Happy New Year {Hey, Moms. Let’s not judge.}

On the eve of 2015, we sat around our dinner table and each took turns creating goals for ourselves, and for our family- well, except for our little one.  He’s a bit too young to determine goals.  For him, the goal for 2015 might have been to eat more candy, and I’m pretty sure he did just that (aka: parent fail).  Anyway, after deciding what we should work on for 2015, I sealed up the slip of paper in an envelope titled, “Family Goals 2015” and stuck it on the refrigerator.  There it stayed for the last year – no one thought about it, looked at it, or even wondered about it.

Tonight, I exclaimed, “Time to open our Family Goals envelope!”, and the kids came running like a herd of cattle at hay-time.  Most likely, they did not remember what their goals were, but boy, they were certainly interested in learning if they accomplished them.

Opening up the envelope, I read out loud what each goal was.  As I went through each one, I noticed the look on everyone’s faces.  Yeah.  Can we say “EPIC FAIL”?  True to our nature, we gave an awesome “E” for effort, set new goals for 2016, and sealed them back up to be stuck to the refrigerator for this new year.  My husband and I did acknowledge to our children that “At least you recognized that you partially met some of them, and were honest about not meeting the others.  That’s important.”  Right?  RIGHT…wink, wink.20160101_193456

And then it hit me.  I might have just completely failed as a mother this past year.  My thought, “If I was doing my job as a mother, I would have encouraged them all to accomplish their goals.”  For goodness sake, I would have accomplished my own.  Sure.  I met one (sort of) literally within the last two hours of 2015, but the rest of them…forget it.  I completely failed.  To give an example, one of my goals was to count to ten when I am angry.  Again, EPIC FAIL.

As the kids ran out of the room just as quickly as they rushed in, I had another thought.  “Where are we as a society that chooses to define motherhood by “if you do this, or do that, or be this, or be that, or breastfeed, or not breastfeed, or home school, or not home school, or only eat organic, or not eat organic, or do all of those cool things on Pinterest, or completely abandon all social media, or yell, or not yell, or stay home full time, or are employed outside of the home, or send to private school, or send to public school….or whatever….then you are a good mother”?  I mean, come on.  No pressure, right?  And, do any of these things truly define motherhood?

comparison

After working in child welfare for many years, I can assure you that if you are clothing, feeding, protecting, providing an education, and waking up each day with the determination to show love to your children, then you are doing a good job.  If you recognize your faults, have failures and successes, and embrace your children with a twinge of hope, then you are exemplifying all that motherhood brings.

The truth is that none of us are perfect in this journey.  We make goals, we fail at them.  We set boundaries, we allow them to be broken.  We say, “If you do that one more time…”, and then we don’t always follow through.  I am pretty sure our mothers went through the same things.  I often get a little bothered when I hear people talking about parenthood these days, and how all of today’s children are just “spoiled”, “not goal oriented”, or whatever label is put on them.  I suspect the same things might have been said about every generation of children (even us, gasp…no way).  Parenting is hard enough as it is – let alone having to judge ourselves against the often misrepresented images of motherhood that we see on any given day.

As part of the family tradition, I did set two goals for 2016, and I am going to do my best to work on them.  However, if I fail, or if my family fails at accomplishing their goals, then so be it.  It doesn’t change anything.  The very fact that we are setting goals, having a discussion about them, and admitting a few areas we need to work on is just fine with me.

Hey, Moms.  I’m speaking to you.  Let’s not judge.  In this new year, perhaps we should all set a collective goal to not define mothering by what we think society wants.  Let’s stop judging each other by the standards of what we think is the “best”.  Let’s recognize that it takes all types of mothers to parent all types of children, and let’s be okay with that.  Let’s be true to ourselves.  Let’s be who we are; the junk, the goodness, the failures, the successes.

Let’s just be Moms who deeply love our children, who protect them, who whisper messages of hope, who discipline, who steer in better directions, and who wake up each day embracing our children with the hope of a better day; regardless of what others think.

From my heart to yours, Happy New Year.  May this year be filled with lots of laughter – at the mistakes, at the successes, and at ourselves.

 

Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.

Just be Still

“Just be still, Caroline.  Just be still.”

These words have echoed in my mind and heart through the past several weeks. Okay, maybe for the past few months.  I’m someone who has always seems to have a plan, goal, and mission in mind.  My to-do list does not seem to have an expiration date, and even time off is filled with a handful of items to check off of it.

