Monday, May 30, 2011

It had always been part of my plan

We were going to co-sleep with our boy.  For as long as he wanted.  For as long as he needed it.  For as long as... well... for as long.

As we discuss attachment, as we let the tears roll down when we need them to, as we continue to move forward with much hope for the next day and the next, I am reminded of our beginnings.  It's been almost two full years since we brought our Leone home.  Since we first laid eyes on his beauty and held his tiny hands in our own.

Sometimes I wonder if I was a better mother before I was actually changing diapers, before I was fixing up the bottles, before I was washing the clothes that were covered in grass stains and mushed strawberries.

I think it's safe to say that before being a mother was my reality, I pretty much had it all figured out.

That all changed as soon as Leone was placed in my arms.  When the responsibility for making the right decisions was placed directly in front of my face.  Smiling up at me.  I remember staring into those incredible brown eyes and thinking I might have to bend over and vomit because, holy shit, was this really happening?  I didn't know how to be a mother.  I just knew how to go to sleep when I wanted to and how to order a pizza if I didn't feel like cooking.

Tesoro reminds me that we did co-sleep with our wee one.  We made it a priority while in Ethiopia, and we tried our hardest once we made it back to our home.  The truth?  I don't remember that.  Me, the one who is the memory keeper.

I don't remember those moments.  Those precious treasures.

What I do remember are all of those times afterwards.  When we would lay on the floor beside his crib, singing songs and rubbing his back.  Trying to be in the same bed with him, wanting to rock him to sleep, wanting to make him feel safe and warm and oh-so-loved- but clearly being told by our boy that being held close was not something he wanted.

If we could go back, I would reject those thoughts of ours.  I would have been the mother I had planned on being- the one who had read all of those books about attachment but who wasn't afraid of causing her child the discomfort that comes from learning that it's okay to let go and let someone else take care of you.  I would have been the mother who fell asleep in the rocking chair with her baby in her arms, knowing that each step was one step closer to the place we all yearned for.

Damn.  I would have been stronger.  I would have stood by my gut.  I would have been the best.

Two days ago I ordered some books.  This one and this one.  I hope they will help.

Have I mentioned that we spent hours in Leone's room, right beside him in the middle of the night, making sure he was comforted by the sound of our presence if not by the warmth of our bodies pressed upon his?  Although we didn't co-sleep for weeks, months, years- we can say we were there.  We were there.  We are there.

Last night he woke up crying.  As Tesoro and I struggled to move our bodies out of bed, trying to decide who should go for it, he started wailing, "Mama!  Mama!  Mommy!"  I found my footing and made it to his room in two seconds flat... "I'm here, baby... I'm here... Mama's here."  And as I placed my arms down to rub his back, preparing myself to settle down on the floor beside his crib, he reached up for me.  He reached up for me and grabbed my hands.  How pathetic is it to say that my heart shattered into five million pieces, so ready and willing to comfort him in a way that I had been dreaming about since the beginnings of us?

We settled in a rocking chair, covered up in his blanket and Zebra and Elmo, and we connected.  We rocked, we touched, we loved, we connected.

Forward.  With hope.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Bleary-eyed, but I wanted to show you how cute this one kid I know is:

Monday, May 23, 2011

And shifting over to this topic

I can't wait for summer vacation to start.  As of right now I'm banking on it to pull me and my boy closer together.

Tesoro has been home with Leone since last Friday.  With the in-laws visiting, the four of them get to hang out and party like it's 1999 while I get to go to work and other stuff.  It's been inclusive when I'm around, but still. 

Today I saw the crew in the local park as I was returning from work.  Whereas Leone has been interested in greeting me when I pick him up from child care, he could give a rat's ass today.  Tesoro, on the other hand, was pointing me out like I was some celebrity.  "Look!"  he shouted in a happy voice, "It's mama!  Mama's here!"  And whether Leone responded with the same amount of glee, I couldn't honestly tell you (although I could make a pretty solid bet on that one).  The river was so dang loud I could barely hear my own brain working.  I approached, happy, happy, happy to have fled the work scene in which I had spent 15 minutes blushing 25 shades of red while staring at the first grade class picture (MY BOOBS ARE CROOKED IN THE PICTURE!!  THEY ARE HUGE AND CROOKED IN THE CLASS PICTURE!!)- 100% ready to scoop up my Leone and smoosh him on the cheeks with wet, sloppy kisses.

