to love what family is {this is what matters}

brothers

Here is a pic of my two cutie-patootie boys.  Oh my, how the time goes by.  Our ten-year-old is insanely protective and in love with his little brother.  In turn, our four-year-old just adores his big Bubby.  This right here is what adoption is all about.

They both came to us with similar characteristics in their stories, but completely different set of circumstances.  Both have those chocolate eyes that melt your heart, a strong will, a little disenchantment (at times) regarding their sister and curiosity about the world surrounding them.

I could not imagine life without them, and I don’t think they would want to imagine life without each other.  Before we decided to take in our little guy, our children asked a ton of questions.  “Why does he need to come stay here?”  “Will he be able to stay forever?” Questions like these are super normal for children whose parents decide to bring in other children.  We answered with age-appropriate honesty, and our kids completely accepted our little guy as he was – as his situation was.  They just wanted to love on him.

These boys are six years apart in age and are not related biologically, but let me tell you, there’s a whole lot of love and life when it comes to adoption.  There are so many things that we parents can determine our success by, but my hope is that I’m measured by what our children view family and love to be.  You don’t have to look the same, share genetics, or be there from the very beginning to know what family is; to love what family is.

Friends, this is what matters.

A Decade of Love {ten things i want my 10-yr-old son to know}

This is it.  This is one of the big ones.  You turned ten, and my heart just can’t believe it.  It’s been a decade since my eyes first caught sight of you; a decade of all sorts of emotions.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve cried.  We’ve raged.  We’ve said sorry.  We’ve loved.

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In eight years, the world will say that you are no longer my baby.  You will be an adult, responsible for yourself, and I can barely stand the thought of it.  Even when I look at you now, I see that curly, blonde haired cutie with chocolate eyes looking back at me.

I remember your first steps and the first time you stacked blocks.  You would hold your hands up to me and say, “Hold you.  Hold you.” and I just caved in every time.  I also remember when you would dress up like a Ninja, put on a Transformer mask, and jump on your Big Wheel.  You were going to save the world.  I believed you could.  I have the drawings and love letters from you.  I will always cherish them.

I remember our laughter when you would belt out one of your sweet songs you made up with your bright orange ukulele.  You had a silly way of turning life into a melody.  And, you were quite good at it…

 

Son, it has been a decade since tears stained my pillow as I cried out to God.  It has been a decade since I mourned receiving someone else’s baby shower announcement, and since I stared longingly at a mother and baby with hopeful wishes that one day, my turn would come.  It has also been a decade since my heart left my body and walked around in the form of a little one; in you.

It has been a beautiful ten years.  I want you to know that life is not going to be easy.  It was never designed to be, but here are ten things I want you to carry with you through the days that God will bless us all with your presence.

  1. Your worth is never measured by the size of your house, the car you drive, your academic success, or how many trophies are on display.  You know how we say, “It isn’t the size of the home that matters, it’s the amount of love in it that does”?  Well, that saying is not just about houses.  It is also about life.  Don’t ever forget that.
  2. Never forget that while you have challenges, other people do as well.  Remember this when you are with others who seem to be difficult.  Think about it when you come across a stranger that is different from you.  Stay kind.  That is one thing you will never regret.
  3. If you fail at something, try again.  The biggest lessons you will learn in life often come from failure.  Don’t give up on your goals, relationships, or talents.  Keep exploring and remember that failure absolutely rises up your character.
  4. Take care of your body.  I’m not talking eat your vegetables, drink water, and all that kind of stuff (although, that is important).  I mean rest when you need to.  Don’t burn yourself out.  Stay away from drugs and other things that will deteriorate you.  You only have this one life on Earth.  Give your health every chance it has to move you along and to capture all that you can in the vast world.
  5. Don’t measure moments in how much beauty you think they have.  Instead, remember that beauty also involves those raw, honest, knees-to-the-ground kind of moments.  This may not make sense to you now, but one day it will.  The most beautiful experiences in life often come from seemingly painful experiences.
  6. Learn to walk away when you need to.  In other words, don’t get caught up in someone else’s mistakes.  Good friends will not lead you down destructive paths.  You will know you have a good friend when that person accepts you for exactly who you are at any given moment.  In return, be that same kind of friend to someone else.
  7. Laugh.  Laugh until you pee your pants.  Laugh until you just can’t take it anymore.  Find others who make you laugh.  Laughter feeds the soul and it nourishes relationships.  Find joy in odd things; things that you find funny.  Keep making up those quirky jokes you tell.  Don’t be afraid to let the world hear your laughter.  It is perfect.
  8. When you can give, do so.  Receiving is nice, but giving is so much better.  The Bible tells us this.  Giving keeps us grounded and in return, we get the blessing of knowing that we are helping others.  Giving does not always mean material gifts.   These things are nice, but giving yourself, holding the hand of someone who seems like an untouchable, sharing a smile, and encouraging someone are all incredibly powerful ways to give.
  9. Stand up for yourself and others.  Even when it doesn’t seem like the cool thing to do or what the crowd expects, do it and don’t be afraid.  Don’t ever walk away from a situation thinking, “I could have done more to help.”  If you can help, do it and don’t make any apologies about it.
  10. Never forget that there is nothing you can ever do that will make us love you any less.  We will not always agree with your choices.  We may even get quite upset and distraught over something that you’ve done, but son, we will always love you.  The love we have for you is forever stuck right into our hearts.  It is engrained into the very fiber of our beings.  You will learn this once you become a parent.