In other words, I am used to being busy – physically, emotionally, and even, spiritually.

Several months ago, I went to work out at the crack of dawn (literally), came home, got ready for work, got the kiddos ready for school, and then had a bit of a coughing spell.  I felt a “pop” in my lower back.  I even said to my husband, “I think I pulled a muscle.

Even with pain, I still went about keeping up with my daily regimen.  I also continued to train for an annual 150-mile cycling event that I have completed for the past few years.  However, that nagging pain I kept feeling wouldn’t leave me.  That voice that gently encouraged me to “just be still” didn’t go away.  With the coaxing of my husband, I went to the doctor.  Turns out I bulged a disk in my back out (from a coughing spell, no less!).

I had no choice.  I had to be still.

“Be still?!?” I thought.  That is NOT for me.  I’m not a “still” person.  “I’ve got things to do!  I’ve got a household that needs maintained, a job that needs fulfilled, children to navigate through the day, and a cycling event coming up!”

As I sat in my home, heating pad on my lower back, waiting for the doctor to let me know if I would need surgery or not, and wondering when the back pain would go away, I kept staring at the very things that needed to be done around the house.

I began to think about the past several years, and have they seem to have flown by.  I’ve been really busy, you know.  With working, raising three children, tending to my home, keeping up with this blog, cycling, and starting a handful of other writing projects, it seems as though I was never still.

I even thought,

“I was not born into this world to be still.”

I did get that call from the doctor, a follow-up visit, and the most positive outcome from having a back injury (no surgery needed) that I wanted to hear.  This was the best case scenario.  However, through the course of it all, the words, “Just be Still” kept echoing through my spirit.

The time following my injury I was forced to be still.  No lifting, no riding my bike, no carrying children around, and staying off my feet as much as possible.  I thought I was going to be miserable, but instead, I found peace and renewal in being still.

Instead of looking around at the things in my home that needed to be done, I watched my children play in the living room.  I observed my husband’s care of them, and my daughter’s concern for my health.  It seems that being still is exactly what I needed.

After I recovered, I got back into my normal routine which includes driving my son to and from gymnastics training.  Typically, on the way home from a long day, I am usually flying to get back to the house to start the nightly rituals of getting the kids in bed.  On that night, though, I slowed down, enjoyed the car ride with my son, and caught a glimpse of God’s artistry in the night sky.  We noticed it together, and pulled over to take a picture.Night Sky

“Just be still, Caroline.  Just be still.”

Friends,

That nagging pain you are feeling….

That whisper of “just be still” that you can’t seem to shake….

That rest you have been mandated to do….

Perhaps, these things are drawing you closer to your Father than you think.

Perhaps, being still is exactly what you need.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Psalm 46:10

 

Can I get an Amen to that?!

I’m realizing that parenting is one way that the Lord is reminding me that He’s not finished with me yet.

And by not finished with me, I mean…

  • not finished with tempering my sometimes quick temper,
  • not finished with refining my desire to be right,
  • not finished with comparing myself to others,
  • not finished with finding satisfaction in the small successes,
  • not finished with my futile attempt to be in control (can I get an Amen on that one?!)
  • and, not finished with my failure (often) to step back and let Him lead.

Here’s the deal – I’m a failure as a parent, or at least, I often feel like one.

I let the little things bother me. My house is never clean enough. My children are a little, shall I say, strong-willed and “energetic”. I know there are times when they are less than grateful for what they have been given in life. Honestly, I am too.

Today, I had a little glimpse of glory when my six-year-old daughter said, “You know there are homeless people without a Christmas tree.”

I sat there stewing my frustrations about the wild two-year-old who just got every toy out and threw them all over the floor, and thinking about my incredibly sick husband who was dealing with the stomach bug, and I stopped and listened for a moment.

My daughter, who had also been battling the stomach bug today, got really quiet, started smiling, and said, “What if, instead of having Christmas at our house, we go give water and presents to homeless people?”

I’m still trying to figure out the details of how we can work in our family Christmas and one that involves her idea of giving to the homeless, but I walked away from this discussion thinking,

“Thank you, Lord, for that little glimpse of parenting success.”

If most of the lessons I’ve tried to teach my kids wash away, but they grow up with compassion and faith, then maybe, just maybe, I am succeeding as a parent.

