Changes in the New Year!

The moment my sister carried out her son’s small vault, the tears welled. I didn’t expect to be crying. But it had been four very long and stressful weeks –  eldest son “let go” from his school, looking for a new school for the 3 boys, looking for new house in the right neighborhood to get to the “right” school that can handle “behavioral” problems. The stress gave way. I had visions of the boys not seeing each other anymore. Of Mr. Ornery never becoming a great gymnast because he doesn’t have The Flipper to keep encouraging him (I know – insane). It felt like the beginning of the end – such a huge change in the status quo, years in the making.

It wasn’t about the gymnastics – it was about a change in the boys’ relationships. It was about a change in the adult relationships. In the true sense of the phrase, I am a “single mom.” But I rarely think about it that way – because I have such a beautiful family. In essence, it has been more like two parents with five boys…..and incredibly supportive grandparents (incredibly supportive)! We have been one big (and mostly) happy family.

But suddenly, the “singleness” hit and I was afraid and so sad. It was the day after Christmas. My sister was making good use of “vacation” time to get the move done. Friends came over to carry out the couch. My father spent countless hours putting together a dining room table and chairs. My mother flitted around doing everything and anything.  I, however, was frozen in denial, dipping into sadness, punctuated by jealously (why do you get to move into the sparkling clean cute townhome with a master bedroom and your own private bathroom that likely won’t have “tinkles” on the toilet seat and gobs of kids’’Sparkle Fun’ toothpaste lining the sink?!?), sprinkled with shock at all the rapid changes.

Verklempt.

“It will be good to have some quiet,” she said. I nodded. It’s impossible to explain to anyone the mind-numbing, energy-zapping level of NOISE and motion that exists within the walls of this house with 5 boys ages 3 to 8. Super Tall Guy likes to poke at kids to get a response. The Flipper and Mr. Ornery either swing from the pull-up bar or set up gymnastics floor routines through the living room/parlour area. Mr. Trouble exists as a constant threat to everyone approaching his Ninja Warrior Nunchucks or swinging light saber. The Little Guy doesn’t know he’s little as he excitedly tackles Super Tall Guy to the ground and wrestled around while the dog squeals and hides when moving bodies collide into hers. It’s nonstop. It’s pandemonium. In an effort to survive,  I proclaimed the Holidays to be unlimited “screen time” (or there’d be no sense in calling it a “holiday” for anyone!).

A little bit of quiet. The truth is – it’s probably what we all need. A chance to let the boys develop a little bit of themselves as an individual instead of constantly in relationship to or in reaction to another child. A chance for my sister and I to figure out a little bit more about how we can parent our own children without all the clutter and chaos of who hit who? Who’s tattling on whom? Who’s fault is it really? Who’s toy was it first? (Like you even cared about that Nerf gun anyway…. until The Little Guy picked it up!)

It’s likely a really good thing for everyone to have a little more space. And, as my sister reminded me, it will just be a temporary time until we can figure out the next step. And, I still have the Thai house guest here at “the Big House” for another month, so I still have back-up help and am not completely “single” :).

It’s just been some crazy stressful few weeks. I’m super proud of my sister for just jumping in and getting everything together to create a new home for herself and the boys. And we’ve tried not to visit too much as New Yearthose walls are too flimsy for my boisterous boys (but come summer….when she can walk to the community’s swimming pool….she might need to adopt a few more little men!).

The schedule is going to be a lot to juggle as the three older boys begin in a new school in the morning. And there are going to be a great many kinks and glitches to iron out. But I have a terrific family and much hope in this New Year of New Beginnings!

 

 

 

 

Holiday exhaustion

I’m not really sure what I’m doing awake right now (other than typing this) – because it’s a late, late 10:20pm and last night I was fast asleep by this time. I don’t really think I should be so tired – I mean, I’ve been getting a good 8 hours of sleep at night – oh no, wait, that is really a lie. How can it be good sleep when the 70-pound gorilla climbs in by midnight, blocking my ability to lie on my right side? (Well I could lie on my right but that risks getting my face hit once or twice throughout the night by a flailing arm.) And then, by 2 or 3 or even as late as 4:00 am, the curly-headed one patters up to the bed with his worn-out “blue blankie” and stands there breathing softly until I open an eye, squish the gorilla over as far as I possibly can to the right, and welcome “little man” on the left into the bed as well. Then for the next couple hours, I wake up intermittently wondering if I can still breathe….wondering if my arm is wet from sweat or if there was a pull-up malfunction on either side….wondering if it could please, please be time to get up because my back is killing me and I would like to just stretch a little bit. So…..even if it’s a good 8 hours in bed….it’s rarely a “good” 8 hours of sleep!

