Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Scroll Down Social Media Lane.

Our parents generation made sure we valued education, that we surrounded ourselves with good community, that we found a good church. They taught us about finances, healthy living, and how to have a good sense of humor. Our youth pastors, teachers and professors taught us to look at music and movies with a critical eye.

No one taught us how to manage social media. We didn't get our first email address until college and wondered then if the internet thing would even really catch on. (Wait, is it a forward slash or a backslash? This is too high maintenance.") We couldn't learn from our parent's mistakes on this one. There wasn't even an urban legend to consider.

And then it took over. I don't even know what my best friends' handwriting looks like and we write to each other every day.

So here we are. Unchartered territory. Making mistakes with this new responsibility daily. We have no direction ingrained in our upbringing on the hows, whens and whos.

Lots of friends have found the solution in taking breaks. Taking certain apps off their smart phones, etc. Some are being super honest and wise about the effects social media is having on them. I'm not going to get into the deeper stuff on this post, the envy, jealousy, discontentment, etc. I'm just going to hopefully adjust your perspective a bit if you find yourself struggling through these new darts being thrown at you hourly.

1. Memes are not truth.
Look what I made! Memes aren't truth in any shape or form, therefore they don't get authority. They are memes. Literally anyone can create them and if they're pretty or funny or feel-good (or it's a slow news day) they get passed around. The following two were in my Facebook feed in the same day:
This on a day when my 7 year old threw a fit because all he wanted was to play Wii instead of hang out with the family. Because I love him, my job was to make him unhappy. If my only wish was to make my child happy we'd all have a selfish-zilla on our hands. Ya know what would make Dez happy? If Russ stayed home from work every day. But then we'd be homeless, so ya know...Parenting and loving your child involves making a lot of decisions that make them unhappy. And I don't need an emoticon to prove it.
This one is trickier. At first read I thought, "Awww." And then I thought of the many conversations with adoptive moms (and even biological moms) when they admit it took months, sometimes years to fall in love with their kids. Seeing this on the wrong day and giving it authority could cause some serious undue guilt and shame.

All that to say: THEY'RE MEMES. They do not get authority just because they're on your feed.

2. Pinterest is a resource. Not a daily standard of living.

Raise your hand if you know every word in the dictionary and use them daily? *crickets*
This is a screen shot of one of my pinterest pages. However, currently I'm wearing an oversized crusty Cardinal's sweatshirt with old faded sweatpants that smell like pickles (that's what Dez had for a snack.) Do I sometimes wear outfits like the ones pictured? Yes. When I want to and have the time to. Is that my daily? Nope. Ha! Not even close.

Pinterest is like a Christmas wish list or a wedding registry. It's a collection of "I like that." Not, "I'm doing that, cooking that, wearing that, sewing that and reading that all day every day." For me, it's truly like a dictionary. When I'm looking for something specific, it's my go-to. That's it.

3. Facebook is the highlight REEL. Not the highlight REAL.

A few days ago was the last World Series game in St. Louis. By a quick scroll, you'd think everyone I knew was at the game. In reality? Maybe 10 people went to the game, but my newsfeed was full of cool pics. That's less than 1% of my FB friends. But in that split second, it seems EVERYONE was able to swing tickets, EVERYONE got a babysitter, EVERYONE GOT TO HAVE AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT WITH THEIR HUSBANDS AND I SMELL LIKE PICKLES IN MY CRUSTY SWEATSHIRT AT HOME ON THE COUCH.

I believed it for a second.

It's best for me to remember that the friend who posts the vacation pic works crazy hard and has 4 kids and, holy crap, deserves a getaway. She's not on vacation every week. To remember the friend who posts the pic of the great meal she made probably made frozen pizza the next night. She's not making amazing meals every night.

And if she is? Good for her! High fives! Super impressive! And guess what? It's okay that someone else is impressive in an area you're not. We all don't have the same giftings. And also? If she's spending that much time on meals that usually means something else is sacrificed. There's only so much time. If you're reading as many blog posts from me as you have been lately, you can bet I'm not inviting you over any time soon. If I'm writing, I'm probably not cleaning. True story.

