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Category: heart melter

These Are the Days

My favorite days at home with my girls–ages 5 and 8-months–are the days when we go slowly. The days we lie on the floor of our kitchen and try to teach Annie to crawl by crawling around ourselves. The days I sit in the rocking chair in Annie’s sunlit room, with both girls on my

The Best Gift I Gave My Daughter Was Her Little Brother

I am an only, adopted child. I knew one day I’d have children, but if pressed, I wasn’t sure when. If you asked my parents, they would’ve said, “Michelle just isn’t going down that road.”

I thought we’d have one child, maybe two? I didn’t know if I could even bear the thought of two.

I knew nothing about having siblings. How do you handle fights or the competition? I wasn’t sure how many souls would fill our family.

But the best gift I ever gave my daughter was her little brother.

Riley was born exactly two and a half years after Avery. His name was supposed to be Nalu, but he didn’t look like a Hawaiian wave. We hemmed and hawed and finally decided on Riley. It was the moment when we left the hospital that I turned to my husband and said, “It’s a unisex name just like Avery, and ends in

A Mother in Medical Land

For a long time I didn’t want to have kids. I felt I was too selfish.

My husband and I loved exploring together. We lived for ourselves, best friends taking on the world. Then we thought it was “time” to have a baby.

When I saw the two lines indicating I was pregnant, I sat on the floor, tears streaming down my face, thinking “What have I done?” Our lives changed forever in many ways.

I anticipated what a baby would bring to our lives.

Preparing the baby’s room, picking colors. How would I carry the baby, in a carrier or a pram? What sort of car seat, what mothers’ group or play dates? I thought of watching my child meet milestones, learn to sit up, crawl and eat.

I didn’t anticipate being alone in the first weeks after my baby was born. I told myself it would be okay, that it’s not as bad as

My Favorite Things

When I was little, a “lonely only” (just my mama and me for a long time), I think I realized we didn’t have a lot of money. But, boy, we were rich in all the ways that mattered.

I still have the giant stocking she sewed for me when I was a baby and filled to the brim each year by scrimping and saving all year and hiding things in her closet. If my house were burning down and everyone was safe, it’d be one of the first things I’d grab to save. My birthday and Christmas gifts were few and usually not expensive, but they were thoughtful and wrapped more prettily than any department store could ever manage.

Tonight I wrapped Christmas Eve PJs for my tinies–something my mom did for me every single year even after I went to college. They are in brown paper packages tied up with string,

Cowie Comes Home for Christmas

My daughter was three when she fell hard for a little black-and-white stuffed cow. Sadie and Cowie went everywhere together. To school and the park. To restaurants and birthday parties. At Disneyland, Sadie bombed down the Matterhorn clutching Cowie. At night, she slept with Cowie tucked under her chin.

We don’t know any Scottish people. But through Sadie, Cowie channeled a delightful brogue and a sassy personality. I got used to hearing her chuckle first thing in the morning and soon found myself talking to her like she was a member of the family.

“What do you want for breakfast, Cowie?”

“Me Cowie wants chocolate!” was the standard reply.

One day, a few weeks before Christmas, when Sadie was five, Cowie vanished.

She was with us when we stopped at Starbucks, cheerily informing the barista that the milk for my latte came from her udders. But when we pulled into our driveway, Cowie was gone.

A

Christmas Star

When You Least Expect It

I got up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. When I opened the door to the hallway, there was my seven-year-old son waiting for his turn.

And seeing him, standing in his boy-sized underwear in the glow of the nightlight, my heart split right open and my throat caught.

There was something in

Don’t Judge Me, I’m a Mom

Moms are judged too frequently.

I had an incident with my daughter not too long ago at a lodge we visited for a weekend. It was 8 PM at night and we were at dinner shortly after we arrived. She normally sleeps at 8, so she was tired and grumpy.