The thing is, I knew he wouldn't let me scoop him up.  I knew he wouldn't let me swing him around and squeal "YIPPEE!"  I knew he wouldn't give me a kiss on the lips, on the cheeks, on the knees of my pants.  I knew all of those things.  And yet.

By the time Tesoro had left to pick things up for some family dinner plans, our boy was screaming and wailing for his papa.  He was actively pushing me away, shouting "NO MAMA!" and preferring to run into each and every tree along the road rather than let me touch him (or even hold his finger, for that matter).  I knew it was bad, but based on my father-in-law's reaction?  Well.  Let's just say it was the assurance I needed.  Poor guy.  He was practically begging Leone to sit on his shoulders.  Talking about Tesoro.  Giving me advice.  Just generally uncomfortable.

Once we made it to the restaurant and Leone was able to flee my arms into those of his papa, I was ready to bawl my eyes out.  It's one thing to be rejected by my son with just Tesoro around.  It's something completely different to have it done in front of other family members.  Friends.  Complete strangers.

This is hard.  And painful.  And it makes me want to crawl into a shell.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I wonder....

To be honest, I didn't even think it was something to be considered as possible. 

Just yesterday I told my mother-in-law that one of the reasons we were drawn to adopting a child from Ethiopia was that we would be given the opportunity to meet his/her Ethiopian family.  His/her birth family.  His/her first family.  His/her crew. 

For some reason or another, the idea had been presented in such a way that we assumed it was the only way.  That there would be no other possibilities.

We were wrong.  They were wrong.  Ends up that someone, somewhere, was wrong.  Them, us... it really doesn't matter. 

Thing is, here we are, a bit past two years since we first learned of our Leone.  A precious, amazing, incredibly strong spirit who was left in the dead of night.  Or so we were told.

It's not that I think anything was done unethically, but perhaps it's just my mama heart that refuses to let any thing else in. 

What we do know?  The man we interviewed at the orphanage was slimy.  And his story, we could tell, was a repeat.  Something for the shiny Americans.  Something he told some other adopting parents the week before.  I mean, seriously.  The details (or rather lack of details) he fed us were the exact same ones he gave the couple sitting directly beside us.  There was only one difference, and it was nothing substantial. 

What could we do?  I was sick, I was tired, I wanted to believe him.  I tried getting a bit more assertive with my questioning, and after he went on a rampant that was translated via two or three words rather then the 500 I was expecting to hear, well.  I got a bit more shy.  And then pissed.  At myself.  Because I knew I should push more, but I wasn't clear on how exactly to do it.

I didn't know it was possible.  I didn't think we could actually do something to try to find our son's someones. 

Ends up we can.  Ends up that other people have.  Ends up that we have some talking to do.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now that feels better

Recently someone fantastic wrote about her folks finding her blog.  A blog that had been intentionally kept secret, hidden, tucked away.  In fact, if there were a key I believe it would have been used to seal said blog up all nice and tight (minus the fact that she wanted the blog to be kept public for whatever reasons she might have/had, so perhaps the key would have opened the blog a smidge).  The blog was built (I presume) to share thoughts, feelings, concerns, parenting stuff, adoption stuff, transracial family stuff... you know... stuff... with the world.  Minus parents.  And maybe other folks.

I share that story because I'm here, on a public blog, trying to keep it private.  Well, sort of.  A few folks from my family know about it, as do one or two friends down the street.  You know.  People that are part of my local tribe.

Anyway.  It was hard going from the blog that had been mine for forever and ever and ever, saying good-bye to all those google readers, and venturing forth into the land of being unknown.  I actually felt a twinge or two of complete and utter sadness when I closed the other blog.  Interesting how attached I had become. 

Thing is, it needed to be done.  And due to the crack I currently take, I have very little time for reading and commenting.  And it makes me a bit verclempt to see that people don't really read this blog (all good moments to slap myself around a bit and say, again and again- you do this for YOU.  Not for them.  For YOU.  It's your journal, you idiot.  Well, sort of your journal.  Not all the way.  But sorta.  And why should you expect people to read your blatherings when you don't read theirs?  Self-centered).

