Aside

When things were mine


I couldn’t wait to get married and have my own house.  It was the only dream I had as a high school girl.  I had no desire to have a high powered career or to see the world.  I wanted to hold babies and take care of my husband.  I wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted and have all the ‘freedom’ being an adult brings.

My husband and I got married young.  We were told we were destined to fail.  We didn’t care about what people said or thought.  We just wanted to be together doing our own thing.  We found out we were expecting our first baby about six months after we were married.  We were happy.  We wanted to be young parents.  I don’t think either of us would change much of what we’ve done – even if we could.  The one thing I have realized as the years have passed is that maybe I should have listened a little more to the people warning me when we were getting married so young.  I mean, obviously I would have needed to add that ‘grain of salt’ to their speeches, but they may have had a bit of truth in what they were saying.

I heard people telling us stuff about having kids.  But, I didn’t listen to much of it.  I’d always wanted to be a mom and I was sure that was enough.  The truth is – being a mom is hard work.  It’s hard from the time you find out you’re pregnant and you no longer own your own body and it keeps being hard at least until they are 14 (which is where we are in this stage of the game).  True, the hard is a different sort of hard than I’d ever experienced before, but still, hard.

When I found out I was expecting I was so excited.  As things moved along, l  was still excited, but I started to notice me ‘losing bits of me’ along the way.

  • First, it was my food.  I couldn’t eat what I wanted or things I knew I used to like.  My favorite food became the worst possible suggestion and would make my stomach sick just thinking about it.
  • Second, my body.  My hips got wider, my whole body began to fill out in places I had no idea it would fill out.  My feet grew a size and a half.
  • Third,  my sleep.  I began to lay awake at night thinking about the baby I would soon hold, and then worry about things that he/she would do when they got older.  I spent hours of sleepless nights worrying that my baby wouldn’t have hair and praying that God bless my sweet baby with dark brown hair before the baby was born. (Silly, I know).
  • Fourth, my emotions.  I began to cry at movies, over songs, dreams would make me wake up crying.
  • Fifth, my dreams.  I no longer cared about maybe some day coaching a Olympic team or figuring a way to get my husband and me back across the ocean to Europe or whatever.  My dreams changed.  They were filled with desires for my children.

It probably was a slow transformation, but it just seemed so quick.  The strange thing was that I didn’t mind all that stuff changing.  It was just surprising that it was.

Once my son was born I was shocked how much time and energy really went in to caring for another small helpless human.  This sweet little bundle still changed things I didn’t think he would and even though we’d promised ourselves we wouldn’t be crazy parents who change everything once their child is born  – there were just things that had to change for us to be parents.  I assume that people told me these things, but I refused to listen.

We no longer went for long leisurely dinners at nice places.  We no longer stayed up all night watching the Late Show, the Late Late Show or anything else that was on.   My trips to town were planned around meals and nap schedules.  My time had finally been taken from me.

Anyone who has a baby (or who has had a baby in the past) can relate to the ‘no privacy’ preference for children.  It doesn’t matter what I was doing or where I was – my kids needed to talk to me right then AND they wanted to talk face to face.  My poor husband hates that my kids still have conversations with me through a partially cracked bathroom door, that I allow the kids to wake me up with questions on Saturday morning, that when I go to take a shower often a small voice will yell from the other side to share important information or ask questions(such as “I just saw a green bug by a leaf.  He was sorta shiny but he had lots of legs.  Will he bite me?”).

Now, our kids are slightly older, but I notice the privacy that they request has no bearing on the privacy they give.  Often I’d have to say that I get the short end of that deal.  The twins still try to talk to me as close to face to face as possible no matter what I’m doing or what room I’m in.  My privacy is gone for several years yet.  I don’t really mind.  I don’t really have much that is worth being private about.  I know I will miss all the questions and important stories that are shared now.  I just find it interesting that it was such a fast process.  I also find it interesting that I don’t miss any of the things people said I would so far.  I think God gives us all different circumstances to keep us on our toes.

 

Aside

More on adoption


One of the interesting things I’ve experienced as a mother who was adopted as a child is that I am constantly amazed by things that my children share with my biologically.  I assume most people just take for granted that their children will look like some mixture of them and their spouse and their child will have some mixture of personality traits and mannerisms.  When a child is adopted the one thing they can pick up are mannerism.  Other than that those things are missing.

