Monday, December 21, 2015

Microblog Monday--Christmas, Chanukah, and the light at our table

Today is the winter solstice.

It is no accident that Christmas is around this time. It is the darkest part of the year and the light comes back.

I like that Chanukah is the same time--and the light gets greater as the days go on.

I've been absent.

The grief you see. The grief is also a part of the darkness.

Thanksgiving is--was--mom's favorite holiday. She loved having us all around her table, feeding us and talking and stuff.
Last year we tried so hard to be good to each other.
This year not so much. This year we also had mom's unveiling.  That was hard. Seeing the gravestone with mom's name. Seeing the dual gravestone waiting for my dad. That was awful. At the ceremony the rabbi had dad take the "veil" off the gravestone. I could see on his face that he was thinking of the moment when the took the veil off my mother at their wedding. Over 65 years later he was taking the veil off her grave--not where he thought it was headed at the time.

Grief comes in waves, I've been told. The wave this year started around the unveiling and didn't recede until after mom's birthday. What would have been mom's birthday.

Now though the light is starting to come back.

My darling Lotus loved Chanukah. She's leary of Santa Clause but I'm hopeful that Christmas will be a hit. I'm having people over who are Jewish on Christmas day.

Hoping the light of friendship and love fills your face, your heart, and your life at this time of year and always.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sitting on my kid

I think one of the biggest disconnects between people who are parents and people who aren't is the babysitter.

Prior to Lotus whenever I saw a kid in a place the child shouldn't* be the thought ran through my head. "Why on earth can't they get a sitter?"

Now that I am a parent--whoo boy. Getting a sitter is hard as hell.

 First, there is Lotus' objection to being left with people she doesn't know. Once upon a time her mother did that and didn't come back so she is understandably worried.

Second, The cost.
When I was a babysitter I had a formative experience. One of my families (and the one I was a usual sitter for) paid me minimum wage when others paid me far less. The family stated that they believed that watching their kid was important and they should pay at least minimum wage for it. That means it is $15 per hour--which is expensive.

Third, finding someone I like and Lotus likes.
That's been the issue.
I haven't found that person. I don't really know how to look for her/him. I know I need to.

Fourth. The part of me that doesn't want to.
I am lucky as hell. I enjoy my kid. I work full-time now and don't see Lotus until I get home. I love playing with her, cooking with her, just being with her. She is fun to be around. There isn't a whole lot I want to do without her.

For those who read--how have you managed the babysitter question?

*By shouldn't be I mean the following (Please note this is for toddlers and younger as I have a three year old)
Movies with an R rating are not the place for Toddlers or below.  I remember leaving the movie Matrix 2 because someone brought their infant and toddlers who were screaming and likely scared as hell. 
Restaurants where there is a tasting menu that costs three figures or more. I do not mean diners and family restaurants.  Kids are, and should always be welcome there. Even places like Union Square Cafe or like establishments are fine if you know your kid and the kid likes things.  But places like Per Se? Why would you spend that much?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Vive le France--Microblog Monday

It is my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies.

In Casablanca, the Nazi's are singing their anthem and Victor Lazlo tells the band to play Le Marseilles, the French National Anthem. The reaction of the crowd at Rick's is electric.

But that's not my favorite part.

My favorite part is about 55 seconds into the clip--where the German anthem and the French Anthem combine to form a perfect harmony. I think it was the director's way of saying that peace could be possible. Harmony could be possible.

But it took an act of terror to accomplish it.

For those who forget their history, Germany and France are enemies. They reached a detente in the last few decades, but there is a lot of bad blood there.

If you click here you'll find the Brandenburg Gate in Germany lit up with the colors of the French flag to show their solidarity with France.

I'm sure that's not what ISIS intended--but it is what happened. And it gives me hope.  That in the depths of war--harmony is possible.  In horrific acts there is the consequence that two historic enemies can embrace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Walking in the shoes

Mel had a great post about how when you are dealing with Infertility you are more empathetic to someone else who is going through it.

And I kind of agree.
Kind of.

Because there comes a point where it isn't true. When one leaves IF island on a boat (pregnancy) or a plane (adoption). Someone is now calling you Mommy. You are now dealing with all the stuff with parenting and they aren't. It can't help but cause something to happen, a distance if you will. If you're still on that island, it hurts to see someone off of it. If you're leaving that island...sometimes you don't want to look back.

