Tag Archives: adoption

Staking a Claim

He learned a new word. A word MOST parents of toddlers dread. But when he pressed his drooly little finger to my breastbone and said it, my heart grew 10 sizes.

“MINE!”

He also applied it vociferously to apple slices, a fuzzy blue blankie, Daddy’s iPad and every item he likes during a two day period. Then it slipped away, as most new words do these days. It makes infrequent appearances now while he channels his energy towards the newest, greatest, most exciting word. Yesterday it was “cookie.”

mineI know it probably wasn’t the profound statement I am making it out to be. He is trying on new vocabulary. He is possessive in the way of all 2-year-olds. He is the youngest of four and prefers to remain the center of attention at all times.

But I need these moments. I hold onto them with both hands. They are a gift of proof. Reassurance that the future we hoped for is reality and our faith is not in vain. This was meant to be. He is our son. He is MINE. And I am HIS.

This same week, while at Mother Goose singing time, some unknown element triggered a bout of grief. Whether it was the colour of shirt she was wearing or the way she had done her hair or the smell of her perfume, S latched onto one of the other Moms with a frantic grip. He screamed, “Mama! Mama!” and would not let her go. Lately he calls everyone “Mama,” so that part didn’t hurt, but the anguished cries as I pried him off of the poor woman… that stung. It happened several times until we finally left.

We have spent time with her before and since then. He doesn’t pay her much attention at all. Obviously, that day, he was reliving something. And I played it cool and acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I mentally rehearsed all that I knew about unpredictable grief and trauma, and reminded myself that this is not really about me at all.

Rejection is hard to take. Rejection from your own child is especially brutal.

So, when he reaches for me, when he fusses about me leaving the room, when he checks to makes sure I’m still there, when he makes strange, when he snuggles into a hug… I need it just as much as he does.

The greatest surprise of this adoption (apart from my pitiful stamina in the going-without-sleep-marathon) is how insecure I feel. In my mind I know that things are going well; that attachment is a process and although messy and overwhelmed much of the time, our family is thriving. But my heart is not so confident.

Tomorrow we are getting together with birth family. It will be our first outing with S’ two brothers. The three boys are being raised in different homes by different people, and none with birth mom. Hopefully they will sit on Santa’s lap so she can have the picture she wants so badly. Hopefully they will play nicely with each other. Hopefully the adults will play nice too.

So here’s me, once again, not as calm and mature about the whole thing as I thought I would be. Losing My Cool is becoming a theme. But I also hope that birth mom gets a good visit with the boys. She must already feel rejected and replaced. I’ve had only a small taste and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.


There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Day

Monday was a good day.

Let me rephrase. Monday was a GREAT day!

The sun was out for a change. I dropped my happy children off at school and took an impromptu detour to the zoo. Just the boy and I with 14 squirrel monkeys, 1 kangaroo, 2 pythons, 4 ducks and a dozen baby bunnies. Only a handful of words two months ago, but today he was talking my ear off. So exciting, and his attempts at the word “duck” were particularily funny (but I’m just immature like that).

When we got home he “helped” me vacuum the whole house AND mop the kitchen floor (apparently it IS still white under there); we did laundry, cleaned the kitchen and sang songs together. By “we” I mean he came behind me and undid everything I was doing, spilled a bowl of Cheerios on the kitchen floor and danced to my off-tune rendition of “This is the way we clean our house…” During nap I read a chapter of an actual book, worked out, and wrote a blog. After school I read to my children, prepared a delicious edible meal – and if this all isn’t amazing enough for you – I MADE JAM!

NOTE – the making of jam is approached with much stress and trepidation since the Great Jam Debacle of 2005 (a long story involving broken shelves, a video camera, and a pile of shattered jars of blackberry jam), and also the Tragic Jam Overflow of 2008 (which filled the stove top, stained the counter/floor/cupboard below and destroyed every cookbook I owned at the time). I would stop doing it altogether, but in his most pathetic voice, my husband tells me that he can only eat MY jam, because it’s just so much better than anything else. Let me tell you, flattery works.

Suffice it to say, I was flush with my unprecedented success. I surveyed my domain with a sense of deep satisfaction. Eat your heart out Proverbs 31 woman!

