Anxiously Accomplished

It’s hard to describe the feeling that comes over you when something you have worried and stressed over for so long, just disappears. I have been on pins and needles for 903 days. Never knowing if Stella would stay with me forever or not. Don’t get me wrong, her case looked good, I knew she was where she needed to be, but I have this thing called anxiety, and it said otherwise.

Having anxiety and deciding to take part in the foster care system is basically signing yourself to play a really long version of Russian Roulette. You can’t stop your brain from going to the worst case scenarios and in these circumstances, it can make you physically sick with worry. I would spend sleepless nights worried about the most irrational, wildest, most ridiculous worst case possibilities after getting one small sliver of bad news. See, with anxiety, where everything is already under scrutiny, the simplest piece of information can be twisted into this terrifying news that doesn’t even exist. It’s just the best.

There were days when I wouldn’t even want to speak to anyone, because I was so full of worry. Days when I was so exhausted from not sleeping, because I was up all night thinking about what could happen. Days when I couldn’t eat, because I knew she had to go to a visit that she didn’t want to participate in.

Once I finished the adoption placement a few weeks ago, I was her legal guardian. I don’t think my brain really had time to process what an accomplishment that was, because everything else was moving so fast and I had things to get done. Even standing outside the courtroom on adoption day, I still wasn’t at ease, we were taking photos, and making sure everything on our checklist was finished.

As we were making the hour drive home, it hit me.

Like a tidal wave of accomplishment, celebration, and calming.

We did it. We crossed the finish line. She is safe and provided for, for the rest of her life.

I will never be able to fully describe what that felt like. The purest, truest, brightest feeling of joy and calm. My brain is never quiet, but it was Tuesday.

For a brief moment, I had no worries, no concerns, no fears.

903 days of worry.

903 days of anxiety.

903 days of fear.

Gone.

And that is without a doubt, the most beautiful version of overwhelming joy I think there is. When I realized I was feeling every ounce of worry shed off of me like a second skin, I noticed I was even breathing easier. My anxiety had even made breathing a chore. Not anymore.

Now I get to worry about normal mom things like,

  • What is my kid chewing on?
  • Why is the floor wet?
  • Why do the shoes I bought her yesterday, not fit today?
  • Why is my kid always snotty?
  • Is she going to put me in a nursing home or her basement when I’m senile?

I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my 32 years, but this is by far my proudest moment. And I still have a tiny speck of sanity left. So, today I’m giving anxiety the finger, because as hard as it tried to break me, I won.

 

Stella Frances

Saturday, June 13th, 2015 at around 8:30pm, I answered a phone call. A phone call that would change multiple lives. My case worker was calling to ask me if I would accept my first foster placements. She knew I planned to be an adopt only case, but I had a placement fall through the week before, so she wanted to give me the option first. Case looked good. I accepted.

A few days later, on June 17th, I met my daughter. She was this scared and timid little thing that wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She was not shy about her displeasure with everything. She never smiled.

After a few months, a lot of tears, prayers, and love, she started smiling and laughing. Then she started talking, which currently never stops. This kid exudes positive energy in her sleep. It’s impossible to meet her and not fall in love with her. Her transformation is mind-boggling. And I got to see it all.

We have been together for 903 days, and today we get to stop counting. We have forever now. That’s a lot of adventures.

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We had a wonderful photographer document our day. I’ll have a more detailed post when the pictures come in.

 

 

Sweet November

November is the one month of the year when people purposely sit and contemplate about the things in their lives they are truly thankful for. Most days, being gracious isn’t at the top of my list. In all honesty, most weekdays I’m just trying to make it home after work, through rush hour traffic, without Sassy repeating any of my “traffic words”. We, as a collective whole, don’t take time in our busy day-to-day to stop and be thankful.

This November, is different. This one is special. This month gave me the greatest blessing I’ve ever received in my 32 years of living. This sweet November, I am officially adopting Sassy. On the 17th, I signed the towering stack of paperwork, filled out her new name, and exhaled the biggest sigh of relief imaginable. I think most importantly, Sassy got to go to school with her new name she has been longing to go by for a year. Talk about one happy and thankful little girl.

I’m thankful for amazing friends that recommended the best attorney for the job. Our attorney jumped into action, and miraculously reserved us the last available court date of 2017. I was already told it would be January, and I was fine with that. Yesterday, I received the best early Christmas gift possible. We will go before the judge on December 5th. That’s also my late grandfather’s birthday. My grandfather that adopted my dad. Pretty beautiful if you ask me.