I can speak of this from both sides now.

In the middle of my IF, one of my friends was going through it too. Together we mourned with every appearance of AF. Then, on my birthday, she called me. I had been having a nice birthday too. I had had a massage and was watching a marathon of crappy reality tv.  We seldom talk on the phone--doing most of our friendship online. When she called I thought something was wrong. She was over the moon as she was finally pregnant. She was doing her happy dance--and she should. I just thought she might have waited a day to tell me. I hung up the phone and cried. It was one of the worst birthdays because I  couldn't stop crying. She had other friends call me and they all wanted to share the news with me and wasn't I happy for her?

She had no empathy for me whatsoever. A few days later she emailed and said she hoped she hadn't ruined my birthday. I told her she did and she apologized. We're still friends, but I don't trust her as I did. I never will trust her to that extent again.

Fast forward a few years.
We had come back from China with our beautiful Lotus. My older sister is in agony. She and her husband had decided not to adopt from China even though they had come to realize that adoption was the only way they would grow their family.While we waited, and waited, and waited this might have felt like it was the right call. Then, after all this time I have this little adorable child and she's calling me mom. We went to a family thing and I was packing up to leave. I made a joke about the traffic going home, something like "I'm relying on a merciful Gd. We'll see how that works." I looked up and wanted to swallow my tongue. I gave my sister a hug and she turned away. I followed up, apologized again and she said that she knew it would be hard, but not this hard.

I try so hard to make my sister feel welcome. It is helping. Lotus adores her and in spite of everything I would imagine that Lotus considers my sister one of her favorite people--and her second favorite aunt. Lotus' godmother being in that first place berth. I still have to walk that line though. It was easier to be  empathetic when I was still there--but that is no excuse for me not to be once I'm not.

And then there is the dead parents club..... More on that later.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Microblog Monday--What is missing from my table

Someone just asked me for my mom's noodle kugel recipe.

I have to ask one of my nieces about it. Why? I loved most of the stuff mom made, but this was an exception. It wasn't a favorite. (Noodles should be savory, not sweet in my opinion.)

Well the person who asked was horrified. How on earth did I have Thanksgiving or Rosh Hashanah without mom's noodle kugel. It took quite a lot for me not to say, "We're having a lot more trouble dealing without having mom there, much less the kugel." I didn't.

I am wondering though, what is missing from our Thanksgiving--food wise, I mean.

Here is my menu.

Corn casserole
Dressing (made from Challah in the crockpot)
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Veggies
Mashed potatoes
Sweet Potato casserole (for the four people who want it. but one of those is me so...)

What do others serve?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Microblog Mondays - Trust

Halloween was wonderful.

Lotus got so much candy in her candy pumpkin that she needed D to hold it for her.

She had a great time,

She got a bit miffed when we explained that she was not allowed to eat all of her candy all at once, but there was no tantrum. She's been very generous--sharing her candy and not getting upset when we help ourselves to some of the goodies. (She got Hot Tamales! I haven't even SEEN those in years!!!!)

So we're happy.

It makes me think of the Jimmy Kimmel challenge where people film themselves saying that they ate all of their kids halloween candy and watch the kids melt down. Everyone seems to think that this is funny as hell. I think that it is disgusting.

Maybe it is because Lotus is adopted and I am very conscious of building trust with her. I want her to be able to trust me when I say I will do something. I want her to trust me when I tell her not to do something. I think this is such a violation of the trust between a parent and a child.

These kids are going to watch themselves on Youtube later on. They aren't going to laugh. They are going to remember that their mom and dad violated their trust and taped that break for everyone to see.

We ask our kids to trust us, but the flip side of that is that we must be trustworthy. I remember very clearly a time when my mother broke my trust and it took a long time to get it back. I wonder how long it will be for these children to trust their parents again.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Microblog Mondays Car Talk

My car is not starting.

Like once a week.

Like the guy on the phone at AAA says "Oh wait, I think I remember you... Again?"

So we will likely be looking for another car.

We have never bought a car.