At this point, I’m starving and so

The Survival List

Last night my granddaughter called to interview me for her fifth grade project. “If you had to leave the country and could only bring what you could carry, what would you bring?”

The question belonged on a list of realities I’d rather my granddaughter–or any child of the world–not be aware. Too late. Her class had started an examination of the reasons human beings might need to leave all they know and love: natural disaster, prejudice, famine, lack of water, poverty, violence and, in some cases, the need to escape in order to recreate oneself.

“So, I’m a refugee and I can’t bring my family?” I said.

“Yes.”

Two vivid memories supplied me with an immediate list of items for survival: Camping trips with my Dad, and my  high school Wilderness Survival class.

I told my granddaughter, “I’d bring a lightweight backpack, matches, canteen with water, water purification tablets, tarp, one change of sweat-wicking clothing,

Stepping Off the Parent Treadmill

Ever since having children, I’ve felt like I’m on a treadmill: getting through the days, trying to keep up with who needs what when (usually: everyone, all the time), all the while wondering what this is for, how it really works, and, of course, if I’m doing it right.

But

Text Your Children Well

I came late to texting. I resisted getting a smartphone for the longest time, knowing that once I did I would never escape work again (which was true). Although I love my smartphone, I do sometimes miss the days when I was physically capable of walking away from my work email account.

Even when I finally stepped on the smartphone train, I continued to abstain from the world of texting. I didn’t see the need for communication that a phone call or an email couldn’t fill.

And then my daughter went to college. Let me tell you, I am now the biggest fan of texting you’ve ever met. I’ll tell random people how great it is that I can have a quick, non-intrusive conversation with my daughter any time I want.

And she’ll write me back and share all sorts of details about her life… with me! Her mom!

I text her all the

Gotcha Day

Gotcha Day honors the day when a child (or children) is united with her adoptive family.

For our family, this is the day when my husband, our biological daughter, and I welcomed three siblings into our home and hearts forever. Overnight we grew from a family of only one daughter to a family with one son and three daughters, ages 5-3. Adoption answered my prayers of being a mother to four children despite suffering infertility.

On Gotcha Day, we celebrate our adopted children staying together as siblings and having a permanent home, no longer being wards of the state, but being members of a loving family.

While Gotcha Day is huge, we keep our celebrations simple. This year, I set out a butcher paper tablecloth and the kids decorated it while I cooked a special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. As with any special occasion, the girls wanted to wear fancy dresses and our

Please Don’t Ask Me That

“So when are you having another one?”
“It must be time to give [insert child’s name] a brother or sister!”
“Now you just need a [insert opposite sex of what your child is].

I know they mean well. The people who ask, “So when are you having another one?” They don’t see the knife turn a little more. They don’t know. It’s not that I don’t want “another one.” I do. I do with every fiber of my being.

In fact, we did try for another baby. Our daughter was almost eighteen months old. It was nine months past when I had told my husband I would entertain the idea of a second child. I jokingly told him it takes nine months to make a baby, please give me at least nine months to recover. I made the appointment with my midwife to have my IUD removed.

We had

The Last Gift

This text came from my seven-year-old granddaughter: “Nina died. We had to put her down. 🙁 ”
Without knowing it, my youngest granddaughter had told me that my amazing daughter and son-in-law had prepared their daughters for the death of their beloved dog.

How did I gage this from an 8-word-text? The word ‘died’ said it all.

Born Different

My daughter is three and half years old and a tiny tornado of love, laughter, and light. She can count to 10, and she knows her ABC’s by sight. Some people are surprised that she knows her colors, but I’m not. She knew those first. Her absolute favorite things in life are Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, her dad’s iPad, and Pharrell’s hit single “Happy.” She can dance like nobody’s business.

Her name is Dorothy, and she has Down syndrome.

I try to tell people how cool she is, but if I mention the words “Down syndrome,” I get a lot of looks that imply sadness or even pity. I can’t understand these reactions anymore. Dorothy really is cool. Her therapists tell me she is especially fun. Her school teacher loves her to death, and I can’t blame her.

