Well I Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Ethiopia. I can’t do it.

Last night I was up until 12:30am (a huge feat for someone who wrestles to make it until 10 most nights) just thinking about things. I had just read an article about Doctors Without Borders setting up a site in Tariku’s hometown in Ethiopia. I was thrilled to hear it but saddened at the same time. If they actually had to set up shop there then things are even worse than I had thought. Check out my friend Rebekah’s post on Plumpy’nut, good reads. (She’s of the “All to Love” fame on the sidebar).

So within about 4 hours I had decided I was a) going to become a doctor just so I could join DWB or b) sell everything in the house on ebay to pay for a trip to Ethiopia to volunteer with someone changing lives over there. After a talk down from my enthusiastic (ahem) husband, I recovered.

It’s interesting, as the commenter from the previous post noted (thanks!), there are MILLIONS of ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Zach asked me why I don’t go volunteer at homeless shelters in the area or battered woman’s shelters. It’s a good question, certainly there are lots of places in our community who could use a gal like me. But I honestly don’t believe in coincidences when it comes to my restlessness over Ethiopia. I do believe God speaks to us all differently and He turns some people on to the local communities need and others to Africa or what have you. But it does get a bit overwhelming to try to do it all. I’ve volunteered for many different organizations, served on a few Board of Directors, what have you. I’ve hammered nails for Habitat, done things like that. But none of that has come close to keeping me up at night like this has. God is not whispering to me about this, he’s smashing me in the face with a 2×4. It would certainly be easier (in some respects) and cheaper to be this passionate about the community but I truly believe in a bigger, worldy community and certainly bringing Tariku home has made Ethiopia our home as well.

I read a great book, “The Irresistable Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. Here’s just a few of my many favorite tidbits.

–“Managing poverty is big business. Ending poverty is revolutionary. Too often, the church has chaplained the corporate global economy, caring for the victims of the systems. As long as we uncritically manage the collateral damage of the market economy, the world can continue to produce victims. But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said during his age of injustice, ‘ We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.'”

–“Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, can also function as outlets that allow us to appease our consciences and still remain a safe distance from the poor.” (This one probably hit a little too close to home if you ask me)

–“I’m convinced that God did not mess up and make too many people and not enough stuff. Poverty was not created by God but by you and me, because we have not learned to love our neighbors as ourselves. Gandhi put it well when he said, ‘There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.'”

–“It is risky, and yet we are people of faith, believing that giving is more contagious than hoarding, that love can convert hatred, light can overcome darkness, grass can pierce concrete.”

–“With new eyes, we can see that our family is both local and global, including but transcending biology, tribe, or nationality, a renewed vision of the kin-dom of God with brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and Iraq, Sudan and Burma, North Philly and Beverly Hills. Any vision short of that is too myopic for Jesus whose own biological family called him crazy for saying things that disrupted traditional family values.”

There really are many more. I try to channel my inner Jesus (she’s tucked WAAAAY down sometimes) in my daily interactions with folks here. I try to be nice to everyone I train or teach, do other things that would just sound silly and miniscule in this blog but things I hope are making a difference nonetheless. It’s the hard stuff. The Ethiopian stuff. The stuff like the fact that I am a world away, that my heart is presently straddling two different nations, that kind of stuff that makes it hard. God has made me very uncomfortable and I know it’s not a coincidence. I have some ideas, all of them making me very uncomfortable but would it be worth it if it weren’t?

I Think…

Tariku reads my blog. That’s the only reason I can think of that he’s done a 180 and has been an absolute gem (for the most part) these last couple of days. This must be love.

I was thinking the other day how completely aware of EVERYTHING I am with him. Today he and Trysten were playing house (they included Dailah and she was doing her best at channeling her inner mom by screaming, “No TT!” and No 2T!” Don’t know where she gets that from) and I just sat back and watched and listened. Tariku was the daddy and Trysten was the son. Here is a quick recap of the story.

Tariku a.k.a. Daddy who sounds a lot like mommy: “No, brother, in time-out. I say no talking. You talk? Then in time out. No cookie. Brother talk, brother no cookie. What do you say, brother?”

