Can I Be Honest? I'm Not Superwoman...and that's okay

When I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a mother.  Before I desired to be a wife, or a professional, or anything else that I could possibly ever want to be, I knew motherhood was at the height of my desires.  When playing house with my cousin, I would always be “mama”.  I wasn’t mean or bossy. I prepared dinner (mud pies and water).  I swept the floors.  I folded laundry.  I was a great “mama” in my head. 

A lot of the role play I would do would be patterned after my own great-grandmother.  That woman could do anything.  I mean it.  I have yet to meet a woman who could make a meal out of scraps that could last us for days.  This woman woke in the cold and dark winters well before the sun rose to make sure that the wood-burning heater in our home would be roaring with warmth before my cousins and I rose for school every morning.  She hemmed clothes, made costumes, and even when things and times were hard, she made sure that we were all well taken care of.  She was my role model and is still the woman I envision when I try to accomplish the tasks needed for my family.  Notice I said “try”.

Recently, I had a moment.  It was a no nonsense, tears spilling down my face, come-to Jesus, tell-Him-all-about-my-troubles, hide in my car, sit in the parking lot after work and pray…moment.  For several weeks, I’d been trying to do things that way that Mama did them.  I tried to get up earlier to make sure that a hot breakfast was on the table for my son.  I tried to make sure that the house was clean, that errands were run, that everything was in its place.  I was failing miserably.  It seemed like no matter what I did or how hard I tried things were not coming together, at least not in the way I wanted.  Add to that a husband who, in his blunt honesty, confirmed that I was not stellar in getting things done  and I found myself increasingly frustrated, sad, and upset.  In this particularly awful moment, I sobbed in my car for twenty minutes because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get groceries, get home, cook dinner, and make it to a required rehearsal with only 90 minutes in my timeline to do so.  That wasn’t a good day.

Still, I didn’t ask for help.  I remembered that my great-grandmother never did.  It seemed simple to me that I wouldn’t either.  I dried my tears, took a breath, and drove to the store grabbing a frozen lasagna meal and garlic bread and rushed home.  My family, unaware of my meltdown, didn’t seem enthusiastic that they would be having lasagna for dinner and mentioned their disappointment.  It was truly God’s grace that kept my tongue in my mouth and not conjuring aloud the frustrations of the day.  I popped the meal in, changed clothes, and managed to wait until it was ready (at the same time rehearsal started), plated the dinner, and laid it on the table, and then I rushed out the door wishing my son a good night and an I love you, leaving with an empty stomach, and arriving at rehearsal 25 minutes after it started.  Sigh…I’m not Superwoman, but I didn’t know that at the moment and I still continued to try.

I arrived home after rehearsal about 10 pm and smiled to see that my husband had been kind enough to have a wrapped plate made for me.  I peered in the fridge and realized that neither he nor my son’s lunches had been prepared, so I made lunch for them both, cleaned the kitchen afterwards, walked the house once more to ensure everything was secure, peered in my children’s rooms to make sure they were resting well, and then I went to the room to retire. 
I kid you not, about five minutes after my head touched the pillow our daughter started crying in her room.  Sighing, I got back up, went back downstairs, prepared her bottle, came back upstairs, changed her diaper and tried to give her a bottle.  She didn’t want it.  She was in her hold me moment, so I took her downstairs with me to watch TV and talk.  At 1100, she’d finally take her bottle and was sleepy enough that her eyes seemed loathe to stay open.  I carried her back upstairs and put her back in her crib to sleep.  The latter two steps of bottle and nap repeated themselves twice more throughout the night.

This schedule repeated itself a more often than not in that week.  When Friday arrived, at the end of the workday, I found myself sleep deprived with low morale, being unintentionally terse with my son and husband, and frustrated at how sluggish I felt.  I was so looking forward to going home, to letting my head hit the pillow, to (gasp) popping a frozen pizza in the oven, and letting the darkness behind my eyelids consume me in sleep.  Just before I shut down my work computer, I received an email from my husband reminding me of an engagement that I’d forgotten about that evening.  I sighed, shut the computer down, moped to the car, and there in the car had my breakdown.

