Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

It’s All Relative, Mama November 30, 2010

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,mommy brain — Elizabeth @ 9:14 PM

Most of you know that I teach a prenatal water aerobics class.  I love being around all these women on the cusp of motherhood.  You might think it makes me nostalgic for that time in my life and it does, but only slightly.  I more enjoy reliving it vicariously through all of them.

Today during class, one of the women told us that she had her first varicose vein.  I told her that I got those during my pregnancy too and she asked me if they went away.  I said unfortunately, no, but that once you were done having babies they could be easily surgically fixed.  Then I joked that my dream was to run off to a spa for a week to get my tubes tied, my veins fixed,  and my bladder repaired…..emerging a new woman.

People who know me well would know that what I was actually saying was  sarcastic mommy-speak for “I want to go somewhere quiet for a few days and watch HGTV and read books and come home with nice legs, lady parts that can’t produce any more loudmouth kids and quit peeing myself every time I run a soccer drill with my kid.”  But since this girl only knows me as Elizabeth, prenatal water aerobics instructor, who gives offhand advice about what a mucous plug may or may not look like and what brand of nursing bra I preferred, she kind of thought I was a nut job.

And that’s okay.  Cause I kinda am.  But I’m a tired nutjob.  And that actually DOES kind of sound like a trip to the spa to me.  I was being sarcastic in a way….but in a way I wasn’t.

There are just some things you can’t really grasp before you become a mom.  The simple pleasures, if you will.

Tonight I went to the grocery store in the freezing rain with the vestiges of a migraine.  Without kids.  While my husband made dinner.  It was a joy.

A couple of weeks ago my mom was in the hospital.  I went to visit her and the very second that I got there they came to her room to take her to get a test done.  I crawled up in her hospital bed, propped myself up on some pillows and watched 45 minutes of HGTV all by myself.  Heavenly.

Being alone in your own home.  Nobody ever tells you that once you have kids it never happens again.

Oh, I want to tell the mothers-to-be, you might be surprised what will pass for a spa day for you one day.

Sipping hot chocolate while you giggle on the phone with a girlfriend while your child naps can be just as therapeutic, I promise.

Believe it or not, going to the bathroom with the door shut?  Just as luxurious!

Besides if you’re like me, by the time you save up the extra money for that spa day, your kid is going to ask to play soccer or you will splurge on professional pictures of them…and somehow, believe it or not, you will enjoy spending the money on them even more than you would have enjoyed using it on yourself.  I know its hard to believe.

Oh, sweet mamas-to-be, I could tell you, but you just have to learn it for yourselves.  Motherhood is so hard and tiring and wonderful and beautiful and mind-numbing and soul-stretching and so more than I could ever explain to you during a water aerobics class.  I am so very elated for you that you will get to experience all of it–but for now, do yourself a favor…..pee with the door closed.  Come on, do it for me.  Walk through Target at a leisurely pace–go down aisles where you don’t even need anything.  Just because.  Leave your TV on as background noise all day–oh dear, I miss that.  Sleep.  Just sleep.  All the time.  Here’s a thought–go to an actual spa!!

But most of all, get ready for the biggest adventure of your life.  Get ready for your heart to grow and stretch and love like you never thought it could.  Congratulations, mamas!

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What’s Worse? November 29, 2010

Filed under: adoption thoughts,and that's how I feel about that — Elizabeth @ 11:16 PM

There’s something I’ve been thinking about.  I hope you don’t think I’m a downer–I’m usually not, but I guess this is kind of a downer topic.

I think a lot of people might think of Korea as a country that is not able to care for its orphans, which is why so many foreigners adopt from Korea, but actually, in 2007 domestic adoptions surpassed foreign adoptions in Korea.  That’s a great thing!  It means that every year more and more children are staying in their country and their culture.

Great news, right?  What you may not realize is that for the most part, the domestic adoptions are being completed in secrecy.  I don’t mean illegally.  I just mean that the adoptive couples are keeping this a secret from their friends, community, and even more shocking, the child they adopt.  We’re talking fake pregnancy bellies and/or moving to a new neighborhood immediately after adopting in order to pass the child off as their biological child.

This is probably confusing to most of us, so here is an excerpt about this practice (from this website–lots of interesting reading there):

Parents are afraid of the possible ridicule and discrimination their adopted children may face as they grow up in the Korean culture. Children who are openly exposed as adoptees in Korea are vulnerable to other children who are not adopted. Some children (or adults) may look at adoptees as people who are less than equal. Some Korean parents forbid their children from associating with adoptees for fear their children may be negatively influenced by the children who they consider are less than equal. Some parents will not permit their children to date or marry adoptees (or people with orphan backgrounds). Some look on adoptees with pity. If an adoptee makes an ordinary mistake or gets into a trouble, he/she is judged differently from their biological children who get into the same trouble.
Therefore, parents do not want to subject their adopted children to an environment of negative social stigma. Thus adoption in Korea take place in shrouded secrecy.

