Mirroring Mirror

“Echo is the voice of a reflection in a mirror” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

It was a pretty typical morning as far as routine goes, only this time Kiddo was moving as slow as frozen molasses taking over 3 hours to bathe, get dressed and make her bed. “Finish your breakfast please,” I said, “then bring your bowl to the sink and brush your teeth.”

“Okay Mama,” was her reply. I then headed down the stairs to finish up some laundry.

Ten minutes later I found Kiddo crawling on the floor with the dogs. Her cereal was still untouched and teeth not brushed.

“So I noticed you have been horsing around a lot” I said approaching her, “and now your bad choices are causing us to run late.”

Though I had already brought each incident to her attention as they occurred, I began listing out each of my complaints once again:

1. Playing in the bathtub without first washing up only to have the water turn cold and then complaining; 2. Not making your bed but instead rolling with your covers on the floor; 3. Taking over an hour to get dressed and still coming out to the kitchen half naked; 4. Spinning around under the table with the dogs rather than eating and brushing your teeth like I asked.

Seeing we had less than twenty minutes left, I put on my “Micromanager Mom” hat. “If you want to arrive with yucky breath that is up to you,” I said. “But I am leaving as soon as I am done brushing my teeth.”

As I reached for my toothbrush and toothpaste, I could see my daughter glancing at herself in the mirror with a look of judgment on her face.

Any other day I might have missed this teachable moment, but this week I have been doing some mirror exercises and self talk techniques, so I was able to notice my daughter was learning to criticize herself for the choices she had made.

A caption of her facial expression might read, “You are a screw up. Can’t you ever get anything right?”

I knew beating myself up for this wasn’t the answer, so I used this as an opportunity to remember some common false beliefs: believing you never measure up no matter what, believing no matter what you do is never enough, believing you can never do anything right, believing you need to be perfect in order be deserving of love.

“You know,” I said, catching her eye in the mirror. “It really doesn’t matter what I think or what your dad thinks when it comes to your choices, you know. What really matters is what YOU think.”

I rinsed my toothbrush then got down to my daughter’s level so I could lovingly look her in the eye “Kiddo, you are perfect exactly as you are,” I said, “And it is really important you remember to be your own best friend, even when things get messy, okay?”

Kiddo’s frown turned into a smile as she began modeling some mirror work for me to see: “I love myself,” she said, “And mistakes mean I am learning and growing, right?”

I began to laugh “Yes, that’s right, and I am really sorry that I told you your choices were bad. They are just information,” I said.

We then spoke about her playing with the dogs rather than eating all her breakfast.

“I still feel a little hungry,” she said.

We then went through the remainder of the list, only this time my daughter discerned for herself how each of her choices had impacted her morning.

“Mama,” she said holding me close, “I don’t want to horse around in the morning anymore.”

“Awww,” I returned her hug then looked at her through the mirror. “Just keep loving yourself no matter what. It’s all okay.”

ETE

PS: For those of you wondering, I still choose to call my daughter “Kiddo” here out of respect for her individual privacy.

A Forever Family

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers. He is hers in a way that he will never be mine. And together we are motherhood.” – Desha Wood

“To adopt means to “legally take another’s child and bring it up as one’s own.” (Webster’s dictionary)

My husband and I took Kiddo’s hand and headed to the court room. So much had led up to this adoption day. For weeks I had toggled back and forth about whether becoming a forever family was in the best interest of all involved.

Was I making the right choice? Would the love I could offer this kiddo as ‘mother’ be enough?

“It feels like I should be loving this child more than I am,” I said to my mother just days before. My mom lovingly reassured me my child needs me, and the love I feel would keep growing over time.”

On many levels she was right. I had already turned to two other mom friends for advice. One helped me understand that most new mothers have a chance to bond with their baby for 9 months while in utero, then deliver a baby filled with love that is pure and absolute.

Another reassured me that my kiddo’s need to hate and fight at times was much like a feral animal filled with terror. The bruises on my skin and in my heart would eventually go away.

Yet despite all these wise words, I still found myself grappling with uncertainty right up to the night before our trial date.

Pouring my heart out to other foster/adoptive parents I asked,
“How do you know you are ready to adopt? I keep questioning if the love I can offer is enough.”

