February 12, 2014

Sitting In The Present

*this post is sponsored by the ad council.  All opinions are my own. 

In the days of Pinterest, us moms have this notion that we have got to have our stuff together.  We need to pack stuff like hummus in our kindergartners lunch boxes in recyclable containers and modge podge personalized crafts to put in the lunch box so that our kids know we love them... You know what?  PB&J works just as well.  But, let's face it, PB&J is not Pinterest worthy.

Here's the thing, though.  Pinterest (or any other social media) is NOT real life.  It's the made up life that we conjure when we have too much time on our hands (really, does anyone have too much time on their hands these days?)

I think that this notion of perfection scares most would be adoptive parents just as fast as anything.  We have bought in to this lie that in order to parent kids who have been through trauma and loss and who might not speak our language or who might have special needs or who might be older than tiny infants, that we have to be perfect.  That somehow we must carry these necessary special skills in our guts and goodness and perfection must radiate out of our pores.  I am just as guilty as anyone as buying in to the lie.

For me, the perfection lie crept into my brain with our first foster placement last summer.  I was determined that I was going to show this girl what being in a functional family felt like.  However, in trying to make life so perfect for her, we did her a massive disservice.  I set the bar so high that it was not sustainable.  It's like doing the Atkins diet.  At first, you are killing it.  Who needs carbs?  And then a few weeks or months in you get to the point that you'd actually kill someone for a potato and a roll.  My first foster care journey was very much like that.  I played June Cleaver to the tune that I should have won and Oscar. But about 6 weeks into it, I could not sustain the facade.  I crashed and burned miserably because as humans, we are not meant to fire on all cylinders all the time.

Not to mention, that when this child went back home, she would not be going back into a home where people were perfect.  In many ways, spinning my wheels so hard and so fast toward to make our home Camelot, was probably the very worst thing I could have done for her.  You guys, this is so hard.  This is especially hard when you have social workers in and out of your house every single week judging you and checking in on you.  I lived in fear that someone would take away my parent card if they knew that in my real state of parenting that we eat fast food at least three times a week and sometimes I just don't make my kids do their homework because I want them to play outside longer and sometimes I declare bedtime to be an hour early because I am cooked!

For me, this whole perfection lie was something that only came with fostering and adopting.  I didn't feel that kind of monumental pressure with the children that I gave birth to.  But something about being entrusted with someone else's child kicked me into high gear and I believed all the lies that my brain told me about needing to be 100% awesome every minute of the day to make up for lost time.  If you hear nothing else- hear this.  YOU CAN NOT MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME.  IT IS IN THE PAST.  IT IS OUR CHILDREN'S PAST AND WE JUST NEED TO LEARN HOW TO SIT WITH IT.

But here's the kicker.  In life we get so many opportunities to do it over.  When Scarlett joined our family over 6 months ago, I vowed that I would not do what I had done with out foster daughter.  I vowed that I would take on her hurts and just BE with her.  I couldn't parent the hurt out of her. I couldn't parent that ugly parts of her past out of her.  I couldn't parent the fear out of her.  What I could do is just sit with her.  I could listen.  In listening, I learned that the very best thing I could do for my child is just to be present with her and help her feel what she needs to feel to try to make sense of things.  She didn't expect me to fix them (which is hard for me because I'm a fixer).  She just wanted acknowledgement.  She just wanted to hear, "I'm sorry that happened to you."  And then she'd just want me near.  And that?  That takes no skills.  No perfection.  It just takes patience and love and a willingness to wear someone's hurt like a blanket so they know they are not alone.  Eventually, I'm finding that that blanket gets less and less heavy as we all learn to carry it together.

It's not a clean house, or homemade dinners, or being able to talk through every single interaction you have with your child.  It's just being present.  In such a distracted society, being present is difficult, but not impossible.  I find that we make so much progress in our house when I can just be still and be present and just listen. (This is still a massively hard skill for me.)  Our kids from difficult pasts just want to be heard.  They want to know that their voice matters.

I think back across the generations of my family.  I think back to having a teen mom myself.  I think that as an adult, I look at my mom and realized that she did the best that she could.  Really, that's all that I want for my kids- to look back and see that I did the best that I could.  Not the best.  But the best that I could.  Because really, sometimes the best that we can do is just mediocre and that's okay.  I screw this whole parenting thing up daily and yet somehow my kids are still madly in love with me.  (Truly, I can't figure it out.  It must be all the therapy.  Whatever.)  It's life's most awesome, wonderful, amazing mystery.

If the notion of needing to be perfect is holding you back from really considering adoption, then truly examine yourself.   Broken vases don't need a complete remodel and refiring, sometimes they just need superglue.  Just like kids with hurts don't need perfect parents.  They just need willing ones who are ready to meet them where they are. Yes, it's difficult.  Yes, there are days when you don't want to do the hard stuff.  Yes, there are days when the tasks at hand and the therapy appointments seem overwhelming. (Remember how I once said if I ever wrote a book I'd title it 'The first year of adoption is going to suck and first grade homework will make me an alcoholic?)  It's real life and real life is messy.  But there is so much beauty in the messy.  Messy is where the growth is.