My father in law treats a car as if it is a child. He drives them for a bit and then gives them to us. Right now, he can't as he likes his car and isn't ready to get rid of it.

So we're looking at what kind of cars would be good. Used cars.

Anyone have "We love our Make/Model stories?" Or, even better "We would never buy this Make/Model!"


Saturday, October 24, 2015

The hairs of my chinny chin chin

Growing older  is not fun.

Parenting a small child while in your early forties is an adventure.

Lotus has entered the "but why" phase of toddlerhood. Everything is met with the phrase "but why?"

She has also decided that my chin has endless fascination for her.

This isn't new. From when we met her, when I would rock her or hold her on my lap I would notice a little hand groping my chin and holding on.
I thought "Awwwww, how cute." Then I really didn't think of it.

Lately, however, Lotus has been saying "I want to touch your chin." whenever she is upset, or feeling insecure. She just started preschool and is 90% through with potty training (WHY can't she poop on the potty?? WHY???) So she's feeling insecure...enough.

I should note here, that as I am in my early forties, my body is moving quickly towards menopause. That includes, hmmm how to put this, more hair on my chin.

I have the "little mustache" that my grandmother had. I have hairs coming through on my chin. I pluck and they return. I wax sometimes, and I ignore it other times.

One day though I was plucking hairs on my chin and Lotus saw me and was horrified. WHY was I doing that.

"Mommy has hairs on her chin and she doesn't like them."

"I like them." was her response. I shrugged and continued to pluck. She started to cry.

She grabbed my chin and started to rub. "It's so pretty. Don't"

I stopped.

Whatever my chin hairs mean to me, to her they mean comfort. So for right now, I'm keeping most of the hairs on my chinny chin chin.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gun violence in America--our own Hunger Games

I'm listening to The Hunger Games on audiobook.

If you've never read them, the action takes place in a futuristic America, called Panem. There had been a major war and the country had set up as a capital and twelve districts. To punish the districts, every child from age 12 through age 18 had to put their name in a lottery. If they were chosen they were sent to an arena where they had to fight to the death for the amusement of the Capital. This book set off the dystopian wave of YA books and it is extremely good.

I'm always struck at the passivity of the parents in the books. I know the rules of the genre preclude  too much in the way of adult involvement. These are YA books and therefore the majority of the action surrounds people under the age of 18. I also know that if I was supposed to participate in a lottery where my kid might have to kill other kids or be killed herself, I would find a way to get away or die trying. This has been going on for 74 years and people are just now rebelling?

Then I see the news.

Another school shooting.

Since the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school there has been 142 school shootings.  That's one per week.

And we are doing nothing.

I am realizing that we are beginning to consider other people's children, spouses, loved ones as tributes to a different kind of Hunger Games. This one isn't controlled by an evil government, it is controlled by a lobby who controls congressmen and women.
Every day we wring our hands and say "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims", is a day that we are sending our loved ones out to be tributes. Somebody can get their hands on a gun and turn their school, their college, their place of business, the movie they are going to into a massacre. Then the news will appear on social media and we will wring our hands. Loved ones will cry.

Can someone explain to me why "the right to bear arms" seems to have no responsibility attached to it? A toddler can't drive an automobile, but a toddler got a hold of a gun and shot his mother dead. When you learn how to drive, the teacher has a break that he/she can employ if you are driving poorly, and there is an age limit of how old you must be before you learn to drive. With guns a student can shoot her gun instructor at the age of nine.

I am done.
I will not volunteer to be your tribute. Nor do I want your children to volunteer to be mine.
In order to purchase a vehicle in all fifty states you need to have a license. If you want to own a gun, fine, but you should take gun safety classes and no one should be given a gun without them. People with certain disabilities cannot get a license. It is time to regulate these guns as much as we regulate driving.

It is time to have sensible gun laws in this country. I have called my congressmen. Hell, even People Magazine has said that we must call our representatives and do something.

I add my voice.
Do something.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Microblog Mondays - Fictitious Heroes (TV)

I saw M*A*S*H last night.
I really think that this show was one of the best TV shows ever to air. Amazing characters. A message. Somehow it never got old.  Even though it's been over 30 years since it was on the air, it never feels old.

