Songbird

It’s been five years.

On this day, five years ago, my heart shattered into a million pieces.

I’d just finished up my workout with a friend, she hugged me as we said our goodbyes, and was so excited for me and the plane ride I was about to take in just a few days. I was giddy with excitement too….the wait had been a long one.

The plane ride I was about to take with my husband and my son was heading to Russia to finally bring home our daughter.

Songbird

I exited the building and crossed the parking lot to my car. And standing at my car was my husband….

{a little back story: we had one car at the time and I had it that day. He was supposed to be at work, where I’d dropped him off earlier that morning….}

This is the part that, when I dwell too long, I can’t hold back the tears. Throughout the past five years, it’s gotten easier to talk about without crying. As long as I don’t think about it too much….but remembering this part? I cry. Hard. SO…I will continue to type through my tears at this part, so bare with me.

I remember just stopping dead in my tracks when I saw him…trying to process that he was there. HOW he was there and WHY he was there? I knew by the look on his face something was wrong. My heart sank as the words came out of his mouth. The words “Songbird is no longer available”. There were other words, but those are the only ones I heard loud and clear.

Everything just stopped. I fell to my knees and began sobbing.

I felt sick. And confused. And my heart utterly in shambles.

My husband had reached out his arm to me as I fell down….and he gently pulled me back up to standing and helped me into the car. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

We had lost our daughter. We had lost our Songbird.

Not a day that goes by, since that day five years ago, I don’t think about her. Even with 3 additions to our family, one through adoption, I will never forget her.

For some reason this year? Coming to mark 5 years since we lost her, I’ve been apprehensive about it. I dread it every year, to be honest, but this year seems different. I’m not really sure what or why, but the sadness has overwhelmed me many times, as the day has come closer and closer on the calendar.

I have struggled greatly over the past 5 years with the questioning of WHY. Why it happened the way it did, why it was let to happen, and how could it have been different.

I’m not really sure I will ever truly have an answer I’m okay with or that will bring complete peace to my heart.

I lost a child. Not in the typical sense like through death, but lost none the less. I will never see her again, and I will never have closure. I never got to say goodbye. I never got to hold her one last time.

Part of my heart will forever be in Russia.

 

 

Once Upon a Crafty Time { a Stocking Story}

stockings

Once upon a time, I used to be known as a creative crafty person. I still fall into the creative category, but I jokingly said when I was pregnant with the twinnies, that they were draining all the craftiness outta me!

And I honestly think they kind of did.

Not that I don’t have a creative moment here and there. I do. And I still create and dream and design and plan out projects, just not like I used to. And most of that creative energy it seems is focused towards the kitchen with baking and cooking, along with taking photos of my kids, writing, and house renovation stuff.  More recently, though, I have been adding in some fun craft time with the littlest ones when the bigs are at school.

In my once upon a crafty person time, I used to sew jammies for my older two kiddos, starting when my oldest was 1 year, EVERY christmas. I loved it. Sometimes they were christmasy, sometimes just something they liked a lot and were interested in like guitars, owls, etc.

Last year was the absolute last year I decided I would do that. Because there are four of them now. And they keep growing, which means new patterns have to be drafted or bought….and well, I no longer have a dedicated sewing and crafting room to myself. So yeah, just no. It became more hassle than fun and I had to start in like October and my kids would surely grow between the time I started and finished them. As much as I once loved making them, I decided it was time to let this tradition go. At least for the time being.

{Even though my oldest STILL wants me to make him some….this year though, he agreed to let me surprise him with actual store bought ones}

I’ve become really good at hunting for awesome things and clicking the “buy now” button when I see a great deal or find an awesome handmade item that would be great. And I am all about supporting small biz and mamas and dads in the handmade community.

With all that being said, this year I did manage to pull out enough craftiness to design and make our new family stockings.

It was time and something I’d been wanting to do for a few years now. Especially for my oldest girl.

You see, our last set of stockings? With the exception of adding two more when we found out the twins were to join us, they had been picked out and bought for a different family.

