Born From the Heart

 

You ever have one of those moments in life, stuck at a traffic light, or sitting at your desk while listening to horrible elevator music because you're on hold with a service provider and suddenly you have a moment of shame creep in while thinking back on some small decision you regret having made in your life? Like that time when you were 13 and stole a lipstick from a local drug store only to be caught by your momma and forced to return it and face the humiliation of your actions? Or that time you kissed that drunk person in the back of the bar because you were lonely and had no better options, only to sober up the next day and realize you kissed a toad and please don't ever let your family find out because they'll never let you hear the end of it?

Well, now that y'all know I'm a reprobate, this post is NOT about those type of small moments. 

Not that we don't all have those type of moments, whatever they may be. We all make choices and do things we wish we hadn't. But like those moments we cringe over, we also have moments that have changed our lives for the better. Small leaps of faith that are life altering. I often think of the one choice I made which turned my family upside down, inside out and almost whole once again. 

The decision to adopt.

I don't remember the moment we decided to adopt a child. One day I was talking at my husband about adopting and the next day he was conversing with me about going forward and proceeding. I like to think it's proof that brick walls have ears but he likes to say he just played his cards right to make me think it was my idea. 

Po-tay-toe, po-tah-to. We are two sides to the same coin, him and I.

I won't tell you the pieces all magically fell into place and adopting Knox was the easiest thing in the world, because I've an archive filled with posts telling you otherwise. No sense lying now.

But as I always tell my kids, easy doesn't always mean right and the rightest thing in the world was welcoming this little boy into our family.

The process of adopting a child is long, intrusive and overwhelming. Much like gestating a child and giving birth. Bringing a child into your family is hard no matter the way you do it, no matter the way you slice the pie. But those fruits of your literal or figurative labor? They're positively magical. 

When we chose to adopt we decided to adopt through the foster care system. For our family, it felt right. We wanted to adopt a child who wouldn't easily find a home and we knew there are thousands of children available for adoption in Canada and the United States through the public child welfare system. We didn't know who we were looking for but we knew we would find him within the foster care system. 

And we did.

He is every bit the blessing and the pain in the arse that his siblings were and continue to be. He fits right in with our crew, even if he looks a little different. 

There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not thankful that I chose to push past the fear of the unknown and just trust that we'd find the love. Choosing to adopt a child who has been placed within foster system can be overwhelming.  These kids have often suffered neglect, abandonment or abuse.  I worried whatever child we brought home would be too broken to love or wouldn't love us back.

I fretted he wouldn't like us. I fretted my kids wouldn't like him. I worried, and then worried some more. And yet, somehow, we just kept moving forward, through all the obstacles and all the fear. 

I'd like to look you in the eyes and tell you all that worry melted away the day we brought our new five-year-old son home, but my momma didn't raise no liar. 

The worry reared it's ugly head every time Knox cried and I didn't know what he wanted. Bringing home a five year old is most definitely not the same as bringing home a newborn. I worried I had missed half of his childhood and the time which was lost was insurmountable.

I just plain worried.

But while I worried, I parented. Because mouths needed to be fed, baths needed to be given, and Disney videos needed to be watched, on a loop, endlessly, until it felt you were losing your mind. That's the hard work of parenting.

Something magical happened through all of that. We fell in love with this strange new boy who we didn't know and who didn't look like us. We bonded. Our fractured family became whole again, glued back together with a new love that strengthened us all. 

We are all better for having one another.

It was definitely a top five decision, alongside choosing to have his three siblings and marrying their father. It certainly makes up for all the moments of dumbassery I've had in the past, including that one time I attempted to do a u-turn on an ATV while in fifth gear, and lost control of the vehicle, then somehow managed to half fall off while driving it up over myself as I landed in slough, darn near drowning myself, all while my brother-in-law watched in equal parts horror and amusement. 

*Ahem.* 

This is my family's story. And while we are not the poster family for adoption, we could challenge any family on depth of love, togetherness and commitment. I realize not every family is in a position to adopt but I hope that if you are looking to start or increase your family, you'll explore the option of adopting from your local foster care program. My experience is here to tell you, in the end, love really is love, no matter where it was born.

