Pomp and Kinder-stance (videos-short and sweeter than sweet)

Sam “graduated” from kindergarten yesterday. He packed the outfit in his backpack–and changed into it after recess. He told me that I didn’t need to email his teacher to remind him he needed to change his clothes, because he would remember…

He received an award for READING because he came so far (from being a non reader to reading at almost a 2nd grade level at the end of K) this year. You’ll hear me gasp when I hear that he was given the reading award.

I cried a lot.

Mama and the proud graduate/Mama C and the Boys 2011

My son has left early childhood.

My son is infinitely capable.

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what post would be complete without a little shameless begging for a vote. And please take time to scan the list, and vote for other bloggers, with a special request to help keep the voices of birth parents, and adult adoptees on the top 25 too. Their voices are often underrepresented on these lists.

Bagging it and out

The last car load out!/ Mama C and the Boys

OK my little “Hints from Heloise” self is chiming in again here (I used to read that column in the paper voraciously as an elementary school kid. That is so odd when I think of the big picture of developing me. Hints from Heloise was the precursor to blogs giving you nifty penny saving ideas and happy help for the home.) to update you on the progress over here.

Day 4: bag of old coats I never wear found in basement closet: Salvation Army bound

Day 5: umbrella stroller, kid pack, trainer potty: colleague bound Continue reading “Bagging it and out”

New Jersey? or New York! Fresh Air Fund needs us

My foot is in New Jersey!

That was all Marcel said-in his sleep. We’ve never been there. We’re not going there anytime soon. I drove through a lot in college, heading home from New York. The NJ Turnpike meant I was at the half way point as I recall.

I asked Marcel when he woke up. He said he read a book about “two little goofy monsters, who asked their moms if they could be best friends forever.” When I pushed about the connection to New Jersey, he said there wasn’t any. Uh huh.

Maybe he was reading my mind, albeit off a few hundred miles?  New York City. It’s been on my mind for about twenty years, really. But recently I’ve been wondering when the kids will be able to take in a visit, in a meaningful way. When I’ll be able to handle navigating the city with them. When the possibility of bumping into the ex bartender boyfriend will cease to cause butterflies. I lived there for about eight years.  Now I have a chance to bring a little New York City to Maine, and so do you.

I’m talking about the Fresh Air Fund, and I’ve been asked to help get you talking about it too.

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.

Fresh Air children are boys and girls who live in New York City and are eager to experience the simple pleasures of life outside the city.

More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.

The site is beautifully done, and helps answer all your questions. I’m really considering it. I was contacted by Sara Wilson at the organization, asking if I’d be willing to share this opportunity with my readers. In her words;

The Fresh Air Fund is in need of 1200 host families for this summer. Host families are volunteers who open their hearts and homes to children from the city to give them a Fresh Air experience that can change lives. If you could help to get the word out it would really help us place these wonderful children into a loving host family. It’s only for up to two weeks, but it’s an experience that can change their lives forever.

Of course I have already written a story in my head about a life long friendship between my kids and the visiting child… How the boys will be speaking at each others weddings, or inductions into various Halls of Fame ceremonies.  Of course it could be a girl who might come to visit. OK, so if they all choose to parent, or marry, or partner, maybe they’ll all offer each other fabulous support and encouragement in life. Is that better?

What would my life be like if I stayed in the present for five seconds?

Any readers had a FAC stay with them? Share your experience with us? Considering it?  Talk about it. I’m definitely wondering about it myself. I’ll keep you posted.

Meeting Pete: a TRA friendship takes hold in person and in print

Pete and his cousin Connor/ Mama C and the Boys

It began a few months ago, with this reply to my “thank you for signing up for Mama C, and if you’d care to tell me what brings you to the blog?” email I try to send out every time I get a new subscriber:

I’ve been a reader of your blog for a few months now with my first comment being yesterday. I love your writings and ideas. I drew a connection to your blog because I was raised transracially  with connections to my birth family who are AA…

Several emails later, Pete and I agreed that some kind of collaboration on the blog might be fun as we considered what shape it would take (interview, post and response post, guest post) and on what topic.

When I posted this picture around Easter on my blog, and sent Pete an email to check in he replied; It’s really cool you think of me! I think about you and Sam  a lot actually. It’s amazing seeing the parallels between us I tell ya. I saw the Easter photo–he looks so confident and aware of self (for his age)! Coming from  a transracial family seeing him beam gives me such an awesome feeling inside.

Then I had a series of beyond rotten barber shop experiences with Sam.

