Letter to my 13-year old self

The oldest mancub celebrated his 13th birthday last week. Planning for his gift got me to thinking about what I would tell my 13-year old self if I could travel back through time and impart wisdom.

Dear Lisa,

  • The God you started following will never leave you. Even when you choose to walk away from Him, and you will, He’ll never cease to continue chasing after you. It’s His promise and my guarantee … each and every time you walk away from Him, He’ll be there.  Waiting with open arms.
  • Stress is overrated. Don’t fall for the lie that you aren’t “good enough.” You are. Believe it or not, you are way MORE than good enough. In some aspects, you are excellent!
  • Stay true to yourself and don’t let anyone tell you to change. You are smart. Don’t dumb yourself down to fit in. That cliche, “why fit in when you were born to stand out?” Believe it. You do you.
  • Your tastes in food, friends, and music will change. What will never change is your family. Even though you don’t believe it, they’ll be there for you during all the tough times in your future. And trust me, there will be some tough times.

So 13-year old self, don’t fret. You’ll make it through high school, and college, and graduate school (believe it!) just fine. You and an amazing man will find each other and build a life you wouldn’t trade for the world. Not to sugar-coat your future, there will be some really stressful times, some financially lean years, and some terribly tragic moments.

But while there will be some hard times, your future will be filled with children and dogs and love and laughter. And that is what you’ll focus on when you share your memories with your children and their children.

Purple Heart

A friend of mine posted a color heart chart a few weeks ago. It’s a way to check in and share about how we’re dealing emotionally with all the social distancing.

Hearts

This is my Day 1 of Week 6 and, even though I was looking forward to my 9am meeting, it was really hard to pull myself out of bed this morning.  Emotionally, I’m torn between feeling bad for myself and feeling worse for the mancubs because technically, they’ve been doing this for a week longer than me. My plan is to get everyone out of the house following my meeting. It’s too pretty outside to stay inside doing virtual learning & meetings.

When I received notification last week that our school district will continue with remote learning through the end of the school year, a little part of my brain let out a plaintive wail. It may have sounded more like a squeak and it felt a lot like a headache.

A good friend told me recently she was surprised I’m having such a hard time with social distancing since I’m an “introvert.”  Being real, while I’m incredibly shy and do enjoy being alone, six weeks of this is way over the top even for me.

So today, my heart is purple. Right now, things are tough.

Please check on your introverted friends. Chances are we are not okay.

For such a time

Friday. My Day 1 of Week 4 of the time known as “social isolation.” What am I going to remember when I look back?

Aside from two weeks vacation, I never took “maternity leave” when the boys were placed with us two years ago or when their adoption was finalized seven months later. This time has been a gift to get to know, really get to know them and to create routines for our family. It’s two years later, but this time is a gift.

I’ll remember that even though it seems absurd, it is possible to do two full-time jobs at one time. It’s exhausting and there are times when neither job has been done well. There have been times when both jobs have collided head-long.

  • Times when I thought the “mute” was on when I yelled for the boys to switch activities only to look down at my computer screen as my team chuckled at my gaff.
  • Times when trying to meet with my director or with my team and first one mancub, then another, and then the third come to me with questions about their assignments.
  • The time when I look up after 3 solid hours of work and realize the youngest had been happily watching every fun video in his week’s assignments and hadn’t done a single.math.problem or written anything on his book report.

But there have been some really good times as well.

  • Being able to teach my parents how to “Zoom” so they could see all their children at one time and visit with us.
  • Having lunches and dinners together – all 5 of us – every day and listening to the mancubs share nuggets of knowledge they learned that day. Hearing their “I wonder …” questions, encouraging them to look it up.
  • Having books in various stages of completion strewn throughout the house.
  • Giving them responsibility for meal and snack planning and watching them teach each other how to cook simple dishes.
  • The looks of assurance as they head upstairs for bed each night saying, “See you tomorrow!”

Yes my dear, yes you will.

Granted, I miss the craziness of our lives before we had to stay home but I’ve realized a lot of what I thought was necessary really isn’t. I hope I remember all these things and more when I look back at this time we’ve been gifted with.

In for the long haul

Found out today, in the midst of a Zoom, that my school district will remain closed until at least May 1st. I told the participants I was going to shut off my camera & mic for a moment and have a little cry. They all chuckled knowingly.

You see, we all … all of us … want to go back to our “normal.”
Back to the craziness of running from meeting to meeting, appointment to appointment, campus to campus, sport practice to sport practice. The stress – and the joy – of doing only one.job.at.a.time.

But we know all of this is for the best. We know the working from home, the not being out in public with the mass of humanity is for our health and the health of others. And yet …

One day, we’ll be back in all that craziness and we’ll look back at this time and wish we were here. At home. With our families.

Sweet Husband and the mancubs … all of us … have adapted to living life on a schedule. There’s security in knowing when activities are planned to take place. Their routines are set and aside from the typical bickering between them, the mancubs are accepting all this time at home. Do they miss their school mates? Yes! They LOVE when their teachers schedule Zoom sessions and are super disappointed when they realize they missed an opportunity to hang with their classmates online.

We have dozens of books and part of their day is dedicated solely to reading. They received two books this past Christmas that have become their absolute favorites: The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s sequel, The Double Dangerous Book for Boys. Both are filled with essential “nuggets” that every boy should know.  The oldest mancub found a game in one of the volumes that he insisted all the brothers play after school work was done today.

The object of the game was to cut away at the flour around the toothpick without making it fall.

