I apologize for not blogging much this past week. I know many of you check in regularly to see how we are doing, what is new on the home front, etc. and I kind of left you hanging with Joshie starting school and his struggles emotionally with it all. I appreciate any prayers that might have been thrown our way, as ultimately things went very well and he is now extremely happy in Kindergarten. What some people don't understand is that this was not a fear of school at all, in fact he was quite happy to be going to school. This was all about his fear that I was going to die while he was in school and he would once again be all alone. Almost word for word that is what he said. He didn't mind being away from me...he was just afraid that for some reason I would never come back. Quite different than the average kiddo who merely has the standard "First Day of School" worries, believe me. The level and depth of this was much more intense, and could almost be classified as terror. However all's well that ends well, and he is happily ensconced in his new class and doing well.
From there we went on to another unexpected emotional mini-crisis this afternoon. Today was a special day, as we found a trumpet for Matthew to take lessons at school. For the first time the Middle School is offering band classes for the 4th and 5th graders in the Elementary School to help build some skills and develop talent before they arrive in 6th grade and start music classes. This is a neat opportunity for the kids, and Matthew begged to take the trumpet, so we agreed to let him do it and needed to find a trumpet for him as his class starts on Wednesday. Thankfully a local music store went out of business and had been advertising that they were selling off their old band instrument rentals so I contacted them and they had a cornet (a small version of a trumpet) for $120 so we went out to his house, bought it and brought it home. It is used...pretty used actually...we are crazy gluing tubes back in place tonight actually...but the valves work fine and for a starter instrument it was the right price. I hadn't known instruments had gone up so much since my own band days! If he takes care of this and sticks with it we will try and find a better instrument for him in a couple of years. Matthew was SO excited, his face lit up and he threw himself on me with a great big bear hug and thanked me for his new trumpet.
So we had it out at home, oiled the valves and I was playing a few notes and surprised myself at actually getting out any sound at all and then Matthew took a turn, and he too was able to make a couple of noises that were close to notes. Joshie got a turn to blow and of course no sound at all but then suddenly he got his lips vibrating just right and a little "urp" came out! Kenny's turn came around and he grabbed it with a big grin and I showed him how to hold it correctly, and I also explained he might not be able to make any sounds because of his open palate but he gamely put it up to his lips and blew...and blew...and blew. I pinched his nose so air wouldn't escape and still not a sound. I am not even sure if his lip is formed well enough or if there is enough muscle control after his first surgery when he was a toddler there for him to be able to realistically play it. He dejectedly handed it back to me and sat down at our kitchen counter stool, and as I looked into his eyes at that moment I just knew he was going to melt, which he did.
He cried out "Momma...I can't do anything!! I never be able to play instrument!!" and as I stood up and held him close, I just couldn't help it...and my own tears came as well. I can't fix this for him, I can't take away the way he was born. We can offer medical care and do our best to get things corrected but right here, right now, I can't fix it and all he wanted to do was make a sound out of a trumpet. This wasn't fake tears for attention, this wasn't pouty tears to get his way, this was tears of genuine sorrow and a realization of a limitation he hadn't really expected. While I reminded him of all the other instruments he could play and that I was working on getting piano lessons for him, he had just seen a garage full of wind instruments...shiny trumpets and baritones, curvy saxophones, licorice black clarinets...and they are all out of his reach and he knew it. "I never be able to blow right, Momma!" and my offers of other instruments he could play fell on deaf ears. Matthew came over and hugged him and then as Kenny said "I ugly, my face so ugly!" Matthew shot back quick as a fox "No you are NOT Kenny! No one even notices it, really!". So I sat in the chair with Kenny curled up in my lap quietly crying, and slowly he stopped as I told him "See, this is why we want to get your mouth fixed!! It has nothing to do with how handsome you are! It is only so you can use a straw, eat well, speak well...and play an instrument if you want to...I like you just the way you are and wouldn't even worry about surgery if it weren't for important things like that."