Actual representation of my reaction to everything!

This November, I am thankful for the heartbreak and torment infertility caused me. That’s right, I’m thankful my uterus can’t do it’s one and only job. I’m thankful for every single negative test, for the pain, for the doctors being wrong. I’m thankful for most types of adoptions costing astronomical prices. For God finding a strength in me I didn’t know I had, and sending me to the foster system.

It’s not easy being a foster parent, I don’t sugar coat things. It’s stressful, terrifying, maddening, but yet the greatest thing you will ever do. I’ve spent the past two and a half years on pins and needles, fearing that she would leave me. Knowing I am her mother, but not knowing if that’s what I’ll remain. When they brought her in the room to me all those months ago, I knew right then, she was my kid. Sometimes you just know.

This year, I am thankful for 2 and 1/2 years of labor pains, coming to an end. I’m thankful Sassy has her new name, and that we’re stuck with each other now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is National Adoption Month, or that we signed on the same day of the month I took her home. It’s serendipitous to us.

Today, I’m thankful for every single bit of the bad, because I wouldn’t be here with Sassy without it. Sometimes the journey you keep trying to force yourself on, isn’t the one for you. Surviving the storm, makes you find beauty in the rainbow not everyone can see. I can see the beauty in my pain and tragedies now, her name is Stella.

 

 

Friendship As We Age

As we grow older, many aspects of our lives change. We start to dress a little different, sleep patterns vary, and joints to start to make weird noises. One thing that I recently realized that also changes, is the types of friends you have compared to your age. Of course, certain friends, you have no matter what stage of life you’re in. But, if you really sit back and think about it, you can see a trail of friends that you only associated with, because of your phase in life at that time.

Your first friends are just about having someone to play with that you don’t hate. Pre-school kids aren’t very picky and decently tolerant. Sassy’s “best friend” changes daily, based on mood. Her friends are probably based on who follows her orders with the most enthusiasm and skill. I only have a couple of people I have remained friends with after this stage. We just don’t have standards as toddlers. Otherwise, I would have never hung out with the weird kid that glued a crayon inside his mouth. Yes, that really happened in my kindergarten class.

In middle school, your friends like the same people you do, are involved in the same activities, share the same classes. Your mortal enemy is anyone that has a crush on the same person as you. You can’t drive, still have to ask permission, and cooties are just now becoming a thing of the past. Middle school is where you start figuring out what it really means to be and have a friend.

As a teenager, you want your friends to be as excited to get out and see the world as you are. You want friends that are always wanting to go out and do something, meet new people, have an adventure. You also look for friends with similar curfews as you. Friends as a teenager are all about whoever you can have the most fun with, and not much else. It is highly unlikely you will remain friends with the guy who bought everyone beer, or the girl that lets you use her fake I.D., but you never know.

Once you enter your early twenties, it’s time to find your bar friends. You want the friends that you can go out and have a great time with. The friends that are “fun” drunk. Life, at this point, is all about being legal to drink and going to all of the places that involves. It’s also important to have at least one friend that is the nurturer. The one that takes of all the drunks and treats your hangover. This may be your most valuable friend at this stage in life. In my group of friends, I was the hangover fairy. I would leave bottled water, crackers, and B12 for everyone. This is also where you befriend some of your most questionable acquaintances like…

  • The guy who let random people tattoo him.
  • The girl who cried. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
  • The guy that only spoke in Greek when he drinks.
  • The guy that thought it was funny to pop out his fake teeth when you weren’t looking.
  • The guy that made a party trick out of his scrotum.

Your mid to late twenties, you start looking for friends that want to “go out” a similar amount to you. The new has worn off of being legal and getting older and  having a full-time job doesn’t mix as well with hangover as it used to. This stage is do or die for several friendships that survived the bar phase. Some friendships were born simply out of love for the same tequila, take that away and there’s not much else to talk about. This is the time you also start learning excuses as to why you can’t go out, that doesn’t involve the truth. The true excuse is being too comfortable to change out of your pajamas at 8 pm. Plus it’s not the day I wash my hair, rain check?

Sometime between our barfly days and our “somewhat” mature responsible adult days, something happens. We start to figure out who we really are. What we like as individuals, not as someone trying to fit in a group. You start to care less about fitting in, and more about loving yourself. That is the moment where lifelong friendships transform into being solid as a rock, and the convenient ones flicker out.

