Friday, September 9, 2011

To My Daughter

Tomorrow is an important day for our family.  It's the day a judge signed a paper that gave your daddy and me the legal right to be your parents.  It's the day we said goodbye to other people telling us what was good for you, the day we were finally able to start helping you heal.

You are such a neat kid.  You have spunk. You are strong willed.  You have an awesome sense of humor.  Your smile lights up a room.  You are a daredevil, you are willing to try almost anything. You get these looks on your face, and I know exactly what that brain of yours is up to.  I know every bit of you. You are my child.

It's been a long two years.  The road has been rocky.  There have been moments when I question everything, and moments that I couldn't imagine anyone else loving you as I do.  You have fought hard to not be loved.  You were taught from a very early age that you couldn't trust or depend on anyone.  You learned that people hurt.  You learned that love hurts.  Those wounds scab over and we have to take a scrub brush and remove everything right down to the bone, because if we didn't you would never be able to survive in the real world.  It's so hard for people to understand, even those who love you.  They don't quite get the depth of the pain you carry, and how the littlest thing can make you feel like your heart is being ripped out.  I need you to understand this though - we will never leave you.  We are forever.  You are ours, and we are yours.

The day we adopted you is the day our family became complete.  And one day, one day, you will be able to feel just how much you are loved.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I started this post at the beginning of the week.  I was going to relay a story to you about how my son was taught a lesson about poverty.  And how after he processed what I told him he apologized for being a jerk.  But then life happened and between the three kids there were all sorts of lessons that were just as meaningful.  I started thinking about all of the interactions.  Sometimes I wasn't the worlds best mom, and sometimes, they weren't the worlds best kids.  But none of us pretended to be anything other then who we were at that particular moment.  Our feelings, our reactions, our emotions - were real.  And I think, maybe, out of every little lesson, this might be the biggest lesson I want my kids to learn.  Authenticity.

We all wear masks.  We pretend to be people we aren't. We change our dress, our demeanor, our vocabulary, our feelings, our emotions, and sometimes even our beliefs depending on who we are around.  It's ok to admit that you do.  I think it's part of being human and the need to fit in, to not be uncomfortable, to not be the weak link, to not admit to being different.  I watch my kids struggle with it every day.  I can preach about being yourself all I want to them, but what they learn, from a very early age, is that being yourself isn't what other people want.  They change what they like to play with based on whose attention they want.  And it's really hard when I see one of my kids trying so hard to please and change to meet the expectations of someone else, only to be ignored or looked down on. .  It's heartbreaking, those moments when you realize that neither the person you are, or who others want you to be, are good enough for some people.  When all you want to do is feel like you belong, but everywhere you look it feels like you don't.

I am going to tell you some truths about me.  I'm going to lay it out there clear as day because I've realized that people read things about me, hear things about me, and even talk to me, but that doesn't mean they know me.  That doesn't mean everyone needs to know me.  Some of my closest friends don't know my deepest darkest secrets, and that's ok.  But if I want to be a true teacher to my children, then I need to be willing to throw off my own masks and be authentic.  And maybe by doing so, some of you that feel like you are alone, like no one understands where you are at or how tough it is, or like no one is like you, will realize that there may be someone else who gets it.  And if you feel brave enough, share in the comments some truths about you.  Throw off the masks.  Be yourself.  And realize that the person you are, the one you hide, is amazing and someone I'd like to get to know.

Some truths about me:

  • I can't stand the sound of people eating.  I hate it.  It drives me up the wall. There are times I have contemplated hitting people.
  • I struggle with negative thought patterns, for example, even if everyone tells me I am doing a great job, I am sure they are lying to me.
  • I am afraid of failure.  Like really afraid.  Sometimes I will do something right up to the final step and then not finish because I don't want to fail.
  • Every single time I discipline my kids I have to take about 5 minutes in my head to decide if I made good choices or not.
  • If I am going on a trip, I have to start packing my suitcase weeks in advance, and then I check it several times.  And if I have tickets or important papers, I have a habit of checking to make sure they didn't grow legs and walk away.  As in, I look in my wallet at least 5 times on the way to the airport.
  • I can't parallel park.  At all.  
  • I don't like dark chocolate, or coconut.
  • I have a huge base of knowledge, I know a lot about a lot.  I love learning.  But sometimes I don't admit to knowing something because I am afraid I will sound like a know it all.
  • Every time I speak in public I sweat, and my insides shake.
  • I sometimes daydream about not having kids, and I sometimes get jealous of my friends who don't have kids yet, or only have one.  And if I ever say that publicly I automatically feel compelled to add how much I love my children.
  • I love Jesus.  And because I love Jesus, I love others where they are at.  I don't like it when people use Jesus as an excuse for not being friends with people.
  • I am constantly writing books in my head.  I just never write them down.
  • I live in pain daily.  I struggle with severe fatigue daily.  But I will never admit to someone how bad any particular day.
  • I can't stand it when other people try to limit me based on what they think I can handle.
  • When I make people laugh, I'm not always sure what it is that made them laugh.
  • I will fight to my death to stop abuse wherever I see it.  
  • Sometimes I go to the SPCA just to look.  If it were up to me, I'd have a house full of animals.
  • My dream has always been to open a group home for mentally challenged individuals, or a safe haven for children and if I had enough money I'd buy the property off of Ferry and do just that.
  • My greatest desire is to be loved, but my definition of love doesn't always coincide with the girly definitions of love.
Now, what are some truths about you?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Peri Empty Nester Wore Striped Pants

