal stories of his early childhood. 

#3) Remind your child that you knew his girlfriend's mother back when he was not their daughter's boyfriend and her phone number is still in your contact list.  Then  (this is KEY!)  dial it and leave the room where your child is situated to have a talk privately with said girlfriend's mother.  Make sure this child can only hear laughter and not conversation content. 

#4)  Key to being an absolute Life Ruiner is ensuring that your child is the only teenager on the planet without a cell phone until they can pay for it themselves.  It helps to prove your indifference to their suffering if you offer your own pink phone for their usage whenever a cell phone is needed. 

#5)  Not only obtain your teens' teachers' email addresses but utilize them regularly.  It is icing on the cake if you personally know their Principal and have socialized with him and his family for several years.  There is nothing more embarrassing than your Mother addressing your Principal by his first name, and your Principal knowing your Mother's name too!  Ensure that your teenagers peers SEE that you are interacting at the school.

It's quite possible I am the worst mother in the world.  I just thought you all should know.

At least I was until I showed up with McDonald's for lunch today.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

I, like many other little girls, grew of with a fantasy of one day becoming a mommy myself.  That fantasy played out with my dolls who were all, without fail, girls.  I had a sister, and on one side of my family only female cousins.  I envisioned my future of daughters and tea parties and party dresses.

Then along came Son #1 whom I was positive was a girl until he was about 6 minutes old and the doctor told me AGAIN that he was a boy.  A BOY?  How had I ever had a boy?  But I had and he was perfectly amazing. Apparently I would have a son.

A few months later we started the adoption process.  Our homestudy said we were open to any gender, but secretly I believed that if we were adopting two children at once, chances were at least ONE of them would be a girl.  And 18 months later Greg and Eric, two definite boys joined our family.  And they were perfectly amazing.  Apparently I would have 3 sons.

9 months later I discovered I was pregnant.  "God knew how much I always dreamed of a daughter" I thought, "and THIS is how she will arrive".   37 weeks after conception, son #4, our precious Caden arrived. 

I was the mother of 4 sons.  And we were DONE.  Well Shel was D-O-N-E and I figured I couldn't sneak more kids past him. 

I loved being a mother of sons.  I loved how they played together and loved how they all fell in love with their mommy.  I loved the wrestling and the noise and the hockey practices and even the dirt and farts and all the rough and tumble  that goes with a house full of boys.  I loved it more than I had even dreamed possible. 

But that secret part of my heart missed that little girl.  And I begged God to take away my desire for a daughter because it hurt too much.  I knew we were done.  I dared dream when Jazzy was in our family, but in the end losing her hurt even more because I had dared to dream of tea parties and weddings and playing with make up and a future with a little girl, and then one day she was just gone and I was again daughterless.

I did not WANT to want a daughter.  I did not want to feel that ache and that absence.  I prayed, I cried, I tried desperately to "get over it".  We weren't adopting again.  We weren't fostering again.  We most certainly not having another biological baby again.  I was the very proud mother of four sons, and had been the "for a while" mom of a daughter that was gone.  I wanted, desperately, for that to be enough.

And along came the girls who became my daughters.  Unexpected. Unplanned.  And a far greater blessing than I had ever even dared to dream of.  TWO daughters.  Two.

Raising babies is raising babies.  Girls pee and poop and need clean clothes and want breakfast and supper just like boys do.  They play and are noisy and break my things and throw up in the car and spill their milk just like boys do. 

And there are moments that take my breath away that are possibly more precious now than I would have ever known if my heart's desire had been granted back when I thought it should be.  Like putting a ribbon in a pony tail on a Sunday Morning.  Smoothing lip gloss on pursed upturned lips who want to be just like mommy.  Painting toe nails and lacy tights.  The little things that add up to a full heart.

And then there are the big things.  The dreams I never dared speak out loud because to hear them fall on deaf ears would hurt more than having never spoken them.  I was married in a (circa 1994) wedding dress.  Large, fluffy, long and to me, at that moment, the fulfillment of all my little girl, teenage obsessed wedding fantasies. 

After my honeymoon as I wrapped the dress up to put away I knew that one day I would turn my wedding dress into Baptismal dresses for my future soon-to-be daughters.  And it never happened.  The dress was sent away to be locked into a basement closet at my father's house.  Once every few years I would peek at it and touch the tulle and satin and remember that dream.  And then I would pack it away and the dream with it.

In a few weeks we will stand as a family before God,  friends and family and we will acknowledge our responsibility to raise the girls to the best of our ability.  And I will remember the cries of my heart and rejoice. 