I’m realizing that parenting is one way that the Lord is reminding me that He’s not finished with me yet. And by not finished with me, I mean…

  • not finished with tempering my sometimes quick temper,
  • not finished with refining my desire to be right,
  • not finished with comparing myself to others,
  • not finished with finding satisfaction in the small successes,
  • not finished with my futile attempt to be in control (can I get an Amen on that one?!)
  • and, not finished with my failure (often) to step back and let Him lead.

Mothers who are weary, sick of cleaning up the messes, fretting your own failures, doubting your decisions, comparing your flaws, looking around at the mini-disasters in your own living room, doing your best to hold your tongue, wishing you would have said something differently than you did, and enduring hardship, remember this…

The Lord’s not finished with you yet, and He’s not finished with your children.

Can I get an Amen to that?!

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” Philippians 1:6 (The Message Bible)

Real vs. Not Real…?

“Mom, are you my real Mom?” My son asked as I started his bath water.  “I’m sorry, Honey. What did you say?”  I knew his question, but I wanted to hear it again so that I could listen for the slight change in his voice when he said the word “real’.

“Are you my real Mom?” 

I stared at him for a minute, poured the body wash into the running water so that bubbles would emerge, and said, “Why do you ask?”  He went on to explain that a boy on his gymnastics team kept saying to him that I was not his real mom.

“Well, I wonder if he meant biological mom.  If he did, then no, I am not your biological mother, but I am your real mother.  I love you and take care of you, and that is what makes me your real mother.”

“But he said that because I was not with you at birth, then you are not my real mom”, my son said.  “Was I with you at birth?”

“No, you were not, but you came to live with us when you were just a tiny baby, and I am your real mother.”

And just like that, he went on to talking about what happened at school.  Just like that, the conversation was over.

My children know they are adopted.  We have discussed what makes us different that biological families.  We have spoken the words of adoption, birth mommy, birth daddy, two moms, two dads, adoptive mommy and adoptive daddy to them since before they could barely speak.  My husband and I have always felt that our duty as adoptive parents is to only speak truth to our children.

They deserve to know that they are adopted.  They deserve to know that they were weaved in other women’s wombs, and that they have biological parents.

It has not been easy, you know.  I suspect that a lot of adoptive families have experienced random conversations about birth parents and adoption at the most unsuspecting of times.  I chuckle a little bit when I hear that adoptive parents are waiting for the “right time” to answer children’s questions about adoption.

The truth is that there will never be a right time.  The right time is when you are driving to school one day and your child suddenly pops you with a question.  The right time is when you stumble across a movie about an adopted child, and your child compares himself or herself to that character.  The right time just might be when your child is settling into a warm bubble bath.

As my son’s mind lingered off to the antics of bath time, my mind kept swirling around the word, REAL.  Why is it that we focus on that word (real) when we live in a time of a lot of artificial things?  There is artificial sweetener, artificial limbs and organs, and artificial insemination; yet still, when it comes to parenting, we use the word real.

Real or Not Real…?  I guess that is the question.

I do not know why we automatically jump to the terms of “real mom and real dad”, but this is what I do know:

  • If one is not real, then one is imaginary.  My husband, myself, and my children are not an imaginary family.  We are a very REAL family.
  • When it comes to parenting, why does “real” even matter?  Would you ask a parent if the discipline bestowed upon his or her children was real?  What about the sleepless nights with newborns…are they real?  And how about those cupcakes you baked for your child’s birthday? Are they real?  See?  It seems silly to question if discipline, sleepless nights, and cupcakes are real. Why then…Why do we choose the word “real” when it comes to motherhood and fatherhood?
  • The day-to-day tasks of parenting are all very real.  My husband and I are not faking it.  We get up each day, remind our children to brush their teeth (multiple times), get them to school on time, hold them while they are getting shots, comfort them while they are sick, encourage them when they are down, admonish them when they are acting in ways that will not help them, cheer for them when they are trying their hardest, discipline them when they need corrected, cry for them when they are struggling to make sense of their worlds, stand up for them when it seems the world is not, feed them, dress them, love them, and accept them.  This is REAL parenting.

If your children have friends who are adopted, then this is what you might want to teach your children about adoption:

Adoptive families tend to stray away from the word “real”.  Instead, we use biological or birth parents.  Adoptive families are just like other families.  We were just put together a little differently.  We live the same. We cry the same. We love the same.  

If you are wondering how adoptive parenting might be different from parenting biological children, or if you have friends who have adopted, remember this….

