Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Clouds

We are driving back from meeting her first grade teacher when my daughter cries out, "Mom!  Look at that cloud!  It's shaped just like a heart."

I glance quickly out the side window as I navigate the road.  "Oh, yeah," I say softly, not really looking hard because I know that often the shapes in clouds are meant for only one viewer.  My answer, initially, is a lie meant to let her know that I'm listening without causing me to nearly crash the car trying to see what she does.

Then, right before I look away, I see it.  A single cloud, big and puffy, in the perfect shape of a heart.  "I think it's shining love down onto all of us," says The Nugget.  I smile.  She is so kind hearted.  As we turn a corner she wiggles in her seat, twisting and turning to keep the heart in her line of sight.  Already, part of the edge is drifting apart.  "I never want it to go away!" she cries.

"Well, honey, clouds dissipate.  That's just what happens."

How I needed this lesson this night.  This week.  This lifetime.  Clouds dissipate.  It has been a tough week for me.  I have been feeling raw and sensitive.  I have struggled to find my voice in so many ways.  A very old friendship has been floundering and I still don't know if it will be saved.  My other daughter's birth mother criticized me in a public forum.  All of my favorite people keep leaving from work.  I've been swimming in the deep end of race and racism.  My heart has been heavy.  I have been stress eating and not sleeping and I am tired and somewhat grumpy.  But then I get this message from the sky.

Clouds dissipate.

A heart will shine on you for a while.  It may change.  It may grow or look different.  It may block the sun for a while.  Perhaps it will come back again, perhaps it will move on for good.  But it will not block the sun forever.

Clouds dissipate.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

If You're a Racist and You Don't Know It

Just sit quietly.  Do not clap your hands.  Do not attempt to understand anyone's viewpoint other than your own.  Whatever you do, cling to symbols such as the confederate flag as marks of history and deny that they ever represented anything to do with racism.  Discount any feelings from people of color who note that having this flag hanging in an official capacity makes them uncomfortable.  Tell people to "get over it" because it is "just a flag".  Have absolutely no insight into the fact that perhaps it is YOU who should "get over it" and agree to take it down because it is "just a flag".

If you're a racist and you don't know it, then by all means, please refer all acts of racism back to the days of slavery and make sure to note that you were not responsible for this.  Tell people that they should move on, that even though things aren't perfect they are so much better than they were then.  Disregard the families whose unarmed children are gunned down in our streets TODAY because of the color of their skin.  Remind them, again, that they should get over it.

If you are a racist and you don't know it, ask yourself no questions.  Certainly don't ask yourself if you know any people of color on a personal level.  Don't ask yourself if you could or have ever dared to LOVE a person of color.  Because if you do, then everything gets much more gray.  No more black and white answers in a world where that is all that so many people see.

If you are a racist and don't know it, tell everyone about how you don't see color.  Say thing like, "I don't care if you are black, white or purple".  Ignore the fact that nobody can be purple and that possibly seeing color is a GOOD thing.   Forget that celebrating differences can be beautiful.

If you are a racist and you don't know it, post pictures a murderer - who attacked innocent black church members and left a lengthly explanation as to race being the primary cause of the attack - burning the American flag and note that the liberal media won't let you see this because it shows that the boy was out to kill all Americans, not just black ones.  Believe that so you can sleep better at night.  Please, don't notice the many black churches that start to burn after this attack.

If you are a racist and don't know it, there will never be a need for you to apologize to anyone for ways they may have suffered due to racism in this country.  You can continue to deny that you have ever benefited from white privilege.  You may wave your confederate flag and you may close out the voices of those who, while doing better than they were as slaves, are still struggling.  Perhaps it is less painful this way, to not acknowledge that we as members of this society could be complicit in anything that caused such a long and painful legacy.

But remember this: if you are a racist and don't know it, you are free to express every one of these views and more in this country.  You are not free of the consequence.

Of course, if you are a racist and don't know it, you won't see yourself in this, won't be able to hear these words.  And I, as a white person who knows that I will never understand what black people face but knows that I will try, I will never understand how to engage you in the dialogue.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Growing Pains

The first one awake, just before 1:00AM, is The Munchkin.  She is starting to get some molars and the poor thing is struggling.  I awaken to her tears and go to her crib, Tylenol in hand.   She drinks it eagerly and we snuggle up in the rocking chair, both nodding off together for a time before she is fully relaxed and I put her back into bed.