Okay, so why am I talking about all of this?  You’ve heard me talk about the guilt I felt after bringing Matthew home.  I really beat myself up about taking him away from Korea….the language, the culture, making him into a minority, not just in his new country, but in his own home.

At one point, I was talking about this with a friend who also has a son from Korea.  I was saying that I thought it would have been better if a family from South Korea had adopted him.  She responded in a way that surprised me–she said maybe not.

Because since he is here with us, he will know who he is.  There will be no secrets and he will know his true story.  He will have the opportunity to search for his birth family, if he so decides.

If he was adopted in Korea, he would still have his language, his culture, he would not be a minority.  But would he always feel just a little bit different?  Would he always have questions that no one would be willing to answer?

Clearly, it would have been best if his original family could have remained intact, and unfortunately that did not happen.

This past year has left me thinking how these two options are different and each infused with its own kind of loss.

I would be curious to hear any thoughts on what you think of this–is either one better than another or are they both just different kinds of awful?

 

I Was Just Talkin’ Turkey November 28, 2010

Filed under: the holidays,we so crazy — Elizabeth @ 2:24 PM

We hosted Thanksgiving this year for the 4th year in a row.  Over the past 4 years we have had varying attendance as some family has been here, some has been with in laws or out of town, but never, have we ever served turkey.  We always opt for a Honeybaked Ham.  I dare you to find a more delectable main course for your holiday meal (as would the hundreds of people lined up outside their doors every Thanksgiving and Christmas).

*And no, this post is not sponsored by Honeybaked Ham, but if the good folks over there would like to throw some honeybaked goodness my way, I would gladly take it.*

So this year, as we were talking about what to serve and who was going to bring what, the conversations went a little like this.  I said I was going to prepare stuffing, fall to your knees mac and cheese, and Ruthie Crickmer’s corn casserole–and no, we have no idea who Ruthie Crickmer is, but we bless her name every Thanksgiving when we eat her corn casserole.  My aunt said she would be happy to bring the ham, make a pumpkin pie and some sweet potatoes.  I then added dreamily, maybe I’ll make a turkey this year…..

Cause here’s the thing, the hospital I work for gives us a free turkey every Thanksgiving, and I’ve only even picked mine up once.  And that time I gave it away.  I don’t even like turkey, and I knew that even if I made a rockin’ turkey, if it was sitting next to a Honeybaked Ham, it would remain mostly untouched.  I think I was imagining the turkey as a domestic status symbol.  I was going to emerge beautifically from the kitchen with my perfect turkey as my family murmured to each other that the baby of the family had certainly turned into quite the domestic goddess.  They would all forget that a few short years ago, my apartment refrigerator only held Mike’s Hard Lemonade, cheese and Snickers bars.  It wasn’t about the turkey.

But a few days passed and the boys were rowdy and the house was messy and company was coming and I was tired.  What was I thinking making a turkey?  Let’s scratch that.  Besides, the day that we had to go get the turkeys, I had to go to Macy’s to get new boots….with boys in tow.  Yes, I had to.  Do you see these boots?  Look at them–I’ll wait…..

So basically, boots that fierce beat turkey every day and twice on Thanksgiving.

So I laid my dreams of domestic diva-hood to rest and just decided it would have to be enough that I looked hot in my new boots while making the side dishes on Thanksgiving.  Which was FINE.

My fatal error was not telling my aunt all this.  So she calls me on Wednesday with a tremor in her voice.  You didn’t tell me that you decided not to cook a turkey.

Oh dear.

Which led her to buy a small ham.  You know–to be an accessory to a turkey.  A turkey I did not have.  Things got pretty tense.  She opened the ham.  Counted the slices.  We did a head count.  Did some quick math and figured that each person would get 2 pieces of ham. Realized that this felt very unacceptable and knew that I had ruined Thanksgiving.

(hanging head in shame)

By Thursday I guess we all realized that there was nothing to do but laugh about it, so I decided to make a sign to put near the ham platter……

 

It turned out to be either a miracle of the proportion of the fish and loaves or the slices were much bigger than we initially thought, because there was plenty of ham to go around and even enough for leftovers.

However, the jokes continued.  I made this sign for our refrigerator.

We made constant references to the ham famine and ham rationing.  I offered Jason my ham portions in exchange for him taking over childcare duties for the evening.  We cautioned each other to stop in the name of ham.  I think we might even get some t-shirts printed up saying “I survived the Great Ham Famine of 2010”.  We laughed and laughed and laughed, until you wouldn’t have thought it was funny anymore….until it shouldn’t have been funny anymore….but it still was.  Maybe it really wasn’t that funny except that we were drinking all that wine….all that wine Aunt Chris bought that was supposed to go great with turkey.

Anyway, it was a great Thanksgiving and I still stand by my decision not to cook the bird.

 

Protected: Happy Thanksgiving! November 24, 2010

Filed under: the holidays,Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 11:49 PM

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Me, One Year Later November 23, 2010

Filed under: and that's how I feel about that,faith,the adjustment — Elizabeth @ 11:18 PM

When we prepared to bring Matthew home, I knew that we were in for a period adjustment with him.  What I wasn’t prepared for was my OWN long and complicated adjustment.

