But am I enough?

 

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The past few months I have gone to sleep exhausted. It’s been one of those seasons. Every night I’ve been woken up 2-3 times. Sometimes for my baby just needing a quick pat. But, more often than not from my almost 4 yr old having night mares.

He’s scared and calls my name. I go and pat him and sing to him and pray for him. Then I get back in bed in a heap of exhaustion. And eventually, at about 5 a.m. he ends up in bed with me. I swore I’d never be that mom. But, when your child is terrified, you do what comforts them.

And, in the end, when you’re waking up every 2 hours, you do what allows you to sleep.

So, the past few months I have gone to sleep exhausted.

That is, when I’ve been able to go to sleep.

But I haven’t been able to fall asleep. Despite my exhaustion, my mind and my body are conspiring against me, and sleep does not come. I lay there for 2 hours awake. Thinking, imagining, praying…

(Disclaimer: Before anyone offers any medical advice, there are valid, medical reasons I can’t fall asleep. My doctor knows. We’re working on it. 😉 )

In these painfully quiet, frustrating, and exhausting moments a question circles my mind.

Can I do this? Am I really enough? 

Jamie has needed me more lately. He’s needed more attention. He’s needed more affection. He’s needed more time. He’s needed more discipline. More boundaries. More snuggles. More eye contact. More mercy. More compassion.

He’s needed more me. 

And I fail continuously. I fail to see the need behind the tantrum. I fail to see the desire for connection behind the disobedience. I fail to hand out mercy as much as I hand out consequences.

I fail. And, as I lay in bed for a few hours every night, tears fill my eyes and I wonder if I have the strength. If I can be all that he needs.

Am I really enough? 

Until last night.

Last night, I got in bed. I laid awake. I cried. I got discouraged.

And then I heard another voice. A voice that had been missing. A voice that I desperately needed.

A voice that has felt distant, separate, far away.  

A still, small voice that simple said:

I see you. 

And as I got up early with my alarm, earlier than my tired body wanted, it echoed.

I see you. 

As I sat under a blanket and drank my coffee…

I see you. 

As I read my Bible (we’re in Leviticus these days)

I see you. 

And, as I heard the pitter patter of little feet come down the hallway…

I see you. 

Friends, I don’t have some grand treatise this morning on motherhood. No advice for those who are in similarly exhausting seasons. No grand theologies to carry us through.

Just this simple truth: Our God sees us. He knows us. He’s with us. He’s in the messy. He’s in the complicated. He’s with the sleep deprived and the well rest. The encouraged and discouraged. He’s there in the mundane and the knock your socks off.

If I’m honest, there’s a lot of life right now that has me questioning whether I am enough. It’s not just motherhood. And I need this truth more than ever.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 

He sees us.

(And He also gave us coffee. 😉

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A pair of basic brown flip flops.

Today, dear friends, I suffered a loss. One month ago, we brought home a new dog from the shelter. She’s awesome, her name is Romy and we love her.

Before you worry, she’s still alive.

But, today she chewed up my favorite pair of flip flops. Obliterated them, rendered them useless. After 8 years of wearing this more than any other shoe in my closet, they’re gone. I’ll be honest, I was definitely bummed and a little sad. The struggle is real.

Now, while most of you may not understand the depth of my grief over this beautiful pair of basic brown flip flops, I’ve got someone in my corner. Jamie, our 3 yr old, really felt where I was coming from. He hugged me, patted me on the back, and talked about how sorry he was that my shoe was gone. He was sad. Truly sad.

And this got me thinking. I think we could learn a lot from Jamie’s response. Not about shoes, mind you. I mean, it’s a pair of shoes. And, if I’m honest I loved them so much because they were cheap AND lasted 8 years. But they will be replaced. They’re no big deal.

So, if not about shoes, then what?

What I loved about Jamie’s response is that he was sad purely and completely because I was sad. He has no attachment to the shoes. (If he had his way, I would wear my bright red heals every day.) No, this wasn’t about the shoe for him.

This was about his mama. His main love.

When someone around us is grieving, we often try to first put ourselves in their shoes, in order to muster up a reason to grieve. Or, we offer commentary on the validity of their grief. Or advice to avoid it in the future.

Whatever we do, why isn’t our first response to just feel sad. Why? Because someone we love is sad. End of story. Who cares about the reason? Who cares if we understand?