But most of my tiredness is the whole holiday weekend. There’s nothing like sugar and fun and anticipation and sugar and friends coming over and sugar and shorter naps and later nights and sugar to really throw everyone off.  I saw this photo on the “Proud Pretty much sums it up!Single Mother” Facebook page the other day and it made me smile. Sometimes I really feel this way – it’s been a long week at work, I can’t wait for Friday and a break….and then I remember….I’m a mom – the weekends are usually busier than the week – it’s 24/7 kids!

Weekends are also the time when it hits you that you’re “single” mom and that all the care of the kids falls on me. There’s no break from them from 6 am when the gorilla rolls over until 9 pm when the curly dude finally crashes. And when I spontaneously decide to do something – like take the boys down to an Easter Egg Hunt at my “home” church in Waynesburg – it’s all me (well, me and the very nice DVD player in the van!). And when the doors open and a hundred kids are all set free upon the lawn, it’s just my set of eyes on them. My thought? — “yep, there they go! I’m just going to trust the volunteers around the perimeter that they’ll block any attempts of my guys to escape onto the streets!” And we all did fine with only one panic moment when I couldn’t find Noah for all of about one (very long) minute! Fortunately, Seth’s runs were more like take 10 steps forward, trip on something and spill eggs out of basket, stand up and place eggs back in basket, start running forward ten steps…trip…..repeat.

I wasn’t the only one tired out. Micah had plenty of gross motor play – tackle football, wrestling, egg hunt after egg hunt. He does very well while engaged, but has had some nice meltdowns in the car as we transition from one excitement to the next. This morning’s fit of taking off his seatbelt and spraying apple juice around the back of the van resulted in 90 minutes of “quiet time upstairs” once we got home this afternoon. For the first time, there was not a complaint out of him – no “how much longer?”….no sneaking downstairs to devise something he just had to tell me….no begging for TV. Clearly he was ready for a break. And Noah was ready to play alone with his new toys and Seth was asleep within seconds of being put into his crib tonight.

Check. Holiday weekend done. Thank goodness it’s Monday tomorrow :).

The third beautiful brown boy…

I have a book on my shelf (or the pile beside my bed) about transcultural (transracial) adoption. I should probably read it and feel a bit more informed rather than just mosey along merrily.  But I don’t really feel like devoting the time to it right now (there always seems to be something more pressing).

But it actually is a real part of my life.  I picked Micah up from school one day this week and he started asking questions about Martin Luther King, Jr. (it’s Black History Month). He was actually most interested in the facts about his death (and what’s the name of the man who shot him). But as we galloped down the stairway (he always says we’re racing, but then takes off first so I can’t pass him), he told me about a movie they

    The boys after bath

The boys after bath

watched in school. He started explaining that there are white people and black people and that the black people were not allowed to do anything like go to school or ride a bus. Out of extreme curiosity, I interrupted him and asked him, “Micah, are you white or black?” He stopped dead in his tracks on a second step down, looked at his arm, pointed to his brown skin and said without pausing “white,” and skipped on down the steps…”just like you are white.”  I followed along with a smile and we continued the conversation about how many “important men” have been killed for standing up for “important issues.”

Driving home, I thought I might bring it up again. I said, “you know, Micah, you have absolutely beautiful brown skin because your birth mother was white and your birth father was black.” He replied, “I want to be white” and I responded that was absolutely fine. End of story for that day at least.

I was curious because this week, I added another brown little boy to my family (though his skin is the fairest of them all so far). Seth has officially changed his name and officially changed who he belongs to. He is no longer a “ward of the court.” He is a member of our family forever. Several friends joined us at the courthouse downtown to witness the ceremony. The three boys “allowed” me to dress them in dress shirts, vests, ties and slacks…which coordinated so well with their light-up sneakers (I haven’t bought dress shoes …seems a waste of money for one time wear!). They were gorgeous – until the pink and white cupcakes were served and I had to break out the baby wipes. And they were relatively well-behaved in the waiting area (a jurors waiting room) until the balloon-man arrived and equipped them with fencing swords.

