Ever Anxiously Wait For The Starting Gun And Then When It Gets Shot Off Realize Your Shoe Laces Are Untied?
So our social worker e-mailed me. Our file is officially open for placements and in the hands of the lady who makes the calls.She said we would get a call soon. . .if we hadn’t already.
So, about a week and a half ago I had an icky little tummy bug. Then Maggie got it, and Gabe got it 2 days later, then Jonas dropped on Monday, Chris went down on Tuesday. . .and I thought- well, good. We’re all done with that.
Until I woke up at 3 am on Wednesday sicker than a dog. Yeah. So not cool. And to top it off, everyone else felt like crapola for 1 day- me, I’m on day two of feeling icky. I think I am on my way out- yesterday was horrid and today I am just weak and miserable feeling.
I am willing myself to get well before the phone rings.
Also- I bleached pretty much the entire house on Tuesday, and now I need to do that again. The last thing I want to welcome new kiddos with is a tummy bug. Yeech.
You know what I will really miss when the kids go back to school? I will miss hearing their hilarious opinions on the world. Their take on things has had me cracking up all summer. Here are my favorite two from the past three days.
We’re driving home from a piano party and stereo is playing a Barry Manilow song I like called “When October Goes”. Jonas has heard this song a few times, but tonight he is curious. He wants to know what the big deal is about October and what this song is about. I launch into a detailed explanation about longing and the bittersweet reality of time passing and love lost. A a few minutes after I am done explaining he pipes up, “Oh, I get it! I bet he just doesn’t want the Halloween candy gone. THAT makes total sense.”
Yeah, kiddo, Barry Manilow really had your number on that song.
- Mermaid tails for Waldorf sized dolls- made a new one for Maggie and a few to sell in my etsy shop.
It’s Friday. Every Friday Bamboletta dolls puts up their new selection of dolls for sale, and Maggie and I stalk the previews and drool over the cute dollies. Maggie especially wants a blue haired doll, and there is one this week that is truly blue haired perfection. Her name is Winter. However, she is expensive ($245), and it’s just not going to happen this week since I blew my budget on back to school stuff and new wardrobes and a not very fun car repair. Not to mention the fact that these dolls hit the market and sell out in seconds so your chances of carting the one you love are slim.
Maggie saw me on the computer, got excited and asked me if I got the doll. I explained no, someone else bought her. She was not pleased.
“Mommy! Why do people keep buying the dolls we like best!?”
“Well, we like the super cute ones and other people like the really cute ones too.”
She chewed on that for a moment, face scrunched up in displeasure, trying to process this reality. Finally she shakes her head, mutters “MEANIES!!!” and stalks off.
Sometimes it is really hard not to laugh until they are out of earshot.
I wish I had the right words. This isn’t usually my problem- in fact, I tend to have more words than anyone cares to listen to. I usually have three different ways I can clearly explain myself, and once I get what’s in my head nailed down, I’m better. It becomes concrete, owned, and passé. Whatever the event was is now neatly filed and case closed. I need the right words- I’m not myself without them.
For months now all I get are flashes, phrases, metaphors- bifurcated thoughts that lack gravity. When things are really, really wrong and raw, I can’t speak; processing pain becomes visceral. I can’t get an intellectual hold on something that I can only channel physically. I don’t have the vocabulary to effectively make someone understand what it is to feel such a profound level of pain that you can’t breathe. Saying that sounds melodramatic and hokey. It doesn’t come close to doing justice to the horrid, strangling catch in my throat, and the impossible combination of being too full, welling and frothy with emotion and completely gutted at the same time. I am both the delicate reed and the strength of the wave that overcomes it.
That probably makes no sense. Words are laughably insufficient.
I have not handled this third and final miscarriage well. The first two were hard, but this one just broke my heart.
I felt the initial shock, but pushed it aside, telling myself that I’d done this twice before, and that it just didn’t matter. And this worked for awhile, because I had so many other riveting concerns that driving what I really felt as far underneath everything else- major surgery, months of pain, and just coping with the day to day, as I could was all I could do. I had to bury it because the physical strain was taking everything I had. There wasn’t room left.
After I was physically well, it resurfaced. At first it was voiceless, tears coming suddenly while driving or finding myself standing, dumbstruck and immobile at the sight of a beautiful baby. Most of the time being busy kept those feelings at bay, and I filled up every second, coping by doing anything but grieving. I refused to make time.
