13 And Counting

I remember the first time I saw Gracie. She was sitting on her foster mother’s lap, so tiny and delicate, that she looked like a doll. She was a preemie so everything about her seemed fragile and small. I fell in love with her right then and there as I stared at the tiny 3×4 inch photo in my computer screen; engraving her sweet face on my heart forever. Truly, it was love at first sight and I was bound and determined that she would become our daughter. I thank my lucky stars that my dream came true because everyday with Gracie has been a delightful dream with a mixture of happiness, joy, and a pinch of awe thrown in for good measure. She truly is amazing!

Today Gracie turns thirteen. It is hard to believe that I will never again be raising a mere child. Instead, I am guiding young adults towards the time when they leave the nest…hopefully for good.

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Since Gracie is a now an official teenager, it means I have four teens living in my house. Maybe I should say co-existing, as war could erupt any minute when you are stepping through emotional teenage land mines which are scattered, undetected, here and there. Gracie assures me that she will not act like a teen but she is already rolling her eyes and using THAT tone of voice which indicates that somehow I have become the absolute dumbest person ever to live on this planet. Forget the 55+ years of experience, the college degrees and my affable personality…I am soon to be regulated to the status of something below pond scum.

While I am excited about someday becoming an empty nester (finger crossed) I do have to admit I miss those times when my children thought I could do no wrong, when they believed I was smarter than G*D, and when the little things I did brought them such pleasure. Those were simpler times though I didn’t recognize them as such. I often viewed them as chaotic with all the meltdowns that two children with autism could bring. But now… well, even the meltdowns don’t seem quite as bad as when I was in the midst of them and I can look back and be proud of how I handled some situations that would tax the patience of a saint. Not to say I handled them all well but I did GOOD ENOUGH and that is just fine with me at this point in the game.

Today is one of those momentous days. Time and perceptions will shift for both Gracie and I as the label of TEEN is applied like a gooey sticker to her soul. May we each grant the other grace and dignity in the coming years as she grows wiser and my brain cells shrink in number. May we create memories that sustain us and may we see the best in each other instead of the worst. For the teenage years are upon us…may we both survive them with patience and our sense of humor intact! And may Gracie happily survive the impact that autism has on a family and a sibling..she has done a remarkable job thus far.

Happy Birthday My Sweet, Talented, Gracious, Fun-Loving And Hard-Working Baby Girl! You are my Superhero!

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Deepest Darkest Secrets

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We all have them. We guard them, we make light of them, analyze them and minimize them. They are our deepest darkest secrets.

I’ve always been pretty much of an open book. A what you see is what you get kind of girl. No pretenses. No airs. I often spoke without thinking in the name of being honest and open.  Unfortunately, it took me a while to learn that everyone didn’t have to know my business and that being honest doesn’t matter to those who do not know you intimately.

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When I met B, within three dates I told him my deepest darkest secret. In looking back I am not sure if it was because I felt I had to be “honest” in all aspects of my life or if I felt he was safe enough to share the burden, maybe even lighten the load. Whatever the reason, I never heard about it again until this weekend when he told me he felt that he needed to discuss it with our new therapist.

My first thought was anger….how dare he!!!!

My second thought was that he was trying to obtain some sort of psychological advantage with the therapist.

My third thought was that maybe, just maybe, he had to work this out for himself. That my deepest secret had effected him too. Exposed rawness in places that a boy off the farm was unfamiliar with and he hadn’t known how to deal with it 30 years ago and was angry at himself now because he had not handled it in a way that was helpful to him.

Secrets are a funny thing. They eat at you. They can paralyze you.  Or they can be used to motivate and do good in this world. But whenever you have one; you become vulnerable if you let it be known.  You give someone power over you and I can honestly say I always felt save with B knowing it. Until now.

But the fact is also that I no longer care. My secret is no longer relevant to me or this life I lead. I have overcome it and so much more. I have used it to do good things and I gave up its power over me so long ago. So if B has to discuss it, discuss it I will. For I am no longer that young girl without a voice and I can roar now if I have to.

 

 

 

The Truth About Ourselves

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During the past 18 months I have learned that sometimes navigating the truth about myself takes me through deep, muddy waters that leaves my soul chilled to the bone. But the wonderful thing is that I can change, if I so choose; all the while knowing that meaningful change takes time. For change is a process, we cannot rush it, and it will happen in its own time.

There is a beautiful prayer I once heard written by a Benedictine nun which goes something like this: “Dear God, show me the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.”