The outpouring of love and support I received was immense:

“It took me longer to bond with my child then the other two we adopted for many reasons but I now love him, delight in his strengths, accomplishments, his love for others, his relationship with each member of our family . . . (the list went on and on)”

“Love is a choice. I have spent many a day praying for God to help me. Hang in there. This is a calling not just a romance.”

“All my children have come to us through adoption (none through birth) and all at different emotional and developmental stages. Each bond has been unique, coming in its own time, no right or wrong, just uniquely. Some felt fast and others took much longer. Who says our love and bond has to be instant? Thank you so much for sharing your heart.”

“Doubt is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. Love can move mountains. It’s just such a slow process when you have trauma, abuse or attachment issues. Praying for your strength and clarity.”

Now here I was just moments from being sworn in and still a little doubt remained.

God must have known it too, because as soon as we walked into the courthouse waiting room, our caseworker pointed us back outside.

“We have a big problem,” she said. “Kiddo’s birth mom is here.”

A flood of emotions filled my heart. Were we in danger? How come she missed the termination hearing? Was she here to take back custody?

Silently I said a prayer. “Dear God, though it may break me, if it is in the best interest of our child to stay with the birth mom, I promise to be strong and let go.”

Several long minutes later, law enforcement asked the birth mom to leave. It was then I knew I had a choice: either ignore this woman as she passed us on the sidewalk, or offer her compassion and closure with a loving heart.

“You are kiddo’s birth mom, correct?” I asked as she neared.

She nodded with tears in her eyes.

“May I hug you?” I asked.

With her permission I held her, then genuinely thanked her for giving Kiddo birth.

I then watched her weep in gratitude before saying goodbye to her baby one last time.

As we approached the court room, our caseworker shared that the mom showed up to make sure her child was happy and would be going to a good home.

Every ounce of my being then knew with certainty that I am safe to love my DAUGHTER now and forever, and to call her my own.

ETE

Inside Out

“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.” ~ Ricki Lake

Three times in the last month I have bumped into someone who has read keenmom.com and stopped to tell me they are a fan. Thank you. This was very encouraging, and I am grateful, because comments ranged from, “I anxiously await your story every month,” to “I follow you and Kiddo by secretly stalking you online,” and “I can’t wait to hear some more good news about ‘them’.”

All things considering, Kiddo is amazingly well: growing up so fast, making milestone improvements in less than a year and a half, and is daringly courageous and imaginative and full of bright energy.

I, on the other hand, feel like I’m a pin ball bouncing back and forth between ‘second wind city’ and ‘barely sane.’ Because the truth is, motherhood is hard. And even as I type this the spiritual side of me wants to go back and cross out the word ‘hard’ and replace it with ‘challenging’ instead because the word ‘hard’ feels like it’s too negative or too much of a downer. So at the very least I feel compelled to redo the sentence altogether and say that motherhood has its fair share of ups and downs but it’s overall rewarding. Or that motherhood isn’t for the weak but is a blessing from God-Source in disguise.

Yet the reality is that motherhood contains a lot of feelings, doesn’t it?

In fact, very recently I rewatched the movie “Inside Out,” and was reminded how every feeling is working together hand-in-hand.

So here are some of my ‘Sad’ moments:
Kiddo has a long road ahead. In addition to being in and out of doctors and hospitals for the next several years, “them” continues to ask us questions about the past, recently crying in my arms asking me “mama why did X and others do what they did?” and “why did my birthparents leave me?” and “do others kids have to go through this?”

So, yes, I feel sad because these questions are painful and because I want our life to be simple and it is not.

And here are some of my ‘Disgust’ moments:
A week or so ago I made the mistake of comparing my kiddo to a handful of others the same age. My ego had a field day with this.

Mental chatter sounded a lot like this . . . “Wow. Your kid is really behind. How embarrassing. So much for all the hard work you’ve put in. Worse yet your kid doesn’t even fit in. Just look how delayed they are compared to everyone else. And don’t even get me started on all the medical issues. What a shame. How pathetic that you really thought you could help them and you can’t. They will never catch up. You’re just setting yourself up for failure. You’re both losers.”

And then my Fear’ moments kicked in:
I began to fear everything my ego said is right. Because yes, I do have a fear Kiddo won’t be able to be independent like others kids and won’t be able to safely cross a street, ride a bike, drive a car or land a job that allows “them” to live on their own.

And the biggest fear of all is that no matter how hard I try to help, it won’t ever be enough.