My favorite times with my newest daughter are the ones where we are just sitting on the couch and she tells me stories.  Being trusted with those stories from her past are such an honor.  The key is being present- the other stuff is just fluff.  Meeting her right where she is (not where she was six months ago or where I hope to be with her a year from now) is all she wants.  It doesn't take perfection to sit in the present.  

Right now, AdoptUSKids is running a campaign called "You don't need to be perfect to be the perfect parent."  There are currently 102,000 children available for adoption who are looking for imperfect people to be their perfect parents.  For more information, visit www.adoptuskids.org.

This post is sponsored by AdoptUsKids.

February 01, 2014

Catching Up

We've been up to an insane amount of "stuff" these last few months.  Not to mention that we got in some serious bonding time (AKA too much togetherness) during Snowpacolypse 2014.  There were a few times when I got the call about school being called off...again... and a little tear would trickle down my face.  Once I may have thought about dropping them off at school anyway just to see what would happen.  Luckily, we all survived.  But the pictorial rundown of the last few months of pictures are pretty much only taken in pajamas.  One day I put on jeans and the kids said, "Oh my gosh!  What's happening today!?!?!" because we really did go that many days in our pajamas.

Here's a little rundown of all the things we've been doing since the great blog hiatus.

Some of our favorite little Haitian Missionary kids came to visit.  My kids have soooo missed their friends while they were out of the country.

Y'all, I get this look constantly.  I think it is the precursor to the eye roll.  It's a good thing it's not the full on eye roll because those throw me in to a full on rage.  Seriously, redrum.

 Holiday cooking- my mom and Granny

Sadie got glasses.  Now, if she could just loose some teeth so she could get braces her life would be complete.

The bond these two have is crazy.  They have their own language (they speak in these weird squeals and grunts) and roll around on the floor together doing NOTHING for hours.  I'm really not sure how Miles ever functioned without her.

We really didn't do so hot with our Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness. Between the snow and illnesses, we only completed 5 or 6 days.  This is Noah and my Mamaw making Christmas cards for shut-ins.

My father-in-law got married in Florida and we had a little airport honeymoon homecoming party.


We had a lot of dance parties in front of the Christmas tree.  The reason for this is that when the children started to get out of control, I would crank up the music and make them dance it out.  We had approximately 300 of these a day.  Snow days + Christmas Break = disaster.

These two were in the school first grade play together.  Noah busted out a rap about a Christmas tree that would make Snoop Dog proud.  I asked them to pose for a picture together and they acted like it might kill them.  Oil and water, folks.  But they do make a nice picture :-)

This is the slacker moms rendition of a "bird" costume.  She loved it so all was good.  Sometimes Scarlett's beauty just takes my breath away.

Noah went a little crazy with the boa after the play.  

Christmas Kindness.  Miles jumped out in front of people on their way out of the grocery store and spread out his arms wide and said, "Merry Christmas everyone!" Then busted out whatever carol came to mind.  And people opened up their wallets and gave the boy $20 bills like their lives depended on it.  I can guarantee that he single handly raised more money for the salvation army in one hour than that bucket normally made in a day.  

Kamron has one job at Christmas- make the sausage balls.   This year he had helpers.

Pure cuteness.  (And for the record, this NEVER happens, thus making it photo worthy)

Christmas Eve after the kids went to sleep.

New playdoh in their stocking made for hours of fun.  And I'm ever so thankful there is no carpet in our new house!

Noah just can't get enough reading.  Reading clicked for him this year and he is hooked.

The kids got gift cards to paint their own pottery and had so much fun making creations.

We played 15 million games of checkers and Trouble over the break.  I lost 97% of the time.

We hosted all the Terry side of the family for Christmas.  It was a blast with all the guitars and karaoke.  This was during the Johnny Cash jam session.

The puppet master.

Kamron grew up next door to this wonderful lady.  He started cutting her grass when he was a pre-teen.  When we were first married, she would let us come over and work in her yard for extra money when we were flat broke.  We had her over for a day and fed her Oreo cookies, which she said she hadn't had in decades.  It was a great day.

We celebrated Papaw Johnny's birthday.

I got my hair colored super dark.  I left it that way for about a month until I got tired of feeling like a goth, brooding vampire.  Highlights back in.  I always think I want dark hair and get a little dissapointed when it doesn't magically make me look like Princess Kate or Courtney Cox.  Whatevs.

 I went on my annual girls weekend with my besties.  Can't even begin to describe how much these girls mean to me.  I always come home feeling refreshed and normal and sore from laughing so much. 

We totally get matching shirts every year because we are just that silly.

Sadie and Phil.


My favorite tree decked out in all it's snow glory.

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