No one warned me.  No one told me that the day all of my kids found themselves at school all day, that I would lose my identity.  And to be honest, I'm not sure if someone did give me a heads up, that I would have believed them.  It's one of those things that you just have to experience, sorta like when people tell you about post baby sleep deprivation and you think you understand because you used to participate in all night benders.

For the last 10 years I have been mom.  Just mom.  Yes, Amanda was in there, and so were my roles as a mother, wife and friend, but mom is what defined me.  My schedule focused on the needs of the children and everything I did had to in some way accommodate them.  It became difficult to enjoy certain things because of the special needs of two of my children.  And, the invitations to participate in certain things stopped because of the special needs of two of my children. Every day of every week for the last 10 years was about doing the best I could to meet the needs of my children.  I don't say that to get sympathy, or to assert that my focus isn't still on my children and their needs.  And I certainly won't suggest that I spent every day of the last 10 years in the company of my children.  But I will reinforce that everything I did revolved around my ability to make sure that my kids were taken care of and that  any care not by me was safe and appropriate.

And before you think I've given up on making sure my kids are cared for, that's not what I mean at all. They still need me, probably more than ever.  And I still have to make sure they are safe.  The thing is that for seven and a half hours, five days a week, my kids are somewhere else.  So for seven and a half hours, five days a week, I am left to deal with just me.  And to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure who I am.  I mean, I know what I like and don't like, and I know where my moral grounding is.  But, somewhere in the last 10 years, I lost Amanda.  You see, when your primary focus, (as it should be), becomes your kids, you tend to forget that there once was a you that didn't include tagalongs.

So, what do you do when you realize that you lost yourself?  I haven't quite figured it out yet. I'm starting off slowly. But I know that what I am feeling is normal, that this part of the journey, is all a part of growing.  And I know that it is but a precursor to the final flight of the kids when they will one day leave our home for good.  No one warned me.  But I probably wouldn't have listened if they had.  


I don't want to leave any of you ill prepared.  So, I complied a list of things you can do in your first days of attempting to find yourself once all of your kids are in school full time.  Be gentle with yourself and remember it's a process.

  • Go to a consignment store and try on the ugliest, most unflattering things you can find.  Compare it to what's in your closet.  If the things you tried on look better on you then the stuff in your closet, go shopping.  You don't have to dress for spills and spit up anymore.
  • Make a list of all of the things you used to eat hidden from the kids.  You know what I am talking about.  The candy bar you ate in the bathroom.  The ice cream you hid behind your bent knees while the kids watched tv.  Go to the store, buy everything on your list, sit in the playroom and eat.  Make a production of it.
  • Go to the bathroom and close the door.  Read a magazine.  Sit there for at least 5 minutes.  Now take that same magazine to the couch and sit and read for 20 minutes.
  • Get sick.  Go lay in your bed and don't move.  Heal.
  • Go to the mall.  Sit on a bench.  Watch all of the moms with their kids.  Notice how the child is not walking.  Notice how the mom is pulling the child.  Now get up and go visit every store alone.
  • Watch a sad movie in the middle of the day.  Bawl your eyes out.  
  • Take a shower.  Shave your legs.  Get dressed.  Put on makeup.  Do your hair.  And take as long as you want.
  • Chances are you forgot what lunch is.  Make a lunch date with another mom who forgot who she is. 
And perhaps the most important thing you can do in your first days of attempting to find yourself:
  • Ask your husband to come home at noon.  It's likely he remembers you, and he's the best source in helping you to remember too.