A lot of that is Hawkeye.
Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce. A doctor to his bones. A good man. A kind man. Who drank too much, womanized too much, and was not perfect. He was a hero though. Through and through.

I think he might be my favorite TV hero.
What is yours?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Microblog Mondays--Valuables

The Governor: (dismissively) Paper.
Cervantes: Manuscript
The Governor: Valuable?
Cervantes: Only to me.

-- Man of La Mancha

I went to my dad's house this weekend. He's looking at apartments and I went with him.

I wanted to take my mom's recipe file home with me. Then I couldn't find it.

Dad had hired a clean-out company to help him get a lot of stuff out. We had estate sales.  But we couldn't find some stuff afterwards--we know it is in the house somewhere but we don't know where. I freaked out about this the last time, but I had calmed down.

My mom's recipe file? That practically broke me.

These are the foods that she made her corrections to. The recipes she'd charmed from restaurants when she traveled--in her own handwriting. I called my sister to see if maybe she had taken it. She said no, got upset and then said that no one would have stolen it. They couldn't read mom's handwriting.  It made me feel slightly better--but not much.

We found it, well my husband did.  I hugged that file to me the way I couldn't hug my mother. To others it was worthless, for me--it was priceless.

Do you have any objects that are "worthless?"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Microblog Mondays--Holding out for a hero

I need a hero!
I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night...
He's gotta be sure, and he's gotta be soon and he's gotta be larger than life.
--Jim Steinman

My husband loves the Lord of the Rings books but doesn't like the movies as much.  Often he will say that it is because he wants the characters to be more mythic--like the books. Less flawed. He says that there isn't enough of that anymore.

He went on to say that TV comedies were too dramatic.  I agree.  We have been watching Cheers on Amazon Prime and I am laughing so hard my sides hurt. I don't recall the last time that happened when I was watching TV now. Dramas--have never been better. Comedies--even Big Bang Theory which I like isn't funny anymore.

Then he went on to the fact that we used to really look up to the people who led the country. We used to want our children to be like them. Is there one person in the current race for president (either side) that we want to tell our daughter to emulate?

I've been thinking of that since we discussed it.

Do we have heroes anymore? I don't mean Marvel superheroes I mean real people.

Who are your heroes?  I mean my mom was my hero but that's only been since I was an adult.  When I was younger I looked up to Judy Blume (I still do) and Sandra Day O'Connor.

I looked up to Marion Zimmer Bradley and Bill Cosby too. I am repulsed by this now.

I greatly admire President Obama and his wife. J. K. Rowling is my hero.

Who are your heroes?  Why?


Tuesday night is Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. Jews around the world fast, (abstain from eating or drinking) and spend the day in temple.  One of the prayers said is the Viddui (Confessional). We say it aloud surrounded by people who are saying the same things.  It begins, for the sin which we have committed against you....  A few years ago our Rabbi asked the kids to come up with what they were sorry for.  Some of it was touching, some adorable.  My favorite was "For the sin I committed agains you for punching my sister--but she really deserved it."

Anyway that inspired me to come up with my own that I sometimes say in temple.  Still this is public and maybe others can find that they are not alone.

For the sin which I have committed against you for forgetting others humanity. 

Donald Trump is human. So is Kim Davis. So are a lot of people who I disagree with. If they died tomorrow there are people who would mourn them like I am still mourning the loss of my mother. When did people become the sum total of their opinions on one thing? Would I want people to judge me on my opinions on one thing? The best thing about this country is that someone can stand on a street corner and scream things at the top of their lungs that I would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of mine. They have that right. If they want to run for president--they have that right and I have the responsibility to oppose them if I so choose.
But they are human.
They have people who love them and I will not say anything that demeans their humanity because then I am no better.

For the sins which I have committed by inwardly bragging about my daughter. 
Do I need to explain this one?

For the sins which I have committed by being in denial about some of my health issues. 
I have to put myself back on track.

For the sins which I have committed by judging other mothers harshly.
This one I want to stop. We are getting through this thing called life the best that we can. I have to stop thinking "What is that mother doing to that child?" I have to stop. People are thinking it about me and I hate it. I'm doing the best I can. So are they.