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And it is really true that there is beauty in who we are and what we do even if we fail to recognize it. Sometimes it is buried deep and you need a bulldozer to dig it out. Sometimes that beauty sits on the surface of our souls. And sometimes we just have to let a little bit of light in to let it reflect all the amazing facets of our personalities that are like a diamond which shines and dances across the room. Most importantly, we don’t need someone else to validate this beauty in us. It is there for us to enjoy alone if that is what we please.

We can see ourselves as even more beautiful through our own eyes when we view our own truths about ourselves and acknowledge those truths.  Some of those truths will be transitory while others occupy a more permanent place on our journey but the most important thing is to grant ourselves grace while moving forward with eyes and heart wide open and refusing to punish ourselves any further for those times in life when we just didn’t know or do better. We are all imperfect and it is a waste of time to cling to “what was” instead of trying to make “what is” even better.

So with this in mind, today, as I go about these minutes that are granted to me; I will try to be kind to myself because if I can’t even grant that simple thing to myself how can I expect to be kind to others?  I will also try to bring myself into, and be mindful of the present moments that I am witness to, knowing that things are the way they are suppose to be right at this moment in time. And I will bask in these moments of newfound acceptance knowing all the while that change takes time and I am doing the best I can right now to find greater peace and understanding through the transformation that it occurring deep in my soul.

I will be patient.

What It Means To Love Someone Fully

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Yesterday, we had a Marriage Encounter meeting at our home. It was fantastic and the people who came were interesting and good, kind folks. One of the questions that we shared in our circle was: When I first met you did I know what it was to love someone fully?

Of course, for me, the answer was no. When you marry young, I don’t think anyone knows what it is to love fully. I think we try, God bless us, but until you have lived with someone for quite a while I don’t think it is possible to even fathom what loving someone fully means because it often means different things to different people. I think having experienced a history together is necessary for this type of love to come into sharp focus.

I can say that for a very long time I was selfish (maybe still am) because I was demanding to get my needs met by B because they had not been met as a child. I should have been wise enough and mature enough to meet my needs myself but I did not understand the complexity of what that entailed and the depths you have to plumb within your own soul to accomplish that. I also tried to make B love me in ways that were comfortable to me instead of ways that were comfortable for him because I was unwilling to change. I clung to ways I was familiar with instead of having faith in the love B had for me and that his way of showing it was also valuable.

And so yesterday, when I answered the question, I replied that I still did not think that I knew what loving B fully means. But today, after much contemplation, I want a re-do because I think I may have been wrong. Why? Because:

  1. If I am fighting to preserve my marriage through the worst of times and on those days where it seems impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other but I do it anyway; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  2. If I eliminate major flaws within my own personality by reducing anger and increasing peace in order to save my marriage; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  3. If going to painfully sad counseling sessions to learn about myself and to try to learn to look at things from my loved one’s point of view, while listening to the pain and hurt I have caused them, and actively attempt try to remedy that hurt; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  4. If  I am actively looking for reasons to be grateful for everything wonderful and wondrous about my spouse; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  5. If I am working hard to see the good in my spouse and I have faith that he has my best interests at heart; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  6. If I step out of my comfort zone to do the things that make my spouse happy without expecting anything in return; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  7. If I work hard to improve communication between us in order to reduce misunderstandings; then I know what loving someone fully means
  8. If I take responsibility for my own actions instead of blaming; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  9. If I make the conscious choice to find ways to love my husband each and every day event though he may not be at his best; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  10. If I provide my spouse with gentle encouragement; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  11. If I talk to my man in the way I would talk to my best friend; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  12. If I decide that I will do whatever it takes to make things work between us; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  13. If I am actively working to keep that sense of aloneness between us at bay by finding opportunities for connection; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  14. If I let go and decide to trust my heart to B completely, then I know what loving someone fully means.
  15. If I work to put my spouse first… above work, committees and all the other countless things that need our attention; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  16. Being with my lover through the daily grind is easy but if I choose to be with him during the hardest of times; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  17. If I practice just listening instead of fixing or giving unwanted opinions; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  18. If I work on being fully present and in the moment; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  19. If I share my feelings in a kind and appropriate manner; then I know what loving someone fully means.

