Journey to here from there. Residency Day 1

I am stunned with gratitude and humbled by all the generosity, and warmth that welcomed me to this magnificent writers residency.

I could barely sleep last night from the fortune of it all.

I walked in the side door to a place setting for me at a table set for eight. I followed as one of the outgoing writers (the residency is anywhere from one to six weeks long) graciously carried my suitcase to my perfect room, with the writers desk up against the window, and joined the assembled for dinner. I listened to their stories, took in their reasons for being here and mined as much as I could from the two who would be leaving in the morning.

We are poets, essayists, novelists, children’s book writers, musicians, journalists, playwrights, and memoir writers. We are from several continents. We are white. We span about a twenty year age span. We are married, divorced, single, partnered, childless, and parenting. We share meals, and if the first night is any indication of what is to come-we will share the maps we’ve got folded up or and not too tucked away- that got us here from there.

I spent the morning with Bell Hooks’ “Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life” as it presented itself to me at breakfast on the table next to me.  I took that is a sign that I was meant to listen to. Reaching back out to the ether via this blog could help me to land somehow.  As does the little camera on my phone. I can have this experience more immediately, or mediated perhaps as Hooks might say, if I look at myself through that lens too.

The boys are steady as can be in Shrek’s unimaginably calm and present loving care. We spoke this morning. How blessed and fortunate I am.  A special bow of gratitude to a certain artist friend of mine, who emailed me some mighty reasonable advice on how to do a residency. You and yours have given me complete permission to let this week unfold as it will.  Thank you both.

Finally, I am writing here all of this miraculous good good I got going here to encourage any of you who are reading to this point and thinking; “Could I ever so such a thing…” that you could, and you should. This months Poets and Writers magazine features a section on Writers Retreats.  What are you waiting for?

Yes, little poem, I see you there in the margins. It is time to return to you now…

MamaC is nominated for a best of Portland award

I was truly delighted to wake up to see this:

Best Blog nomination Portland Phoenix 2013
Best Blog nomination Portland Phoenix 2013

I am reasonably certain this is about a dear friend nominating me, and not some mass movement to acknowledge my stellar writing contributions-but either way works! If you are so inclined the link is here. It is about a 5 second commitment at most. “Blogs” are under the icon “city life”. You select one, and then you can scroll down and hit the “submit” button. Vote early and often!  Since I don’t do the FB I can’t imagine I’ll have a chance at this here competition, not to mention the fact that my blog has precious little to do with Portland.  And while not attached to the outcome, it is lovely to think that some new traffic will be generated, and that is usually a good thing too. Or spend lots of time exploring the best Portland has to offer–the category right above mine, “Best Kept Secret” includes my FIRST CHOICE by far: Justice in the Body. Thanks for the love!

Where am I? Where I am.

Here I am.

I’ve been feeling a little unplaced the last few weeks.
Journeying between my rich old life and this rich new one.
We say old to mean the past, the former, what we no longer have or do:

Our old house, our old dog, our old job.

My “old” is living alone as a single mama-on one floor of a two family home.
The upstairs was Uncle’s old apartment.

Now we (Shrek+boys+me) are living in the entire two family home-as one NEW family.

Shrek’s grown children are also our new family.  They visit and do their laundry, eat birthday cake, and just hang out with their dad on the couch in the late afternoon. It is so new for all of us. A new that can only become an old, through several loads of laundry, and your feet hanging over the couch that used to be in his old house too.

How do they take in these two bonus boys climbing all over their sphere of understanding about who their dad is? What does it feel like to them to see the sawdust in Shrek’s hair from the loft beds he made for these sons-and little brothers-in-training? Of course they are being nothing short of magnificent with all of us. I feel so blessed by my bonus kids too. It allows me to tap into a way of being that feels so easy, and natural for me, as I have many young people their age in my life already.

Then there is Shrek and his experience of all of their adjusting. How is he reconciling his old and his new?  My deepest sense is that we are all falling into family with each other right on pace.  It is, after all another kind of love–family love. It has awkward moments, but really they are just moments that are. Just leaves around this growing family tree scattered about. Colorful, rich, and vibrant.

Then there are the days that I go from feeling like I was really good at being a single mom, to feeling like I am really rotten at being a co-parent, a partner, a fiance-in-trainning (no not yet mom) all the time. Then, sometimes I feel like I have all my plates spinning in sync and I don’t dare exhale. I can do this. I can. I think I can. Hey look! I’m doing it…


Pieces everywhere.
Who picks them up now?
Do I pick them up alone?
Do I know how to really ask for his help?
Do I get scared he’ll say no if I do ask?
Do I get resentful when he doesn’t just pick them up without my asking?
Do I get defensive if he picks them up his way, and not my way?
Do I remember how to be appreciative when he finds a different way to put them back together that works too?

Like  Marcel’s Harold and the Purple Crayon imitation up the stairwell wall all the way in to the living room, and ending on the cushions of Shrek’s couch (with a washable-thank you Universe-marker) was a recent straw on this camel’s back.