Once I got the boy to sleep, I could head out to coffee group with my girlfriends. FINALLY, I was going to show up (I have cancelled more often than not lately) AND I was going to be in a good mood. Wearing make-up and jewelry and a clean shirt. With GOOD news: I think I’m finally getting the hang of this!

In 23 minutes, I went from Overcomer, Valiant Keeper of My Home and Queen of my Universe, to a bawling, frustrated hot mess.

Just like that.

There’s something about a screaming toddler. The sound is designed to jangle our nerves and disrupt our calm. And he was MAD that night. And his teeth hurt. And he didn’t want me to leave him. Or rush his bedtime routine. Or lay him down in his bed. Or let go of his hand. And Glen was busy with B, so I was on my own.

Most nights, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s not that unusual. After a bit of a snuggle, some rocking in the rocking chair and rubbing his forehead, he usually calms down.

But tonight I could feel my temperature rising.

I had PLANS. The is THE DAY. The day when I got it all figured out and things worked like clockwork and I reign supreme. How dare he defy me?

I made one of the most crucial parenting mistakes: I took it personally. In my head, it wasn’t bedtime or sleeping or being alone that he was fighting – it was ME. My success. My plans. My time to myself.

So I made the situation worse. Soon I was too frustrated to snuggle or rock him. Turns out harsh whispers of: “Just. Go. To. Sleep.” are not as helpful as you might think. Even though we aren’t supposed to let him cry it out with our adoption so new, I had to leave the room to collect myself.

After an hour, I ended up leaving the house. He had chewed through two soothers that day, so I ran to the store to buy some more. By the time I got back he was finally quiet and Glen was ready with a hug for me.

Sigh of relief.

Then, from the next room, B started wailing for Mommy. Somehow, I ended up in bed, wearing flannel pajamas, blubbering something like, “I’m done. I’m just done.”

So here’s me, and I missed coffee group that night. But I watched a show with my husband and the boy slept through the night and my jam… is delicious.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. What do you think?


Cutting the Adoption Strings

I left the boy in Sunday School for the first time this week.

He was fine. He gave me a kiss goodbye and was immediately distracted by cars and friends and buckets of toys to be dumped out. He played with trains and babbled happily to the teacher. He put stickers on a page and sat in the circle for story time.

I should have been happy. It was the first service I sat through in months. A rare chance for Glen and I to be WITHOUT the littles: holding hands, sitting with the grownups, listening without distraction, without drama or tantrums or grabby, sticky hands on my face.

But I cried at the door. I lingered behind all the other parents. I felt sick going down the stairs. And I choked on the songs we sang.

Doesn’t he need me? What if he does need me and I’m not there? Is it too soon? Am I compromising attachment? Have I been hovering too much? Will they really call at the first sign of sadness? What is wrong with me?

I don’t stress about my other kids this way. Not even B with her special needs and behavioural issues and one-on-one helper and pull-ups at age 8. I know them. I know what they can handle; what to expect from them and for them. I trust my instincts.

But the boy is new. I love him every bit as much as my other kids. But I don’t know him the way I know his sisters. The four months we’ve had together have made a huge difference. But I haven’t been raising him these past two years. And the instincts just aren’t there.

Or maybe they are there, but I question too much to hear what they have to say. I wonder about the traumas he’s been through, the adoption itself, his medical issues, his temperament and personality, and what his version of “normal” is supposed to be. When things go wrong, I panic. When things go well, I doubt.

The rule of thumb for adoption is: however long you were apart from your child, that is how long it will take to feel that seamless sense of belonging. That means almost two years of adjustment – for me! So much of our focus has been on making HIM feel safe and loved and truly at home with us. But it cuts both ways.

Those first weeks felt like a really long babysitting job. I had to keep reminding myself that I am the Mom. As wonderful and magical and God-ordained as adoption is, it is not a natural situation. My boy is not home-grown, and transplants take time.

We are adjusting and growing together every day: sleepy morning cuddles, dancing to Jukebox oldies in the living room, ‘helping’ me clean the floor… He fits. This IS where he belongs. And someday I won’t even remember life without him.