Facebook is like a local coffee shop keeping me connected with our many circles all at once. It keeps my silly stories and photos of our life all in one place. It's my bulletin board, baby book, class reunion and Christmas letter all year round. I actually view it as a huge blessing.

4. Twitter? Eh, that probably won't catch on.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"I don't like myself anymore."

To date, this is the worst sentence I've heard Eliot utter. I had just asked him how his day at school was, knowing he's been struggling a lot lately.

"I don't like myself anymore. My brain doesn't work like everyone else's. I want to be normal. I'm frustrated all day. I can't make my brain focus."

I almost had to pull the car over.

This self-expression is a trophy of the last 2 years with a language pathologist. And while I was so crazy proud of how well he explained his feelings, I was crushed. There was frustration and a lack of the big picture, there was no grace, only failure.

So after a couple years of testing every accommodation, every intervention, every thing we could think of between ourselves and the teachers, we made the appointment with the doctor. As a teacher, I hated watching my students struggle but watching them on ADD meds was sometimes even worse. Unless the dosage and medicine are the exact right fit, I'd seen a lot of negative effects.

This was our last resort. But after hearing him say that, I picked my heart up off the ground and told him we'd try something new.


Fast forward to yesterday. Dez and I pull Eliot from school right before lunch and zip off west for our appointment. We were there for a sweet forever as the doctor and I went over a bazillion questions. (In all honestly, it probably didn't take that long, but the two boys were creating the loudest circus possible in the room and I realized too late that I should have fed them before the appointment. And gotten a babysitter for Dez. And snuck a box of wine in my bag. And possibly a taser.) The inevitable "No Family Medical History" bright red flag showed up and the doctor voiced her concerns over starting a medicine that can affect heart rates with no knowledge of whether or not that should be a concern. We agreed an EKG gathering base line stats would be our best option.

So instead of taking my anxious 7 year old and overly-tired 2 year old back home (did I mention nap time was several hours ago?), we booked an appointment at the hospital. The office worker asked if I minded waiting 20 or so minutes for the insurance to be cleared and I asked her if she minded me taking my boys to lunch instead. I see your helpfulness and raise you an I'm-getting-them-out-of-here-ASAP.

I let (forced) the boys play at the Chick-fil-a play area while I ate in peace, waiting for the call with the green light from insurance. And by peace I mean, the "What ifs" pulled up a seat at the table. What if the EKG reveals something serious? What if the medicine hurts my son? What if this is the wrong decision? What if my hesitations have been a mother's intuition and I should cling to those?

Once the insurance call came I gathered their leftovers including their unopened chocolate milks and headed to the car. Only once I got them settled (amidst tears of over-tiredness and thirst), I couldn't get their milks open. Like, at all. Sealed tight, not budging. Like the JFK files were hidden inside. The more I struggled, the more they grew impatient.

I thought, "This is it. This is how moms lose it in parking lots, the security camera footage making it onto the local news. They're so preoccupied with worry about some medical thing that chocolate milk becomes their undoing. They've pushed their kids too hard for one day and it's showing and the only solution to everything being okay is getting this chocolate milk open."

Overwhelmed with defeat, I got into the drivers seat asking the boys to please be patient. I tried a couple more times and nothing. The boys were practically dehydrating in front of me.

And then a car pulled up next to me. A young couple got out. I slowly rolled down the window and in desperation said, "Excuse me? This may sound REALLY odd but I can't get my kids' milk open and they're losing it and I'm about to. Would you mind trying for me?"

Please. With all my heart I wished you could have seen her face.

She, of course, was able to open them both. She might as well have given me her kidney for as thankful as I was. I jumped out of the car to give Dez's to him and as I grabbed his door handle, it moved. This might have happened again.

Not sure how, but we safely arrived at the cardiologist in one piece. The sweet nurse attached the wires to Eliot and he was so brave.
Looking at my child attached to all those for the brief few minutes it took to get a reading, it occurred to me. We need to get to his heart.

