Category Archives: family

The Pain of Separation

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When Adam and I first separated, I heard over and over again, “Kids are resilient.  They’ll get over this.  It’s really not a big deal.”  This is a “truth” that doesn’t feel fully true to me.  One day in the beginning months of the separation, I wrote this letter to Adam.  This is the raw pain of separation.  The parts most of us hide when we are suffering.  The parts that are uncomfortable to share.  This was the truth of what I was witnessing within myself and within my children.
*Please note that although the separation was mutual, the mutuality of it did not negate the pain and suffering, the anger and blame, and the heavy darkness that accompanied it.

Dear, Adam,

Mornings are the hardest.  I wake up before I should, always with a deep emptiness that something so vital is gone and missing.  Every morning I’m hit with the reality that I have to suffer again.  Each night I realize I survived another day and I have the love of my boys surrounding me.  But mornings are different.  Mornings are the moments when I dream of drowning.  When I will my eyes not to open.  And beg my heart to stop its bleeding.  Mornings are filled with anger, resentment, hopelessness, tears, and the deepest of heartaches.  Mornings are when I wake up to the realization that part of me has died and continues to die.  Mornings are pain.  This morning I woke up at 430 and dove in to my new best friend, Journal, after a bit of meditation and I just felt that I needed to share this moment.

As much as I desire to shut off my mind, the deep pit of my stomach that is tied in a million little knots, seems to believe that it has a mind of its own.  And I feel as though I have no control over my body.  13 pounds lighter because I literally cannot swallow without gagging.  This pain is all consuming.  Leaving me sleepless, starving and walking through life as though my soul no longer exists.  The only time I’m alive is when my boys are with me.  And I’m with them.  When I am with them, we are what’s left of a family.  We are here reassembling our shattered world.  Together we are violently sweeping the pieces of our hearts back in to a less fractured mess.  We are each other’s healers.  
IMG_2047Last night I cradled our youngest who has suffered at the hands of adults too many times in his life.  Who is feeling this abandonment as deep as his soul.  After speaking with you the second time, he was a limp puddle of wailing tears (recall the sounds of the boys when we buried Shadow and you will know the depth of pain that filled this house [no longer home] curled up in the lap of his mom.  I sat there soothing him with empty words because words cannot bring his daddy back.  Words cannot keep his mom from leaving him in a few days.  Words and hugs cannot make this better.  And he knows that.  He knows that he is in pain and that he doesn’t like the choice that is once again being made for him.  It is NOT the best choice for his life and there is no convincing him of that.  I sat there truly wishing that I could take it all away.  That I could carry his sadness for him but the only power I have is to share it with him.  To hold him in his despair.  To keep telling him that he is safe and he is loved.  I felt helpless and his pain was so visceral and haunting.  
Followed by that I sat with one boy who is completely avoiding and covering his feelings, as the only way he’s ever dealt with any heartache.  The only way to bridge the gap with him is to mostly focus on surface things and really spend time trying to dig just a little deeper.  When you dig a little deeper you realize he’s scared to death.  I slept with him in my bed last night and he thrashed all night with nightmares.  Yelling, punching, and screaming.  His brain processes his pain at night.  His subconscious cannot hide.  I finally pulled him toward me and he latched on as though his entire world was falling away from him.  
Another boy who drew on the feelings board that he would like the two of us to tell a few more people that he’s gay.  AIMG_2045 few people in his class.  When I tell him that his teacher already knows he starts wailing too.  And he wants to become angry with me as though I had something to do with all of this.  He wants to hit me and then I hug him and he too melts in to my body begging for me to heal him.  I pull him close to my breasts because that’s all I know to do.  And I can feel the pain radiating between the two of us.  Like hot coals burning through our chests.  We are so broken.  And we want answers.  He falls asleep beside me and I break because I know that you cannot comfort him the way that I can because your bond is not the same.  It’s different with him.  He has always favored me.  And I become scornful that I would be required to be away from him at all.  That I will be walking away from him in his darkest hours.  How can this be okay?!?
IMG_2048Finally, I sit with the oldest who is doing just what us oldests do.  He’s trying to keep his shit together and pretend it doesn’t hurt but then when you ask him to draw out what he’s feeling it’s so clear that he’s lost and in just as much pain as the next person.  He’s holding on to the wish that mom and dad are actually on a timeout and this is temporary and I can’t answer that for him because nothing makes sense to me.  And I see him pulling away because to be here is too painful, too confusing, too disappointing.  He, too, has been left behind before and this place feels scary. His parents are letting him down and trying to cover the pain with happiness and lies that this is all okay.  He knows that these are lies.  He no longer trusts but he holds on to the hope that they are going to figure it out and his life will return to normal.  Until then he seeks and seeks ways to make it better.  And every day, many times a day, he asks me when I’m leaving again.  And I have to answer as though leaving is a choice I’m making and the truth is I am as voiceless as he.  
Here we are, this partial family, sitting at the dinner table talking about when daddy will be here for dinner.   And the boys want to make it something super special.  They talk about dressing up and serving dinner.  They vote on a baked potato bar.  They are excited that all 6 of us will be together.  And I understand why they want this.  Because I, too, find myself fighting back this need to impress.  To make myself worthy of their daddy’s love.  I, too, find myself wanting the house to be perfect, the dinner to be perfect, me to be smashing and in my best form.  I, too, want to believe that this family can be restored and deserves nothing short of restoration.  And so I sit there listening to all their wants and letting them take control of Thursday night because I don’t have it in me to do anything but watch them dream.  It doesn’t matter what I say or how much I laugh and smile with them….they carry a level of fear.  They carry a level of burden.  They, too, blame themselves and don’t know how to express this.  They don’t know what to do with their pain.  They don’t know who they can trust to tell.  They don’t know who they can trust.  Period.  Their lives have been disrupted and that’s that.  I know this because I have been them.  And I see in them what I know to be true in me.  
So for now, I keep telling them all the beautiful things about their daddy. I swallow my pain in their awake hours but I also share with them that I’m sad too.  I do all I know to do to help them transition.  I play.  I listen.  I nurse the pain.  I hug.  I soothe. But on Tuesday morning I will have to hug them goodbye again and I will have to walk away from their lives and I will break all over again.  They will break all over again.  I will walk away still believing this is not right.  This is not okay.  This is shit!  I feel that this is an injustice to a really beautiful family.  We were a beautiful family, Adam, and so I cannot understand this moment in which we find ourselves.  
Love and Peace,

