Saturday, October 08, 2016

Love is Hard

There are earlier posts in this blog that deal with the early years of our adoption process. They were not always pretty or uplifting. I like to think that those posts were honest, but looking back, I now wonder if they were a little too honest.

Adopting an older child is...hard.

Anyone thinking of adopting should be told that. Now, after nearly five years of living with the girls, I can honestly say that what the therapists say is true:

"The first year is hard. The second year is harder. By the third year, there will be some major testing of your love and endurance. By year four, your family may start to function like an actual family."

I am finding this to be very true. That first year was so angry and emotional. Trust is a commodity that is rare and once abused, well, it's hard to rebuild. We didn't trust the girls when they moved in. I religiously monitored their online activities, school friends and searched their belongings. Exactly what I was looking for? I have no idea. Drugs? Maybe. Lies, probably. Sex, most assuredly.

It wasn't that I didn't have reason to watch for these things, but I feel like we were expecting too much. We were so focused on the "bad" that sometimes, we didn't see the good. There were good moments. Granted, they were few and far between, but they were there and I wish we had celebrated them a little bit more.

Instead, I lost my mind over some pretty trivial things. I became, and it pains me to admit it, a yeller. My anger and distrust led me to warn KK that if she ever entered my bedroom at night she better not get too close to the bed, because I would come up swinging. Can you imagine?

About a year after issuing this statement, KK had one of her many nightmares. This one was so disturbing that she actually came to my room for comfort, something she NEVER did. She stood at the door, opening and closing it (it's squeaky and we left it that way on purpose) and quietly calling my name. Finally, because I wasn't waking up, she came to the foot of the bed and said my name a little louder. I came up out of that bed, fist poised and ready to strike. She backed away saying, "It's me! I had a bad dream!"

I have no words to tell you how small I felt. My fear that she would attack me and harm me overruled my mother instinct. Had she been closer, I probably would have hit her. I'm so ashamed.

Now though, it's a funny story she laughs over. She finds it amusing that I thought would kill me in my sleep. KK honestly has no idea the fear she installed in my heart.

I wish I could say that we never doubted ourselves, but we did. Perhaps, we thought, we hadn't heard God incorrectly. Maybe we weren't meant to be the replacement parents for two very wounded girls. Surely there was a mother and father out there, who would not lose their beans every time a lippy teenager mouthed off, lied or ignored them. Where these super beings were, I didn't know, but I wondered if we were doing more harm than good.

Today, I know with certainly, that we are the parents they needed. Not perfect, but diligent. We made mountains of mistakes. Mountains. Yet, here we are, a family.

KK is nearly 18-years-old. She is anxious and funny and nervous and one hell of an athlete. She has a job, she's doing well in school, she hugs me freely and of her own accord. I love her smile, her crazy painting skills and the way she rolls her eyes...just like I do.

Thing Two is 13 and a handful. She is so pretty, that strangers compliment her. It's a battle to remind her that what's important is what's inside of that pretty head. She is girlie girl, hysterically funny and sarcastic...just like me.

I suppose that those bad years were an important part of our growing together. We really did have to learn to be a family, it didn't just happen. The girls had to see us make mistakes and apologize. They needed to know that we are not perfect, but that God is perfecting us. I hope they see that love is hard work - but worth the pain and the suffering.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Year of Change

I turned 49 yesterday.


I don't feel bad about it. I am just surprised that I could actually be this age. It isn't like I didn't know it was coming. I mean, after all, I'm not dead (yet). If I keep living, than logically, I get older. One does you know. It's just a little mystifying to find myself staring 50 in the face.

All this growing up! All this being responsible. Adulting. This is something OLD folks do.

Apparently, I do it too. Just don't call me old.

This last year, I've been MIA on this blog. Life is busy with the girls, with a wedding (yes, a wedding!), with a new career and all the demands of family life. I lost touch with friends, with myself, with the world.

Thus, this is the year of NEW THINGS and OLD THINGS.

New Things:

I've promised myself that I will do new things this year. I want take some hikes and see some places I haven't seen. I'm thinking about a tattoo - gulp. Sky diving, no. Hot air balloon, maybe. Maybe I'll take a spin class. Maybe I'll color my hair pink. Perhaps I'll take a dance class. The options are limitless. My ambition, well, we'll see.

Old Things:

I'm reconnecting with friends. I'm remembering the importance of making time for them, for us. It is good to have girlfriends. You know, the ones who really know you, who get you. I've missed this connection.

Writing, again. It has been difficult to keep the house clean, much less write a blog or anything else. I'm going to try though. I miss the creativity of it and the therapy.

