mamastuff

Apology

Dear Friends,

I recently read one of the blogs that I follow and she was talking about how she and her husband were going to talk at a conference about transitioning when you come home with your older child.  It reminded me that, for about the last10 months I have wanted to apologize to you.  I have wanted to tell you that I know that I haven’t returned emails, phone calls, or rescheduled lunch or dinner dates.  I know that I haven’t returned your texts or voice mails for weeks at a time.  I know that I forgot your birthday and anniversary.  I know that I have forgotten your kid’s birthday and special something that we were invited to.  I know that you are willing to watch K for me.  I know that you have “tried” to be there for me!  Believe me, I know.

While most of us think that K was so tiny when I came home with him, let’s review—he was two y’all!  Many doctors say that by 2 years old, kids know who cares for them and who doesn’t.  By two years old, kids know who their parents are.  By two years old, they can rely on (hopefully) who will feed them, clothe them, play with them, love them, hold them, and kiss them.  My son didn’t have that.  So…by two years old, he was weary of my kisses.  By two years old, he didn’t trust that I would feed him and NEVER asked to be fed.  By two years old, he would scream bloody murder when I changed his diaper for fear that I wouldn’t give him those clothes back.  By two years old, he wandered around the house frantically looking for me if he couldn’t see me; afraid I had left him.  By two years old, he would cling to me one minute and push me away another; and I can’t take it personally.  I don’t have the entire back story as to what my son lived through, so I don’t know the scars or wounds that I am dealing with.  I just don’t have all the answers.  And neither does he. We are figuring it out together!

I don’t know why K clings to me when we go to culture class.  I don’t know why K gets scared when there is a room full of brown kids who look like him.  I don’t know why K is (sometimes) afraid of Ethiopian adults and won’t go near them.  It’s not like he isn’t around people of color—our life is full of them.  He knows where he comes from and can point to it on our globe, but again, I don’t know what memories he has of his former life!  And I will just continue to love him through it!

Yes, we have now been a family for almost two years— ½ of his life has been spent with me and the other ½ wasn’t.  You might be thinking, “When will K get over it!?”  He might never get over his feelings of abandonment.  He may never get over “it”.  He may never get over who he was for the first two years of his life.  But I am going to do my best to love him until he does.

And let’s just go there—I am a new mom.  I haven’t tackled this gig before.  I was learning to be a mom to a kid who could walk and talk (but not speak in English).  I was learning to be a mom at the toddler phase—and that’s a tough friggin’ gig.  I walked right into tantrums.  I walked right into sassiness.  And let’s add attachment issues into that?  That’s a Bermuda triangle right there y’all!!!

I’d like to also add, and yes, I chose this path, but I am doing it alone.  I know that you complain about how your husband doesn’t help you or that your ex- is a no good for nothing Dad, but…I am doing this STRAIT UP SOLO!!!!  I don’t have an ex who can, at least, take him on the weekends so that I can sleep.  I don’t have a husband who, even if he isn’t “helping” me, could watch him so that I could go grocery shopping or sleep.  I don’t have anyone who, when K has been crying for a hour and there isn’t really anything wrong, I can just hand him off to so that I can take a 5 minute break.  I don’t have a scum-bag ex who I can call and say, “I know you are a jerk, but your son needs to hang out with you for 2 hours, so come get him!” 

So yeah, I have had to, at times, isolate myself just to make it through the weekends and LONG days.  I had to adapt my life to him for a time.  I spoke as much Amharic as I could to him in those first few months, just to let him know he could trust me and that my words were filled with love!  I had to get him on a schedule, but I also didn’t want to traumatize him even more by forcing him to eat new foods at every meal or only speak English.  C’mon people, I went to Ethiopia and within 7 days took him away from the language, love from nannies who had cared for him for a year, familiar people, comfort food, reassuring smells and the only life he had ever known.  He was probably pretty traumatized just from that alone!

And no, when you ask me how K is, I am not lying.  He is perfect—for me.  I am not lying when I say how blessed we are to have found each other—we are.  I am not lying when I tell you how much I love him and that he’s adjusting so well—he is.  I would adopt him again, all over again—no doubt about it.  But it’s been a hard and frequently lonely road. 

Some people walk this earth and are awesome at being a parent—it’s just “in” them. I wouldn’t say that I am one of those people.  So… since you were a parent before me, I really coulda used your insight, love, kind words, help, understanding and friendship instead of, well… instead of judgment for adopting as a single woman.  Instead of getting a lecture about how I NEVER have time for you anymore when I am doing the best that I can.  Instead of sarcasm when I really need a hug.  Instead of… well…it doesn’t matter.

I know this may not sound like the best apology, and it probably isn’t.  Just know that I am working 2 jobs, raising a 3.5 year old amazing boy and trying to stay up on the laundry and dishes.  The last thing I need from you is a nasty email or voice mail letting me know that I let you down!  The last thing I need is to think that you will be in my corner and you aren’t!  Thanks for that!!!