It was during that breakdown that I believe God gave me an awesome pep talk.  I believe that I was reminded that I am NOT required to be Superwoman.  Yes, my great-grandmother could do amazing and wonderful things.  She was the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman, the kind of woman whom I aspire to be.  BUT there are some definite differences in our lives.  Mama, as I affectionately call my great-grandmother, was a stay-at-home mother surviving off social security and the blessings that God allowed her through life on the farm.  I, as much as I would love to be, am not a stay-at-home mother.  I work a full-time job and also devote hours to a side business that I have legally registered.  I am an entrepreneur.  I am also a full time employed professional.

When I was younger, we lived in the “family house” on heir land.  The house had long go been paid off and the property taxes were not the concern of children.  My husband and I live in a home with a mortgage.  Our property taxes are our responsibility.  We must work to receive funds to continue to utilize these things.

At my childhood home were gardens with vegetables, trees that bore fruit, sometimes vines that yielded grapes, and Mama was a master at canning and preserving.  While things were tight and we didn’t have as much as a lot of people, we had more than enough.  In my home today, we are in suburbia.  While I would love to have a garden, I simply don’t have the time or skill to make it what my elders did at the family home.  I have a grocery store where the food is required to be purchased, not picked and where I must make wise decisions on how much I can buy.

Mama didn’t have a car and sat home all day.  She had numerous hours to make amazing meals, keep the home flawless, and to take walks to stay healthy.  Our family has a car note, two working adults, and limited hours to make a meal.  From the time I come in until the time I lay my head to pillow, I am moving.  Cooking, cleaning, homework assistance, feeding baby, rehearsals, meetings for my business, contracts and works for my business.  I rarely stop.

But, I feel God reminded me that I am not supposed to be everything to everybody and nothing to myself.  That day that I found myself sobbing from not being able to get it all done, I realized that the world would not cease to spin if I didn't. 

I think that what I was experiencing is something that women everywhere experience.  Some where we were taught to give everything to everyone else and not take time for ourselves.  I love movies and plays.  I like a glass of Chardonnay or Moscato with a slice of red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory© or homemade Red Velvet cake from home and Red Velvet Icecream from Blue Bell.  I like massages.  I like comedy shows and quiet corners in bookstores.  I realize(d) that I have not enjoyed any of the things that I enjoy doing in a very long time.

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A Different World
Sometimes I think we as women believe we have to save the world.  Our families, communities, friends, neighbors all have to take priority.  While the trait and thought is admirable, I believe denying oneself the opportunity for a respite is a dangerous thing.  Even Jesus went to pray alone.  There should be nothing wrong with my taking a little time just for me to relax, relate, release (thank you Whitley Gilbert J).

So, one day during the following week I came home equally tired and exhausted.  I told my husband that I was going upstairs and was going to take a nap.  I asked him to please wake me in about 40 minutes to cook dinner, but I had no intention of cleaning anything or starting any new project until after I’d completed my nap and then dinner.  He didn’t say a word, but I suspect he knew how exhausted I was.  An hour and twenty minutes later I woke up and rushed with a start downstairs upset because I hadn’t been awakened, ready to do catch up to get food on the table as quick as possible, already coming up with quick, filling, nutritious meals that could be prepared in 30 minutes and with the food we had in the house…and I stopped short.  My husband had cooked dinner.  Our son was doing homework.  Our daughter was playing on her activity mat.  He’d let me sleep.  Our son got up from homework as soon as he saw me and said, “you were really tired, Mommy.  So, Daddy wanted you to rest”.  My husband, sitting on the couch staring at the TV smiled ever so slightly and I wanted to cry all over again..good tears this time.  Best wake-up ever.

I am NOT Superwoman.  I doubt I will EVER be Superwoman.  But you know what…that’s okay.


Of Milestones, Of Experiences, Of Separation...

Guess what?!  Our Honeybee is seven months old!  That kind of snuck up on me.  I was more than a little shocked to look on the calendar and realize that, oh my goodness, she is getting older.  I know.  I know.  It’s not like she is going to stay young forever, but wow that ca
me a lot quicker than we were expecting.  It’s been great.  Lately every day is an adventure for her.  She recently started grasping for bottles, extending her hand to be picked up, and *gasp* she said “ma ma” the other day.  Granted, she was just babbling, but it was really great to hear it from her lips.  Though I must admit, I melt a little every time she says “da da” and is clearly speaking to my husband.  The love in his eyes makes hearts stop. (Plus I think it makes him quite handsome).