Here you are, just going along doing your usual thing in the day, and something comes up that throws you for a loop...and you have to once again shift gears and quickly rummage through your mind trying to find the best approach so that this seemingly insignificant moment to outsiders is used to change your child's perspective towards seeing things from a more positive place, where they are growing from rather than wallowing in their differences. I readily accept that perhaps I take all of this too seriously, that I let it weigh on me too much when at times I could just gloss over some things or joke our way past it. But every time I think about it I just can't seem to do it, as in my mind it negates the seriousness of what they are feeling and that is the last thing I want to do.
So I haven't posted much lately because...well...I can't really explain it but my mind has been full of lots of things, and sometimes I need to just rest with it all as I work through it. When that happens, it kind of blocks out everything else and I'll sit down with the laptop and nothing wants to come out no matter how much I want it to. It's not that I write anything of any consequence here anyway, but at times it is really a release to let go of something I have been mulling over for days, or to share in writing some silly thing that has happened in our life that for us was a "moment".
There are times when I know I must "overthink" things, overanalyze them, turn them upside down and shake them inside my head as crystals fall out like salt over a buttery baked potato. The thoughts "season" the core idea but like the butter can also flow right over the top of the foil holding it all together and spill out on other areas. That is a really corny illustration, but sometimes it is exactly what it feels like. And I don't know how to be any other way, and some times it drives me completely nuts. I have yet to find a way to quiet my mind, and then there are times when I am so glad I can't calm it.
I have been fighting an inner battle over something lately, and it is not something I want to share here but has been a really tough one as it has been relentless in it's pursuit of me and I have tried and tried to fight valiantly against it. I don't understand it, it is requiring me to view myself from a new angle, it is downright scary to me, and it's timing is utterly ridiculous. This weekend at a funeral I attended, I "got it" and gave up on the fight, finally. I can't win anyway, so why pretend...but I sure don't understand it. As I become more comfortable myself with it all I'll share more here, but suffice it to say that right now I am walking around in a half conflicted state much of the time, shaking my head in bewilderment.
I had a wonderful birthday yesterday consisting of a serenade by the Three Mini Soprano Future Tenors early in the morning, and then again being sang to by our church choir later on which was actually quite beautiful! Everyone should have such a melodic beginning to their day! I received a surprise special gift from a dear friend which is currently lighting up my bedroom when it is dark and is serving its purpose as intended :-) I spent the afternoon with our adopted Grandpa, a close friend who the boys and I went to lunch with after church (Dominick had to work yesterday) and then headed home to our house for a rousing 3 games of Scrabble with him (He whupped me 2 games out of 3!), which just proved what a geek I am that I LOVE that game and can't ever find anyone to play with. I had a terrific dinner at a friend's house where I was served the most perfectly well grilled steak and a huge dolop of friendship on the side. I was given the gift of two wonderful and thoughtfully selected books as well as awesome hugs from my friend, and then I was hunted down on the phone literally all day by our friends in Chicago so that we could Skype and visit on my birthday later that evening. The boys each got me carefully selected gifts from the dollar store...a plastic kitty cat to match my plastic doggy given to me by Josh last year, a small plastic bell with a rose on top that lights up with led lights from Kenny, and small colored stones with words on them from Matthew that say things like "Faith", "Family", "Love", etc. Matthew had just told me last week that he knew he was growing up because he was suddenly finding it more fun to give presents than to get them, and he thought that was cool. Dominick made me a chocolate cake that was delicious! All in all, a day filled with love, and how can you top that??
For myself for my birthday this week I bought...UGH...I can not believe I am writing this...READING GLASSES!!! Yes folks, it is one of the perils of being an older mommy that reading Green Eggs and Ham has become harder as the book is held further and further away...hahahaha! I had no idea how badly I needed them until I tried a pair on in Target and loudly exclaimed "WOW!" as I could actually read the side of the contact lens cleaner box. But why, pray tell, do the cheaper reading glasses all have to be so darned ugly??? I may have submitted to the reading glasses, but I am a LONG WAY from wearing them on a chain around my neck!!
