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to the children I am not preparing adequately for adulthood

Lately, as I watch you take these steps into independence I’m struck by everything I feel I’m failing at. Everything I am not preparing you adequately for when you reach adulthood. I ask myself why cant I stop all the pain and yes, failure you will walk through?

It’s my fault.

Yes, according to all the books and all the speakers who tell me to do this and that. Who tell me if I make all the right choices now you will make all the “right” choices later.

No, you will instead enter adult hood flawed and unprepared for perfection. But if I could I would walk with you all the paths that are coming. I would shield you from all the pain that has ever been and ever will be. I would build a time machine and save you from all the pain that happened back then. Even the pain I caused.

Because the truth of it is that no one enters adulthood prepared for it. You will make mistakes. Bad ones. You will have your heart broken, by people you believed in just a little too much. You will fail. Continue reading “to the children I am not preparing adequately for adulthood”

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broken and okay, cave paintings of the soul, mountains that don't move, Uncategorized

I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)

when you want to be real
Maybe we could stop trying to fix things so quickly. Some things are unfixable. Some things stay broken. And advice has rarely changed any broken thing. I don’t want advice. I don’t want pity. I want someone to look me in the eye and say “this is hard, and I see you..”

A diagnosis, a death, a physical or mental illness. A crushing betrayal, an act of indifference. Something that didn’t go as planned. An iceberg that came out of nowhere and wrecked us. That moment our unsinkable ship sank. Whatever it is that happened to me, to you, you know what it is – that thing.

That thing that is always there. Like a phantom pain with an invisible scar. Or a gaping wound we keep under bandages because of some internal sense that tells us that no one wants to see that. Continue reading “I don’t know how you do it (and other stupid things we say)”

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the measure of a human: when loving flowers was enough

Once upon a time, when we were young, what was liked was enough to define us. People would ask how old we were and then they would ask what we liked. Daisies, tv shows about builders, spinning in circles, slides, our parents, our siblings, cars and planes and trains.

These were the things we loved. These were the answers we gave. These were the things people talked about when they talked about us. .

Then we grew up, and the questions started changing. Now we were asked what we were doing, what we were accomplishing. Had we gone to college? Gotten married? Had kids? Good career?

So we started to do that too. We started defining ourselves by what we were doing.  There is a moment in life when loving flowers is no longer enough, you have to be a gardener. Continue reading “the measure of a human: when loving flowers was enough”

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maybe we should stop thinking we’re awesome just because we love people we consider different than us

I read another article a few weeks ago. By a white woman. She spoke, in lavish and poetic detail about the people she saw around her. Carefully pointing out all the ways they were different from her. Mostly skin color. And age. And then she spoke of smiling at a Muslim woman just after the world learned of the horror in Paris. She smiled. She loved. And somehow I got the feeling this was meant to be inspirational.

That article is the one that sent me over the edge but these articles are all over. Humans loving other humans who are “nothing like them” and then expounding on how wonderful they are for being able to do that. People who are differently-abled than themselves. Different race. Different religion. Different economic status. God is often praised for giving them this ability.

Newsflash: This isn’t a superpower. You were not bitten by an empathy-spider. This is basic, decent human-ship.

Maybe the real problem in the world is that we think this is special. That we think loving people we consider different from us is something so outside of nature’s laws it needs to be applauded.  It shouldn’t need to be. It should just be… normal. And if it isn’t. Somehow it’s become something to be praised and fawned over.

Love is special. Love is sacred. Love is magic. Love is the greatest power the universe holds.

But giving love to someone who you think of as an “other”? That isn’t special. And if we quit thinking it was maybe we could spend more time wondering why we think it should be harder to love those who “aren’t like us.” Maybe we could really look internally and admit that yes, we have internal biases. We have prejudices. We have things that are not lovely in there.

And then we could change them. Because you can. You can change those biases, but ONLY once you admit they are there. Like all problems you can only find a solution once you admit that yes, you have a problem.