So, like I said in the beginning of this letter, I apologize.  I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.  And I promise to forgive you!

Fall Weekends

So far, they’ve been pretty darn great.  This last weekend, as I was walking Emilio and Khadijah in the early morning I could sense that the rain was going to disipate and we’d actually have a beautiful Fall day, and we did!  We explored some walking trails near us, we played in and outside of the house, we spent time with friends, we boycotted naps- well Emilio did and that was not that much fun. 

On Sunday, we even skipped some of the early football game (and that is unheard of in our house!) to get outside and enjoy the day.  We walked through a little street fair our neighborhood was having and just took in the sights and sounds.  Emilio just chilled in his stroller taking it all in, I love how watchful he gets in juxtaposition to how busy he is and how quickly he’s moving on and learning new gross motor skills. 

When we got home from the walk, we spent our Sunday time on the floor in the living room, watching the Patriots, pulling up on everything in site and chasing after Khadijah.  As the day wound down, I pulled Emilio on to my lap, toy in hand, and we just sat together and let the day fade in to evening.  I held my boy and thought, “This is family, this is what it is all about, just quiet moments on a random weekend evening, this is what makes it all go round.”

And it is. 

Poop

This morning, during Nude Dude time (air time for his rash), Emilio was standing on my lap post morning snack and made a quick noise and face and then pooped.  On my lap.  Someone at work asked me, “Is that good luck?  Like when a bird does it?"  I hope so! 

Another benefit of breastfeeding and baby lead weaning, his poop isn’t super gross yet! 

It had to happen at some point, right? 

Conversation of the day in Hawaii—three times a charm

Scene:  Beach

60-something married couple (60SMC):  Is that your son?

Me:  Yes he is.

60SMC:  Would you mind if we asked you some questions about him?  It’s obvious that he wasn’t born in the US.  He is breathtaking and such a happy kid!!!

Me:  Thank you!  And you are correct–he was born in Ethiopia.  I agree–he is pretty amazing!  We became a family a little over a year and a half ago.

60SMC:  How wonderful!  We have some friends of friends who just adopted from Haiti right before the earthquake.  Since we don’t know them very well, I would love to use the correct verbiage when talking to them about their son.  We haven’t met anyone else who has ever adopted.  Is that weird to ask you?

Me:  Not at all.  I wish more people would ask.  Go ahead and ask away…

Twenty minute conversation that turned into an appropriate adoption terminology.

60SMC:  Your son is so lucky to have you for a mom.  We can’t tell you how much this means to us.  We know how precious family is and to be able to become a family—no matter how it happens, is a miracle.

Me:  Thank you!  But I have to tell you.  I am the one who is blessed.  He has changed my whole life for the better.

60SMC:  Well, it shows on both of your faces.

*We parted ways!  This conversation left me smiling!

‎By adopting a child...

‎"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. He is a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared.“ ~Author unknown

Jesus isn’t brown like me Mama!!!

*Scenario:  In the car on the way to school/work when he randomly says:

K: Mama, where is heaven?

Me:  In the sky, but it’s also past the planets.  It’s VERY far away.  But God is everywhere, so it isn’t that far for Him.

K:  So that’s where God and Jesus live, right?

Me:  Yes. 

K:  I wonder what God looks like.

Me:  I wonder that too Baby.  One day we will know what he looks like.

K:  But I already know what Jesus looks like.

Me:  You do?  Is he brown like you?

K: No.

Me: Actually, he probably was brown like you, my Love.  He was born and lived in a place where people are brown—light brown and dark brown; all shades of brown.  It’s really close to Africa, actually.

K:  It is?

Me:  Yeah.  When we get home tonight, I will show you on our globe where Jesus lived and how close it is to Africa.

K: Is it this close?  (see photo below)

Me:  Maybe not that close, but… (and I just smile at him and remember about how much I love this kid and his questions!) 

Things I Sucked at less in 2011

Yeah, I stole the title and the overall thoughts about this post from a blog that I follow—I admit it.  But hey, didn’t someone say that imitation is the best form of flattery?  Well, here we go!

I am my harshest critic—pretty much about everything.  At work, I can be hard on people (just ask them), but I am even harder on myself (just ask me).  I expect a lot out of the people in my life, but I expect SOOO much more out of myself.  So to think of things that I didn’t suck at (as much) this year was a stretch for me.

*These are in particular hierarchy!

Endorsing food variety with K.  Since he came home—it’s been tough to get him to try new things.  Thank you OTFCC (his school) for your nutritious and wonderful meals because they have exposed him to so many new types of food.  Not only that peer pressure kicked in that my kid now loves BROCOLI!!!  I have jumped on board and supported this.  When he asks for something by name, we put it on the grocery list and get it.  When we are at the store, I ask him about trying one new thing each trip!