I felt ashamed. Shrek seemed stunned. Marcel washed the walls, Shrek cleaned the couch, and the apology letter was crafted. Dust settled. It was not the end of the world. I sat alone for a moment wondering if this “trail” Marcel drew was an indication things were moving too fast for him? For all of us? Was Shrek upstairs wondering if this was more than he bargained for?

In the next breath I wondered if it wasn’t the story-teller in Marcel, just marking the transition, and asking us all to notice, he was making his way up the stairs too.

A new do, for the old Marcel. HERE I AM

Alas, we are here.

Behind leaves, and with shaved heads*.

We are upstairs, and we are downstairs.

We are old and we are new.


* Sometimes it is time for a change, and sometimes that change is dramatic, and turns out to be just what you needed.

Celebration time!

Because of this little piece of data on my blog earlier this week:

WOOOOOT!!!!! Talk about a milestone!

we went out and had an ice cream to acknowledge the beginning of the season, and all the ways we worked together to reach that sweet number of “people who like to read about US!”

And generally looked at each other with loving, appreciation:

Which is how I feel about all of my readers too–so thank YOU.

All the single mamas doo do dooo do. All the single mamas…

Let's give it up for my single Mama!

I just want to say thank you to the single mamas who have been reaching out to me so much recently. My single mother badge of honor is one I don’t take out often enough and polish up and wear here.

As my donations continue to come in, with sweet consistency and love, it always floors me when one of those little paypal notices has the name of one my known, or soon to be known single mamas attached to it.  Because face it–money is tight everywhere–and even if you have it now–it takes time to donate–and to do so–it to be putting it in my children’s mouths (and rental cars and hotel beds) and not yours. We are a generous lot.

A great reminder about that came in this email I received last night, after I sent a thank you to a woman, who we will all “J” who had made a contribution yesterday. In it she reminded me, that this was not the first time we had connected;

 I don’t know if you remember me, but we connected a couple of years ago on a SMC Adoption Yahoo group. I was in the thinking/wishing stage of adoption then, and you reached out to me and were so kind, encouraging, and inspirational. You sent me some books, and a diaper bag with a fleece baby blanket inside. It was such a gesture of faith, that someone believed I would become a mom, even when I was having a hard time believing it myself. I subscribed to your blog then, and have been enjoying it since.
So, fast forward to August, 2011….my daughter  is about to turn 8 months old, I brought her home this past December. I still can’t believe it sometimes. I read your blog for so many reasons, and connect with so much of what you write about. Recently you posted a picture of Sam when he was newborn, and I realized that he was wrapped in that same fleece baby blanket that I wrapped my daughter in. It hit me then, that you give so much, and I wanted to give something back. The donation is small,  but it comes from the heart.
I just got goose bumps all over again. So to all the single mamas out there today, I want to say thank you for your prayers, your emails, your cards, your well wishes, the sharing of my link on your facebook pages, the links on your blogs and all the other ways you are supporting this single mama, and Sam’s first single mama too.
Of course you don’t have to be single to donate. I am $305.00 away from my goal. I have ten days to reach it, and I know I will, because you all rock the world.

In the big light (Mama C is interviewed)

Marcel waiting for the photographer/ Mama C and the Boys

An interview with Mama C is online at Psychology Today. The piece feels like an arrival on many levels: personal voice, competency on a subject, and clarity of my beliefs and values. It is a well crafted piece that will reach a very large audience. I began blogging three and half years ago. I feel wildly grateful (and hot and sticky in my 99 degree house)  to my readers, to the medium, and to my own determination and hard work.

Honored and begging

Where the magic began (series the blog banner is from)/ Mama C and the Boys

It was a sweet surprise. An email mentioning my inclusion in the Circle of Moms 25 Best Adoption Bloggers. Of course it doesn’t stop there. One has to work for the honor. One has to promote. One has to beg.

Please vote now.

It’s a great and and ever growing list of adoption bloggers–I hope you spend time over there, and vote often. Of course I’d love to garner enough of your endorsements to hold my place on the list. A little button on the right of this blog will get you right to the list so you can vote when it occurs to you. Up to once a day until June 21st.

I don’t place ads on Mama C. I am sponsor free–because selfishly I want all of your attention to be on my pieces when you stop on by. And, I want you to have an add free moment in your life.  By voting for me, you’ll help to increase my readership. Over the summer I am set on releasing my first ever collection of Mama C ness here on the blog–in the form of a chap book of sorts. More readers may mean more potential sales, which means more opportunities for me to write more…

So thank  you for taking the ten seconds (you scroll down to my name, and click the little vote button and it is done. No registering, or other hoops to jump through) to vote.

In 6th grade I lost the election for school president, because the other girl promised free candy with school lunches. My platform was built on advocating for more time outside at recess.  I had a vision…

Thank you!

(Wait–please–just ten seconds. Here. Thank you.)