Yep.  I know.  All stuff I've said before.  But I'm saying it again, and it's cool.  You're cool, I'm cool, we're cool.  Minus the fact that I still haven't bought a swimsuit for this year, minus the fact that I didn't buy a swimsuit last year, minus the fact that I have to get over my extreme anxiety and buy a stupid friggen' swimsuit this year so I can take my precious wee lad out in the water when its hot.

(But whatever.  That's all beside the point.  All's well. Really.)

The thing is, I woke up this morning sure that I needed to start a family blog.  Although I love (love, love, LOVE) where we live, I miss connecting with the people we love who live everywhere but here.  So.  I got busy, and I made yet another blog.  And it's just for family and a few scattered friends, and it's been made knowing that people won't comment on it (more likely than not), and it's been made knowing that no one (hopefully) can take what I say and twist it into ten million razor blades in order to slice and dice, and it's been made knowing that if one person in particular decides to forward it on to her friends I won't be devastated by loss of trust due to lack of privacy.  Or something.

Anyway.  I'm feeling good about it.  I can share the goods there, and I can say my piece here.  And I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope- that the two worlds don't collide.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That day in pictures thing

Yep.  I didn't do it.  I should have done it.  Maybe I will do it still.  But for now, nope.  I figured it would be super pathetic to see pictures of my computer screen and the piles of research articles strewn about said computer screen every hour of the day on Saturday, and half of the day on Sunday.  Also?  How sad would it make me feel to look back on my day in pictures and just see photos taken from the upstairs window of my boy and his papa running around in the mountain air?  With me.  Again.  Inside.  Burning my eyes with the computer screen glare.

Don't you feel sorry for me?  (gag)

Sunday afternoon my biggest cheerleader insisted on a pick-me-up.  Not only did I get to practice my long board skills on the boulevard during naptime (SICK, I KNOW!), but I also got to head up the road to see where my crew had hung out the day before.  The sun was shining, the streams heading down to the river were sparkling, the aspen trees were finally sprouting out some leaves, and the river was crazy loud due to the snow melt.  Just what I needed.

Tesoro walked us down closer to the river and I only suffered about 500 million mini heart attacks due to the extreme confidence of one toddler boy.  He thinks he can fly, jump, climb, and cross any one thing that just so happens to get in his way.  He and I got into a fight about who was boss when it came to standing on boulders that were one inch away from death.  I said he had to hold my hand.  He said he didn't.  I said he did.  He said he didn't. 

Because I'm bigger and bitchier, I won.

Unfortunately for him and his dreams, things aren't always equal.  I tried to explain it, but the concept just wasn't making sense to him:  because life isn't all red wine and smoked ghouda, I get to sit on the rock without holding anyone's hand.  I just do.  (also?  It's SO fun!)

Have I mentioned my kid is a huge Billie Jean fan (I could practically hear him shouting past his raised fist, "FAIR IS FAIR!")?  With that said, the wee one got me back... he's a rock thrower, you know (except not really.  I mean, sorta.  He does love throwing rocks, but the only ones he can toss go into the river.  It just so happens that this gigantic one that went about two inches to the left of my head was an accident on his part.  I think.)

The thing is, I don't go down easily.  I mean, I'd been stuck in front of a computer screen for HOURS.  And because I'm an even bigger Billie Jean fan than he is, I put the same dose of fear into his heart as he had done to mine.

Then he and his papa both ran from me like bats out of hell. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two days ago

Once upon a time I used to post something every other day if not every day.  I would comment, I would read, I would write, I would dream. 

I have not given up hope that I will be there once again.  It may not be soonish, but it will be there.  One day.

Speaking of the future.  Or rather, speaking of my thoughts regarding the future...

Two days ago I meant to write something on this blog, something just so I would remember the day.  It was one of those thoughts so serious that due to the intensity you swear that this is a moment you will look back on years from now and say- yep.  It makes sense that I thought that particular thought on that particular day.  Perfectly perfect sense.

So now.  I write it.

