Friday, December 4, 2015


E's birthmom, R, moved back to her home state a couple of years ago. We got sporadic text messages from her, from a different #, every couple of months. And then, late this summer, we got a message from her that she was in town. But not just to visit. She's moved back.

Since then we've had several scheduled get togethers, only one has been successful. It was good. And painful. And beautiful. And hard. She said hardly anything. Just watched him. I can only imagine what was going through her mind. I tried to just sit there, hold space for her, and not get in the way of her loving him.

I offered random tidbits about E. What he likes. What he doesn't like. How he's really funny, in a little old man kind of way. How he loves music and dancing, but will only engage in either when he's in the mood; there's no cajoling him into it when he doesn't want to. How expressive he is when he talks, especially once those hands get going. How much he still loves to cuddle. How he can have quite the temper when he doesn't get what he wants. How much he adores and looks up to his brother. How he's rather introverted, particularly in big groups, or unknown situations. How hilarious he is when he gets going about something random, even when he isn't trying to be. And how mad he gets when we laugh at the times when he isn't being funny on purpose.

She smiled and responded a bit, but mostly just watched him play with his brother, with his (birth) sister.

I wondered which was more painful for her, seeing him then, or not having seen him for so long. I imagine both were horribly hard.

This weekend we're planning to have family pictures. And R and her daughter are coming, too. These pics are our Christmas gift to R. I had thought to set some up, but hadn't figured out who would do them, or when, or even asked R if she wanted to. And then she texted me asking, well, more saying she'd love some. I'm so glad she mentioned it.

This is a first for us. I'm hoping the photographer can do some family pics of me, hubby, and the boys before R arrives (she nearly always runs really late). Then some pics of us all, and some of her, her daughter, and E.

Confession? I want to be the adoptive mom who is all "oh, yeah, I'm 100% comfortable with this". But, I'm not. I think in my head I am. But, I can't really articulate why the rest of me is having all kinds of feels about it. And I can't even really identify the feels, just some kind of discomfort.

I'm pretty sure it's rooted in R's pain. For a long time, it was easy for me to essentially dismiss my boys' birthparents' pain, for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because adoption was a choice they all made. And while that's true, it doesn't mean it was an easy decision to make, and certainly not an easy one to live with. I, of course, didn't take these boys away from their biological families. However, that still doesn't negate their pain, or make it feel any better to me.  And it doesn't make it any easier, really, for any of us.

I really do hope the pictures this weekend go well. I hope R shows up (like I said, there have been some canceled at the last minute visits). I suppose if she doesn't it's just more time for pics of the 4 of us. I hope I can work through some of this discomfort before the pics, so I don't ruin it/them for everyone else. And, of course, I hope the pics turn out well.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we think we've done the work to know what we're getting ourselves into. And perhaps we have, to some extent. But often, what we neglect to do, is the work to know what we're getting others into with our decisions. Particularly as it relates to children, who have no say so in any of it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Boy

I hate to even type this out, for serious fear that I'll jinx us and things will go back to "before", but here it is anyway.

About 6 months ago I realized the kid had gained a lot of weight. Like 30lbs in a year. And his behavior was off the charts. It had been cyclical before (for example, take a look at the last several years this time and you'll see me complaining) but over the previous 6-12months, it had been near constant. He was having a horrible school year and the thing I'd dreaded since he started at public school in kindergarten had finally happened - the school thought he needed to be diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication. I eventually relented and agreed to do testing, but it showed, like I knew it would, that he did not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. I talked with our behavioral health social workers, the MDs who run the ADHD clinic, and the child psychiatrist at work and they agreed with me that he didn't meet the criteria.

Cue the appt with the pedi. She did the whole "he needs to eat better foods and get more exercise" talk. I did the whole "we rarely eat junk food - heck even processed food - and this is about the most active kid I know" response. She talked about sending him to a "program" (for overweight kids). I told her where to stick that idea and that I'd follow up with the High BMI MDs and Peds Endocrine MDs at work and let her know what they had to say.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this all (the behavior and the weight gain) all stemmed from some allergy medicine prescribed about 11 months prior by the allergist (who is an awful B, but that's a story for another day). Pedi disagreed. BMI MD and nurse practitioner disagreed. Endo MD at first disagreed. But then she took a really good look at his growth chart (shot up from a consistent 75th% over the last many years to >99th% in weight and BMI in just a year!!), ordered some labs and a hand xray, looked at some pics of him from a year prior, then stopped into my office a few days later. She thought, just maybe, I might be right. She couldn't tell me what to do allergy medicine-wise, but suggested I call the allergy MD to see what else they could put him on.