As small streams of steam started to emerge from my ears and my voice started emitting at a lower octave, we were called back to the courtroom where we met the judge. The boys noisily took up the benches in the back as he introduced himself and I tried to keep a squirmy Seth on my lap. After answering a few boring legal questions, the judge read the “decree”…..that the child formerly known as KJE-G will “from this day forth and forever more be known as Seth…J…G…W….” Brings tears to my eyes. Those are some powerful words.

Naturally, I worry sometimes. Will I be able to be the best mom for these boys? Will I have the financial resources to care for them? Will I be able to cope if any of them develops significant behavioral or medical issues? Will I be able to keep teen girls away from the heart-throbs that these boys will become? Will I ever be able to keep enough food in the house? Will I be able to help them navigate the divide between black and white and develop a sense of pride in the beautiful brown children that they are and the incredible men that they will become?….

Love can. Welcome to our family Seth, my love.

Ten Bits of Wisdom for a New Adoptive Single Mother

I talked to a colleague this week who just adopted a little boy five weeks ago. She’s single and in her forties and asked me what I thought about single parenting and adoption.  I said “mothering is full of ups and down….usually within the same second.” And though my kids are still pretty young, here’s what I’ve learned so far (a bit more than I shared over the phone with her):

Five “hard” things that will surprise you:

You are going to fail. It’s really hard when you’re used to being a successful, professional woman, but it’s true. There are moments in mothering that you are going to totally and completely bomb. And you’ll know it. You’ll know it the moment you are in it…and yet you won’t be able to do anything about it. You’ll be in the moment and you’ll be doing it all wrong. But…. that moment will end. You will forgive yourself. Your ego will be bruised for a while, but you’ll forgive yourself. And you’ll learn that all moms do that. All moms fail at some moment. What makes a mom great is realizing it, forgiving yourself, trying to learn from it (yeah…..), and moving on. Because you love your child and your child loves you.

That’s the hard one. But it’s true. Here’s another hard one. There will be times that you hear this little voice in your head that says “I wish I never made this decision.” It’s probably somewhere between wiping the poop off the crib railings and stepping on a lego in the middle of the night. It’s probably somewhere in between 39 months of no more than two nights of real sleep in a row and lugging a stroller, diaper bag, kid and two suitcases down the airport hall. It’s there… somewhere. It’s fleeting. It’s shocking. But it’s also real. Life just flipped upside down, you’re on a rollercoaster in the dark, and sometimes you’re not sure you can handle it. And you are scared. But you can handle it. You really can. And you know in your heart of hearts that this is exactly what you want to be doing.

Hmm, I’m on a roll with the hard stuff, because there also comes that time when you realize that parenting has brought out the worst of you. The really ugly side comes out….like anger, grumpiness, impatience. And previously, if you didn’t like a situation you were in or the way it made you feel, you could leave. But now, you can’t. Parenting is 24/7, it doesn’t end. You wake up – the kid is there. You go to sleep – the kid wakes you up. So you must find yourself some breaks and forgive yourself again.

You are going to miss your single life. You’re still “technically” single, but it is so very different now. It’s hard to come to grips with the new limits on your life. No longer can you just jump in the car and head out of town for the weekend (without some serious planning and a trunk full of crap). No longer do you meet up with friends for dinner (without first finding a sitter and contemplating the balance of how many evenings you are away from home). Spontaneity is a whole different version now – you can still have some….until the baby is old enough to need a schedule and then spontaneity becomes “which room do I clean first today?” Gone is the time when you wake up on a Saturday and say “hmmm, what am I going to do today?”

And, you might struggle with the concept of adoption. You might have some bumpiness in bonding with your new one. You might grieve that this child, as beautiful as he is, doesn’t look the least bit like you (or you might rejoice in this). You might be hurt by other people’s glances or words. You might even go so far that you doubt your parenting ability for the child and wonder if some other family should have adopted him. And for this reason, you must have someone in your life who tells you as often as needed, “you are the very woman who is supposed to be his mom.” Because this is true.

Believe me – you will not survive this alone. Don’t even try…for many of the reasons that I’ve just listed. You must have some allies in your camp – a cheering squad, a supporters group, a cadre of friends. (And it’s helpful if all your friends don’t know each other so you can whine to at least 5 or 6 of them about the same thing that the little kiddo just did.) If you have family, move as close to them as you possibly can. Build up a network of people who can take the baby for a couple hours, drop off a gallon of milk in a moment’s notice, sit by you in the ER when the little one is sick, or get out of work early to get the kiddo off the bus on the day you have a really important 3:30 meeting. Cherish these people. They will keep you going. And do not be afraid to ask for help.