Until then, parenting isn’t quite the same. My emotions run high and my confidence is low and my big 2-year-old boy gets treated like a baby sometimes.

So here’s me, having a little trouble cutting the apron strings.

Linking up to The Parent Hood for the first time!


First Contact: Birth Family

I sifted my fingers through. I banked up the sides. I carefully patted it back into place. My little pile of worries and insecurities.

It doesn’t feel so little as I slog through traffic and construction on my way to The Meeting. I’m preoccupied by the width and breadth of it. I suppose it is to be expected, from a student of psychology and a writer… worse yet, a blogger. A whole lot of self-absorbed navel-gazing.

I prayed my way through a list of concerns, for each of the people attending, saving my favourite subject until last. Me. How do I feel? What am I thinking? How will this affect me?

But it isn’t about me.

We slipped in the door 7 minutes late. They were sitting around the table already: the social workers with Birth Mom, Nana and Papa. Pleasantries are awkward and Nana can’t even look us in the eye.

Because this is hard.

WE haven’t taken him away from them, but he is gone all the same. They need, need, need… beyond what we can provide. We promise the bare minimum. Better not to disappoint. “We’ll see” is the watchword. A couple of meetings a year, pictures every few months… but it’s not the same as being Mommy every day or Nana who bakes cookies or Papa who explains what “offside” is.

Suddenly my little pile seems insignificant. One uncomfortable hour cannot compare to years of loss. Years past and years to come. We find common ground in a strange place as Birth Mom admits “at first, I didn’t even want to come and meet you.”

But it isn’t about them.

We show each other our best sides. They share little bits and pieces about S and their family. We greedily store away each morsel. He got his hair from his Birth Dad. The curls remind them of his big brother. They are hockey fans too.

Most importantly, we joke to diffuse the tension. It works. We can laugh together and that is a relief. It’s proof positive that our boy has a sense-of-humour-gene in the mix. I’m relieved. Humourlessness is a serious issue (ha ha ha… don’t judge me).

Birth Mom is young and sweet. She speaks with confidence. She calls him her “Miracle Baby” – the little champ who fought his way through every problem. She is trying to do the same. She is lovely.

Nana is protective, sentimental, sad… she is still grieving. And Papa wants to fix it all, but can’t.

By the time we leave, we are friends of a sort. We’ve faced anger and tears and discomfort. We’ve come out the other side because we are on the same page.

It’s all about him.

As long as he is happy. As long as he is safe. As long as he KNOWS that he is loved by all his family, in all its forms.

I don’t expect every meeting to go this smoothly. It will get bumpy and hard and inconvenient. We’ve inherited a new branch of “in-laws” and all the troubles that come with it. But that’s a pile for another day.

So here’s me, putting our son ahead of my comfort. Because that’s what Moms do.


Losing My Cool

Turns out, I’m not as cool in real life as I am in theory.

I’m talking about the kind of cool that stays calm and collected in the face of a challenge. The serene, unflappable cool that takes life as it comes and assumes that God is in control and everything is going to work out.

If you’ve read this blog before, I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise.

But it’s caught me off guard this week. You see, I was sure I knew how I felt about my son’s birth family. I was adamant that they are an important part of my child’s life and therefore, important to me. I was compassionate about their struggles and their losses. I was encouraged by every indication they gave of love and interest in S. I was cautiously optimistic about openness and a continuing relationship with them; regular updates, pictures, and biannual meetings on neutral ground did not seem much to ask. I was secure enough and mature enough to face their angst and anger without taking it personally.

Until we actually set the time for the meeting. Suddenly my high-minded ideals seem naive and impossible. Though my mind continues to believe the truth of it, my heart revolts. I am sad. I am threatened. I am afraid. And I am, inexplicably, angry.

This week I will finally meet the mother of my son.

That sentence doesn’t even make sense. It is unnatural and strange. I share this incredibly intimate bond with a woman I have never met. I know heartbreaking details of her most difficult struggles. I know as much about her medical history as any doctor. And her child is now my child.

She carried him in her body. She felt his first kicks. Her voice was one of the first sounds his ears heard. She held him in the NICU. But she was young and broken and overwhelmed. She could not be what he needed.