We are all fighting the same battles.  We have a separate history to consider, but for the most part, we are dealing with the same frustrations that biological families are dealing with.  We are all struggling with how to be better parents.

We are all yearning to raise children who feel they are the center of our worlds, but not the center of the world.  

We are all working to keep our children healthy. We are all considering the future, and what that will look like.  

We are all pouring our entire beings into the little souls we have been given to raise.  We are just like other families.  

We are all praying for our children, asking for protection upon their lives, and carrying a bit of them each day in our hearts.

We are all very REAL parents.

I suppose my son (and my other two children) may face questions and even ridicule in the future about being adopted.  This breaks my heart to consider, but also challenges me even more to be an intentional parent…to love with intention, live with intention, discipline with intention, and educate others with intention.

Real or Not Real…?  

Seems like a silly question.  After all….

We are all very REAL families.

our very real family
our very real family

YOU are relevant {encouragement for Momma}

Busy, busy, busy…these are the three words that come to mind when thinking of the day.  Up at 5:50 am (that’s actually sleeping in a bit), let dog out, let dog in, feed dog, feed cat, let dog out again, make coffee, quickly swig coffee, read a bit of news on the Internet, one kid up, then another, then another, feed them, jump in shower, check on kids, get husband out of bed, make lunch, comb daughter’s hair, get toddler dressed, put out fresh water for dog, say goodbye to husband and one child, double-check locks on doors, turn off coffee pot, load up two kids, drop off one, drop off the other, say daily prayer to the Lord, and then head to work.

Work stuff.  Reports, percentages, discussions, meetings…paperwork.

Get off work, pick up daughter, take to swim lessons, engage in conversation with other moms, smile  at daughter while she is showing off her swimming abilities, load her back up in the car, head home, greet husband, ask how oldest son’s day went, hug little one, fix dinner, do two loads of laundry, get daughter in bath, then get youngest in bath, clean bathroom, get oldest son in bath, fold a bit of laundry, straighten up toddler’s room, hold him while he rages against not wanting to go to bed, switch out with husband so that he can get little one to sleep, tuck oldest son in bed, tuck daughter in bed, tell her a story (she likes it when one is made up with her as the main character), sing a song to her, and sit down for the first time since being home from work.

THIS.  This is an average day in my life, and most likely, in many other’s lives.  And yet, despite how tiring it can be, how seemingly repetitive (like the movie Groundhog Day) it is, and how overwhelming it might be, I am reminded of the beauty of it all.

I am thankful for the blessing of not having to worry about where my children are sleeping tonight, if there is enough food on the table, whether we will be persecuted for believing what we believe, if I can access medicine for my family, or meet their basic needs.

In the same breath that I feel exhausted at the end of the day, I look around and hear the Lord saying,

“You are relevant.”

And then, I think about my friends who are mommies.  I think, “They, too, are relevant.”  Then, my heart turns to my friends who are not yet mom’s, ones who long to be but are still waiting, and one’s who are fostering the babes of other mom’s, and I think, “Yes, they are also relevant.”

Motherhood is challenging.  It is incredibly emotional.  It is glorious, frustrating, and disappointing at times.

At moments, it feels as raw as can be.  Other times, it feels as distant as the eye can see.

It can be monotonous.  It can be adventurous.  It can be exhausting.  Still yet, it is relevant.

When dragged down by the duties of the day, screaming of cranky babies, whining of little one’s, dishes that need to be washed, clothes hanging out in the laundry hamper, and reports that are nearing their deadlines, remember this, sweet Momma…

YOU are relevant.  

IMG_0255The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m here on the eve of celebrating the anniversary of our son’s adoption day, and I’m thinking of you.  It happens every year, you know. We mark the seventh of May with joy and celebration at the gift that he is to us.  It is the day that the courts declared him to be forever ours.  Still yet, my mind travels to thoughts of you.

Six years ago, on the eighth of May (the day after our big court date), I sat in his room, watched him play with toys a bit, and then pulled a blue t-shirt over his head to wear.  As his blonde curls popped up out of the neck of the shirt, his big brown eyes caught mine, and then it hit me.

I sat there for a moment, captivated by his precious face, and suddenly, felt the tears as they began to well up in my eyes.  Something about that moment….getting him dressed as my “official” son…on a new day…with a new start…being able to exhale for the first time in almost two years…with a new legal description of who I was to him…moved me greatly.

photodayafterI snapped a quick picture of him.  I wanted to capture that moment in time.  I did not want to forget it. I was a blubbering mess in the middle of his bedroom.  We had shared nearly two years of a life without permanency, and in that moment of our eyes meeting, I knew full well that he was not going anywhere.