In the end, isn’t this what the grieving among us really want? They just want you to come alongside, admit that this sucks, and allow them to cry. Will there be time for advice? Sure (though not as soon as we often think). Space for empathy? Absolutely. Room for commentary? Well, probably not.

But the first thing that needs to happen is grieving with those who grieve. Mourning with those who mourn.

And our preschoolers among us, can probably show us exactly how this works.

One of those days…

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Today wasn’t my best day of motherhood. I was impatient, my words were unkind, I was distracted and not terribly merciful.

There are many evenings that I sit down and am exhausted. Tonight, I’m absolutely exhausted and a little bit defeated.

Parenting is hard. There’s no way around it. Kids, even little ones, can push buttons you didn’t know you had.

This week has been short on sleep. Jamie had a nightmare early on and the nights sense have been complete with 2-3 hours awake trying to calm him.

No sleep for any of us makes for impatience for all of us. Jamie hasn’t been his normal, flexible, full of joy self. And Brandon and I are not at our best.

And it’s in these moments that I am so thankful for new mercies every morning. It’s in these moments that I am longing for a chance to try it all again.

And I’m learning to be okay with imperfect days. Because as discouraged as I am about my record, I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of my two munchkins. So thankful for their silliness, their laughter, their intelligence and flexibility. I love how they run and hide when i chase them and how they love to tackle their daddy. I love their thick curly hair and endlessly long lashes. I love the shade of their skin and their bright eyes.

So tomorrow morning I will make muffins, I will hug and kiss boo boos, soothe worries, comfort my anxious child, play with my babies, enjoy my children and do my best. I’ll read parenting books and blogs and try all the things.

But for tonight, I’m going to sit in the sadness. Honestly, I think we run from sadness all too quickly. Like I said up above, parenting is hard. And if we don’t embrace all the feelings that come with it, then I wonder if we’re in danger of missing something.

I am hopeful that tomorrow I will do better.

And for now I am going to continue to watch old videos, cry a little, watch Arrested Development and hug my babies before I go to sleep.

Good night, friends. Stay tuned for more posts coming soon. A few things have been brewing and I’m eager to share them.

It’s an adoption thing

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Adoption blogs are everywhere.

There’s a part of me that loves it. I love the awareness. I love the spotlight being on such an important topic. I am thankful for the other adoptive moms who get it. Who understand our family. Who put words to feelings I had not yet acknowledged.

But another part of me is. so. tired. of. them.

I’m tired of everyone having an opinion about how my family was formed. I’m tired of adoptive parents complaining. I’m tired of people who haven’t adopted feeling that they have the right to offer sweeping commentary. I’m tired of the savior and rescue language.

And the problem is: it’s everywhere. Encouragement and discouragement… awareness and opinions… helpful advice and butting in…Buzzfeed article, after buzzfeed article, after buzzfeed article…

There are many times I’d prefer to just not talk about it. I’d prefer that people not feel the need to clarify that my children are not biologically mine. I hate the constant commentary on my kid’s skin tone, or the traits they most surely got from their birth families (because we couldn’t possibly deserve any credit)… And, somedays, I’d like to just shut off all the noise and just simply be a mom. A mom who may look differently from my children but loves them just the same. A mom who cleans up vomit and changes diapers (this is what my last two days have held). A mom who kisses boo boos and reads bed time stories. A mom who tickles and laughs. Who disciplines and provides structure. A mom who just loves as best as I know how.

And I am that mom. But, the fact is, I am also an adoptive mom. And that comes with certain responsibilities. And, whether I always feel like it or not, it means I need to talk about it. It is my responsibility to educate others about adoption so that my children have a better world to live in. It is my responsibility to talk with my children so they are equipped to handle the challenges that will inevitably come. I have to tell pediatricians and doctors that there are certain biological questions I cannot answer. I have to learn grace for the stupid, insensitive and insulting questions. Because I’m the one my children will look to.

As tired as I am by these questions and comments, I’ve been convicted lately that I’ve got to step up. In order to parent my children fully, I have to become a part of the conversation. Because one day they will be playing on the playground and will be asked insulting and demeaning questions by other kids (who heard it from their parents). They will be asked about their “real” parents. They will be required to answer for their status as an adopted child. And I need to do my part to pave the way. To prepare them at home, but to also change the world they are growing up in.

And, you know what? I don’t mind. I would do infinitely more just to be able to parent these precious ones I have been entrusted with.