Two days ago I felt my heart settle just a wee bit somewhere new.  Somewhere I had never thought it would settle. 

Two days ago.  May 16, 2011.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I'm NOT chocolate

I know some folks out there think I have these super strong opinions about lots of things.  Truth is, I don't.  I have opinions about most things, and I have strong opinions about some things- but the word "strong" in front of the words "opinions about most things" just isn't there.

Thing is, if we're talking about hair... well.  I read a book, I talked with some folks, I made some gentle observations, ta-da.  No big deal.  You do your thing, I'll do mine- no hurt feelings (but perhaps we've learned a bit more about each other and the world due to the conversation?).  On the other hand, if we're talking about abortion- phew-ya.  I have some strong opinions.  And I'm fairly sure that the majority of you would disagree with me on those.  Although maybe not?  (But that's for another time.  Maybe.)

So.  The chocolate and vanilla thing.  Yep.  It's something that I still have yet to form a solid opinion on.  I've got the book.  I've read some blogs.  I'm still forming.  Thinking.  Wondering.

Today one of my beautiful Latina students approached me with these huge tears in her eyes and said in a fairly shaky voice: "Oswaldo keeps on calling me 'chocolate' and I keep telling him to stop and he won't and I don't like it!"  When I asked her why she thought he was calling her chocolate, she said she thought it was because of her skin color. And the thing is, Angie does have this amazingly brown, milk chocolaty skin color. So beautifully dark that many of the children say she looks like Martin Luther King.  And for the most part, she smiles and moves on.  But not today.  Nope. Today there were tears.  She was over the obvious being pointed out. 

Once we had a nice talk about who she is as a person, and how amazing she is in so many ways, Oswaldo got to come over and have a little chat with us.  Things were discussed, such as why he chose the word "chocolate," if he was meaning to hurt Angie's feelings, and what he needs to do when someone tells him to stop.  Angie even got another chance to use a strong voice with some strong words, ensuring that Oswaldo knew she meant business.  After the group hug (not really, but we did give bumps of the fist) I shared a secret with the two of them:  some people call folks with my skin color vanilla.  VANILLA!  Can you even believe it?  Just like the ice-cream.  Not kidding.

Vanilla.  Chocolate.  You.  Me.  White.  Black.

Do I have strong feelings about the descriptors in this case?  No.  Not yet.  I suppose it just seems like most things- some of us dig it, some of us don't.  It's up to the individual.  It's up to the group of people.  It's up to the intention.  It's up to you, it's up to me.  If you want to be called Ruth, let me know.  If you're down with my saying your skin color makes me think about chocolate cake, that's cool too.

What's offensive, what's not offensive?  Does it really do anything to describe yourself as the color of french toast?  I don't know.  Perhaps not?  Maybe so?  I'm still trying to decide.  You know, to form my opinion.  Something that more than likely won't be super strong, but might just help guide me on my path.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ummm... about that rant

Sorry about that rant yesterday.  It had been a super duper long day and I was frustrated. 

Recently someone told me I shouldn't be putting so much energy into my graduate degree.  They said I was missing out on a lot and that I shouldn't stress about doing my best for every single paper.  Basically they told me to be a slacker.  That this degree wasn't worth it.  That getting the grades I want doesn't mean much in the whole wide world of things (but what about what it means to me?!).

Since I have worked so very hard to not complain about the work I am putting into my time as a student with this person in particular, her response surprised me.  And to be honest, it pissed me off.  First and foremost, this person holds a lot of influence in my life and she knows it.  Although I am working somewhat hard on not immediately thinking I'm in the wrong if someone else disagrees with me, I can still be easily persuaded to change my mind when I'm teetering (especially when said person's opinion carries weight).  Secondly, the truth of the matter is that I have to fight the urge to quit this program probably once a week.  I certainly don't need someone else encouraging my negative mindset.  While I love being a teacher and am thankful for the knowledge I am gaining, I despise my schedule.  And more than the sour feelings I have regarding the "whens" of completing this paper or that discussion, I hate the loss of time, energy, and moments with my family.

But yet.  Here I am.  Like so many others out there.  Juggling.   Tossing balls this way and that way.  Trying my best to not drop a thing.