{stay with me….let me explain}

When I had chosen them, we were still in the adoption process and were literally waiting for the call to go back to Russia and complete the adoption of a child we’d already met and fell in love with. She had been expected to join us before Christmas of that year, so I wanted to have a stocking for her.

Well, Christmas came and went, and we were still waiting. It wasn’t until 5 months later, we’d learn that she was never officially going to join our family.

{You can read more about our adoption story HERE}

So, the next holiday season was approaching, and fearing the same would happen, I couldn’t bring myself to pick out a different stocking. I convinced myself, since it had never been used, that surely it would be OK for our newest family member to use. So we did.

By the time we’d arrived back home on Thanksgiving Day that year, and hunkered down in our little family cocoon….I’d never gotten to picking out a new stocking….so we used what we had.

I didn’t think it’d bother me. And that year we were too in the beginning trenches and post adoption emotions to really think about it, so I packed the stockings away with the rest of the Christmas things that year and didn’t think much about it.

Until…..

The following year when I took the stockings out, I burst into tears. I was caught completely off guard by my emotions. I felt devastate and heart-broken all over again.

{Sidenote: this is something I know will never go away. Loss is loss….I will always miss this child. Always.}

We used those stockings that year, but I could hardly ever look at them. And, honestly, I felt so stupid about being so emotional about it.

The following year I decided I’d make some! Uh…yeah, that was a comical thought. I had itty bitty baby twinfants…..totally didn’t happen. And we’d decided to put the house up early-ish the next year, so we hardly did anything for Christmas decorating that year.

Next year. I was determined to make them!

{I’ll save you a long story there….didn’t happen}

This year, I decided I was going to set out early in the year and get to work on them. I had designed them with each family members personality in mind, searched pinterest for fabrics and ideas. Decided, at one point, I was nuts and should just go and find some that would be perfectly acceptable.

Told my husband I should totally just find a handmade shop and buy them. Oldest overheard and pleaded I make them.

{he really likes mama made things…}

I had found this awesome matryoshka fabric the year before that I’d snatched up and planned to use for Sunshine girl.

This year. I was determined. It was GOING TO HAPPEN.

I really wanted a brand new especially made JUST FOR HER stocking for my Sunshine girl. She deserved it.

SO. FINALLY, I decided on the design, found the fabrics, found an awesome and easy to follow free stocking pattern {found HERE}, ordered fabric and got started.

I did a little chunk here and there like an assembly line.

My goal was to have this accomplished BEFORE Thanksgiving. And I finished BEFORE Halloween!!

{I’m honestly still in shock about it}

When I finished my Sunshine girls, I cried.

{caught off guard by those emotions again….}

I love love LOVE that she has one. JUST FOR HER!

And my kids? The oldest ones anyway, LOVE that they are mama made. I thanked my oldest for encouraging me to make them. I’m really glad I did.

And I love that each year, no matter the crazy, they will always have something handmade from their mama in the form of their stockings.

{the rest of the handmade love will have to come from all the awesome handmade greatness shops out there}

Do you try to add a little handmade into your holiday gift giving?

Where’s Fluffy Mommy?

I mentioned a while back that I signed up for a kickboxing session.

(and how I almost puked)

So, I did something crazy and signed up to KEEP GOING.

(I know. I think I’m crazy too)

They have this thing called “flex friday”, and I remembered when I was taking my oldest to basketball and jokingly said “hey, it’s flex friday! how is this?”, flexing my arm. He looked at me with this look of horror and was all WHAAA?

I said, “man, is it THAT bad?!” (meaning, I’m totally wimpy looking, right?)

He responded, “where’s my comfy mom?!”. I was thinking he’d lost his mind. What ever did he mean?

He said, “mom, you’re STRONG! I like my comfy mom…”

And it hit me. All the effort and work put into being healthy and making healthy choices and wanting to be a better example for my kids….and, honestly, they don’t care.

But not in a bad way. In a good way.

{And I’m no where as near to my personal goals as I’d like to be, but I am getting there. And I will in time, but meanwhile I love how much stronger I’m getting. And that is my main focus}

I know we’ve all heard it before, that being present and joining our kids and entering into their worlds is so important. And it absolutely is! That our kids don’t care what we look like and they just want us to be there with them. And they absolutely don’t care.

