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 her 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.)

In Sickness and In Health (Part 1 of 3)

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.”
– Linda Wooten

I awoke in the middle of the night to the sounds of retching and heaving. I was hoping my husband would tag himself in, but he opted to stay asleep instead.

As I rounded the corner half awake, I was stopped by an odor so nauseating I had a hard time staying composed. — We are talking the sour guts, ‘what the heck died in here?’ kind of smell.

Yep, Kiddo was really sick, and it was now up to me to assist.

So far I had dealt with uncontrollable coughing, slippery snot, diarrhea butt, and poop on the toilet seat, light switch, and wall, but now I was being put to the ultimate test. I was facing my nemesis . . . VOMIT.

Now, I don’t know about you, but seeing someone else’s regurgitated stomach contents has always made me want to start spewing too.

And this time wasn’t any different. I was ready to barf.

Gagging several times, I wiped up the mess and did everything I knew to do to stay calm.

After giving Kiddo a drink of water with peppermint oil to calm the tummy, I put a cool washcloth on the head, them tucked “them” in for the night, asking if there was anything more I might do.

Kiddo looked up at me with big sad eyes letting me know, “I want my mom.”

I softly kissed Kiddo’s forehead. “Oh sweetie,” I whispered, “I know you want your mom, and I am so very sorry things are not the same, but I promise you I am doing my very best to help you feel better, okay?”

Big alligator tears fell down Kiddo’s cheeks, and in that moment my heart was hurting in a way no words can possibly describe.

I felt both helpless and sad. Kiddo was sick and there wasn’t anything more I could do.

As I crawled back into bed, my thoughts became a jumbled mess. You might even say they began to HURL lots of fears and meanness:
Let’s face it.
You’re in over your head.
You can’t even handle vomit without upchucking.
You suck as a parent and you know it.
Kiddo needs a mom.
And it’s not you!

ete

(Part 2 coming soon)

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

Any Way You Slice It – Part 2 of 2

My bloody finger was now wrapped in a paper toweling and twisted tight with a rubber band. Then just when I thought I had things under control, I saw dinner was burning on the stove.

Working quickly, I grabbed a wooden spoon with my good hand and began chiseling the bottom of the pan.

Oh well, I told myself. A little burnt taco meat never hurt. And besides, I had to get Kiddo off to bed soon, so I couldn’t afford anymore delays.

Despite the fact that I could feel my pulse through my finger, I managed to chop some tomatoes and shred some lettuce and cheese. I then added some corn shells to the toaster oven before turning back to help Kiddo open the remainder of the gifts.

So far so good. We had twenty minutes to eat, brush teeth, and go to bed.

As Kiddo ran around enjoying “them’s” new gifts, I turned around to see the taco shells toasting to a crisp.

Moving as quickly as I could, I used my one good hand to yank each shell from the oven.

AHHH! Two shells broke, and now my fingertips were burned.

Doing my best to stay positive, I plated the shells so the cracked ones could come to me and all of the burnt sides were facing down.

I then helped Kiddo get situated at the table and positioned the pan of taco meat in front of my place setting.

All I had to do yet was grab our plates. But as I set the wooden spoon down into the pan so it was ready for serving when I returned, the moment I walked away, the pan tipped over, the spoon went sailing, and taco meat went flying everywhere.

For the love of God!

My first reaction was to “fly off the handle” much like the spoon, but instead of yelling my little head off, I stayed silent and took it all in.

As I washed up the chili powder stained mess with each of my charred fingers, I looked up at Kiddo, happily devouring my disaster of a meal.

So this is motherhood, I thought.

It’s clumsy, it’s messy, and it’s exhausting.

Yet no matter how you slice it, it is a gift from God indeed!

ete

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

Any Way You Slice It – Part 1 of 2

It’s been over month since Kiddo arrived, and in the past few weeks, some family and friends have kindly mailed gifts to honor the occasion.

Kiddo was really looking forward to opening a package my parents had sent and excitedly opened the silverware drawer. “I help,” Kiddo squealed, grabbing the scissors and jumping up and down.

How sweet, I thought. ‘Them’ wants to help.

I reached out to take the scissors from Kiddo’s hands just as the blades opened and closed on my middle finger.

“Owwwww,” I cried out, pulling my hand back to cradle it from the pain.

“I sorry…. I sorry…I sorry,” Kiddo whimpered.

Blood began soaking through my fingers. “I know it was an accident,” I managed to say as I dashed into the living room and fell to my knees.

Rocking back and forth, I cupped my finger high in the air, taking several deep breaths for relief.

Moments later, I could feel Kiddo approach me from behind. I quickly pulled myself up off the floor then grabbed a Band-Aid from the hall closet.