The person who made it fall, had to pick up the toothpick. With their mouth. It was messy, it was fun, and they (we) all laughed and had a great time.

I hope they can look back at this very weird time in human history, all the things we did during our time of social isolation, and laugh.

I know I will.

 

Reflections on Day 2

Day 2 of “social distancing” ended with Mama enjoying a glass of wine. I might talk a big game, but I rarely open a bottle of wine and even more rarely enjoy a glass by myself. Today? It felt right. Not because I was stressed but exactly because I wasn’t. It was a laid back day today. We all slept in, I made a nice Saturday breakfast, Sweet Husband took his virtual meeting and finished up the requisite paperwork, and the mancubs played. It was a good day. A day that earned being topped off with a glass of wine.

Today was my second day, Sweet Husband’s 4th, and the mancubs’ … well, I seem to have lost count.  They had an extended Spring Break and will start remote learning the middle of next week.  They’re ready. As many books as we have in this house, as many games, toys, and movies … they’re ready to see their teachers and their friends, even if only in the virtual classroom.

I know I’m confused on what day it is – and I’ve only been home full-time for 2 days – I think they also miss the routine of their school day. They might not admit it, but I’m pretty sure they do. So, I’ve been keeping up with all of their teachers’ emails and have been updating a list of virtual classroom codes I’m keeping on the refrigerator. And every time I post a new classroom code, that child runs upstairs to log in to their classroom to see if there’s anything for them to work on. Between Sweet Husband and me working from home and the mancubs needing time to work on their school assignments, technology is going to get a major workout here at the Casa over the next few (or several) weeks.

My work laptop decided to make noises yesterday. Ugly noises. Noises that said, “Girl, if you know what’s best, you’ll back everything up N-O-W!” So I did. And we went out to the local electronics store early this afternoon and bought a laptop I’ll use until I can return to my brick-and-mortar campus and hopefully be moved up to the top of the list for a new piece of technology.

I was shocked to see a line queued outside the store until Sweet Husband pointed out the line was actually moving. Store staff was letting customers in one at a time explaining each customer would be escorted by a sales associate to the area of the store we needed to visit. Our fellow customers, for the most part, were cool with standing at a good distance from others in line while we waited our turn to be escorted inside. It was an experience. That’s about all I can say … it was an experience. As an introvert, the expanded personal space is incredibly refreshing and comfortable.

One of the advantages of social distancing / voluntary quarantine / whatever the latest term is is educators are becoming creative in how they’re developing their virtual classrooms. They say innovation is born out of necessity, right? I must say I agree.  For example, a colleague and I had been talking in the weeks leading up to Spring Break that we really need to meet with another colleague to learn how to use Zoom.  Truthfully, neither of us even knew what that meant, but we knew we needed to make the time at some unidentified point in the near or distant future to learn how to Zoom.

Guess who learned how to Zoom this past week and can schedule meetings like a rock star now?  This girl!

That’s right, so much so that I’ve got a Zoom session set for later this weekend so my family can gather around their technology and we can all sit a spell and shoot the breeze. A virtual family reunion and I’m really looking forward to it! Who knows? This might become a regular thing for us. Wouldn’t that be grand!

All in all, my first couple days at home have been okay. Some would venture to say, “productive.” It will be interesting to see how the 5 of us grow through all this together time.

Prayer for peace

Tonite I choose … consciously and deliberately choose … to be angry with the mancubs’ birth mother.

If she had only stuck with and worked her plan.

If she hadn’t harmed the boys, put them in danger, neglected them.

If she had only been a M-O-M to them …

If …

Then my 8-year old wouldn’t have had the confrontation with his friend at school today that he had.

For whatever reason, they started comparing their pain: his friend is about to have another surgery – he’s had too many to count and I imagine having to deal with the pain of surgery & recovery is super hard.

But to state it is more painful than being ripped away from your birth mother? That’s too much for me.

And it was too much for my son. I don’t have the whole story, but I think it may have gotten a little physical.

My youngest was 3 when he and his brothers and sisters were removed from their home. And despite all that he went through with his birth mother, there’s always going to be a part of him that wants to be with her.

I can respect that.

I cried on my way home from work tonite because I knew then as I know now that there will never be anything I can say or do that will completely take away his or his brothers’ pain. As much as I wish there was a magic wand or a special potion, there isn’t. He & his brothers and their sisters didn’t deserve this.

But it happened.

Their sisters are safe in a city far away from the birth family, as are our boys.

My prayer for the children … our boys and their sisters … is that they all will sleep peacefully tonite and every night.

And know they are safe.

And loved.

Wildflowers

I remember a time growing up when our family was displaced from our home at Castle AFB (California) so the floor tiles could be replaced. I don’t remember where we were living for those few days while the floors were being worked on. What I do remember is coming home from a neighbor excursion with a huge fistful of wildflowers for my mom. The smile on her face, the twinkle in her eyes, the feeling of pleasure I received from experiencing her happiness imprinted itself onto my brain and I’ve never forgotten it.

Texas weather is fickle but the wildflowers always know when it’s time to bloom.

The mancubs have begun bestowing gifts from the field and yard on me. The sweetness and joy in their faces as they deliver their treasures melts my heart. Every time.

… even when the oldest brought in a dandelion ready to release its seeds with the slightest breath – that one got bagged & tossed before its’ progeny could land in fertile soil

These boys … my boys …

My prayer for them today is that they’d never cease to wonder at the beauty around them. That they receive as much joy in giving gifts as they do in receiving them. And that they remember these moments of their childhood when they’re older & smile.