My mind retaliated and carved out hours against my will. Bedtime became a routine where I would lie awake for an hour in silence and then, when it was perfectly still, I shattered. I was invisible in the darkness, tears running from the corners of my eyes, tickling my ears, then hitting the pillow until it was so damp I had to get up to find another one. After awhile I just kept an extra by the bed.
Sometimes it wasn’t quiet. There were nights where I ran out the door seconds before I could wake anyone, locking myself in the car at midnight sobbing, keening violently into the blackness until there was nothing left.
Mostly, I was glad no one noticed. I thought I did a pretty good job concealing things. It was a private grief, and I wanted it to stay that way. I didn’t talk to friends, family, not even my husband for several months. I have never been so silent.
I forced myself into situations where I deliberately salted my wounds and demanded that I hold it together anyway. It was almost a punishment for being so weak and so vulnerable. I am not permitted fragility.
I held babies at church. I walked up and down every baby aisle at the stores I visited. It was sheer grit that got me in the door and kept me in my seat at a friend’s baby shower. I made myself stay until the last gift was opened and then literally fled a room full of good friends the second the last wrapping papers hit the floor. Who knew that a few baby blankets could make me feel completely smothered? I barely made it to the car, and then sat there feeling like a jerk for skipping out so early while knowing I would have been a bigger jerk if anything had happened to detract from her attention and joy. I don’t think anyone saw. I hope not.
I was mad at myself for being so upset, even now, months after the fact. People don’t talk about this. Once the initial loss is over, you’re supposed to tie grief up in a neat little box and move on. I accused myself of being unwilling to heal, of refusing to find solace. I fed myself every platitude, every particle of pragmatism or hope I could find, every truth designed to make me feel better- and none of it mattered. Be reasonable. Be sensible. Get over it. I couldn’t even if I knew how.
I am not deliberately inconsolable. It is simply where I am and accepting, validating and not trying to change myself or my heartache helps- at least it removes the guilt and the pressure to feel better right now. This grief is like a hunger, and you can’t feed hunger with rocks or sleep or flowers or scripture. Hunger is only fixed with nourishment, and I don’t have anything that will satisfy.
I should have had a baby this week. Maybe should isn’t the right word- could have, might have, would have had what I wanted, if things had gone my way. When I was given my due date back at the beginning of this, I automatically pushed it to a few weeks earlier because my kids have been four, five and three weeks early, respectively. I landed on the eighteenth of the month that fell within that time frame because all three of my kids are born on the eighteenth of a month. August eighteenth was my adjusted date, and in all probability, the most likely corner of time in which that child would have arrived. I would very much like to skip the rest of this month and go to September because it holds no expectations and is free of this.
I’m not sure how I feel about this timing, but it looks like our license for foster/adoption will be finalized this week. There is a good chance we could be getting new kids at our house right around the eighteenth. You can imagine the perfect outcome where a hole in my heart miraculously gets filled by the addition of a child who was meant to be mine arriving at just the right time. It’s heartwarming, this possible miracle. It’s perfect. It is also unbelievably unlikely and smacks of being way too good to be true. While I believe God can arrange that, and even know that His character is unspeakably merciful, and understand that He wants me to be happy- I have almost no hope. I can’t have it because any unfulfilled hope will just break my heart again and again and again. This pretty picture is the very antithesis of how my life actually works. Hope for anything but a challenge is downright foolish.
The things in my life that are worth the fight have always required one. It has always been hard work and the grace of God that got me anywhere. I want to expect a miracle. I want to expect beauty for ashes being right around the corner. I want to assume that every happy fairy tale I’ve concocted can and will come true, and soon. I know I don’t deserve it. I am unworthy of more blessings than I already have. I am in desperate need of mercy, and I am afraid to even ask for it.
I can separate the two events. There is a loss and a gain and neither one is mended or invalidated by the addition of the other. The future may well be wonderful. I have faith that it can be. But it doesn’t change this specific pain, and I don’t know that it ever can. I am well aware that I have a very rich and full life and that there is an astonishing amount of goodness in it. I also know that there are many people who have dealt with much harder things, and who have walked the road I’m on so many times that three miscarriages probably sounds like a good deal. It may be ungrateful to be so sad.