 Our Honeybee has been growing happily.  Her eczema medication has been working wonders and she is every bit the beautiful, bouncy, attentive, seven-month-old that she can be.  Recently, she has started displaying signs of mobility.  She is subtle though.  We’ll put her in her crib on one side and when she wakes up, she has made it the length of the crib.  She has begun scooting and is actively trying to pull herself up, which is amazing in itself.  She will roll up to FatherWinter and pull until she gets a good grip and will then get into a half-stand/half-crouch position.  This child is clearly not going to settle for lying down, being held, going with the flow.  J  We’re fine with that.  Personally, I think she is trying to keep up with SuperBug who is her constant source of entertainment.  She sees him and starts bouncing.  He’s her best buddy and Superbug feels the same way. 

Honeybee, herself, is having fun showing off J.  We recently had our supervisory visit with Honeybee’s social worker.  It is always a joy to see her and she enjoyed watching Honeybee blow raspberries and babble.  We went over a list of things she is doing and not doing according to “milestones” and it got me curious.  I remembered with SuperBug I used to write out on a blog everything that he had achieved and wasn’t quite doing.  So, I pulled up the list for Honeybee…just to see where she is.

·   Movement Milestones.  According to the developmental charts, Honeybee is doing just fine.  She is rolling front to back and back to forth.  She is sitting with and without support.  The without can sometimes be wobbly, but she does it.  She is supporting her weight on her legs and reaching with her hands.  She transfers objects from hand to hand and does the raking grasp to pick up things.  (We’re about to introduce her to the soft dissolve treats to help her pincher function and feeding ability).

·         Visual Milestones.  Honeybee is definitely tracking objects and seems to favor brightly colored outfits.  I’ve been having fun allowing Honeybee to “choose” her own outfits.  I’ll select two outfits and set them in front of her.  The one she grabs is the one we will wear.  I know it is an unscientific approach, but I remember hearing my grandmother say she did it with me.  I did it with my son.  It’s enjoyable doing the same with my daughter.

·         Language Milestones.  Honeybee is responding to her own name.  She knows when you call her by her name.  She knows when she is being spoken about.  It’s funny to have her sitting and occupied with her activity mat and then see her turn her head and grin when she hears her name.  The checklist says she should soon begin to respond to “no”.  Hmmm….I haven’t really seen that yet, but we really haven’t had to tell her “no”.  We have had to say “shhh” a couple of times.  She sometimes likes to scream during prayer lol.  (Making a joyful noise I imagine).  The guidelines say she should respond to sounds by making her own.  Yep.  She has that one down!  If you scream, she screams.  If you blow raspberries, she blows them back.  She’s all in on that.  Likewise to the requirement that she use her voice to express joy and displeasure.  Honeybee can “fuss” with the best of them.  A string of dadadadadada and incoherent babbles let me know she is NOT happy with someone.

·         Cognitive Milestones.  Honeybee is a fan of looking for partially hidden objects.  That doesn’t mean she always finds them.  But she won’t stop looking and that’s good enough for me J.  Honeybee definitely explores with her hands and mouth.  Nowadays anything within arm’s reach tries to go into her mouth including my earrings ON MY EAR lol.  I’ve learned not to wear danglies and she is learning not to pull the shiny things on Mommy’s lobes. 

·     Social and Emotional Milestones.  Does she enjoy social play?  Yes and yes again.  Honeybee can play for hours just with her brother running around in a circle while she is in the activity chair trying to follow him.  She is often joyful and loves looking in the mirror to play with her reflection there.

And then, there is the one that has me torn.  It’s the one that has me overthinking and addressing everything.  It’s separation anxiety.  I noticed the other day that when I was preparing to leave the house for work, Honeybee started to cry.  She appeared genuinely upset that I was leaving her.  NanaNorth picked her up, spoke lovingly to her, and made her smile, but when she saw me by the door, it reminded her that I was leaving and she got teary eyed.  I felt awful, but thought it was just a fluke.  The next day, it was the same thing, this time I was about to run to a doctor’s appointment and couldn’t take her.  She had been quite content in FatherWinter’s arms watching the game.  She turned her head, saw me leaving, and once again got teary eyed.  I walked over, hugged her, talked to her, and soothed her for another five minutes before walking out.  Again, I felt awful.  And now, the past two days have seen her cry or get teary eyed every time I leave the house.  Both days were for work. 