Trysten a.k.a Brother who sounds a lot like an Ethiopian boy learning English: “I sorry, daddy.”

Tariku a.k.a Daddy who makes same facial expressions as mommy: “Give me a kiss. What do you say?”

Brother: “I love you.”

Daddy: “Good, go play.”

2 seconds later…

Daddy (slight exaggeration if you want my personal opinion): “NO, BROTHER! IN TIME OUT NOW!”

And on and on it went. I thought it both sad and hilarious that he considers me the-lady-who-puts-me-in-time-out-every-2-seconds. It leads me to what goes through my head all the time.

How’s attachment going? Tariku is doing remarkably well. Though if I’m being honest with myself I know we’re not there yet. He plays at attachment really well. He likes snuggling, hugging and kissing. BUT, he’ll go to pretty much anyone with his love. He’s a loving dude in general. He likes coming to me when he’s hurt but he’ll also go to any of our extended family if they’re around. He tells me he loves me randomly and I find him looking at me with those huge adoring eyes for no particular reasons. There are definitely signs he’s getting there, but I know he’s not there yet.

Just today I was wondering if I’m actually not further along in my attachment to him. In his short 3 years of life he’s had 3 caregivers now. All 3 of them have treated him like family, and it could be argued I’m probably the least favorable to him at this point as the above reenactment suggests. I’ve truly loved him since November 12th of last year. It has only grown since then and every day it gets easier to call him my son and to laugh at his hilarity and give sporadic kisses. It’s kind of heart breaking for me to realize he could just be playing nice because he thinks this is temporary too and one day he’ll kick this lady with insufficient cooking skills and more than sufficient time out spots. I don’t know, just hard for me.

It’s hard to do the attachment thing for me. It’s hard to force that stuff for me. I’m a touchy feely kinda gal so the hugging and kissing and snuggling, that’s a no brainer for me. But the “time ins” and “re dos” and all of that stuff are just…too…foreign to me. I’m used to giving a time out, putting a load in the laundry, adding a few ingredients to the pot, getting reconicilliation kisses and hugs, folding a few clothes and adding last ingredients to the pot. I have been truly tested in this adoption with my inability to focus on doing one thing (i.e. getting my older child to attach to me) at a time. Anyone else struggle with this? I admit my mind strays too quickly to the, “It’s not like he’s going to be 16 and unattached, I can just parent him like the other 2 and it’ll come.” That’s me, that’s the way I think.

But that’s not necessarily true. I really have to get better at this. But just like I commented before, as if mother guilt is not enough, we throw on attaching. Phew. One of my good friends just birthed a baby, cute little girl. I was in the hospital holding her and my friend’s mom says, “Throw out the guilt, Becky.” Because Becky was starting to sound a bit guilty about putting the baby in the hospital nursery to catch up on some much needed zzzzzzs following 4 hours of pushing. If only it were that easy, right?

I think in my case this guilt is pushing me to try on this whole attachment deal and see how it fits. Sometimes guilt is a good motivator. Sometimes, like tonight, it’s why I’m thankful I have a bottle of wine and internet. What kind of night is it for you?

The New Camera and Other Ramblings

My new camera came in. Well actually it’s my second new camera, broke the first one in a few days so the replacement came today. Get excited for some sweet pictures.

I’m back to teaching after 4 weeks off and it hurt so good tonight. I have a headache from all the lactic acid…and pizza rolls… that have accumulated over those weeks.

We had a really great time at the lake this weekend. Lots of pictures to come but suffice it to say it was relaxing and beautiful and perfect and you really can’t ask for more. I had to dump Tariku off the tube for him to get over his fear of fish biting him but it worked and we were all a whole lot happier after he stopped crying at the thought of getting wet. 🙂

He gets his cast off tomorrow only to have to put on a new, shorter one. Owell, it’s progress. They’re hopeful he’ll just be in the short (a bit below his wrist) cast for 2 weeks. The kid sweats like what’s her face on Flashdance so I’m sure there will be a bit of mold and/or mildew under that bright orange cast of his. Owell, what can they expect from a 3-year-old who NEVER stops running or moving or talking?

