Marcel Monday: I know you!

Looking sharp/ Mama C and the Boys

A few one liners from #2 to ease your Monday.

Upon waking and seeing me; “Hey! I know you.”

While eating cheese crackers; “I think they are too small. Can we call them cheese cracks instead.”

While watching me grade student papers; “Mom, that doesn’t look like poetry? You are supposed to be writing poetry today.”

The shearing above happened last night. He wanted to be bald like his brother:

Sammy Saturday: Can we visit my first mom?

How do you say no to this?/Mama C and the Boys (2010)

Just like that. He overheard a conversation I was having with friends who are planning a trip to meet their son’s birth parents.  Later that night he asked; Mom can we go visit Tea soon?

Because of the conversation I had earlier that day I was already wondering the same question. I often think he has a touch of the mind reader in him though.

He was in the top bunk. He was looking at a picture of her, in a frame across from him on the wall.

Maybe is all I said.

Please? He replied.

I’d like that too. I answered, while looking him in the eye, and rubbing the back of head, standing on the edge of Marcel’s bed. Can I come too? Marcel asked from below. Continue reading “Sammy Saturday: Can we visit my first mom?”

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.

What’s in a birthday? A birth story.

When I was born, or so the story goes, my mom asked the doctor if he was SURE I was a girl. He was very reassuring that he knew the difference.

Talk about the situation of your birth dictating your life story! I am the mother/father, the tomboy, the choice mom, the single adoptive mom, the donor assisted pregnant woman who came to all her prenatal visits alone. I have short hair, and big bones. I played soccer, and feared the ballet teacher. I can wear a dress with cowboy boots.

But even if she couldn’t believe I was really a girl, my mom did not have to question where I’d be in forty-eight hours. I was coming home with her.  I was not leaving the hospital in the arms of a relative stranger*, carefully chosen or not. All this time, I have known only my first mom. My entire biological family would come to know me in all my glory and greatness. In all my whiny spoiledness.

The first thing I saw was the top of Sam’s soft, fuzzy brown head, cradled in his first mom’s arms sitting in her bed in the dimly lit hospital room. He was one and half days old. He was sleeping. It was 4:45am. She didn’t even look up, when I knocked  softly and entered the small room. I was coming to take her son from her.  I have never told the story this way.

Birthing Marcel, and waiting to hold  him in my arms was not what I imagined. It was touch and go there at the end, what with wrapped cords, and inconsistent heart monitors. For a few minutes I thought I had lost him, before I had him.  I still can reach that terror place, if pushed. I lived with that moment for all of three minutes.

That is not the same as birthing him, to lose him.

Then when I finally got to feel Marcel’s precious and perfect little curly haired miracle in my arms, I sobbed. I wailed. I went primal. The nurses thought I was postpartum crazy. I was.  I was wailing for Sam, and everything he lost the moment I arrived in his life.  I felt their combined loss on a new hormonally infused, and physically painful way.

Taking him from her, was not joyful. It was devastating and crushing. It was supposed to be the “happiest” moment of my life, and I can still feel the terror and dread in my heart as I approached them both. I felt that I had no business being in that room. I was overcome by the grief. She said; “I need you to give this baby only your joy. Save all the sad part for me.”  Her maternal and selfless plea to me, was to give him relief from this devastating sad. She wanted me to leave the hospital and come back with joy. She gave me permission to enter into the happiest moment of my life.

I was born forty three years ago today.  My mother makes sure to remind me, all humor aside, that having this  little girl was a dream come true. Marcel made me a card of a blue bear eating a Storm Trooper while wearing his fireman outfit to keep us safe when I blew out my candles. Sam hid in the living room, and copied the words “Happy Birthday” off of a sign we made him for his birthday on the wall. He added the “Mom”, and the “Love, Sam.” At the bottom of the card he drew the two of us, side by side.

Unlike the birthday card he drew for his first mom on her birthday, he and I were not holding hands.  I can interpret that as all the independence he feels with me. I can remind myself that he gets to hold my hand when ever he wants. I can also feel very deeply that if the world were a different place Sam’s first mom would be the only one receiving cards from him on her birthday.

