#MothersDay2018

Where do babies come from?

They come from mothers. And love. They come from passion. And sometimes by accident. Or surprise.

They come after lengthy planning. And tears shed. They come unexpected. On their own time. And God’s.

They come welcomed by two smiling parents. Or held by lonesome, crying women. 

Though some do… not all babies come wrapped up nicely in blankets and bows. Or applauded when they arrive.

Sometimes, they come by storks with CPS badges and business cards. Or by minivans, held in the cradle of an ill-fitted car seat. With a square of paper holding a medicaid number, a name, and a birthday that was months, or even years ago.

That’s how we found you. The stork brought you up our driveway in her arms as we watched anxiously through the window. And suddenly, you were here. Sitting on our couch with a blank look on your face, and ours.

I suppose that’s how most babies happen. No matter what… one second they aren’t here in our world and the next… they are. Maybe crying, or staring, content, or angry. They sort of just appear. And suddenly, you’re a parent. Suddenly there is a little being who needs you.

And that’s how I became a mom for the first time, too.

Maybe our baby came with half a pack of diapers and a small bag of too-big clothes. But one second before our doorbell rang, we weren’t parents. Then we were. 

We had so many questions and no idea where to begin. Though, perhaps most parents feel the same at some point. Perhaps most parents experience the same uncertainty, the same suddenness. 

It took surprisingly little time for me to feel like a mom. The second time I ever buckled you into your car seat, I closed the door and looked at Jen and knew I was forever going to be different. That we were parents now. That we could never go back to how we were before, even if you didn’t stay with us forever. 

It took slightly longer for me to feel like your mom. And still… I don’t know if I should. But you look at me, and call me “mama” and so that’s who I am now. 

I don’t know what it’s like for traditional mothers. I don’t know when they stop being their old selves and begin to embody a mom. But I also struggle… knowing sometimes the title means very little compared to the actions. And what makes a mother a “mom,” anyhow?

So I think about my own mom. The love, the caring, the way she looks at me, hugs me, listens to me. And I try to be like her. And I try to be like me, too. The me who has been trusted to care for you, provide for you, love you.

Not everyday as a parent is easy. And “Mother’s Day” this year is a strange concept for me. Because I was never a mother before and now I am. Even if you came into my life untraditionally. Even if we don’t share DNA, a last name, or even the promise of ‘forever.’ And even if we don’t always know each other, you will forever be my first kid. The one who made me a mom for the first time on this first Mother’s Day. And nothing that happens will ever change that. 

And in case I never get to say it again… I love it. I love being your mom. Thank you for your hugs, and sweetness. For all the laughs, and smiles. For running to me to make things better. For trusting me to care for you in the ways you need to be cared for. For teaching me the innocent love from a child. And for giving me a new name to answer to.

*****

Wishing you a very happy and loving Mother’s Day. Whatever kind of mom you are, however your children came to be yours. For those longing to be mothers, for those who are mothers without children, and for those who are mother-figures. It all matters.
Much love to all of you. ❤

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Searching

#thisisfostercare

I’m looking for the word that comes in-between “temporary” and “permanent.”

And is there an adjective for the feeling of this-could-be-either-one? It’s temporary, and it’s permanent. But also… it’s neither one of those things by itself.

And how long is “permanent” anyhow? I know it’s not always synonymous with ‘forever.’ Because sometimes I’m asked for my “permanent” address but, what they really want to know is, where can they find me right now and for the foreseeable future — and not implying that I will forever live in this one spot.

Also, I wonder… how much time has to pass before something turns from one to the other?

Most of all, though… I need to figure out how to live in these spaces. These would-be timelines, and possible-futures, and not-so-descript feelings.

It’s easy to talk about things like “the now” and “the present” when you have an idea of how life will basically go (or… when you have an idealistic view of how life will basically go). I’ve never been great at living in either one of those things, but I have been decent at idealising futures. Or… stressing about them before they’re here.

Life is a question mark.

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Here, There is Love. Here, There Will Always Be.

To my little one–

In three short months, this is what you’ve taught me about love (so far):

Love isn’t hard.

It’s natural, and simple, and somehow ingrained in us if we’re soft hearted and open minded.

Still, there are things about the act of loving that are hard: understanding the need and how it’s expressed; giving it without expecting it in return; realizing that sometimes it’s exhausting and testing to love unconditionally, and then feeling guilty for thinking so after all you’ve already been through.

Love is only moments long.