I refused to have anything else to do with that allergy MD, so just stopped the med on my own and did some research. (Actually, I had had already stopped it a few weeks prior, because I was that convinced it was at least part of the problem.) After talking with another of the BMI MDs, who actually agreed that something was seriously amiss with my boy - and not something that had to do with diet or activity - I asked the pedi to order a different, non-steroid medicine.

And, don't you know, that since then (about 6 months and counting), my boy hasn't gained an ounce. Nothing. And the whole year before then, he was averaging a gain of about 2.5lbs a month.

My kid, who had been displaying some concerning symptoms of anxiety, in addition to the impulsivity and distractability, well, he's a different kid. Gone are all symptoms of anxiety. Gone is the distractability. Gone are the angst-y, middle school girl-esque throw-myself-on-the-floor-and-sob-over-who-the-eff-knows-what fits.

Now, my kid is still there. He's still not perfect. But it seems like the essence of who *he* is, well, it's finally back in the forefront. My fairly easygoing boy who smiles and laughs all the time, who is so damn smart and loves to learn. That kid is back. And I realized he's been buried beneath a mist of steroids for years. It may be the allergy med that awful MD prescribed a year ago (well, a year and half now) that pushed him over the edge, but I realized this all started when he started on Qvar for his asthma when he was about 3yo. And, man, do I feel shitty about that.

All this time I've known something wasn't right with my kid. I've blamed the fall behavior issues on the allergies. And, yes, the allergies which lead to the asthma, which lead to him not sleeping as well, that is part of the issues. But, really, it was the allergies, that lead to the asthma, that led to us giving him the Qvar and nasal allergy medicine that caused the problems. They're what caused the problems.

Now, the MDs all tried to say that those steroids are inhaled, thus won't cause issues. Well, they were wrong. Every damn one of them. So, so very wrong. At least with my kid. And a couple of the MDs wanted to "write this up" and publish it "because that's how pediatricians learn". But, well, my kid, so I get to write it up my way. Especially since I'm the one who made this medical "discovery". Me. Not the 4-5 MDs I consulted who are "experts". Me. Just the mom. Just the lowly social worker with limited medical knowledge. And while I'm proud that I figured this out, I'm also pissed that no one else did earlier. And I'm pissed that no one - including me - figured this out years ago. I'm pissed about the difficulties my kid has had, the difficulties in our relationship we could have avoided.

But, it is what it is. We know now and we'll never allow him to be given steroids again.

And, for the record, his allergies and asthma are now so much better controlled anyway than they were with those other meds. So go figure.

Today's Lesson: For the mamas, listen to your gut. Don't let the "professionals" blow you off. For everyone else (MDs, dads, grandmas, etc...), just effing listen to the mama. Research even shows she's probably right.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Orchestra

I was never a team sports kind of  girl. Well, to be honest, I was never a sports of any kind kind of girl (other than occasionally the swim team). But orchestra. That was my thing. It was the place I truly felt like I belonged.

I played the violin from 4th grade through Sophomore year in college, even - somehow - getting a small scholarship my first two years in college. I'm pretty sure it was thanks to my orchestra director who loved me (the feeling, btw, was mutual). I was never really any good, mind you. I never felt the need to practice at home. I mean, who wanted to lug that thing back and forth home to school every day. And practicing just my part of the music didn't sound all that great. And not just because I sucked, mind you, but because, when you're not in the first section, you rarely get the melody.

Regardless, I loved it.

I loved the music. I loved to be a part of creating the music. Even though I was somewhere far back in the 2nd violin section, hence only got a supporting role, it didn't matter to me. When all the parts played together, it was magical. Yes, even as a bunch of 4th graders. Though, I'll tell you, once we got to high school, it really was transformative for me, especially on those occasions when we got it *just right*. The feeling of creating something beautiful with a group of people, it just has profound meaning for me.

Probably as much as the music itself, the people were what made orchestra so important for me. These were my people. Yes, some of us were rather dorky. Some of us were quite popular. Many of us didn't know a football from a golf ball. But some of us were gifted athletically. Some of us sucked at our instruments. Others were truly talented (many of my orchestra friends have gone on to full-time careers in music). But, for the most part, we were who we were and - in that place, if no where else - we were accepted as we were, for who we were.

Now that doesn't mean I was great friends with everyone. There were people who I didn't particularly like, and I'm certain others would say that about me. However, there was a solidarity, a common purpose, a respect between us that  allowed for us to mostly peacefully co-exist. And that wasn't a feeling I necessarily experienced outside of that orchestra room (or cafeteria, as the case was in elementary school). But, just knowing that that kind of acceptance was a possibility, that feeling part of something bigger than me was possible, that changed my life. It had an enormous impact on who I have become.

So, you can imagine my big feelings when my kiddo agreed to participate in orchestra this year. 4th grade is when it starts. It's when it started for me. The feeling of fitting, of being where I belonged.