I'm so blessed in this life that I have. My job is amazing. The girls are doing so well. I'm a Mother-in-law! My oldest two are fabulous people and I'm married to a great (who sometimes makes me a little crazy). Life is good.

These new things in my life are not because I'm bored or unhappy. It's just that the last 49 years have flown by...there might not be a lot of time left. Now is the time to seize the day!

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

And Now This...

If it hadn't been for Island Rider's comment, I probably wouldn't have gotten around to posting this. So. Stupid. Busy.

With what? Oh, you know, life and kids.

Here's the quick update: we are all still alive!

The long update:

Boy is 26 and finishing up school this year. He just released an awesome album. He makes me so proud. I love that he thinks outside the box and is creative and artsy.

Girl returned from Europe and married Mr. Right last January. She graduated with honors in the spring. Tomorrow, she begins teaching her first class at a small, private school.

KK or Thing One has made some great strides this year. I'm so proud of her. She plays Lacrosse, just got her first job and is a Junior this year.

Thing Two, is 13 going on 25. She just started middle school. She's pretty and sassy and 13. We all hope to survive her middle school years.

I have been with the insurance agency for just over a year. I love it. So much!

Beloved is still alive and kicking and making me laugh.

More to come! There are stories to tell and new adventures ahead. After all, I turn 49(!) this month and I have some plans!

Monday, July 13, 2015

On Monday's We Wear Blue

A blue, button down, collared shirt to be worn each Monday, then a different color for every day of the week. ONLY button down, collared shirts. This should have been my first clue, but I was excited about this new possibility and all the perks that went along with the position. I was leaving property management behind, thank God, and moving onto a brighter, bigger, more productive future. 

Health Care - It's where it's at!

I applied for and ultimately took the job at the eye-clinic because I was so over, so so so over, property management. I was finished with the grumbling and the leaking toilets and the games that upper management played. While the position itself had been a pretty cushy one, times were changing and so was the ownership and management team at the Senior Community I had been employed with for the past four years.

It was bitter sweet leaving. No more sweet residents (or grouchy ones), no more working with two good friends (who fought most of the time anyway) and no more cushy job. Still, the future looked bright. The new job offered retirement and a future. It also offered a clothing allowance - Dude! A clothing allowance! There were solid medical benefits offered and since I have twenty years or so left to work, this position seemed like a solid choice.

Sadly, I was unprepared for a Micro Managing Manager.

In my early twenties, I worked for one of these MMM's. They told you exactly, when, how and why to do things. They scheduled EVERYTHING and they did their very best to make darn sure you were kept busy. MMM's like to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their employee pool. They will get their pound of flesh, one way or the other.

Which I suppose is fine for some, but not for me. Not at forty-seven years old. My twenty-something self took it, but at this stage of life I'm more apt to tell them what they can do with their middle management glory, than actually put up with their power trip. I’m a "tell it like it is" kind of gal. The MMM did not know what to think of this. She would stare at me and blink during some of our discussions. I felt a little bad for her. I wasn't impressed by her and it was obvious. I was not disrespectful or snarky. I simply found it impossible to play her little game. 

I was the voice of descent in the ranks!

The other "girls" in my hub were young. Young women, young mothers, who needed this job! They clung to those positions and kept their heads down, eyes averted when the MMM was on the prowl. These girls always looked busy and I was told to slow down on a certain project because if I finished it, it meant that the MMM would find me a new, fun project to complete. I was assured these "projects" were never fun.

When I was offered the position, I was not informed of bi-monthly 7:00 am meetings. They also failed to inform me that my hours could be changed according to the MMM's whim. One of the reasons that I had taken the job was due to the compatibility of the hours with my family's schedule. I would still be able to drop the girls at school and would return home at exactly the same time, but with a much shorter commute. 

The 7:00 am meetings were going to be a big problem for me and I admit that I was annoyed that they hadn't been mentioned previous to my accepting the position. I went to MMM and explained that these meetings would be a problem for me. She, in turn, informed me that they were mandatory and that I'd have to figure something out. I explained about my girls, with a little detail, and said that I need to take them to school. She suggested my husband take them, that I find morning child care or that I find put them in an early school program. 

In the end, I decided that this position was never going to work. They had not been upfront about my apparently fluid schedule and I am too old to kiss someone's butt. It was such a depressing, dark, miserable place to work. I lasted two weeks and only lost a smidge of my soul. I left the eye clinic behind, telling those young girls in the hub that they were worth more and that there are better jobs out there. One of them looked at me and said, "You're so brave!"

No, just old and cranky.

