family

What If I Forget? #heart

Alarms go off on my phone throughout the day, all day, every day.

I’m sure my co-workers love this.

I was chatting with a co-worker one day last week, and an alarm went off.  She immediately became concerned, kind soul that she is, that I had something important to do.  I talked my way around explaining to her that the alarm was telling me that I needed to move my Zeke’s Coffee K-cups from my desk drawer to my purse sometime in the next eight hours, a job that was in NO WAY urgent.

Why do I set alarms for small tasks like this?

Because I am worried that I will forget.  

There is a mild and silly version of this worry, and there is a deeper and more meaningful version of this worry.

I am constantly worried that I will forget something small – a thing I have to do, a story I want to write.  Last night, I spent two hours sorting through drafted posts on the blog, many of which were one line long, reading something like “story about a cactus with feet” or “remember to take everything one step at a time.”  I tend to have a thought, and then immediately try to record it somewhere so it won’t be forgotten forever.

This can be exhausting.f062b425bdf17d58915c9d0da25a3ded--tiny-buddha-positive-motivation

I forced myself to go through over 75 drafted posts last night, and I deleted many of the one-liners.  Each time, I had to reassure myself that either a) I wouldn’t forget, or b) if I forgot, it wasn’t that important.  Which is what I actually believe.

I spend a lot of time thinking about tangible habits that I want to form or break – drinking diet soda, exercising, writing.  But there are these invisible habits that we all have, some of which can be extremely helpful or harmful in their own quiet way.  Like being so afraid of forgetting that we have a running to do list in our heads, alarms set on our phones, notes in our notebook, and a planner full of post-its.

I’m tired and stressed just thinking about it!

And then, of course, there’s the deeper anxiety around this issue.

I am terrified of forgetting things about my dad.

I’m not known for having a good memory.  (SEE ABOVE!)  The way some people can recall the smallest details, the richest qualities of an experience – I often can’t even call up the simplest of memories.  I forget to take medicine, to brush my teeth, to eat lunch.  I forget appointments.  I forget to return phone calls or texts.  And I worry that this means I will forget a whole bunch of memories of one of the most important people in my life.

I remember unpacking soccer jerseys with him and pulling out the #2 jersey, since we knew that one would be mine.  I remember him telling me that someone left a bunch of T-shirts on our doorstep for my soccer team – it was years before I realized that my dad had specially ordered them after we’d lost a tough game, even though I was well-informed of my dad’s love for special-ordering T-shirts.  I have a vivid memory of having lunch with him at a Pizza Hut in between games at a travel tournament, though I have no idea where the tournament was or even which team I was travelling with at the time.  I remember driving with him on an open road in Florida weeks before he died, and listening to him tell stories about his cousins and encourage me to have adventures.

I get an Alexander Hamilton-esque obsessiveness as I start to type these memories.  (Why do you write like you’re running out of time?)  

I remember going out to dinner and my dad always finishing his meal first.  I remember him telling me that my mom looks good in peach.  I remember him hanging banners on our birthdays.  I remember him hugging me and saying “My baby!” in a funny voice.  I remember going to work with him on Take Your Daughter To Work Day and every Christmas Eve.  One of his co-workers asked me how I got stuck with him as my dad, and I explained that even if I’d gotten to choose, I would have picked him every time, and his co-worker laughed and gave me blank paper and highlighters to play with.

The brutal truth is that I won’t remember everything, and I can’t write down everything, and I may even forget some of the things I’ve typed here today.

And that has to be okay.  Because, as with all things, it is the way it is.  Writing helps.  Whether it’s my intention or not, memories of my dad pop into my writing every single day.  The simple act of recording may help to preserve these memories – or not.  That is not in my control.

I wonder sometimes if my anxiety about forgetting the little things is REALLY my anxiety about forgetting the big things – just manifested in a manageable way.

Then I decide to stop therapizing myself, at least for the moment.  I decide to have faith, to let it go, and to let it be.  And I decide to quit it with the alarms before one of my co-workers chokes me.

Image result for let it go and let it be

 

adoption · family

All The Feels #heart

Last year, my 2016 Mother’s Day was difficult.

Tee and I spend every Sunday from May through November at the Catonsville Farmers Market.  Which I love.  However – any farmers market is a hot bed of pregnant women and young mothers.  Last year, when I was an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting – and had been for over two years –  I spent the entirety of the market wishing others a happy mother’s day to others and then desperately seeking reassurance from the universe that Our Baby was coming.

Because it felt like Our Baby would NEVER EVER EVER COME.

