The tapestry of the life of a medically complex family

Archive for the ‘Momma making’ Category

How it is Done

The number one question I get from others: “How do you do it?” If you want to know the specifics, you can read about one of the typical days here. But most people are really asking “How do you get ALL of it done? How do you keep going, day in & day out? Where do you get the strength to get up each morning and ‘have at it’?”

My standard short answer is: I just DO. And sometimes not very well… but when it’s a person who really cares, who may have the same things they need to do every day, who might be feeling like they cannot keep on “doing”, I try to give it more thought. Here’s how I think I get through each day:

I am aware of the “big picture” but I work to not get bogged down by the overwhelming list of things, start to “finish”, of every day. I try not to look at everything ahead all of the time- if I do it will quickly overwhelm me. I try to keep really focused on getting the next thing done. I try to remember I am only one person, I can do one thing at a time. I am bad at cutting myself some slack but I have worked to get better at it.

Probably, most importantly, I try to spend part of every day ‘being present’ – noticing what my child or children are doing. Remembering that they have each other for the future. Really watching & experiencing the wonders they really are- looking at how far they have come, the love they show for each other, caring for others. It helps to remind me that, altho I sometimes have a bad day/ horrible parenting moment, my kids really seem pretty ok- sometimes bratty or crazy in their own rite- but then they show me who we really are as a family. Sometimes, when I ready to leave for the grocery store and the twins hug me & say I love you, they call for their sister who they give the same. Something about your 4yo blowing kisses to her sibs to say goodbye, waving & yelling “I LOOOOOVE YOU!” back thru the door- it just lifts you. Days are harder when I don’t have the time to ‘notice’- and sometimes there are lots of those. There is a great blog post about parenting. It’s not exactly about my experiences, but it’s a good reminder to all parents- a quick summary is that we will look back & be happy to have parented, even if not every moment going through feels all that wonderful. (Huffington has that post here)

I always close EVERY day singing “Love You Forever”, 1-to-1 with each kid. And they sing back in their own way- they actually have become good at it. Its my way of telling them, no matter what, at the end of the day, you are the love in my heart- and you always will be.

And whenever I need a reminder of what it’s all about, why it is that I do what I do, I only need look here:

Those I Love

It’s been hard to keep up with blog prompts for this month of blogging every day! Today they want to know who I love- well, I’ve already written so much about them I can’t imagine you’d be very surprised. My kids are the most wonderful people to ever happen to me.  :) My oldest  is a terrific emerging adult. He’s back in college and working his way into a routine with it. He still makes me smile whenever he Skypes his younger brother & sisters – chatting with them about nothing, the objects they can see in the room behind him or answering all their young sib questions.

The twins are doing wonderfully well. Health is still an area of challenge but I’m able to keep these loves of mine home with the help of some terrific home nurses. Growth is a slow & lengthy uphill battle, but they are happy & developing. Can’t wait for their sixth birthday in 2 weeks!

My youngest is a love all her own. She is compassionate & caring and my companion on all errand runs. She adds a level of noise and energy to the playroom. I love her laugh and smile. My kids warm my heart every day.

Cool!

The evaporative cooling vests turned out to be amazing. “Activated” with some cool water, they kept Tav & Adrien cool enough to ride their balance bikes on the bike path for 20 minutes before resting- in 85 degree F heat. SO happy we have a tool to help with this. The fearsome 3some had a GREAT time.

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Children who wait

Have YOU ever thought about adoption from foster care? It isn’t always easy but I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering adoption. There are challenges with the children, the workers, the process and within our own lives. BUT it is the single most rewarding thing you can do if it is in your heart to become a parent through adoption.

The US Department of Health and Human Services compiles statistics on foster care and foster adoption for every calendar year. Last year’s data indicates that 115,000 children were waiting in foster care to be adopted as of the last day of Fiscal Year 2009  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm . Although 57,000 children were adopted during FY 2009, nearly TWICE that many live in a non-permanent placement awaiting placement with their forever Mom and Dad.

Children who grow up in foster care suffer repeated upheaval of their home-base & other significant losses. When these children age out of foster care, even if they are dedicated enough to go to college, rarely have a place to call home for Thanksgiving break or a winter holiday. Is it any wonder that the statistics show that greater than 3/4 of them “fail” in future life challenges- going to prison or dying young? Recently,  former foster children have overtaken war veterans as the single largest population in homeless shelters in the State of California.

If it is in your heart to foster a child, or to pursue adoption through foster care, please go to http://www.adoptuskids.org and click on the link to find information on foster-adoption in your State. “You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent.”

Celebrating Motherhood 2011

The role of ‘Mother’ needs to be better valued in our society.  Moms: Biological, Foster, Adoptive, Step… I feel like the roles of these women are best defined as ONE woman: MOTHER. Throughout my life as a Mom, I have held most of these roles. As of this week, I am Mom to an ADULT child- wow, a world changing event to me: SUCCESS.