Let me say, that I think it is important that you do not lose yourself or what you value in order to love someone fully or have them love you back; for that is not what love is about. And let me also convey that this list is not meant to imply that I do these things perfectly or even well. But I can state that I think I am much closer to knowing what loving someone fully means because I am actively practicing what it takes to show that love everyday, instead of acting as if these things will take care of themselves. It means that although there are times that I fail and disappoint both of us; that at least now I am now mindful and aware of what loving B fully might mean and I try to act accordingly. It means that these are things I want to do of my own accord instead of doing them out of some sort of obligation or expectation. And it also means that although I will continue to have to practice the art of loving B fully each and everyday; that I have faith that because of my love for him, that I will get it right eventually, and that I will be kind enough to grant myself some grace until I do.

 

On Giving Love When You Have None Left To Give

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Sometimes my house is pure 100% chaos. Sometimes it is as quiet as a lamb. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. But then there THOSE TIMES; the times when Andre digs in and NOTHING I can do will change the trajectory that we are about to embark on.

Change for Andre is difficult. It often is for those on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes that change is as small as using grape jelly as opposed to strawberry on Andre’s PB&J. But more often it is something along the lines of telling him to do his chore.

“Andre you need to empty the dishwasher!” (for the third time)

“I dun’t want to”

“There are lots of things I don’t want to do either but they must be done so empty the dishwasher. NOW”

“I dun’t want to”

This I dun’t want to would go on 100 times if I permitted it. Usually at this point the conversation will escalate to one more warning. Then I head upstairs (with him trying to stop me…pulling on me or poking at me) and take all of his electronics and tell him that he can have them back when his chore is done.  This is followed by ten minutes of attempted manipulation, threats (I’ll put your phone in the sink if you don’t give me back  my stuff) and flat out increased defiance. Finally, Andre will realize that he has gone too far and then resorts to such things as:

“Tell me you love me mom”

“I need love. Give me a hug NOW.”

I want a kiss NOW”

Along with all the demands he begins hanging all over me DEMANDING a hug or a kiss by clawing at me.

Of course, by this time I am worn out and tired of the CRAP. I try to remember where this is coming from inside his head (fear of abandonment/fear of being unlovable/anxiety) and react accordingly. But there are times when giving him what he needs (a hug) feels so ugly and disingenuous after all the chaos and manipulation that I find it hard to wrap my arms around him. I find it hard to find a place in my heart to grant him the grace that he needs. Most of the time I manage to dig it up from G** knows where but there are times it is almost impossible to find and it is at those moments when I feel like I have been swallowed whole, the best parts of me ripped out and flung far and wide. It is at these times when I start crucifying myself for not being able to give my son what he needs because it is such a little thing that feels so big.

Luckily, most of the time I do not get to this place of self torture because as I start to fall down the rabbit hole; I get ensnarled in the tree roots and find a foot hold to make my way up again. But there are times that I would like to keep falling down that rabbit hole just to feel the impact upon landing. To feel the brokenness that results. And when that happens it makes me realize that is probably what Andre is feeling (the impact) and then I find I can go over and give him that hug. A hug that will ultimately mend us both. A hug that that tells him that I love him and he loves me and that we are in this thing called autism together. Forever.

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372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

Disjointed

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Not suppose to disagree. Somehow he thinks if he expresses himself that is the way it will be and no one should disagree with him. Express thoughts = big damn parade with balloons, dancing unicorns and me bringing up the rear with a banner reading “Anything You Want Honey. You Expressed Yourself. YEAH!”

All these years of being denied what he wanted because he refused to share now it must be his way. If he shares he is doing his part. No consequences. Period.

Excuse me. That’s not the way it works. You can’t say, “I am committed to you but the deep love is gone but I hope that maybe I find it again” and expect me to jump up and down like a cheerleader. “GOOD JOB, B!” waving my pom-poms around. I have the right to say FUCK YOU, which I haven’t because I am trying to maintain dignity and grace, but I just might.

It’s hard to lay in his arms at night. Both of us holding each other sweetly but tightly like we are each other’s life jackets trying to save ourselves from the waves washing up upon our relationship threatening to pull us apart. The safety of your arms no longer feeling as big and strong as I remember. And we both talk about the pain that is pulling us under and your words don’t seem to have the meaning that they did in the past.

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I try to remember that you are hurting too. I try to remember that this isn’t easy for either of us and that it is hard to find love again when two people are so scared, miserable from being scared, and unsure of the future. I try to remember that I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that you would save my life, risking yours, if I was in peril. But I’m not sure about our marriage, which is in peril, for it seems you will save yourself and not us. And I will be left on that life raft floating all alone.