So I wrote to Pete for reassurance that after hearing the MF bomb, and several other nameless expletives, it was OK to choose to go elsewhere. Could he promise me that Sam wouldn’t be permanently denied a positive experience in a Black barbershop even after I ended up whisking him across town to the nice little White ladies who can barely buzz better than I can and who think a line up is something in a crime movie.

His wildly reassuring response:

I’m very sorry that you had an awful experience at the barbershops. That is not suppose to happen. A barbershop is a place of business with a diverse group of clients in terms of age, gender and race (my barbershop is Black-owned–has Black, White, Arab, Indian, Latino and Asian patrons) so a certain level of decorum should be held. Offensive language should not be accepted in such an establishment. Barbers’ are supposed to accommodate his or her client. Period. It is a service oriented business. As a parent and a customer you have every right to protect your child and demand a certain level of treatment.

I can remember growing up and my Mother understanding the importance of finding not just a good barbershop but a Black barbershop that could provide a good hair cut as well as a healthy AA cultural experience. She could teach and show me lots of things but growing up and understanding what it means to be AA in our society was something that she could not and she understood that.

The barbershop was a sort of center point where AA’s of all areas came and freely discussed ideas and issues from a largely black prospective. Everything from politics and education both locally and across the country to sports and music entertainment. The unique cultural lessons to be observed in a black barbershop can be invaluable to a TRA. Looking back each trip has helped positively shape my black identity.

His ease and support were so immediately helpful to me. Hearing how important his experiences were, prompted me to go back to one of ours, and explain why we left prior to getting Sam’s hair actually cut the day before.

Then I started telling people about our exchanges, and how much I was appreciating it. About how meeting Pete, is like having a second here and there with a crystal ball that is not really yours, but you can look at it from a certain angle to inform your parenting anyway. How a little positive line from Pete about how I’m doing a fine job with my kids, is like having a fairy godfather wave a wand over my fears and chasing them away.

For Pete  it seems that hearing me talk about my process seems to be  giving him a different lens to look at his upbringing. (I’m hoping he’ll chime in here, or another time to tell me if I’m on the right track here.) If our ideas for collaboration continue to unfold maybe the process of writing his story, and helping to guide ours will nourish him in unknown ways too.

As for Sam? Perhaps meeting Pete this weekend, will give him a visual of himself in twenty years–as a handsome young Black man, established in the world, and navigating it all beautifully. (Of course if something is being offered to him as interesting that doesn’t involve a ball moving at least forty miles an hour, it is hard to gauge if it is actually landing.) Although our timing was such that a hair cut will not work out(our initial plan when we noticed how close he is to my mom’s part of the world) we are all going to meet in person this Sunday for a scoop and a moment at the playground. Hopefully the first of many meetings over time.

One (tooth and reason we love being in an open adoption)

My first lost tooth/ Mama C and the Boys

The post-a-day photo challenge this week is the word: One.  I think this meets the bill.

He lost it at lunch. He was eating strawberries with his old friend Finn. Prior to the berry he was terrified that it was going to hurt, or bleed a lot.  Finn tried to reassure, having recently lost his second tooth, that it wouldn’t hurt.  The joy on his face, is 5 parts relief, and 5 parts “I’m a big boy now!” I immediately sent Tea (his first mom) a text, with this picture. She said; “OMG he is a snaggle!” Sharing a moment like that with the other person in the world who cherishes the milestones as much as you do, is one more reason being in an open adoption is amazing.

What do you think of when you hear the word one? What milestone, or moment have you shared with a first parent that felt that good?

Look what rested looks like

Morning faces 1/ Mama C and the Boys

I got so much sleep last night that my back hurt this morning. Good pain. Rest has been a huge priority this week. Water. Rest. Exercise. Remember that triumvirate? I am here to remind you that parents need it as much as the kids do. Continue reading “Look what rested looks like”

Hot Stones and Big bonks

Hot stones/ Mama C and the Boys

For my birthday, I wanted a massage.  Sam decided he wanted that for both of us too. One of my nearest and dearest who I’ve known for some twenty years or so, and who is adopted herself happens to be a massage maestro with a studio up the street from me.  She has worked on Sam at my house informally before, but never “on the table”.  He was particularly fond of the hot stones, and everything feet. For me laying down in the middle of the day, let alone with hot stones, and all sorts of healing intention on my body is about as close to nirvana as it gets.

When did his feet get this big?/Mama C and the Boys

Today, after teaching a full day and training a student teacher, I co-led a weekly student writer’s group.  Then I raced to Sam’s school to get him to his swim lesson. Timing worked well today, because it wasn’t jump rope club, something another teacher does for pure joy with sixty elementary school kids after school twice a week. We met Marcel at home with another friend, who picked him up and took him to his dance class, and then made us all dinner.  This was followed by a 45 minute screaming fest at the local Boys and Girls Club to cheer on several students in the 8th during their championship basketball game.