And then I have my ‘Anger’ moments:
I feel angry that I can’t fix “them” and I can’t erase this kiddo’s past, and I can’t mend this child’s broken heart.

And most of all I feel angry that I cannot stretch my patience when I have no more patience to give, and so I lock myself in the bedroom and cry for a few minutes, or I scream into the toilet with the fan on high.

Because the truth is I feel angry that “them” is behind due to a very abusive past, and am angry for even thinking about being angry because I know anger is just a cover up for all of the other feelings that I feel that want to be expressed but cannot because it is taking center stage.

And so I focus on my ’Joy’ moments by returning myself to gratitude:
I am joyful that my husband and I have a child in our life who is indeed an answer to our prayers and gives us a deeper reason for existence.

I am joyful that Kiddo is beating the odds and is speaking in a way that can be understood, openly shares feelings, is bonding with toys and us, and every now and again gives us sassy talk which is a healthy indicator that our child feels safe enough to test boundaries and is gaining a safe sense of independence.

And most of all I feel joyful that I can express myself in this way. I feel joyful knowing I have friends and family out there who really care. I feel joy that even though not many people understand what I’m truly going through, they still take the time to let me know they are cheering us on, sending us their prayers, and encourage us to remember the most important feeling of all – Love.

Love is what exists when we get out of our own way
Love is what this journey is all about
Love is warm kisses and a gentle embrace
Love is hearing “mama I love you” every day
Love is watching my child struggle and then succeed
Love is losing my patience and then admitting my mistake
Love is trusting that life happens as it should
Love is accepting all there is
Love is surrendering to the moment
Love is now, now is love

——

ete

 

 

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)


 

 

Sabotaging Self – Conclusion

“Self-sabotage is the smartest thing you can do if you’re sabotaging a self that is not really you.” ~ Armand DiMele

Recently my husband, Steven, nicknamed our Kiddo “Giggles” because there is so much smiling and laughing and love in our family.

We knew from some trainings that Kiddo’s self-sabotage was due to shame and a false belief that “them” was unworthy of love and belonging. With time and consistency, Steve and I have continued to teach our child how to give and receive love openly, yet little did we know it was also a work-on for ourselves . . .

There we were, just my husband and me, on a late Tuesday morning, hooking up our trailer to our truck and heading up the mountain to do a little snowmobiling. In tow were our two new used sleds that Steve had picked up a few days before. In fact, this photo was taken just as we fired them up to head off the grid.

I was a little hesitant to go, mainly because I had been sick in bed with walking pneumonia for a week and I was just getting back into routine.

After traveling up the mountain for a couple of miles though, I started to find my groove.

Other than having to pull over to put on a warmer face mask, things were looking good — the snowy road narrowed and the sleds throttled on, and I turned back every few minutes to be sure my husband was still on his own sled behind.

Twenty or so minutes later our sleds crossed our main bridge that connects to the driveway of our bungalow home. A short time later we were dismounting our snowmobiles and waist deep in loose powder that hadn’t been packed down before.

Steve and I were so grateful we had just a few steps to crawl before we made it to the house. So much snow had fallen since we had been there last fall – – more than we ever remember seeing since we moved to the mountains in 2006.

After checking the roof and seeing the house was still okay, we both got back on our sleds to head back out the same way we came in. A few feet from the main road I began to cross the bridge and started losing speed. My tracks sank deep into the loose powder and I was rolled off the sled into the snow.

“I’m sorry,” Steve yelled from behind as I hit my kill switch. “I should have told you to go faster up the hill.” I shrugged it off and waited for him to crawl through the hip high snow toward me to help. After a few minutes of unsuccessful coaching, Steve had me walk back to his sled so he could do his best to rock mine out.

Clumsily I fought my way through the cold powder and toward his sled which was about 20 feet below. Every step was up to my waist so I was grateful when I could finally reach the handle bars to hoist myself up. But as I sat down, my arm hit the power button and I turned the sled off.

“Ahhh,” Steve yelled. “What did you do that for?” I tried explaining it was an accident, but he wasn’t having it. He was already cold and tired from wrestling with my sled.

Frustrated, he struggled through the snow. A few minutes later he was finally pulling himself up beside me so he could yank on his sled’s starter cord. But as he pulled, the cable snapped.