But still knowing all this, knowing that we still have something even though it is hanging by a thread, this morning I want to kick you in the balls hard enough to drop you to the ground the way you have dropped me. To kick you so hard it would be difficult for gain your breath so you felt like the air was sucked out of you just the way I feel you have stolen the oxygen directly out of my lungs. Would this showing grace and dignity I want to embody in my life? Perhaps it wouldn’t but this morning I am not sure I care.

End of story. Today.

Trying to Maintain Dignity & Grace

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Its hard. No doubt about it. When you feel so wounded and so hurt not to lash out. Not to want to say “Stop being an asshole!” over and over again. To not to want to destroy or implode the last vestiges of your relationship or something that is meaningful to the two of you.

It would be very easy for me to get in a “bad” place very quickly right now. A place I would not be proud of in the future. But I know that it would only serve to heap more shame, guilt and sadness on a plate that is already filled to the brim with it. So instead, I am trying to focus on acting with intentional dignity and grace. I am trying to use words that embody dignity and grace. I am trying to act in ways that show my love for myself, my family and B being mindful to incorporate these ideas into my actions. For instance, a small petty way was when B gave me a chocolate bunny for Easter yesterday and instead of taking a hammer to that damn 5,000 calorie creature I thanked him. So while my thoughts may not always be inline with my thinking regarding dignity and grace I am trying to  be mindful and change them too. Thanking instead of hammering. Acting elegant instead of spiteful.

I am trying desperately to remember that no matter what happens with this relationship, the truth is that ugliness, bitterness and anger will do nothing for anyone. And it won’t make me a better person. More importantly it will not make me feel better about who I am and will certainly steer me away from the person I have been trying to become. A more peaceful person. A happier person. A person who loves what is in front of her and not wishing for something more.

So even though B may not see a future together and even if there is no future to see I have to believe if I act with dignity and grace then it will allow the good stuff to come to me and to be seen by me. And that is what I need right now and in the future. I want to be mindful and happy with myself and I want to minimize regrets. I want to see the beauty that is all around me. I want to feel the softness of soft feelings and actions even though things feel angular and hard right now. I want my heart to be open to possibilities so that I can make decisions out of love for myself and not out of anger and confusion.

Dignity and Grace. In fact, I like them so much that I might just go get a tat. I have never had one and could never find anything that I would like enough to permanently place on my body. But maybe these are the most important things for me to remember especially now. Dignity and Grace.  They are my new mantras and just maybe my new ink.

 

Cheating A Little…Adoption

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So today I am cheating a little by putting up something I wrote several years ago. Why am I cheating? Well, I am getting ready to leave for Chicago tomorrow because Gracie has a big diving meet there later in the week. So I am super busy getting everything done that needs to be before I go which means I am too busy to write something. Thought I would leave you with something to think about.

 

If you are an adoptive parent especially one who is parenting a child of a different race then you know how many times you are broadsided by some stranger coming up to you with the expectation that they are allowed to ask any one of a million stupid questions right in front of your kids. It never ceases to amaze me the words that come out of a complete strangers mouth. Lately, I have not had to deal with this quite as often as in my children’s younger days so imagine my surprise when in the course of 24 hours I had the following exchanges with some people I have never been formally introduced to and will most likely never meet again.

I have to admit that I was a little evil with the woman at the Mini Mart but gosh darn it I had just been in a video arcade with a bunch of screaming kids for two hours. That is my excuse for my encouraging ignorance rather than making the time to educate.

So yesterday the kids and I go into a Mini Mart and first thing out of the cashiers mouth as she looks at Gracie is… ” ahhhh she is so cute…”

(Okay, I can feel it coming on. Let me see if I can read your mind and finish the sentence for you sweetie)

“Are they your kids?”

(I knew it. If I only had a nickel. I always know when we start out with a she is so cute it will be followed by nosey questions. But today I was prepared)

“Yep they are all mine.”

Funny look crosses her face.

“They don’t look anything like you.”

“Yeah I know.”

“I think they look Asian”

“Well, my ancestors are English and German”

“Their dad must be Asian then”

“Nope. Here is his picture. ( I pull out my husband’s picture) See, He is German too. Oh, and here is a picture of my oldest daughter.” (Who is as pale skinned as they come)

She stares at it, looks down at the kids and back at me. Confusion is written all over her face.

“Yep, the doctors don’t understand it either. They think it has something to do with drinking too much of the water when we went to Asia. Bye now.”

Yep, I know, a little devious and mean of me but after the 100th or so conversation that goes this way sometimes you just crack. That is my excuse for my very rude behavior.

