Confessions of a Working Mom

DREAM
DREAM

I am a mother with a full-time job outside of the home.  It is not that I’m necessarily at the office long hours of the day, but, I’m in a leadership position at my work, and often have to be available to emails and calls even if sitting on my couch.  There are expectations, decisions, and paperwork on my plate at all times.  There are new policies to be read, meetings to attend, and staff work to be approved.  I know that my work in child welfare is a ministry and I’m extremely blessed to work for a Christian agency, but I feel pulled in so many directions most of the time.  I often wonder if my work in helping other families distracts me from taking care of my own.

With this in mind, I have a confession to make:  I daydream about being a stay-at-home mother.  I imagine waking up after getting a restful long night of sleep, greeting my lovelies in the best “Snow White-Princessy” kind of voice while wearing fluffy house-shoes, and whipping up fresh made biscuits (not from a can).  I imagine sending my son off to school without the rush of madness in the morning.  I imagine my daughter attending preschool just one day per week instead of forty hours per week.

In my dreamland of non-salaried motherhood, my house is spotless (ALL of the time), the yard is sculpted to perfection, there are no laundry piles, toys are sorted by color, shape, or function, pets are always well-groomed, husband is also always well-groomed, meals are diverse and over-the-top healthy, and every sock is matched with the other.  My home looks like most of the fantastic homes on the ever-popular, yet, intimidating website Pinterest.  In my dreamland, there are lunch dates with friends, salon treatments, and a personal trainer.  There’s cycling during the day, hanging out in a coffee shop with my laptop, baking cookies with the kids, shopping trips with my daughter, play dates at the park, more church activities, and volunteering at the local hospital.

In this dream, I’m always in a good mood, never stressed, and feel constantly “in the moment” with my children and husband.  I don’t have to worry about budgets other than my own, and I don’t have to read new policies.  I don’t have to say yes or no to employees, and my focus is only on home life….

Okay, so I know that all mom’s work regardless of employment.  I know (or at least have learned vicariously) that it is difficult to stay home full-time with young children.  My friends who do not have employment outside of the home struggle with finding time for themselves, mounds of laundry, bored kids, fighting siblings, and feeling overwhelmed.

REALITY
REALITY

Motherhood is hard regardless of receiving a paycheck or not.  Motherhood is all-encompassing.  We are never really “off the clock”.  We don’t get to call in sick to our kids, or take vacation days.  We are love-givers, nutritionists, chefs, boo-boo healers, life coaches, fashion advisers, groomers, interior designers, friend creators, manicurists, pedicurists, personal bankers, and housekeepers.  We are dictionaries, spiritual advisers, encyclopedias, social skills teachers, and tutors.  We are warriors, protectors, and commanders.  We also know that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

I guess, then, that we are all the same.  Employed outside of the home or not, we all probably dream of waking up and greeting our little ones like a Disney Princess, making fresh made biscuits not from a can, and wearing matching socks.

Passage (poem about adoption)

Passage

Your mother loved you dearly
But that love was not enough,
With tears in her eyes and guilt in her heart
She had to give you up.

You started life, far from certain
Moving from home to home,
A search began to fill your void
A family to call your own

Days dragged on, and into weeks
And months turned into years,
Old enough to look for mommy and dad
But the horizons never near

Your life on hold, bonds incomplete,
Growing older with every day,
Hoping and dreaming every night
For a permanent home to stay

A call is made, “a child we have”
Of course we want this child!
More than ready to fill a heart felt void
Knowing your trust will be meek and mild

You quietly question another move
Is my search over or still continuing?
You keep to yourself, hiding here and there
As the question begins diminishing

You eye all the other children
Their love helps you on your way,
You see, once they were where you are
At the start of their first new day

You give us your trust, you warmed to our love
We’re finally now mommy and dad,
Our heart now filled, the bonds now complete
Your tears for a family, now glad

Your mother sent you on a journey
God’s destination she did not know,
So little, you made your passage
From her heart into our own.

-Ron Schutt

It is hard to find a lot of poems about adoption out of foster care.  I came across this one and thought I would share it.  Have a wonderful day!

 

Don’t Borrow Trouble

“Caroline, I learned raising you with all of your health problems that you can’t borrow trouble.” 

The quote above is from a conversation today with my mom about my son’s health.  A routine trip to the urgent care to make sure that bronchitis or pneumonia had not declared itself in my son’s lungs turned into a six-hour ordeal involving multiple breathing treatments and more doctor’s appointments and testing to come.  I’ll know more this week and am really trying to not borrow trouble, but I’m also really good at it.  If it was a salaried talent, I would be a “zillionairre” by now!

I admit there is hypocrisy with me in this area.  I just wrote a post about not allowing life’s distractions (Distractions, Distractions) to get in the way of keeping focus on the Lord, and here I am just a few days later getting distracted by the “what if’s”, “why now’s”, and tomorrow’s worries that may or may not even come to fruition.  I will suggest to others to not fret over what may or may not be a problem.  I’ll quote scripture and encourage others to pray, but often I do not take my own advice as well as I would like to admit.

