Monday, April 30, 2012

Mud Pies, BFF's and Kindergarten Chaos

The life of a five-year-old is a busy one, indeed. In the past week my son has had three playdates, soccer practice, a soccer game, one playgroup, a sunday school class, helped babysit a 6-month old, had a dinner with our adoption group, attended 5 mornings of school, played countless hours of legos, owl hunting and mud-pie making, read 8 Magic Treehouse books and took approximately 4,000 baths.  Or he should've had 4,000 baths. We're sometimes not so good at that around here.

In the same span of time he has been on the losing end of 4 lotteries for kindergarten.  While his friends are all talking about where they are going next year (think the last few months of HS and college where that's ALL people ask you about) he has nothing to say. He keeps asking us where he's going to kindergarten and we have to give him that most unsatisfying of parental answers: "We don't know, kid."

The thing is, I've always been a public school girl.  I thrived, I got into a good college, I didn't make horrendously awful choices in my life.  I hadn't even heard of home school until I moved to the south.  I thought there were two choices growing up; Catholic school or Mahopac High School. That's it.  And then we moved to Durham.  The town where school choice is a taunting illusion. We applied to five lotteries to get our kid into a decent school that wouldn't suck out his soul. We're 288 on the wait list for one, 22 on another and not even on the wait list for a third charter. Of the two mainstream public ones we applied to, they don't do wait lists. So, it's just a no. And so our choice is to send him to a public school in our neighborhood that assigns an HOUR of homework a night after 7 hours of straight academic instruction with only a 1/2 hour of recess and does frequent evaluative testing (which they admit stresses out the kids), pay for a private kindergarten or home school.

Here's the deal. I love that my child loves to get muddy. I think it's great that we spent an hour making mud pies this afternoon and that I had to wash every piece of clothing he had on and hose him off as well. I love that he has a smile on his face because school has been fun and that he's made some great BFF's (he calls most of his friends best friends) at school, church and our neighborhood because they've had so much time to play together.  I love that he's bonded with some kids over legos others through his soccer team and still others over Cars cars. (Moms of young boys, you know what I mean there.)  I love that lunch takes an hour when his friend Damian comes over because they can't stop giggling long enough to chew their food.  And the idea of sending my five-year-old, so full of life, of energy, of joy, of spirit, of creativity to a place that is going to make him sit still from 8:30 until 3:30 every day with virtually no chance to play and then send him home with an hour of homework to keep him sitting down just tears me to bits.

 It's too soon.

Too soon to be strapped to a desk, too soon to be told that his academic life should define him, too soon to stop making mud pies and building cardboard houses for his Curious George.  Too soon to be so overwhelmed by academics that he doesn't have time for friends.  Hopefully, academics will never cause any of those things but certainly we cannot start this battle of priorities in Kindergarten.

We don't yet know what's going to happen.  We might still get into one of the charters, although it's unlikely. We might get into the private school, where we are also wait-listed. We might choose home school, a choice that I never dreamed this would come to.  One thing I do know is that kindergarten has changed since I went.  And I'm not ready for my five-year-old to be treated like a 10 year old just because he's in kindergarten.

I want another year of giggles and mud and legos and cars. I want my kid to stay a kid for at least a little while longer.      

Thursday, April 26, 2012

When, If and Done

Every time I walk in my closet, I see it. A clear box. Full of maternity clothes.  And for the first few years after Josh was born I would occasionally wonder, in that sleep-deprived and panicky new motherhood way, when I'd get to wear them again ("but please, God, not too soon!).  When I got pregnant in 2008, I pulled them out, gave them a good wash and hung them up, ready for the moment when I'd move from squeezing into normal clothes and back into their comfort, their sweet promise of new life to come.  

After the loss of that baby, I quietly packed them up again and put them away, certain it was only a matter of time before I'd pull them out. And pull them out I did, to loan them to pregnant friends. ALL THE TIME.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy to do this. Happy to help out friends who needed them. But they were mine. For my babies.  And every time I gave them away I always made it clear I needed them back when they were done.  Because my pregnancy was next. It was "when".

At some point thinking about that box moved from "when" to "if".  I kept them on hand for if I ever needed them.  It felt like the right spiritually mature word to use at the time. After all, didn't I go through counseling to deal with the miscarriage, even if it was a year and a half late? Didn't I talk through my infertility and get to a point where I was ok with not getting pregnant again, excited about the adoption route?  I could leave that word "when" behind, no problem.  But, so as to not rule out God's possibility of miracles, I kept that box. I held strong to the "if." Who was I to decide that God was beyond performing a miracle? And if He wasn't beyond that, I wasn't through waiting.

At some point though, "if" has become a poisonous word. It has given me permission to be selfish, to hold on to these clothes that could benefit someone who really needs them.  To always, every month, even though I promise myself I won't anymore, get my hopes up.   To be consumed by the possibility of a miracle, even though we are already waiting on a beautiful miracle to come through another avenue.  To buy into the ugly lie that if I would just get pregnant, it would be a better end to our story than adoption on its own.

So, it's time.  This morning, I marched into my closet.  For the last three and a half years of my life, I have looked at this box.  I have picked out my clothes for the day, glanced at the "if" box and went on my way.  No more. Today, the box becomes the "done" box.  There is now an empty corner in our closet.  Whether we get pregnant is a non-issue at this point.  Moving the box from "if" to "done" is my ebenezer, a stop on my journey to say God is God and enough is enough. I plant it in the "done" to say that I trust Him. Whatever happens. I don't trust in a box of clothes. I trust in a God who loves me, who is for my good, who has bigger and better things for me and my life than an "if" box in my corner.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When the Ugly Shines

People have been asking me how the waiting is going for our adoption. Given the three years of waiting we've already done in preparation for more waiting, I'd say we're pros. Seriously, if there is one positive thing that infertility teaches you it's how to wait. 

So, here we are, two full months on the waiting list. Our agency hasn't contacted us, other than to send us an occasional article on openness or transracial adoption or the tax credit.  And I've been trucking along quite happily. Sure, there are those moments when I wonder how long this will take and what our story will end up being but for the most part, I've felt very calm about the whole thing.  No one has chosen us yet and that's ok.

Enter last week.  For the first time in this process, I found myself in a conversation with someone who knew of a couple of teenagers who were in a tough situation.  And when I say tough, think of as many rough scenarios that you can think of for a teenager to have to deal with and one or both of these kids were facing several of them.  Unexpected pregnancy, rough family situation, etc.  And as I was listening to their situation, the ugly came out.  Sure, I had a moment of concern for them. Sure, I felt sorry for the situation these kids were in, upset with the state of brokenness in the world that had left them this vulnerable.  But it was fleeting. And then it was all about me.  What about this expected baby? Does he need a home?  Wouldn't we be the perfect parents? Don't we deserve to give this kid a good life? After all, those kids can't raise him well. UGLY.  Ugly because this was pure selfishness coursing through me.  Greed, even.  I could almost understand the stories you hear about desperate wannabe parents who deal on the black market.  The feeling of helplessness in growing your own family can cause your brain to do crazy things.

So, I had to back off and ask for some help for my crazy brain. I had to ask Jesus to help me see these kids in his eyes, kids in need of His love and His redemption and His hope in their situation.  Kids who, for all I know, might make good parents.  I do know it's not my place to judge their capability and greedily lust after their child for my own.  That much is certain.

Is it ok to think about this as a possibility? Sure. Do I have any power in the situation? No.  What I'm committing to is praying. Praying for these two kids and for that baby. Praying that God would overwhelm them with his love during this time of decision and guide them in the way they should go, whether or not it will ever have anything to do with us or any other adoptive parents.  Praying for the health of that beautiful and unexpected child, knowing that God loves him and pursues him more than I ever could as his parent.  

This is the only way to surrender the greed and the selfishness, the ugly.  Otherwise, if I give in to their temptation, I will end up down the road of "I deserve" which is always a dangerous place to be.