My kid has been struggling to find the "thing" that is his. We'd hoped he'd get into an arts school for visual arts and that he'd find his "thing" there, but it didn't happen. We haven't been able to find a sport, or any other activity that is his "thing". It's not that he doesn't like doing things. Really, he's fairly content to do about anything. But he doesn't love anything. There's just nothing that he really seems passionate about.

Also, he hasn't yet found that group of kids who are his people. And, as much as anything, I want that for him. To have a  group of peers where he feels comfortable, confident, and just able to be himself. That's what orchestra was for me.

It's totally fine with me if orchestra isn't his thing. I think there's a possibility it might be. In truth, it would thrill me if it was. But it's fine if it's not. Mostly I'll be happy, thrilled for him, when he finds whatever that thing is. Because that feeling of belonging, it makes life so much easier, so much happier, so much more full.

So, the first time I see him with his very own viola perched under his chin, the bow all rosin-ed up and poised over the strings, surrounded by other string players, I'm going to cry. And, yes it'll probably be as much for the little Becky who had finally found her place as it will be for my boy. But that's okay.

And, when he does finally find his "thing", I'll cry then, too. Because I'll remember what a gift it is, to know you are where you are supposed to be. And so grateful that he has found that for himself.

Today's Lesson: As much as I love parenting the littles, there is much joy in being able to share different parts of myself with them as they grow and can understand and accept those things. Those moments make the smart mouth a little easier to take. Usually.

Friday, March 20, 2015

From his Perspective

Momma, this morning I just wanted to show you what I made out of Legos. But you stopped me before I could and told me to take them back downstairs because I know I'm not supposed to play with them in the mornings. But I usually forget that. Because they're awesome and I love them. And, besides, I really wanted to finish this cool creation. But, I did what you wanted and took them back downstairs. Without mouthing back at you, I might add. But I got distracted when I was down there and next thing I knew, you were yelling at me to come back up to your room. And you didn't sound very happy with me.

On my way back to your room, E ran by, waving one of my drawings at me, laughing manically, taunting me. I had to get it back - right.then - because he sometimes cuts up my art stuff that I've worked so hard on. But he didn't listen when I told him to stop so I had to yell at him. He was waving it in my face on purpose and I tried to grab it. He was running down the hall when I got ahold of him and he fell down. I was so relieved to get my drawing back that I didn't even notice that he was upset. Until you stuck your head out it the hallway and demanded to know what happened.

Right away you picked up E and hugged him. But you wouldn't listen to me. I just wanted to tell you what happened. I mean, couldn't you see, he did this to himself! I just wanted my drawing back. That's it! But now I'm in trouble! It doesn't make any sense. And you're using so many words and I just want you to hear me that he was going to destroy my stuff!! Again. Because he does it all. the. time. Why won't you listen to me?! And you wonder why I don't want to tell you things sometimes. It's because you only want me to talk, well, when you want me to talk. Not when I want - or need - to talk.

You wonder why I'm sometimes sullen. Well, it's because I don't feel like I'm heard. My Legos, my drawings, you may not feel like they're all that important, but they are to me. When I yell at you, I'm trying to explain my side of it, before you start in on me. I just want to be heard. It's really not too much to ask.

Today's Lesson: There are times, as a parent, when I don't have time to listen. Or at least my perception is that I don't have time. There are times, as a parent, when I don't think the things my child is upset about are important. But my child certainly thinks they are important. There are times, as a parent, that I need to stop, slow down, shut up, and let him have his say. Because the 2-3 extra minutes this takes, will save us time later. Because my child will feel heard... listened to... important... he will know, by my actions, that he is important to me... that he is loved... that he is my priority. There are some mornings when I just need this reminder. Before the chaos starts.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Early Memories

One of my earliest memories is a snippet of a moment. A single snapshot of random life. Held in my memory as just still frame. But seen from my perspective, and real enough that I know it wasn't a picture I later saw somewhere, but something seen with my own eyes.

I couldn't have been more than 3. I was standing, in the kitchen. I can almost feel the red and brown squares of the linoleum beneath my bare feet. The yellow-greenish color of the oven in front of me. Staring up at the brown cabinets. The skinny cabinet, just to the left of the oven was open. I remember, clearly, the jars of baby food lined up neatly on the bottom two shelves of the cabinet, so high above me. They were green and yellow, tiny jars. The round glass ones, with metal lids.

And that's it.

There's no sound or smell associated with it. No feelings at all, other than curiosity about the jars. I was just there, looking.

I wonder, though... what was it about that moment that embedded itself so strongly in my memory? Why is it 30-something years later I remember it so clearly? Why has my mind held on to that, when it's forgotten so many other (much more useful!) things?

And that leads me to wonder... what are the first memories my kids will have? Will it be something big and exciting? Will it be something frightening? Will it be a quiet, loving moment with me (oh, how I wish it to be this!)? Or will it be a random moment of the mundane?