I have been grateful when my parents quietly acknowledged what I had lost. I’ve been grateful to a friend who told me about her new pregnancy last, but who told me herself. I don’t think she knows how much having someone guess that I might not be ok yet meant to me. I was very grateful for the ability to keep my expression smooth and emotions hidden when kind, new friends jokingly responded to the information that we had three children with, “that’s a good start!” I wanted to cry, but I bluffed, and the moment passed. For once I had the pardon of a poker face. I am especially grateful for my husband who has patiently been my greatest source of comfort, who knows there aren’t words for this, and who is a gentle buttress against harsher things.
Grief doesn’t change my ability to live life and to do many things well and with satisfaction. I am not crazy or seriously depressed. I have a life full of gifts and happiness. There is just pain running beneath it all, and this week is especially hard.
The final foster care/adoption home study inspection was completed on Wednesday. All went well and we got approved with the exception of one minor, irritating thing. Our hot water heater was set too high. I had a feeling this was going to be an issue, not just because I knew the water was pretty hot, but because we had a maintenance guy fiddling with it for two days prior, replacing the ignitor and trying to figure out why every so often we just didn’t have hot water. My excuse for not having hot water (and anything else going wrong) is always, “eh, it’s military housing,” but I still needed to have it working. After the guy left, I turned it down from very hot to just hot. It has to be between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so while I figured that ought to do it, I still had misgivings and expected to not pass. Turns out, I was spot on.
I turned it down even more and our social worker came back the next day, took the temperature under a running faucet, and somehow our stupid hot water heater (SHWH) was HOTTER than it had been before! How that works, I’ll never understand.
We discussed the SHWH and came to the conclusion that maybe the knob that is supposed to allow you to set temperature just wasn’t working. I turned it all the way down to see if anything would happen and waited about eight hours. If it was scalding, it was broken. Turns out it was finally cool; apparently, it works when it feels like it. The only trouble was that it was registering at 111 degrees, which means if all my stars didn’t line up perfectly at the next test, it might be too cool. While they will just keep coming back and retesting until you get it right- that’s just annoying for everyone involved. I need all of my patience for my children and my job, so I can’t have a SHWH consistently using up too much of my annoyance quota or my whole world could go into a tailspin. When they say it’s all about the little things? They are so right.
So I shoved my
butter knife very grown up flat head screw driver back into the little slot in the knob, and ever so slightly turned the cutlery to about two millimeters hotter. I checked the temperature again several hours later and we’re at 117. We are getting this tested again on Tuesday, so I am going to see if I can get it closer to 125 (so my shower can last more than ten minutes), but not too close to 130. I plan to pass this next check with flying colors.
We are very, very close. I am just telling myself that we hit this week long SHWH snafu because the kids who need us don’t need us for another week, and God is timing this to perfection. That might be completely silly and not at all why, but it is keeping me from gritting my teeth over the situation.
Jonas is cracking me up today. BIGTIME!
I went to pick him up from a friend’s house today and she tells me that she served the kids fishsticks for lunch. Apparently, JOnas took a bite and said, “This is hot!” To which my friend agreed. Then Jonas looked at her and said, “Not as hot as my MOM!”
Then I’m sitting here playing on the interwebs listening to a conversation between Jonas and Maggie. “Maggie! Don’t ever let anyone see that ketchup makes you hyper! If you ever do, they will never let you have ketchup again! MAGGIE! Calm down! Someone will see and take all the ketchup away forever!”
Spoken like a child who cannot tolerate red dye 40, and who doesn’t get any red treats because he gets off the wall bonkers when he’s on it. FYI- Ketchup is naturally red. I have never taken ketchup away from anyone.
I can’t wait to hear what he says next.
All the paperwork is in and we are one step away from being fully licensed foster/adoptive parents. Next Wednesday morning our social worker and the licensing specialist will visit our home. They will pass judgement on how clean and safe things are, count the beds, ask a few more questions, get some signatures and as long as they are happy with what they see- they will go back to the office and walk the last steps of submitting our paperwork and completing the licensing process. We have no reason to think things won’t follow this course, so, at the very latest, we will be available for placements by September first. The soonest? ONE WEEK.
I feel kind of pregnant, only without any real sense of timing and what to expect. People want to know what to expect when they are expecting? Well, in the simplest wording- a baby. You expect an infant. Yes, we can quibble over details like boy or girl or maybe two, but when you are nine months pregnant, you expect a newborn. And that simplifies life.