Last night, I was about to leave for choir rehearsal and let her stay with FatherWinter and NanaNorth.  But she looked so pitiful.  I asked my husband if he wanted me to take her with me.  Normally, it would not have even been a question as rehearsal ends right at her bedtime.  She would have been up an extra 30 minutes just getting into bed and for the ritual.  But, again, she looked so pitiful.  She stayed smiling with me the entire time listening to Mommy learn the songs for Sunday, playing with her fingers, and then it was time to go home.  She stayed up for another hour (fortunately FatherWinter was up also) just “talking”.  Then, she slept.  But this morning, when it was time to walk out the door.  There she was again.  Upset that I was leaving.

On one hand, I’m pleased to see the anxiety.  Well, not pleased, but understanding.  It means to me that she has bonded with me, that she knows I am Mommy, that she knows I am about to go, and she wants to experience what I am about to experience.  On the other hand, I worry about the anxiety because even though she was placed with us as a newborn, studies have shown that chemicals are passed in the womb that equate to rejection.  Not to say this occurred, but the overthinker in me wants to make sure that Honeybee knows that I am not rejecting her when I walk out the door.  I’m leaving to make sure provisions are made for our family.  Just like FatherWinter does.  I remember this was about the same that my Superbug showed his separation anxiety.  It only lasted a couple of weeks, so I’m hopeful this will too.  BUT, there is an entirely new caveat to consider.
Soon, Honeybee will be old and mature enough for daycare.  She will be more mobile and it will be easier on NanaNorth if Honeybee is with more able bodied and energetic caregivers who can keep up with her during the day.  While no one is rushing this day, we know it is coming.  FatherWinter and I have evaluated numerous locations and are fairly certain that we have a good location for Honeybee’s daycare experience.  BUT I would be less than honest if I said I wasn’t concerned about the timing of placement and her separation anxiety.  I would love it if Honeybee could stay with my mother-in-law until she is much, much older.  But I also recognize, remember, and appreciate the confidence that was gained in my son when he was allowed to interact with children his age.  He forged some close bonds and learned some great socialization.  I’d like to hope Honeybee will experience those things too.

I suppose the thought processes in my head are those that go back to the training session my husband and I recently had.  We focused on 7 core issues in adoption for birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children.  Loss, Rejection, Guilt/Shame, Grief, Identity, Intimacy & Relationships, and Control.  While most people would think of separation anxiety as part of the normal developmental process, I see so much more.  I see our Honeybee possibly being exposed to feelings of loss and rejection.  She doesn’t know if I’m coming back.  It may feel like I’m not there.  I know.  I know.  I’m overthinking, but still I don’t want her to ever think that she isn’t a priority in her family’s life (and her family includes her birth family).  Everyone has done what they believe is best for her.  I would hope that this anxiety only lasts a couple of weeks (or less).  I am certain it will, but I have to admit.  It still bothers just a bit.


I'm not even bothered!!!

So, we received a note this morning from one of the grants I applied for months ago.  I opened it up and knew immediately that we were note selected.  First, it was addressed "Dear Applicant".  Yep, that's never a good sign.

The letter went on to read that the organization regretted to inform my husband and I that our application was not chosen to receive a grant at this time.
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They wanted to thank us for thoroughness of our application and gave us assurances that the grant committee review every application very carefully including our own.  The letter continued that the organization received many grant requests, all of which told a powerful story of pain, persistence, and commitment to becoming parents.  The organization only wished it would have helped each and every applicant reach their goal.

As I read the rejection letter, I smiled.  A few months ago, that letter would have hurt.  I would have been filled with disappointment and would have wondered what was to happen now.  But, in the past few months, things have been happening in the life of my family that remind me that God is truly in control of every situation regardless of whether or not we expect to see Him there.