Fear and panic quickly shot through him as he looked down at his hand and saw just a plastic handle and broken cord dangling there.

I was so shocked I laughed. “Really?” I said. “Is this a cosmic joke?” But Steve found nothing funny about it. In fact, when I looked into his eyes, I could see he was doing all he could not to cry.

Panic then took over. “Can you fix it?” I said.

Steve sadly shook his head. “I don’t have the tools.” And even though we were less than a mile to our bungalow, the snow was too loose and too deep for us to walk.

“All we can do now is to try to ride your sled out of here,” Steve explained. And so for over an hour, we pushed and we pulled on my snowmobile, and, sadly, I chose to also guilt my husband for not remembering to bring a shovel.

Finally we got my sled to budge, and no sooner than we started to rejoice, the belt began to burn up and my sled clonked out. Yep. No joke. It was fried.

Steve and I were beside ourselves. We had no way to repair it, no tools. We cussed and we cursed and we yelled at the sleds, at each other and at ourselves, but that didn’t change the fact that we would have to walk down that mountain if we had any chance at getting out of there alive.

No cell service for at least seven miles. No skiis, no snow shoes, and the winter gear we were wearing was all we had.

Our first thought was to head to a neighbors just 2 miles up the road. Less than 1/16 mile in though we realized the snow was not compact enough to walk. If we attempted to keep moving we would be buried for sure.

“Are you bleeding?” I yelled to Steve who was just a few feet ahead. I could see red globules in the snow. “Yes,” he called back. “I’m getting dehydrated so my nose is bleeding. It’s probably the elevation. I have a couple of water bottles in my backpack. Just wait there.”

A few minutes later he joined my side. We shared a water and began our trek, grateful that even though the snow was deep, it was packed down just enough from our sleds that we could begin walking out on foot.

Fifty minutes later I was cold sweating and my legs were cramped. We had only made it a mile and from our calculations we had at least six more miles to go before our cells would pick up a signal. “We need to move faster,” Steve said, “Kiddo will be back home in less than 3 hours and at this rate it will take us five hours to make it to the truck.”

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t walk any faster. My body was slowing shutting down.

“Keep going,” Steve urged. He could see I was losing momentum and was doing his best to urge me on.

An hour later, even his leg muscles were shot. It was like walking on jelly. “You need to go on without me,” I said. “You are our only hope of getting out of here alive.”

Steve began to shake his head. “I am so sorry,” he said with tears in his eyes. “I should have never taken us up here. I should have never bought those sleds.”

“Please,” I begged. “You need to keep going.” And he knew I was right.

For the next few minutes he held my gaze as he walked on up ahead.

Just before losing sight of him, I shouted. “I love you and always will.”

Rather than answer, he trudged on ahead. (later he told me he couldn’t say it back because it would have made it too real.)

Then just like that he was gone. It was now just me, my thoughts, and the mountain. The same mountain that I have escaped to every summer. The same mountain that has held me during my hardest hours. The same mountain that midwifed my four books as I brought them into creation.

Would I die on this same mountain today?

As I walked, I began to think about all the things my husband and I have endured. From our motorcycle trip to Alaska to finally writing my first novel based on that experience so many years ago. The addictions, the darkness, and the drama.

Life as we knew it was still a struggle. Why did we still bicker and fight? Why couldn’t I allow myself to love him as deeply as I knew I could?

The more I walked, the more I understood. We were finally at a point in our marriage where life is good. Two homes, two dogs, financial stability, and a child who really needs us, yet the more real it had become, the more I had pushed the joy away.

All truth be told, I was afraid. Releasing that book meant having to accept my past…from my drama and rage to Steve’s addiction to drugs, to admitting our marriage was filled with darkness for so many years.

Just thinking about it caused me to cough. And the more I coughed, the more my lungs began filling with fluid. After awhile I became too weak to move, and so I removed my backpack and used it to prop myself back in the cold snow, knowing full well my chances of freezing to death were increasing, but a part of me didn’t care.

I closed my eyes against the setting sun and began to face my own mortality. Was I ready to die?

“Get up,” I heard. It was the voice of God-source. “If you don’t keep moving, you will freeze to death.”

As I managed to pull myself up, I caught a glimpse of my husband’s footprints in the snow. These prints became my lifeline for awhile.

An hour or so later I was very weak. I could hardly feel my feet and my gloved fingertips were wet and starting to freeze.