Medical questions aside, get to his heart. No matter what the test reads, if he reacts to this frustration by not wanting to be himself anymore, I've got to get to his heart. Even if he was just caught up in the moment when he said that, it's fruit of deeper things. He's my absolute treasure and being his mom has been nothing but life changing. What I view as a hiccup, he views as a dead end. Something is broken and it's our job to help him fix it. I could have just said, "Oh honey, don't say that!" which is what I wanted to say. I didn't want to have heard that, I wanted to turn on his favorite music or take him to the park to play, hoping those external things would take it away. But I've got to get to his heart. He let me in to his internal struggle and I'm taking that seriously. When he forgets who he is, or whose he is, it's our job to restore that, our job to clear up the fog. 

I know there will be frustrations along the way, but I also know that "The way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice." I'm thankful for the opportunities to correct wrong perspectives so early on already and don't take that responsibility lightly.

Parenting is by far the hardest thing I've ever done but I thank God every day that He allowed me and trusted me to be this kids' mom.
**By the way, everything came back normal on the EKG and Dez DIDN'T EVEN DRINK HIS CHOCOLATE MILK.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What I've Learned From My Adoptive Community

(Pictured: a handful of Guatemamas I got to see this weekend. Not pictured: the rest of our foster/adoptive community here in STL and from Guate.)

* There's no land too far or stay too long, there's only longer tourism visas.

* There's no cost too high, there's only more grants, more fundraisers, more selling stuff you didn't need anyway.

* There's no confusion as to whose child this is, there's only attachment practices and fierce love.

* There's no such thing as re-homing. There's only more therapy, more doctors, more conferences, more reading, more loving. (and more wine.)

* There's no right way, no right answer, there's only prayer and support.

* There's no loneliness, there's only more phone calls, texts, and emails. There's only encouragement and support.

* There's no fake smiles, there's only tears and laughter and hugs.

* There's no judgement, there's only nodding of heads and similar stories and a new day tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two kids later and I'm still infertile. (National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day post)

Most days I forget that I've never given birth. Most days I forget that my children didn't come from my genetics. Most days I forget that if I hadn't miscarried, we'd have an 11 year old. Most days I'm so busy being a mom that I forget how I became (and didn't become) a mom.

Other than an excuse for a new wardrobe, being pregnant was never my desire. It's beautiful and no one knows more than me how miraculous it is but my desire was to have biological children and I would tolerate being pregnant to get them. But that never happened. Slowly over time we've grieved this and have settled into our amazing story quite happily.

Grieving didn't happen easily, even with our arms full of the greatest children on the planet. That certainly helped but sorrow sneaks up on me. There's still triggers. I still stifle a urge to punch women in the face who joke about getting pregnant on accident. (Not really...but maybe a little?) I still get sad sometimes seeing little girls with brunette hair and green eyes (what I'd always pictured our little girl to look like). I went ahead and unfriended an acquiantance on Facebook who was pregnant the same time I was. There was no reason to see a constant stream of pics of her son playing baseball or what he made her for Mother's Day. That was just a weird form of infertility torture. Congrats but no thank you.

To be honest? I'm not sure I've said this on here or not, but overall I'm thankful for this part of our story. Not just because the timing led us to our boys but because I can now offer what I so longed for back then. When we were in the thick of shots, ultrasounds, etc the only people that could relate ended up having biological children. Some people were compassionate and gracious but there were still lots of "Hang in there! It'll happen!"s and the like. I had no one to look at and ask, "But what if it doesn't?" And now I can be that for others.

We hosted an event at our church right before Mother's Day this year for couples struggling with infertility, a place to come and ask questions, to be reminded of God's promises not being tied to a positive pregnancy test. A woman asked to speak to me after. She asked if I was okay being infertile still. When I said yes she asked when that happened, going from pursuing something so diligently with every resource you have to feeling peace that it didn't happen, essentially asking when is it okay to say stop.

My answer? You'll know. That's not a cop out. You'll know. When you've opened doors, walked through them and felt unsettled, you'll know. When you're heart has changed to other things, you'll know. When you are "late" and it causes more fear than excitement, you'll really know. And it's okay if you're not ready to stop. It's okay if you're not being called to adoption yet (or ever). It's okay to switch doctors. It's okay to try different treatments. This road is different for everyone. And once you've moved on, it's still okay to get sad about it.

And it's okay. It's okay to move on once you're ready. I struggled with this, thinking it was a sign that I lacked faith that God could still do this. But I misread that. Moving on is another part of grieving, letting the dream be transformed by The Storyteller.