A couple of hours later, I bolt fully awake to the tears of The Nugget.  She is half-crawling, half-walking into my bedroom, crying out, "Mommy, my legs hurt."  She has had these growing pains since she was a baby.  They are terrible to endure.  I carry her back to her bed and bring her some ibuprofen.  I lie next to her and sing quietly, rubbing her legs and stroking her hair until the medicine takes hold and the tears abate.  When her breathing is regular, some 20 minutes later, I cover her up and return to my bed.

It's funny, I realize, but I am grateful for these kinds of growing pains.  I know just what to do to ease them.  Some medicine and my touch are enough at this tender age to bring peace back to my babies.  I fear the times when I am left to grapple with much less concrete growing pains - broken hearts, crushed dreams, or worse.

I fall off to sleep knowing deep inside of me how lucky I am to be right here, right now.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Things that Make me Almost Unreasonably Happy

You know, there's just some stuff that makes me smile.  And smile.  And then smile some more.  Usually these are little things, moments that happen and move past so quickly in my days that they are almost too quick to notice.  I thought I would share some of them with you.

1.  My fitted sheets for my king sized bed have a label telling me which side is the top/bottom (and therefore avoiding a frequent mistake I've made with previous sheets of attempting to put the sides on the top/bottom).  Life.  Changing.

2.  My five year old daughter skips places.  She is not being ironic.  She wants to go to the kitchen from the living room?  Skipping is a reasonable transportation method.  Love.

3.  My little plastic scraper that gets gunk out of the bottom of my pans before I scrub them.  It's just a one inch by one inch piece of hard plastic, but it is awesome.  I'm telling you people, it's the little things.

4.  My clear hand soap dispensers.  To be clear, I do not use the throw away ones and so many refillable ones are solid colors so I don't know when to fill or when I am about to overfill them.  I found some clear ones and they have made the little corner of my life taken up by hand soap complete.

5.  Fancy catalogues.  Well, they don't even really need to be fancy.  I love the Pottery Barn catalogue just as much as the Lillian Vernon.  They're like free magazines.

6.  Which brings me to magazines.  I still get Real Simple every month and every month it is a complete delight to both behold and digest.  I've actually been behind on reading them since baby came along, but in a way that has only added to the fun of the imaginary day I could spend under the blanket on the couch reading away.  I know that day doesn't exist, but I can dream it.

7.  My eight month old daughter's strong opinions.  She never fails to delight because 99% of the time she is totally agreeable and goes along with whatever the plan is.  But that 1%?  She will take you down.  I'm glad she has that in her - her sister does too - it makes me feel like they will be able to take care of themselves.

What delights you?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Munchkin at 5 Months

Dear Munchkin -

I cannot believe you are five months old already!  Some moms would have written many posts by now about your growth and development, perhaps with coordinated outfits naming how old you are each month.  I'm sorry, kiddo, I'm not one of those moms.  Which isn't to say that I don't love you with all of my wild and passionate heart, but crafty and organized?  And consistent?  Not me.

You, however, I could say so much about.  We have come SO FAR from your early days home when you cried and cried and mommy cried with you.  You are an absolute joy.  You have the most expressive eyes and they light up when you see any of your inner circle.  You are starting, just a little, to have some separation anxiety from us, but overall you are a really outgoing kid who just loves to be smiled at, cooed at or hugged on.

You are a pretty good sleeper, though we've had to do some things that have messed with that lately.  Namely, you are currently wearing your second set of casts to correct your clubbed feet.  This has made you significantly more uncomfortable in the night and you therefore wake up more than you once did, but I am confident you will sleep through the night once the casting process is complete.

You love to eat off of a spoon - currently you have tried cereal, peas, sweet potatoes and apples.  You like them all.  You just passed a phase of spitting bubbles all of the time and the kitchen and everyone's clothing suffered all the more, but you mastered the art of the raspberry!

You want to crawl, oh so bad!  If we put you on your tummy with a toy out in front you work so hard to get there but just don't have those motor skill quite mastered yet.  It's coming.  And I swear you are working on saying, "Hi".  I'm not making it official yet but I know you're trying!

You are the light of all of our lives and we can't believe it's going so fast.  I can't wait to see what you'll be doing the next time I manage to write one of these updates (hopefully not graduating high school).  Your giggles, your smiles, your coos - they make all this hard work one hundred percent worth it!