For the sins which I have committed by not giving people the benefit of the doubt.
"Could you tell me some of the costs involved in adopting your daughter?" Someone at my daughter's daycare asked me. I opened my mouth to blast her with both barrels. Why on earth is it her business. Then I saw her eyes. The hunger. She wanted to be a mother as badly as I had.  What if I had said something bad? I have started to ask "Why do you ask?" instead of hitting them and found wonderful conversations.

For the sins which I have committed by making every tear my daughter sheds somehow related to her time in the orphanage or her adoption. 
Sometimes she is crying because it is bedtime and she wants to stay up later. Sometimes she is crying because I said she couldn't have another cookie.

For the sins which I have committed by treating my husband as my coparent instead of my partner, lover and best friend. 

For the sins which I have gotten impatient with my siblings and dad. 
We're all trying to figure out how to go on in a world where mom isn't. I should cut them some more slack because they are hurting too.

For the sins which I have committed by trying to do too much. 

For the sins I have committed by not doing enough. 

For all these sins oh Lord, Forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement. 

I wish a happy healthy new year for all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Things I want to work on for next season

Sorry about the blog hiatus.

Back to school + needy child + Back to school teacher hubby + High Holy Days = blog hiatus.

Anyway I'm back.

I don't do new year's resolutions.  Or at least, not on January first.

I do them around this time of year. The High Holidays.

I'm a submarine jew and this is one of the times I surface.

I spent Monday in temple. I spent Tuesday in thought and quiet prayer. And playing with the child I prayed so long for.

What do I want to change next year?

Well, with my career...

  • I don't know where my career is and where it is going. I want to change that. I have a contract position, but I don't know what happens when it ends. 
  • I want to blog more. 
  • I want to finish the last revision (I swear it--until I get an editor anyway) and send my novel to an agent. 

With my friends...

  • I want to start seeing friends instead of texting them and messaging them where practicable. In this past year I met a lot of people I only "knew" online. I enjoyed it. I want to keep doing this. 
  • Barring that I will use my cell phone the way Jobs intended--as a freaking phone where I can hear a friend's voice, and not just imagine it via text.  
  • I will also go out of my way to start meeting some of the parents of the children I hear my daughter mention often. Okay maybe not the one who tried to push her down the slide, but the one she plays with every day. 

With my family...

  • I will try to remember how damn lucky I am to have the family that I have. 
  • I will try to be more patient with my daughter. That doesn't mean giving in to her every desire, but allowing her to bitch and moan when I don't. 
  • I will find a babysitter (two hopefully) that I trust as much as I trust the daycare teachers. D and I need to get out alone now and again. 
With myself...
  • I will listen to the doctors regarding my blood sugar and getting it down. 
  • I will have a mammogram in the next month. 
  • I will try to exercise more--maybe playing tag or ball with my daughter more. 
  • I will learn to ask for help--ideally before I break down screaming that no one will help me. 

To all--I wish peace, love, health and joy in the coming year.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Things I wish someone had told me about being a mom

Two nights ago I was dreaming that someone had put one of those Victorian pan warmers in my bed. I woke up and Lotus was in bed with us running a fever.

Lotus Fever hits my mom-panic button like nothing else.  It also really didn't help that I'm listening to Stephen King's The Stand on audio.  So I violated a cardinal rule of mommying.  I woke the baby to give her medicine.

Or at least that's what my dad said when I told him.

No one told me that waking the baby to give medicine will result in said baby (okay toddler--as she is 3) deciding that Mommy wanted to play and stayed up for another hour. I wish someone had told me that you never wake the baby--even with a fever.

Made me think about other things that I've learned in the past two and a half years that I wish someone had told me when I became a mom--or since.

1) The Mom Panic Button

I didn't know one existed. I was the third child. I can count on one finger the times I was sick that I even saw my mother worried. There are a few things that hit mine. A fever, as I mentioned. A certain cry that make me run--means she's really hurt.

2) I'm not a slow reader, I'm a doer

I always thought my mom was just a super slow reader.  Not so. I have a library book out that is overdue and I am reading it slowly. I don't mean to read it slowly but I barely have time to do anything and well, it is going slow.

3) They understand more than you think.