Marcel just woke up, climbed in my lap and asked me if it was time to eat cake! The kid is on to something.

To allowing the sadness and the joy of all of our birth stories to be told. That is my wish for today.

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This post is a reminder to myself, that there is a reason we normally celebrate birthdays. This post is to help me understand all of my deep feelings on the subject. This post was a response to John Riable’s post Decolonizing Transracial Adoption, brought to my attention by Inventing Liz on her roundup post of good reads last week. This post has taken me a week to write. No this post has taken me six years and three months to write.

*There is no way to represent the countless ways in which an adoptive parent and a birth parent/family are matched. From completely closed, or unknown birth parents, to adopting your niece and everything in between my intention is to make the point that in most cases the adoptive parent is more or less a stranger considering the context of the placing of a child in that person’s hands and life.

Sammy’s first shot!

#9 is my #1/Mama C and the Boys

Dear Coach,

I love when I get to dribble the ball down the court. It is fun. Today at our game, who won?  Did you catch all the baskets? I scored one. I dribbled, and then at one point I tried. I was looking so hard, and one of the coaches told me to “Shoot!” So I did. I heard the swish.

Love, Sam

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Sam dictated this letter to his coach. It was his idea to write this letter for his post. Then he read it out loud to me. What better way to relive the magnificence of Sam’s first basketball shot then to hear him write about it.

Some linky love from your Mama

The fam in veg mode/ Mama C and the Boys

He was right next to me, asleep I thought, when his super sweet little three year old voice bounced off the hotel’s mission style headboard with this inquiry; “Mom? Am I a super star?”

We were on a little mini vacation-two days in a hotel in Providence, Rhode Island visiting the parents of one of my best friends. For a devout homebody he was doing remarkably well on this little adventure. Just sleeping in a different bed garnered the title of superstar in my book. I may have also used the term when he had willingly sat in the hotel pool (on the steps in the shallow end, and in the dreamy little sunken hot tub next to it) voluntarily on several occasions.

For the rest of this post, on the lighter side of Mama C, please go to Mixed and Happy.

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This post on Salon, struck me for a number of reasons. I appreciate the anonymity the writer maintains, in order to write freely on the topic of her son’s “femininity”. I also love her voice, and the way she takes on the random moms she encounters. Ashamed to admit that I might have shared the thinking of some of those moms at points in my playground career.

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Part of the infinitely rich Adoption Round Table over at Production Not Reproduction this “Frank answers about Open Adoption” post came from See Theo Run, in response to questions posed by O Solo Mama. I admire, as always, Harriet’s clarity and concise style. She finds her way to words that have not begun to gel in my own head.

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I’m on a little hiatus of sorts as it is February break here on the East Coast. This means that Sam and I are clocking some serious Mommy-Sammy hours, which I am trying to just enjoy, and not look at like a blogging petri dish! We’ve been to the movies, the car wash, the donut shop, the gymnasium, and the accountant! (Speaking of which–the adoption tax credit extension is something you should research/ask your accountant about if yours expired last year, or maybe even the year before. Just saying!) I have two exciting guest bloggers coming soon to a Mama C near you in the next few days and weeks.

On my own mind/brewing is a post on my own transracial adoption parenting successes and areas for major improvement. I’ve had some knock me over with a feather moments in the last few weeks. I’m eager to give them voice, and invite you in.

Sammy and the Snow Plow (slideshow)

It was one of those perfect moments where Sam felt like a star, and I got to bask in his sweet joy.

An auction win that was worth five times the cost: a snow plow ride to school. It couldn’t have worked out with greater ease. Sam walked into school wearing his reflective vest, and a beam the size of one of the snow drifts he got to move in the parking lot according to Eddie, his driver. If you look closely in the “take off “shot you’ll see a school bus waiting behind them to go.

I asked Sam if he wanted to write about it this morning, and he said; just tell everyone I got to use the radio, and move the levers that make the plows crash into the snow.

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Intermission: Imagined and real musings on what we see

Intermission with Hassan/ Mama C and the Boys

We made it through five magnificent songs.

***

I managed to sit still long enough to make it to the intermission.

I see giant white boards with musical lines on the walls, and markers calling Marcel’s name.

