Monday, September 21, 2015

Significant Milestones

I love the programs on my phone and Facebook that show the memories of the last few years as documented through my pictures and posts on Facebook. I continue to be amazed at how many times significant events will happen on the same days spread over the years.

Today is one of the most significant days in my life as it marks the 11th anniversary of adopting Grace. I wish the video in my mind of that day could be shared. Grace was so cute and young and carrying this huge stuffed dog and I was so confident I knew what I was doing that I'm sure that anyone watching was quite amused. But every single day I am reminded how grateful I am that this day occurred.

For us, today will also mark a significant day for both girls. They drove to school on their own after they dropped me off at work. And then they came back to get me. For me, this is huge.

I'm not sure I can explain just how significant this is, but when you adopt older kids, you have missed so many developmental moments. You weren't there for all those years that most new parents document daily. If I try to enumerate them all, I know I will start crying, so I look past that and thankful for the years I have. And I try to remember carefully significant steps of their becoming adults.

Anyway, both girls were extremely independent when I adopted them. They led us through parts of China I am pretty sure they had never seen, but were convinced they knew better than we did. They were used to doing things on their own and taking care of themselves. Eventually though that changed and they were comfortable with me taking charge and leading the way.

I got used to that. I liked being the one driving, picking up, dropping off. I liked knowing where they were and how they got there and that they would get home safely no matter how far they roamed. But of course that had to change. When it was time, they went to drivers training school and while we waited a little longer than we had to, they both passed their driving test. The goal during their junior year was to have them drive with me in the car and get used to doing the drive. There just never seemed to be the right time or day. In fact the whole year passed without that happening.

So getting ready for their senior year, I knew I had to let go, more, although it hasn't been easy. I paid for them a reserved parking space but again, there just didn't seem to be the right time or day to let them do that, until Saturday. Grace, being very careful with how she approached it, suggested that she could drive herself to school on Saturday for the International Festival. OK. Ugh. Right. Why is being the parent so hard and why can't they stay in middle school? When did this happen? And why do I always have to be the adult?

I hate to admit, but this was one of the hardest things I've done, letting go. She made it fine in spite of some rain and not having her co-pilot, Annabel, who was at work. I felt like this was not a true test though because the route to their school has a lot of morning and afternoon commuters and not so much on the weekends.

Today though, my boss had scheduled a meeting at the exact time I needed to be there to pick them up. I got encouragement from another mom who told me that sometimes it takes something like this to force us to make that leap and so I held my breath and went for it.

OK, we all survived and so on this anniversary of our interdependence from the date of adoption to a day of independence, for both, this will always be an important day for me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The best way to become a mom

If you are thinking of having kids, let me offer you a bit of advice - do it the way I did.

When I adopted Grace, I don't think I knew anyone else who had adopted an older child. There was no Facebook then. There was no support groups. If there were others who had adopted older children, I did not know them and did not have a way to talk to them, So I went off, with no experience being a mom, no experience speaking the language, and completely unprepared except the children's shampoo my mom bought so I would quit fretting about it. I did not have kid sized glasses, plates, bowls, much less food, or even her room set up, which my niece, Marcie took care of.

And we came home and I did kind of like I do in a batting cage, swinging and swinging and every now and then making that connection and doing something right.

I don't think I ever stopped and wondered what others thought about the whole situation, but I did have an opportunity recently to be told that some thought I was nuts.

So if people thought I was nuts, the bar was set pretty low about how well the whole situation would turn out. In fact, I think even still people are genuinely surprised that we are making it, that we speak to each other, enjoy being together, there's no record of CPS investigating my lack of ability as a parent, none of that.

Now if I had started out being a mom by being pregnant, oh my goodness, I feel so sorry for expectant women. Everyone has a horror story, EVERYONE! For nine months you are asked the same questions by each person you see. And that's before you even deliver!

From the time the baby arrives, there is a constant comparison - your baby to every other baby int he world anywhere close to that age.

But it doesn't end with those people you see. Now these new moms have so many other ways to see their inadequacies through all sorts of social media, there's Facebook, Instagram, and the worst, Pinterest! If you don't breastfeed, make homemade baby food, and have your child reading by their first birthday, you are a failure! Oh the pressure these people are put through!

But when no one else has done something similar, there's not nearly the opportunity to compare. I mean how would you know that I wasn't doing it right? Right?

So if you are considering being a mom, you might want to weigh your options!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

To Gillian

There are some memories that you hope will never fade. One of these for me happened within probably the first year after Grace was home, so Grace was probably 7, Gillian 8, and Darcey 5.

Grace, Gillian, and Darcey would all stay at mom and dad's after school in the afternoons. At that time, Jana and her girls lived next door to mom and dad, so after they were through with homework, they would go there to play.

I came in the front door, finding Darcey in the living room, reading. In the next room, the dining room, sat Gillian, who was also reading.

"Where's Grace?" was my question. Darcey like to call Grace, "my girl", telling me, "My girl was in the toy room." In the toy room, I found Grace, sitting there reading.

I'm sure I looked puzzled, that instead of all 3 playing together as they usually did, they were each in separate rooms, reading.

I came back through and asked Gillian what was going on.

She calmly explained, "We needed a time out" so she had sent each child to a separate room with the command to spend their time reading.

I love this because it is so typical Gillian.

Gillian was the child who was prayed for by people all over the world. Everyone joined in prayers for Jana to have the child she wanted so badly and we all rejoiced when she arrived.

She quickly became one of a kind with a very vivid imagination, which included a husband, a baseball team, and a number of other characters in her life until she was finally blessed with a little sister, to share these experiences with.

Gillian assumed her role as big sister very seriously and when asked if she would help me, help Grace transition to her new life, she jumped at that opportunity.

Gillian, Darcey, and Grace would plan elaborate plays, musicals, and other entertainment for us for all holidays and occasions.

She excelled in all classes at school and loved participating in Destination Imagination, which just fueled her imagination.

She still loves a party and a reason to celebrate.

Today is a special day to celebrate. Today she begins her college career at her first and only choice of schools - Texas A & M.

I know she will take her love of life, her strong academic skills, and in the end we will have lots more to celebrate.

I love you Gillian and so proud of you.