They just want us.

My kids love when I ride bikes and go to the park and splash along with them in the water at the pool. They want me to “watch mom!” a bazillion times while they jump in or off or climb or draw a picture. They like it when I take the time to read with them, to color with them, to PLAY and enter their world.

They honestly don’t care what mom “looks like”. They care that mom is there.

It got me to thinking back through my childhood. I don’t remember what my mom looked like. Not in the sense that we are seemingly always wondering ourselves (stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, tanned or not tanned skin, what size our clothing label says….). I remember, before depression took over and my parents emotionally checked out on my sister and I, the times when my mom baked my favorite cake and would go swimming with me. I remember her teaching me tennis and going for jogs and bike rides. And that she had a red swimsuit.

I don’t remember what she looked like. I remember when she entered my world.

When DO we start noticing?

I think, for me, it was when I hit middle school age and learned what a size zero meant and looked like. When I learned that those things apparently matter.

Even then, I don’t think I ever noticed my mom for what size she was or wasn’t. I noticed when she was there.

So, it seems, my oldest notices too. Notices when mom is present. How often we go out on Mother/Son dates and when we get to watch the next season of Doctor Who. Notices when I’m listening and how often I make sure to add in his favorites when I’m meal planning.

Kids definitely notice. But they don’t seem to notice looks like we do.

My oldest daughter notices when I wear new earrings or a different color lipstick. My youngest daughter notices when I change the color on my nails and wants “some too!”. My boys seem to think I’m always pretty and tell me so, even when I’m having a “messy hair don’t care” kinda day. Hearing “mom, you’re awesome” and “HUG!!!” always makes this mama’s heart happy.

Something they all seem to care about the most? Mom being huggable and available.

I find it comical that here I am being concerned about what I look like or how I feel and my children are mostly concerned that mom is still “comfortable”.

I told my oldest, “I am still COMFORTING! And I’m not stopping kickboxing anytime soon”….

But I get it. I understand what he’s saying. And I can still “be comfy” and not necessarily fluffy.

And perhaps us mamas need to start seeing ourselves more like our children do. Not by shape or size or (insert whatever it is here), but by our being present, available and “comfy”. By entering their world and being their person.

It’s amazing how often I think I take for granted the job I have. The absolute importance of being their mama and what that means.

SO, let’s do it mamas (and dads). Through the tired, the late nights, homework assignments, early mornings, spilled coffee, special needs, therapy appointments, tantrums, meltdowns, hugs, kisses, cheering them on, our hearts breaking when they hurt, cooking dinner, packing lunches, sporting/dance/chess club (or whatever it is our kiddos do) events and ALL THE THINGS in between….let’s see us the way they see us….

Being present. Being available. Being comfy.

The Shortest Longest Summer Ever

We’re entering into our second month of school being out and it’s been one of the most challenging summer breaks ever.

And emotional.

The twinnies are super crazy active and into anything and everything and learning new skills (like climbing, moving chairs, stealing crayons from their older sister…), definitely taking things up a notch in the creative parenting department for me…

My oldest girly needs a lot of one on one attention. The past two years, she’s qualified for extended summer schooling for special ed. This year, they decided she is retaining better and “they think she’ll be fine”, so-to-speak. Which, is both YAY! and c r a p.

Yay, because she has made some awesome strides this past year. And had some setbacks, as is typical for her. She’ll progress awesomely in one area, only to regress in the other. Not so yay. But still…Progress!

The c r a p part, because keeping her challenged and the babies entertained is not an easy task. In many ways and areas, they are catching up to her, which definitely is presenting some additional challenges. And typically, so far this summer, M wants to color more than anything else. Which means, the twinnies want to color. Which means me trying to sit at the table and we all color together.

Except, then, M gets anxious, they keep trying to take ALL THE COLORS, and someones paper inevitably gets crinkled and a meltdown by one of the three will occur.

So, I’ve been working on activities and such that the littlest littles can be a part of as well.

Meanwhile…it’s also the last summer before my biggest big goes to middle school. It’s been a pretty big and important task of making sure he simply gets to BE A KID.