Amy

He Said What?!?

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He Said What?!?

We were out mountain biking with some friends and J decided he needed to say something to my girlfriend, E.

J:  Can I give you a compliment?  
E:  Sure.
J:  You might want to know that you’re a chatterbox and talk alot.  
E:  Um.  Thanks.  Not sure that was a compliment.

On the way home, I wanted to clarify exactly what J had meant.

Me:  J, what do you think compliment means?
J:  It means you tell somebody something about themselves that they might not know and they need to know.  
Me:  Ah.  A compliment is actually saying something kind about someone.  
J:  Oops.
Me:  What were you trying to tell E? 
J:  That she talks too much.  I thought she might want to know.  I’m just not used to girls and how much they talk and I thought she should know.  I wasn’t trying to be mean but I wasn’t trying to compliment her either.  I guess I was informing.
Me:  Next time, shoot for the compliment.  

Lucky for me, E is super cool and I love that she’s a “chatterbox”.  


S:  Mom, I kind of like the word dick.  
Me:  Oh yeah, why is that?
S:  It just sounds cool.
Me:  I kind of like that word too.  
S:  If we like it, why can’t we just use it?  It sounds better than penis.  
Me:  People consider it to be vulgar.  It’s simply kinder in our society to limit our use of that word.  
S:  I guess that makes sense.  I just wish penis was vulgar and dick was kind.  


We were taking a family walk to the grocery store and I was really irritated and grouchy and kind of walking fast and angrily in front of the family.  And then G runs up to me and takes my hand…

G:  Mom, are you sad because you’re the only vagina? 

I cracked a smile at that unexpected question.

G:  I mean, if you look at our family there are 5 penises.  Well 6 if you count Decker’s (our dog).  6 penises and 1 vagina.  I’d be sad if I was the only vagina.  Actually you’re the only boobs too.  Wow, that’s sad.  
Me:  I don’t think I’m sad because I’m the only vagina and boobs.  But maybe I am because I was being grouchy at all the chaos and noise you boys (daddy included) make.  Thanks for noticing my sadness, G.  I love you.

Less than 12 hours later, I started my period.  That sent me in to a fit of laughter.  The accuracy of being the sad vagina in the family.


P:  Mom, no offense but your tummy is kind of fat.  
Me:  Oh, P, that hurt my feelings a little bit.  

P reaches over and gives me a big hug and his I’m sorry eyes.

P:  Well, maybe not fat.  It just looks like you’re growing another baby.