 

And then this afternoon it happened again.

I was in the Super WalMart. Up walks this 50ish man.

(Oh crap… here is comes I think to myself trying to turn my body away but can’t get turned fast enough.)

“I know you get this all the time”……

(“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Don’t you F’ing say whatever is about to come out of your mouth,” I am thinking to myself)

“…but are your kids adopted?”

(Hmmmm should I go with the I just broke my ankle tactic to try to get out of here?)

“Are they from the orient?”

(Oh God…not one of these I just can’t take it today!)

“They were born in South Korea”

“Is that the communist country?”

“No, that would be North Korea”

“The reason I ask is because I have adopted eight of my own”

(Okay, maybe I can put my guard down a little because as an adoptive parent surely they must “get it”.)

“We got them in all colors. We have two of our own and then we got a Mexican one, and a black one and this one here (pointing to a I would guess 16 yo) well we don’t know what she is”

(Oh God help me and get me away from this idiot and let me find the social worker who approved this moron and get her license taken away)

“And one we have now is 3 and her Mom is in prison and the man she named as the father well his DNA didn’t match so I think we are going to get her thank god.She doesn’t need to have a loser mother like that.”

(Nor a loser adoptive dad like you who tells her entire life story to strangers while she is listening and wilting inside. This poor kid will need lifetime therapy thanks to Daddy O here. UGH)

“Sounds like you have a lovely family. We have to keep shopping. It’s nice meeting you.”

And just when I thought I was done I ran into him two more times and each time he starts a conversation and once his daughter looks at me as I pass and says

“Do they all have the same mother?”

“Why, yes they do. It’s me!”

 

It is after these conversations and situations that I feel for my children and all adoptive children everywhere. Intrusiveness is what they know. Being on display through no fault of their own is how they live. Being questioned by strangers and not wanting to seem rude is the norm for them. Having their own personal stories questioned with strangers trying to take them out and put them on display to feed their own curiosity is hurtful, annoying and separates them from “everyone else.”

When we first adopted it was difficult to know how to respond. Just how far do you go to keep your child’s story personal and theirs alone until they decide what, if any, parts they want to share. Now I just respond with, “Why do you want to know?” Usually that makes people think but not always. Sometimes no matter what you do you cannot shut these amateur sleuths up and you just have to be rude and turn away for the sake of your family’s mental health.

So the next time you see an adoptive family like mine please, no questions. Just smile and say, “You have a beautiful family.” I guarantee I will know what you mean. Then, if the timing is right, I will be glad to stop and talk to you about joys and sorrows that are involved in adoption. And I will share because my life has been enriched by adoption … but I will no longer allow your curiosity to intrude on our lives unless it is on our terms.images.Please forgive me for my “rudeness” as I will forgive you for your “nosiness.”  Amen.

 

 

 

The Things That We Keep

Eva

I lift a battered and worn cigar box out from beneath a massive box of family photos, 150 year-old letters and diaries. It and all the treasures it contains belonged to my G-Grandmother, Eva, born at home in 1873, somewhere in the woods of Ohio. I marvel as I hold in my hands a small remnant of a piece of pink and blue calico cloth; a dried flower; several old cards with cherubs on them; calling cards of long forgotten friends; and a poem written in script so precise that I can actually imagine the school teacher standing over an eight-year-old Eva making sure that each swirl is aligned correctly with the next.

All these precious things still remain while Eva has been gone for almost 75 years. It makes me wonder more about the type of person that Eva was. It makes me question why these cigar box momentos were so special to her? It makes me ask why don’t we tag these love affairs of the heart so the next generation understands what was important and meaningful to us? And it makes me ponder why it is we hold onto the things that we do?

Therapy this week has been tough full of the good and not-so-good. It has left me questioning myself about why I hold onto the things that I do. Why do I take a piece of this from my past and carry it with me while leaving behind a piece of that? Why do I continue to hold onto anger that helped me survive as a 15-year-old runaway but is no longer useful to me today? Why do I choose to stay rather than leave? The answers to some of these questions remain elusive and hidden in the Place of Mysteries that is nestled in my own mind. Yet, I know this much to be true…that the things we hold onto say more about us than our words and that sometimes we need to examine why we hold onto the things we do. Fear, neediness, love….just what is it that drives us to keep things in sacred spaces and at what point are we free to let them go? Are “things” and emotions meant to be forever or do they have expiration dates? Or are these precious items, thoughts and feelings best left to remain in a small battered cigar box for the next generation to find and wonder…why?