Mama C Calls It Forth

Recently I went away to one of my favorite places in the world (so far) for a weekend with a single-mama friend to meditate, write, swim, laugh, and listen to God.

I connect to my visionary spirit, and my soul in this healing spot that I’ve been coming to since I was seven. When I get quiet, and a respite from my parenting modality I return in a palpable way to what I know to be true.

This time that truth cleary took shape in three distinct areas:

  • First is a deepening commitment to my sons feeling celebrated and accepted for exactly WHO THEY ARE today. (Middle school requires ferverent monitoring. Who are you-vs. who do you begin to believe your peers/teachers/ society or family says you SHOULD be.) This demands my being fully present, compassionate and flexible.
  • Second I heard that I will return to my dream of creating a one woman performative event (monologue/story telling+poetry) celebrating and exposing my first fifty years on the planet, and the events and people who shaped it.
  • Third, a new direction calls for my fifteen years as a transracial adoptive, biological, single and partnered parent. I will be unveilling this in more detail soon, but for the time-being it is already thrilling to announce it simply as a “Coming soon: Mama C Coaching and Consulting”. How can you help? If a particular post, conversation, article, or anything “Mama C” has been of help to you on your transracial/adoptive single or partnered/parenting/blending/ donor or other journey will you consider leaving me a comment I could use on my promotional materials?

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope everyone can create a little quiet space for themselves in the near future.

Reunion (poem)

Yesterday a copy of my most recent publication in a poetry anthology arrived in the mail. This poem feels like an arrival on so many levels as the readers of this blog can well imagine.

Keep writing. Keep telling your story. Hold the pencil and let God do the rest! We need to hear what you have to say.

So so very brave (countdown check in)

So so very much is up for my family this week, this month.

Because he is my son, and I really want and need to protect him,  I am only going to share that this is much harder than I expected. But what the hell did I expect?

Adoptive+parenting ain’t for sissies.

Suffice it to say that it is hard.

Suffice it to say that when research says that an infant’s emotional life is far richer and deeper than we previously understood, I believe them.

Because this six year old is full of big feelings, and those feelings began over six years ago in a hospital room. Over six years ago when her Mama love, her laugh, her smell, and her beautiful singing voice were all that he knew.

Then thirty-six hours later–and all that was her was gone.

Replaced by my new mama awkward and is-this-the-way-a-baby-works-loving. By my unknown smell, then timid laugh, and wildly out of tune sing song voice singing none of the songs he’d been hearing for the last however many months since those precious ears were hearing her. And with each hour he missed her more, as I became more and more the Mama me–but was still, of course–me.

And he cried a lot when he realized he wasn’t getting the first Mama back.

And now I’m asking him to go back to that moment in time, but this time with open arms, a smile on his face,  a good looking line up, and a button down shirt?

I’m asking him to manage all of that wordless grief, and turn it in to anticipation and ease and excitement?

Last night he let me know, in other wordless ways that that was not what he had in mind. It ended with a lot of hugs, and sobbing and shaking. The twenty minutes in between are for only the three of us to talk about.

And the counselor we’re breaking in tomorrow.

I reached out for help last night, after I got him and Marcel to sleep in my arms.

That help came in many forms.

When my adult, transracial, adopted male friend who has lived an open adoption all his life-asked if I felt like I could ask the birth mother to send some reassurance in some form that she was looking forward to seeing him too--I felt the waves parting in my heart.

I asked seconds later  in a text if she could leave him such a message–because all my reassurances that she was excited too-weren’t cutting it. She wrote right back:

“I’ll send him a video message to your email after work tonight.”

I thanked her, and then asked if she would please include how much she was looking forward to meeting Marcel too…

Of course.

When I think of him being tossed upside down  and back and forth-on the roller coaster upside down thing over and over again this afternoon, with a huge smile on his face–it suddenly all makes sense. For an instant the outside world, was even more out of whack than the inside one.

Man my kid is brave. And I don’t even know the half of it.

Naming and claiming and prepping us all (Reunion update)

Six and half years ago/ Mama C and the Boys

I include the picture above to remind me, and Sam one day if he reads this blog, just how much he will have changed since his first mom last saw him. In the posts leading up to our visit, I’ll continue to include pictures of the first time we met. He was a few weeks old here.

+++

We were looking at a slideshow of the hotel that we are going to be staying in next month when we visit Sam’s birth family when the following conversation happened:

Me: Maybe Tea and the kids would like to come swimming?

Sam: Do they swim as well as I do?

Me: I don’t know. We’ll find out. You’re an amazing swimmer. Continue reading “Naming and claiming and prepping us all (Reunion update)”

falling off the family tree

It started as an email: Catherine, I know you wanted to talk to me about your son’s adoption before we tackled the first assignment about family, his teacher wrote; but with the beginning of the year being so busy, I forgot to ask you before today. This morning the students are going to be asked to write about their family. Is there anything special you would like me to know beforehand?

With three minutes until my own homeroom bell, I knew this was not going to be an optimal setting for our conversation. Email feels less and less adequate as a form of communication to me, but I didn’t have a choice. I was very pleased she had reached out, and felt that she was right on the mark for asking.