In your 30’s, and a parent, you want other parent friends. Parents have less than no time to go out. I’m canceling plans I haven’t even made yet, because I already know I’m going to be too tired. This is also the time in life when you’re starting to understand that there is a sudden realization of aging in your 30’s. All of these weird things like joint pain, fatigue, and adult responsibility. If anyone can honestly tell me they can still go out and drink all night like they did in their 20’s, they are either a dirty liar or Keith Richards. My friends now, are the people who I can have a fun dinner with, or enjoy hanging out at their house, because I don’t want to deal with the general public. I want tired, yet fun and entertaining friends now.

I’m not sure what sort of friends I’ll be looking for in my late 30’s or beyond, but I’m pretty certain the last level of friendship will be the best. What do I think the last level is? Matching old lady track suits and fanny-packs, and it’s going to be fantastic.

Hometown Tragedy

Bad things aren’t supposed to happen in quiet, picturesque, sleepy little towns. They just aren’t. This morning, the sleepy little town I grew up in was rocked by an absolutely disturbing tragedy. Hokes Bluff, my own personal Mayberry, was the macabre headline of the day.

You hear about murder/suicide on the news, in books, on TV. You never expect it to involve people you know. You never expect it to happen in the idealistic town you grew up in, but it does. It did.

It’s the kind of news that rattles you whether you were close to them, knew them a little, or just shared a town. How could something so awful like this happen in a town where nothing ever happens? How could this happen anywhere? Weren’t their warning signs? Couldn’t something have been done?

So why do we keep hearing about more and more terribly tragic things that humans are capable of? Maybe it’s the downfall of humanity. Maybe it’s a heart problem. Maybe it’s because we are a selfish society. Whatever the reason, the fact is, it needs to change.

People don’t speak up anymore. Let me clarify, if you don’t feed your child organic only food, someone will speak up about what a terrible parent you are, or if you wear leggings as actual pants, someone is going to have something to say about that too. I’m noticing though, when it’s a truly important issue that needs to be addressed, suddenly it’s just crickets….

We have become way too involved in the most ridiculous topics that have no real relevance, and have lost the will to stand up for the truly important causes. We get so caught up in our day-to-day that we don’t even notice someone sitting silently, in obvious pain, in need of someone to talk to.

Can you imagine how very different the world might be, if we stopped being a self involved society and started worrying about the people around us like we worry about ourselves?

RIGHT!

I’m not saying this could have, or would have stopped anything that happened, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt the situation. Next time you see someone act out in rage, or sit still in silence, consider lending them your shoulder to lean on or your ear to vent to. You might be the one thing they need.

You could be the grace someone desperately needs.

 

 

 

 

The Little Things

The little things. You hear people talk about how “it’s the little things that matter” all the time. But what does that really mean? Since Kent and I have been together, I finally figured out what that means.

When you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to get complacent, comfortable, lazy. You know you love each other, so that’s good enough right? Maybe. For some people. Kent still makes the grand gestures of unplanned flowers and gifts, but the small daily things are money!

So what do I mean?

I’m talking about the small things that help make your day easier, because someone wanted to take the load off. Kent knows I have crazy amounts of anxiety, so he probably does a lot of this to tame the crazy. Let’s just be honest!

If he sees I haven’t done it yet, he’ll get my coffee ready for my drive to work in the mornings. He’ll help walk Sassy out to the car because my hands are usually full. He reminds me I’m beautiful daily. He keeps a secret kit kat stash when I need a pick me up. He finds little ways everyday to make my life easier, and me happier. Does he have to? No. He does all of this because he loves me, and we’re a team.

So why am I rambling on bragging about not dating a loser? Because I’m normally with the loser. I used to settle for less than I deserve. I used to think partially happy was good enough. IT’S NOT. Wait for person that wakes up every morning wondering what they can do to make your day great, and vice versa. That kind of love won’t be taken down easily.

Don’t settle for less than the little things. You deserve it.

Finally

Court.

It’s a place I’ve become all too familiar with. A place I have frequented since I became a foster-mother. A place that gives out complimentary anxiety at the door. Two weeks ago today, I sat there, waiting impatiently to hear a judge say the words I had longed to hear for almost two and half years.

He didn’t.

He didn’t disagree or agree with anything. He was taking everything under consideration, which is what should be done when it’s a serious matter such as rights over a child.