I have found this is not always easy. But I’m trying. We’re making sure to get some fun activities for him and hanging out with friends and swimming and just chilling.

And here’s the thing, this summer? I know it’s going to zoom by! In one way, it feels like the longest summer ever in front of me. Yet, here it is July and over a month of the summer break has past and come August, it’s back to getting ready for school and all the middle school stuff that will be happening then.

And I am so not ready. It’s different this time. It feels different and it IS different. Life is changing and growing and relationships adjusting into a new phase. A phase I knew was coming, but wasn’t quite ready to hit. I don’t think a mama ever is truly ready for these changes. We simply have to take them and process them as they come…because there’s no stopping it.

So, I am embracing the chaos that is the everyday of all the kiddos being home and I am learning to let go of a lot and just let things be {except for all the planning it takes to keep some routine for my oldest daughter and prevent the meltdowns…}.

I feel it…the shortest longest summer ever.

Ready

I’m sitting by the glow of the christmas tree one last time…before it’s taken down and all the special ornaments are tucked away until next December. I love this tree. I’ve loved a lot about the slowing down we did this season. Intentionally taking things back to a manageable level. It’s been nice.

But, I also have to be honest….as much as I’d like to say the past couple weeks of Winter Break have been amazing and fabulous and spectacular….

I’d be lying.

I love the idea of having the bigs off for a little bit, the relaxed schedules, no early rising to catch the bus, or pack lunches, or sign off on homework.

But, we also really, really miss the schedule.

We still have to keep things fairly structured with my oldest daughter and, of course, with the babies schedules. Because, lets be honest….no one pays more than the parents when littles schedules get mucked up.

And really, the schedules pretty much went out the window once the twinnies got sick. It’s been like a round the clock party of late…NOT good for the parents.

I love the idea, but I long for the schedules to get back to what they were.

Yet I don’t.

This past year flew by so quickly. I mean, it really, really did.

My oldest will be heading to middle school next year. And I am just SO not ready for that. But…he is.

It took me a while to figure out why I wasn’t quite ready to let go of 2014.

Then I realized, it meant being forced to face that 2015 was going to literally zoom to summer time. And I know it will. Suddenly it will be valentines day, then spring break….

And before I know it, the end of the school year will be approaching faster than I can comprehend it. And with it? 5th grade graduation.

Then the twins second birthdays.

CANNOT even wrap my head around that. I just can’t.

I can literally feel the years slipping through…going faster and faster.

I realized this past Christmas? Was one of EIGHT I have left with my oldest before he heads off to college and beyond.

EIGHT. Seems like a lots of years, but oh how short it truly is when count just 8 Christmases. So many things to do together, so many memories to make.

I want to do so many things with my kiddos, but also not too much. I want to focus on memory making moments, but not so much we crowd out what is truly important….it’s not about HOW MUCH we can fit into the days, but the quality. The enoughs, so-to-speak.

Yes, live life FULL. But also allowing those moments to simply be, be just that. BE together, BE available.

In so many ways I am just not ready for all 2015 has in store for me. Yet, at the same time I am.

::Deep breath::

Exhale….

Let the life changing amazingness begin.

Forever Family

Yesterday we celebrated our 3 year Forever Family Day. Sometimes I call it our “familiversary”, and many refer to it as “gotcha day”.

We call it Forever Family Day, because it is THE day we officially became Sunshine’s forever family.

We celebrate it, as we also celebrate her birthday. And as I type the word “celebrate”, it’s difficult to put into words exactly what that means.

Because for every celebration…each new milestone reached, or difficulty overcome, there is a bittersweet reminder of WHY.

As I was making her very special request of “hot chocolate cupcakes with sprinkles”, I had time to reflect about that day three years ago.

The anxious feeling in my gut. The wondering of what was it truly going to be like, now that she will be with us.

We arrived at the, now familiar, older child orphanage. Even though she was only 4, she had already been living there for over a year.

We filed into the small office and were told to wait there while they went to get her. As they brought her into the room, I could see the anxiousness in her eyes. I know she could tell this day was different.