If the world was a house and that house had a leaky roof and we went around pointing out that WE WERE CLEANING UP THE WATER and that made us amazing then when would we have time to actually get up on the roof, find the problem, and fix it?

Maybe Chicken Little was right. Maybe the sky is falling. But who cares about that when we can point out how much we care about the pieces

maybe loving people we think of as different than us really isn't that newsworthy

And I am absolutely  sure you could scour my blog and find me guilty of this somewhere. I’ll probably be guilty of it in the future.  But if faced with that truth I hope I can be human enough to admit it, own up to it, and change it.

 

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{{Comments are disabled on my blog. You are welcome to email me at wymsel@live.com

This is for multiple reasons: Positive comments freak me out. Negative comments freak me out. Those are things I’m sure I should work through in therapy. I hope to once I get through my 25.5 more pressing issues. But honestly the biggest reason is I feel responsible for anything that happens within a comment section. If someone posts something about agreeing with me but then adds their own spin on it I feel compelled to say “I’m glad you like it but that’s not what I really said and in fact I disagree with you” and that’s kind of obnoxious. And then sometimes people do it to each other which is even worse. So I disabled them. But I’m grateful for every email I’ve received. Even (usually, kind of) the negative ones. So that’s how it is and thanks for reading anyway.}}

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motherhood is a competition and tomorrow is our olympics

I’m over Mother’s Day.

I love my kids. I love my mom. But I hate the over-complication of every.single.thing. in today’s culture. Especially the social media culture. Motherhood is the ultimate competition sport and tomorrow is our olympics. At the end of the day most people wind up feeling like losers when we should just be celebrating that we’re living at all.

The rest of the world celebrates Women’s Day. I like that idea. I like the idea of celebrating who we are and not just who we are to someone else.

My social media feeds are full of articles on Mother’s Day. There are articles sharing how infertile women feel about the holiday. About how churches could handle things better in their services tomorrow. There are articles about being an adoptive mom. About being a mom after loss. About choosing never to have kids at all.

To me they all have a common theme: I want to matter. I want my existence to be validated. I want to feel good enough during a holiday that can bring out the insecurities in almost everyone. Am I a good mom? Am I a good daughter? Am. I. Good. Enough.

Continue reading “motherhood is a competition and tomorrow is our olympics”

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our seven favorite holiday books this Christmas

Without being deliberate to think about it I’m fairly certain our holiday collection of books would feature the same white Santa with rosacea that is seemingly everywhere. But because my children are African-born and because their father and I are of European descent I choose to think about it. I want them to see their skin tone mirrored in the books we read, especially because they do not see it in their parents’ faces.

Our holiday book collection is still small. Because we are still in the “read the same book four hundred times and then read it once more in case we missed something” stage of reading. But slowly we’re adding to it. Here are our current favorites, all bought second-hand online.

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“A Child is Born” by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a simple board book that tells the story of the birth of Jesus without ever mentioning his name. The illustrations are lovely, the words rhyme and we read it year-round.

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“Over the River & Through the Woods” a Jump at the Sun Holiday Classic

I have never met a book published by Jump at the Sun that I don’t like. And we have several as they also do fairy tales and Bible stories. This one can be sung to the “Over the River” song (obviously) and features a large family that fills up the sleigh as more and more people pile in. The horse’s expressions are also quite funny. Thane’s favorite page is the last one where he always proudly declares that it is Gigi and him and they are eating pumpkin pie. We also like the page with the whole family gathering around. It’s fun to see which person the kids decide is which person in our family.

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“Twas the Night Before Christmas” a Jump at the Sun Holiday Classic

If this book looks worn out that’s because it is. Based on the classic poem it tells a slightly different version of the same story. Our family doesn’t do presents from Santa but we do love this story.

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“Christmas for 10” by Cathryn Falwell

This is a simple counting book. It counts to ten twice all the while showing fun holiday activities. Again, featuring a large and loving family.