After wrapping the bandage around my finger, “Okay,” I said as cheerfully as I could, “let’s see what’s inside of the package.”

Half-way through opening the first gift, my finger began spurting blood again.

Kiddo noticed it first. ‘Them’ began to squeal, “You okay? You okay?”

I looked down to see more blood dripping onto the gift packaging.

“I’m okay,” I winced, turning on the faucet with my good hand so I could soak my wound under the cold stream.

I stared at the red pool of blood forming at the bottom of the sink. Would I need stitches? I inspected my finger more carefully.

Nope. I’d be okay. I just needed to bandage two sides of my finger instead of one, since both ends had been caught between the blades.

Not wanting to delay Kiddo anymore, I yanked some paper toweling from off the roll, wrapped my finger in it tightly, then twisted a rubber band around it to keep things snug.

I have got this, I told myself.

And I nearly believed it too.
That is, until I realized dinner was burning on the stove.


ete

-Part II coming soon-

 

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

Two Halves Stay Broken, Not Whole

A week or so ago, “Ronnie” (the person assigned to us for our home study and foster licensing) reached out to my husband and me to let us know a sibling group had come available for adoption.

After asking many questions and reviewing the file, Steve and I graciously declined.

While explaining our reasons to Ronnie, I said, “For lack of a better analogy, I feel like we are on one of those reality shows where we are being asked to marry someone without ever meeting first, and as much as Steve and I have dreamed of having children, this just doesn’t feel good at this point.”

Ronnie’s response was a bit of a surprise. She explained she was relieved to hear this. She then shared that many foster families go into adoption “desperate for a child” and she is glad to know we are willing to foster first in order to take things slow to be sure it’s a good fit.

Having been licensed as foster parents before, Steve and I know all too well how easy it is to want a child so badly that you say yes without even knowing if it is a match.

Many well intentioned people are willing to take any child no matter what, or go into adoption with the hope of feeling good because they are ‘fixing/saving’ a kiddo. Others go into it trying to fill a void for reasons of loss or infertility, while some others have a religion that has taught them that having a bigger family means greater after-life reward.

Steve and I are very grateful to be past this now.

Looking back ten years ago, we were willing to adopt for very unhealthy and selfish reasons: in hopes it would help us feel more “whole and complete.”

Back then Steve and I didn’t realize we were broken. Boy, did we have a lot of growing up to do! We needed this time to discover who we really are.

And though there are still days I wonder what ever happened to little Cynthia, I am very grateful we were not chosen as her forever family.

Why?

Because this notion of needing someone else in order to fulfill you is a a false illusion that will just leave you feeling lost and unfulfilled.

When you go into any relationship—including fostering or adoption—with the idea that someone else will make you whole or complete your family, it is a sign that you need to do more inner work.

For as Patricia Fry once said, “Two halves do not make a whole when it comes to a healthy relationship. It takes two WHOLES,” and I might add, two wholes who are compatible and bring out each other’s soul potential.

Thank you so much God for helping me see this importance of individual wholeness and authenticity. No matter what happens from this point forward, I am grateful to know that apart or together, Steve and I are already complete.

ete

Something To Cry About

It’s Christmas night, and the house is quiet. It’s a perfect time to reflect and write.

Though grief has struck me on and off for the last several weeks, today I am feeling at peace.

For one, Beauty and the Beast just got done playing on ABC. And whenever I hear its memorable music I begin to smile. If you knew my husband Steve and my history you could appreciate this more. Let’s just say I was able to see through his tough guy exterior at the start.

Speaking of Steve, we took a road trip together recently. All those hours in the truck allowed us to really talk about our life and what we are envisioning for our future. I began sharing how I had been seeing other families with their children a couple of days before. I really needed a good cry, so I crawled up into a ball in front of the toddler bed and began asking God why He keeps taking so long.

“Then I immediately felt badly for thinking such things, because I know lowering my vibration will only cause further delays and because I was feeling guilty that there are so many others who are worse off and really do have something to cry about.

“I went outside to start shoveling snow and the phrase ‘Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about’ came to mind.

As a a child this saying was meant as a threat, yet as I moved that shovel it took on new meaning,” I said.

I then explained that I had originally gotten upset because I was jealous others had something I did not. I then started crying because what I desire is not yet showing up. Then I felt guilty because there are people in this world who have had children and then suffered loss.

As I reflected on this more my maker helped me realize this kind of thinking is a trap. Being envious about someone who has something I do not, or feeling contrite because someone may be much worse off is preventing me from being in the NOW.

“I feel so much better,” I told my husband. “Because even though this time of year has a tendency to pull us back or project us into ‘what ifs,’ I now understand this is a decoy that prevents us from being fully present.

And so tonight I cry tears of happiness. Thank you God-Source for the gift.

ete