And today, Tuesday, November 15, whether you want to adopt or not, you can help children in foster care just by eating dinner. In recognition of National Adoption Month, customers who visit a participating Wendy's will have 15 percent of their total bill donated to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®, an organization committed to finding permanent, loving homes for children waiting in foster care.

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's was a child who spent time in foster care and he believed (as our family does) that children in foster care "aren't someone else's responsibility, they are our responsibility." Today, Wendy's remains committed to this belief and mission and supports the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. 

Go buy a Wendy's hamburger and grab a Frosty while you're at it. Because today, you'll be helping children like Knox find families like mine. 

That's worth your weight in hamburgers and ice cream, and then some. It is definitely a decision you won't regret. 

This post is sponsored by Wendy’s® . 

Help foster kids find permanent families while helping your taste buds out at the same time. (That isn't a Wendy's official motto. But Knox nodded his head yes and seems to dig it, so I'm going with it. EAT WENDY'S, DO IT FOR THE KIDS.)

Transitioning to Today

 

20 years ago, while holding a squalling newborn, I couldn't imagine what today would look like. 

Three years ago, while watching my firstborn graduate high school I didn't want to imagine what today would look like.

Four weeks ago, while moving my second child into his tiny dormitory, I shut my eyes really, really tight and tried to ignore what today was about to look like. A today without all my children living under my roof, thieving my ice cream, tripping over their dirty socks and finding wet towels on the bathroom floor. 

And now it's today.

It's very quiet. I think that's the part I didn't want to imagine. How quiet it is when your children grow up and move out of your house and into their futures.

But mostly it looks...cleaner. My kids are slobs. Knox and myself, well, it turns out we run a tight ship. Sure, I miss constantly nagging someone not to drink milk straight out of the jug, please close the refrigerator door, don't put an empty carton back in the pantry, just how long are you going to let this trash bag sit here before you take it outside?  Okay, so it is not the nagging I miss, more so the chaos that came before it. 

I miss momming my kids. I miss them. I should have had more of them. So I told my husband just that, this weekend. 

The horror on his face as I told him I think I'd like more kids is permanently etched in my memory. He wasn't appeased when I told him they didn't need to be biological, I'd be more than happy to adopt again. He mostly just sat in the chair, shaking his head back and forth while muttering "are you insane?" over and over again. He may need some convincing.

(The upside is, I'm pretty sure he'd be super amenable to me getting another dog or five if I had followed up with that request. Anything to divert attention from my almost empty nest.) 

Since my new today is terribly quiet, and clean and honestly, a little boring, I decided to help ease this transition by popping onto campus and surprising my grown up children with a unannounced visit. I hear young adults dig it when their parents randomly show up and invade their space

It turns out, there are a TONNE of kids hanging around the university! Some of them I know! And they actually seemed happy to see me! It was like I was the most popular student on campus, only I wasn't a student, I don't have a campus and I was never really popular. 

Of course, it helped that I walked onto the dorm floor holding a bag filled with Wendy’s® and the smell of fresh fries had an effect similar to chummy shark infested waters with fresh tuna chunks. 

20 years I've been a mom; I've learned a lesson or two on what makes kids tick. A baconater will do it every time. Turns out, it works for every other kid on campus too. I've never been as beloved as I was while holding a bag filled with fries in the middle of a university dorm lounge. 

For a short period today, I soaked up my kids in their new environment, getting a brief glimpse into their world while meeting their new friends and I then I hugged them goodbye and marvelled how amazing it is to witness them bloom into adulthood even as I've missed having them underfoot.

As I walked away I wished I could go back to all those yesterdays and tell myself not to worry about today. Because it turns out, today is pretty darn good, and my kids aren't gone, they've just relocated. Different is good, and it may in fact be better than I dared imagine. 

And because of today, I know that when tomorrow comes, I will see them again. This time, I'll bring more fries and maybe a Frosty Coupon Book or two for their friends. Call it a lesson in bonding with your children and their friends through ice cream. I'm not above feeding starving university students to gain affection. 

At least until I can convince my husband to adopt a few more kids and fill this nest back up. Or he brings home a puppy. Knox and I could use the company.

This post is sponsored by Wendy’s® . 