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“Carol of the Brown King – Nativity Poems” by Langston Hughes

I first heard this poem during a production we attended a few years ago. It was beautiful and happy and the illustrations in this book match the tone. Just gorgeous. It has a few other poems as well.

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“Snowflake Kisses and Gingerbread Smiles” by Toni Trent Parker

This has to be the world’s shortest book. I think there are like five pages. However each one features smiling faces of adorably cute children doing something festive and with my kids’ obsession over older children it’s getting worked into our rotation.

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“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Kwanzaa!” a Jump at the Sun Holiday Classic

The pictures in this one are especially gorgeous and full of life. The happiness from the family just radiates off the pages. I am in the very beginning of learning about Kwanzaa so I feel unqualified to speak to how well it represents the holiday. And it’s goal is not so much to educate as to celebrate.

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Lastly in our holiday collection, these are some books we’ve been given that are really sweet but which are a little too “old” for my toddlers. If you’re looking for ideas for your own elementary age kids though they are very nice. Though the bottom two are a little preachy about giving and sharing. Are all children’s books like that and I just didn’t notice when reading them as a child? “An Angel Just Like Me” directly speaks about race and the issue of so many decorations being white-white-white. I think it will be a good topic starter as the kids become older.

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I’ve also begun collecting books we can use for our advent readings someday. But those will wait to be posted until next year or the year after. Whenever good intentions morph in actual celebrations.

Until then, Merry Christmas, and if you have a favorite holiday book that happens to feature brown or black characters please leave a comment.

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a song for the broken hearted (or: virtual hugs for waiting adoptive parents at Christmas)

The last three Christmases we spent waiting. Waiting for a referral that was supposed to come and then came for a baby that didn’t live. Waiting for our oldest. Waiting for our youngest. Three holiday seasons filled with waiting.

I often felt alone.

I want you to know you’re not. There are other moms and dads wrapping presents for children that won’t be there to unwrap them. There are other parents curled up next to Christmas trees crying their eyes out. There are other parents waiting for paperwork that will bring the child they love one step closer. There are other parents who feel alone. Alone in the weird in between stage of loving a child that isn’t quite theirs, or who is theirs but who isn’t with them.

You’re not alone.

Adoption and loss are two partners in a dance of imperfect answers.  Adoption is honoring the past while creating a future. Adoption is complicated.

Love is not.

And love ties us together. The birth families, both living and dead. The adoptive parents who hold their children and the ones who don’t. And the children. Always the children.

Because adoption is for them. Each beat of your heart that hurts more than you can bear right now is for them. It’s building something strong in you. It’s building a love that can walk through fire and fight through enough red tape to tie the world up in a Christmas bow.

That love is powerful. That hope is strong. And you are not alone.

christmas for the waiting

{{Lyrics from my favorite Christmas waiting song, “Ornament” by The Trans-Siberian Orchestra}}

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nine months (or time slow down already you crazy thing you)

Nine months together. It seems like yesterday it was six. Time feels like it’s skipping and I can barely hold on to the moments, let alone the memories. Maybe it’s the time of year but everything feels like it’s in fast-forward and I want it to just slow down already.

I know I’m alone in this sentiment, no one that has ever held a little one close has wished for time to stand still for just a few tiny minutes so you can get a few tiny minutes more… Nope, I’m the first one ever.

Tal is our little snuggler. He adores being held and Daddy continues to be his favorite person. He spends most of every night snuggled into the crook of his arm, he rushes into his arms when Daddy gets home from work, he “asks” to talk to him on the phone, and he’s still insanely jealous if anyone else dares to hug him. Because clearly Daddy is his and his alone. Or so he would say if he could talk that much.

Our agency asks us for pictures/reports throughout the first two years. In putting together the set for this anniversary I found this picture. I adore these two together.

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Daddy got Tal dressed this morning before leaving for work. And I took some pictures. Because that’s the best way to make time freeze, if even for just a minute.

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