This is the boys’ favorite joke right now.  Enjoy.

After I say my line you say Ketchup and Rubber Buns.

Me:  What did you eat for breakfast?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for lunch?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What did you eat for dinner?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.
Me:  What do you do when an old lady passes you on the street?
You:  Ketchup and Rubber Buns.  

Love Knows No Bounds

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Love Knows No Bounds

There are these moments in life when you feel love for another that extends deeper than the love you shared before.  I have been having these moments with my oldest son lately.  Each time an unnameable, unmeasurable kind of love.  One that causes my heart to swell with a fullness, my lips to turn upward in a content smile, and one that provides a knowing that I am right where I belong.  I belong as his mama.  And he belongs as my son.

People often have reasons why adoption might not work for them.  They tell me their reasons as though they are absolute truths when really they are unknowns, fears, stories.  I’ve heard,

Adoption is not an option because there’s no way I could love a child as deeply as I love my biological children.

Blood is thicker than water and that applies to the children you raise as well.  I’ll automatically gravitate toward the kids I birth(ed).  

I need a mini-me.  

I have a need to pass on my genetics.  

Adoption doesn’t feel natural.  

What if I can’t love a child that does not bear resemblance to me or my husband?  What if I can’t love someone I did not make?  That I did not grow?  

I hear that adopted children are just a mess of problems.  You never know what you’re really getting when you adopt.

Let me shout it from my pedestal, my soapbox, my rooftop…I LOVE MY ADOPTED BOYS AS MUCH AS I LOVE MY BIO BOYS!!!!!  In fact, in some ways it’s easier to love them.  Their character flaws are not a mirror of my own.  Their physical features and medical issues not something I criticize in myself or passed on genetically to them.  It’s in some ways easier to see them as the individuals they are.  Separate from me.

My heart has been full with love for my oldest lately.  I’ve had remembrances of his arrival into our decade long coupledom. For a few months, he was simply a dream.  An idea.  A possibility of love extended.  And then he became a stack of papers, phone calls, interviews, background checks until eventually he became a face and a name proudly displayed on the front of our fridge.  A few thousand miles later he became the little boy with the laugh that melted me in to a pile of mushy, gushy pure, unadulterated love.  A laugh that confirmed I was meant to be his mother from the moment of his conception.  That he had called me from the womb of his sacrificial birthmom and drew me across the world to find him.  Patiently sitting out the days in that Kazakh orphanage until I heard his call and answered.  Like the story of the red thread, our thread was connected and will forever remain connected.

That little boy continues to draw me in.  Each time I learn a little more about him, his struggles, his insecurities, his passions, his longings, his miseries and his triumphs, I find that I fall deeper in love.  My heart expands even more, filling my chest with such spaciousness.  It’s in these moments that I see him.  And upon seeing him, I know my love for him is pure, genuine, unwavering, and as deep as any mother’s love is for her blood born bio children.

  • I see him when after years of struggling he gets a dyslexia and SPD diagnosis and we celebrate together.  We don’t grieve. We celebrate because this diagnosis confirms what he’s believed (but questioned) all along.  He is not dumb.  He is just challenged.
  • I see him when we send positive energy to his birthmom on his birthday because “she probably thinks about me every year on this day, Mom.”  I bet she thinks about him far more often than his birthday but that’s when he really thinks about her.
  • I see him when he cares for his chicken.  He is a chicken whisperer.
  • I see him when he’s passionately being creative behind the lens of my camera.
  • I see him when he doesn’t care about winning races.  I see his heart when a boy crashes his bike and J stops 10 yards from the finish line to help the boy up and fixes the boy’s chain.
  • I see him when I am reminded by a book chapter Adam wrote about J helping us make a decision to adopt G.  He told us, “Every kid needs a home.  We should be that home for G.”  Those moments when he simply sees clearer than I do.
  • I see him when he gets in nature and can identify every bird of prey and tell you details about the shifting of their wings to make flight and hunting more efficient.
  • I see him when he measures his feet and hands against my own and swells with pride when he realizes that we are officially equal in foot and hand size.  And then he takes over my running shoes.
  • I see him when he hides in a pair of pants every day for fear of being teased about a wart on his leg.
  • I see him when he cries because he feels so different.  When he notices his skin color and brown eyes amidst a sea of blue eyed caucasians.
  • I see him when he leans against me just to find grounding in that chaotic SPD mind of his.
  • I see him when he chooses meditation and reflection as a way to find his center.  When he gives his daddy advice that is on par with the wisdom of any guru or enlightened being.
  • I see him when he holds a burial and funeral for a bird that “died alone” in a winter’s snow.
  • I see him when we cheer for Team Astana in the Tour de France because Astana feels a bit like home.
  • I see him when we are camping and he is the first to run up and help our neighbor with an issue she is having and then he shakes her hand and introduces himself.
  • I see him when he laughs hysterically at a comic book he is silently reading. It’s that same laugh I heard in a Kazakh orphanage that taught my heart a mother’s love.
  • I see him when we watch a National Geographic documentary together about using eagles to hunt and he grows taller as he connects with the Kazakh/Mongolian men in the film.  As a family we are instantly connected to his culture and we all see him a little clearer with that connection.
  • I see him after we have watched that documentary and all of us are laughing at the fact that birds of prey and archery
    (two of his passions) might actually be in his blood.
  • I see him when I tuck him in at night and still see remnants of those super chubby baby cheeks that begged to be squeezed and kissed.
  • I see him when I apply for a job as an adoption outreach coordinator and I realize that adoption is my passion.  He has put the inspiration in me.  He’s responsible for that passion.
  • I see him when I find myself advocating for every single child to have a home.  When I encourage people to explore adoption as a very viable option for expanding their families (and hearts).
  • I see him every time I choose to see.  He’s always there, as loving and open as that very first moment.