I remember them telling her caregiver in Russian that today was the day. I saw tears fill her eyes as she reached down and hugged Sunshine so tight and kissed her I think a hundred times. I saw the love this woman had for my daughter. I remember it breaking my heart.

In all the preparations of becoming an adoptive family, I don’t think I ever was fully prepared for this day. Much like having your first {or third} child, you imagine how you think it will be…and how, more often than not, it is completely different. Sometimes amazing, sometimes heart-wrenching.

As we had driven the hour and a half it took to get to the orphanage, thousands of thoughts raced through my head. I felt anxious. I felt scared. I felt excited to finally not have to wait any longer…that SHE did not have to wait another day to be in a safe and loving family. I wondered what her true personality was like. Would she and her brother get along? Would they be able to develop a strong bond, and healthy bond, yet still be like siblings that occasionally fight? Would it be all nice or would it be all chaotic? Both? A happy balance of both is what I hoped for.

I remember hoping my oldest would understand that those hard days were ahead. Had we prepared him enough? We had several talks about what it might be like and how she might react to things and that it is perfectly OK to have hard days and feel sad or angry. But, talking about it and the actual doing and living it are completely different things. I hoped he knew that we always, always would love him. Even though I knew in my gut those hard days were coming…and they did. And they do.

I felt guilty. I had to learn how to divide my time between two children…and not in a typical “we’ve brought home another biological child” type of way. Everything about parenting that I had known for eight years was going to change. I was going to have to relearn and figure different parenting ways when it came to a child that we brought into our family through adoption.

Many people don’t think about that. But we have to parent Sunshine differently than we do our oldest. Same as I parent my twin babies differently all together than my two oldest. Each child is already different and in need of different parenting ways…and I have to constantly have a different set of parenting tools at the ready.

And three years ago, as we got her changed into her new clothes we had brought for her, and bundled her all up, we got one last set of good-byes in. She got to go to her group, the only family she’d known, and hugged them and said her goodbyes. Her caregiver hugged me so tightly and thanked me. We both had tears in our eyes…without having to say a word, we understood each other.

Oh how anxious Sunshine was on the ride back to the hotel. I could only imagine how frightening it must have been. She hardly knew us! It was such a bitter sweet day, is what I remember.

As much as I love my daughter, I am saddened about the WHY. Do I believe she was destined to be with us? No. I love her and I am thankful we get to be her family, but there is always a bittersweet undertone to it all.

I wonder about her birthmother. Where she is, what she looks like. Does she wonder about Sunshine?

Three years have passed. Three years we have been Sunshine’s Forever Family.

Is it wonderful and amazing seeing all the hurdles and obstacles she has overcome? Absolutley.

Are there gut wrenching days that bring me to my knees and I wonder “what have we done and why did we say yes?”. Absolutely.

Because saying yes is hard. Living the yes is even harder. There are amazing days and I could not ever imagine our lives without Sunshine in it. But I also mourn what she has lost. Every day.

Three years. I love you Sunshine. Through it all, and on the difficult days when you push the hardest, I still love you. I will always love you. We are your forever family.

Celebrations and Tears

This past Sunday was Orphan Sunday. It also happened to be the 3 year anniversary of our court date in Russia when the courts said YES to us becoming Sunshine’s Forever Family.

I kinda love that they ended up on the same day this year.

And I CANNOT believe it’s been three whole years. It truly seems like we were just there. I can close my eyes and remember it all…

It was a pleasant and unusually warm day there. Not too warm, but just enough that you barely needed a coat and they weren’t blasting the heat in the court room.

{can I get an AMEN? Whew…those that have been there know what I mean!}

I remember the surreal feeling when it was all over. After the questions and feeling at times like we were being interrogated. But, all in all, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

Then the wait began. The mandatory 10 day wait before we could go see Sunshine again. That was hard…after court I remember the FIRST thing I wanted to do was run and get her and just hold her.

But, we had to wait. And we did. And as hard as it was, it was also an amazing time with just our family of 3, about to become 4. We got to spend some much needed down time together, just finally being able to breathe.

Oh how nice that was. No more pending dates and just ONE more significant date {gotcha day} to go.