Now, Our Baby is home.  And he’s sweet and smart and wonderful.  And I feel a tremendous amount of joy just being at the farmers market, watching Teddy crawl around and climb into vegetable crates and (oops) eat fistfuls of dirt out of a pepper plant.

But today – sitting at market, watching Teddy, and surreally receiving happy mother’s day greetings from everyone I saw – I couldn’t help thinking of last year.  Of how sincerely desperate and sad I felt.  Because, while Teddy was completely and totally worth the wait – that period of sadness and longing was no less painful because of the wonderfulness I have now.  It was heart-wrenching to be a wannabe mom waiting for Her Baby.

As a member of the DPS, I always have an awareness on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day of people who are feeling the pain of being without a living parent.  But this year, I wish I could find all the moms-waiting-for-Their-Baby in the world and give them a hug.  Even knowing that if the mom of a ten-month-old had tried to console me last Mother’s Day, I would have kicked her in the shins pretty hard.

Anyway – today, on my first mother’s-day-as-a-mother, I am joyful and grateful for all my blessings.  And I am filled with empathy for those still waiting for Their Baby, and I wish I could fill them with the faith that I could not grasp on all my mother’s days as an Adoptive-Parent-In-Waiting.

Oh – and thank you, sweet Teddy, for giving me my faith back.  ❤

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family · podcasts · recovery · snapshots

SNAPSHOT #heartsoulmindbody

Time for a snapshot:

#soul – I discovered a delightful new podcast – The Mindful Kind – and I’ve been working my way through the archive.  It’s helping me to keep my focus on mindfulness and to maintain my formal and informal daily mindfulness practice.

I also got to have a really good talk with a group of wise and gentle women to start off my Saturday this morning.  Excellent #soul food.

#heart – Tee and I went on our first date since Teddy’s homecoming today!  Ice skating and dinner at an Italian restaurant, with Teddy’s aunt and uncle baby-sitting and his four cousins “helping.”

#body – I’ve gone on snowy runs several days this week – trying to get myself back on track with my running game.  When I’m running regularly, it rehonestally helps me to maintain good balance and to stay in a good headspace.

#mind – I’m taking an online writing course and have been able to carve out a LITTLE time for writing.  There could always be more – but I’m happy to be slowly building up this habit.

Life has been pretty overwhelming recently.  My professional life is pretty chaotic, and I’m waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying for guidance as to what the next right thing to do is.

I very much want my life to be a genuine reflection of who am.  Trying to balance that with making a living is proving a challenge.  But Tee and I got to have some good talks about next steps and job possibilities today.  So I feel hopeful.  Hopeful that maybe something will work out that’s even better than I could have imagined.15672769_10154307145279372_6453315953913161698_n

adoption · family · parenting

Be The Person You Want Your Kid To Look Up To #heart #body

So I have a son now.14812631-toys-teddy-bear-stock-vector-cartoon

I know – it’s incredible.  There are no words.

Life is very different.  And it’s causing me to think a lot about my habits.

Today, I had a TV show on in the background while I was feeding and burping my little teddy bear.  When we were done with snuggly second breakfast time, I noticed that his eyes kept travelling to the computer screen.  And as much as I love Jane The Virgin, I don’t want my infant son to be watching television.  And I definitely don’t want my teenaged son to watch as much TV as I’ve been watching lately.

There are so many bad habits I don’t want Teddy to learn from me: eating junk food, getting stresse13501638_1112395762154994_8178056772099331938_nd, binge-watching TV shows mindlessly.

And there are so many GOOD habits I want him to learn from me!  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Mindful living.

Is it problematic if the only reason I get motivated to work on a habit is to
be a good role model for Teddy?  I don’t think so.  I think that any impetus to get motivated is a good one.

I’m the same person I was before Teddy came home.  The difference is that now I want to be better.  For him.  Which I imagine is what every parent wants.

I heard this said recently: “Your kids will never listen to what you say, but they can’t help but imitate who you are.”  I am definitely convinced that this is true.

family · relationships

Why Being An Aunt (before being a parent) Is Awesome #heart

The wait continues for this adoptive-parent-in-waiting.

Today is the second birthday of one of my nieces – a sweet, smart, spunky, wonderful little girl who I love like crazy.  My heart is full of love, and I can’t wait to see her later today, to watch her smush some delicious cupcake into her adorable face.

I’ve written a lot about the woes of waiting to be a parent, but there’s an interesting upside to the way my life has panned out so far: it is tremendously awesome to be an aunt, and (I think) it is really, really cool to be an aunt before you’re a parent.