I did not think much about not having the same hair, face, tastes, interests, or anything else growing up.  I was three when I was adopted, and it just never occurred to me that I shouldn’t be different.  I never minded being different so it wasn’t an issue.  But, as a mother I look at my children and I am amazed to see that my youngest son has the same teeth as me.  My daughter laughs exactly like her Aunt.  My oldest son has the same body shape as my husband.  And, with the realization of how much like me my children are comes the realization that I am very little like my adoptive parents.

The good news to those who choose to adopt (which I highly recommend and cannot tell you enough what a difference it makes to a child who needs a home) many things are learned.  Working hard, honesty, mannerisms, and ideals are all things that I can say my adoptive family highly influenced.  My sister who is my bio parents bio daughter and I look nothing alike.  But, people often say that we do look alike.  Our voices are similar when we answer the phone.  Our mannerism are often the same and I think that’s what makes people say we ‘look alike’.  She is blond, thin and about 3 or 4 inches taller than me.  So, we really don’t look ‘alike’.    I work like my dad and mom.  I was raised to believe that any job I am being paid for that is good honest work is acceptable.  This has served me well over the past 20 years.  I don’t care if I’m running a department or dumping recycle bins.  I’m getting paid so it’s a good job.   I can also remember walking downstairs a few months before I got married and my sisters and I all had on nearly identical outfits.  They were the same colors and same basic idea.  So, is fashion learned or inherited?

It gets interesting (at least in retrospect and as a mother) when the interest in things or response is so different that is striking.  Example: my two sisters who are my parents bio children love interior decorating.  They are good at it.  They have an eye for different home styles and can envision what things will look like when they are finished before they have started.  My mother is also amazingly talented at this skill.  I am a complete failure with that talent.  I always love the finished product, but I have a hard time organizing the details to get the result I want and I can’t ‘see’ the project unless someone literally draws me a picture.  I also LOVE parties.  I love getting together with my friends.  I am extremely social and I want to be surrounded by my friends as much as possible.  My sisters don’t share this desire with me.  They have friends.  They spend time with them, but they have never had the same fire for such things as I do.  My daughter is my twin in this aspect.  It’s amazing to watch it from someone else.

So, here I am trying to parent my children and do the best I can to guide them into being the humans that God wants them to be.  I watch them often and see thing things they do that are so ‘me’ and the things they do that are all them.  And, while I am watching them I wonder how I would be different if I had a different first 4 years.  I truly believe that God directs each of our paths and has us go down specific paths for specific reasons.  That world view forces me to see the good that has come from what society deems to be ‘difficult circumstances’.  Some of the things I see as ‘good’ are: I have a bleeding heart when it comes to abandon children or really any child.  I realize that while searching through the history of one’s family may be interesting  –  it’s really amazing how little most of it matters.   I’m more interested in the people who are here now.  I don’t ever even think about it when I am ‘parenting’ other people’s kids.  I just treat them all like my own.

I have no scientific basis for what is nurture and what is nature.  I don’t really think it matters.  It’s just so interesting to notice the differences now that I was completely blind to until I had kids of my own.

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Happy Doubles


When people find out I have twins their immediate response is one of only a few.

  • Are they boys or girls? (Apparently, the option of it being boy/girl twins doesn’t occur to anyone)
  • Now you can be done! (What?  I am no longer allowed to choose if  I want more than two children?  This also doesn’t take into account that I may have had a child before the twins)
  • That is hard. (Oh, have you met my children?  You must have more than just the twin fact to make this sort of judgement)

I have loved nearly every moment of being a mom to twins.  I have equally loved being a mother to my single birth son.  I really just love being a mom.  I’d have more children in a heartbeat if I could convince my husband.

The first few weeks were a blur because really all I could think about was them being in the NICU, them eating, and me getting to bring them home.  After that, things just fell into the normal rhythm of having new people (baby sized) in my house.  I don’t recall anything being ‘more difficult’.  Everything just took more time.  It took time to get everyone dressed, diapers changed, babies fed, and making sure the four year old was also ready to go.  I didn’t think much about going places except I knew I’d have to plan extra time to get ready.  I found out a few months after my twins had been going to town on a regular basis that most twin moms don’t like to take their babies out at first because it’s overwhelming.  I hate staying home and I guess it didn’t occur to me to be overwhelmed by it.  Probably the sleep deprivation I was experiencing…or maybe it was the fact that their big brother LOVED helping with every little thing.  He would gather the stuff for the diaper bag, make sure bottles were packed, and entertain/rock the carseats to keep the babies happy so I could get ready to go.