We just don’t know how many days we have left to love someone while they’re with us. We never do for anyone. But especially for you. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful reminder for how we should always love others: like there’s no tomorrow; like you have to squeeze a lifetime of it into time that’s too-short, just in case.

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Warm Heart. Hard Heart. Blood Heart.

PREFACE

I’ve been trying to write this post now for well over a week. But, wouldn’t you know… if I thought I did a lot of laundry and dishes before all this, well… turns out I knew nothing back then!

Warm Heart.

So. It’s official… the day has arrived. Jen and I are foster parents to a real-life child!

I know, you have a lot of questions. I have them, too.

It’s okay to ask me, I don’t mind answering if you’re curious about it. Just know that I might not always know the answer. We’re learning, too.

Everyday is a new question, a new challenge, a new experience.

We’re learning the foster care system. We’re learning what it’s like to have an almost-two-year-old running around your house. We’re learning about daycare, and DHS, and about how you balance adult-interaction time with kid-time. We’re learning our new little one’s personality, and (related) how to redirect the attention span of a squirrel.

We’re trying to figure out how to make sure our pets have what they need, make sure that we have what we need, and figuring out how to keep life moving forward in some semblance of a routine, even though it’s been totally disrupted. We’re learning about empathy, and compassion, and how to deal with really complicated things.

And this is just the beginning.

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A Thought at Twenty Eight

A prose/poem/thought

Today is my birthday.
I’m well into my “late-2o’s.”
At this point, I can only remember with (decent) accuracy roughly 68% of my life.

My earliest memory is when I’m not much more than 2. I’m standing in a playpen at the first house I ever lived in, and I’m watching my uncle go about the living room.
Later in life, I learn this is probably when my sister was born, and my uncle came to look after my brother and me.

Later in life, I can’t picture the memory as clearly, only that at one point this was the furthest back I could remember to.

At twenty eight, I reflect on how far back I can remember to.

There are highlights from elementary school-age, and things that I forgot happened.
But, then I find them in pictures and I can remember a little bit better afterwards.

I think I’m about nine in my earliest memories that are a bit clearer.
Which makes approximately nineteen years of my life up to this point.
How strange to think that the first nine years of my life are just amiss in the minds of other people.

How strange to wonder how far away nine will be next year, and will it still seem as clear then?

And even as I get to be the kind of age that you think of adults as being–I still have trouble sometimes sorting out exactly how old I was when certain events took place.
Or what year it was when this thing or that happened.
See… I have to think about it before I know for sure–or at least have a good guess.

Age is a weird concept.

Some days… I can play around like I’m five.
Or carry on a conversation like I’m eighty five.
Sometimes, this happens in the same day.

I have one grey hair that I know of.

But I can still stay up until midnight.

So… what does it even mean to be twenty eight? It feels much more natural than how old it sounded, even when I was twenty.

But, I also begin to worry about how much of my life I’ll remember when I’m seventy.
A patient at work the other day told me all about his life when he was ten.
And his family vacations when he was growing up with surprising detail.
He’s eighty two now.

I’m so desperate some days to hold on to everything that happens, that I’ll take hundreds of pictures to document it, to have something to prove to myself one day that “this happened.”
To have a memory instead of just a thought of one.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in it, I hope I’m storing the details in my head, too.
But we never really know until we get a couple years past it, looking back.

So here I am.

Twenty eight.

And I try to think about everything that’s happened.
And wonder about everything that comes next.

Running Thoughts

But… Why?

Tonight I went for a run in, ah… longer than I’d like to admit to.

I ran 2.5 miles and didn’t stop to walk and felt pretty alright about it all. It wasn’t far, but it’s a start!

Things like running, and cycling, and swimming (my three biggest sporting loves), always give me time to think. Space to decompress. To process. I always seem to find something to think about. And if I don’t, sometimes not thinking about anything except the task at hand can also be rewarding in it’s own way.

I’m not a fast runner. I’m not a fast swimmer. I’m a decent cyclist.

A few years ago, I was in great shape. I did a triathlon at least once a month from June-September, and placed in my age group often. But… I was also single. Didn’t have very many friends. Had a part-time job and 2 hours a day to devote to the gym. My life as a whole was not super fulfilling.

When I look at where I am now–Wonderful wife (plus cat-children). Great neighborhood. Good job. Solid friends. And I feel like I live a much more well-rounded and satisfying life these days.

It’s not about winning. It never has been. But sometimes I get caught up in the competitiveness of sports, in the comparisons of my times and abilities to someone else’s, and I forget the real reasons why these things matter to me.

So… What Are we Learning?

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