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Posts tagged ‘parenting’

A Winding Road To Motherhood

I was in my early twenties. The woman in the Palm Reader tent at the Renaissance Festival told me to make a fist, then she counted the creases near my pinky finger and announced I’d have five children! I forgave her in my thoughts, even as a pain stabbed my heart. She couldn’t have known of my recent miscarriage, let alone the years of infertility challenges I’d endured and would continue to endure for years to come. She didn’t know about the yearly surgeries to burn off wayward endometrial tissue that had migrated into places it shouldn’t be, causing pain and scarring. There would be eight or nine surgeries in all, over ten years before I finally told my husband, “No more.”

Meeting for the first? time.Years passed. A dream visitor with almond eyes and olive skin told me to be patient, that she would come one day to be my daughter. But she didn’t come, and I wasn’t patient. Then a call came late one Friday evening. I wasn’t home. The answering machine spoke with the voice of a woman named Dorothy from Anoka County Social Services. She said there was a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl, nearly 3 years old, who needed a family. She thought ours would be perfect.

 

When we picked her up a month later, she gently patted her foster-mother’s tearful face, telling her it would be all right as I reached for her, my own face covered in tears, and carried her away. She stuck to me like glue. One day as she trailed me into the bathroom, yet again I said, “Honey, mommy is going to take a shower, can you give me a little privacy?” “Sure!” she said, and marched out the door. I was surprised but pleased with how easy that was and stepped into the shower. The curtain opened soon after and her little blonde head poked in, “Mom, I looked all over for a little privacy, but I couldn’t find it anywhere!”


IMGTwo years sped by, and another phone call. This time we were home to answer the call. I yelled for my husband to pick up the other phone as the adoption agency told us there was an 8-week-old baby boy waiting for a family. Could we pick him up tomorrow afternoon at 1PM? YES! A quick run to Target for what we thought a baby might need, and he was ours. A few nights he slept in a drawer until we could set up the crib. He was serious, and stoic, and perfect.

But a marriage neglected because of a singular focus on infertility for more than a decade soon unraveled. Dark days followed as relationship problems, long ignored, were not cured by parenthood. It will take years, coming out of that darkness, to see transformation and light. A new relationship. A chance to change, to do better, to be better.

I am in the midst of the adoption process again, with my newly beloved, when we are surprised by a pregnancy that was thought to be impossible. At 39 I am suddenly pregnant with that almond-eyed, olive skinned child who had admonished me to be patient 15 years before. She is a beautiful combination of my Chinese-American husband and me. On a summer morning a few years later, I will awaken with a start! Opening my eyes I will see her in bed next to me, smiling. “The angels came and wanted to talk to you again, but I said, ‘NO!’ and so they put you on the heaven slide and you went ‘PLOP!’ back into your body!” she will say to me. Yes, talks with angels in my dreams happen often.

But, my new husband and I, we are still on that adoption journey we began before the surprise pregnancy, and we see his little face staring out at us from the waiting child website for Korea. Yes, this is him, we know it immediately. We travel to Korea to get him. His foster sister has added red highlights to his black hair, just like hers. He has been well loved in the year he has spent with them, and he grieves deeply for months after he comes home with us. We understand his pain. We take turns holding him through his sorrow and love him into this new family.

Are you keeping count? Yes. Four children so far.

We are content with our big, diverse family. Sewn together through serendipity and love. I am 45 years old. I settle into the parenting role I always wanted, all those years ago when I thought it would never happen. My children are 18, 14, 6 and 3 years old.

Then one night, on a solitary weekend retreat, I dream again. This time it’s about beets. I dream my body needs iron, craves it. In my dream, I am feeding something inside of me that is ravenous for beets.  All through that surprise pregnancy, I crave beets. Our daughter is born just three months shy of my 46th birthday. A second miracle by all common-sense standards. She is funny, outgoing and bright, and a never ending source of quotable conversation. One day she is playing at the toy kitchen in my home office on the porch. She has her apron on, and a doll on her hip as she says in an exasperated tone, “I should not have married Justin Bieber, he never does any work around the house!” Another morning I wake to her standing next to my bed, staring straight into my bleary eyes. “I think heaven is different for everyone,” she whispers, “For some people it’s like a beautiful meadow, or like Candyland. For me it would be just like my life, right now, here with my family.”

Yes. Heaven on earth. Happy Mother’s Day.

Mammaste~Divinity in the Everyday.

Seriously Bittersweet Love

He is impressively quick to dodge the meatloaf as it flies across the room and splats against the wall where he was just standing. It hangs there for a moment, the suction created by the raw meat holds it to the wall momentarily as we both stare at it, eyebrows raised, in a kind of reverential silence. Eventually gravity takes over and the pink mound begins to slide slowly down the beige wall, leaving a slimy trail of red ketchup and flecks of onion in its wake. I notice that the onions have been chopped a bit too big. I make a mental note to dice them much smaller next time.

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The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.
Rabindranath Tagore

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And Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think?

Sigh. I love my husband more than that holy water. I really do. But I'm not gonna' lie, it is a love that was sorely tested that day.

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I told Dad what you said about him . . .