Things are so interesting with boy/girl twins.  The point of view is from both genders instead of focused on one.  I really feel I get the best of both worlds.  I have a girlie girl who loves pink, zebra, sparkles, feathers, tea parties, shopping, and spa days.  I have a manly man who loves hunting, fishing, being outside, doesn’t notice the dirt on his face after playing with friends, and generally thinks anything pink is not worth owning.  I find it a very cool study on the gender division.  I can’t agree with most of what I’ve read on the subject.  However, things I have read about twins that I have found to be true (not only with my twins but with my best friend’s twins and a few other sets I know as well):

  • There are two people in each set of twins.  This means that they are not the same person somehow cloned.  They will have different interests, friends, ideas, and basically everything else.
  • They don’t like to always be referred to as ‘the twins’.  Sometimes it’s fun to be a twin, but sometimes it’s fun to just be yourself.
  • It’s usually only important to one of them if the other one is involved.  This has to do with different personalities.  My daughter worries if her brother is included in things she is doing.  She also thinks about him when someone gives her something.  It’s not unusual to hear her say “Can I have one for my brothers?” (yes she generally includes her big brother too).  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard Trevor say that ever.
  • The dominant personality will not necessarily stay with the same child.  Some days one will be the in charge one and then maybe a few months later the other one will.

The thing I’ve found the most interesting of all is having twins really is like having two kids.  No, seriously.  There are days (or moments) they are close.  But, there are times when my oldest son is close to them too.  There have never been any exclusion issues with them.  Maybe because they are boy/girl instead of the same gender.  Maybe because I am almost on the crazy side of us doing everything as a family.  Who knows why?

 

My twins turned 10 today.  My doubles have turned double digits.  It’s unbelievable that I’ve survived this far.  I assumed having twins would certainly put me in the ground.  But, I’m not only doing it and surviving – I am loving it.

Excuse me


The first time my dad gave me a chore to do I can remember standing with my hands on my hips and saying “No.”  He said “what?”  And, I repeated my defiant response for him.  Many spankings later I still have difficulty with being bossed around.  However, now I’m a mom and there are many things I need to teach my kids before they are expected to take care of themselves, their homes and their families.  And, during these lessons many excuses are offered.  I’ve compiled a list of my favorites:

1.)  I’m tired.
Yes, I’m sure you’re tired.  All that x-box playing, tv watching and zero responsibility has certainly drained your energy reserves.  Most children go to bed before their parents, get up after their parents, and spend their days with multiple breaks figured in so they are not overwhelmed or overworked.

2.) It’s hot. (used in yard work situations though not limited to that scenario)
Best quote heard following this complaint is “My shoes are burning”.
An offer to be excused to play will result immediately in running, jumping, and playing out in the sun for hours on end.  Offers of water are taken with heavy footsteps and long faces because this only delays the work and dragging out the getting water may be like a mini vacation.  There is the hope that a large portion of the chore will be completed before the water is obtained and people realize the kid is still missing.
3.) I have to go to the bathroom.
It doesn’t matter if the child has recently been to the restroom an immediate need to relieve ones self materializes when a chore is suggested or given.  If given the opportunity a child will sit in the restroom until other siblings complete the task.
4.) I got distracted.
This does not require anything specific or even special.  The child (or children) can be distracted by sunshine, dust, sibling, toys, tv, video games (even just the thought of video games tends to distract one of my children).  The desire to avoid the work makes everything interesting.
5.) It’s not fair.
Ah, yes.  Life is fair unless you’re a kid.  Right, right.  The assumption that each child should have the exact same chores at the exact same time is interesting.  Most kids realize (at least after school years begin) that they are not going to have a fair life.  It’s impossible.  However, it’s still offered as a reason to not begin or complete a chore.
6.) I don’t feel good.
This excuse is generally localized to the stomach or headache.  These ailments are hard to confirm and easy to fake.  I have gotten to the point where I tell my kids that these are not things that keep us home from school, work, or anything else.  If we are vomiting or have a fever – it’s a different story.
7.) I should get paid.
At first one might feel guilt about not paying an allowance or giving a child money for each chore completed.  We managed to get over this by tallying up the cost of having said child live in our home, eat our food, and participate in family entertainment as well as activities that each child will do on their own.  As you can imagine – that cost is pretty l
large.
8.) I don’t have time.
The response to this is similar to the “I’m tired” response.  As a kid there are school hours set aside, but other than that there is very few things vying for their time and energy.  They generally don’t plan out meals, pay bills, or much of anything but school and homework.  As they get older sports and music start taking up time, but even still there is little in the way of responsibility.
9.) I don’t want to.
If only this excuse worked.  I’d like to offer it up at work if it did.  Life isn’t about doing what we want all the time.  Sometimes, it’s about learning to do what we need to do and learning to be happy about it.
10.) I forgot
This one comes in as the children get older.   They are left to do their chores without parental supervision.  It’s amazing what they can forget and how quickly.
I’m pretty sure I’ll hear more excellent excuses as I continue to parent.  There are obvious variations on the excuses above – feel free to share any that you have heard.

