Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All Done

This will be my 1002 post.

With the closing of Google Reader, I think blogging will be undergoing some serious revisions.

Its probably about time.

J. is 7 now.  I started blogging when she was a little over 2 years old.  She didn't talk a bunch then and she's still careful of her words now.  I realize that her privacy, more than C. or A. is going to be important to keeping our relationship intact.

We just returned from a long trip to Guatemala to meet, visit, talk and get to know C. and J.'s first mom, their older sister (10) and younger brother (18 months.) The visit was hard and beautiful.

I am overcome with grief for my girls.

Yes, they have better housing, better access to education, but their loss, their deep and profound loss is greater and deeper than I ever anticipated.

8 years ago when we went down the road of international adoption it seemed like a great way to grow our family, to be more diverse, thoughtful, mindful about creating a family.

And as I grew as a parent, as a mother and as someone who knew more about international adoption I became acutely aware of my daughters' losses. They are great.

In Guatemala, the girls did not see the haves and have nots. They clearly saw the differences in living conditions. They clearly were aware of the differences in our lives. They were acutely aware that being together as a family, as a full family with their first mother, was only temporary.

I prepared myself for this day for a long time. The day where I would understand my two daughters grief and loss. The day where I might learn things that I wished were untrue. I have been confident in my motherhood and have never felt challenged or wistful of not knowing or of keeping information away from them. Not knowing seems callous and greedy.

I know a lot now.

I know that from here on out it will be my job to return the girls to their first mom often and regularly.  Its not sharing, but its as inclusive as I can make it.

I know that from here on out I will not be supporting any kind of international adoption. The coercion, colonialism and greed can never be fully removed from the system.

 

 
I would still love to blog about teaching. I think teachers' voices are regularly silenced and bullied into quietness. I think the need to externally process student need will still be there for me. I'm not sure what that looks like, but it won't be here.
 
I'll still read blogs. I'll still talk about what it means to stand up and talk about race, racial inequalities, and what it means to live and parent in a multi-racial family. I'll be on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.  That's the easy part.
 
Finding the balance for the rest, will be hard.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Catch It All Up

I am desperately debating the real need to blog at this point. I think it's a conversation happening in a lot of places. I believe in using it as a way of publicly tabling ideas, but question the validity of the medium any more.

A little iPhone dump...


On the way home from church - sillies.
 

At my mom's house, after school one afternoon.  Dyeing eggs and making her famous egg tree.



Both J. and C. have become great running partners.  They can both push me to clock less than 8 minute miles and recently came with me on a 9 mile run. 
Who knew a 5 and 7 year old could bike so far!
 
Easter.  Easter shirts that I proudly made myself.
The girls loved them. I was pleased at my better-than-Pinterest craftiness.


A. sporting her first header of the season.
A. 0, concrete 1 in 2013.

 
More Easter.
I have never, not once, asked them to pose like this.
Damn you Jade the Disco Fairy - or praise - because I get silly pics like this.



J. and C. after the Spring Social "lip sync" performance for preschool (seriously, who does that?)

 
And. A. eats concrete again.
Stitches this time.
Second kid with stitches this year.
Total of stitches for A: 6
Between J and A: 10
A.: 0, concrete 2013: 2


 
C. and I headed to church - just the two of us.
She wants to be an only child.
Best story with C.:
We walk into church.  I have a quick chat with our minister's wife and C. says she'll go make name tags (this has in many different instances caused a) alarm b) huge issues with the marker and c) at least 3 knock down, drag her out tantrums.)  She comes back in 2 minutes.
She has her name, first and last on her name tag.
 
She hands me a name tag.
C: "I made it for you. For you Mom."
 
Name Tag:
"last name
MAM"
 
C: "Its for you Mom."
 
I saved it.
 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This IS about Community

Sometime during high school I figured out that students participating in music groups were really bringing communities together.  I loved that part of music making.  I loved the idea of marching band and pep bands, I liked concerts and informal jam sessions, I liked the part where people formed relationships when they made music.

I still do.

Pep band is part of my job.  It means that for 20 or so nights  year I direct students in front of crowds that would otherwise never see the band.  I tease, cajole, beg, barrow and plead my way into good attendance from students and they almost always come.  Last night was no different.

After almost 10 years, I enjoy the crowd watching as much as I like the music making.  I love hearing kids sound confident, seeing student sections respond to something that we are playing, I really enjoy the back and forth of the crowd and the band.  On occasion, one of my girls comes with me to sit quietly and color and enjoy being with big kids - its a treat for them and a nice way to spend a later evening with one of my daughters.

Last night was like lots of other nights.

The band set up between the student section and the adult fans.  In between the band and the adult fans there is a group of high school girls.  They usually seem less interested in the game and more interested in their phones.  They are mostly students of color.  Last night a few of them had their children (carriers, diaper bags, the whole deal) with them.  Very young moms.  A bunch of the girls that were sitting there, waved at me and then came over to talk to J., who had come with me.  They wanted to meet her and admire her hair (all done up in silly Minnie mouse buns because I ran out of time in the morning.)

J. didn't talk a whole bunch.  No surprise.  She was worried about the buzzer and the ref whistles - they were louder than she would have preferred.

Half way through the first half I watched a few black young men get into  a rough house game.  Nothing serious at all.  They were at the top of the student section and were on the outside edges of the student cheering section.  They were reprimanded.

Meanwhile their white peers, at the bottom of the student section proceeded to boo the opposing players and the refs.  They made their disapproval known and their attitudes in terms of good sportsmanship were deplorable.  They were left unchecked.

At the end of the half, J. leaned over and asked me why "are all the brown girls sitting over there by themselves?"