I do not believe that the Lord wants us to fret over situations.  We are to cast all of our cares onto Him in good faith knowing that He has already declared the victories in our lives.  The walk on this Earth is hard.  Our money runs out, our relationships lay in ruins, and our bodies break-down; yet, He never changes.

HE.NEVER.CHANGES

While my mom told me not to borrow trouble, she also suggested to be prepared.  Learn about possible conditions, think through scenarios, and be open to the possibility that health matters can become serious.  She knows this first hand from raising me.  You can learn a little bit more about her in my post titled Mother’s Resilience that I wrote on Mother’s Day.  She has always told me to “trust my gut and intuition” when it comes to my children.  I feel that this gift is one the Lord has given to women.  That ability proved invaluable when she was raising me.  Her persistence and determination to get answers played a big role in saving my life during my illness.

So for now, I am going to walk in faith trusting the instinct the Lord has granted me with my children and trusting Him to work out the details.  I am going to put as much effort as I can to focus on the hope that comes from the Lord instead of the hap-hazards of being human.  Regardless of the outcome, I have comfort knowing that the Lord already has tomorrow’s troubles in His Heavenly Hands.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

– Jeremiah 29:11

Any questions?

After my son’s adoption in 2008, a neighbor asked me, “Are you concerned that you didn’t connect with him since you did not carry him?”  I was only briefly stunned by her question.  I knew that I needed to think quick and give her an answer.  After all, she asked me in front of a group of neighbors during our block party and I did not want to be standing in the middle of an awkward moment of silence.  I replied, “No, not at all.  Loving him is very natural…as if I gave birth to him.”  All she responded with was “Oh”.

When I told my husband about the conversation, he said, “She didn’t carry or birth her husband.  Does that mean she is not bonded or connected to him?”  (Good point honey, good point)  He has always had a great way of simplifying things.

Her question has stuck in my mind through the years.  I really cannot blame her for her lack of knowledge about adoption.  After all, she had only given birth to children.  She had never experienced the incredible richness of becoming a mom through adoption.  I am still not sure what she meant by the word connect.  Perhaps she meant to say “Are you worried that you have not bonded with him because you did not give birth to him?”.

Looking back on our short conversation, I wished I would have said to her the things that have been revealed since becoming a mother through adoption.  I have realized that my expecting was not in months, but years.  My labor was not in hours, but years as well.  I did not carry my children in my body.  I carried them in my imagination, my prayers, my hopes, and my dreams.

I carried them in that quiet space where it is just myself and the Lord.

Foster and adoptive families usually get asked all kinds of random and often insensitive questions.  When we were going through the licensing process to become foster parents, someone said to me, “You are not going to take one of those meth babies, are you?”  Was that a question or a directive?  I was not quite sure.  The truth is that many newborns who come into protective services in the state I live in have been exposed to prenatal drug and/or alcohol usage.  To call them “meth babies” though felt very cold and calloused to me.

Here are some more questions that I have been asked:

  • Are your kids “real” siblings?
  • Are you scared that their “real” parents are going to take them back?
  • Are you sure it is okay to tell them that they are adopted?
  • Do you plan on having your “own” child in the future?
  • Do you know their “real” parents?

I answered the first two questions with a “no” and a “yes”.  No, I am not scared their “real” parents are going to take them back….that would be considered kidnapping.  Taking them back is not an option.  Adoption is legally binding and permanent.

Yes, I am absolutely sure it is okay to tell them they are adopted.  It is a travesty for children to not know their history and to be lied to.  It damages every ounce of trust and relationship built through the years.  It also gives glimpses of the thought that adoption is something that should be kept secret, as if it is shameful.

As far as the kids are concerned, they are real siblings.  Trust me, if you spend any amount of time in our home, you will notice that they fight like cats and dogs, yet are inseparable.  There is nothing fake about their relationship as a brother and a sister.

The last two questions can be answered by this fabulous quote I found.

“Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial.  Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.  Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else’s child.  Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all your own.”  -Rita Laws, PhD

 Any questions?

Six Years of Happy

Happy Birthday Bubby.  I love you so much more than I will ever find the words to express.  I am incredibly grateful to the Lord for choosing us as your parents.  I know I have said that over and over, but I suspect I will not stop saying it until my life on Earth has ended.  Just thinking about the person you are growing into, all of your strengths and sweet quirks, makes my heart leap with joy.

The night before you came to us, I prayed that the Lord would provide us with the opportunity to parent a baby.  We woke up that morning not knowing that by the end of the day, our lives would be forever changed.  He answered my prayer immediately.  We quickly rushed out the door to head to the hospital after getting a call from the local child protective services saying “can you be there in 30 minutes?”  Your first year was full of hope, tears, joy, fears, and the overall feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We were caught between loving you desperately and the commitment we made to help your birth mother get you back.  We were sworn to protecting you; yet, we had to rely on others in your life to make the decisions on what was best.  We were broken down and humbled by the plight of your birth mother while glowing in the enchantment of who you were and by the Lord’s gifting of you.

I was so happy to have him for his first Christmas.