I had an extension to my birthday in the form of a long, wonderful conversation with a friend today. I have never seen myself as a "girlfriend" kind of person...you know the kind that many of you probably actually are and I wish I was...the kind depicted on Hallmark cards? Funny though, the older I get, the more I am becoming like that and enjoying it! However, there are a couple of common threads that weave in and out that tie my closest friends together, regardless of how dissimilar they may at first appear to be...they are authentic and they are all extremely bright, far brighter than I am. I have friends from all walks of life, with many different political and religious perspectives, of many differing ages. Each one has a purpose and I have gained so much in the past few years from these wonderful women who are the individual squares that make up the quilt of my life thus far. Part of it, I think, is I simply don't have time for those with less authenticity, I don't "suffer fools gladly" which is not necessarily a great quality of mine but it is the truth. I also like to be around people who are smart, as I always learn so much from them.
Well, I found myself sharing lots of things today, found that talking them through helped crystallize my own thoughts much as writing here on the blog about certain things often does. I wasn't much of a listener today, which is a little unusual because most of the time I find others more interesting than myself. While much of our conversation centered around a particular topic, it branched off into something that kind of hit the nail on the head for me at the moment in another area and I guess I hadn't realized it before. We were talking about fitting in groups, finding our peers, etc. and I was able to voice that right now at this stage in my life and in my specific environment, I am having a hard time finding true "peers". I am an older mommy than many of the mom's I know, sometimes much older than the moms of the kids in the boys' classes. In one sense I am on the fringes with older women yet they are usually alot further along in their child raising years than I am or are perhaps through. In another sense, my younger mommy friends are at a different stage with their kids and their lives...retirement is not yet looming as much in your future at 30 as it does at over 40.
No one I know in our community has our unique family make up, no one is dealing with racial differences on a daily basis along with special needs, language acquisition, RAD and adoption issues all rolled up in one enchilada as well as the "background noise" of another adoption in the works that will throw two more into the mix adding who-knows-what into the soup. I have no real "mentor" mommies to turn to, I have no one to model myself after. Even the adoptive families I know are playing on a different field now, most of them adopting infants as we first did. Somewhere along the line, as I grew older and as our family is growing larger, I lost out in the Peer Department and I doubt I will ever find my way back. So I tend to often feel as if I am fumbling around, blazing my own trail even if it leads me to drive right off an unforeseen cliff. I find myself picking pieces and parts from those stories I read online, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff as I figure out what to do and what direction I am headed. But there are moments, no matter how much I love all of my wonderful friends, when I sure wish there was someone...anyone...who really could steer me when I feel as if I am about to run off track. I wish there was someone who could offer advice that I know comes from a place that is similar to my own rather than from a place where they imagine they know what it is like to live our life. It is not that often that advice and encouragement isn't valid, because it often is. But sometimes, as in this past week with Josh, others simply can not possibly understand what it does to your mommy heart to send your child to school knowing they are terrified you will die in a car accident before the end of the day.
I know it is not anyone's fault, and I know that our family is made up exactly the way it is supposed to be and I am NOT complaining at all about that. I guess what I am saying is that sometimes I miss the moments other mommy's have when they get together and talk about things like their childbirth experiences or when they are at the park with their kids playing in the background and they share advice about how to handle normal day to day things. And our normal day to day things are very, very different...such as having other children make "Chinese Eyes" faces at your kids behind their backs at Walmart as happened the other day or hearing your son's prayers as he begs God to find a family for a friend left behind. There are often heavy burdens carried around by our kids, and sometimes heavier burdens than we give credit for carried around by their parents as well.
Sometimes, I guess, I am simply tired of thinking.