Unlike many adoptions nowadays, she did not choose us. Nor did she choose adoption for her child, though she agreed not to fight the ministry on it. So far.

Our adoption is not finalized yet.

After 6 months in our custody, the government will apply to make it permanent (this takes another 2-3 months). It is extremely unlikely that anything should threaten this, but not impossible. Someone could petition the court to overturn the placement. Someone could try to take our boy.

Friends of ours recently lost the child they are desperate to adopt, abruptly taken and returned to his birth mom. Their grief and very real concern about his safety is palpable. Legal or not, he is their son. And they are devastated.

My cool, rational brain recognizes that this is not a realistic worry for us. But my heart isn’t always rational. And I won’t breathe easy until we hold the final papers in our hands.

Birth family is not our enemy.

This is the family that brought our beautiful boy into the world. They gave him a name. They dreamed dreams for him.

We have a plastic-covered book of pictures which we call “Everyone Loves S.” The first page is a picture of our family, the next section contains pictures of foster family and the last pages are pictures of Birth Mommy and brothers and grandparents. As we look through it with him, we name each face and tell him “Nana loves S, Poppa loves S… Everyone loves S.”

It’s true. They really do. As best they can. And we know enough of their story to understand where things have fallen apart for them. They are not evil, heartless villains, just flesh and blood people who are in over their heads.

And some part of me is glad, because now I have the son I wanted so badly. This competitive streak is alarming. I examine their shortcomings and am reassured that we can do a better job as parents. Mine! I see their dark hair and eyes, noticing that S looks more like my children than theirs. Mine! And I know it is ridiculous to be this petty and insecure, but he is mine, mine, mine…

I guess I’m not as mature and confident as I thought.

But I can play it cool.

I will let my mind and not my heart guide me. I will set aside my fear and insecurity. I will keep mama bear in check. I will protect, but not attack. I will pray when I want to obsess and forgive when I want to judge and trust when I am overwhelmed.

Adoption has enough losses already. This week we will try to build something positive and redeem some connection with his past. Because that is what my son deserves.

So here’s me, and I know it’s not a competition. I read “Percival the Plain Little Cattepillar” 7 times a day. I catch him when he leaps off the monkey bars. I wipe his nose and change his diaper. I teach him to sign “please” when he wants ANOTHER handful of blueberries. I rock him to sleep every night. I’m his Mom.


Birthday Letters for The Boy

Birthday Cupcakes specially decorated by the Big Sisters

Once again our family tradition is going public. Each year both of us write a birthday letter to our children on their special day. The pitfalls of having two writers for parents…

One day we hope they will cherish the encouragement, advice and wacky memories we recount in these epistles. Or at the very least, their spouses/kids/biographers will appreciate the historical significance and goofy photos.

Today’s guest poster: Daddy!

Dear S,

Welcome to a new family tradition – the birthday letter! You’ll get one of these from both Mommy and I each year on your birthday, as we look back on the year you’ve just finished, look ahead to the year that’s just beginning, and celebrate the boy (and someday, man) that you are becoming.

It seems so strange to be writing a letter marking the end of your second year, when we haven’t even known each other for two months yet. But that’s okay – it only took me about two minutes to love you!

I thought I might never get the chance to write a letter to my son, since your big brothers never got to come home to be part of our family. After 12 years of being surrounded by girls, I wasn’t sure if I had any boy left in me! I feared I may have lost it under a pile of doll clothes, princess outfits and ballet slippers.

But it sure didn’t take you long to make me man up! You’re energetic and fearless in a way that the little girls never were. Before you even came home, we played our first hockey game together, and we haven’t stopped playing ever since. I can’t wait for the day when we can stretch out on the couch with some pizza and a couple of pops, game on the television, and tell the girls to pipe down so we can hear the play-by-play. Which reminds me, it’s about time I gave you your first Canucks sweater….

When we’re not playing hockey, we’re usually wrestling, as manly men like us are known to do. Sure, the girls used to wrestle me too, once upon a time, but not like this – with a fierce growl, and a look of destruction in your eye. This is new to me, and new to you too, since you’ve never had a daddy until now.