Your second year held the mixed up feelings of grieving for your birth mother and her loss of you while experiencing pure joy at your adoption.  Before your adoption, we did not know how long we would hold you.  We said “love you forever” as often as we could.  On that fateful day in May, we were given the blessing of you being ours forever.  So much was revealed to us during this time of life.  Your curly hair, sweet smile, and boundless energy kept us amused.  People were drawn to you.  Your charm and talkative nature took flight.

The outfit he was adopted in. We “tried it on” just a few days before his adoption to make sure it fit. Of course, he looked perfect in it!
sweet curls for a sweet boy

Year three…well…let’s just say that year three was a wee bit challenging.  Your God-given strong-willed determination was your shining accomplishment!  You  started to see more of the world with curiosity and fierce independence.  Music also became something you were quite fond of.  You welcomed a baby sister!  You announced it.  You told us that you would be getting a baby sister before we even knew.  I can only imagine how your little mind must have been spinning when your baby sister arrived on our doorstep.  You took it in stride.  You noticed your friends’ mommies had babies in their bellies; and yet, you never questioned why your sister was delivered to our door by a nice lady with brown hair.  You just seemed to understand that your mommy does not grow babies in her belly.

Age 3 with sissy
He was so excited to have a baby sister!

Year four was the year of music, Legos, and all things super-hero.  You often dressed up, grabbed whatever sword you could find, hop on your big wheel, and ride through the house in an attempt to beat the bad guys.  Sometimes you even sang songs about being a super-hero.  One of the sweetest things you said to me was “Mommy, you are my super-hero.”  When at home, you seemed to always have a drum stick and your dulcimer in hand.  Your songs were also about rock stars, Jesus, Christmas, God, and of course, mommy.  You performed just about every night for us.  You would jump out of the closet, proclaim yourself as a rock star, spin around, then sing and strum away.  My favorite song went like this:

I’m a little rock star…for Jesus…for Christmas…for God…and my family.

Here he comes! (I promise he has some form of clothing on)

Year five seemed to slip away so fast.  You took your first airplane ride, went to a strange new place called Disney World, rode rides that overwhelmed your senses, and shook with excitement when meeting Buzz Light Year!  Painting became a hobby for you and we discovered your natural ability as a gymnast.  You graduated from preschool, got glasses, spent extra time with your Papa fishing on the lake, and started Kindergarten.  You started referring to yourself as a “school-ager”.

He was so excited to meet Buzz!

Sometimes, I just sit back and watch the videos of you throughout the years.  My eyes well up with tears at just how special you are and also at how swiftly time has gone by.  I wish I could back and push a button to slow down time.  I wish I would have kissed you just a bit more before night-night, or let you sing me one more silly song, or picked you up one more time when you said “holdu holdu“.  You are starting to show your growth in the way you get just ever-so-slightly embarrassed if I try to kiss you around other kids.  But, at the same time, you still reach for my hand and put your head on my lap when it is just the two of us.

God has blessed us so much by choosing us as your parents.  You continue to amaze us, challenge us, stretch us, refine us, and love on us daily.  You, my son, are a precious wonder.  Happy, happy, happy birthday my sweet one…love you forever…

Thank You, Lord, For Giving Us Six Years of Happy

Give You the World

My children, if I could give you the world, I would. I would grab hold of the Earth, squeeze out the sourness, cruelty, hatred and pain, and then wrap it up in a tight bow and hand it to you. I would take an extra measure to carefully hand pick all the beauty and wonder that makes up the land we call home.

I would make sure the leaves of the trees are so fresh and green that you could smell them. The flowers would always be in bloom and the ocean would be filled with lavish fish that reflect the colors of the rainbows. The mountains would stand real high for you and the valleys would invite you to come explore them.

The sands of the desert would spell your names when you walk by. The tall grass of the plains would blow just enough in the wind to make you think they are whispering to you. The snowy and icy parts of this world would be comprised of the perfect snowman-making kind of snow. The jungles would be ripe with magnificent flowers made up of all your favorite colors. The animals would fill your eyes with splendor.

If I could go ahead of you each step of your lives to clear the path, I would. I would make it to where you never had to feel the sting of pain, the loss of love, and the agony of despair. Or if you did, it would only be the kind of pain that stretches and grows you into more whole beings. Your good dreams, the ones that leave you breathless with joy in the morning, would come to life and every spark of imagination would light a fire in you to create, live, and be anything you want to be.

You would find friendships in all places. Kindness would be the only word used to describe your interactions with others. Everyone would greet you with a smile and tell you how much you mean to this world.  Empathy would be common-place and you would always have a shoulder to cry on. You would never struggle with addictions or anything else that diminishes who you really are. Faith, hope, and love would wrap around your bodies, encompass your hearts, and defend your minds.

I suppose I’m just like most mothers. I want to believe that I will always be just one step ahead of you leading and loving you along the way. I hope that the fond smells of home and the love you feel will never be far from you. I pray that visions of you dancing, laughing, and playing will always reflect in my eyes.

My children, if I could give you the world, I would.