My answer looked something like this; Encourage him (privately if possible–to avoid him having to answer a zillion questions he is not yet prepared to answer) to include all members of his family. Let him know that his first mom, and any member of her family can be included too.

I made that all important mental note to follow this up with setting a date to come in to talk to the class about adoption, and went off in a flurry to my homeroom.

Needless to say, I inquired how the project went later that day:

Me: Did you have a chance to draw a picture of your family today Sam?

Sam: Yes. How did you know?

Me: Your teacher emailed me, saying it was going to happen. She asked me about your first mom, and how you might want to include everyone in the picture. How did it come out?

Sam: I drew me, Marcel and……….Tea (his birth mom).

Me: Oh.

(insert long, long pause here.)

Me: And how did it feel being able to make the choice of who to include in your family?

Sam: Good.

+++

a few days later, and I take up the conversation again, hoping that maybe he was just testing me.  Of course I wanted him to retell the story like it really happened.

Me: Did you work more on your All About Me unit at school?

Sam: Yes.

Me: What did you work on?

Sam: A picture of my school.

Me: Great. And what about the family portrait-did you get to finish that? You know, I thought about your choice, and I wanted you to know that being your mom, your everyday mom is the most important job to me in the whole world.

Sam: No. You can’t change it. I like it the way it is. You said it was fine. Remember? You said I made a good choice. And, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

+++

You might feel like hugging me after reading this post. I guess I think of it this way; Sam drew his family. Sam did what his teacher asked him to. (She may have suggested he do it, because she thought that is what I meant.) He may have been drawing me, and told me it was Tea, because he was testing that scenario out.

He drew the people he understood to complete the assignment. He drew his  heart at that moment. And that I was not included, does not mean I am not included in his family. Instead it means quite the opposite–that I have created the container for Sam to hold all of his understanding of being a son, beautifully.

How have you handled these moments, or others like them? What’s your thought on how best to handle them, and your own heart? Today in the car he just pops out with this gem; Oh I see. Marcel came out of you, and he is your color. I came out of Tea, and I am her color. The next line was about how remarkable it is that fog disappears in the sun. What’s not to love?

Mother’s Day ain’t no joke

This was taken last night: Sam and Eddie dancing at the little pre-graduation party we put together spontaneously for her and her eleven family member who arrived in town yesterday afternoon. I don’t do spontaneous, but I don’t know what I wouldn’t do for Eddie (our former live in nanny/rock star), so it was easy despite my panic at the thought of her family looking at my kitchen floor. Uncle and I were in the racial minority, and Sam and Marcel were non stop entertainment. Eddie is a French born Haitian woman, who is the first child in her family to graduate from college. As mother’s day presents go-I can’t even imagine. This family has reason to celebrate large-and since Eddie was chosen as one of the three speakers to represent her class, and the only woman, I can’t wait to see the auditorium erupt as she steps behind the podium.

***

After every one left, and we had had our bath, and our night-night snack, Sam, who was still high from the event, had an idea.  We were talking about the card we sent his birth mom, when he asked if we could call her now. As I was getting my phone out, he asked what she sounded like.

Uhhh. Like you really. Only an older, deeper, female version. He seemed content with that response.

I prepped him a little bit, asking him what kind of things he wanted to say to her, or ask her, and what she might like to say to him. He had never asked to call her before. He had refused to talk to her the one time she asked (his fourth birthday).

When it seemed like we were ready, I dialed.

Although Tea didn’t answer the phone, her voice mail did. I held it to his ear, and watched his face. He seemed calm, searching.

At the tone he needed little prompting; “Hi Tea. It’s Sammy, and I love you, and so does Mommy and Marcel. Happy Mother’s Day. And I have a uniform and I am playing T-ball. Our first game was canceled because of the rain. OK bye.”

I added a little more love with Marcel’s help, and invited her to call us back when she felt so inclined.

***

I want to encourage all of you who may be wrestling with how to have that conversation, either about or with a birth mom, a first mom, to push yourself a little closer in that direction as you feel able. Maybe it is something simple as; “Today is a day when we get to send love out to the amazing and beautiful woman who grew you in her tummy with such care…” or maybe like Sam, you will find yourself surprised with the urge, or ability to connect in real time somehow. Whatever it looks like, the intention is what is important. So feel great about whatever steps you make, or are considering in the days or weeks to come.

***

Coming soon to a screen near you:

Monday my piece about meeting his first mom in the hospital, a never before published piece, will appear on Fertile Source. I’ll add the live link when it appears.

Monday will also feature my next Moms of Hue post, which will be about my Mom’s Congress experience in part.

Buckets and Buckets: Telling his story again

Present: I am sitting across from his preschool teachers, nervous. They are young, eager, compassionate, well intentioned to the nth degree.

We are gathered here  to have a follow up meeting, a post incident check in.

Part I: The Back Story
The incident: Sam pours bucket of dirt and sand in it’s entirety over his friend’s head.

Their conclusion: Child is withdrawn, needs help expressing feelings.
Their Suggestion: Sticker chart for rewarding verbal expression of emotions vs. withdrawing and acting out. Continue reading “Buckets and Buckets: Telling his story again”