It was not just the beginning of our new life together that caused me to pause, it was also the ending of the journey that you and I shared.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m thinking about the first time I met you, the meetings, court hearings, visits, laughter, tears, and restless nights.  Your words remain on my mind.  Your laugh, your concern for my family, and the friendship we formed in love because of our son are held in a place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else, but will be shared with our son as he grows.

Your kindness was an incredible and unique experience that is sometimes not expected in the world of foster care.  People may wonder why I feel the way I feel for you.  They may even question how I could form a friendship with someone who found herself in the position that you did.  Instead of understanding your “lot in life”, they judge.

My judgment fell away the moment we met.  I looked at you, heard what you had to say, and realized that you were not my enemy.  You were never meant to be.  We just found ourselves wrapped up in the legal drama that is foster care.  Instead, we formed a friendship based on very difficult circumstances. It grew out of the love for our little boy – yours, and mine.  Your love for him was never questioned in my heart – not then, not now, and not ever.

How can I love him and not love that part of him that belongs to you?  How can I not think of you when he learns new things, calls me Momma, succeeds at his talents, gets sick, and moves along in his journey to adulthood?

I want you to know that on our joyous day six years ago there were many loving people in the court room.  Each one played a small part in forming our family. Some prayed for us.  Some cheered us on.  Some loved on him with genuine and unmistakable adoration.  Some pushed paperwork, and some allowed me to cry on their shoulders.

Even still, no one in the cramped court room mattered more in the whole scheme of things than you.  Although you were absent from the court room, I carried you in my heart that day.

You chose life.  You carried him.  You labored bringing into the world.  You called him by his name before anyone else.  You left the hospital alone. You were gracious to the strangers (us) who took him in.  You hung in there, and visited him.

You said your good-byes, and you let go.

I’m here again, birth mother.  I’m returning to that incredible day six years ago when God proved His faithfulness, removed the mountain-sized weight off of my shoulders, and blessed me with adoption of the son we share.

Do you want to know something, birth mother?  On the day after, I thought the hard part was over.  I thought that being his foster-mother, not knowing how permanency for him would unfold, and wondering if I would be his forever momma, was the hardest part.

However, I’m learning that raising him is the hardest part.  It is not because of him. He is a challenging, at times, but he is remarkable, beautiful, smart, witty, creative, ornery, and loving.  He is an incredible son, and I’m one of the most lucky momma’s on Earth.  Being his momma is an important responsibility and privilege in my life.

kiteIt is just that the world sometimes does not look upon children like it should.  Raising him to love, respect others, enjoy the simple things, remain loyal to his family, and not be swayed by the winds of ego-driven goals, is a struggle for most parents these days.  I’m no different.

I do not ever want to dishonor you by not giving my all to him.  I want him to experience a life of opportunities, one full of friendships, and dreams that soar.

I want him to live life to the fullest, while also, learning how to be a responsible soul that passes on goodness to this world.  I know you want that, too.

I’m here again, birth mother.

I’m thinking back at what seems like a lifetime ago.

I’m sifting through memories.  I’m looking through pictures, and I’m experiencing the emotions felt when the gavel fell, and the Judge declared our adoption as final.

I’m thanking the Lord.  I’m praising His mighty Hand.  I’m marveling in His penmanship in our lives, and I’m relishing in His powerful ways.

I’m here again, birth mother, and, I’m thinking of you.  I’m thanking you.

 

Related Post:  I thought of you today, birth mother.

however motherhood comes

While watching my oldest son compete in his last gymnastics competition of the year, my dad struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to him. As usual, he bragged about his grandchildren.

As I was off taking pictures, the conversation between my dad and the lady turned into one about adoption. He learned that two out of her four children were adopted. When I returned to sit down, he shared about their conversation. As she and I sat and visited for a bit, I learned a brief history about her adoptions, and I shared a bit about mine.

Similar to new mothers sharing birthing stories, I found myself enjoying this kindred conversation. Both of us marveled at our sons. We both shared with joy in thinking about what our kids have accomplished given their difficult entries to our world. We also both expressed great gladness in being adoptive parents.