So, this is my first of several blogs about adoption. (It’s also my attempt to resume this regular blogging thing.)

Why add to the overwhelming amount of adoption blogs? Well, I guess you could say it’s an adoption thing.

Now back to those dirty diapers…

More than a blanket

Almost 3 years ago, I received a very special gift from some very special young women.

Brandon and I had been waiting for over a year for any movement towards adopting our first child. This was only after having spent 2 years down the infertility road.

Needless to say, we were emotionally spent. But God was continuing to show himself in incredible ways.

One Sunday morning I was asked to come to the 4th & 5th grade girls small group at the end of the morning. This was a class that had always been special to me in my role as Children’s minister, but I had no idea what they had planned.

When I got there they presented me with a blanket they had worked together to knit (with the help of their awesome teachers). They had spent the entire year knitting and praying for our sweet Baby O.

Allie, Serena, Becca, Bella & Lucy (and Hannah who couldn’t make it that day!)       Can you tell I’ve been crying?

Jamie came home almost a year later and during that time I kept this blanket out and visible. It was a constant, consistent reminder that our community was praying. That they loved this child. And, most importantly, that God was working. And after we brought J home (for the past two years) it has laid on the back of his rocking chair. I love seeing it each and every day as a reminder of the community that has prayed for and loved this child.

Tomorrow Jamie turns 2. t-w-o. Truth be told, I’ve been more emotional about my baby turning 2 then I was about myself turning 30.

At bedtime tonight we followed our usual routine: books, prayer and then a song. Jamie only had two requests: First, that I sing Jesus Paid It All and, second, that I put this blanket on him.

And this Mama’s heart nearly burst with the incredible honor I have of not only raising this little boy, but what a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many that. simply. love. him.

The girls pictured above have each grown into such lovely young women. I am amazed by their faith, their talents & abilities and their capacity to care for and minister to those around them. They love others well and are just plain fun.

Jamie insisted on taking this blanket to bed with him. And I can’t think of a better way for him to wake up on his birthday.

 

 

Our Birthday Boy and the Woman that changed everything

Yesterday our Jamie turned 1. Amazing.

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Our friend Katie made us all shirts with our ages. Mine has a ? with “not a chance” written across. Brandon’s idea.

What has struck me again and again is that a year ago at this time we didn’t even know he existed. Sure, we had faith that God would bring us our child. But we didn’t know when they would be born or what they would look like.

We didn’t know it would be our Jamie.

And as we have celebrated our son, another person has been consistently and constantly on my mind…his birthmom. A woman I will never know but who has changed our lives most profoundly. A woman whose bravery astounds me, whose courage humbles me and whose love for our (her’s and my) son is so inspiring. And I don’t even know what she looks like. I don’t even know her name.

Here’s what I do “officially” know: On March 3 an African American woman brought a newborn baby to a Safe Haven in Chicago. He had been born the day before at home. She handed him to an authority and said she couldn’t give him the care he needs.

I believe she wanted to make sure he was safe. I believe she wanted to make sure he would be alright. I know that she loved our son.

Today has been a day full of tears as I have wondered what she might be experiencing. As we have faced March 2 and 3 with the utmost joy at our Jamie, she has come crashing into what was perhaps the most difficult day of her life.

As we have decorated cupcakes and celebrated with friends, I imagine she has grieved mostly in solitude. It’s very possible that most of the people in her life do not even know what this date means to her.

When we began to tell people the story of Jamie’s birth (find it here), we got a mixture of responses and I was surprised at how many people responded with anger towards this woman. There were people who wanted to blame her or who felt that her actions showed how little she cared for Jamie.

I believe they’re wrong. I believe she cared for this little boy very much, for so many reasons. She carried him to term and gave birth to him safely. She didn’t leave him on a doorstep but gave him to a trusted authority figure. From the time that he was born he was calm and snuggly. He didn’t appear to show any signs of trauma or stress. He was totally healthy. He had no drug or alcohol exposure. Whatever her reasons may have been, I believe she was trying to make the best decision for a baby she deeply cared for.

One of my prayers today has been for this woman’s heart. I have prayed that she might feel peace. That, somehow, God would assure her that her son is safe. He’s happy and healthy. He has two parents who love him deeply. He is surrounded by family and a community that are madly in love with him. He is thriving. I want her to know it all turned out okay. She did a good thing.

And we are so thankful. Truly, incredibly thankful.