Maybe that’s why we hit it off so well, so fast. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when we met each other. Would you like me? Would I like you? Would you be afraid of me? Would you even look at me? Would you run from me? Would you annoy me? Would you spend all my money? (Well, yes, probably to that last one.)

After one ear-to-ear grin, I knew the answer. I had nothing to fear. Sure, it may take a while… or maybe not. As I put on my shoes to go home after that first meeting, you reached out and let me pick you up. I may never put you down… at least not for a while. Happy Birthday buddy! (Oh, and have I told you about our cake yet? It’s good.)

Love from,

Your Daddy

And now, a word from Mommy:

Dear S,

I can’t believe that it was only 2 months ago when I first laid eyes on you. You were so much smaller than I expected with big blue eyes and a shy grin that lit up the room. I loved you already. I would have even if you weren’t insanely cute, but it didn’t hurt. I had loved the idea of you for years. Before you were even born we were praying for you and imagining what you might be like. It was thrilling to finally meet you.

You did not have an easy start to life. You came into the world 3 months early. The file they gave us was 4 inches thick and by the time we read through it all, we realized that was only your medical records for the first month! It did not look good for you. But you were 3 lbs of fighter, possessing absolute determination. That hasn’t changed.

Your birth mom loved you and wanted you, but she wasn’t able to take care of you. When you were 2 months old your foster mom started visiting you in the hospital, after 2 more months she was finally able to bring you home with her. She is a very special lady: a nurse who takes care of babies with complex medical problems until they can go home with a forever family (birth or adoptive). You did not like to be touched or held at first, but she taught you how to be loved and to give love back. Soon you were a cuddly little charmer. That hasn’t changed either.

You have officially been part of our family for 1 month. Our lives have been turned upside down, but no one’s more than you. It hasn’t been an easy month, but it has been a very good one. Your Daddy and sisters have discovered that you are the best thing they never knew they always wanted. I wanted you all along, but even I am blown away by how important you are to us all. We are enjoying you so much. You are so much fun: so much mischief-making, full-tilt, maniacal laughing, enthusiastic fun. I’m so glad you are part of our family!

Today you are 2 years old!

Those 2 years have helped shape you into the amazing mini-person that you are now. The tough little trooper who overcomes the odds time and time again. The sweet, loving boy who sticks close to family and has bonded with us so quickly. The smiley monkey who keeps us laughing, and on our toes.
Even though it makes me sad that we have missed so much time with you, I wouldn’t change you for the world!

You have such a bright, happy future ahead of you and we will be there with you every step of the way. Always, always, always…

Happy Birthday!

Love Forever,

Mommy


Finding Mommy

He’s teething.

It makes perfect sense. The gnawing on his soother, his toys, his fingers, the t.v. remote… The excessive drool, so much so that Daddy suggested “Hooch” as a new nickname. The fussy night-time waking, for the past few nights anyway. The vampiric tendencies: “Mommy doesn’t LIKE it when you bite her shoulder sweetie.”

Except, my notes say he has all his teeth. It’s in his file. I clearly remember that.

“Must be his two-year molars,” says Foster Mom. At his second birthday party – which, you know, should have also been a clue.

Duh.

I am a Mom several times over. I was a daycare teacher, in the two to three year-old class, no less. How did I forget about two-year-old molars? What am I, new?

Ummm…. ya.

He may be number four. And I may have oodles of experience, even special needs experience. But, I’ve only been parenting HIM for less than a month. I’m new. And some days it feels like I’m starting all over again.

Once again, I’m that awkward, but endearing new mom who packs WAY too much in the diaper bag, but forgets the diapers. Or pull-ups in our case, which is how B ended up wearing her little bro’s tiny diapers to church. At least we had pjs, four snacks, a list of emergency numbers and plastic rain ponchos… just in case.

Once again, I’m the eager rookie for whom every decision is absolutely crucial and the subject of endless research. You know the ones, who quote parenting books verbatum, desperate to do things “right.” Except in our case it’s adoption books, but I suspect this is equally obnoxious.