Stuck to (sorta) my work schedule.  For those of you who know me, I could work a 16 hour day and still think that I hadn’t done all my work.  My full time/day gig has been in flux for the past 18 months and I told myself that I would leave on time so that I would have quality time with K.  I was really good (not perfect) about it.

Made more time for friends!  It’s so vital that I maintain friendships with my own people (adults that is).  I need to make them a priority, and I really strived to do that this year.  Again, perfection didn’t happen, but I have quality people in my life!

Made more time for me.  I made sure to allow “me” time in the mix.  It wasn’t all the time nor was it weekly, but I did something for me at least once a month!

Kept K’s bedtime consistent.  When he goes to bed on time, I get more “me” time (AKA—time to grade papers for my OTHER job), but it’s nice to know that he is getting the rest he needs and I am getting some quiet time.

I lost weight this year.  Not sure how that happened, but from last January to this one, I am down almost 20 pounds.  HEY HEY HEY!!!

I screamed less this year (I think). I feel like K and I really got into a discipline groove this year.  He is going on 4, so there is A LOT of discipline going on in the Williams household, but I understand him a little bit better and he got to know me a little better too.

I allowed K to spend the night somewhere else a few times last year.  That was big for me, but it was SOOOO good for both of us!

I took a Grant Writing workshop (and my job paid for it).  It’s something that I have always “thought” I wanted to do and I finally got the chance to do it.  It was amazing and I learned a lot about myself and the grant writing process!  *Starting to write my first two grants this month!!!

I deleted some people from my life.  It’s sad, but sometimes necessary!  It freed me from a lot of stuff!

I stayed consistent with my blog this year.  Writing has always been therapeutic for me and it was great to vent, share, inform, and just explain things on my blog even if I am only speaking to myself.

K became a US citizen with a US birth certificate.  The paperwork was a NIGHTMARE and sadly, because of it, I will NEVER adopt internationally again, but as with everything regarding K, it was well worth it!  Welcome home my son!!!

K and I went on our first vacation since we’ve been a family.  We have done weekend things, but this was a 2 weeks in Hawaii kind of thing!  It was great to see him see the ocean for the first time ever, snorkel, swim in the ocean, etc.  We had a blast!

So… there you have it.  I know that there is a ton of other things—and that’s ok!  I don’t need to rant and rave about EVERYTHING.  As we always say, “our life is awesome!” and really, it is!

Who woulda thought that that woulda happened at IHOP!?

I am blessed to work at a place that gives me the week between Christmas and New Years off, and that it’s paid!  Not only that, my dad’s birthday falls during this week, so it’s been our tradition for me to take him to lunch (just the two of us) on his birthday!  Since I have become a mama, obviously, K has joined us and my dad loves it even more now, I think.

So, as per our usual, we went to a late breakfast/early lunch and it was his choice of where to go. My dad, being the decadent guy that he is, chose IHOP!  When I asked him why, he simply said, “I think K will like it because you can see the train tracks from the window, and I like the food, why?”  I wasn’t’ berating his choice, I just didn’t think that this would be his choice since I was footing the bill!!!


But as I have learned, everything happens for a reason.  K does love the view from IHOP.  He can see all the cars on the 6 lane road and the railroad crossing—it’s like a little bit of heaven for him!  Yet, this time was different. As we were walking out, this woman approached me and asked me where my son was born!  I could tell by looking at her that she was from the Motherland, but wasn’t sure if she was Ethiopian, Eritrean or Somalian (not saying they all look alike, so don’t send me hate mail, I just didn’t want to assume anything!!!).  After I told her he was born in Ethiopia, she said, “I am from Ethiopia too!  Can I ask his name?” 

Fast forward 15 minutes.  It was an amazing conversation in the parking lot of IHOP.  Come to find out, her son shares K’s birth name and she lives locally.  She was stoked to discover that there was a little Ethiopian community right here in Orange County.  I shared with her about all of our friends and that we were celebrating Timket in January and that we had just recently eaten at Tana Restaurant in Anaheim and that many of us have gone to culture class in LA. 

We exchanged numbers and she hugged both K and me.  As with most of my encounters with Ethiopians, it was beautiful!  But, it was not only a wonderful encounter; it was fantastic for my dad to see it as well.  Since my dad didn’t travel with me to pick up K in Ethiopia, he hasn’t seen much native, adult Ethiopian reaction to my adoption.  He has asked me, on several occasions, how Ethiopians feel about Westerners adopting “their” kids, so I know it’s a concern of his.  He is very aware of my feelings about making sure that not only K, but others KNOW that he is ETHIOPIAN-American! He was so happy to have had the chance to talk with her and hear her thoughts.