We’re getting along well here. Trysten told a whopper of a lie today so Zach and I were considering punishments. Zach thought perhaps he should take a day off of camp because one of his best friends since 2 is here this week. I considered the thought of all 3 of them with me, at the doctor’s office, while Tariku gets a saw to his arm and thought that it was more a punishment for me than for Trysten. Afterall, Trysten gets to see Tariku writhe in preterm fear, what more could an uuber competitive brother want? So I think I was convincing enough and we might’ve settled on earlier bed times. Plus, he had to miss Wipeout tonight and I think that’s punishment enough. What a great show.

I think that’s all I know right now. Still no real internet out here. Nothing like various networks of people to drag their feet to make my exile from blogland take even longer. If only I could rule the world…

On that note, I just heard and saw a beetle kamakaze into Zach’s office wall, better get out of here before I catch the West Nile. Peace.

The Olympian

So this is just awesome, and weird, and incredible.

A girl I raced against in high school is heading to Bejing in the 100 hurdles. She has the fastest U.S. time after last night’s qualifying rounds. She’s amazing.

So it’s just kind of weird. We were honestly always within a few hundredths of a second from each other. You can see in the picture, this was the story of our co-existence in high school track. She was a great runner, very natural. Whenever we would be heading to a track meet I’d ask my mom (one of our track coaches) if Roosevelt was going to be there. I hoped they would (because I did love running against her despite her winning record over me) and hoped they wouldn’t (it was a lot more fun to say I won the 100 meter dash).

Those were the days when she ran both the open 100 and the hurdles, and since I didn’t compete in the hurdles I would often tease her about her loving the hurdles because she had no competition in that (which she didn’t, and still doesn’t for the most part obviously). I tell myself I was the reason she stopped doing the open 100…makes sense, right?

Anyway, it was freaking awesome to watch her run on NBC last night. It was a pipe dream for us some 8 years ago and now it’s her reality, now that’s just cool. What was even cooler was I watched an old competitor and cheered her on with my husband, and three kids. Though a part of me wonders if I ever could’ve gotten there, I wouldn’t trade my life right now for all the gold in China.

But I still hold on to the fact that she told me I was the fastest white girl she’s ever seen.

How sweet is this picture? It was on the front page of the Des Moines Register’s Sports Section. Click on it to make it bigger. Yes, I flare my nostrils when I’m running. Whatever it’s cool.

Off to the Lake

I miss you guys out in blog land. I miss hearing from you and throwing my words out in the blog breeze. It sounds like we have hope of getting internet back and running early next week. So after that you can expect to get my nonsensical daily posts. Yippee!

Until then, we’re off to my ‘rents’ lakehouse once again. Zachary gets a few hard earned days off so we are heading there as a family and I’m one smitten kitten.

Couple things about this week:

Trysten and I were snuggling before bed. He asked me if I was ready to give him more brothers and sisters. I asked him how many he wanted. Well, 5 brothers and 5 sister, please. Ok, gulp. He said Doozie should have a sister next, because he likes having a brother. That makes sense. And then he had one special request, “Mom, can we get the rest of them from Ethiopia, not from your belly?” “Why’s that?” I ask. “Because I got scared when you had to go the hospital with Doozie.” So cute. I love that my 5-year-old realizes there are multiple ways we can bring family members into our lives. Good lesson to learn at a young age.

I was having a rough week with Tariku. He wasn’t taking naps and was feisty in the afternoon. Then Trysten would get home from camp and be equally feisty. Sweeet. So last night I decided I needed some perspective and watched Tariku’s lifebook from his time in Ethiopia before me. It was just what I needed. I got to see the sacrifice, the love. It made me realize I was just being a whiny mom and I had literally very little to complain about. Perspective is the best mirror in the world sometimes!

Much love. Talk soon! 🙂