Thursday, October 23, 2014

Not My Story to Tell

I have a beautiful piece of artwork hanging in my office that says “your story matters.” I love hearing  people’s life stories because they contain so much power. It’s our individual successes, challenges, fears and raw honesty that allows us to truly connect with each other.

I’m always amazed at the people I meet in various settings that have adoption stories to tell. And yes, I’m a little biased, but adoption stories are hands down the best. Each are like snowflakes, all a little different, and yet, together they create a beautiful image.  I love sharing the story of how we came to be Emily’s parents and the journey that brought us together as a family. 

Yet, I always feel conflicted when I hear adoption stories that include information about a birth mom or birth family. I know often times these women and families faced unthinkable tragedy and difficult life circumstances that brought them to the decision that adoption was the best and only option for their child. My heart breaks a little every single time when I hear stories of birth mothers that abused drugs and alcohol, were victims of rape or domestic violence or struggled with mental illness.  And I feel incredibly protective of these individuals. Because I don’t think their story is our story to tell. 

Children don’t deserve to be labeled “fetal alcohol babies” or “drug babies.”  Those may be the challenges they were born into or born with but their worth is so much more.  I never want any child, including Emily, to be viewed as less than because of a label we place on them early in life. From the beginning we’ve started them off at a disadvantage because of something they had no control over. Labels diminish a child's potential. All children should know in the deepest part of their hearts that they matter, they belong and they are capable. And it’s our jobs as parents to show them and reinforce that message every single day.   

What happened prior Emily entering our life, isn’t my story to tell. Maybe it’s a story she will want to tell one day. That’s her decision to make. But my story, our story, will be what happened in the moments, days and years after that life changing phone call on a warm day in July. That story will start with what it truly was...happiness, excitement, and endless possibilities of a new chapter in life.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Being a Mom Has Brought Out the Best in Me

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who has ever met me that I love being a mom. Yes, we have our crazy moments and I sometimes want to cry, scream, pull my hair out or do all three simultaneously. But I can honestly say that becoming a mother has made me a better person all around.  For instance....

I always have snacks with me. Need some goldfish, graham crackers, or applesauce? Check. I have them in my car, in my purse, and in various places around my house and work office. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been on a work trip or stuck in a long meeting and I have pulled a snack out of my purse. Lifesaving! Mama needs to eat, too. 

I can function off very little sleep. There was a time when I could not have gotten out of bed with less than 10 hours of sleep. No more! Nights spent sleeping in 3 hour blocks or for less than 6 hours total are the norm. Now, I’m not saying that it’s the best or healthiest way to be. But, I know that I can get less than an ideal amount of sleep AND rock an early morning meeting AND carry on intelligent conversations while making important decisions all. day. long. BRING IT, sleep deprivation!

I have fine-tuned my negotiation skills. Pre-toddler I would typically get flustered or frustrated if I tried to negotiating with someone. Or just give up trying it all together. But having a strong willed two year old has forced me to step up my game. What's that, baby girl? Don't want to go to bed? That's ok, you can read this book in your bed for a few minutes. Oh look at that, you are ASLEEP after 5 minutes. I win. Screaming about taking a shower? Look! There are bubbles in the tub! Let's see how many of them you can pop! Yup, and now you are taking a bath!  Oh, don't want to put on your shoes? How about we play a super, fun distracting game in which you have to hurry up and put sandals on before the imaginary fish tickle your feet? HA! You are now wearing shoes, sister! I know, I know it's a bit deceitful but (most) of the times it works. And when it doesn't I just have to live with a sleep deprived, unbathed child with no shoes. But only temporary until I come up with a new strategy.

I find that I'm unapologetic and more outspoken than I've ever been. And with a reason and a purpose.  Being a mom means that you are the #1 advocate for some who cannot advocate for themselves. You become their voice. That means if you have a question for the pediatrician, you ask it. If you don't like how things are going at day care, you bring it up with the director or teacher.  You make it your top priority to put everything about your baby first and foremost, which often times means stepping out of your comfort zone. And for someone who is non-confrontational, that's a big deal. 

But most of all, being a mom has forced me to make the most of my time and balance the fun with the work. Before Emily, work consumed my life and I liked it that way. I love what I do and am incredibly fortunate to work somewhere I am afforded a nice work/life balance. So, I make the most of it. Yes, there are long days with lots of work travel. But when I have a break from those days, I make sure to spend it with my sweet girl at the zoo, coloring and watching Mickey Mouse, or playing at the park. Spending that special time with her is so important to me because, when it's all said and done, everything I am and everything I have become is for her and because of her. And she deserves the best of me.