We are expecting a. . .someone. Probably a girl, because we have agreed to take one girl, or siblings where one is a girl. We know we have room for one kid two years or older and space for one kid two or younger. Technically, we could have room for two infants or toddlers. So- we will get some version of that. And we know we won’t have kids over a certain age, because we have a specific range we are willing to take for the safety of our own children and realistic expectations for our family overall. We will not be having a seventeen year old. Also, no octopi, dogs or flying squirrels. We can check a few things off our list, but I’m not sure how helpful that is.
One thing that I do find kind of cool and exciting is that we have no race preference, so there are loads of possibilities there. I can remember reading back issues of National Geographic at my grandparent’s house when I was a very little girl, marveling at the magnificent beauty of all children. It didn’t matter if the child was from China or Ethiopia or even from really exotic places like Appalachia or Chicago- I was impressed. One thing every culture or country has in common is exquisite children. This made me want to grow up and adopt children from all over the world. I didn’t realize at the time quite why, but I do now. When a person recognizes the divinity of creation in another human being, it is impossible not to fall in love. I think differences have the ability to make us see that more clearly- and people either fear it or embrace it.
I do feel ill prepared materially. You see, one kid needs less stuff than two kids. And an infant has an entirely different list of needs than a three year old. Do I buy a baby carrier or dress up clothes? Bottles or forks? Diapers or panties? An infant seat, a toddler seat, a booster seat? NO IDEA. However, I could medal in shopping at Target, so I assume any major deficiencies we encounter can be dealt with swiftly.
You would think we would be pretty well stocked, but seeing as how we didn’t think we could have any more children, I did the charitable thing and gave away nearly every baby/toddler item we owned. I have always been pretty quick to pass on items that I’m not using, particularly if someone I know has a need. I have always had faith that if I gave away something I actually did still need, it would all work out anyway. I assume that goodness will return goodness and if I was ever in desperate need of an item, it would come back either through the means to purchase it or out of sheer kindness. These things will come together as needed.
The truly hard thing in all of this is that we don’t know if the person/s we are expecting will be around for a week, a month, a year or forever. The first goal of foster care is always reunification. The second goal is finding family the child can live with. The last goal is adoption. And that is a good thing! Every kid should have the chance to be with his own family, to know his roots and feel comfortable within his own culture. Families that are better is best for the whole world. I honestly can’t see myself knowing a struggling mother and not wanting to do everything in my power to help. But not all families get better. Everyone we’ve talked to has said that if you foster, eventually you will adopt. There are always kids who can’t go home.
Do you want to feel like a real dirt bag? Try reconciling your desire to adopt with the fact that you are basically saying you hope there is a kid stuck in a bad situation that will never improve. That you hope a kid’s parents fail. That you hope the circumstances are tough enough that there are no family willing or able to step up. It is hard to make peace with the fact that the only way you will get a child through this system is by other people’s hearts breaking. It isn’t as though I’m camped out at a playground stalking adorable children, mentally willing their families to fall apart. There is no need. Families fall apart in the worst ways, every single day without any help from me or anyone else who wants a child. These kids will be in the system regardless of my participation in it. I am not at fault; I just want to be the solution. I have to tell myself this almost daily, or I really do feel like a jerk.
So we are close to. . .something. Change waits around the corner and oddly enough, I’m rushing to get there. I’ve had six months to imagine every possible combination and situation and outcome, and believe me, I’ve spent
hours days ruminating. I really need everything to go well on Wednesday- if I wait much longer I may actually pop.
The journey of becoming eligible to be a foster or adoptive parent is a long one. There’s the initial paperwork, then a quick home study to make sure you aren’t living in a dumpster. Those are followed by ten weeks of three hour classes on topics like abuse and neglect, attachment and discipline. You cannot miss any of the classes for any reason. Then there is a boatload of more paperwork exploring your entire life, finger printing, FBI background checks, written details on how you spend your money and your time and more. Then there will be five more home studies where a social worker spends hours digging into the finer details of how you and every member of your household function, plus the minor inquiries about things like how hot your water heater is set and if you have childproofed all of the outlets. It is all necessary- you can’t give the precious gift of a child, especially a child who has already seen enough trauma in her life, to just anyone. These parents must be strong and gentle. Firm but kind. Mellow but determined. Positive but pragmatic. And most of all, they must be safe.
So, no pressure. Ha.