We’re in a big recital/classroom on a college campus filled with college kids to see my friend Hassan play piano.

The same friend who stopped by the night before to invite me to the show. Who came by to hug on me, my brother and mom  during his forty-eight hour visit back to Maine.

***

The friend who went to this college, graduated with honors, and is a nationally known jazz pianist. The one who looks like you, is taller than an oak tree, and speaks as softly as the brook on the edge of a path he and you are following wherever it will take you.

***

The pianist is brown. Everyone has come to listen to him. He is captivating, talented, and within my reach. He is a Black man who adores me. I will grow up and be a Black man too.

***

As a transracial adoptive parent: a  forty-five minute drive to expose them to twenty minutes of completely extraordinary normal is part of my unspoken agreement with his first mom, with their future. This is the investment: twenty minutes that could create exponential reverberations in terms of possibility in their lives.

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Thank you to Bowdoin for flying Hassan here (from Cincinnati) to play the show to raise money for the Haitian Student Alliance. Bowdoin college where Sam’s grandfather went to college. Bowdoin College where John Brown Russwurm, a Jamaican native graduated in 1824, the first Black man to graduate from Bowdoin. The third Black man to graduate from a college in the United States.

Cliff and shifts

If you want to jump off a cliff with a hang glider and skis and report out to the audience that the ensuing avalanche almost killed you, be my guest. Actually, in this case I was the guest at the Branff film festival on Monday. Beautifully filmed, thrilling tales of personal challenges of the extreme mountain and sea variety.

Yes,  I cried my eyes out when two young men were finally back in their mama’s arms after 60 days at on the Tasman sea in a kayak built for two. If  Sam or Marcel ever has a cockamamie idea like that… I was thinking while wiping my eyes with my arm.

If you take the films selected as representational of the people who are most like to LAUNCH into the thrill seeking category,  my kids have nothing to attempt to fear in the great outdoors.  There was not one person of color, (or a woman) in the seven films presented that night. Many well off, and well sponsored white men bungy jumping, “skurfing”, mad road biking, and paddling through sharks and high seas. There was the occasional indigenous person with an ice pick in the Himalayas but at that point in the night, I had lost interest. Not seeing my children, or myself represented in over two hours of “award-winning” films was disengaging.

I seethed over economics and lack of exposure and modeling in the world of outdoor adventuring. I wanted to know where the videos from people like Outdoor Afro were being shown, because that is the festival I want to go to next time.

My great ah-has from all this discomfort: a) thankfully I will never be a white man in “need of extreme gravity” and b) that doesn’t mean others aren’t and c)it took six years but my personal entertainment consciousness has shifted dramatically as the result of my parenting transracially.

Out here in the blogosphere we talk a lot about our parenting shifts, our curriculum needs, the resources we seek. But what about how you, as transracial parents choose to entertain yourselves? Have you noticed yourself becoming in practice more of an adult consumer of color- someone who wants to support businesses, musicians, films, books, and the like that represent, engage, educate and speak to your parenting in the hue too?  When do you notice your shifts?  Where is your balance?

Speaking of entertainment for my Cumberland County Maine readers there is a show at Bowdoin College tonight, featuring this virtuoso alumni, and mentor and good friend Hassan Muhammad from 7:00-8:00, doing solo piano to raise money for Haiti. We’ll be there in pajamas for the first half at least. His myspace is here, but thought you’d like this too.

Off Frame Friday

A variation on the wordless Wednesday. This first picture, although accidental is such an apt momento of the past week.

Off center/ Mama C and the Boys

This next one was taken during a very sweet “driving test” culminating event at Marcel’s preschool this week. Marcel was the third child to drive through the race course. He made it through two blocks, and stalled. He was parked near Mama for the rest of the event.

I am looking forward to some down time with friends, and the return to middle frame. I am working on a piece for The Adoption Constellation Magazine, and accepting that my new life as chauffeur is weeks away.

Driving Ace/ Mama C and the Boys

Swim, dance, and basketball are on the late winter list for the six and under set. AA baseball sign up was last night for the spring.

When did he stop chewing on baseballs and start throwing them hard enough to merit this?