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14

I do not believe that the girls, or their family of birth, or our family, went through the losses we all did in order to become a family because I had a desire for daughters that God intended to fill, but I do believe that out of the ashes of addiction and loss and pain and suffering, great joy has come.  And I will celebrate that joy without reservation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seventeen going on Thirty

I have disappeared into a potty training, hockey mom black hole of hell.  The day after my last post, Shel, my beloved (and helpful) husband left town for the weekend.  A weekend that included 9 hockey games, 2 birthday parties, running the church nursery and a potty training two year old. 

He came home to a wife on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  And the next day my 17 month old decided - in fact demanded - to be potty trained.  In case you wondered potty training a toddler and then potty training a SECOND toddler is not nearly as fun as it sounds.  

The next week is a blur of pee and panties, potties and laundry. Blogging for adult readers seemed an impossible mental feat.

And then Jayde started climbing out of her crib. 


So in the course of one week my BABY.  My seventeen month old INFANT potty trained herself, moved to a bed and gave her mother a nervous breakdown.

Oh and did I mention the 3 teenagers and 2 toddlers, and the thankfully easy tween?  I won't even MENTION the 2 Jack Russells in this post and the case of the fence climbing, neighbour annoying,  escape artist mutt who is supposed to be healing up her leg.

These are my days on an endless repeating tape.  I put the pee soaked laundry on, the girls get into three boxes of Jello powder.  Did you know that turns into a sticky mess when combined with baby tongues and a linoleum floor?  So as I gather the Jello covered dishes and load up the sink.  I turn to wipe up the floor, or answer the phone, or you know go pee MYSELF.

This, or some version like this,  is what I come back to.  Fully clothed IN THE SINK. 

And in between all of that the girls started their Strong Start Pre-School program, the boys started Rep Hockey, Caden and the girls both started gymnastics, there was a Grade 8 parent night, a Sunday School meeting, my mother came for a visit, Greg coached a power skating school and I took 2 babies to the potty ninety seven thousand times.

Life is back in full swing.  I promise to be a better blogger this week. 

If I don't strangle myself with toilet paper first.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Twenty Seven Years of First Days

There are many good things about parenting children in groups.  First, I get a second chance to do everything "right" (or at least better) that I messed up on with the first batch of kids.  Second, the older kids learn alot by having younger siblings and having teens hanging around happy to babysit is also a big bonus.  I am a wiser and less nervous parent this time and much more appreciative of the speed in which parenting happens.  So, that's the good stuff. 

There are also some negatives.

Not the least of which is the realization that by the time my youngest child graduates high school I will have had twenty-seven STRAIGHT years of "First Days" of school.   Yes you read that right.  My oldest started kindergarten in 2000 and my youngest will graduate in 2027.   Coincidentally I was also 27 when my oldest started first grade and I will be 41 when my youngest does.  I will be 39 when my oldest graduates high school and I will be simply O-L-D when my youngest does.  As in, I haven't done the math and am really sure I don't want to. 

Without further whining on my part, here are my children on their respective First Days - Year 11.

This is Greg.  15 and heading into Grade 10.  Also quite possibly his last year at home due to hockey.  No, we aren't going to talk about this because I will cry.  And no, apparently I am not allowed to be his roommate.  And yes, I asked.  By the way this IS smiling for the camera when you are 15.  Remember 14?

This is Eric.  14 and heading into Grade 9.  We have found his niche with the school he attends and he is thriving.  Well at least on day 1.  Ask me again in 6 weeks.   He was far more worried about Rep Hockey Team tryouts than he was his first day of school, which is a very good thing! 

This is Tanner.  Almost 13 and in Grade 8.  From a small elementary school to a high school with over 900 kids, letting this one head off has been HARD on me.  As you can see, he is growing like a weed upwards, but still disappears when he turns sideways.  For perspective - go look at the little boy he was on his first day of grade 7.  TRUST ME the growth in this kid is shocking.

My wee one, Caden is 9 and in grade 4.  A new "guy" teacher this year has him nervous and excited.  He is still my cuddler, my son happy to hug me in front of his friends and usually has a smile on his face.

And not to be out done.  Here are the two that will make me feel old and keep me being young. 

Miss Taya is wearing Big Girl Panties now that are mostly dry.  Mostly.  She is not quite two and a half but thinks she is 15.  Make sure someone checks in on me when she is really fifteen because this one knows what she wants and how she is going to get there, and she keeps up hopping!

By the way that is Annie in the background.  Our completely, totally fine Annie. 
We are SO thankful for sedatives that kept her resting!

Miss Chunk Of Love Jayde is 18 months and demanding to be potty trained along with big sis and mom is demanding she stay in diapers. I already have two dogs and one toddler peeing on my carpet THIS one can wait a while.  And yes, this is the best picture I could get of her this morning.  There are far more interesting things to do than stay still and actually look at the camera!  And see?  She has HAIR in PONY TAILS.  My baby is growing up!

Just think, only sixteen more years to go.