Our classes are held every Thursday evening. Every Thursday night, no matter how enjoyable or informative the class was, no matter how kind the people are, I go home and proceed to have stress dreams the entire night. They aren’t horrific nightmares, just a never ending cycle of dreams in which I am incompetent no matter how hard I am trying. I will have misplaced my homework, my keys, my child. I will try to play an instrument in a concert and realize I have no idea how. People I admire and respect walk into my home and comment on every failure, magnify every mistake, and walk out disappointed in me. I spend the entire night in a fit of being repeatedly measured and found wanting, anxiously doing my best and failing, excelling only at humiliation.
I don’t like being judged. I am acutely aware of my shortcomings without people throwing them into the spotlight. The most challenging and most important thing I have ever done is be a mother, and to have people look hard and close at my ability to succeed at that is downright terrifying. I am probably a pretty normal mother. I laugh, I play, I fix hair and dinners, I sign off on homework and change diapers. I take them to church on Sunday and remind them to mind their manners every day. My children are happy and growing into really great people. I am also very normal because sometimes I am so tired I cry myself to sleep. I’m normal because I’ve hidden in a closet so I could eat a cookie in peace. I’m normal because I’ve yelled, and I’ve snapped and I’ve apologized for yelling and snapping. I’ve begged for the opportunity to move my bowels in peace JUST ONCE while living with a toddler, called my own mother in total desperation more often than I would like to admit, and spent hours on my knees pleading for the wisdom to help a child and out of total frustration, throwing my hands up at my Father in Heaven, saying, “he’s your child too- YOU fix him!” All normal.
The classes are interesting, not just because of the content, but because you start out with a room full of people, and each week there might be a few less. In one way this is great because if you make it to the end you can get to know some people and form a support system. It is also unnerving because at any given week, you might get pulled aside by the social worker in charge and told that you didn’t qualify. There are lots of reasons to be disqualified, some stemming from an ugly past and many from sheer logistics and things just not fitting. Finances, your home, family strain, temperaments not being right, schedules being too busy and plates being too full- there are a lot of red flags that can disqualify you, and you might be a perfectly decent person, just not a good fit “at this time”. The good thing is that they tell you right away as soon as they see an issue, rather than make you jump all five million hoops and then kick you out.
Through all of this, many people will simply opt not to come back. I don’t blame them. The ten week course could be called “Informed Consent”. The topics covered are hard to hear about. Most kids don’t get into foster care without some pretty extreme strain; beyond the abuse or neglect that brought him there, the sheer emotional turmoil of being removed from his home and everything he’s ever known can cause significant issues- and those issues are hard to handle. Add special needs, extreme abuse situations and a myriad of things that can happen to a person and that information can scare a lot of people off. It is ten weeks and this in-depth not just as preparation, but so you know as close to exactly as is possible about what you are getting yourself into, so you can run the opposite direction as fast as you can if you need to. It’s fair. It’s need to know. Reality can be scary, and the wonderful vision most people have of helping someone who really needs it and making a difference in this way often glosses over the ugly details.
There is a lot of unknown and that can be hard to handle. Chris and I just know that whatever the outcome is, this is the road we are supposed to be walking down, and good will come of it one way or another. We assume we will be fostering first, and hoping that we eventually (I admit I’m hoping for sooner rather than later, ever patient am I) get matched up with some kiddo/s who don’t have the option of going back home because God meant them for our family.
It takes a lot of faith, which is something I’m trying hard to have. I’ve needed more than my fair share lately.
Today I am going to show you ow to do cornrows on your Bamboletta doll. These make for a really funky style and are easy to do.
To begin with, separate the bottom layer of hair from the top. divide those into smaller sections and create several braids. Leave about half a braid’s worth unbraided at each “ear.” Now- you could do smaller braids than this, but I don’t recommend it. If you try a three strand braid, you will find that they knot up when you try to take them out. Also, smaller braids will leave the hair more kinky afterward than a thicker braid. It is helpful to do this layer first so you can gauge how long you want your top braids to be. If you do the bottoms last, you will probably find that you want the top braids longer.
When you are ready to go on to the top, separate out small sections. Start braiding at the part line and pick up one or two more strands per braid as you work down the side. This will attach the braid to the head so they aren’t sticking out all willy-nilly.
It should look like this.
Pick up at the next bit down, taking some hair from both the center and that bottom hair you left. This just helps the braids be more face framing, rather than all pulled way back. It creates a slightly fuller look in front.
Braid it up!
Then go down the part doing the same thing. You may want to get your top ones done before you go back and get the center layer braided. With the center braids, you won’t need to add in bits of yarn to make corn rows- just braid it straight out.