I guess I don’t define “Mom” via legal or physical definitions. I define Mom by emotional definition. Mom is a woman who loves a child & cares for a child – to the best of their ability. It is their work to promote the success of that child in his/her future. People Mom kids in their neighborhoods, classrooms, or homes. It is a role, not a legal position. You don’t become a mother via biology- giving birth does not make you one, as not having given birth doesn’t exclude you. You become “Mother” by what you feel about and do for a child.

Happy Mother’s Day to those who “Mom”. You are appreciated.

Life Paradox

When I was younger I was given a book by a friend called “Do It Anyway” by Kent Keith. In it he details the Paradoxical Commandments; the first two are as follows:

“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.”

“If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.”

I live my life by many of the principles he described within his book and am reminded almost daily of these first two- today was no exception. I find that no matter how well people purport knowing me, they certainly never seem to get why I have adopted from foster care, and why I care to again. They misunderstand my relationship to my children and cannot fathom why I do what I do.

I love my children. People who regularly read my blog may understand this, but some people do not understand loving a child who was not grown within you. I cannot explain it to those who do not understand; I can only say that I feel the same love & protectiveness for all my children, biological and adopted. I have always known I wanted to mother multiple children and that some of these children would be adopted.

As a mother of children with complex medical needs, there are challenges- daily – but these do not diminish how I feel about my children. They are not the only events in my children’s lives, but they are often what I write about. WHY is that? Because I tend to have more to write about things which challenge, things which are unsettled, things to which I need give more thought. In no way does this mean that all there is in our lives is challenge.  It may be that you read about every challenge we have- and I write only twice or so weekly. So much of my time is spent living and enjoying that I don’t get a chance to write more often.

To get back to where I began, nearly every day we come into contact with someone who represents some part of the first portion of Paradox 1 “People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered” – sometimes that person is even US!  But we keep on. We continue to reach out, develop friendships, take risk, love. Thankfully it is often worth the effort to us- because the feeling or support is returned. Even when it is not, it is worth the effort, because without the risk, there would be no return.

The second Paradox, describes the way I live every aspect of my life: “If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.” It is the paradox of my career path as well as my family life. There will be those who judge whatever I do. People will think I try to gain attention or acclaim, or have some other self-serving motive, but I will continue to “Do good anyway”.

I parent my children because they are my children. The good that I do serves no purpose other than its needing to be done- for my children, for their future, for my own fulfillment. It is my own purpose. Judge away: it will not change me. I will continue to “Do good anyway“.

To read the complete list of Paradoxical Commandments, please go to Dr. Kent M. Keith’s website at:      http://www.paradoxicalcommandments.com/

Names

As friends have had babies, or gotten pregnant and are expecting, the topic of naming comes up. I find it fascinating the way people name their children- selecting for sound, flow, family history or meaning… People name their children for times of day, times of year, the weather of the day- all sorts of things go into naming kids across my friends & family.

My children all bear names to honor family members who have come before them. My eldest, Liam, is named for my mother’s father William. He was an engineer and a lover of music. My most fond memories are sitting next to him on the bench of his electric organ while he played complex melodies for all of us gathered in my grandparents’ living room. I remember the smells, the warmth… All of that went into naming ‘Liam’ as well as the meaning of the name, a good meaning for an eldest: ‘protector’. His middle name was chosen from a novel in which the hero’s name was ‘Conor’, meaning ‘lover of hounds’, and dogs are his favorite animal so it seems a great choice there too.

My children who have joined my family through adoption have names that bear meaning, as well as honor both their adoptive & birth families. My twins have names that share initials with my parents, ARK for my mother and TJK for my father. ‘Adrien’ arrived with the same first name, meaning ‘dark hair, dark eyes’ in Irish naming. I left her birth name with her and gave her ‘Rosa’ as a middle name to serve as a reminder of a strong African American female, Rosa Parks, who did not allow discrimination and unreasonable limitations define her life. This is a way of life I hope my daughter will be strong enough to emulate. ‘Tavish’ means Thomas, which was my Dad’s name, and ‘twin’ is its definition. ‘Joseph’ was part of his birth name and means ‘god will increase’ so I left it in his name to symbolize my hope for his unknown future. It seems he has risen to the name- being far more capable now than was anticipated at his arrival. I wanted their names to cement their relationship with my family as well as honor their heritage and beginnings.

When Keva was arriving, it was harder to come to a name. She was a beautiful baby and I worked hard to come up with a fitting name. ‘Keva’ is a variation of the Irish ‘Caoimhe’ [same pronunciation], meaning ‘beautiful’. Her middle name she shares with her biological great-grandmother, ‘Catherine’ [pure]. Her great-grandmother has adopted her oldest sisters and raises them nearby. We see them regularly. This woman is raising her third generation of family after raising the kids’ biol. mo., aunts & uncles when their mother died. She too is a strong and healthy role model for her great-grandchildren.

As I anticipate another arrival, I think of names which align with these above. I am working on names that share initials of my father’s sister, or my own sister. Naming will be either initials EPK or JAK. Names with positive messages and meaning are needed, to support this new one as she struggles to thrive here with her siblings in the future. OK all: you have your assignment. First name, middle name combinations, initials either ‘E.P.’ or ‘J.A.’  Thanks for your contributions- & kind words of support!

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