Most of the teachers that I know clock in many more hours than I do, outside of their “work day”, because that’s just what teachers do. Or that’s what teachers are. We are programmed that way.  Programmed to means to support, and encourage your students in all kids of facets of their lives, in addition to the fantastic work we do during the day.  Writers groups, basketball games, debate teams, Model UN, home visits, shopping for graduation dresses that you just “happened to find,” so, “if it’s of any use to you feel free…” is how teachers model to kids what being a caring member of a community is.  Teachers also are very humble, in most cases.  However, in this climate (here and across the country) of reducing teachers to less than, the teachers I work with, continue to be more than. It’s not a choice, it’s in your core.

I ran into the door of the bathroom at school, head on, and am sporting a smashing looking goose egg. It’s not too different from the stone on Sam’s head above.  Apparently I am moving a little too fast these days? Nahhhhh.

Would love to hear from some of the teachers out there, or the folks who recognize them. We know you are working hard, and deserving of your health care and retirement benefits. We know that you deserve competitive pay, and that you are highly qualified professionals. Continue to do the good work. We notice.

Mama C and the Girls! Meet Barbara

I “met” Barbara when we were both writers at Moms of Hue, now We of Hue. Our connection came from many directions. I suppose it would be easy to say that our mutual status as single moms was a strong reason we supported each other and connected with ease.  But beyond that we share an entrepreneurial spirit (please check her etsy space Baby Squares-where I just received two gorgeous hand crocheted Berets, and butterfly hair clips),  a love of blogging at Chasing Metamorphosis, and a passion for speaking our minds.

But while I was writing from the comfort of my own home, with a secure job, Barbara was doing all of that and more without a stable home for her and her daughter, or a steady job. Sometimes staying in a shelter, or living with her grandmother while working a temp job when her car wasn’t broken or broken into were just a few of the obstacles she surmounted with grace and determination over the last eleven months.  All the while keeping her daughter’s stability and joy at the top of her priority list.

In my initial vision for “Freedom Fridays” in my post a day layout, I was going to devote this space to allowing others to be free to speak their mind, and tell their stories.  Even though she is a prolific blogger in her own right, it is always powerful to write for a new audience.

In her own words Barbara said of this piece that it was; definitely about being on the “other side”, maybe a testament to being winners in our children’s eyes during the times that we think we may be failing.  Having to uproot my child without a clear destination definitely made me feel like I was failing, and it had a LOT to do with the fact that I was a college grad.  I just wasn’t supposed to be “there”, yet I was, we were.

Through the looking glass

Barbara and her daughter

I am still decompressing.

I wanted very much to come here a champion – the winner of a very humbling experience.  I wanted to speak of how we’ve (my daughter and I) emerged, survivors of 11 months without a permanent address.  Truth is, I’m still transitioning from the transition.  Although I am now nestled in my comfy bed, alongside my sleeping baby, under a roof that is ours alone, I still feel a sense of instability.  I’m here testing the waters from my side of the bed, not yet able to fully jump right in for fear that the waters are 8 feet deep instead of three.

So, I stop, take a breather and take Mama’s advice.  Words do not escape me, but they most certainly escape she who is a part of me.  How does she really see me?  Does she see what I see in my darkest hours?  Does she see what I strive to do for her and because of her?

I’ll let her answer that.

(Questions borrowed from Mama C’s original reflections from Sam)

1. What is something I always say to you?
I love you too.

2. What makes me happy?
I have a good day.

3. What makes me sad?
I have a bad day.

4. What was I like as a child?
You were beautiful and kind to other kids.

5. How old am I?
26.

6. How tall am I?
11 inches.

7. What is my favorite thing to do?
Write about things that inspire you.

8. What do I do when you’re not around?
Read books and magazines or take a nap etc.

9. If I were to become famous, what will it be for?
Writing a poem to the president and he/she loved it and you got to live in the white house.

10. What am I really good at?
Loving me and writing.

11. What am I not very good at?
Your good at everything.

12. What do I do for my job?
I don’t have a clue.

13. What is my favorite food?
Cucumbers.

14. What makes you proud of me?
That you’re doing a good job at work.

15. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Dora.

16. What do you and I do together?
Watch movies.

17. How are you and I the same?
We have the same eyes, hair color, etc.

18. How are you and I different?
We are not different from each other.

19. How do you know I love you?
Because you do.

20. Where is my favorite place to go?
Home Town Buffet.

If this is the impression that I’ve made on my child in just seven years, I think we’re gonna make it.