She was right.  All of the brown girls, were clumped up.  Maybe they didn't feel lonely, but they looked it.

J. noticed.

She noticed that if you are brown and female, you sit over here.

I noticed that if you are brown and male, you better play nice.

Its nothing new.  Nothing has changed where I teach.  Its been that way.

At the end of the evening 2 former students came to see me with their babies.  I had watched them struggle with isolation, bullying, lack of support, lack of academic skills, for the better part of two years.  They both wanted to be loved.  When each girl told me she was pregnant they wanted for me to both be happy for them and be there for them.  I couldn't chastise them for a choice already made.

Individually, they brought their babies into me just a few weeks after birth wanting me to coo and oo over them.  I tried.  And my goodness, they were both beautiful, black haired babies.  Babies that are precious and already loved.  But, at 16 that love is coupled with complicated isolation and a desire to be free that is as inherent to being a teenager, as loud music.  So I listened, I asked about how they were feeling - looking for slight symptoms of post-partum depression.  I asked about feeding schedules and foolishly suggested a sling instead of the Easter basket car seat carrier.  They were still grossed out about changing diapers.  I held back judgment.

But I don't hold back judgment for the community that surrounds them.

What if the adults sitting in the stands, offered to hold a baby?  Bought an extra popcorn?  Paid an admission ticket?  What if the adults chastising the game of rough house, also asked for good sportsmanship from their peers?  What if the adults, so concerned with the outcome of a HS basketball game were equally as concerned with the outcome of those lonely, brown girls' math tests on Wednesday morning? Or how they were going to get home from the game?

The community that I keep seeking, is made up of adults (not just teachers) that ask those questions, seek those opportunities and believe.... in community.

It takes a village.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

7!

 
 
J. turned 7 on Monday. That's real girl years.
In the past year she has become a stronger swimmer, worked hard to read in Spanish, been able to add and subtract, tie her own shoes, take a step up in ballet classes, read music and play her piano at an increasingly successful rate, ride her bike with me while I run, cook with me (and even meal plan), make new friends at school, writes letters to her friend in Tulsa in English, builds amazing le-go creations and and and.
 
She is funny and kind.  Compassion is a true virtue for her.  She is sympathetic.  She is a rule follower. A great sleeper.  Both a organizer and a keeper of everything.  She loves being in the sun.  Loves swimming. Expresses her feelings more deeply.  Gives beautiful hugs. Still snuggles.  

Her favorite moment of her birthday was getting her birthday cupcake for breakfast at Cinderella's Castle.

Love love love.

And all the Princesses that matter

We went!
 
It was a great long weekend to go.  We left when it was literally -14 below.
Everyone thought we were nuts when it was 60 degrees and the girls were in tank tops.
We thought it was heaven.
 
 
We didn't stress about doing all the "secret" things or getting everywhere.
We went to the Animal Kingdom on Friday.  Which was great.  The girls LOVED seeing Pocohantas!
 
And on Saturday we went to the Magic Kingdom.
 
We turned the corner to the castle and A. went nuts.

 
She thought it was so great.
 
So did C. and J.

 
My lovely Guatemomma friend made these perfect dresses for the girls - they were a huge hit!
 
We had the Princess breakfast in Cinderella's castle.
 
(Snow White is a dead ringer, but she is also creepy - if one of the princesses goes axe murderer, DH and I have our bets on her.)

 
Tea cups.  I used to hold my own on spinny rides, and I still go, but there was almost a princess breakfast clean-up.

 
C. LOVED seeing Jasmine.

 
We went on enough rides to have fun and skipped long lines.

 
We ended up seeing "a" Cinderella 4 times.
 
It never got old.

 
Perfect timing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Unnamed

I am coming to the end of where I think I can post bunches on J. and C.'s thoughts and feelings on adoption.  They are theirs.  As a mother, their mother, I think that I can post some of my reactions.  Moments of enlightenment or careful thoughts about my next steps in parenting.

Over Christmas (see: Plague of 2012) J. became pretty withdrawn on Christmas Day.  DH and I thought that maybe we missed the mark on what she wanted or that the American Girl was way less than what she had hoped for, or...  But that wasn't it.  And it took some asking and waiting.

J. is quiet.  That's her countenance.  That's how I think she chooses to be.  When her kinder teacher told us that her goal for J. was to be a risk-taker, I almost got up and walked out of the meeting, since that's not J.  J. was slow to talk and is still slow to add words to her vocabulary.  Its not that she can't, its just that she prefers not to.

When J. tells a joke, we notice.  When J. adds a new word, but DH and I notice.  When J. doesn't get something she frustrates easily, but is reticent to ask for help.  She wants to own it and do it herself.

She was sad on Christmas Day because she missed her first mom.

Those were not feelings we placed on her, those were her own.  She came up with those and feels those feelings regularly.

On a special day like Christmas, she felt like she was missing something, like she couldn't be happy, because she was missing a piece of something.  And once we named it, it didn't make it go away, at all, but it did make it less of the elephant in the room and much more of something that we could recognize together.

J. turns 7 in two weeks.  And she came home today, finished her homework and then laid down and cried.

She missed her mom.  She said it was hard to have two moms.  And she worried that maybe there was not enough love to go around.

I am never threatened by her missing.  Or by her needing someone other than me.  I worry that I can't fill that need - actually, I know that I can't.  But I do know that I can walk with her and listen.

As a child I missed my mom often. At funny times.  I needed her to fill in gaps and be there, just around.  It was primal and immediate and indescribable.

For J., who doesn't like to describe, expound, or over talk, this need, that has no end to it, is really having a hard time being named.

As her mom, its hard to see that.