“He just got a cell signal,” I was told. It was God-Source speaking to me again.

I was grateful to know Steve had made it closer to the truck. From what I could tell I still had over three miles to walk before I would catch up to him.

As I began wheezing and coughing up phlegm, I began to wonder who would raise my child if I was gone? Steve and I had just been informed the adoption was approved and that it is just a matter of paperwork now. Yet would I make it off that mountain to see that day come?

I removed my backpack (my shoulders were in so much pain), and fell back into the snow.

“Get up,” I heard a minute or so later. This time God-Source’s voice was really loud. “You MUST keep moving or you WILL freeze to death.”

I somehow managed to pull myself up, glancing several times at the disappearing sun knowing from my cell phone clock that I had less than an hour of daylight left.

After several more minutes I saw that I had a “1X” bar on my phone. It gave me hope. I tried dialing 911 again and again but the cell signal wasn’t strong enough to hold.

Despite this, I got a second wind. I managed to walk another 1/2 mile even with my coughing and liquid filled lungs. My cell had a stronger signal and so I attempted to send a text. “Is Kiddo safe?” I wrote to Steve, but the bars were too weak for it to send.

Ahhhh! I felt defeated. I fell back in the snow hoping and praying help would come, but at that moment it wasn’t meant to be.

I had no choice but to lie there or pull myself up. “Get up,” God urged me, and so I did.

My legs were heavy and my lungs were weak. The sun was now set and the freezing temps and shadows had moved in. I was so cold I could see my breath and my mind was starting to become delirious. I began sway walking, barely making ground, yet I moved just enough to get a 3G on my cell.

Yes! My text went through and before I knew it Steve was texting back. Kiddo was safe and help was on the way.

I managed to hike 6.5 miles that day. Steve hiked just shy of 8 and still has blisters on his feet. Our lives will never be the same.

After help came, I was reunited with my husband. The first thing he did was pull me into his arms and say, “I don’t ever want to fight with you again. Life is too short and I love you so much.”

I now hug him tighter, love him longer, and cherish what we have. Though, yes we did have times in our life that caused me to question my worth and I held back in loving him as deeply as I knew I could because I still feared being hurt, that part of me died on that mountain that day, along with the me that fears what others think and the me that kept holding back, and the me who wondered if she would ever be “good enough” as a wife or as a mother. I now know better because I am better.

Yes, self sabotage can be good when it allows the old you to die so a new you can fully rebirth. Our experience this week has made me a stronger woman who knows why she is here . . . not only to be a great mother to my child and a wonderful wife to my husband, but also to live my life’s purpose and to bring more love, unity, and miracles into this world! God is good!
——

ete

Sabotaging Self – Part 1

“Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.” ~ Alyce Cornyn-Selby

So, Kiddo woke up to some small gifts, happy at first to see the presents in the stocking, and then slowly began to destroy the joy.  

And like a crab in slow boiling pot, I didn’t even realize what was happening until it was almost too late.

At first “them” was having fun with one of the gifts, sitting and playing and laughing, the natural thing to do.

After some time though I gave two more minutes, saying we had an appointment that couldn’t be missed. I explained the next couple of minutes could be used to finish up playing OR we could work together quickly to get ready and then use the rest of the time to play.

Kiddo chose that we hurry so there was enough time to play. “Great idea,” I said.

Truthfully, we had plenty of time before the appointment, so I wasn’t very concerned either way, yet Kiddo’s unconscious mind had plans of its own.

Part way through getting dressed, “them” began to slow down to the pace of a lethargic snail. I had all I could do to keep prompting with a patient smile.

“Everything okay?” I asked as calmly as could be.

Kiddo nodded then finished getting dressed.

A few minutes later, we were eating, and same thing — Kiddo began staring off into space and then stopped chewing altogether. It was so out of character I began to grow concerned.

I checked Kiddo for a fever and almost had myself convinced that “them” must be sick, but there was no indication of that being the case.

“I see you’re eating really slow. Could you go faster please?” I asked.

“Yes mama,” I was told, but as soon as I got up to feed the dogs, the snail-pace continued. It was like watching a slow motion scene on a screen.

Soon we were almost out of time, so I tried something new. I starting using the stocking’s contents as a lure.  “You told me you really wanted to play with your new toys, correct?”

Kiddo nodded. “Then I’ll need you to start mover faster,” I encouraged.