They don’t tell you how mentally and emotionally exhausting it is, the waiting. The waiting for someone to tell you that the child you have raised for two and a half years is indeed yours. Of course, not all cases are like this, some biological parents are able to become great parents once they receive the assistance and support of DHR. I’m strictly talking about a case where there is one parent with no resources, no motivation to participate or complete any tasks, and has no means to care for a child. Foster parent shamers can come off the ledge now.

Two and a half years in limbo isn’t fair to any child. That’s more than double the amount of the time it should take to determine someone’s capabilities as a parent and a good human. On the other hand, it’s a pretty heavy matter to take away someones rights as a parent.

The morning of Halloween, I received THE call. The call that told me the judge agreed it’s time for adoption. I’m fairly certain the people in the office next door heard me scream.

My bad.

I didn’t think it through before I told Sassy. I told her once we got in the car. I think I need to get my hearing checked after surviving her squeals of excitement in a car. It was a very happy Halloween.

We have a little more waiting before we can start the adoption. We’ve made it this far, a few more weeks won’t hurt.

Sassy has come so far from the first day I saw her, to now. She was this terrified little soul who didn’t trust any adult. She never wanted to be touched, and rarely smiled. Now, she smiles all the time, survives off of hugs and chicken nuggets, wants to talk to every stranger we see in the grocery store, and is too smart for her own good. She still has some trust and abandonment issues to sort out, but that takes around 7 years to really overcome.

A few more weeks.

 

So My Best Friend is an Addict…

My best friend is a drug addict.

Addiction has left no one untouched by it. You either deal with it personally or know someone who is. The most common and easiest thing to do is criticize or ignore the problem. It has such a stigma around it and causes so much damage, people give up on addicts almost easily. Between that and the ease of acquirement, it’s no wonder addiction is so prevalent.

TL and I have been best friends since the first day of kindergarten, we are now in our thirties. Most of my memories of growing up involve him. We lost two of our friends in our twenties and it hit him hard. He had a back injury from work, and the pain pills helped with more than one kind of pain.

I knew something was wrong when he stopped talking to me, he actually started avoiding me. He knew I would be able to tell there was a problem, and he wasn’t ready to accept that. The addiction grew, and so did his feelings of worthlessness. A downward spiral was soon to follow with arrests, broken relationships, and a lot of pain. Rehab was tried and failed more than once.

A lot of his friends walked away. Most of the ones that stayed, needed to go, they were part of the problem. I refused to give up on my best friend. I had invested twenty-five years of friendship in him, and I wasn’t going down without a fight. I called or texted him everyday knowing I wouldn’t get a response. Once you get your butt chewed out by me once, you really don’t want it to happen again, so he avoided me.

I knew where he lived.

It wasn’t about driving him crazy, and giving him grief for having a problem, it was about making sure he knew that I was still here. I was going to be here for him, waiting impatiently for when he was ready to talk, whether he liked it or not.

He went to another rehab, lied to me about making it through the program (he was asked to leave), and was still using even though he was able to convince me otherwise for a few weeks. I don’t take the lies personally. That’s what addicts do. It was never about making him feel bad for anything that happened, it was always about making sure he knew he was valued, loved, and accepted. He thought enough horrible things about himself, he didn’t need me lecturing him, he needed hope.

It didn’t work.

A few months later, he was arrested and sentenced to almost a year in jail.

I was actually happy.

I didn’t have to worry about where he was, or getting that phone call that no one wants at 2 am because the police found a body. I knew he was safe. I knew he needed this to show him the consequences of his actions.

He was involved in a rehabilitation program while he was detained. I wrote him once a week, reminding him that he still had people who cared about him, no matter how much I wanted to slap him. When he was released, I could finally see that little glimmer back in his eyes. He found hope, and self belief.

He’s the best he’s been in a long time, he’s working, staying out of trouble, and working on himself. I’m so proud of all of the hard work he’s accomplished, and he continues to make progress. This isn’t the end of his story, he may back slide, he may not. I hope one day he is able to mentor other people struggling with addiction and show them that it’s only one part of their story, not their defining moment.

My best friend will always be an addict, and he will always be stuck with me cheering him on from the sidelines.

Addictions are ugly, destructive, chaotic. Wouldn’t you want someone standing by you with a rope if you fell down into that well of despair?

Just give it a thought the next time you think about giving up on someone with an addiction. Maybe you are that one thing they need to bring them back.