“I told dad what you said about him,” my fifteen-year-old daughter said to me the other day. A stab of panic gripped my stomach. Had I said something derogatory? I knew I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, especially to my daughter. But that irrational thought still crossed my mind and my heart. Maybe I had made a joke about him and she had taken me seriously? Maybe I was feeling some residual guilt from a time in my life when I was often careless and callous with my words about others. (It still happens, I’m no saint, but I work hard at being more aware of harsh words before they pass my lips.) She must have seen the worry on my face, because she quickly explained;
“I told him what you said about him being so good and kind and funny, and how you felt grateful to have him as your husband. When I told him what you said, mom, he smiled.” As she told me this, she smiled too. So did I.

It is so easy to tell our children how much we love and appreciate them. Through this conversation with my daughter I learned how important it is to tell them what we love and appreciate about others too, spoken from an easy and casual place of truth and sincerity. Out loud.

I think this may apply to how we speak to others too, not just to our children.

What do you think?

Mammaste

There is so much Divinity in the Everyday.

The Tao of Parenting

It is the one book on parenting I feel absolutely confident in recommending. It’s short, concise, relevant, spiritual and practical. A good parenting book, like this one, appears to be teaching us how to raise loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded children but in essence it is teaching us to learn from our children how to become loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded adults.

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Everyday Divinity

I have tiptoed across a dark courtyard at 2AM to spy on Greek Orthodox monks floating in black wool cassocks and high hats through a fragrant fog of amber incense. Chanting Vespers in the candlelit chapel of an Arizona oasis, voices carried to God on white smoke through a starry desert sky. My own soul seeming to rise closer to heaven on every note.

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Welcome Wagon Wisdom

Dear people next door, Welcome to Minnesota. Please write your name here ___ then please send back the card, but before you do that, please write back. You can write whatever you want. From your neighbor Harper and Family. (It included a nice picture of flowers and clouds.)

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A Love Poem from My Daughter

Her hands have always been a comfort to me.
They wiped away my salty tears,
picked me up when I was down,
and led me in the right direction.
Beautiful and giving. Firm and capable.
These are my mother's hands. ~

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The Great Maxi-Skirt Debacle of 1972

Me and my maxi-skirt in happier times.

The year was 1972. I was a shy, awkward eighth-grader at Fridley Junior High in a working-class suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It all began innocently enough when my mother sewed maxi-skirts for my sisters and me one winter. Maxi-skirts were skirts that went all the way down to the floor and were high fashion in 1972; all the cool girls wore them.

Even though my mother warned me there would not be enough of the red fabric I picked out for my skirt, I insisted she use it anyway. The skirt turned out to be more of a red corduroy maxi-tube than the full, flowing maxi-skirt pictured on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.

Undeterred by the fact that my stride was roughly as long as that of a Geisha’s, I wore my maxi-skirt proudly to school that fateful day. I was shuffling down the hallway in a sea of my baby-boomer classmates, school books clutched to my chest when my friend Karen swept by me and gave me a slap-on-the-back greeting. That little push sent my torso flying forward at a velocity faster than my tightly bound legs could pedal. Factor in the weight of the books and my 80-pound frame and, well, you get the picture . . . an object in motion and all.

When I tell this story to my kids I insert a little lesson about the physics of this experience just to keep it educational. “Notice how ‘Turning Point’ becomes both a scientific statement as well as an understatement in this example,” I say.

My books flew ahead of me as I slid down the hallway on my belly. To the fast-moving current of students rushing up behind me, I was a rock in the rapids. They were stumbling and lurching trying to avoid stepping on me.

All the while, the tube-like geometry of my skirt and lack of traction supplied by my fashionable, but not-so-functional, ballet slippers made it physically impossible for me to stand up. I was flopping like a fish and polishing a nice, shiny clean spot on the dusty floor as my fellow classmates began parting behind me like the Red Sea, casting horrified backward-glances in my direction. My popularity, already weak and sickly, suffered its last agonizing death-throes right there in the hallway.

Enough humiliation you say? Oh, contraire my friends, this was just beginning. In the midst of my flailing efforts to stand in this sea of inhumanity, I felt two hands under my arms lifting me up from behind.  Guess what? Yes, it was the guy I had a huge crush on. (My compliments to God and his impeccable comic timing.) He was a big, handsome, popular, red-headed football player who smelled like Brut cologne, or maybe it was HI KARATE.  He was the lead actor in my romantic adolescent daydreams, all of them set to a score of David Cassidy ballads. (Heavy sigh.) What? I’ve already admitted I was not cool. Full disclosure.

After he placed me in an upright position, he steadied me for a moment to make sure I wouldn’t tip over again. He then handed me my books, gave me a quick nod with only the tiniest smirk passing over his dreamy lips before he quickly moved on. I scurried, face flushed red as my skirt, into the nearest girls’ restroom and tried to figure out a way to flush myself down the toilet.

Little did I know when I was experiencing my most humiliating middle school moment back in 1972, this story would become a favorite of my middle school daughter all these years later. She loves to laugh with me every single time I tell it, which she requests I do often. I like to think I am teaching her that seeing the humor in humiliation is all about not taking yourself too seriously, or some other equally noble life lesson.  More likely she just loves a good laugh at my expense.

The moral of this story, you ask? I have no idea, but my daughter seems to find comfort in it during her own awkward middle school years, and that’s enough for me. Fortunately for her, I’ve got plenty more stories I’m saving for her high school years!

Mammaste.

There is so much divinity in the everyday.

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