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 tired....so very, very tired.

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

Really?

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."

Dang.

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.

Achoo!












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.

So.Much.Sad.

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.

Extra-ordinary

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
Mozart
Ghandi
Anne Frank
Socrates
Newton
Bill Gates
Lady Margaret Thatcher
Ronald Reagan
DiVinci
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.





Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Travelin' She'll Go

My Girl, my big, 22 yo, girl is leaving for a study abroad in a less than two weeks. Every time I think about it my stomach hurts. She'll be gone for four long months. We've never been separated for more than a few weeks AND she'll be in a different country...without her mother!

This will be a grand adventure. It's a chance of a lifetime. The perfect opportunity.

I'm excited for her. I truly am. It's just that, well, I'm going to miss her.

We are close, she and I. 

While she's studying and traveling and meeting new people, I'll be holding down the fort and trying to keep Thing One and Two from killing me (or each other). It just isn't going to be the same.

Which is why this trip is so great for her. She will come home a different person with new experiences. It's a good test run for when she really leaves home for good and let's face it, at 22 yo, moving out is going to happen sooner, rather than later. 

The girls: Things One and Two and equally excited and sad. They've been made plenty of noise about spending time with her before she leaves. Of course, they have also pitched one of them moving into her room "temporarily". They are both a little jealous of Girl's boyfriend and other friends. They want to keep her to themselves....yes, even 16 yo wants her fair share of time.

Beloved is worried, in a manly sort of way. He worries about different things than I do. I worry about illness and her getting lost. He worries about terrorists and human trafficing. The boyfriend has tossed out the thought of traveling to see her during spring break as have a couple of her friends.

It's only four months.

Only four.

And I'll cry. I know I will. I cried when Boy was in Prague for a couple of weeks when he was 16. I cried when he was in India at Christmas time a few years ago. Oh yeah, I know the waterworks are coming.

Part of me doesn't want to go to the airport to see her off, because I know I'll be a mess and I don't want HER to be a mess. If I don't go, I'll just be a mess at home. Ugh.

It will be fine. She's going to have the adventure of a lifetime and have so many stories to tell. This is going to change her life and she'll never regret going.

As long as her mother survives :)


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

And Now for Something Completely Different

I've spent a lot of blog time writing about the girls, their drama and trauma and my own insanity and insecurity. Today's blog, however, is on a different subject: Our Boy.

Sunday morning, bright and bit too early, we drove to the small town our boy lives in. The hour and a half drive can be a little daunting on a Sunday morning, when you'd rather be snuggled in your own bed and later attending your own, local church. Truth be told though, if we are invited by Boy to do anything, we are all over it! We don't see him as much as we'd like and when presented the opportunity to hear him preach, well, wild horses couldn't keep me away!

Boy is the Admin at his little country church. He preachers every now and again. There's been talk of an official offer down the road....but that's a tale for another time. This little church is filled with former hippies, former Hollywood types, and lots of artists and craftsmen. The casual atmosphere is very welcoming and I doubt that anyone would ever feel unwelcome there.

I love that he has found his place with people who are like him and that he understands. It's a good feeling to know he has a community of people that love and support him.

We sat in the back row and listened to him teach, his father, his two new sisters and I. It's a feeling that I will not soon forget. Watching this boy, now man, walking his brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word was incredible. Proud does not even begin to describe how I felt.

I watched him, mike in hand, notes and Bible spread on a music stand before him, his dark rimmed glasses and beard making him appear older than his twenty-four years. I recalled a drawing he had shown me years ago. A picture of him as an adult, wearing glasses and preaching. He was only five at the time and didn't wear glasses...

It's wild how God does indeed call the young.

He's a good boy, a good man, this boy of mine. In many ways, he is very much like his father, my Beloved. Yet, in others ways he is so very much his own man, as it should be.

Being the mother of adult children is so different from what I expected. Both Boy and Girl are strong, independent people, wise and firm in their faith. It's a good feeling to look at them and they will be okay out in the big, bad world (not that I won't worry!).

It was a good day and I'm one proud mama!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hoopla and Heartbreaks

Sorry...

It's been a while.

So busy.

So, so busy.

Our adoption finalized with very little hoopla. I was surprised. I mean, there we were, all gussied up and the entire thing took about 5 minutes. It took us longer to drive there than to actually complete the ceremony. Plus, the judge didn't even come over and shake hands. But it's finished. For better or worse, we are the legal parents of Thing One and Thing Two.

Heaven help us!

:)

We had our adoption party and simply moved on to regular old life. No more social workers, no more court dates. No more asking for permission to do this, that or the other with our girls.

School started, I turned 47 (EGAD!), and here is Halloween looming before us.

And my boy's heart is broke. Fabulous Girl (whom we all LOVED) and our Boy decided to part ways. They just didn't want the same thing for the future. My heart hurts because his heart hurts.

It never ends, does it? These protective feelings just well up inside me. It's exactly like it was when he was little and hurt. I want to fix it.

Fortunately, I'm not a big enough nutcase to think I can fix it. Heartbreaks of adult men are NOT for mommies to fix. Mommies need to mind their own business and let time heal those wounds.

Oh, but it's hard...



Thursday, August 14, 2014

You are My Bucket List

My birthday is coming up next month. I'm pushing fast towards 50, but I'm not 50 yet!

No, not yet.

I'm just gettin' close. Real. Close.

Close enough to reflect on these past years of my life.

Mine is not a real exciting life. I haven't climbed mountains or soared with eagles. I'm kind of a stay at home girl. We had our babies....and raised them. Then we took on two more...because that's just how we roll.

I have a friend whose living my life. The life I have always felt I should/would/could be mine.

She writes for a living. She teaches. She cooks organic/gourmet. She travels. She loves her job. She hangs' with her buddies. She has a bucket list.

I have a bucket too. It usually contains mop water. I don't write, not like I thought I would. I don't teach, I barely cook and I seldom travel. Friends? Ha! Who has time?

Every time I read of some amazing adventure or new opportunity that this friend has, I sigh a little. I do not sigh because I regret the path I've chose, it's just that....I thought there would be, you know, more.

More of what?  I don't know.

Life is good. Our adoption will finalize in a few weeks. The girls have settled down a bit more. There's a pattern to our days. We are healthy, at least reasonably so. We're employed, something to be truly thankful for.

So, why do I sigh?

Sigh.

Then, I had a light bulb moment. It came to me when I was looking at custom jewelry site. One of the metal stamped necklaces simply said:

YOU ARE MY BUCKET LIST

Boom!

Children - YOU are my great adventure! YOU are my sunny day at the beach, my whirlwind tour of strange and new place, my inspired painting.

YOU!

From music & art to athletics and drama, it's all you kids.

I feel so happy about this! Because it proves what I've always, always felt. I am more than just a middle aged woman.

I am a mom.

And I'm a good one too!