Somedays

I get so mad at the world. At God. At the agency in Ethiopia. At whoever is around, really.

A few of my boys have issues that were so clear to us even when we picked them up in Ethiopia it angers me that they were never brought up in their reports. Nothing, not a word or a hint to any of it.

It wouldn’t have changed the outcome, we would still have brought these little rays of sunshine home, but it would’ve helped the transition I think. I could’ve gathered the necessary troops and had them prepared for battle upon my little ones gaining their American visas. Instead, years in, we are still playing catch up.

I told Zach today that it would almost be easier if the boys were diagnosed with something. I think for a lot of us in the adoption world people look at us funny when we say, “Well they are different. They’ve been through too much, it changes people.” Or we look like we are making excuses for behavior that is not “normal” for a kid their age. I always feel a little bit crazy saying things like, “I know he looks x age but please understand that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

When I told Tariku’s teacher that he needs to eat every few hours or he’s practically incapable of making good decisions she patted me on the shoulder and shook her head. She made sure he ate every few hours but I couldn’t help but feel like I looked slightly off my rocker (perhaps I was projecting, the teacher was actually fabulous).

When I say I think it would be easier if they were diagnosed with something please don’t misunderstand…I know having children diagnosed with anything is many things but rarely easy. I just meant that if there’s no diagnosis, if there’s nothing we can point to and say, “My kid has this, please treat them delicately” then we end up feeling really overwhelmed and lonely.

My precious Bean is struggling a bit at camp. For a kid who is developmentally on target in a lot of ways, he struggles in social settings. If a child picks a different “swim buddy” over him he automatically assumes it’s because he’s not loved. If a counselor tries to redirect a misbehavior (which that counselor has every right to do!) he assumes-and will tell you-that it’s because he/she doesn’t like him. If he trips on accident, he assumes people are laughing at him. If he is overwhelmed-he shuts down, if he is over stimulated-he shuts down. Though camp is rife with all of these situations, I really believe it’s a safe place for him to grow and learn new and better ways of coping socially with his peers.

And you know what? He was like this in Ethiopia. He never played with anyone while we were there. He never talked to anyone when we were there. We never saw him interact with any child or caregiver during our time there. It was so obvious to us even after a few days, and yet no mention in any of his reports.

I know I’m shifting blame here, I get that. But sometimes I feel so hamstringed in raising kids who have such painful pasts because there isn’t the same kind of support that there is for kids with say, diabetes. There are no “Walks to Cure Trauma”. We parents in the trenches have no color that people would identify with what we’re going through, no slogans for which to paint on signs and march the capital streets.

The closest thing we have is this, blogs, and so here I am.

I get that it doesn’t have anything to do with me, but sometimes I feel like screaming my head off and saying, “Someone help them! Fix it for them!” Because I’ve spent so much of my time as their mommy wishing I could take it from them.

I broke down today because I just don’t understand how we live in a world in which boys like mine feel, even for a second, like they are unloved. That we live in a world that in many ways is full of various ways of connection but can sometimes feel so very isolating.

I don’t know, I’ve never wanted a life for my kids that was easy, I just wish it wasn’t this hard sometimes. I just wish one time I could look up during a moment of stress for my kids and see a look of determination and not fear or shame.

Probably all I’m wanting now is to know I’m not alone because my kids are everything to me. I won’t stop helping them until there are t shirts and walks to help kids like them, if that would actually help.

And I’ll keep relying on all of you to support me and guide me along this often blind path of raising these truly remarkable children.

Trail Run

Trail Run

Living in Iowa I am used to the varying temperatures daily-especially certain times of the year. Saturday was bitter cold (and yay! each kid had soccer games!) hovering somewhere around 35 when you factored in wind but Sunday was beautiful-closer to 70s.

Though I’ve never been a long distance runner (my collegiate track coach tried so hard, bless his heart, to push me into the 400-800 meter range but I was most comfortable in the 100-200 meter range) I do enjoy a good trail run from time to time. It just brings out the kid in me when I have to jump over puddles or logs.

After lunch on Sunday I asked the kids if anyone wanted to join me on my run and all 5 jumped at the chance. Admittedly I was kind of looking forward to a solo jog to find that meditative quality that can sometimes come but I’ve never been able to resist some QT with the kids and so off we went.

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At church that morning our pastor talked to us about how God is in every moment, yes, but that in particular he’s in this moment.  That our past is often clouded in shame and our future is often draped in fear but in this moment, the one right. now. we can decide to be in it. To invest fully in this breath, and then the next one and then the next. Not remaining imprisoned by the past or captive of the future just here and now.

I don’t know what it was about that run but I was doing it. And it was awesome.

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Watching the big 3 take off at a pretty quick pace and hold it the whole time reminded me how youth is wasted on the young (;)) what I wouldn’t give to hold that clip for 30 full minutes!

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Dailah enjoyed running with her arms open wide, lifted to the sun. It looked like 30 minutes of gratitude, it was beautiful.

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When I was talking to Bean’s Kindergarten teacher she said, “Bean exemplifies perseverance. No one perseveres like Bean does.” For kids like Bean who couldn’t walk before he was 3-years-old, perseverance is the only way they know how to live. I’ve found people go one of two ways when they’ve been dealt a hand like Bean has-they either give up or they fight like hell. My Bean is a fighter. I’ll never know what it’s like to run for 30 minutes on feet that have been operated on 3 times and still give me pain daily but I’ll know what it’s like to witness perseverance because I get to see it in my youngest every day.

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Days like today-post 9/11, Newtown and Boston I am infinitely aware of how lucky I am to hold my 5 babes in my arms. To be able to run! And laugh! And see the first signs of spring! I’m able to really breathe in the now because the now just feels so. damn. good.

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Hoops

The 3 bigs had their final basketball games this weekend, culminating in a single elimination tournament on Saturday. It has been so incredibly fun watching them fall in love with a sport both Zach and I played throughout our entire lives. It’s been so much fun going to the court at camp or at some of our local Y’s as a family and playing a quick game. Teaching them some of the basics has been a real pleasure when they learn the “tricks” to being a good defender (my specialty) and offender (Zach’s specialty).

I’ve said it before, but I love everything sports teaches kids. I love that it teaches time management (you need to figure out how to get homework done before practice!), teamwork, loyalty and that exercise can be fun. I also know from experience that some of their lifelong friends will come from their athletic teams (or band/choir, etc).

A bit surreal to be a mom to kids big enough to actually make plays, dribble between their legs and chest bump their brothers when one scores. Such joy all around.

Though Tariku is the youngest on every team he plays (he always plays up to Trysten’s age-2 years his senior) it makes sense because he is so incredibly athletically gifted. And he flippin’ loves every minute.

Tomas we call our “offensive lineman”. Not a lot of finesse but what he lacks in grace he makes up for in sheer determined effort. If Tomas is on the court no one else will get the rebound.

Trysten is hot and cold depending on the day and time. This was the first season I saw real potential in him as before he’s gone the more laid back approach. Perhaps there is a little of us in that one after all. 😉

I really don’t care if they are good or bad, sit the bench or play. I don’t care if they end up playing sports or get involved in acting or music, I’m always going to be the woman yelling a little too loud and getting a bit choked up when they look at me in a moment of triumph.

Oh, and they took home 1st place, which was just the cherry on top. 🙂

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