Though this led to a finishing of breakfast, when it came time to brush teeth, Kiddo stopped moving altogether and just stared into the mirror.

So I said what most parents would, “I see you are staring into the mirror and I’m happy you like looking at yourself. Right now though I need you to brush your teeth good and fast if you still want to play with one of your toys.”

Kiddo began to cry, refused to cooperate, pulled pants down to sit on the toilet with head in hands only to admit, “I don’t hafta’ go.”

I knelt down to this child and looked deeply into this little Kiddo’s eyes. They were sad, and that’s when I finally recognized what was happening.

Having a child who is traumatized is difficult enough but holidays and special occasions contain triggers with even bigger challenges.

Kiddo was self-sabotaging. — Stuck in a conflict between a conscious desire and an unconscious want that results in patterns of self-destruction.

And now that I knew that, I knew what to do . . .

——

ete

Part 2 coming soon

Dog-Tired Part 1

“If you’re completely exhausted and don’t know how you’re going to keep giving this much of yourself day after day, you’re probably a good parent.” ~ Bunmi Laditan

So it happened. My patience gave out and I yelled hard.

Hubby and kiddo were gone. I  had a small window of free time and was so grateful for the silence I almost cried.

Though deep down I had known I’ve been grieving solitude, I had been far too busy to process it all.

Head’s up: My pent up feeling were about to have a field day!

“You’re becoming a snapper head,” my husband Steve had said the night before. It’s the name I’ve asked him to call me when I’m acting like a “B.”

“I know it” I admitted, “and I’m sorry, but all these responsibilities are starting to take a toll.”

Steve laughed. “Whatever. Just please stop making me walk on eggshells, okay? Besides, how hard can staying home be?”

I did my best to explain but he didn’t get it. For 10 straight months I’ve been knee deep in playtime, bath time, bed time, and meal time day after day plus running Kiddo to at least 3-4 doctor, counselor, therapist and specialist appointments per week.

For anyone who has every been the primary caregiver of a child with special needs, I understand how exhausting it can be.

And now, with a moment to myself,  I was determined to relax no matter what.

I moved to my office downstairs. My desk was covered in receipts. It had been months since I was able to reconcile the books or file the bills.

Tension moved through my shoulders and tight neck.

Staring at the futon, I sighed. Should I take a nap? When was the last time I had gotten at least 8 hours of sleep?

My head turned toward the laundry. I winced. Wet clothes were in the washer, another pile on the dryer, and when I opened the hamper it too was full.

Stress stacked up inside me with no escape.

Then the dogs started barking from the back yard- the kind of bark that goes right through you – the kind that makes you cringe because you cannot help but wonder what your neighbors might think.

I took a deep breath, hoping it might calm me down, but the dogs kept yelping so loud it pierced my ears.

“Ahhh!” I loudly shouted, running to the window on the lower floor. I spotted some turkeys near the front of the house.

The barking persisted and would’t let up.

I took a flight of stairs so I could let both pets inside. As I opened the door, one of the dogs ran past me and left a long trail of mud on all the floors.

I screamed. I yelled. I lost my sh*t.  I was aware of my volume and didn’t care.

——

ete

Part 2 coming soon . . .

Life Is A Gift

“Synchronicity is God sending us messages anonymously.” ~ Deepak Chopra

In the summer, a doe visits us on our mountain property. We call her Mandi. This is her 4th year so far, and I know this because when Mandi was just a fawn she was curled up under some willows down by the creek. I would hear her cry out every now and again.

For several days I listened and I prayed, all the while remaining hopeful her mom would return, but she never did.

Around day four, Mandi began to move around. Her legs were wobbly and her white spots were fresh. I could sense her hesitancy as she gained the courage to venture from out of her hiding spot.

Slowly, she made her way over to our bird feeders. I joyously watched her munch on some fallen corn and downed seeds. From a distance, I began to quietly talk to her, reassuring her that everything would be alright.

I knew Mandi’s chances of survival were slim, but that didn’t stop me from having hope. I kept telling her again and again that she was safe and that so long as she stayed close to our house and remained tucked into the shrubbery every night, her chances of survival would be good.

My heart so wanted to walk near her, yet I intuitively knew the importance of keeping my distance so that Mandi could thrive in her natural environment.

I continued to trust and to pray.