When you have your top finished, it should look something like this.
Once you have your braids complete, you can play around with a few styles. I like to pull it back like this twisting the braids as I go.
And then I like to flip the ends up under that twisted style to create an even cuter look. There are loads of things you can do with these- braid the braids, pig tails, the options are wide open.Do make it a point to not leave the braids in too long. The smaller braids will leave small waves in the hair, which looks pretty for a day or two, but which you probably don’t want to have last forever. I leave these in for a week to ten days and within a few days of being loose the yarn has completely straightened back out. Leave it in for months, and it will probably hold the waves a lot longer.
Until next time, Bamboletta fans! Get ready for some ideas on styles for boucle babes like this one!
Chris and I have decided to try to adopt through the foster care program.
I know. WOW. I literally cannot verbalize that without feeling like a single point of light just exploded in my brain, and we made this choice several months ago.
It feels the same as saying I’m pregnant, with lots of the same “whoa, so we’re really doing this” moments, and “oh no, what if it doesn’t work out and we lose this kid?” (After three miscarriages, I am very familiar with that feeling). And then there are the golden bliss thoughts of adorable children and imagining those crystalline moments in motherhood where everything, for one morning, or one hour- or even one minute- is so breathtakingly beautiful and fulfilling- that you can absolutely do all of the hard stuff that mothering a unique and precious individual entails. Possibility is empowering.
Chris and I have spent the past several years casually tossing the idea of adoption around. Even before the hysterectomy we were well aware that another pregnancy was a bad idea. My six pregnancies have all had serious complications- three didn’t make it, and the other three were so physically debilitating that more than one doctor recommended that for my own health we call it good. Chris was always very pro-more kids, just very against ever having me pregnant again. We told ourselves- when the time is right, we can adopt- and then tucked it away, a tidy little package that we might never have opened.
When we found out I needed a hysterectomy (right on the heels of a miscarriage) I was of two minds. I understood everything I just told you, but I also hurt, knowing that incredible door of creation was closing, and that there was a definite finality to that part of my life. Frustration aside, I knew it was the right course. I can’t tell you why, precisely; I just knew. It really didn’t matter that I didn’t like it- it just mattered that it was the right choice for us.
Two weeks after my surgery, adoption was the farthest thing from my mind. I was making myself very content with the concreteness of what we had been given. I was ok. I was accepting. And honestly, I was so preoccupied with feeling like crud from the surgery that I didn’t even have a chance to mourn my now non-existent fertility. Hey, adoption was still on the table as it had always been, but it wasn’t a pressing issue at all. I didn’t need a baby to make me feel better- I was so jacked up from post surgery hormones and recovery that I didn’t even feel like I was thinking straight. I even banned myself from all life-altering decision making, because no one should do anything too crazy when you are that physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. A hysterectomy sucks the life right out of you. I had been wholly unprepared for that phenomenon and it was cruelly humbling.
I was well enough, on St. Patrick’s Day, eighteen days after my surgery, to attend a Women’s Conference at church. I love these. You get to attend a bunch of wonderful mini classes on a variety of topics and I always leave feeling stronger and better and more capable of being exactly who I want to be. I could barely sit down, still being so sore, but I was getting that spiritual boost, no matter the cost!
I walked into my first class feeling jazzed to be in the company of such excellent women and grateful to be spending time with good friends. I delicately arranged myself on the chair, a friend on one side and on the other a woman I hardly knew, but who I was familiar with from church. She mentioned that she had heard I had surgery, but didn’t know what kind. Hysterectomy, I told her, and before the word was out of my mouth, she left me positively gobsmacked when she said, “I have a six year old granddaughter in foster care who needs to be adopted.”
I cannot begin to describe the feeling that came over me at that moment. I began to cry, immediately, and I had no explanation. I felt the most profound sense of joy and direction and rightness. I felt that deeply compelling, sacred feeling that you experience the first time you hold your very own newborn child in your arms.
I felt as though a minute earlier, I had been a completely different person.
When the conference was over, I called my husband right away and explained what I had learned about this child, and many others like her and also a small portion of how I had felt. I would never, ever push my husband into something like this, and I held back how strongly I had felt because I didn’t want to pressure him in any way. He grew silent for a moment and then affirmed my feelings, saying that this really bore looking into. We talked about it at length, and decided to look into it.