Every time we walk into a doctor’s waiting room, she runs up to the nearest seated

I Can See September From Here

1, 310 days.

That’s the number of days between January 6th, 2010 and August 3rd, 2013. That’s the number of nights I’ve slept with a small, warm body snuggled up against me, nursing and pawing or rolling around and kicking me. One thousand three hundred and ten is the number of nights I have woken anywhere between three and thirteen times, depending on variables like feeding, fever, vomit and night terrors. Five is the number of the longest stretch of hours of sleep I’ve gotten until now.

Contemplating these numbers makes me wonder how I made it through. I’m strong. And I’m ordinary.

It’s August in Texas. If you live here then you know that this is the longest time of year. It’s the time of year when everything is brown and baked hard and at risk of crumbling to dust that blows away and leaves only the bones of whatever it was.

In

All the Moments I Can Give

I don’t know how old I was when I started bossing my mother around like I was smarter than she was.

Definitely when I became a mother myself:

“Why are you holding him like that? He doesn’t like that.”

“Please keep your eye on him.”

“Swaddle him like this.”

I’m not sure why I thought that I was God’s gift to mothering and she didn’t have any idea what she was doing.  I WAS HER BABY.  And–I think–I turned out OK.  Aside from the bossy part.

We were in Florida last year, visiting my parents, and my mother and I took a drive to run some errands. I was, once again, telling her what to do and how to do it, and suddenly I stopped.  I put my hand on hers as she drove and I said, “Why do I do that?”

“Do what?” she asked.

“Tell you what to do like you’re a child,” I

Crooked Love

I was born crooked.  I was a C-section baby, and the oxygen apparatus did not work in the delivery room, so the doctor had to give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save my life. The time without oxygen must have caused the Cerebral Palsy brain damage.  My whole left side was affected: smaller, weaker, crooked left arm and leg.

When Evan, my youngest son, at age five asked me, “Momma, are you handicapped?”  The query caught me off-guard, but I calmly answered, “Well, yes, I suppose I am.”  He accepted this fact, then thoughtfully added,“ But you’re just a lil bit handicapped, right?”

So I feel fortunate that I’m “just a lil’ bit” affected by C. P., yet I am still always aware of my crooked self.

So how ironic is life when three years ago Casey, my middle son, had a

Returning to Kabul

In days I will say goodbye to Sabira at Logan Airport in Boston. She will have a long journey ahead, with a 24-hour stopover in Dubai before boarding the flight to Kabul.

“Will you be able to sleep in the Dubai airport?” I ask.

“No, Liz, it is too dangerous. I could get raped,” is her response.

I am Sabira’s host mother in the U.S. She just graduated from a girls’ boarding school in Massachusetts, and in August she will begin college on full scholarship at Trinity College.

Our relationship began with both of us wary. After volunteering with a non-profit that supports educating Afghan women, I took on the responsibility for a real live girl. It was one thing to be a Skype tutor for girls in Kabul, quite another to bring one into my home.

According to my adopted 20-year-old Chinese daughter, Lili, I went crazy when she went away to college.

“Yes,” she

The Rising and Setting of Parenthood

As I awaken to the early morning, I shake off sleep and admire the sun slowly peeking through the trees.

Still trying to find its place in the world, much like I am. Rising without a sound. Shedding its light upon us, secretly telling us that there is so much out there to see.

It’s steady, reliable, sometimes harsh, yet always beautiful.

Ignoring the urge to crawl back under my warm covers, I start my day. It is summer and right now I can’t recall what day it is.

I search for caffeine.

The sun’s smooth, calming rays wash over the kitchen. Dust particles dance off the counters, partnering up with the sun’s light. Both are mocking me.I have not cleaned since we’ve been back from vacation. The kids cups from the night before line the sink edge. A tiny army of mismatched cups, half full, waiting for someone to attack.

I sit and inhale a