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Posts tagged ‘Wisdom of Children’

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.

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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You Were Born For This Moment

Subzero Sunrise

Subzero Sunrise

We often think the meaningful stuff of life will happen for us in big  ‘Ah-Ha’ moments when we suddenly see what our purpose is, discover our passion or perceive why we are here so we can get down to the business of  living our truest life. But what if because we are looking for what we assume it will look like, we are missing that it is already here, right in front of us?

Today, as I sat in my idling car at a red light on one of the coldest days in Minnesota history, I suddenly remembered a sunny summer evening sitting on the grass outside an elementary school down the street from our home. A school aptly named “Golden Years.”  I was watching my youngest daughter wobble around on her little bicycle that had just recently metamorphosed from four wheels to two. She had begged me to take her to the park so she could practice riding on what she called the ‘pie’ court. She was referring to the tattered basketball court at the base of the sloping hill where I sat watching her ride; tanned legs pumping, brown braids flapping.

Round and round she circled the rectangle, carefully cutting corners and bumping over cracks in the tar where tenacious weeds found purchase and grew stubby and thick under the regular trampling of feet. As I watched her ride I began to wonder why she calls this the ‘pie’ court. It was obviously not round . . . I called out to her as she cycled by me; “Why do you call this the ‘pie’ court?” On her next pass she yelled to me,
“It’s because there is a pie in the middle!”

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I looked, but I couldn’t see any circles anywhere on the court. “Where?” I shouted as she whizzed by again. This time she answered me well after she had passed by and I heard her words faintly trailing off, “It’s in the shape of the weeds!”

I looked again, this time really trying to see what she saw and suddenly,  there it was. Not the pie I assumed I’d see–not the round shape with a big triangle slice cut out. No, the weeds growing in the cracks of the basketball court formed an almost perfect symbol for pi. Not apple pie, but mathematical pi!  I was delighted to see it. My daughter was like a magician making something appear before my very eyes that wasn’t there a moment before (something children often do).

I hadn’t thought about that memory since that day a few years before and it made me feel a little sad. I realized there are so many details of my life that I will forget that are so simply beautiful.

piberational_fullpic_artworkI suddenly longed to remember all the small details that have made up this life of mine.  I wondered, what if NOW is always the moment we were born for? What if every NOW contains the potential of living out our purpose, our passion, our reason for being? What if we looked at it that way, that we were born for this very moment in time, all the time? (Yes, even these moments in idling cars, waiting for lights to change.) I wonder, would we finally see the vast infinity of pi (even in the weeds) if we stopped looking so hard for that big slice of apple pie?  I wonder.

Mammaste

Divinity in the Everyday

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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Are Our Lives Predestined?

At the time, I had been trying unsuccessfully for about six years to have a baby, so I asked him; “When will my baby be born?” After a moment, he shook his head, looked a bit bewildered and said; “Well, it’s not for me to question the information I’m getting, but I’m being told your baby will be born in January.” I said, “Really? January? As in two months from now?” He looked as perplexed as I felt and he nodded and said; “Yes. I’ve checked it several times. Yes, in two months from now.” Clearly, I was not seven months pregnant. We both would have noticed that!

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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.

Catching Joy

I have set a trap in my front yard. The idea for it started a couple of years ago when I saw a ‘free’ sign scribbled on an old Adirondack chair while on a walk with my husband, Alan. Alan knows I cannot resist an orphaned chair. Soon enough he plodded back to where I stood admiring the chair and picked it up as I grabbed the matching footrest and we made our way home.

The old chair sat in our back yard for two years as an idea began to percolate in my mind. Finally, this year I set my trap. With the help of my bewildered husband, we laid fresh green sod on the chair’s seat and footrest. We built-up the arm rests and planted ground cover in them. We stapled chicken-wire to its sloping back and filled it with potting soil and upholstered it with hundreds of little succulent plants. We tucked the chair under the shade tree on our front lawn, right next to the sidewalk and waited.

My home office is on my front porch and I often get to witness the joy I capture in my trap first hand. It began with the children who often run ahead of the grown-ups on their walks. They are almost too easy to catch.  With their fresh, inquisitive eyes and low stature, they are drawn into the chair’s whimsey from a block away and they easily  ensnare their adult charges with squeals of delight.

The next to fall prey are the older men and women. Their un-hurried pace and seasoned gaze never miss the chair, and though they are not loud like the children, very much like the children they always stop and cheerfully go over every detail with wide smiles.  Often I will capture the amused attention of dog walkers who notice too late the lifted leg on the chair’s footstool as they yank the leash and guiltily look up to the house. (It’s okay, I don’t mind!) New parents lazily pushing sleeping babies in shiny new strollers whisper their admiration.

But the hardest and most elusive prey are the joggers, with their headphones and determined, focused attention on the road in front of them. As I watched them pass by over and over again, oblivious to my joyful trap, I realized I had to do something clever to grab their attention. So, one beautiful sunny day I hung my parakeet’s cage from the tree, right over the chair. He sang and chirped his delight at being outside. “Irresistible,” I said to myself, “surely this will catch them!”

Soon I noticed a jogger coming up the street, she breezed past the bird and chair without breaking stride. I sighed. But, what’s this? She is circling back! She stands panting, smiling at the chair for a moment before bounding away again.

That’s what I love most about my trap, it’s a catch-and-release program!

While out watering the chair one day a man drove past, then reversed his car and pulled up next to me to say how much he loves driving by our yard on his way to and from work. He thanked me for creating the chair, for the joy it brings him.

And so it goes. Surprise, joy, delight and gratitude fill me too. Just one of the many ways extending even the smallest gesture of love comes full circle. Isn’t that just so beautiful, the way love works?