What are you dressing for?


There is a reason behind most of what we do.  Today we will say  ‘traditions’ for lack of a better word.  Most started somewhere and there was a reason behind starting them.  This doesn’t mean the reason was valid nor does it mean the person who started the tradition was correct.  But, it certainly deserves some attention before completely casting it away with no regard for the purpose or plan.

My focus today is on clothing.  I’m not talking about the clothes you were to hang out at home (though the argument could be made that this applies there too).  I’m talking about dressing for the occasion or dressing to show respect for someone or something.

When I was a little girl and we were getting dressed for church I would complain and say “But, why do I have to wear a dress?  It’s hot!  I want to wear shorts!” or something similar.  My mom would say something like “If we went to visit the King of England we would dress in our best clothes to show we respected him.  We are going to the house of the King of Kings.  I think a dress is appropriate.”  It’s amazing what an impact that had on me.  It certainly sunk in.

People have always worn their best to show respect.  We do this for weddings, church, funerals, interviews, court dates, etc. and I can’t remember questioning it much.  However, now when I go to churches, weddings, and funerals I seldom see people in dresses or ties.  It doesn’t matter which church I attend – I don’t see that.  Instead, people are dressed for comfort or for whatever they plan to do after their obligation is filled.  I think that part of the issue is the reason for dressing up got lost.

Dressing up was not instituted to show who had the best clothes, who was the most beautiful, or as some sort of snob move.  Dressing up was instituted as a sign of respect.   The reason hasn’t been passed down and so the action has been tossed aside.    Of course, people care less about respect too, but I don’t find people dressing down in an effort to flaunt their rebellious spirits.  Most of the people I’ve asked about it simply don’t get the point.

My children attend a school that recently relaxed its dress code significantly.  Generally, I don’t have a problem with it.  I think it’s nice to basically buy one set of clothing instead of having my children have to change daily when they get home.  But, I miss the fact that they were being trained to dress for specific situations.  It’s an important lesson and it’s hard to teach when the majority of the world is changing the rules because they find the current ones outdated and pointless.  I think my boys should show respect for chapel speakers and for the subject.   I think a collared shirt is a socially accepted sign of respect.  Society may not get it, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  It’s the reason people still expect applicants to wear nice clothes to job interviews.  Most people don’t go in cut offs and tank tops.

Take sports as an example.  Athletes must wear uniforms.  The team does not show up willie nillie in whatever clothes are comfortable.  I have participated in teams (and so have my kids) that require a dress code even for practices.  The coaches believe that dressing appropriately shows respect to your team and to your coaches.  It shows something more too.  It shows unity.  Then, on game day the athletes are expected to wear a shirt and tie.  This rule is the same no matter what school or what the economic diversity of the school is.  In my experience the team members who do not follow the dress code do not play in games.  It’s taken seriously.

The same is true of businesses.  Obviously, people should dress for the job they have.  Some businesses require their employees to wear a uniform.  Showing up for work without the uniform tells the employer that the employee is not interested in working.  I used to work as a receptionist for a corporation and office attire (collared blouses, slacks or a skirt) were required.  Now, I work for the same corporation, but I work in the back and I need to have the ability to bend, move and generally do physical labor should the need arise.  So, my work attire has changed.  I still don’t show up to work in sweats and a old stained t-shirt.  I wear the nicest clothes I have that are fitting to the job I’m doing.

