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?