Right now, E says he remembers when he was in heaven before he was born (a conclusion he came to all on his own; we've never told him that's where babies are before they're born). He says he remembers "just a'waitin'". It's an interesting thing. But I wonder if he will hold on to this, or something else will replace it.

The kid, well, he just starts to make up fanciful stories about his first memories when asked (i.e. after he heard what E said, he just expanded on that). So I'm not really sure what it truly is. Likely, neither is he.

But, seeing as how I never talked about this particular memory until a few years ago (and not for any particular reason, other than it never came up), it seems plausible that they may not even realize right now what their earliest memories are.

So I'm curious... what are your earliest memories? Also, do you think there's a reason why those particular things have stuck with you?

Today's Lesson: The mind, and memories, are tricky things. We never know exactly what they'll hold on to, or why. Sometimes the things we most want to remember (a particular look of a loved one... a fact for an important test... our babies' first words) seem to be lost. While the seemingly unimportant (where baby food was stored when we were toddlers) remains.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My favorite part of Christmas

So Christmas wasn't as awful as I'd been afraid it would be. It wasn't magical (for me at least), but it was fine. I think my favorite part overall was just not having to deal with school and work (for hubby; I still went to work many days). I still feel like I need a week or two to recover and get all the things done that didn't get done (lord how I hate laundry). But, well, you know how that goes.

However, there is one moment that stands out as my absolute favorite memory. You might think it has to do with decorating cookies (God, no. That was stressful and I lost my shit over the most ridiculous thing while we were doing that. So much so that I need to decide whether we need to do those ever again. And, that's solely contingent on whether I can behave myself, mind you). Or how grateful the kids were for all of their gifts (and they were, but, well, that's not exactly memorable). Or how enthralled E was with the Christmas concert (he was, totally. And I did enjoy that, but the kid was in BIG TROUBLE  and that stress overshadowed the concert and many other things). Or how the boys seemed to "get" why we were taking so many presents to another family (they did, and then sat glued to the tv at the family's house because holycrapthetvisON!!!!). 

But no. It was none of those things.

So let me tell you what it was.

It was Christmas  Day. We were at hubby's paternal grandmother's house. Now, FIL is one of 12 (yes, 12) children. And hubby has like 50 something (maybe more?) first cousins. And many of those cousins now have children, too. And hubby's grandmother's house is about, I don't know, 1500sq ft. So, family gatherings are, um, chaotic, busy, loud, chaotic, shoulder-to-shoulder-packed-in-there, chaotic... you get the picture. Everyone brings a dish and lunch is potluck style down in the basement. It's chaotic. (Have I mentioned that yet?) For some reason, there's never any alcohol there. Now, this is a huge Catholic family so I really don't know why there's no alcohol. But there just never is. Perhaps with that many people in that small of a space it wouldn't be a good idea. Tho I tend to think it would. For me at least.

Everyone was settling down to eat. The boys and I were sitting at a card table with hubby on the couch right next to us. FIL's fiance (topic for a different post. Or 3.) and my SIL were also sitting with us. E was clearly hungry and was shoveling food into his mouth. The kid was super distracted by everything going on and hardly could finish a sentence before something else grabbed his attention, much less actually finish a bite of food.

One of hubby's aunts popped her head down the stairs and asked if anyone would like a glass of wine. Before anyone else had time to even process her question (because, what? Wine? Here? What the what?), I looked over and noticed that my sweet, quiet, innocent 4yo's hand had SHOT up into the air. He was sitting as tall as he could in his seat, holding his arm completely straight, waving that little hand like his life depended on it. His eyes were huge and his mouth slightly open in a little "o". He wasn't taking his eyes of hubby's aunt. He didn't make a peep. He wanted that wine, y'all.

And I died (DIED!!!!!) laughing. Like, tears streaming down my face, about to fall out of my seat, my face hurts, laughing.

Hubby's aunt, also died laughing. And then she said, "does anyone besides E want some wine?". And everyone caught on to what had just happened and the room erupted in laughter.

E slowly caught on that he wasn't going to get the wine. And, since he doesn't at all enjoy being the center of attention, he slowly put his hand down and resumed eating, not making eye contact with anyone.

Before you start to think that he just thought it was juice, or just something special in general. Let me clarify. This child really does like wine. He'll steal sips of it whenever he can. He is a wine thief.

After we'd been sitting there a few minutes, and everyone had moved on and was eating happily, I heard my sweet baby E mutter under his breath, "but I do want the wine. I do. I DO!".

And I died laughing again.

I love this child, y'all. Love. Him.

Today's Lesson: Some of us are planners. And some of us planners think we can plan fun. Plan joy. Plan magic. But the best of those things, well, they just happen. And usually when we least expect them.