The truth is, what happened yesterday as I ranted and raved (maybe not so much raved) stemmed not from what kinds of energy this paper in particular was taking from me, nor from the silly and negative comments people sometimes have to share about teachers.  That's old news.  I think it stemmed from the control I gave to one person's opinion from a phone call two weeks ago.  Because really?  When someone spends an entire conversation saying that teachers do whatever they can to take time off through those drated staff development days (or conference days or holidays and why can't the test scores go up, and shouldn't all students be speaking English by now), then on the next phone call demands that I stop trying my best when it comes to continuing on with my education?  Well, it makes those eight hour long days feel nearly impossible. 

And then my brain wants to pop. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just finished

I just finished writing a paper that took me, what, eight hours?  Yep.  Eight hours.  I just finished writing a paper that took me straight up eight hours to write.  Well, maybe more like seven if you include the breaks I took to eat some lunch and go to the bathroom.  Put that on top of the time it took to complete that paper I wrote Monday night and the time it took for me to add my thoughts to the discussion posts my colleagues wrote and, well, there you've got the perks of getting a Master's degree via the world of online education.

Does that even make sense?  Probably not.  I'm seeing stars over here.  Literally. 

(And thus it begins to make sense as to why I have so many damn migraines.  Computer time.  I'm sure of it.)

So.  I write papers.  I research articles.  I teach.  I read textbooks.  I write more papers.  I teach.

Oh, and I'm also a mom.  And a wife. 

Lucky them.

Here's the thing.  In order to be a teacher, you have to do shit like furthering your education. 

Come on, admit it... you want your kid to have a teacher who knows her stuff (like the back of their hand, mind you).   I've heard how many of you watched those movies featuring the worst teachers in the world of public education ever... the ones who could care less about how successful your children end up.  The ones who scratch their buns and eat the snacks you send to school because they would rather spend their time thinking about the tv shows they watched last night and what they plan on doing during summer vacation rather than focusing on the needs of the children directly in front of them (and what needs they all have, by the way!  Each and every single one of them!  Needs!).

Don't pretend.  It's an expectation.  You want the best for your child.  You expect the best for your child.  You want their teacher to get it.

I do too.  Which is why I'm doing this. 

Which is why I'm a shitty mom right now.  And a shitty wife right now.  And a shitty friend right now.  And a shitty daughter right now.

It's hard and intense and I can't wait for these days to be over.  I know.  Wishing my time away.  How awesome is that? 

You want to know one of the best parts (those italics mean intense sarcasm)?  I'm doing it so I can get a pay deduction next year.  Because the thing is, apparently there's no money for those of us out there who do care, who do try, who do sacrifice their time with family and friends (and themselves!). 

Man.  It's hard. 

My advice?  Get out there and hug a teacher.  They could use one.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's not just a picture

All the pictures of Leone before we met him face-to-face happened to just sort-a-kinda be lying about the other day.  I know those pictures like the back of my hand but admit that it's been quite some time since I've actually held them.  With a few moments to spare I pulled them out, one by one, glancing at each familiar shot and allowing myself to be transported back in time.

Those first ones, well.  So serious.  So little.  Also? So damn strong.  Mad.  Almost like he was ready to put on the boxing gloves if necessary.


The pictures that followed, well, those are the ones in which the hurt began to show.  And the confusion.  Loneliness.  There's some pictures where he looks sick, but the majority feature this extremely small infant who just looks so sad.  Not broken, but darn close.

Prior to knowing our boy the way we know him now, those pictures signified something completely different.  They were our connection.  Our thing to hold, to stare at, to wonder about, to pray over, to worry, to smile about.  To place beside the sticky note covered in names.  To post on my board at school for everyone to see.

A mother's pride.

As for today?  Today they just tear me up.

Now they feel like something so completely private (something so completely sacred) because they show something so completely raw.  Sacred pain.

Pain, pain, and more pain. 

A mother's awareness.

As I looked at those pictures-- as I looked at that face that is etched forever within my heart and soul, the one that I would climb mountains and cross oceans and fly to the moon just to see smile-- I felt my heart breaking.

Sweet boy.  Sweet, sweet boy.  You were so hurt.

And I?  I am so damn sorry.