I got mad at my sister. I got annoyed at her and I vented to my husband. I did not realize that there was a little listener observing. The next time we saw my sister, Lotus was very cool to her. Afterwards I asked why. My little defender looked at me and said "She was mean to you!" Well, she had been--but she's my sister and sometimes she is. Sometimes I'm mean to her. But I realized that Miss Lotus had heard everything and was coming to my defense. I was touched and then had to explain how I am not mad at Aunt A.

4) You think you know tired--you don't know tired!

Which is why I'm cutting this short and going to sleep.

Parents, what did you wish someone had told you?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I wasn't going to blog about this

I wasn't going to blog about this. 

I really wasn't. 

Or at least I wasn't until I figured out how I felt about it. 

But it has been two days and I still don't know how to feel. I feel anger, fury, pity, and so many other emotions that I really can't get a handle on them. 

It started Wednesday night as we were putting Lotus to bed.  She was tired after an insufficient nap at school.  D had ben trying to get her nightgown on and she wanted to do it. We know this because the cry "I want to do it!" echoed through the house. D dumped her on our bed with her nightgown half on and half off.  He was having some bathroom issues and had to get to that room. I gently tried to righten the nightgown so she could better get it herself.  I got a shriek in response.  Great, I thought. Our nearly weekly going-to-bed tantrum. Finally she punched through the nightgown and I clapped. She smiled a bit and started to calm down. 

She then started to look so puzzled and then started to cry again, harder. 

"What is it, baby?" I asked. 
"He hit me." She said.
"Daddy." I knew this wasn't the case. I just knew because the three times D accidentally hit Lotus he was practically crying harder than she was. 

"Did he say sorry?" I asked. 
She shook her head and started to cry harder. 

"Daddy hit you?" I asked. "Are you sure? When?" I asked. 
She shook her head no when I asked if Daddy hit her. She started to cry even harder. Somewhere between sadness and sobs. 

"Honey, sweetie, what is it?" I said taking her in my arms and rocking her.
"Before." she said. The way she said it it had a capital B. She was sobbing now and I was rocking her back and forth. I started to get a glimmer of an idea.
"Before Daddy?" I asked. She stopped crying. The absence of sound was jarring. D walked into our bedroom sat on the bed and put his hand on Lotus' back. We were staring in each other's eyes. 
"Lotus-full-name, are you saying that before you met mommy and daddy someone hit you?"
"Yes." She said and started to sob again."A lot."' She was howling now and I was rocking her and D had his hand on her back. She reached out and I though she was going to throw his hand off, but she wanted to hold his hand. I met D's eyes and I started to cry. He shook his head and gestured to her.  

Right. She didn't need my tears right now. 

I sang the Tarzan song I sang when we first met. It helped calm her as it usually does. We got her quieted down and she went to sleep. I stayed up. 

Someone hit her. Before. Before she met mommy and daddy. Someone hit her a lot. 

People scoff at the idea that she remembers anything about that. I know she does. I know she has memories from before us. Scent memories, sounds. There is a chef at our favorite hibachi restaurant that she freaks out when she sees him or hears him. So much so, we don't go there anymore. Does he remind her of the person who hit her? 

Even now, typing this, a rage goes through me. I want to leap over continents and oceans to physically assault the person who hurt my child so much that over two years later she is still frightened. I'm not a violent person but I feel violent. I feel furious. 

She feels at home with us. She feels right with us. She loves us enough to trust us with these memories. I feel honored. 

She trusts me that I will not hit her. She trusts D that he will not hit her. Before she slept she gave a special hug to her daddy and kissed him. I feel humbled by this. 

More than anything I am in awe of her. She trusts us. She shows it in many ways. I didn't realize how brave it was for her to let herself trust and love us. So much bravery in such a little package. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

First Impressions

Jewels of Elul, a way that helps you think about the past year had an article about first impression.  Here it is, go read it. 

My first impressions are usually so far off, that unless I get one that makes me think I am in immediate danger, I have started to ignore them. The biggest case for this is when I met my sister. 

I was a freshman in college. Still trying to figure where I fit in. I basically followed my roommate around like a puppy. I liked her--then. The fact that she asked how I hid my horns or if I filed them down in all seriousness seemed funny to me. She was an Asian woman from Iowa, and had never seen a Jew before. I followed her to the taking of a picture of the whole freshman class. I met two guys--one of which would become my husband. Later that week, the upperclassmen came back. 