Mammaste, notice the divinity in the everyday!

I Wish For You A Beautiful Life; A Mother’s Day Wish to Birth Mothers

Quotes from birth mothers to their babies:

“My darling, my other self . . .”

“I touched your cheeks and nose.”

“You were like an angel who had come from heaven.”

I am a mother to five children. To three of them, I am not their only mother. They have birth mothers, and they have me. Today, as I write this on Mother’s Day, I can feel those birth mothers wondering about and remembering their children, our children. On each child’s birthday and on Mother’s Day I always stop to whisper a silent thank you to them, sending good thoughts to lift their spirits. I imagine these days must be as hard for them as they are joyful for me.

“I call your name quietly in my heart.”

“Know that your spirit is within my spirit.”

“From far away, I will pray for your happiness.”

In the beginning when my children were babies, fresh and new to the world, I often wondered if they carried the sadness of parting from their mothers, like a ship pulling away from the dock carries travelers from tearful families left on shore.

“It grieved me that I had to let you go.”

“You cried in a loud voice as if you knew your mother’s heart.”

As years pass, I imagine the expanse of ocean growing wider and wider between that metaphorical ship and that very real woman left standing on the shore, and I wonder if time ever lessens her pain.

“I love you from far away.”

I wonder if she ever stops searching the horizon, hoping to see a glimpse of that ship returning. I see her in my heart, the woman to whom I owe so much of my own happiness and I send her my prayers of love and strength.

“I cannot give up my wish to see you again.”

“Is it possible we will meet again?”

“I call your name quietly in my heart.”

After adopting our third child, a son from Korea, my friend (also a Korean adoptee ) gave me a book called “I wish for You a Beautiful Life,” by Sarah Dorrow. The book is filled with letters Korean birth mothers wrote to their little babies as they sent them sailing into the arms of joyful, ecstatic mothers like me. It is a wonderful book, heartbreaking and beautiful in turn.

 “I want you to be a happy person, with a big smile.”

All the quotes included here are from those letters. They remind me of the great sacrifice each woman made for my happiness and for the happiness of her beloved child; and I never take that for granted. Never.

“I’ll pray that you meet the most wonderful parents.”

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every birth mother. So many of us owe you such a  deep, deep gratitude.  “Thank you” seems so feeble a phrase to encompass such an enormous feeling in my heart.

“Dear adoptive parents . . . Please lead my baby to be a righteous and happy person. . . Please love my baby.”

Yes. I promise. I will. I do. Thank you. I wish for you a beautiful life too.

Beautiful, open-hearted Jessa!

Mammaste~There is so much divinity in the everyday.

Creative, thoughtful A.J.

Joyful, Zen of Ian

I want to tell you something.

What might you say if you could whisper through time into your own sweetly curved, perfect little newborn ear?

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An Open Apology To My Eldest Daughter

There is a sweet little drawing of a smiling face scribbled on the wall next to my bed. The artist is my youngest child when she was about three years old. At the time I calmly told her that walls are not for drawing, and then complimented her on her artwork.  I left her original graffiti there on my wall because it is beautiful, and because it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned since being a new mother of one child, to a seasoned mother of five children–a span of 19 years between the oldest and youngest.

When my oldest daughter first drew on a wall, first cut her own hair, first filled the toilet with non-toilet items, first lied to me, I did not yet know that all children do these things (or some facsimile). I did not realize then, as I do now, it’s part of growing up; of curiosity, testing, exploring, imitating or avoiding. I was harder on her because I was young and didn’t know better. Her actions were not personal, but in my own immaturity as a parent I perceived them as direct affronts. I would overreact and make a big deal out of ‘bad’ behavior by shaming or lecturing her at length for what I perceived as big infractions. By the second, third, fourth and now fifth child I know better as a mother. I don’t claim to know best, it’s just that I know better the mother I choose to be.

As I sat on the edge of my bed looking at the smiling graffiti, I was thinking how much I wished I could change the parent I sometimes was to my oldest child. Then the phone rang and there she was, on the other end of the line.

I shared with her all I had been thinking about. I told her I was sorry that when I was raising her I wasn’t as calm or as mature or as wise as I am now. I told her I wished I could talk to the mother I was then and tell myself all that I have learned so I could do better. I apologized. She laughed and acknowledged having to “pave the way” for her siblings and she told me I was forgiven. In turn she apologized to me for her teen years. We laughed together about pay-back. I loved her for the grace of absolution she blessed me with so easily.

I can’t go back in time and give myself the wisdom of mothering that I have now, but I can share it with you. (Lucky you!)
First: It’s not always about us. Our children are growing, stretching, testing. We can love, guide, offer reasonable consequences and did I mention; love, love, love them? But there is no need to bully, shame or just generally freak-out. Second: If we do freak-out or overreact (because we all do) it’s okay to forgive ourselves and do better when we know better. Third: It’s less okay when we know better, and we don’t do better. That’s when we rationalize, make excuses for ourselves or place the blame on our children for how we choose to react. We’ve all been there, let’s just choose not to live there.

My oldest and me on her wedding day!

My oldest and me on her wedding day!

And lastly: There is great courage and love in risking vulnerability and humility. There is no shame in admitting fault. Fallibility is an inherent quality of the human condition, especially in parenting. Instead of defending our less flattering behavior to suit our need to see ourselves in a better light, admitting our mistakes as parents is important in validating what our children experience, of honoring their truth.

A close friend said to me after I told her this story, “Do you know how many adults would love to hear; ‘I’m sorry,’ from a parent? It would heal so much for them.”

Wise words from another seasoned mother.

Mammaste~
There is so much divinity in the everyday.

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