A decade of life has come and gone; a decade of firsts, thrills, do-overs, and lots of learning.  It has moved quickly and if I could, I would go back and do it all over again.  All of it.

Faith has brought us through it and faith will carry us on.  God weaved our family out of brokenness, but there is nothing broken about us.  We are exactly who we are supposed to be.  YOU are exactly who you are supposed to be, and you are precious.  You are incredible.  Thank you, son, for this past decade of love.

What a treasure it has been.

 

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(Photo credit:  Freedom Photography http://www.freedom-photography.com/)

 

 

 

Big Boys {words of advice from the mother of a little boy}

We had our typical New Year’s Eve meal of “little smokies”, veggies with dip, chips and queso, and Quiche tarts with our children to welcome in the New Year.  We talked about what our favorite parts of 2013 were, and what we were looking forward to in 2014.  The kids stayed up a little later than usual, but were still in bed by 9:00 pm.

Big BoyAs I was getting my 7-year-old son ready for bed, he said, “Now, I’m ready for my big boy stuff!”  By big boy stuff, he was referring to the mouthwash we bought him to assist with his dental care now that he has adult teeth.

As he turned around to show me how he could swish the mouthwash in his mouth, I noticed how small he still looks in his pajamas.  He said the words “big boy”, but in my mind and heart, he is still my little boy.

When he turned around to face the sink, I started to tear up just a bit.  Odd, I know.  Normally the vision of my children brushing their teeth does not cause me to cry, but this time, I took one look at him, and realized that another year has passed in raising this wonderful little boy.

The thought of releasing him to the world one of these days terrifies me.  Truly, the thought of releasing any of my children to the world is frightening.  Yet, I know that I am experiencing the same feelings my parents, my parents’ parents, and my parents’ grandparents must have felt.  With each passing of a New Year, I am brought a little closer to my children growing up, a little closer to the day when they will be out of the house, and a little closer to the day when they too will be navigating the journey of raising children.

I’m asking, on behalf of all mothers and fathers out there, for us to all stop and take a look around at the world we are leaving for our babies.  Those of us around my age and older remember a world free from technology, digital anything, texting, and searing statistics of broken families.  I wish I could bring my babes back to the world I grew up in – back to a world that seemed a little more kid friendly, or maybe even, safer.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I know we live in a remarkable time.  Just the fact that I’m sitting here from my laptop in Southwest Missouri and sharing my thoughts that will reach other countries, is astonishing.  I know this.  As a mom though, I wonder where all of this is going.  Are we continuing down a path of technology marvel while pulling away from actual relationships?

My “big boy” in his slightly too-big Lego’s pajamas is not ready for the world.  I’m not ready to let him go.  I’m not ready for the times he comes home heart-broken over being picked on, turned down, or disappointed.  I fear the day he walks through the doors, nearly grown, and announces that he’s ready to move out.

Sometimes, I just want to roll back time, and hold him a little closer.  This part…this part of watching children grow up and become less dependent…is both wonderful and heart-breaking at the same time.  And yet, my children are still so young.  I suspect I will feel these emotions with each passing of the New Year.

As the mother of a little boy who thinks he is big (and of a little girl, and infant boy), I have a few words of advice that I would like to share with all of the Big Boys out there:

  1. We were not made to be the same.  The beauty of you, and your friends, is that each of you are uniquely created with talents, ambitions, and inclinations.  My son has quirks, talents, and struggles that make him who he is.  You will never see or even like my son the way that I do, but please, let him be who he is, and I’m pretty sure he will let you be who you are.
  2. Don’t do anything stupid.  Your mother loves you, and worries about you – even though you are bigger.  No matter your age, she will never stop.  Try to go easy on her.
  3. Your role as a man, brother, boyfriend, husband, uncle, father, or grandfather, is vital.  YOU are vital.  Your God-given role is equally important in the lives of children.  I have worked with many children who grieved for a relationship with a father.  Please don’t under-estimate how valuable you are in the lives of little big boys (and little big girls) in the world.
  4. Please know that little big boys look up to you.  They watch all that you do, and say, and they are impressed by it.  Try to make positive, life-affirming impressions on all of the little boys you come in contact with.
  5. Remember, you were once a little big boy.  Think about that.

I know I still have many more years to raise, train, discipline, and enjoy my children. I also know that parenting is a life-long venture.  As time passes, I see that moments of parenting go by quickly.  I will wake up one of these days to an empty home that is not filled with the busyness of children.  There will no longer be lunches to pack, school work to help with, middle of the night wake-up calls, or early morning bed jumpers.  There will just be me, my husband, and the memories of raising our children.

For now, though, I am going to sneak off and give my little big boy a kiss while he sleeps….