I know that a grant would be the greatest thing financially for our family in the journey that is our Honeybee's adoption, but guess what?  Even if we don't get a single dime in assistance, we are still going to adopt her.  She is our daughter.  There is no need to worry about what cannot be changed.

Our love will never change and that is why I'm not even bothered.


Superbug turns 8!!!

Whew!!! What a weekend!  This weekend, FatherWinter, Honeybee, and I had the great joy of celebrating SuperBug's 8th birthday!  Yes, eight!  Where on earth did the time go?!  It seems like yesterday I was in the hospital about to delivery him and today, he is choosing outfits and making "cool" decisions.  Sigh, he's still my SuperBug though.

SuperBug has been looking forward to his birthday.  He's been reminding people about it for weeks.   He was ready to see what the day would bring.  Our family only host birthday parties for milestone birthdays, but make sure every birthday is special. At 8, it isn't a milestone, but our making it special was a definite on the list :).

On Friday afternoon, with the permission of SuperBug's teacher, I visited his school and deposited mini cupcakes and Capri-Suns to the birthday boy and his classmates.  His face upon walking through the door and seeing me sitting there with the sweet confections was priceless.  It's one of the reasons I love being Mommy.
An SUPER birthday weekend for our SuperBug

After singing "Happy Birthday" with his classmates and serving the birthday treats, I helped to clean up and then left the school to run home and put together a big surprise.  With the help of my mother in law, we put up a massive birthday banner, a really cool balloon, a birthday table cloth with birthday sparklies, and waited for Superbug to come home.

He walked through the door and talked about how happy he was that I came and how much he enjoyed the cupcakes.  Then, he went to work on his chores, completely missing the decorated room :).  Shortly thereafter, FatherWinter arrived and we allowed SuperBug to open one gift.  As you can see in the picture, he was thrilled to see that the gift was a tablet like his parents.  He'd been asking for one for quite some time and finally received the birthday wish from FatherPharaoh.

After the gift was opened and everyone settled, we left for SuperBug's birthday dinner knowing that he had not yet seen the birthday decorations in the room and that we'd not surprised him with them. Traditionally, the birthday person gets to decide the meal and location.  This year, SuperBug decided he wanted to go to Chuck E. Cheese. This was a shock to us as he has only been a handful of times, but it was his birthday.

Before we left, we received a wonderful surprise as Superbug's grandparents NanaBug and PapaBug stopped by with a card and birthday money!  SuperBug was very grateful and extremely excited that he now had money in his pocket and additional money to save!  After posing for a family photo with his grandparents, we were off.

At Chuck E. Cheese we ordered pizza, had a good time, and watched SuperBug enjoy the games and activities.  Chuck E. came out to wish everyone a great day and give tickets, so Superbug took a pic with him.  About 9:30, we decided we'd done all that we could do and returned home.

It was when we walked into the house and into the specially decorated room that SuperBug finally saw the transformed space.  Once again, a huge grin broke out on his face as he saw the additional gifts and the birthday cake.

After opening gifts, receiving a Happy Birthday song from us, and more money from Grandmother North, he was ready to call it an evening thinking the day was done....

Oh but on SATURDAY!!!  Superbug woke up to do chores as usual.  We all doing our routines of sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming before leaving the house.  Only this time, the destination was somewhere EPIC!!!!

We went to see Marvel Universe Live!!!!  Okay, if you are not familar with the Marvel characters, let me just say Hulk, Black Widow, Iron Man, Spiderman, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye.....and the list goes on and on and on and on!  It was a great show where our heroes are forced to save the world after Loki (Thor's brother) has created a device (which I will not name lest I give away too much) that has the potential to destroy the world and enslave all MANKIND!!!!!!  (insert gasps of horror here :)

It was awesome.  SuperBug and Honeybee (yes, we took her) were rapt with attention.  They enjoyed the special effects, the explosions, the stunts.  SuperBug thought it was fantastic and would definitely go again.  I was just pleased he enjoyed himself so much.

After the show was over, our day ended with Hibachi and laughter.  Overall, SuperBug had a great birthday and I was glad to see the smile on his face.  I am huge on birthdays and I'm pleased to know that Superbug was blessed to celebrate his.