Thursday, July 20, 2017

Life's A Beach

My daughter looked at me before camp yesterday and said, “I am 100% tired.” She then rested her head on my lap. Unfortunately, it only stayed there for a minute before we had to rush out the door.

I am a planner. I plan my days out so that they can be as productive as possible. As a mom, I am in charge of so much. It falls on me to make sure the laundry gets done,  the meals get planned and often cooked, the house gets cleaned, and the activities get figured out. 

Am I guilty of over planning? Do I want to do too much?

My first daughter was delivered still born before I had a chance even to hear her cry. Her death devastated me changed the course of the rest of my life. I was unable to get pregnant again, even with medical intervention. After physical, emotional, and financial strain, we finally made the decision to adopt as a way to grow our family.

We were picked to be my daughter’s parents within weeks of applying. We passed the home study and background checks and had just started to get our hopes up when we got the call.

I do not take being a mom for granted. It was a much harder journey for me than I ever expected and because of that, I let me true colors shine, and I plan and plan and plan.

All the planning in the world will not bring my first daughter back. But that is not what I am trying to do.

I feel like I was given a second chance. And no way am I wasting a second of it.

My daughter is in preschool three days a week. She can get social skills and learning in that time frame, and I can work on my writing. It’s perfect for us.

On the days that she is home with me, we go to the mall or the library or the playground or the movies or the local pool or a play date or …oh wow. That is a lot of planning.

I want my daughter to want for nothing. I want her to have every opportunity in the world.

So why was she 100% tired? The day before, we drove about four hours roundtrip for just a few hours on the beach. It was worth it to hear her squeal at the waves. It was worth it to see her bury her legs in the sand. It was worth it to feel the way I felt when I watched her play with wild abandon.

So I will keep planning. And we will keep exploring. And when she is tired, I will make time for rest and naps. And when she is awake, then away we shall go. There is far too much to see, too much to do, to sit home and miss it.

Being a mom is the most exhausting thing I have ever done. But it is also the most rewarding. Every day, I look at her face, her shana punim as my mom would say, and I am reminded how lucky I am. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lost and Found: Memories of My Youth

One of our big projects for 2017 has been to turn our basement into a playroom for Miranda. Whether that means to formally finish it or just clear enough space to put an arts and crafts table down there remains to be seen. None of that matters until Gary and I clean out all of our stuff.

When we bought our house in 2009, we were not even engaged yet. He had a lifetime (and U-haul storage locker) full of items, and I had sold my condo and had all that stuff. For the most part, our things merged together nicely and what did not fit, went to the basement.

Over the years, we have purged certain things. We made a baby section for Allie's things when it turned out that she would not need them. Then we made a section for Miranda's things when it turned out that she outgrew toys and furniture and clothes even faster than we could imagine. In time, with a toddler and work and life in general, the basement became a mish-mosh of everything. Order was pretty much lost, and chaos prevailed.

When we were at the beach earlier this summer, Gary came home for a few days to tackle the basement. He generated a lot of trash and started to make sense of the madness. So far, we have donated close to 10 boxes/bags to the Veterans Association of America and sold close to $100 in items that were useful, but just not to us. We also found a family that was not able to spend money on a new foster child that they had taken in and gave them bags of stuffed animals and toys. The feeling of being able to help that family was one of the best feelings I have had yet.

This weekend, it was time to start working on my section of the basement. I quickly found high school yearbooks, my sorority pledge book, prom pictures, USY pictures, handwritten letters and more. I found piles of things from when we cleaned out my dad's house when we first moved him into a nursing home. I discovered haircuts that no one should have ever paid money for and a lot of outfits that, simply put, were not very flattering on me.

I was chock full of emotions, and I opened box after box. Settlement papers from my first house, bank statements reflecting different careers, baseball hats, straw hats, sun hats...none of which did I ever remember wearing so why did I keep buying hats?? Office supplies from different desk jobs, framed art from various walls that used to surround me and boxes and boxes and boxes of books.