Mother’s May: Celebrating First Moms, Many Moms.

from the archives: Tired Sam(3 weeks old) and tired mom (mine) /Mama C and the boys

This year we’re sending a card that Sam picked out,
and one of his drawings from school.

A photograph of him and his brother and a big smile.

It’s no longer a heavy heavy for me. Or him.

(When it stopped being about me, and what if I say the wrong thing, or not enough of something, or too much of another thing.)

It’s simply something we do with joy and ease in May: we send Tea a Mother’s Day card.

She is his first mother.

She will always be his first mother.

She will always be the person who Sam likes to thank for;
“carrying me in your tummy and having me, and loving me all that time,”
and “everyday still”.

She is the one who made me a mom too.
Who chose to believe in my own ability to do so, even when my own body couldn’t or didn’t.

I get less and less hung up on holidays of any sort.

This one has so many opportunities for me to make so many people genuinely happy that I can’t not.

I send my loving Mama a thing (this year a Snapfish notebook with her favorite grandkids on it) that is useful and fun.

I pick a different super Mama’s in our lives each year to make a donation in their name to Unicef to help other Mamas be their best too.

And I love planning how to get other people to help my sons honor me with a thing, but that is worthy of another post soon.

I scan for coupons and deals so I can slip in a “Well look at this? Look what the Mother’s Day fairy sent me thing”. This  year a beach chair that has straps for my back so I can carry all of their beach things too that will keep them happy while I sit on my old butt on my new chair. Did I mention the new suit that will fit when I have about five less pounds on all my things? The mother’s fairy was generous in a way.

I put up a new window bird feeder to help the new birdie mamas feed their babies. I even got it to stick.

For a list of socially conscious to all out frivolous gifts for all the moms on your list-I like this post on the topic from Rage Against the Minivan. Feel free to add links to your lists below.

How are you honoring your first mom? Their first mom? Other moms in your life this year?

Book winners & Adoption Constellation subscription giveaway

Thanks to everyone who left a comment, and/or an answer to the question; What I’d like to read an adoption book about. on my Adoption Nation book review post. I hope the publishers are listening! Many folks asked for resources, and many of you may have them, so please check back and read the comments, and add a link or suggestion if you have the time.

My two winners were Anne from Alaska, and Jess in Australia. (Then the pub tells me we can’t ship to Australia! So Jess, I’ll be sending that one on my own, so hold tight your winter reading will arrive!) In corresponding with Anne about the win, we discovered we are leading semi parallel lives in the single mama sibling co-parenting department. What a hoot. You can go see for yourself in her blog three little birds.

Today I am  offering Mama C readers a chance to win a ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to The Adoption Constellation Quarterly.

In order to enter you’ll need to do one or two of three things:

1) Sign up to receive Mama C and the Boys automatically to your email using the subscription button on my sidebar ->, and leave a comment saying how happy you are you did!

2) tweet, fb, email, blog, or carrier pigeon about the competition mentioning The Adoption Constellation and @MamaCandtheBoys, and leave me a comment telling me which one you did, leaving a link if possible.

3) leave a comment answering the following question; “If I could read an article about one thing of CRITICAL importance to me as a member of the adoption constellation¹ it would be; __________________” in the comments section of this post. The magazine provides a forum for all voices in the constellation, so please spread the word, and the opportunity to win.

If you are not sure how to approach that, and want some inspiration, download your free copy of the first issue of the magazine here, and find out. Then come back and write a comment. You’ll get a free entry if you tell me what your favorite article was in that issue, and why!

Already a subscriber? GREAT! So tell me about that in the comments, and then enter to win a copy for your local library, or your workplace, or your step brother.

Up to TWO entries per person will be accepted. Winner’s name will be chosen in the old fashion name in a bucket, picked by Sam and Marcel on or around May 1st.

In full disclosure, I am a writer for the magazine, love the magazine, and am paying every penny of the subscription cost as my contribution to a project I deeply believe in.

¹ From the editor; “The adoption community extends much further than the triad of birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents and we believe the term adoption constellation reflects this.”

Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation, book giveaway

I received an invitation to review Adam Pertman’s updated Adoption Nation last month. They wanted a transracial adoptive single mother’s point of view added to the mix. In exchange for my promise to participate in the blog tour of the book (a new concept for me-where have I been?) on a given date (today) I received my own copy, and two to give away.

The amount of work that went into this book, is rather mind blowing to me.  I am sure you can scour the net for countless reviews lauding it’s comprehensive scope and broad historical focus.  I felt a rather ominous pressure while reading the book as “reviewer” and not just as consumer. (My previous reviews here of books have always been after the fact of books I read and was charmed by. Now I realize that is just a sales pitch, not a review!) I wanted to make sure that I was reading the book through the lens that my audience have come to expect of me (even if I am not sure what exactly that means).  I wrote down moments in the book that caused me pause for one reason or another, and asked Mr. Pertman to address them directly.

Continue reading “Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation, book giveaway”