Your very fine hat (poem)

This was the extent of our back to school shopping last week:
new sneakers and the hat.
Honestly, that sums things up over here.
We just don’t have room for much else that is new.

Uncle (my oldest brother) has moved out,
after living with, and loving on us
for almost five full on years.
He’s not gone too far but he’s not that near.

We’ve been preparing for this dreaded-
exciting transition for several months.
Celebrating all that is Uncle in one hand,
and grieving all that is his leaving in the other.

But rage doesn’t RVSP to an invitation.
It just crashes the party
whenever he needs to remind the world
that he is both the pinata, and the bat.

Swinging blindfolded into the unknown
like an infant wailing for his mother,
wrapped in a blanket of confusion and fear
hush hush hushed into a stranger’s promising arms.

Eight years later, and a very quiet part of you
may still remember her soft hands caressing your very small head
and for a moment maybe you are still able to hold her hand there,
woven in the flair and the tilt of your very fine hat.

C 2012 Mama C and the Boys

What I want us all to see

Sammy in his Easter threads

Yesterday I sent a text;

“Sammy before church. I told  him how proud you’d be of him, looking so sharp. Happy Easter to you and your family.”

I included the above picture.

I pictured her and her family at church. It was one of the real reasons we rallied to go too. If he were being raised by his biological mother, I know she would have taken him to church today. I imagine he would have been dressed this well with her too. Of this I have little doubt. Continue reading “What I want us all to see”

in that hour…

Many years ago I wrote a fifteen minute play about what happens during the hour we gain, and the hour we lose. In one scenario I had a couple who met for that extra hour every year in a parking lot by a ferry terminal- imagining what life would have been like if they had chosen each other over their life partners. (I chuckle remembering where my head was nine years ago…) In the lost hour portion of the play, there was simply a young boy with a shoe box. In the box he placed all the things he wished had not happened to him in the past year, and left it perched on his window sill the night before the clock “sprung forward”.  The things he wished to release were written on bird feathers he had collected during the year, with a very fine point permanent marker. The next morning the boy was allowed to reinvent himself, free from his sorrows ( that we understand are quite numerous for a lad of such a young age) and feel fanciful and full of flight again himself. At least until the next door neighbor shows up and…. That idea resonates even more profoundly with me today, than when I wrote the play almost a decade ago. Permission to let go is a marvelous thing on occasion huh?

I thought it would be fun to share the idea, and ask you one thing you might like to let go from the last year, given the chance. I’ll start the list, and would love to have you leave one  here if you’re able.  Perhaps this post can be that box, perched on a window sill, to be given flight once and for all.

1. How I informed Sam’s first mom we weren’t coming (to visit her) last August. I wish I had just called her. Maybe things would be on track today, if we had arrived at the decision together somehow?

2. All the sadness, hard, and second guessing I feel daily about her no longer choosing to be in our lives, today. I just would like to accept it as her choice, and know that I’ve done all that I can to keep open the door.

An end of the year ache-and a call for wisdom from first/birth parents

The decision to go visit and then not visit Sam’s first family last summer, is one I am working through today.

We’re all still working out way through this one. Perhaps the hardest part for me is the not knowing how this impacted Tea*, and her relationship with him. I sense she may still feel angry at me–hurt–frustrated? I did not tend to our relationship in the aftermath in the way I should have. I retreated so hard and so fast after it happened, because I felt like I had done something so wrong–publicly and privately by putting so much energy into that trip. And, although I am certain (because of things I have chosen not to talk about here-those moments in our childrens lives we must protect) that I made the right choice for Sammy**-I sense I made a very wrong choice for her and her other kids, and her parents.  All of this wondering is coming up for me so hard because for the first year in Sam’s life we have not heard from her at his birthday or Christmas. Everyday I race to the mailbox and feel my heart sink when there is nothing there. Continue reading “An end of the year ache-and a call for wisdom from first/birth parents”

Take me to, to the other side…

After the responses I received from yesterday’s posts (off line, FB messages and on the post) I thought I better remind my fantastic followers that I also live over on the other side of this is hard a great deal of the time.

Things I am grateful for as a single mom:

1. Cuddles, huggles, night night needs, pile ups, spooning, and movie nights in my bed.

2. Planning vacations wherever we want to go, and asking whoever we want to come with us.

3. Cooking for kids, and leftovers for me works just fine.

4. We only need a little car.

5. Immense pride when my kids do well, which is very often because this  highly functioning, loving, with it parent is absolutely enough and my kids are doing beautifully in this family of three.

6. How easy it is for people to accept offers to help.

7. During my journey to Sam, and birthing Marcel I was able to choose the people I knew could handle all of the mess and the joy with the most ease and skill. Having that lifetime connection with them.

