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.

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.

The Journey

We’re in the “final stretch” of the adoption process. With the stroke of the judge’s pen in just a few short weeks, we will officially be a family of 5. This has been a journey of a lifetime filled with a lot of waiting, prayer, and tears.

Sweet Husband and I will celebrate 33 years as man & wife later this month. As I raced down the aisle (true story: the priest had to gently signal to me to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n) to enter into covenant with Sweet Husband, did my twenty-something self ever imagine we’d begin the parenthood journey to three boys ranging from 8 to 11 the same year I was contemplating retirement?

Um … no.

And yet …

As we began this part of our journey well over a year ago, I remember wondering two things: were we “too old” to become parents; would there ever be anyone that would call me, “Mom.”

Now there are three that do: They’ve been calling us “Mom” and “Dad” since our second meeting early this past summer.

The moment they stepped through our front door, a few things became our reality:

Reality #1: this parenting gig is tough!  I was commenting to a colleague not long ago that I’ve never known a person could be this tired. She, a grandmother, laughed.

Y’all, Sweet Husband and I are old! A good friend texted us a few weeks after the mancubs came to live with us asking how we were doing. I responded, “We’re half the age of Abraham & Sarah and three times as tired!”

We belong to a sweet group at church called “Old Parents with Young Kids.” The group appealed to us initially because of the name.  Once we met them, we knew it wasn’t just the name of the group that was appealing. Turns out while all of us are older parents, we’ve all become parents through different avenues of adoption. While we only meet once a month, they’re one of our critical supports and we’re so thankful to have them in our lives.

Reality #2: you’re only too old to do something if you think you’re too old. Not going to lie, there have been plenty of moments these past months Sweet Husband and I wondered if we did the right thing because we are, admittedly, old.

Reality #3: these boys are worth every ounce of energy we pour into them; as perpetually exhausted as Sweet Husband & I seem to be, they have our hearts. This Mama Bear will move mountains so our cubs can grow into men who, as our Pastor said in a recent sermon series, “love God and have a job.”

Reality #4: I had forgotten how children view the world. Why is forgetting so easy?  I’ve lost count of the many moments over these past several weeks now burned permanently, indelibly, in my mind: The exuberant exclamations of, “Mom, you’ve just got to come see this butterfly, it’s so beautiful!”; giggles coming from the living room because of whatever silliness is happening on TV; sleepy snuggles from the youngest after a hard day of playing and working in the yard with Dad. And the questions! I pray these three never lose their love of learning and asking questions … even when neither Sweet Husband nor I have any idea of the correct answer.

We’re thankful this part of the journey will be ending soon and even more thankful for the beginning of our new chapter as an official family of 5 in early 2019.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

 

Searching for Norman Rockwell

Deep down, I think everybody wishes they had the perfect family gathering with everyone in their best clothes and the fancy linens & wedding gift china, all sitting down to a fine feast with all the trimmings. The truth is, nobody’s perfect: the plates might not match and the table cloth most likely has a few stains that just.won’t.come.out. Doesn’t matter. What makes the meal? The people sitting together to enjoy it.

Those of my family that are in town this week will gather at my parent’s house in a few hours and enjoy a fine Thanksgiving feast filled with lots of good food, wine, and conversation.

It’s been a year of changes in my family: marriages, pregnancies, welcoming new family members. Finishing goals, pursuing dreams, entering new career fields. Preparations for children, both biological & through adoption, waiting and waiting and waiting … wondering how.much.longer … and waiting some more.

Through it all, despite our different interests & beliefs, we’re family. We’re a far cry from perfect to be sure. But we’re real. And we all support each other in whatever we’re involved in, however we can. We are here for each other. Not just on the special gathering days when the meals are fancy but also on the tuna sandwich & corn chips days.

Real life. So much better than a painting.

“As ready as I’ll ever be”

These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity at the Casa …

  • new job
  • Sweet Husband graduated with his Master’s
  • accepted to seminary
  • we’re adopting

Let’s take a moment to absorb that last bullet, shall we?

Sweet Husband and I are going to be parents. Of a sibling group. We promised not to limit God and so however many He gives us, we’ll take and call our own.  We’ve found a group we’d like to be considered for. So we keep praying.

I’ve been asked if I’m ready for this. Is anyone ever ready to be a parent? My consistent response?

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

I am so impressed with how Sweet Husband is leading us through the process. He’s so ready to be a father and he’s not wanting to wait any longer than is necessary.

My Quiet Times this past month have been all about getting off my keister and sharing my story. My story of how good our God has been to me: of the incredible grace He’s bestowed on me and Sweet Husband, of how much He truly loves us and has choreographed each divine encounter through both my life and this adoption journey.

And so, here I am, reading Sweet Husband’s sent-just-now text:

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He doesn’t know how much these 8 words mean to me … but God does.

Now that is amazing Grace.