I had time to reflect on all that had taken place…all the roads and paths and people along the journey.

The rocky paths that I wasn’t quite prepared for. The uphill roads that twisted and curved a million different directions and seemed to go on forever….never knowing when we would finally see a glimpse of respite.

The people that walked along with us, cried with us, cheered with us. The ones we’d meet while in Russia that our lives are forever connected through adoption.

This month is November. And November is a pretty significant month in our lives. For many reasons and milestones, not just adoption.

But, it is also National Adoption Awareness Month.

I know not everyone feels the same way about adoption. I know many within the adoption world that don’t see it as others do.

Adoption has many facets. But, no matter what, adoption is based on loss.

I am both the daughter of an adoptee and an adoptive mother. I have seen two very different sides of adoption and it has shaped me very much into the person I am today. Both the good and the bad.

So, this month I will be writing a bit more about adoption and all that goes with it. I want to be able to show more than just a “rainbows and unicorns” side of things.

Because it is SO MUCH MORE. It is amazing and wonderful and heartbreaking. It is joyful and soul crushing. It is love in a way that blasts past borders and state lines and outside the four walls of your house. Love that takes you places…hard places, joyful places…that you might otherwise never know.

Adoption has changed me. And I am thankful for that. And at the same time, there are things I’ve seen that I can never unsee. Once you KNOW, you can never look away.

So join me as I walk this month through adoption and the many stories and journeys.

Almost Like Home {3 Years Later}

This week is a pretty significant one for our family. Three years ago, we were on our third trip to Russia to bring our daughter home.

It’s a big deal. And, ironically, I’m surprised at how emotional I am about it. Which, if you know me in real life, you know how much of an emotional being I can be.

And this is definitely something I am typically pretty emotional about.

But this time? This time it’s a little bit different. There is definitely the emotion of excitement as we approach our final post placement and our 3rd Familiversay {aka “gotcha day”} in the next couple weeks.

And with the excitement, there is definitely a mixed bag of emotions. It’s bittersweet in a way.

And I think that is the part I’m taken by surprise with. I wasn’t expecting the bittersweet. I was expecting more of the sweet.

I’m not sure why this would surprise me though. Because if anything with our adoption process, it definitely had plenty of the bittersweet mixed in.

But all of that to bring you to this. A post I wrote THREE years ago today. I am still in awe at how fast the time has flown. Yet, here we are….

And this? This was happening three years ago:

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Almost Like Home

Sunday, October 30, 2011

There we were, driving on a familiar highway towards a town we know all too well.

A smaller city than that of Vlad. A city that has seen us through anxiousness, excitement, pain and sorrow and now joy.

Such joy.

As we neared the city, I could feel the butterflies beginning to flutter. It had been five months.

Would she remember us? Would she like us still? Would she be frightened or happy?

As we wove in and out of the different streets to arrive at her orphanage, the familiar houses and shops appeared. The different buildings. Some I noticed had been newly painted, others still looking as though they were about to crumble.

The laundry hanging out on the line to dry. Dryers aren’t common, so we’ve heard.

I wanted to soak up as much as I was able. Try to capture it all to my memory as best I could. For her.

To remember the smells and sounds and images. To be able to relay it to her when we talked about it throughout her life.

I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing a memory for her.

I like the smaller city she is in. A little quieter and less congested than Vlad.

We turned the corner and suddenly we were there.

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We walked in and were directed towards the sofa in what seemed the foyer area. A sectional of sorts and a large area rug and with a nice table in the middle of it. Almost like an entrance table in the middle of the room. The room is painted a peach type color. There are walls along the sides of the stairs we face that are painted a bright teal color. They lead up to where Sunshine is staying.

A young boy, around Jake’s age comes down and is asked to go get Sunshine for us. He kindly goes up and gets her and a caregiver brings her down the stairs to us.

She seems so tiny coming down those big steps.

She is shy and barely peaks her head up to see us.

They tell us she has been waiting for us after her nap. We had been stuck in some traffic and are later than we planned.

Had she been waiting long? I wonder if she thought we might not come. It had been five months after all.