Today, I begin a new adventure with a small insurance office. My interview was daunting, with the boss and the entire staff volleying questions at me for two hours. Yet, I walked out of that interview liking what I'd seen and heard. I'm excited about the adventure to come and a little nervous too. New things are always hard at the beginning.

The two weeks I spent at the eye clinic reminded me that life is short. It is far too short to spend 8+ hours, five days a week, dressing like twinsies and having your time micro managed by a woman who is frustrated and on a power trip. Life has to be about more than that! I hope those girls at the clinic and others like them figure it out. It doesn't take bravery to look for a new job. It takes bravery NOT to give them the finger when you walk out the door for the last time.


Friday, May 15, 2015

That's What She Said!

For the third time in a four month period, I have Laryngitis. I rarely get sick and seldom go to the doctor. I thought that I was either fighting an infection or simply catching every darn cold that came along.

Time for a doctor visit.

My doctor and I are just getting to know each other, since my perfect and wonderful and amazing Dr. Emily had the audacity to get pregnant and LEAVE my clinic. How could she? We had known each other for at least ten years and she was just the perfect doctor. She got my quirky sense of humor and always reeled me back in when I told her my latest and greatest diet plan (she was more realistic than I!)

New doctor is okay. I have only had two visits with him since Dr. Emily left. I've been that quiet patient, waiting to know him better before I shared my true colors and my quirky thoughts on weight-loss, child rearing and aging. This plethora of information has probably been recorded in my chart and yet, he still took me on as a patient. Whew!

At my visit I shared my concerns about my chronic laryngitis, the fact that for the first time in many married years, I snore, and that I cannot breath through both sides of my nose. I'm very, very tired.

I was surprised when he told me he thought the culprit could be seasonal allergies.


I know allergies. I have suffered with pollen allergies every.single.year since I was thirteen-years-old. Allergies...snort.

Oh yes! Allergies! Doctor said my throat looks like someone took their fingernails and raked them down the back of my throat. "This," he said, "is from the post-nasal drip that's been going on for months."


So, here I am. I'm armed with enough medication to cure a small village of their seasonal allergies and a nagging fear that I am going to become one of the walking dead. You know, the chronically ill. That person with a humidifier in their bedroom, an air purifier and a distinct, smoker voice. Yet, I don't smoke...That person who cannot stand a live Christmas tree or surprise, delivered flowers because they might have an "episode".

I'm not trying to judge or look down upon those who DO have chronic illness. I have friends who have suffered greatly under the weight of their health issues. I am just surprised by the stealth of something so simple as a pollen allergy and the fact that it's kicking my tail!

Images of my mother, unable to walk up stairs without wheezing, dance in my mind.

What if I can't play with my grandchildren. Not that I have any....yet.

What if I am unable to go to the gym?

What if my chronic laryngitis lasts for weeks and months instead of days?

What if I never feel rested again?

Then I remember, that I'm not that person. I do not live in the land of what if! I don't have time for that. I have a life. I have children. I have too many things on my to-do list!

Full steam ahead!

The gym is the first stop on this journey back to self and perhaps an overhaul of all things edible. Perhaps a little quality SCHEDULED quiet time should be enforced too. A good dose of Bible time and encouraging notes to others is sure to bring me out of these what if thoughts.

I am such a little person, aren't I? Worrying over nothing. Silly. Apparently, I have too much time on my hands if I'm really going to wallow in this pollen bath.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

A Kingdom of Tears

Adoption is hard.

Just about the time you think you've got the hang of it, you don't. There is no constant, no even ground. Adoption is a slippery slope of emotional damage and often undiscovered scars. So. Many. hurts.

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed a decline in Thing Two's behavior. She doesn't express sadness or anger. She simply becomes very quiet. If she is angry at one of us (usually me) she will treat me to a dish of Resentful Silent Treatment. Once, the silence lasted for two days.

Two. Days.

If Thing Two is sad....she is quiet. So, terribly, terribly quiet.

My Beloved and I are not psych majors and we knew so little about the workings of the human mind. Foster Parent training provides only a cursory glance at the internal damages caused by early childhood neglect and abuse. An abused child's brain bares witness to abuse. Their digestive system oftentimes will not work properly and anxiety and panic attacks are the norm.

One saying, concerning the challenges of adoption, goes like this:

The first year is hard. The second is harder.

This is our second year.

Thing Two and I met with our family therapist to discuss the sadness and anger in her little soul. She said she does think that things would be easier if she were not here. While we knew from a previous situation that she felt this way, hearing your 12 yo say she sometimes wishes she were dead is the most heart wrenching moment a parent can experience.


Thankfully, we have an amazing therapist! Her ideas to help Thing Two learn to communicate are brilliant and Thing Two is truly excited to try them. So are we.