Oh – I’m squeezing in a number 6 — Parenting is painful. That surprised me. I never really considered how many times my head was going to get knocked by a flying block. Or a door slammed on my big toe splitting the nail. Or being jumped on from behind when you’re squatting to put on a siblings shoes and falling onto the floor. But the one that always kills me is leaning over your kid to plant a tender kiss on their head, only to have them rear back to look at you and split your lip open or bloody your nose. Real nice. (Okay, back to my list….)

Five wonderful things that will surprise you:

You are going to be amazed at how much you love that child. It is such a powerful emotion, that makes you wipe snot off a nose for the thousandth time. That leads you to lie down beside them long after they’ve gone to sleep just to watch them breathe and their eyes twitch for a few minutes. That causes you to fiercely defend them even when they don’t need it. The love between you and your child is better than anything you could have dreamed of and you can’t even imagine life without him.

You have never known pride until you’ve been proud of your kid. Oh sure, you have felt good about an accomplishment of yours. You’ve been happy for your team or colleagues. But when you watch your son kick his first soccer goal or your daughter stand up and take her first steps – wham! That is powerful pride.

The first time you say it – and believe it! – that you are the baby’s “mother” is pretty fantastic. When you say to yourself, “wow, I’m a mommy. Wow!” It will finally settle in…and your new identity forms. But what’s even more delightful is when your child looks at you and for the first time says “mommy” – you won’t ever forget that moment.

You will spend an entire day getting absolutely nothing done and you’ll be okay with that. You’ll be amazed at how long you can just sit and stare at a baby. You’ll wonder why it took two days to do a load of laundry when you’ve had to sort and fold the clothes over and over again when the boys have “underwear war!” You won’t worry about the dishes in the sink anymore or the crumbs under (and in) the couch – your new “accomplishment” for the day is to have fun, tickle and kiss….and keep the kid alive.

You will understand that becoming a mother was truly, truly the best decision you ever made. Sure you might want a little less vomit to wipe up, but you will know that there’s no other description of yourself that’s more important than to say that you’re a mother. You will be worn out more than ever imagined. You will be frustrated and confused at times. You will do things you never expected to do. And you will be happier than you thought possible – and so grateful for your child and the chance to be a mom.

Call me or a friend to share any of these 10 things…and for anything else.

(Oh….and here’s a couple other simple words of wisdom
– subscribe to Adoptive Families if you want to do a bit more reading and get some suggestions
– definitely sign up for Amazon Mom for free two-day shipping ….including diapers!
– always have extra milk or formula in the house – running out at 9pm is a huge mental drain!
– keep babywipes (and tissues) within an arm’s length…ALWAYS)

Soft snow and single parenting

We are looking at rental properties and Kathy mentioned the possibility of us splitting to find cheaper housing. After having spent the week alone with my three while she and our mom took her boys to Disney, I replied, “we’d have to be right beside each other then.”  Spending a week being a truly single mom – was truly stressful to me.

Single parenting….

It’s stressful when you have a kid in school and have to deal with sudden changes – oh, a 2-hour-delay for freezing rain; no after school programming for a couple days, anything else you want to throw at me?

It’s stressful when viruses are running amuck and you don’t know who and when is going to fall next. Micah had two evenings of low-grade fever, headaches and went to bed early, but I still wasn’t ready to call him sick since I was single parenting (so I just had to keep worrying that he was “getting sick”!).

It’s stressful when there are two grants due on the same day for my crisis nursery work (and I’ve never written grants before). I got 3 hours of sleep Tuesday night and 2 hours of sleep Wednesday night – and as you can imagine, this lack of sleep was not helping my parenting skills.

It’s stressful when you pick up the pen and sign your name that you are prepared to accept the responsibility of adopting another boy. You pick up the pen. You sign. A good stress….but a stress nonetheless.

And it’s stressful to worry about said boy who hasn’t gained weight in over 6 months so you’re just starting him on pediasure (to bulk him up) and spending the week wondering whether the phenomenal amount of blood letting they did last week will reveal any answers. (Update – All negative – he’s currently a perfectly healthy (runny-nosed) teeny, tiny little guy).