Once again, I’m the anxious helicopter parent who never completely relaxes at a playdate. Humming with a constant, low-level stress the minute we step foot outside the house. So not my usual style, but here I am: sterilizing soothers! The last one was lucky if I licked it off after it fell on the ground.

There are so many firsts these days: first meetings with cousins, first restaurant fiasco (outing, I meant outing), first taste of peanut butter, first trip to the zoo… with so much uncharted territory still ahead.

Despite hundreds of pages of information, hours of discussion with Foster Mom and somewhat stalkerish observation of the boy at all times, we don’t know each other the way most Mother-and-Son teams do. I don’t instictively know what he needs or wants. He doesn’t instinctively know what to expect from me.

But we are finding our way.

On Saturday, we had foster family over for a backyard BBQ and, as B put it, “super-fun-happy-birthday-cupcakes.” He was surprised to see them at first, but soon he was making the rounds, getting hugs from everyone. With a smile so big it MUST have hurt his face. Eyes constantly darting around the yard to make sure that everyone, yes, ALL his family from then and now, was here. He laughed and played and generally put on a charming show for us all.

And every once in a while he would check in for a little cuddle and reassurance. Not from foster mom (whom he obviously still adores). Not from Daddy (who usually gets top billing). From me.

And for the first time I FELT like I was the Mommy. Not by sheer strength of will, because I love him and want this so much. Not by order of the great province of British Columbia. Not in theory or in circumstance, but instinctively, in both our hearts.

I have faith that these moments will come more and more frequently until they melt together into a constant reality. That there will be days when I can’t remember NOT being his Mommy. And it won’t seem surreal and strange to have this little man in our lives, but so normal that adoption and its drama fades to the background.

So here’s me and my boy, slowly, but surely, finding our way into each other’s hearts.


Friday Favourites: Twenty-something

Tomorrow is a BIG day in our ongoing adoption saga. It is the first visit with foster family after bringing our boy home. We’re having an early birthday party for our soon-to-be 2-year-old with ALL the people who love him best.

We love them too, so it’s no hardship to have them here. But, it’s a big deal too.

I’m not going to lie. It’s awkward. And unnatural. And weird.

I’m not sure what the happy ending is for an event like this. I want him to run into their arms and hug away all the sadness they’ve been feeling. I want him to cling to us and refuse to let go. I want him to be completely unaffected by the whole affair. I want him to express all the angst and emotion that this confusing change must create. I want to interrogate them about every detail of his life and learn all his stories. I want to live only in the here and now, where WE are a part of his story.

So, I’m pretty much a mess about the whole thing. But at least there will be cake. Everything is better with cake.

Quote

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

~Augusten Burroughs

And now, further proof that he’s a brilliant guy:

“Red hair is great. It’s rare, and therefore superior.”

Blog/Twitter Feed

In honour of my son (who pulled out the racks and climbed INTO the oven this morning) I am going to promote a hilarious blog “written by” the Honest Toddler. You don’t need to have a toddler to appreciate this humor, but it helps. The Seven Stages of Night Grief really resonated with me this week.

These days, I pretty much scroll blindly through a twitter feed full of theology, politics and life-affirming, sappy quotes to read the tweets from @HonestToddler. For instance:

  • Stranger in my house.
  • He has a toolbox that should be mine and is looking at the toilet. Watching from behind the door (with my SWORD).
  • HE SPOKE TO ME!! And laughed. Uh…you are not my daddy and we are not friends. We will never be friends.
  • Took refuge in my cardboard box. I’m invisible.
  • What kind of a grown man comes into someone’s house to play in their potty? Supervising him closely again.
  • I farted. He noticed.
  • Farted again. He looks uncomfortable.
  • He asked me if I’d like to go play with my toys. NO I’M FINE HERE THANKS. Farted again.
  • Told mommy I need to use the potty. She’s excited. Asked the hostile to take five.
  • Have fun working where I just pooed, stranger. Three M&Ms!!
  • He just pulled a couple washcloths out of the toilet. Getting out of here before people start pointing fingers.

And on and on and on.

Movie

In the middle of all this toddler-mania we TRY to spend some one-on-one time with each of our big kids during the week. Last week I took the 9-year-old to see Brave.