He did not inherit my genetic code.  He in no way looks like me.  He did arrive with his own set of “problems”.  And, you know what, those truths are exactly what make our relationship beautiful.  What makes him beautiful.    Blood type, skin color, nationality, genetic predisposition, DNA, origin, womb, egg, sperm, none of these are measures for the basic human right of giving and receiving love.  When I see J, I only see love.  My love.  His love.  A love that knows no bounds.

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10 Reasons Having Four Boys Is Just Plain Crazy

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*Now that summer is in full swing and I’ve had loads of time to be with the boys, it seemed fitting to repost this entry. Enjoy!!!

ThinkingWithVitality

My sister recently sent me a blog post by Ninja Mom (queen of funny moms) about why having four kids is a really bad idea.  Go over and check it out, especially if you are even slightly (and insanely)IMG_1127 considering adding a fourth to your brood.  A little dose of reality from someone who has been there, done that seems to separate the smart ones from the dumb ones.  I’m one of the dumb ones! But I’m here to save you from the same lot in life that I have chosen.  I’m here to warn you why you should not only avoid (if you have the option) having four children but having four children of the male variety.

I’m not quite certain whose bright idea it was to have four kids.  Certainly we must’ve been drunk.  And I sure as hell don’t know why the gender selector of the…

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He Said What?!?

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The boys and I are visiting Tucson.  It’s the first time they’ve been back here since we moved almost 2 years ago.  Needless to say, there have been lots of conversations and these are some of the more humorous ones.

As the plane was landing in Tucson, I could hear people laughing in the row in front of two of my boys so I tuned in to what my boys were saying to cause this laughter.

S (age 8):  Ewwwww….Tucson is so ugly.  It’s just brown.  
G (age 7):  It is ugly.  Yuck.  I don’t remember it being so ugly.
S:  Yeah, why does any one want to live in a land full of this much dirt.  Tucson is a dirt city.
G:  And, it looks like it is hot.  Brown hotness.  Yuck

 

On the car ride from the airport to Grandma’s house:

J (age 11):  Can you take us to see our first home?
P (age 8):  I’m pretty sure I’m looking at my first home.  I’m pretty sure my first home was Mama.  

 

Heard in the back row as I was driving:

G’ma:  When I’m old I might do that.
S: But you’re already old!

 

The boys and I were watching Ace Ventura when a sex scene came on the screen:

Boys:  What are they doing?
Me:  They’re having sex.
Boys:  Really?!!!?  
Tons of giggles and yucks
G (age 7): G stands up frustrated, pulls down his pants and points to his erect penis:
This is what  happens to me every time someone talks about sex or I see it!  
Me:  That’s normal, G, and it’ll probably happen for the rest of your life.  
G:  Grunts and goes back to watching the movie.  

My youngest has an issue with dogs wanting to dominate him.  He makes friends with dogs and then suddenly they are humping him.  Some are even aggressive and pull him down to the ground from a standing position.  I swear he must have some canine pheromones running through his system or something.  As usual, G made friends with my brother’s dog and a few days later she was constantly harassing him by humping him.

G:  Mocha, you want to have sex with me so bad.  (With sad resignation in his voice) Fine, I’ll just have sex with you.