Someone sent this quote to me once and I've held onto it's truth:

"The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is through the expulsive power of a new one." Thomas Chalmers. (19th century Scottish dude.)

And by expulsive power I mean->

Unless God pulls a "Sarai", I will always be infertile. It doesn't define me but I've allowed it to help shape me. I won't fight the grief when it sneaks up on me but it no longer makes me angry. If anything, it makes me squeeze my boys harder and love on them a little bit more.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The couch 2.0 (or would it be 3.0? I dunno.)

There's enough new people in our world that ^ phrase won't make sense. Knowing some of them are lazy clickers I'll explain briefly, but also link in case some want to do their own research.

Cliff notes: On a particularly emotional day I saw a commercial for some cable provider where a family of 6 is all slammed together on a couch with the cliche huge bowl of popcorn watching a movie and it hit me. I wanted a full couch. I was insanely in love with our son but knew we were supposed to be more. (Or Mohr? Either one.) Well, it's that time again. Our couch is squirrelier (new word coming to Webster Dictionary 2014) and fuzzier with the addition of Dez but there's still room...

Since starting the adoption process back in '06 we've never felt peace about returning to the fertility world. We've started to and just known it wasn't for us. (I have thoughts on this that I'll share in another post, lucky you)

We've done international adoption. We've done foster care. We've done private adoption. We've done infant state adoption. So we thought we'd mix it up a bit this time. Not for the sake of mixing it up, but because that's where the need is and what would work best for our family in this season.

The Mohr's are signing up for an older child adoption through the state.

We've already met for an initial house walk through with a social worker, filled out some oh-so-familiar paperwork and are signed up for the adoption classes in November. We're waiting to hear what the next steps will be after that. We know we need to update our home study but not sure passed that. We could be paired with a waiting child soon or it could take awhile, we don't know. We're fine hangin' in the waiting room until a team decides we're the right family for a child.

We'll update as we are able to! Thanks for joining in our journey, as always!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Rejected by Dumars!

I grew up near Detroit, during the Pistons beautiful years. My family has always been into sports and they were always on television. Being somewhat close, we even went to a few Tigers and Pistons games. All that to say, sports phrases were common venacular in my house growing up. Whenever anything got knocked down, one of us would yell "Rejected by Dumars!" (Joe Dumars is a 6'3 basketball player from the late 80's/early 90's who was known for great defense and the announcers would yell that at any given moment during a Pistons game.)

(Sporting my Pistons T at summer camp. All the cool kids were doing it.)

I have been putting myself out there a lot lately. I sent my book to a and wrote an article that I submitted to several very large publications. And so far? Nada. The agent wasn't interested in my manuscript and nothing but crickets on the article. Rejected by Dumars. Dumars being a 6'3 professional literary world this time.

My initial fear is the American Idol syndrome. The people who audition with bold statements of being "The best singer in their entire town!" and then you hear them sing aaaaaaaand....yikes. That internal dialogue of whether or not you're good at something? The rejection confirms your fears, that you're making this up as you go, that you have no formal training doing what you're doing and therefore no business pretending you're a contender.

But then you get an email from someone who read your blog and it helped answer some questions for them. Or helped them realize they wanted to adopt. Or just made them laugh.

From the beginning I've said that this is not our story, we didn't make this happen, that God set all this up and we walked through it. Once I finished the book, I felt very unattached to a fantastic outcome or not. I was very open to whatever happens, happens. But then I got my first rejection and felt like closing the writing chapter of my life's book altogether.

I know there's a bazillion agents and publishers and publications. I know that our story is supposed to get out there, I know that I have only just started this process and need to have as much thick skin as I have patience.

I met with a long-time mentor of mine last night. She's also a big fan but an honest one. She reminded me that I began writing the book 6 years ago. I was a different person back then. I hadn't really written before. I hadn't found my style or my voice yet. The second half was basically written by a different person.

So, in answer to the questions of "So, what's happening with your book now?" My answer is that I'm sharpening my editing pen and/or butchering knives and having a hard look at the original manuscript. I'm taking it from a documentation of an international adoption to a memoir worth reading. And in the meantime I'm going to keep writing articles and putting myself out there.

Look out, Dumars, I'm comin' atcha.