As we pulled out of the parking lot at IHOP, we were all grins and basically shared the same sentence over and over—wow!  Who woulda thought that that woulda happened at IHOP!?

And so it begins...

Scenario:  Dropping K off at school today.  Walking in to daycare.

Random 1st grade girl:  Hi K!  How are you?  You look very nice today!

K:  Hi! (Keeps walking and doesn’t even look back)

Random: When we get inside, do you wanna play?

K:  Ok. But I wanna play superheroes.

Random:  Ok! (*giggles)

*Her mom and I lock eyes and grin!  

Me:  Do you know her Baby?  And please remember that when someone speaks to you, you want to look at them.

K:  I don’t really know her and I don’t remember her name, so… Oh, look, the computer is on… 

*aaaaannnnnnnddddd done!  New shiny thing!  Love this guy!

What Married People Do

While flat ironing my hair this morning

K: Mama, did you know that Simba and Nala have a baby named Kiara?

Me:  I did know that.  Good job remembering her name.

K:  You know that when people become adults, they can have a baby.

Me:  I did know that.  How did you know that?

K: Because Simba and Nala were all grown up and then they had a baby. 

Me:  That’s true. 

K: When you are an adult you can get married too…

Me:  That’s right.  But you don’t always have to be married to have a baby.  Sometimes…

K: (cutting me off) I know Mama you aren’t married.  And you are my Mama!

Me:  That’s right.  I became your Mama and I’m not married.  You know that sometimes…..

K:  Don’t you want to get married?

Me:  I do, but…

K: Because then you could have a baby…. (pausing) and kiss.  Because that’s what married people do—they kiss… and have babies.

Me:  (laughing).  Yes, that’s right, I could kiss and have a baby if I was married!  

K:  You could work on that Mama, ya know! 

*Glad that’s all married people do.

“What is your son’s ‘actual’ name”

My neighbors have shared a wall with us for about 6 months. While I wouldn’t say that we are “friends” we are most certainly friendly.  I know their names, I know what they do for a living, I have met their adult children, I know where they lived before they moved to Orange.  I know they are HUGE Green Bay Packers Fans.  I know a lot about them.  I have to admit that I don’t think they know as much about me, but I attribute that to me just not talking about myself to people too often! 

However, one thing I do brag on is my kid.  Given the chance, even if you don’t wanna hear about him, I will give you the K-man update!  Clearly, since they live next door to us, they have met him and have engaged in several “conversations” with him.  Their dogs (that probably weigh no more than 4 pounds a piece) have “attacked” him on several occasions and Josie and Danny have patiently, at the end of their LONG work day, watched K ride his bike in circles, when he asks!

What’s so funny is that Josie, the wife, asked me the other day, by the trash bin, “I know this might sound funny, and I hate to ask this, but what is your son’s ‘actual’ name?”   I kinda laughed out loud because just in the 3 minutes it took us to walk over to the trash bin, unlock it and put our trash in while trying to watch K ride his bike, I had called him about 3 different things. 

For those of you who spend any time with us, you know this is true.  I have so many nicknames for this kid it’s a miracle he even knows his name…  So here’s a list, just off the top of my head–I am sure there are more:

Kwali-bear

Yeh-nay Konjo (My handsome)

Konjo (handsome)

Gobez (smart/witty)

Jeg-ih-now (brave)

Yah-nay-lij (my Baby)

Yay-nay-mar (Sweetheart)

Sa-hi (Sunshine)

Kwali Robel-yay

Bugger boy

Moco Man

Fatty

Mr. Williams 

Mixed into that are my basic terms of endearment/encouragement/instruction for him in Amharic:

Tiroo-sirah (good job/good boy)

Nah-fee-kay-ha-lo (I missed you)

Ee-ba-kah (please)

Aye-zou (it’s ok)

Eh-wud-dih-hah-lo (I love you)

Eh-bak-eh-tuh-ka-fell (please share)

Tuh-ka-met (Sit down)

Tuh-neh-sah (stand up)

Tuh-ten-kah (Be careful)

Yih-kil-kil-now (That’s not allowed)

Eh-zee-nah (come here)

Eh-kah-fen (Can I give you a hug)

Samen (Can I have a kiss)

And so on and so on!

So, thank you Josie, my new neighbor, for asking the question that I am sure so many other people have thought, but never wanted to ask.

"It's Natural... Everybody Poops!"

Scenario: K in the bathroom a LONG time.  He usually asks for help by this time, but there is just grunting and deep breathing happening in there.  I open the door to ask if he needs any help.

Me:  You need any… (I see his head almost between his legs while he is on the toilet)  What are you doing?

K:  (Very matter of fact like) Trying to see my poop as it comes out of my booty.

Me:  (No response)…

K:  It’s ok Mommy! It’s natural.  Everybody poops!

*Thanks Son for that revelation!  I might never have known that, if you hadn’t told me!  Love this kid!