I held back a few days, waiting for him to bring it up (I was really worried about putting any pressure on), but he did ask a few times if I had the information yet. I talked to several people on the phone, got a packet of info in the mail, and then sat on it for nearly a month- almost afraid to do anything with it. Chris was definitely on board with going down this path, taking the classes, doing the incredibly involved home study, the background checks, putting ourselves through an unnerving level of judgement and scrutiny, and jumping all of the other necessary hoops. We completely agreed on the ages and genders of the child or children we were looking for. We completely agreed on all of it, which for our marriage is almost unheard of. We are yin and yang, always striving for balance and cooperation, because we make each other so much better, but often stepping on each other’s egos because we don’t see eye to eye. This has improved after eleven years of marriage, but even so, being so unanimous on a decision is a rare thing for us, and typically only happens when we are dealing with the truly important choices.
During this time work was crazy for Chris. Church callings were overwhelming. I was still in a lot of pain, and riding out the hormonal and physical aftermath of a surgery with complications and ten weeks of prescribed recovery. Part of me worried that this intense desire to do this NOW was a reaction, and not a decision, but deep inside, I knew it wasn’t. What I had felt hadn’t been me. It wasn’t my reaction. It was a gift; a divine directing. All of this talk about possibly adopting later, in the future, down the road- well, later was now, and it was time to be very faithful and just start walking down that path, even if it seemed a little crazy on the heels of so much stress.
Chris and I walked into this together, knowing that we might be rejected from the system. We knew and were ok with the fact that the child mentioned at the beginning of all of this might not be ours. We kind of assumed that, actually. There are thousands of children in this system who need homes, permanent or just for a little while. We just prayed that we would learn what we needed from this journey, and that whatever child or children were meant for our family would be prepared and watched over, and that whatever was supposed to happen would happen. We gave it to God and started the journey.
This all started waaaaay back in March 2012. I’ve been sitting on it since then, telling only a few of closest friends and family members, quietly keeping my thoughts in my heart, praying and processing. So if this (and the next few posts seem like they are coming at you quickly- remember that it is nearly six months for us). This is the (mercifully) condensed version.
When we were at my in-law’s home a few weeks ago, I had a horrible experience. I need to preface this with some back story. You need to know that my in-laws built a beautiful new home just a few years ago. You should also know that shortly after they laid the gorgeous Brazilian cherry flooring, a tiny, tiny rock got caught by the wheel on Gabe’s high chair, and when I went to take the chair out to our car I inadvertently scratched a HUGE scratch in the floor in a very visible place. I felt terrible. I cried. In fact, I still die just a little bit inside every time I see that scratch, and that was two years ago.
This trip was a little exciting because my in-laws had just finished the basement. There was now a bathroom and two guest bedrooms, all designed to make someone staying in their home feel very comfortable. It was finished literally days before we arrived, and it was beautiful. The bathroom has lovely tile flooring and a very striking glass and tile walk in shower in natural, neutral tones.
So one morning Chris and his parents went to the temple and I stayed behind to watch the kids. I had all the time in the world, and I enjoyed a long shower and some extra primping in that beautiful new bathroom. After I got dressed, I decided that I would paint my toenails. It should be noted here that I have never, ever in my whole life made a nail polish mess. EVER. So when I put my foot up on the lid of the toilet and set the polish down next to it and began to apply the bright red polish, I wasn’t worried at all.
I got two thirds of the way done with my toes when the unthinkable happened. Somehow that little bottle slipped and fell to the tile below breaking off half the neck of the bottle. It then proceeded to bounce, flipping back and forth, back and forth on the floor no less than seven times, wildly spraying streams of very bright red all over the floor. In slow motion I watched this bottle bouncing as though possessed, and all I could think was “the devil is in the details.”
Now, I am not one to use the excuse “the devil made me do it”, but for the first time in my life, I honestly felt sure that there just had to be a pack of demons in that bathroom, plotting my demise. I had already wrecked one new floor in this house, and I was sure that some evil being had a plan that my in-laws would just never, ever like me, no matter what I did. Since things had been going relatively well, Satan just had to intervene and make sure I stayed firmly planted on my mother in law’s bad side forever. I was going straight to hell, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
I was in a state of total panic. Nail polish clean up usually involves attending to the spot as quickly as possible, but when there are streaks of polish across at least fourteen ten inch tiles and up the side of the shower, it is impossible to even know where to start. I grabbed a roll of toilet paper, got on my hands and knees and started dabbing up the thickest splotches. This, of course, smeared the red lines into hot pink blotches, but I had to get the excess off before I could do anything else.