Today is a new day. With tools in hand, our little family is facing the day with hopeful hearts. It would be so easy (so, so easy) to slip into an attitude of defeat. There is nothing easy or simple about life with these children. We are both unqualified and yet perfectly placed to be the parents of abused, damaged children.

God doesn't make mistakes.

It would be so simple to drown in the tears of my sorrow for these two and I admit to more than one very good cry this week. However, all of this, all of this messy, emotional, brutal hurt is no surprise to God. He knew all their little secrets before they came to live with us. God knew that Thing One had crippling anxiety that went undiagnosed for years. He also knew that Thing Two would swallow her words and wish to fade away, rather than face another confusing day on earth.

He placed them in our house, because He knew that we are the best choice for their unique issues. God knew we would not give up (even when we wanted to). He knew we would find an answer for the anxiety and silence. For whatever reason, He knew that no matter how angry, frustrated or despairing we might be, that we would press on.

And so we do.

I do not know the end of this story.

I don't need to.

Today, it is one footstep in front of the other. Tomorrow will be the same. Perhaps, one day, those steps will become a jog and then a run.

And we will run so far and so fast from this Kingdom of Tears.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Extraordinary Life

Extraordinary - adjective, very unusual, remarkable

A few weeks ago, one of the residents where I work celebrated her 100th birthday. Knowing that this milestone was approaching, I phoned her and asked if I could put together a celebration for  her. "Why not!" she exclaimed. Why not indeed!

Ours is a small senior community filled with independent folks ages 55 and older. Several of our current residents have lived here since the apartments opened in 1991. Dorothy is one of them. She lives in the same 2nd floor apartment that she originally saw twenty-three years ago. Hers is one of the best apartments on property with a glorious view of Douglas fir trees and other evergreens. It feels as if you are somewhere tucked back on a mountain side, rather than in the heart of a bustling city.

The property features more than two bedroom, two bath apartments. We provide activities of all sorts. Everything from Bingo, to knitting clubs, watercolor paint classes as well as potlucks and monthly birthday celebrations. Dorothy's birthday, I assured her, would be an event to remember.

I contacted our local paper, advised them of this remarkable occasion and asked if they would be interested in attending the party. Imagine my surprise when I was told that turning 100 years old is NOT remarkable or out of the ordinary...unless, of course, that person has lived an extraordinary life.


What does an extraordinary life mean? Is it somehow more special, more important, than say, my life? Could my life be considered extraordinary when compared to that of another? How and why do we as mere humans decide who has lived an extraordinary life?

Mother Teresa
Anne Frank
Bill Gates
Lady Margaret Thatcher
Ronald Reagan
Martin Luther
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Malcom X

Are these individuals somehow more extraordinary? Or are they merely famous for what they accomplished and if so, does this make the rest of us rather ordinary?

I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with that statement or thought. I refuse to believe that because I did not invent something or write something or was in the right place at the right time, that I am somehow less significant than another human. I do not believe any of us are.

I bristle at the thought that Dorothy is somehow less interesting than, say,  Anne Boleyn. Life is interesting! The living, the breathing. Is it possible that those tiny instances in our lives that make us deliciously happy or despondently sad are extraordinary?

Shouldn't they be?

Think of your greatest moment...the one that leaps to mind and causes you to flush with pride or joy or love or excitement. What is it about that moment that outshines all the other events of your life.

For me, there are so many extraordinary moments. My marriage, the birth of my children, the adoption of two of my children, my work being published, running my first mile at age 40, caring for an elderly relative, teaching my children to read, baking the perfect Banana  Whipped Cream cake year after year for my Beloved's birthday. So many! So many great accomplishments and I haven't even touched on my redemption and salvation by an extraordinary God!

Life is extraordinary. Each breath, each blink, each moment.

Dorothy turned 100 years old on January 17th. She never married. Instead, she worked for her father, a physician until he retired. Dorothy taught herself to drive and is still driving to this day (although, some of us wonder at the wisdom of this). She has visited every National Park in this country at least twice. Dorothy has hiked trails few of us will ever see. She's read classics and romance novels and murder mysteries by the score. She is greatly loved by numerous nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors.

Dorothy has lived and is living, an extraordinary life.

I asked her, what is the secret of life?

"Just be happy. Be happy with your spot in life."

Dorothy 1934

I hope each of us will be remembered for being extraordinary. That we impact the lives of others around us with all the goodness and kindness we can muster.

As for Dorothy and her party, it was a smashing success. Friends and strangers gathered to honor a lady whose life we deemed extraordinary. For indeed, it is.