I spent the whole week with stress hanging over my shoulders about what I would do (and how life would have to be juggled) if just one piece fell out of my finely balanced tower. And if you’re living in stress and constantly under pressure and not sleeping for the week, the time moves by without much chance to catch up to it.

Soft snow

“Snow softly falling.” pinterest.com

Yet, as I drove to church this morning, I noticed my body soften looking at the beauty of the new snow on the world. I thought about the tranquility of watching snow fall through the yellow glare of a street light (I will often pause and stare for the longest time at this softness). I thought about how I love winter when it lets you slow down. You stay home because you don’t want to be out “in that.” You dream of a huge warm fireplace (next house?). It seems that the world should pause for a moment longer after the rush of the holidays. Yes, we tend to schedule fewer events and the weather tends to cancel schools and meetings and work. And maybe we should all follow nature’s rhythm of taking a break in the winter – resting, hibernating, rejuvenating, preparing….

Maybe I should become a tree.

Here’s to hoping for some earth-stopping blizzards in February!  (just kidding!)

 

 

Happening just so fast!

I got home at midnight tonight (well, technically, 11:46pm) from a grant-writing meeting (another story) and had to rearrange two boys.  I carried Micah up from his snoring paradise on my sister’s bed to my bed (lacking sheets which are still in the laundry due to Micah’s occasional pull-up failure) and I picked Noah up off the tiny floor rug outside his room and placed him in the snuggly arms of a huge brown stuffed-animal bear which Seth is too scared of to claim as his Christmas present.

As I carried the boys, I thought how strange it is going to be soon to change this routine – because our house just sold!!   Yes, we’re shocked.  It’s been on the market for two years.  I’ve been mentally exhausted just thinking about it.  I’ve been physically exhausted by all the cleaning for showings (and by carrying boxes and boxes of things downstairs to “hide,” only to find them months later and food past its expiration dates!).  And yet, now that the reality is here, I can’t even adjust to it.  Of course, I’ve been too busy to even think about it (or even to celebrate it – though we did pop the bottle of bubbly….sparkling apple juice….that was in the fridge for the boys!!).

Congratulations!

Congratulations!

But now the questions begin.  How in the world are we going to get this house packed up in the next 6 weeks? (Guess those boxes I kept carrying to the basement are all ready to go!)  Where in the world are we going to move?  (That seems like a relatively important question…)  And how am I going to help the boys transition through this? (Was Micah’s aggressive acting out today a response to the shift in stress and energy that he felt move through the house?)  Why am I feeling depressed even though I’ve been so eager to move? (Change is hard….and this house is huge – and we won’t find such space anywhere else…and this is all going to take a great deal of energy….)

As if this isn’t enough for my poor brain to process….it follows closely on the heels of finding out that the “Termination of Parental Rights” went through for Seth.  He is cleared for adoption.  I am cleared for adopting him.  The caseworker came to visit the night the offer came in for the house.  I did hear about it via email on Monday (though the court hearing was last Friday…and I had to wait nervously all weekend to get the results!).  Monday was a busy evening and I quickly made a cake from a mix that I found (not expired in the basement) and since I couldn’t find the frosting tubes, I wrote out “TPR” in M&Ms (red and green from Christmas) on the top.  Lit some candles, took some pictures, let boys dig into chocolate gooey mess….there – we acknowledged it.

But it’s all just moving.  So fast.  And I can’t keep up with processing through it yet.  For the past 20 months, I have been Seth’s mom (even if he calls Kathy “mommy” too sometimes….).  He has been my son.  He has been the brother of the boys.  He has already gone through a name change.  But next month, he will officially change his name (not him….but the judge will sign a piece of paper….and a new birth certificate will be printed….and a woman named Hannah will no longer have any documentation of having a little boy….three little boys…..).  And a few weeks later, I will receive a piece of paper that has Lynne listed as “legal mother” under Seth’s name and birthdate and an “Adoption Certificate” which proclaims that this happened February 12th, 2013.

And I will say “whew,” and then it might sink in.  That Seth is forever part of my family.  That the man who thought he was biological father until proven otherwise is now part of history.  That there will be no more “odd” visitations to the county jail for Seth to spend time with a stranger (his birth mom).  That I can call him “my son” without the qualifier “foster….who will hopefully be adopted”… That I am now responsible for three wild and wonderful boys.  Oh boy.

At the beginning of the year, I sent an email to a friend:
My dreams for this year:
– adopt Seth
– sell this house and move!
– open up Jeremiah’s Place – the crisis nursery

Let’s see how that all works.