I’ve thought about this a lot, ever since my brother’s first child was born.  That little one has seriously one of my best friends and one of my favorite things in the universe.  (Still is.)  (And yes, I am talking about having a toddler as a best friend.  I’ve had several; they’re awesome.)  I have loved baby-sitting for my nephew and my three nieces, and when we’re at a family gathering, my tendency is to drop everything else the moment one of them is looking for a plaFour_Hearts__edition_4-1336927380ymate.  Tee and I act similarly with all our honorary nieces and nephews, too – the children of dear friends, of whom there are many, who we love to tickle and snuggle and with whom we’ve played thousands of games of Birthday and Horsey.

Ever since we’ve been waiting for Our Baby, I’ve been thinking about what it will be like when Our Baby is part of these gatherings with family and friends.  Will I not be able to play as freely and reliably as I have been before?  Tee and I will be taking care of Our Baby, and then Our Babies, and while we’ll still love our little nephews and nieces like CRAZY, they won’t be the only little ones filling up space in our hearts, the way they have been for the past few years.

All of these musings have helped me to realized how awesome it is to be an aunt (or uncle) before you’re a mom or dad.  Being an aunt is insanely awesome, no matter what.  But those of us who get to do so before parenting ourselves have a special kind of experience that I’m grateful for.  (I imagine it’s similar for people who don’t have kids, nor have any intention of having kids, but I can only speak for me!)  Often people will talk about the awesomeness of being able to play with small children and then send them back to their parents when they get cranky; this is not what I’m talking about.  What I’m talking about is feeling your heart crazy-full of love for a tiny little one on the day he’s born, loving them like you never thought possible – and then, maybe years later, having your own child and getting knocked over yet again by the force of how much you can love a child.

They’re both awesome, amazing loves.  But I can’t imagine it being the same for someone who is a parent first.  You’ll still love your nieces and your nephews in a uniquely wonderful way – but, you’ll be experiencing that love having already experienced the knock-you-on-your-ass love of being a parent.

It feels a little funny to voice these kinds of thoughts – comparing different relationships and different kinds of love.  We’re not supposed to do that, right?  But sometimes I can’t help it.

With the adoption wait, it’s hard not to throw myself pity parties every once in a while, so it’s good when I can identify things I am grateful for.  And I am extremely grateful for all the aunting I’ve been able to do, especially since it will help me to be a better mommy to Our Baby.

family · self-care

#heart #soul

This weekend, I spent Saturday in New York celebrating my cousin’s upcoming nuptials.  We spent the afternoon at a spa in Staten Island, where I had a 30-minute massage.

Why don’t I get massages every day?

The first time I ever got a massage was about ten years ago, and it wasn’t enjoyable.  I wasn’t very good at relaxing back then – I liked to be moving, to be going, to be engaging in something productive.  The massage felt more like a nuisance than a treat.

I’ve gotten much better at relaxing since that massage.  This weekend, it struck me that a massage can be an excellent tool for slowing down and being mindful.   It’s difficult to find ways to slow down; at least, for me it is.  Lately, I’ve been feeling scattered and all-over-the-place, looking for little ways to bring myself back to the present moment so that I can feel saner, calmer, and more peaceful.

Sidebar: One of my tricks is slowing my gait.  I have a tendency to rush around; I work in a school, and I find myself almost crashing into people when I turn a corner in the hallway.  I usually blame this on my innate New Yorker – we walk fast.  (When I was in college, you could always tell the East Coasters from the West Coasters; we’d be walking down the street, and the California kids would be at least twenty yards behind the New York/Boston/DC natives.)  It’s hard work, but when I am slowing myself down, I work hard to be mindful of each step – to stop at doorways – to pause at corners – to do one thing at a time, which is way harder than it sounds.

It was surprising to me, how effective the massage was as a forced slowdown.  When I feel stressed, it can be difficult to do things that help me to calm down – running, yoga, visiting a coffee shop – because they’re active.  A massage is as passive as you can get – and an amazing stress reliever and mind re-setter.  Who knew?

family · relationships

#heart

There’s been a lot of #heart food in my life recently.

-One of my AmeriFriends (I’ll call her Squid) came up to visit from D.C.!  We spent Friday evening eating tapas and catching up, and on Saturday she joined us at Wild Peace Farm for sunshine, swimming, and soul-soothing physical labor.heart

-One of my best friends in the world (no code name yet) has moved to Maryland for two years!  This is an amazing treat for me.  I moved to Maryland seven years ago and I expected to be here for four months.  Then I met Tee and slowly settled in, but for several years felt the absence of having a really wonderful close friend nearby.  The longer we’re here, the bigger and more wonderful our community becomes – but it’s really special to have a close friend just a short drive away.