This experience reminded me of this quote by Valerie Harper,

“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.”

This day, I give praise for the miraculous, wonderful gift of motherhood.

It’s Just Hair…

I came home today feeling relaxed after some self-pampering. As I approached the top of the stairs, my husband stopped me, and said, “You are going to be mad.” Confused, I wandered into the living to see my daughter hiding her head in the couch pillows.

As her head peered out from the pillows, I saw what she did. This morning, I took her to get a cute hair cut. This afternoon, she decided to cut a good inch off…right off the forehead. Oh man, I was angry!

The first few times my daughter took the scissors to her head were kind-of cute. Now, at age five, after multiple times of cutting her hair, it is not so cute anymore. (Yes, we put the scissors up. And, yes, she is a sneaky, little climber.) I was so angry with her, but then I remembered a blog post that was written by a fellow mother, believer, blogger, and friend.

As I read her words for the second time, I realized that my dissatisfaction over my daughter’s choice to cut her hair matters less than the fact that my daughter has strength to climb for scissors, energy to hide in the pillows of the couch, and hair to cut.

Please, if you have ever been upset by your child cutting his or her hair, take a moment and read this post by Charity. After all, it’s just hair….

Ten Years from Now {a letter for my daughter}

My daughter, I look at you and wonder where the years have gone.  You are getting taller, losing your baby fat, and seeking out things that intrigue you.  Ten years from now, I hope you will stumble upon this rambling of mine.

As a 5-year-old, you are bright-eyed, strong-willed, and quite the little drama queen. You organize my closet like no one’s business.  You worry about whether or not the pets have enough to eat, and you are already slightly obsessed with teenage musicals.

You push my buttons, and seem to enjoy it.  Yet, at the same time, you make my heart melt when I see your sweetness arise.  I watch you as you watch me.  You mimic my every move, and ask often, “When will I be old enough to….?” IMG_2616

My daughter, as we commemorate your adoption anniversary, I want you to know a few things.

Ten years from now when you are 15-years-old, life will look a little different from now. You will be sitting in a high school classroom possibly wondering if you are good enough.  You might look in the mirror and only see imperfections. You might even be hard on yourself, find things you want to correct, and maybe even wish you looked different. I did, too.

My daughter, ten years from now, I want you know that you are beautiful.  

Your beauty is beyond compare as there is no other girl in the world just like you. Your eyes, your hair, your skin tone, and your body are exactly what they are supposed to be.  They are pieces of the magnificent puzzle that make up who you are.

Your beauty is more than skin deep though.  Your beauty comes from the inner part of who you are.  It comes from that place where your deepest whispers of the heart are heard.  It bristles at your ideas.  It captures your dreams, and it carves out a spot in the universe just for you.

Ten years from now, your 15-year-old self is a person I cannot wait to meet.  I look forward to seeing where she wants to go in life, what captures her heart, and where her hidden talents are found.  I anticipate watching her try on fancy dresses for school dances, and listening to her giggle at the sound of a boy calling on the phone.

Ten years from now, please tell me if I am hovering just a bit too much.  Please let me know that I might just be getting on your nerves.  I already consider the trials you might face in high school, and wonder if you will see yourself with the same set of lenses that I see you.

I do not want you to feel the sting of rejection, or the intimidating glare of another girl at school.  I know though, that I cannot shield you from these things.  I can just build you up to be the confident girl that you deserve to be.

If someone tells you that you are not good enough, please say, “I am better.”  If someone tells you that you are not welcome, please tell him or her, “I’m sorry that you are missing out on a friendship.”

If you hear that you are too skinny or too fat, remind yourself that true beauty is not seen with the eyes. True beauty is experienced in those moments of tenderness between two friends.  It is felt when you are doing exactly what your heart wants you to do.  It hovers when you are showing kindness to those who need it the most.

True beauty does not have a physical image.

As I think about our adoption anniversary and scroll through the many pictures of you we have saved on our computer, I gaze with awe at how amazing you are.  You are exactly who you were created to be, and, we are exactly the family we were created to be.

I will never be able to replace your birth mother.  Your daddy will never be able to replace your birth father, but know this, you are deeply loved.  You were chosen.

Today, tomorrow, and ten years from now, I will always defend you, and stand with you.  I will always celebrate the day you came to me, and the moment I held you for the first time.

Ten years from now, I want you to know that…

You are beautiful.  You are hope fulfilled.  You are so worth it.  You are loved.