Once I had the bulk of the goo removed, I poured nail polish remover all over the floor and began to scrub like crazy. I wasn’t getting very far. I bolted up the stairs and found a magic eraser sponge. That, combined with the acetone, started getting most of the polish up. I put good old fashioned elbow grease into this for at least twenty minutes before I just knew I wasn’t going to get any more up this way. I reached up to the sink, grabbed my own toothbrush, and started working on the tiny divots in the tile that were still stained. After about ten minutes, I had almost all of it up. I stood up to survey my work, took a few steps back and screamed.
I had forgotten that my toenails were wet. During the entire time I had been erasing the evidence from one half of the floor, my wet toes had been leaving a second set of streaks behind me. I had to start the whole process over on the other half of the floor. Maggie had heard the scream and walked in and asked what I was doing. I explained and then swore her to secrecy.
By the time the worst of all of it was up, I had spent almost an hour on my hands and knees. I was certifiably high off the acetone fumes, and still in a state of panic because though the tile was back to normal, the grout was still hot pink in at least twenty places. I called my mother in desperation and explained my situation.
She laughed at me. Then she told me that I should have visited her, and that if I had, I would be eating a Dairy Queen blizzard and taking a blissful nap on the big white swing in the backyard. But no. I had gone to my in-law’s home, where things never seemed to go right, and look where that had gotten me. There is nothing so bad that a little extra guilt can’t make worse.
I asked her what she would do to remove nail polish from grout, and she quickly ran through the remedy list of everything I had already tried. She googled it, and came up with the same answers. I tried soaking the grout in even more nail polish remover, but NOTHING was going to get the pink out. She put me on hold and asked a co worker who had recently grouted a bathroom what she would do. Her answer was that she would stop trying to remove it, go to Lowe’s, buy matching grout and cover it.
BRILLIANT. Except I was in teeny tiny Manti, Utah and I had no idea where one might buy grout, (the closest Lowe’s was about two hours north) and I had no idea what this particular shade of grout was called. I decided to go look through the garage to see if there happened to be any left overs. This house has two garages. One is a two car and the other is a one car garage. Both have shelves and stuff lining every single wall, and it is packed with everything from motor oil to Christmas decorations. Holy cow, how would I ever find anything in this place? I started in one corner and methodically worked my way through the shelves. At three fourths of the way around, I found a bag of left over grout. YEA!
Now I just had to deal with the totally insignificant fact that I had never in my life had occasion to mix or apply grout, and had no idea what I was doing. It was also getting to that point where people should be coming back home. I was nearly hysterical. Reason and common sense were completely taken over by wild eyed insanity.
I lugged the grout into the kitchen, and read the side of the bag. The directions were for people who wanted to mix up gallons of grout at a time. I only needed a cup. I put a few spoonfuls of dry grout into a large dixie cup, put the cup under the faucet and proceeded to add way too much water. Aaaagh! In a mad hurry, I thought to myself, “I’ll just dump most of it down the drain and it will even out.”
I can only imagine the pack of demons that must have been rolling around on the floor, sides splitting from laughter when they realized what I was about to do. “Oh this is TOO good- better than we imagined,” I’m sure they said.
Thankfully, my guardian angels yelled loud enough to access even my shorted out, acetone riddled brain cells, and seconds before I tipped the cup into the sink I heard them yell, “YOU DO NOT EVER POUR CEMENT DOWN THE DRAIN!!!!!!!!!” Oh yeah. I knew that. Whew. I shudder imagining what explaining that would have been like. I stirred a few more spoonfuls of dry grout into my cup and thickened the mixture up to what I hoped would be appropriate.
I ran downstairs with my cup o’ grout, knelt down on the floor and prayed that it would work. I carefully dabbed the wet grout over the hot pink streaks. It was covering it! Except it was all smudgy and didn’t have that nice clean, linear, professionally applied look any more. This was more like what a finger painting preschooler would do. I ran my fingers down the sides of the tile, pushing all the grout into the right grooves and finishing it off with a knife like swipe of my thumb nail. It looked perfect. I did this about twenty more times, until I had no fingernails left, and stood up and inspected. The grout I was using was darker than the grout already there. I willed that stuff to lighten as it dried.
It had been just over two hours since the start of this debacle, and I was still shaking from adrenalin when Chris walked in the door a few minutes later.
There is no evidence whatsoever left in that bathroom.