Around day seven, God-Source sent in a mama doe with a youngling. This doe allowed Mandi to nurse for awhile, and it was beautiful to watch. I had thought for sure they would all walk away together as a family, but for whatever reason the doe and her youngling moved on after the feeding. This went on for several nights until Mandi was strong enough to make it on her own.

Today it is not uncommon to see Mandi two to three times throughout the day. She often returns to lick off the salt block or roam through the grass, munching on wild clover or leftover seed casings from the lawn.

Last month Kiddo noticed this special deer for the first time when I began talking to her from our front porch.

“Hello, Mandi,” I said knowing it was her, because unlike the other deer who wander in, she is not the least bit fearful of our dogs.

“Mom, who’s Mandi?” Kiddo whispered in awe.

I smiled then explained the story of how Mandi and I first met.

After a moment of silence, Kiddo’s reflecting eyes lit up.

“Mom, guess what? Mandi’s birth parents couldn’t take care of her so God brought her here where she is safe –She is just like me!”

I embraced Kiddo with a nod while silently giving thanks to God-Source for sending such a gentle creature with a beautiful reminder of the gift in everything.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Abandon’Meant’

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

These past few weeks have contained a lot of emotional release for Kiddo. I recently came back into the house to witness “them” curled up in a ball and sobbing uncontrollably.

I had told Kiddo I had to leave the house for just a minute, but somehow “them” interpreted this as my leaving for good even though I was just running to the end of our driveway.

After some hugs and a talk to clear things up, Kiddo began crying even harder letting me know “them” was still afraid. “Don’t ever leave again, okay?” Kiddo said, somewhat bossy but mainly insistent.

I gently pulled Kiddo up so I could look deeply into “them’s” eyes. “You are safe,” I said. “I know you were feeling scared because I left you for a moment, and I’m sorry about the confusion, but I was gone for just a minute and then came back.”

We cuddled a little more as I began formulating a question to help shift “them’s” perception.

Knowing “them’s” history plus having worked with many private clients whose inner child had become wounded at some point from the belief of abandonment, I lovingly asked, “So when you think about your last family, does it bring up memories of being left all alone?”

Kiddo sobbed even harder. After a little love and some coaxing, “them” shared how past parents had left and never came back.

“So you believe they left you?” I asked

Head deeply buried in my armpit, Kiddo nodded.

“Are you sure about that?” I asked, using the collar of my shirt to wipe “them’s” tears and runny nose. (yes I did)

Kiddo’s eyes met mine with a look of confusion.

“So you believe your last family left you?” I asked again.

Before Kiddo could answer I continued, “Or is it possible that YOU left them?”

Kiddo’s face shifted from confusion to contemplation.

“Just maybe,” I ventured to say, “They didn’t leave you, but YOU left them? Just maybe you knew deep in your heart that you were not safe and so you prayed hard to God who heard you and then an angel came to get you and helped you take some of your clothes and toys, and you both drove far far away.”

I could tell by Kiddo’s face this new perception was a healing one, and, so I instructed “them” to stand up in front of our full length bedroom mirror and repeat the following after me . . .

“I left you (X) because I wasn’t protected. Though I miss you lots, it was MY idea to leave. God heard my prayers and sent an angel to help pack up my things so we could drive far, far away. I left you because I deserve to be safe. I deserve healthy love. Thank you God for answering my prayers.”

Kiddo then stared in the mirror for quite some time before running back into my arms to declare, “Mama, I just said goodbye to (X). It was my idea to leave.”

Yes! Thank you God for helping Kiddo finally see that this was all “meant” to be.


ete

P.S.
Time to go wash the shirt 😉

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

Mother Lode

“Little souls find their way to you whether they’re from your womb or someone else’s.” ~ Sheryl Crow

In some cultures, there is a belief that children choose their parents so as to teach them whatever lessons they need to learn in this lifetime.

I am beginning to see the truth of this, because having Kiddo in my life these past four months has been some of the most magical and most difficult days of my life.

A huge KUDOS to all you parents reading this because I had no idea how time consuming or how challenging this would be. Juggling kids and career and spouse and pets plus making time for family, friends, and the upkeep of the house . . . Holy Moly. It’s a good thing I have been working out.

Seriously.

Also, things have been way more amazing than words can say such as being able to witness all the new ‘firsts’ and rapid growth spurts as Kiddo gets bigger before our eyes.