Our next door neighbors were happy sophomores. One small and thin as a rail. One large and beautiful. Built like a female linebacker with a thick southern accent--she scared me. My roommate blew her off--not interested. I followed her again as we were both rushing the sororities. 

I don't know what the sororities were looking for that year in 1989. I just know I didn't have it. 

Thank God. 

My roommate got a bid and ran off to join her new "sisters". Most of the people who I hung out with at that point got bids and I was alone in our room on a Friday night. 

I sat on my bed and cried and cried. I heard the people next door come in--laughing and having fun. Then I heard their stereo go on playing Billy Joel's You're Only Human.  It was just the song I wanted to hear. Then I heard one of my favorite songs in life--Sometimes A Fantasy. I got off of my bed and opened the door to make it louder. It still wasn't loud enough. I debated for about five minutes whether or not to knock on the door of my next door neighbor's. 

I won't bother them, I thought. I'll just knock and ask them to turn the music up. 

I knocked on the door. 

The thin one opened the door. There were three people in a circle on the floor with poker chips. A short and attractive guy with dark hair, dark eyes, and an amazing Austrailian accent. A tall blonde guy with a comforting and familiar New York accent. And her. 

She was lying face down on the floor, propped up on her elbows. She (and several others) were wearing an APhiO T-shirt. She smiled up at me. It welcomed me in. 

I walked in and said that I liked Billy Joel and could they turn it up. I was invited to stay. 

"I don't know how to play poker," I said.  Everyone cheered. People moved over and I was welcomed. I was introduced around the room. I shook hands all around, but when I touched this woman's hand I swear I felt a jolt. 

Years later, we discussed it and she said she had felt one too.

"It said, 'Oh, There you are.'"

I don't remember much of that evening. I remember laughing like I hadn't laughed before. I remember winning and losing many hands of poker. I remember talking about where I had come from. I remember understanding, soul deep understanding, from a stranger--no--a old friend who I had just met.

I remember the woman knocking on my door the next morning to see if I wanted to go with her to breakfast. That was it. From that day to this one I have my person. She's the one who shoved me to go out with D. I introduced her to her husband. She is my daughter's godmother and the mother of my goddaughter. 

She is my sister. 

My first impressions were dismissive--and how wrong they were. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Microblog Mondays -- there were real heroes.

There's some controversy brewing. Okay brewed. Okay it has happened and is pretty damn near ripe.

It is about a book.

This one.

I won't link to the amazon site. I won't buy it. I won't read it.

I agree with those that say that any "romance" between a woman victim of the concentration camps and the commandant commander is rape. The balance of power is too one-sided to be consensual.

I am so angry I cannot speak about the woman's conversion as a plot point.

Don't get me started on the fact that she is using the Holocaust as a marketing tool.

I have read several amazing blog posts.  My favorite being by kkhendin.

I have one thing to add.

There were heroes who wore the swastika. Men like Oskar Shindler, Karl Plagge, Albert Battel, and Albert Goring. The last was the brother of one of the most horrible of the nazis, but he used his name and influence to help.

They were not romantic heroes who defied the ruddy little ignoramus* due to a magic bible. They were heroes already who saw wrong and tried to correct it.

For those who want to read about the good and decent people that helped others during the darkest time, I suggest you go to the Yad Vashem website and learn about those who were declared righteous among nations. These were the people who stood up to the third reich.  They were the candles in the myriad of darkness.  Not this book.

* J.R.R. Tolkien often referred to Hitler as the ruddy little ignoramus.  While I am not the Tolkien fan that my husband is, it is often how we refer to him in discussions.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Playing cute

We're visiting my in-laws.  Lotus gets weird when she stays away from home. She handles it.

We had a looooooooooong drive to my in-laws. When we got here Lotus was manic.  She ran around and we expected this.

We didn't expect her to play cute.

When we met Lotus, at that hotel in China, she was adorable. She giggled, she smiled. We had expected a child totally shut down and we were thrilled that she seemed so happy. It took us three days to realize that she wasn't happy with us-she had gone into survival mode. She had learned in her 54 weeks at the orphanage that the best way to survive is play cute with new people. It probably got her more food, more attention. When I am honest with myself I realize that this survival instinct was probably good.