8. When the pediatrician says things like; “Catherine I have no concerns whatsoever about these kids, or your ability to raise them as a single parent. In fact, you really do a bang up job and it shows in so many ways…” And then the next day when another doctor says; “Go home and tell your husband…” and I say; “I don’t have one, but if I did I probably wouldn’t share that with him anyway.” And he balks and says; “Oh I’m sorry.” And I look at him like he has multi-colored slime all over him, and say; “Why? I’m not. I choose to do this on my own, and I’m doing beautifully.”

9. Dancing to All the single ladies in the kitchen, cranked up super high at least four times in a row with the boys, pointing to our rings while swishing the rest of us-and feeling like it is some kind of ridiculously meaningful ritual.

10. Being able to listen to the lowered voices of the wives/partners who admit in secret that they; “sometimes wish they could change places with me…and didn’t have to  worry about their husbands/partners who are not employed/taking care of themselves/unreliable/cheating/not present as parents/glued to the television. Realizing hard is just hard.

Things I’m grateful for as a transracial mom:

1. My entire white mind world was turned inside out, and the new version is 6000% better and improving daily.

2. The strength and beauty that comes from living in the margins.

3. Opportunities to advocate for children (and families) of color  (mine and others). A new found voice  to talk about bias and education for starters.  Learning the difference between speaking for someone, and speaking of that which I notice is a systemic inequity that starts with my own stuff is a hugely satisfying part of that work and path.

4. The new families that are in my life because we are all parenting in the hue.

5. Buying as many of the Black Barbie and other dolls as I can from the Toys R Us so that they identify the need and increase their inventory.

6. Giving those dolls away.

7. The friendship with my son’s donor and the possibility of a deepening relationship with Sam’s first family.

8. Feeling uncomfortable on a cellular level when I realize everyone in the restaurant is white, and choosing to go somewhere else instead.  Sam agreeing that is a good idea. Discovering three mixed/ families of color at the following restaurant, and learning that one of them knows us from the blog.

9. The incredible support and connection of the adoption community in real and ether time.

10. Sam. Marcel.

My beauties/ All rights reserved 2011 MamaCandtheboys

A reader asks for help: How to prepare a 3 year old to meet her first mom?

A few days ago a reader contacted me with a request for help in preparing her daughter to meet her first mom for the first time.  I know precious little really. But, I have the amazing fortune of being connected to many who know much more. So I asked her if I could share this story out here on the ether in case you all had some great wisdom to share (names have been changed). At the end of her story, I’ve included what I took away from this summer of not meeting Sam’s first family, and of the ease in meeting Tree. What resources, suggestions, or lived wisdom can you share? Continue reading “A reader asks for help: How to prepare a 3 year old to meet her first mom?”

Landing at the lake

Believe it or not, I’m in the parking lot of the town hall near the lake using the free wi-fi. A dear friend is visiting for the afternoon so I am stealing this moment to let you know how well the family is doing.  So many of you have been so generous in your check ins, comments, and thoughts.  Yes, there were moments when I felt deep pangs of loss that I was not in a hotel pool splashing around with Sam’s birth family across the country.  But those have been few and far between. Sam hasn’t mentioned it once. So, I am letting it be, for now. I suppose it is as simple as noticing that this is where we are now, in every sense of the word. And, it is exactly where we need to be.  See for yourself. Continue reading “Landing at the lake”

On Un-doing a trip to meet the birthmom/ first mom (Part I)

First of all, the Mama C collective has been so amazingly supportive and loving with your emails, and comments. In addition we have had sweet support in our personal circle that has all been just right. Thank you and thank you.

I feel compelled, because this became a very public journey through my posts, and fundraising, to complete the story publicly too. Although that is not as easy, it feels tremendously important for several reasons.

  • So many of you have let me know how deeply connected you feel to this story, this family. I know what that is like, to become attached, and feel  personally invested in a person, or situation online. These moments become a mirror in some important way to something in my own life. I need to see that story through, I need a finish. That is not always possible, but in this case there is a continuation, and many ah-has.
  •  The journey my family set out on and the one we did not take, and the one we did, may offer some experiences that could help you or someone you know in a similar or related situation.
  •  For better or worse, this blog is my third arm, my second brain, my external processor. I need to put it out there, for it to ripen fully.

This may take a few posts. Marcel just woke up. Pause part 1. We are going to a pitching and hitting clinic this morning–a culminating event by the local farm team. Someone is eating breakfast with his baseball bat… Continue reading “On Un-doing a trip to meet the birthmom/ first mom (Part I)”

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.

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.