And just so y'all know, Wendy’s® is selling Frosty Coupon Books (which include 5 free Jr. Frosty® coupons) for $1 from September 19 through October 31. The proceeds from these sales will go to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to help find families for children waiting in foster care. For each Halloween Coupon Book sold, $0.85 cents will be donated to the foundation.

Help foster kids find permanent families while helping your taste buds out at the same time. (That isn't a Wendy's official motto. But Knox approves it, so I'm going with it. EAT ICE CREAM FOR THE KIDS.)

Sleeping Beauty

You ever just look in the mirror and suddenly see yourself? I mean, really see what other people see, and what you mostly have been oblivious to, for whatever reason?

That happened to me, recently.

Actually, it happened a few weeks ago, as my Snapchat account would tell you, but I've been up to my eyeballs with a wildfire and a husband who is up in the thick of it, and between freaking out over my friends' being evacuated, losing homes, worrying about my husband's safety and his job and you know, just generally freaking out as one does when the city your husband lives in for most of the year is swallowed by 483 000 hectares of out of control wild fire, resulting in 90 000 people evacuating out of a city, 1921 houses destroyed, hundreds more damaged, with no signs of the flames dying any time soon, all while your husband keeps getting evacuated and recalled back to work, over and over again like he's on a psychotic merry-go-round.

(That's a run-on sentence even a high school english teacher could appreciate.)

Anyways.

A few weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and was like, 'whoa, who is that old crone with the bad hair staring back at me?' I realized I had just spent a year of my life wandering around looking like a blind pioneer woman had just done my hair.  I'd have probably just ignored my reflection and continued to do what I did every day before, which was just pull my hair onto the top of my head in an ugly bun and then look away quickly, but the night before my husband rolled onto my hair and almost scalped me as I slept. Being jerked awake as your husband rips out half of your hair as he snores beside you is not near as romantic as it sounds.

It was time for a change. Life is short and hair grows. Mostly. If you have hair. Which I clearly did, since I choked on it every time it wasn't pulled up. 

I felt like I was being swallowed by hair. Of course, it's my own fault since it had been a year since I went for a hair cut. My laziness trumps my vanity. Good to know. 

So off I went, with no image in my head, no hair aspirations and no real clue as to what I wanted. Hair stylists love that. (No they don't.) The only thing I was sure of was I no longer wanted it long enough for my husband to yank. 

(So many dirty jokes to make, so little time...)

Bless you, snapchat filters. 

Of course, it was right about this moment in time, as I sat there, with a bowl full of bleach on my head that the power went out in the salon. Because that is exactly what you WANT to happen when you go to a new salon. You want to sit in the dark and ponder your future as the bleach seeps into your brain and the salon owner makes panicked calls to the power company. 

Luckily for me, (and for her,) the power kicked back on just as my stylist was really starting to twitch and my head was starting to tingle. 

Oh flash, how you whitewash all my wrinkles. I adore you.

When the towel came off, so did my stylist's poker face. My immediate reaction upon seeing her was to reach up and make sure I still had hair on my head and that it hadn't all burned off.

Phew

I'm confident but lumpy headed and multi-chinned. I'm not sure I could pull off a bald patchy look. I'm pretty sure I don't want to try.

My (novice) stylist was just having an extreme reaction to my newly neon hair. (Pro tip for novice stylists: Try to not visibly freak out when you are working on a client's hair, even if the results surprise you. It freaks the clients out.) I won't lie; I was beginning to wonder if maybe this haircut was ill fated.

The yellow really brings out my freckles, no?

It was right at THIS moment, when I was taking snapchat selfies and texting my daughter jokes about looking like an ear of corn that four men from the power company walked in to check on the power box out back. Conveniently located just behind where I was seated.

Four attractive men. Who took one look at my yellow head and all started to giggle. I had two options: I could make a crack about the price of vanity or I could wink at them and freak them out. 

I'll let you decide which route I went. 

Wink, wink.

In the end, it only took my husband trying to murder me in my sleep, 12 months of avoiding routine grooming, six hours, four freaked out men, several toners to hide the yellow and one black out to fry everyone's nerves and I walked out of that salon looking like a brand new person.

I still see a crone staring back at me when I look in the mirror. Hitting forty and developing new wrinkles every day will do that to a gal. But at least now my husband will have to try a little harder to kill me while I sleep.