Moon Taxi at the Ryman

We spent the past weekend in Nashville for two days of Moon Taxi at the Ryman Auditorium. I love the history and the stories behind the venues we go to. Some of the greatest legends in music played on that stage, and filled that auditorium with heavenly notes. There is just something about a venue that was at one time a church that just gives the show something extra, music can be a spiritual experience anyway.

Friday night was night one. The show opener was a New York City based band called Too Many Zoos. They are a three man band comprised of a trumpet player, saxophone, and drums and percussion. You can tell they are passionate about the music they are playing. Leo, the saxophonist, has a stage presence that is as bright and energetic as his green hair and rhinestone cowboy boots. They need a little more variety, but they have great energy and a love for what they do, I would say they are ones to watch.

Moon Taxi led off their set with “Mercury” and the entire auditorium rose to their feet. A venue such as the Ryman, doesn’t give you much room to shake a tail feather, but that didn’t stop anyone. Trevor belted out their hits and then shook things up with a “Hotel California” cover.

Nailed it.

The boys from Too Many Zoos joined Moon Taxi on stage for “Two High” to close out the show before a three song encore. Friday night was a great show.

We were rather disappointed with Saturday. It was basically the same show. We aren’t used to two night runs being repetitive. Too Many Zoos performed the exact same set as the night before, which was slightly expected since I doubt their song vault is loaded yet. Moon Taxi opened their set with “Year Zero” which we heard the night before. They played a handful of songs they didn’t play Friday, but it wasn’t enough to justify going to both shows.

Friday Night Set List     

  • Mercury
  • Change
  • Make Your Mind Up
  • Who’s To Say (Ft. Leo from Too Many Zoos)
  • Not Too Late
  • Year Zero
  • Suspicious / Sweet Dreams
  • (Young Journey) Gunflower
  • River Water
  • Red Hot Lights
  • Moving To The City
  • Hotel California
  • Two High (with Too Many Zoos)

Encore

  • Morocco
  • Run Right Back
  • All Day All Night

The songs in bold are the ones we heard both nights.

It was still a great weekend and a great show, we just won’t be doing any two day Moon Taxi runs again anytime soon.

Put em up, two high!

For The Love of Car Seats

Opinions.

Everyone has them.

Lots of them.

Life has always been this way, but with the popularity of social media, they seem louder and more prevalent. Don’t get me wrong, opinions are great, it’s how so many deep discussions get started, but some people are forgetting that opinions are NOT fact.

I’m talking to you mom-shamers!

I recently had a friend of mine completely torn to shreds for posting a picture of her kid in a car seat. A car seat picture is the mom equivalent of wearing a political shirt in public…you’re asking for it.

There was nothing wrong with her picture. Her son was 8 shades of precious before school, cheesing as big as his little face could, and she wanted a picture. She hadn’t buckled him in yet.

OMG!

People were attacking her for not buckling him in.

Hello! The car isn’t moving, and she is standing next to him with the door open. Chill!

People were commenting things such as:

“Maybe you should make sure your child is secure before taking pictures”

“I hope to God you didn’t drive off without him secure”

Someone else included a picture diagram of how to correctly use a car seat.

I can’t make this up y’all. She was eviscerated for sharing an innocent and sweet moment with her son, because people assume they know the situation and all of the facts. Of course she was going to drive off without buckling him in, survival of the fittest right?

I had moments of mom-shaming before I became one. Fictional children are extremely easier to parent than actual ones. I always said I would never feed my kids anything other than natural and organic food.

Someone without children reads that as doable task.

Now that I have a child, that task is impossible. Tom Cruise wouldn’t accept that mission. She eats healthy, but guess what?

  • Sometimes I’m tired and I make her chicken nuggets and fries.
  • I’ve seen her eat boogers.
  • She tried mud once because it looked like chocolate
  • I’ve witnessed her drop a sucker on the ground, pick it up, dust it off, and say “5 second rule”.
  • I caught her putting toilet water in her sippy cup when she was 2.

And after all of that, my kid is perfectly fine. She’s rarely sick too, probably from the immune boost the 5 second rule gives.

My point is, we all mom differently. Your mom was a different kind of mom too. I think we have become a society that goes out in search of a problem to complain about. Use your common sense, don’t mom-shame unless an actual life threatening event could occur.

I know a lot of moms that parent differently than I do. In fact, some the complete opposite. If the kids are happy and healthy, then mind your own circus. Either be a light or go talk about my kid eating mud behind my back. Being a mom is hard enough without a bunch of critiques that haven’t even seen the movie commenting.

Good luck out there, and for the love, don’t post a car seat picture!