The first thing I have to address is my guilt.  The guilt that smacked into my chest like a freight train when I met Matthew in Korea is only now beginning to let go.  The guilt from taking him away from Korea, from his foster family, from his language.  When we got to Korea, I have to be honest and tell you, that suddenly, I didn’t know if this was the best thing for him anymore.  It was terrifying.  I was scared that I was ruining his life.  I have finally had to make the choice to forgive myself for taking him away from his life.  I still don’t know if it was the best thing.  But that is what happened.  I am happy that he is my son and that isn’t going to change, so I have to move on and make our lives the best that they can be.  And as I see Matthew enjoying his life, that is easier to do.

Then there is my faith.  During our adoption process, I would say that my faith was at its strongest.  What other choice do you have when you are in such an uncertain time?  But as rocky of a start as we had in the beginning of the process, once we identified Matthew, things starting going like clockwork, miracle after miracle falling into place.  It felt so right, and I just knew God was laying the groundwork for this.  Suddenly we came home and to be honest, everything felt so wrong.  What happened?  Everybody was crying all the time.  I walked around asking myself what we had done over and over and over.  I felt so far away from God.  So far away and so low that I wasn’t even sure how to pray about it.  I didn’t feel strong enough to reach for my Bible.  I really felt forsaken and like I had just gotten everything wrong.  It was a dark time for me, and it has been a slow crawl out of that.

I was reading in Hebrews 10 last night and it was about the old law under Moses when people had to sacrifice animals and how Christ changed that.  It read “The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.”  That is kind of the way I have felt this past year.  Like I was trying to do and say the right things.  Trying to pray the right things.  But I wasn’t feeling better, I wasn’t seeing improvements, I felt empty and lost.

I am beginning to realize and accept that we all just have dark times and rough patches.  It doesn’t mean that we got ourselves into a huge mess that we never should have started.  It doesn’t mean God turned his back on us.  And frankly, it is actually a lot like the ubiquitous “Footprints” poem (it’s not a poem, though, is it?).  During the really hard times we feel so very alone, but when we look back and see just one set of footprints we realize that God was actually carrying us.  Darn it all, that “Footprints” thing is as overused as it can be, but it is true, and it makes me cry every time!

I think the other main thing I have had to realize is how darn hard parenting is.  Isaac was such an easy baby, and still is a pretty easy kid.  So well-mannered and agreeable.  I pretty much thought I must be an awesome mom to be doing so good with him.  What I realized is that most of that was luck.  Don’t get me wrong, Matthew is a good kid too, but we had to feel each other out….for a LONG time.  I guess I’m saying I’ve just learned to have a lot more grace with other mothers….and recently I am learning to have more grace with myself.  I don’t know what goes on behind anyone else’s closed doors and I try to remind myself of that.  A lot.  And I don’t have to be supermom.  I have the dust bunnies on my floor to prove it, and for the first time in my life I am learning to be okay with that.

It’s been a huge year in general for me.  I’ve been stretched emotionally, spiritually, and some days I feel like even physically, but I can see that I have come out stronger on the other side of it.  More loving.  More patient.  Slowly (and sometimes begrudgingly) being molded into the person I am meant to be.

 

 

 

Protected: Matthew, One Year Later November 22, 2010

Filed under: Matthew,the adjustment — Elizabeth @ 9:46 AM

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Because Now Feels Like the Right Time November 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth @ 11:26 PM

I have been doing a lot of thinking about blogging and about my boys and our family and privacy and I feel like it’s time to make a change. My blog is going to be moving over here. I am not going completely private, but this new venue allows me the option to password protect certain posts. There is nothing new and exciting going on in our lives, but I would like to be able to know exactly who is reading about the more delicate aspects of our lives that I choose to share. As the boys get older, I want to be more respectful of their privacy, and I have been getting more and more uneasy about the idea about their pictures floating around in all of the internet for the world to see.

This has been a really difficult decision for me because I get a lot of private emails from people considering adopting older toddlers from Korea, or waiting children. I hear from people who say thank you for being honest about the adjustment period–people who have felt the same way, but who haven’t felt that they had a safe place to say the kinds of things I have said. I do still want to be a resource in some way…..but not at the expense of my kids.

Selfishly, I wanted to stay public because I have received so much support from friends that I have never even met, especially over this past year. And to be honest, I was kind of worried that nobody would follow me to another site. But I promise to bring the funny, and the cute, and maybe we’ll even do some ugly cries together.

So come on over to my new blog. Email me for the password that you will need for the really good posts (emwood77 at gmail dot com). Even though it is powered by wordpress, you can plug the address into your blogger dashboard or google reader, and follow along like usual. Or you can have an email sent you every time I update. I’m sure there are other ways, but I am still figuring this all out myself.

I will miss this little corner of the internet that I carved out for myself, but I think my new “home” will be just as awesome….just give me some time to figure out how to decorate.