Girl power. A beautiful Scottish princess with bushy red hair. What’s not to like?

The moral of the story: “Listen to your Mom.” and “Mom is always right.” At least, that’s what I heard. My obedient, submissive daughter tells me I am wrong, wrong, wrong about the point, but it was a decent show with a few good laughs.

App

Speaking of movies, there is no reason, NONE, to waste your time waiting in endless lines at the movie theater, especially on cheap Tuesday when things are crazier than ever. Use Cineplex Mobile to buy your tickets (with an additional scene card discount) from home (or the car, or the parking lot or anywhere your little heart desires), then scan the bar code at the “Mobile Ticketing Booth” on the way into your movie. It prints your tickets instantly; there is no line up, no wait, and no need to bother printing your own ticket. I almost felt sorry for all the poor schmucks lined up out the door last week. But it was kind of fun to zip right past them with a confident swagger.

We also use this app to find theaters, movie times, trailers and ratings.

Splurge

Obviously we are big movie buffs. For our last “date” before we entered the Toddler Zone, Glen and I decided to splurge on a VIP theater. The price tag is enough to choke all but the most decadent at $22.00 per person, BUT if you use your Scene points (which you can collect each time you go to a movie or buy a snack), it is exactly the same as any other movie. We’ve been collecting for a while, so our big VIP splurge cost us $0. And it was well worth it. Don’t waste your free movies on anything but the VIP theater!

These theaters have a restaurant and bar in the waiting area. The seating has tables, foot rests and if you sit in the very front row, full on leather recliners. No waiting in line for snacks like regular folks; the wait staff will seat you, take your order and bring you your meal (that’s right, appetizers, entrees, desserts… this is restaurant food). Even the bathrooms are fancy-schmancy, so be sure to stop by.

So here’s me, did I mention that I’m a red head? Which is rare and therefore superior. Spread the word.


You’ll See…

Many, many, many moons ago… in the ancient days… B.C. (Before Children) we knew a young couple who had a baby. We had hung out with them before and found them to be interesting, intelligent and fun people.

Our first Post-Baby dinner party was revelatory. Now, I’m a “kid person” to say the least, and am particularly crazy about babies. At this point in time, I was a daycare teacher. Suffice it to say, I considered myself very child-friendly.

But even I can acknowledge that infants, apart from their considerable aesthetic appeal, are somewhat dull in the first few months.

However, our once interesting friends seemed oblivious to this fact. We spent the entire evening looking at the baby, browsing through endless pictures of the baby (and btw, new parents, changing the hat/hairdo/barrette on the exact same angle does not actually make for a new “look”), talking about the baby and generally admiring every little thing the baby did.

But the highest praise of the night was reserved for the earthshaking gas passed by the tiny child. He was lauded for his valiant contribution to the evening. Our hosts proceeded to share with us about his ongoing struggle with constipation, quite exhaustively.

Dessert, drinks and details about baby’s latest and greatest poops. Consistency, frequency, colour… nothing was sacred. I could see Glen turning green as they enthusiastically discussed the benefits of suppositories. Finally, we were given a real life demo, as a particularly rank diaper was changed right there on the floor in front of us, as we ate our dessert.

As their front door closed behind us that night, we had one of those symbiotic marital moments. Turning to look in each others’ eyes, we said in unison, “that will NEVER be us.”

Repeatedly they told us, YOU’LL SEE… Someday, when you have kids, YOU’LL SEE.

It’s something we hear all the time:

…when you meet that special someone, YOU’LL SEE.

…when you’re married, YOU’LL SEE.

…when you get your own place, YOU’LL SEE.

…when you get to high school, YOU’LL SEE.

Because certain kinds of education only experience can provide. Because part of us can’t believe we will ever change like that, feel like that, or act like that. Because life alters us in ways we don’t expect, no matter how many times we are told to expect it.

Sure enough, one day a few years later, Glen walked through our front door, looked over at me and said “Well?” and I immediately knew he was asking if our baby had had a good poop that day. We try not to discuss it with non-parents or over chocolate ice cream, but poop is now a common topic of discussion. Because constipation is a big deal for a baby. Because parental love trumps gross factor. Because living it is vastly different from hearing about it.