Yet as grateful as I am to God-Source for allowing me to parent this little miracle, I would be lying if I told you I have been patient and accepting this entire time.

Let me tell you there have been days where I couldn’t help but wonder “what the heck am I doing?” and “why did I ever say yes to this?”

Not only is this a child we are fostering with special needs which means we have very little history on record to refer to when we are asked questions like “did “them” have chickenpox or how was their delivery, but also I have no idea how long Kiddo will be with us, and this very idea has caused me to keep putting up protective walls as a crazy way of hoping it will keep me from getting hurt.

Yet the more I do this, the more Kiddo nestles deeper into my heart. Just a few weeks ago “them” started calling me mom.

The first time it happened I froze. I wasn’t able to accept this endearing term at all.

Why?

Well, at first I had myself convinced it was because I was afraid that God-Source might separate us again and I was keeping myself from being hurt.

But then I was reminded by the caseworker that “them” doesn’t remember meeting the birth mom and has no ties yet to anyone specifically. And that if I don’t allow a bond to form, the child may never attach to anyone.

Wow. This is a really big deal, so, why then have I been resisting it?

The truth is I have waited for this for a really long time, and now that I have it, I am having a really hard time allowing myself to be loved as a mom.

Though it’s beautiful and miraculous and honoring, it is also a huge responsibility.

Quite honestly I want to run and yet I want to stay. I love the role yet I also fear it. So there are days I want things to go back to the way they were but I know I would miss what I now have.

I have heard this is normal, yet I still feel afraid, and so I will do what I have taught so many others to do when they feel fear — I will keep moving through it one day at a time and continue to trust knowing I am doing the very best that I can.

Merriam Webster’s defines mother as “a female parent”

Parent is defined as “one that brings forth offspring (i.e.: parents to twins)”
OR
“a person who brings up and cares for another (i.e.: foster parent)”

Happy Mother’s day to all of you moms reading this.

Though admittedly I have been having difficulty allowing myself to be called MOM, I know it’s because I have had a belief that only the woman who gave birth to our Kiddo was deserving of this.

And so I take it one day at a time, slowly giving myself time to process it while allowing the possibility that Kiddo has really chosen me to be the mom. As I take this all in, I smile from within and simultaneously need to take a breath just to accept the enormity of it.


ete

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)

In Sickness and In Health (Part 2 of 3)

“Parenting is not for sissies.”
– Jillian Michaels

Thank you to all of you wonderful parents who sent me messages letting me know my reaction to Kiddo’s illness was natural and normal. It means a lot.

The hubby and I are now 9 weeks into parenting, and our household is finally establishing some routine. Yet as my spouse will attest, we had to go through a lot of crap just to get here — literally.

For you see, the morning after Kiddo came down with the flu, I was scheduled to get my hair cut.

“Should I cancel?” I asked my husband.

“No,” he lovingly said, “I know how much you’ve been looking forward to this, and I don’t have to be to work for several hours yet.”

So, off I went, leaving my spouse tend to our sick kid.

An hour later, I was back in my car just about to send a text to my husband to let him know I was on my way home.

As I picked up my phone I saw there was already a message from him.

“I am up to my ears in shit,” my phone screen read followed by an emoji of a pile of poop.

I could only guess what that meant, and I began to laugh out loud.

For you see just as vomit is my nemesis, my husband Steve freaks out from fecal matter.

“I felt the little one hanging on my leg” he told me when I got home, “so I picked ‘them’ up then smelled an awful stench. That’s when I knew Kiddo crapped their pants.”

I bit my lip to prevent myself from cracking up.

“Oh, you haven’t even heard the half of it,” my husband grimaced. “So I figured the best thing to do was to throw Kiddo in the shower and hose ‘them’ off, right? Not only was there crap everywhere, shit was dropping in the tub!”

I broke into hysterics

“So then when I finally get everything cleaned up,” my husband said, “I round the corner and nearly step on a turd.”

I was dying laughing now.
“Whaaaat?”

“The only thing I can figure,” my husband said, “is that Kiddo must have been knowingly shaking out ‘their’ shorts when a deuce dropped out on the floor.”

(Even as I write this I am roaring . . . I shit you not.)

ete

(Part 3 coming soon)

(Note: For confidentiality reasons, “Kiddo” and “them” refers to the child in our foster care at the time of this post.)