What I didn’t mean is for all of this to happen in the first months of the year (the crisis nursery project has taken off and I have two grants due at the end of the month….even though I have no idea how to write a grant!!!).

What I do know is that I’m going to have to find time to let all of this sink in.  That I’m going to have to find ways to help the older boys let this all sink in.  That as I become harried and stressed, that the boys will pick up on that and feel harried and stressed as well.   So, instead of starting the packing….instead of searching for a house to rent on the internet….instead of doing anything productive, I let the boys play outside in the “snow box” while I cleaned out the car.

Such gooey brown slime

Slouching in the recesses of the cup holder

You let go of the smothered keys with a long stranded release

I wash you out with clean pure water.

Oh, wrinkly brown grapes

Hiding under the car seat mat

You dream of becoming raisins in the sun

I toss you out with the hardened cheese.

Dear crumbs, crumbs, crumbs

Sprinkling the floor, the seats, the mats

You long for relief from the trampling of feet

I suck you out with the green vacuum.

Oh car, my dearest van —

You seem so clean today.

Why don’t we drive off tomorrow…

Without the boys!

A Perfectly Good (Adopted) Family

We added a new boy to the family this week (fortunately, not by the phone call of the foster caseworker to announce the birth of a sibling!).  Stephen was officially adopted by my sister in a small courtroom in downtown Pittsburgh.  He is the fifth child of his biological mother to be adopted out and the judge who followed this case for years was so touched that it was “ending well,” that she came over especially to “proclaim” the adoption.  I am so excited for my sister.

It’s been a long time coming with many heartaches.  When Stephen was about two months old at the first court hearing, the judge said she would have handed him over for adoption right then and there, knowing the birth mom, if the CYF system had asked for it.  Instead, for the past two years, it’s been up and down with numerous, numerous attempts to help the mother “be” a mother….until recently when her “rights were terminated” as a parent….and she fled the state to try to block the “system” from taking her next newborn baby a couple months ago.

So Kathy has gracefully ridden this roller-coaster of hope and heartache, and all the while has loved this little guy every single second (including, even if not actually obvious at the time, when he spills a full gallon of milk splashing across the table and cascading majestically to the floor, upending his cereal bowl on a near-daily basis, and removing his own diapers at some of the most inopportune times!).

And now, it is final.  Stephen has a new name……Karl…with a “K.”  (It’s going to take a while to get that imprinted in my brain.  I’m getting pretty good at it…except when he’s about to pull all the bananas onto the floor, or is pounding on the dining room table with the tines of his fork, or is gleefully flicking the lights on and off in the living room….and I slip into a stern “S-t-e-p-h-e-n!”)  It will probably take even longer for the boys to figure out the name change, as Noah asked today “who’s Karl? Where?”.

It’s been a good time to review “name changes” and adoption with Micah.  He likes to ask what his original name was.  We review that he was born to another woman and came to live here when he was a very tiny baby.  We review that I love him “forever, for always, and no matter what” and I renew that commitment in my head.  We discuss that Seth will also one day change his last name (I already switched his first name when he turned one as that was easier for me J) and become “forever” family (hopefully in the next few months).

And even though I can talk about this to Micah (and sometimes to Noah who doesn’t really pay attention), it still sometimes seems so surreal to me.  I know that Micah and Noah are forever mine…..that I am their Mommy (because they “tell” me so hundreds of times a day!)….and yet, sometimes, I sit back and pause and say “wow….I am a mother….”  I can easily think of many things that I am – a woman, a Christian, a doctor, a night-owl, a reader, a work-a-holic (most likely), …. and I am a mother.  This is one of those “I am” things that is palpable in the way that I become very defensive on behalf of the boys, in the way I beam with pride in their very very little league sports accomplishments, in the way I peer intensely into their eyes sometimes and say “I love you.”  Sometimes you can just touch that “mother” aspect and roll it around and bounce it here and there.  You can lift it high, you can bend it, you can smash it, you can pound it….but you can never ever ever break it.  I am their mother – forever, for always, and no matter what.  And this Christmas season I am thankful (again) for that gift in my life.

Our family

Our family

 

Kathy realized as she hung the stockings that this year, Seth’s name had changed from one with a K to an S….and Stephen’s name changed from an S to a K….and so our stockings of last year with initials embroidered upon them still reflect our family perfectly.  A perfectly good little family.