She came right to me and snuggled up on my lap. She does not like to be the center of attention. I don’t blame her.

We pull out some toys and the coloring books we brought the last time. She obviously remembered them. Especially the magnetic ballerina doll with all it’s pretty dresses and shoes. Her face lit up when she saw it.

She also remembered the finger puppets and played with them. She smiled.

::oh those dimples!::

We played and talked to the caregivers and others there.

We were given updates and such. Being prepared for court.

We spent a couple hours and then it was time to leave. I didn’t want to let go…..I cannot wait until I never have to leave her again.

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And now it’s three years later! How much my little girl has grown and changed and overcome since that day. I love you Sunshine. You are amazing.

I Can Do Hard Things

I can do hard things.

That has been my motto this year. Really, since my pregnancy and having the twins.

{and before that with completing our adoption…}

There have been days, especially in the early weeks and months of flat out exhaustion, that I had to just get up and keep moving.

This month I also chose to do something hard. Blogging for 31 days. Granted, I’ve missed a few days, but it was deciding to do it that was the hard part.

Okay, terrifying part.

To be very honest, when I first read about it, I didn’t think I could do it. But then my heart started racing and I just jumped in.

I’ve also been following along with other bloggers that took the challenge as well, and I’ve learned a lot from them and about them. It’s been pretty awesome.

But, this is hard. Yet, I also love it. I love writing and blogging…it’s therapy for me.

And every time an idea pops into my head and I get it all typed out and ready to hit publish….my heart begins to race.

Because I’m purposely choosing to be vulnerable. And that is hard.

I’m putting myself and my words out there for others to read and comment on.

I’ve enjoyed this challenge. I didn’t think I could do it. But here we are, winding down to the last few days of the challenge…and I’m still going. And I plan to keep going.

{Tomorrow I will actually be sharing a little more about our adoption and a post I wrote three years ago. It’s a little bit of a stray away from what I’ve been sharing and blogging about this month, but it’s important. This is a big week for our family. I hope you will join me in my sharing and take a trip with me in remembering….}

Are You A Mama Bear?

If one was to ask how I would describe myself, I would have to say I am a recovering people pleaser, turned unapologetic mama bear.

Adoption has changed me.

It took almost three years to complete our adoption, and it wasn’t without some gutting hurdles and was an insane emotional roller coaster at times.

And the three years since completing our adoption, I have learned to be an advocate for my daughter.

There are many things you learn about in the adoption process. Many classes, many books, lots of chatting with other adoptive parents…

But, in all of that, nothing truly prepared me for what it was really going to be like. Just like all the books in the world of “what to expect” when you’re pregnant, cannot truly prepare you for motherhood.

Each mother and child and childbirth and adoption process is different.

I became a different person through our adoption process. And I have continued to change as I have gone from being the mother of one to the mother of four.

When my daughter has a meltdown in public, I no longer wonder what other people think. I don’t apologize to strangers for my children’s behavior.

They don’t know me. They don’t know my children. They have no idea why one or more of my children might be having a crying fit in the middle of the store.

And it’s not my job to inform them or apologize for it. So…strangers, stop staring. And stop judging. You have no idea the story behind a family you might see.

It would be nice if more people could be understanding….but, I’m not going to hold my breath.

I think in many ways, being the mama of a special needs child has toughened me up a bit. It’s been a process, and I’m definitely a continuing work in progress, but it has indeed changed me.

And I’m OK with that. Because not only has it given me a bit thicker and tougher outer skin, it’s also softened my heart and made me more aware of other mamas that might be dealing with something similar.

I have more empathy for the families out there that are simply trying to survive the day and, unfortunately, they are dealing with an epic meltdown in the middle of the store, or parking lot, or church service and they are just trying to do their best. And people staring or murmuring comments {by the way, we CAN hear you more often than not} don’t help.

So, yes. There is still that people pleaser deep down, but the Mama Bear in me is much stronger. And I love my children with a fierceness I never knew existed within me…..

Until I became a parent. And then a parent again of a special needs child. And then the parent of my twin babies.

Oh yes, I am a Mama Bear.