My least favorite complaint or excuse that people give in regards to their dressing nice, especially for things like church or court, is that they can’t afford it.   First, this assumes the rest of the world is full of idiots and do not understand that each person is at a different place in their finances nor do they understand that not everyone’s best is the same.  There is a difference between someone’s best clothes and expensive clothes.  The requirement for such places is not that people dress to my standards or some standard that is directly linked to some arbitrary dollar amount.  The requirement has been that people wear their best.  For some that is a suit and tie.  For some that is their nicest t-shirt and jeans.  But, I’ve heard from a couple people I know who work in the judicial system that it’s less about someone wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt into the court room and more about someone wearing jeans that are sagging down so far that we have to look at their underwear (or worse, their lack of underwear) or their wearing a shirt that says “I shoot cops” or something equally disrespectful.  Church is the same.  There is no fashion police.  If someone is truly wearing their best clothes and that includes a pair of pants and a t-shirt then great.  But, I know very few people who fall into the position of having only ripped, stained clothes.

And, now I’ll step off my soap box.

Change


As a general rule, I dislike change.  I find life continuing on its merry way with no drastic changes a comfortable place to be. I want to be surrounded by those I love and I want things to stay constant: no death, no upheaval, and nothing else scary.

As it turns out life isn’t going to stay constant.  Day after day I notice changes even with myself.  I found three grey hairs on my head.  That is a change I could certainly do without. The laugh lines by my eyes are becoming the norm – even when I’m not smiling or laughing (I refuse to say I have wrinkles).  It takes more than a good night’s sleep to recover from playing multiple hours of volleyball.  I will never forget the Thanksgiving my sister and I realized that it was us in the kitchen cooking and not our mom and our aunts.  A new generation of adults.

My oldest son is taller than me by 10 inches.  I remember him being small enough to hold and carry all day long.  His sweet chubby hands would both fit in one of mine.  Now, he can wrap his arms around me with plenty of  arm to spare.  I can slip his shoes on to go outside because they are so much bigger than my feet.  The most traumatizing thing is that he will be starting high school in August.  HIGH SCHOOL, PEOPLE.  I remember jr. high and I remember high school.  Jr. High was where I met my life long friends and high school was when I stopped spending time with my parents.  I don’t want my kids to get old enough to not spend time with me

My daughter is only six inches shorter than me.  Her foot is a size and a half smaller.  I can wear her flip flops.  I can remember putting her sweet little curls in pig tails and dressing her like a doll.  Now, she can help me cook, fold laundry, and is daily telling me about some conversation or drama from school.  She’s old enough to want slumber parties, a cell phone, and she’s starting to talk about boys.  Time is rushing too fast for me and too slow for her.

My youngest son doesn’t want to cuddle on my lap nearly as often as he once did.  He doesn’t want me to hug him in front of his friends.  He and his friends can discuss NBA teams and actually know the names of the players and know things about their stats.  He can look a waitress in the eye and order his meal instead of being shy and ducking under the table.  He was the smallest of my babies and it’s hard for me to believe that he’s strong enough to mow the lawn himself and help with weeding and other chores.

I’m working on making my new focus the good that these changes bring.  I can’t help but see the change, but I can certainly focus more on what I’m gaining instead of on what I’m losing.

With my grey hair has come wisdom (in small doses, of course).  I may not be as spry as I used to be, but I make up for it with being fun.  Laugh lines mean that I am general happy.  The fact that they are wearing into my face in a more permanent manner means that I must laugh a lot.

My oldest is starting on the part of his life where he gets to start making choices that will shape what he will become as an adult, who he chooses for a spouse, where he will live, and so many other things.  I can see the man he is becoming and it makes my heart happy that it is someone I admire and who I want to spend more time with.

My girl is maturing into a young woman.  She is learning to deal with social situations and will hopefully learn to navigate through the craziness that is the drama of girls.  She is learning to choose her own style, her friends, and and her own activities.

My baby boy has started to free himself from his cocoon of shyness.  He’s learning that while sometimes it’s scary to talk to people the benefit generally outweighs the trauma.  He’s training himself to be a helpful husband for his future bride.   It’s really amazing to watch.

Soon, instead of losing my three kids I will be gaining three more in the form of the mates they choose.  I will be attending graduations, weddings, and baby showers for my kids.  How exciting to see what they are able to accomplish in their lives!  Changing my focus is really the key.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing”