Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dear AK, On your eighth birthday

Dear AK,
On the occasion of your eighth birthday I sit to write you a note to let you know how much I love you.

You are such a spunky feisty girlie girl.  You are the perfect balance and I hope you never lose the confidence you have right now.  I often just stare at you while we talk and think, "I want to remember this moment forever."   You are captivating and I love it.
You have struggled with anxiety your whole life, but this year you became conscious that other people don't have the same challenges.  You have accepted this and are trying your best.  This year you were able to verbalize the difference and I'll never forget hearing you say for the first time, "You don't know what it is like in my brain, I can't do this." You are right that I don't know what it is like in your brain, but listen closely my sweet girl... You can do anything.  No one said it would be easy, but it is worth it.
This year you have blossomed academically under a team of special teachers who dialed into how you learn best..  You should know that your Dad and I have gone to bat for you to get you every resource available.  I love watching your Dad fold his long legs into a kid sized desk to meet with your team of teachers.  This year you have learned so much and worked so hard.  We are so proud of you and everything you have accomplished.  I want you to always remember, "There is always more than one way to do things."  We learned that you are a kin esthetic learner, which means you learn by doing, which explains why you are talented at music and dance.  I could never figure out why I could hold up a flashcard and say, "AK, This is the letter J.  What letter is this?"  And you would inevitably give the wrong answer.  I was trying to teach you the way that I learned, not the way you are wired to learn.  Now, you write letters or your sight words in a tray of salt, using your fingers as a tool, and it becomes cemented in your brain. 
We live in the most amazing time and in the most amazing place.  You can do anything, be anything, the opportunities are endless.  I have no doubt you will be successful in whatever you decide to do.  Right now, you want to be a vet, but I kind of wonder if you aren't going to do something in fashion or music.   You are so determined and you try so hard at everything you do.  You have always marched to the beat of your own drum, but AK, so have I.  Don't apologize for it, embrace it.
I love that you are always interested in knowing what's going on.  You have trouble going to sleep knowing there are people awake, because you want to be a part of everything.  As soon as you hear someone stir in the morning, you are out of bed peeking your head out to see what is going on.  I hope you never lose your curious nature, but my little lady, sleep is valuable!
You are incredibly lucky to have a huge family and a large network of supporters.  You have a family who loves you to the moon and back and you have a large bio family who loves you too.  Adoption is a miraculous thing, AK.  When you were placed in my arms, I knew that a missing piece of my heart had been found.  We searched the world over for you, not just any baby, for you.   There were many days filled with tears, heartache, and frustration as we tried to find you.   We wondered if you were in China, or maybe Russia, but those doors closed on us.   Little did we know, you were right here in Southern California, and you were anxious to come out and greet the world, arriving as early as you possibly could.   Your birthmom is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  We were privileged to be able to have lunch with her this month, just us girls.   You asked lots of questions about your birth, because it is fascinating to you.  You wanted to know everything your birthmom craved, and you loved telling me later... "Mom, I loved tortilla chips from the very beginning." 

For your birthday you received a care package from your birth mom filled with handpicked goodies for the whole family  She wrote you a note and this part jumped out at me.  
"I set an alarm on my cell phone to go off every day at 2:22PM, which is the time you were born. And when I hear that alarm I use the whole minute to send you happy thoughts.  I pray for you or I make wishes that you are having a nice day or that you will get your favorite Ice Cream after dinner.   I have fun thinking of silly things to wish for." 

That is quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever read.   AK, you are so loved, and I want you to remember that even though your life can be hard, you are loved.
You may not think your brother is on your team, but I will tell you a secret... He loves you.  And he needs you and one day you'll need him.   He is secretly very protective of you and is constantly telling me, "No that is too grown up for AK". He wants to keep you little forever.   Sometimes he turns to me and says, " Mom, AK is such a funny girl, she was .... "  and then he will describe something you did earlier. He often speaks on your behalf and we tell him to be quiet and let you speak otherwise you will never learn the life skills you need to live on your own.  He has told us, "It's okay, she can live with me forever." 
Happy Birthday, Miss AK!  We love you so much and hope this is your best year yet!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Memories at the Maison

**A post I wrote last summer, but got too distracted floating in my pool to finish....**

We've been spending some time at our old house, Maison du la Francaise, getting  ready for some new tenants.
I just can't sell that house. It holds too many memories. Everywhere I look I was reminded of my kids as toddlers. The sink was always filled with sippy cups and bottles. There were burp cloths and toys stuffed in the couch cushions. On many sleepless nights I would stand on our big wooden deck with a baby in my arms, swaddled up tight, whispering in their ear, the words from the story, "Goodnight Moon" and silently begging for them to sleep.
Every room contains the ghosts of my babies and I was nostalgic for those simple yet demanding days of taking care of toddlers.  I wish I could go back and talk to the toddler mama version of myself,  give her a hug,  plead with her to enjoy this time, and then whisper in her ear the very best part.... Life gets gets easier.. and harder in other ways... day you will have your very own pool and pet deer!
During those early days of child rearing, I was struggling to find a balance between keeping my life in control, living in a neat and tidy box  and learning to go with the flow.  I struggled during those early years of child rearing and having children really challenged me to find my identity.  You simply could not "go with the flow" if everything had to fit in your nice and tidy tiny little box.  One afternoon, I took the kids to the park, and Mr. Boy ran off in one direction, while AK toddled off in a different direction.  Mr. Boy is and was a fast runner, I found myself pulled in both directions.   Once I had captured both kids, I drove home in tears and we didn't leave the house for a week.  I felt like I had no control with two little ones in the outside world, they had their own ideas and opinions even though they were small in size.  All throughout the next several months I had a series of events that became the catalyst to learning to be less rigid, to live more in the moment, but I realize this is still my Achille's Heel. (You can read more about those experiences here and here.) Every so often, I find myself bringing in the sides of my nice and tidy little box a little closer and I have to remind myself that nobody was happy when I had narrow boundaries. 
I planted the avocado tree behind Mr. Boy when he was two and they were both under 3 feet tall. Now they are both big and mature.
It was deja vu watching Mr. Man fix the sprinklers in this yard. Those damn sprinklers always gave Mr. Man trouble.  I swear we spent every 4th of July working on the deck and every single Saturday was spent working on the sprinklers.
The neighbors were one of the best things about that house.  While we we painted and worked, our neighbor passed over the fence a plates of tacos.   The other neighbors played with my kids and doted on them.  We have been lucky in every place we lived to be surrounded with great neighbors.  
After our work was finished, I turned to lock the door and I couldn't help but pause and whisper some of the lines from Goodnight Moon,  "Goodnight mouse, Goodnight house, Goodnight noises everywhere"