Yummy cereal!  Mommy will upload a better pic - someday.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What Makes a Parent?

Last week our family celebrated our adoption finalization.  The Mister, The Nugget, The Munchkin and I all drove downtown to a very tall building and sat before a friendly judge to answer, once and for all, that we are ready to parent our beautiful four month old daughter.  That we know, without a doubt, that she is ours and that no matter what happens in our marriage, she will be treated as our own.

Naturally, we agreed.  We never questioned this move to permanency.  For us, the court date was the final check mark in a series of tasks that needed to be completed, but not a huge event because this little girl was already ours and we were already hers.  Other adoptions may wait with more focus on that date because of the circumstances, but for us, there was no question.  We have a relationship with The Munchkin's birth mother and knew that she felt confident in her decision.

This got me wondering what makes me the mother of this baby in the first place?  What makes The Mister the father?    Is it waking up for 128 nights to feed, change, rock and soothe?  Is it making 768 bottles?  Am I her mother if I hold her while she cries?  Is The Mister her father if he holds us both as we cry?  If we explain to her big sister that she will be with us forever and deal with both her joy and jealousy, does that give us points?  If I can soothe her when nobody else can, does that make me her mother?  If The Mister can identify a chin wobble or a flailing arm as signs of imminent spit up, does that make us a "real" family?  Does ushering her through heart wrenching nights in the NICU and shepherding her through the even more harrowing weeks of aftermath count toward our credit?  Are 18 and half weeks of love enough to show that we are worthwhile?  If we know her looks, her cries, her movements and rhythms then are we her parents after all?

Perhaps in our hearts, and, to us, that is all that matters.  But on paper, well, we ultimately have to listen to the courts.  And on Thursday, with little fanfare, they gave us the stamp of approval and told us that we were a forever family.  Which, of course, we already knew.

The LTP family goes to court

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm a writer?

Side note: if you didn't read that title to the tune of "I'm Ron Burgandy?" then you haven't seen Anchorman.  If you haven't see Anchorman, then you have missed out on some of the most hilarious moments of your life.  Stop reading this now, go watch the movie, then come back.  I'll wait.

Okay, so I know I write on here (sometimes), but I do not think of myself as a writer, per say.  Many of you are, well, real writers with real writing jobs and you also just happen to have blogs.  Me?  I'm just  a person who has a blog.  Just an online diary in which I blurt out thoughts and feelings about the world and such.  I enjoy writing, but does enjoying something make you good at it?  Does it buy you a ticket into the show?

I still don't know the answer to that, but I can tell you this:  I entered a writing contest.  My favorite magazine in the world, Real Simple (look to the right, they had their own label on my blog long before this post), has an annual contest called Life Lessons.  Each year, they assign a topic and readers can enter.  I've been reading this magazine for years (thanks to my awesome in-laws) and have seen the contest entries.  I've noted that sometimes the winners are previously published authors.  None of the topics has ever really moved me to try my hand at it, but this year, the topic was on the bravest thing you've ever done.  I knew immediately that I would write about saying goodbye to my son, a topic you are all familiar with here on this blog.  So, in September I wrote the essay and sent it off and didn't think much about it again.  I was proud of myself for entering and taking a risk.  I was vaguely aware in January that I figured they must have picked a winner by now (specific dates not being my strong front) and sort of said to myself, "okay, must not have placed, I'm sure they had lots of good entries".  

At the time, I was busy welcoming The Munchkin into the world.  We were busy in the best kind of way.  While we were at the hospital on The Munchkin's second day in the world, however, I got a call from an editor at Real Simple.  Turns out, they were running late on notifying people but I won!  I won a writing contest!  Me!  We could talk all day about the karmic timing of this little prize because I sure still needed some money for the adoption attorney, but the fact of the matter is, I put myself out there and it paid off.  

I guess in addition to letting you know my good news, I just want to encourage you all to go for it too.  What is it that you love to do but don't get paid for?  Writing?  Sewing?  Soap making?  Knitting?  Well, guess what?  Maybe you can!  I've spent years basically afraid of failure and got rewarded on the first try.  I know that makes me lucky but it feels like the universe telling me go for it.  And I'll bet you get the same message.

If you care to read the article, you can read it here:


A version of it has been posted on this blog before.  If you care to read the magazine, well, you will never find yourself disappointed!