This week, we are experiencing a lot of those as adoptive parents. Things we were told to expect, things we had read about, things we knew, but didn’t understand until now, as we are living it.

For instance:

  • Boys are different. Not a universal truth, but in our family the stereotype fits. We’ve never experienced the constant desire to wrestle, the risk taking, the climbing on everything in sight, the tough guy who bounces back immediately from all but the most serious injuries…
  • People don’t really understand adoption. And who can blame them; it is full of strange paradoxes. It is completely different from giving birth. It is the same as bringing home any of my children. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. This is one of the best things I’ve ever done. My experience as a parent has prepared me. My inexperience in parenting THIS child leaves me feeling unprepared.
  • Adoptive parents feel isolated. Some of the people you expect support and encouragement from do not “get it,” and often adoption is treated as “less” than giving birth. Which would probably seem like a mild disappointment, if we weren’t so tired and overwhelmed.
  • Rejection is hard to take. Whether learning to build attachment for the first time, or transferring from the old caregiver, this is a difficult time, and quite often during toddler adoption, one parent is “rejected” in favour of the other (usually Mom). I had read about this. I had heard of it from friends. But I was sure that my Mommy-love was strong enough and rational enough to take it on the chin, and look beyond it to the big picture. And it usually is. Except when it’s not. Those rejections are fewer and farther between these days, but they still prick.
  • Toddlers grieve. We have seen flashes of it this week – the yearning, the sadness, the frustration… it passes quickly, but it is heartbreaking.
  • Adoption draws our family together. We are closer than ever. Even with the grumpy times and the crazy times, our family time has been closer, more fun and more meaningful than ever. We’re being stretched, but we’re pretty short, so we could use the growth.

So here’s me, and if you’ve ever wondered about adoption I can tell you all about it, but most of it… YOU’LL SEE.


Too Tired To Think of a Title

Apparently, happily ever after doesn’t involve a whole lot of sleep.

It’s been several years since we took part in the dawn patrol. Like many difficult times (exam week, giving birth and potty training come to mind) the true feeling of the experience quickly fades. It becomes a collection of “me too” and “I remember when” anecdotes you can whip out at parties to impress people with your fortitude and earthy wisdom (or maybe that’s just me). There remains the vague sense that it was miserable and hard, but the sting has passed.

Then you find yourself there again… and Hokey Dinah, it sucks!

Between the hours of 2:00 and 5:00 am, our little man needs to be held. He is not screaming. He is not inconsolable. As long as he is safely snuggled in my arms, he is relatively content. But woe on all our heads if we try to put him down, or bring him to bed, or fall asleep on the couch, or attempt to lean in a non-nurturing-sneaking-a-nap way (they know, they always know).

So, I rock him and pat his back and walk around and rub his forehead and he rubs my face and holds my hand and pulls the glasses off my face and snuggles close and eventually nods off JUST as the sun peeks over the horizon and the question arises: go back to bed? or stick it out for the day?

So yesterday, Glen asks me, “do you really mean what you’ve written on your blog?” Because it seems that there’s a whole lot in there about the blissful experience of cuddling the new kid.

Sneaky Bum, when he puts it that way, it’s pretty much everything I’ve been begging for. And come to think of it, it IS kind of wonderful.

And somehow it was easier last night, because I remembered to enjoy it. And somewhere along the way I lost my expectation of sleep (unless it is Glen’s turn, of course). And I knew I would fit a nap in today, because the age-old “sleep when the baby sleeps” is a classic for a reason.

Of course, the relentless busyness, general aura of neediness in the home and all-around emotional upheaval of this MASSIVE life change probably has just as much to do with to the exhaustion as our little night owl. He’s waking up in a relatively new place with new people each night. Of course he needs some comfort. He’s been such a trooper so far. Of course we will give him the comfort he needs.

So here’s me: tired, so very, very tired. But very, very happy just the same. And totally stoked that I finally have something to contribute when the “my baby was so colicky he never slept” conversation crops up (because Mommyhood is 9 parts unconditional love and 1 part bragging/one-up-manship).


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