Two days after we met her we visited the SWI (orphanage) so she could say goodbye.  Her second favorite nanny pressed her into my arms and introduced me formally to Lotus and called me Mama. The wonderful woman called D Baba (Daddy) Then she hugged and kissed Lotus again and turned away quickly so Lotus wouldn't see that she was crying.

Notice I say her second-favorite nanny. Her favorite one, the one that was in many pictures with her and you could see the love there, she couldn't come. They knew we would be coming and she just could not say goodbye again. When I pray I always think of her and ask Gd to somehow let her know we are thinking of her and thanking her every single day.

When our little family left the SWI Lotus looked at me and said Mama. She looked at D and said Baba. We went back to the hotel and my heart was so filled. We walked into our room and something clicked with Lotus and she started to cry. She started to scream and she didn't stop for forty-five minutes. The only reason she did stop, I believe, is that her body just gave out and she fell asleep. We all fell asleep.

When we woke up we met Lotus. The real one. She cried some more and I held her and sang to her. D held her and danced with her. We played marathon games of peekaboo. During one of those, she smiled. A real smile. A smile so different from the first one we saw that I realized the first one was her smile for the cameras.  This was Lotus. This was her smile.

I adore that smile.

I noticed she played cute when she met new people. Careful of attachment we wouldn't let anyone else but us feed her or change her, but she soon found her way with the family.

It's been over two years since we brought her home. I hadn't seen her playing cute in a while but today it brought it all back to me.  Tonight when we did our going-to-bed songs I added a few old ones. After I sang her goodnight song she put her hand on my chin and smiled--her real smile. I hugged her and rocked her to sleep.

I don't now how secure she'll feel in the morning. I explained the playing cute with my in-laws and they tried to understand. I hope I didn't hurt their feelings because her poor grandpa said "but she likes us."  She does like them, she loves them (more him) very much and I said this.  But she was feeling uncertain and I want to make sure she feels certain and comfortable. I think my Mother-in-law got it a little more, but who knows.

Adoption is not unicorn rainbow farts. There is hard stuff. Emotional stuff.

If we can get a real smile by the end of the day, we're pretty damn lucky.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Microblog Monday: Facets

Well the Will It Grill Party went off amazingly. The surprise Will It Grill was Starbursts.  Seriously, next time you grill out, take a skewer, put a Starburst on it and grill it. OH WOW!!!!

Lotus liked the party.

Well she liked having her cousin and friends here to play with. Until they started trying to share her toys and then she didn't.
At one point she seemed to have--ENOUGH. She went to her room, got out Little Lambie. (A small version of the Doc McStuffins stuffed animal) and came over to me. I was talking to some people but I saw her with Little Lambie who she had specifically put away so no one else would play with him and I picked her up. Found that her pull-up was full and went to change her so we were alone.

I changed her and she hugged me and said
"I want my mommy."
I wasn't too clear on what she meant. Did she mean me? But I was right here. Did she mean China Mommy? She hasn't yet asked for her but that could be it.
"I'm right here hon."
She gave a non-verbal kind of thing. Then said it again. "I want my mommy."
I stroked her face so she met my eyes.
"Aren't I mommy?"
"You're Pamela."

I got it then.

She was seeing a different side of me. Mommy, as she knew it was 100% engaged in Lotus. Lotus came first in every single thing.  But we had a party going on. There were around 16 people there and kids running around and I was hostessing.  (Is that a verb? It should be.)
She liked having her cousins and the people nearby but she was done right now and wanted her mommy. So I picked her up, got her some food, and held her in my arms while she ate some potato chips and gave me some. As if Lotus was a shield no one came and talked to me, so we were utterly focused on each other. I got hugs and kisses and giggles. Then her cousin came over and said "Come ON!" and Lotus hopped off my lap and ran after her---giggling. I went back to other guests.
It wasn't the first--by any measure--party we have had since Lotus had been home. Talking to D about it, he said that she needs to see that I am a complete person. I do other things besides be Mommy. I agree.
How do other parents resolve the many aspects of themselves into their parenting?