In April 1992, two months before my high school graduation, I found a national newspaper in which I had a poem that ran. It was my first published piece. Who would have known it would have taken me until May 2011 to start writing again?

I found so much that was lost to me and also found so much that could have stayed lost. Letters from my dad during the time in which we did not speak that were not very positive. Pictures of myself from when I thought I was heavy or overweight and I really wasn't. And last but not least, a picture of the boy to whom I lost my virginity, and it turns out that he was much hotter in my memory than on faded film.

I have more to go through before I can pack it all away again. My one friend offered me her fire pit and some wine to have a bonfire to get rid of the bad memories. I seriously considered it until I realized that all of my past makes me who I am - the good and the bad. The lost and the found. So for now, I will throw out the trash but keep the memories. For they are all a part of my story. And I still feel like I have a story to tell.

High School Graduation
Junior Prom with Josh Allen. I had a crush on him since at least 9th grade. He was a terrific date.

Most Likely To Be In A Broadway Play - NPHS 1992

Estelle & Me (Her daughter Hannah was the one who was Bat Mitzvahed back in March.) Estelle was the first one who suggested I blog. Friends since 3rd grade.

Kara & Me. Met my sophomore year of high school. Inseparable ever since. Eventually got our own hairstyles. Throws good bonfires.
Bradford & Me. Met in 1997 or so, through our mutual friend, Amy. Miranda wants me to marry him so that she can marry Gary. It's an ongoing conversation.
Miranda playing in her newly renovated, almost-ready play room.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Weight of Water

I love the water. I always have. I love to take baths. I take extra long showers whenever I can. I love to swim.

My love for water has been passed down to my daughter. My husband and I were talking at the pool earlier today that he enjoys the water, but not as much as me. He might be right. I really do love it.

I so enjoy the feeling of being weightless. Fighting every calorie I have ever seen since I can remember has made me have so many negative feelings about my body. Except for in the water. In the water, I am not any size or shape. I am just free.

I love the feeling of being a part of something that is bigger than me. Something that makes me feel small.

Indoor pool or outdoor pool - ocean or lake or cranberry bog, I love it all.

We just signed Miranda up for swim lessons. She can hold her own in the water, but I want better for her. I want more for her - in the water and out.

Being a mom is kind of like floating in water. You are constantly fighting to keep your head above water. You know how sweet the air will be in your lungs if you can just keep your head up. Kick and swim and paddle and repeat.

I want so desperately to make sure my daughter knows no pain or heartache or suffering, but I know that experiencing all of those things is going to make her a strong woman. So I just have to let her learn certain things on her own.

Life with a four-year-old is not easy. My daughter is stubborn and headstrong and as defiant as we will allow her to be. Every night at bedtime, we battle to go to sleep. This has been going on for almost half her life. We encourage her to find her voice, but often times, it seems like we are drowning, just trying to keep it all together.

In the months after Allie died, I found it hard to sit still with my thoughts. Self-loathing, self pity, and overall selfish thoughts seemed to seep into my everyday psyche. But not when I drew myself a warm bath. The negative thoughts could not find me there in my safe place. Eventually, the water just washed them all away.

Yesterday, Miranda asked to see a photo of Allie for the first time. I think she is starting to understand her a little bit more. Miranda still says she is my only daughter and my only baby and I try not to correct her too much, as she is still so young and I want her learning about her sister to be gentle and gradual and not a punch to the gut. So I showed her an ultrasound picture that we have framed in my office. She said it was too hard to see. She didn't like it. The only other photos I have of her are when she was born, red lips due to lack of oxygen and a still and silent look on her face. I will share those photos with Miranda one day, but not for a long time to come. For now, she has to make due with the black and white computer image.

It's sad. It makes me sad. But I love that Miranda wants to learn more, and I love that I can talk with her about the baby that first made me a mom.

I needed the pool today. It washed away all my pain. I am looking forward to going again soon.


The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Mom

Being a mom is HARD. It's more difficult than anything else I have ever done. It's being "on" 24/7. It's making sure s...