Friday, November 25, 2011

A moment

It isn't very often that I stop to think about how much good is happening in my life, and I am thankful that yesterday was a moment to stop and remind myself that there is a lot of good going on. Yesterday, my Mom was thankful that all of her children, and grandchildren, had jobs. In a way this is almost a sad thing to thankful for, but it is a true reflection of the times. Justin and I both have good jobs that have good benefits and some security.  The sheer fact that I get to teach is a plus. There are folks who went through my program that didn't ever find that teaching job, and they were better teachers than I am. In this current economy, I have encountered so many people who are literally hanging on by a thread, and yet politicians on both sides of the aisle continue to bicker over idiotic details in order to pander to their extreme right or left wing pundits.

The current economic climate has led to a political climate that I find exhausting, poisonous, and disturbing. As someone who makes a living teaching 14 year olds about how our government works and what it means to be a citizen, I am often embarrassed by what the adults demonstrate as citizenship to them. Have we really become a country that is unable to enter into a respectful political debate that is based on fact on mannerly discourse? Are we really to going to villanize those who vote the opposite of us? Or determine that because someone has a different belief system from ours that they are uneducated or too educated?

In light of the holiday season, can we just take a moment and recognize that we are all people who are deserving of common courtesy and respect? Can we refuse support those who thrive on creating a negative debate based on half truths and character slanders? Can we enter into honest discussions about issues that effect us all? May I suggest that each person who is planning on voting, take a minute and read the Constitution?

Understanding the powers of each branch, the five purposes of government, and what the Constitution actually says is key to being an informed citizen. It makes spotting propaganda much easier. Speaking of propaganda, can we turn off the major news sources? Can we refuse to listen to those who make a living by sensationalizing mundane facts? With the spirit of the holiday season, which is sure to be followed by an obnoxious and overbearing Presidential race, find someone who you know has the opposite political beliefs as you do and offer to listen. Really listen, ask them to really listen to you. Look for what you have in common. You both want the regular guy to be supported, you are both concerned about the power of corporations, maybe you have different solutions, but you aren't that different.

I am not asking for a dyed in the wool dem to become a tea party member or vice versa, but I am asking for us to collectively refuse to buy into this idea that because we vote differently we must be enemies. I want my students, and my future child, to grow up in country where we elect officials because we truly understand what they stand for and who they are. I want those who are fear mongers and hate spreaders to suddenly become unpopular. I want common citizens to have honest discussions about what their communities need and hold their reps responsible for it. When we are busy yelling at one another, it becomes so much easier for them to not serve the people. Please, let's reclaim our country by reclaiming our sanity.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wrestling with the demon

Being a control freak,  I am obsessive about failure. How have I failed? How am I going to fail? What may make me fail? This is a big side effect of struggling with an anxiety disorder. In the past few years, I have improved at my failure freakouts. I have learned to calm down and let go, and not attach life or death stakes to each and every decision. The past few weeks I have backslid in my progress. A combination of hormones, extreme emotions, and an unusual situation have led me to question a lot.

I have been angry about the Ashley situation and felt as if God was toying with me.  It took me years to get to a place where I was peacful about not being able to have a baby and felt right about adoption. It felt as if just when I reached that point, I got pregnant. I am in no way unhappy about being pregnant, but I have struggled with the timing, and the consequences. I have spent the past week wrestling with a sense of anger, fear of failure, and anxiety over making all the wrong choices.

Today I came to place where I could let Ashley go. I just sort of laid it all out there. My anger, and fear and sense of betrayal. How I worried about her and hope beyond hope that her time with us was for the positive and not the negative. Next I laid out my fears about pregnancy and motherhood and messing up. Finally, I came home and discussed all of this with my husband.

He reminded me that we are going to be ok and that I have a tendency to freak out about things we are ok with. Since the moment I found out I was pregnant, I have been overwhelmed with worry about how we would find a place to live, where we should live, how I didn't want to move while pregnant, how no place would be as cozy as my condo. How I want one more summer to put the baby in the stroller and walk downtown, but I felt like the "grownup" thing to do was to run out and find a new place to live.  After a long chat with Justin, we have decided to stay in our condo and I am so happy about it. I love it here and I just wasn't ready to take on moving on top of everything else.

Justin also reminded  me that I had told him I would leave the decision to move up to him. I came to this decision, because I can let anxiety build up until I push both of us to do things that maybe aren't the most prudent financial moves. Living here longer is better for us financially and we both like it, so why am I freaking out?

I think when Ashley left, I was desperate to make a new start. To cleanse all of the emotion and stress away by moving out of it. (somewhere my sisters are shaking their heads) Creating more stress, doesn't help cleanse old stress. Since some quality prayer time, a long chat with Justin, and deciding to stay home. I just feel better.

Now I can focus on the holidays!

Saturday, November 12, 2011


It is hard to explain all the things that I have been thinking or feeling the past few days. The best word I can come up is "peace".  I have a great peace about the fact that DHS chose to move Ashley to a home that fit her family wish list. We knew that she would be moved, but we did expect a bit more than twenty-four hours notice. When our caseworker first called to say that she would be moved the next day, my first instinct was to say "no, let's wait. It is too much, too fast.", but just as fast as I thought that another voice told me to trust. I got off the phone, we broke the news to Ashley, who was actually excited, and both of us felt better. Thursday was stressful, I had to take the day off and get her packed, and she had obvious anxiety at the fact that she was moving. The day went by in a blur and somehow we were standing in parking garage, waving goodbye. It still feels weird that she isn't here. It is like we are missing something, but it feels peaceful.

This entire process has made me realize that not only do I not control what is going to happen, and has shown me the amazing support system that we have somehow stumbled into. The entire staff at Lyle was amazing to Ashley in her whole tenure their. Their friendly open support helped her to become more successful at school than she had ever been before. Thanks to Trenda, she finally liked PE. Terri Dodge was the "the first teacher who liked me", Terri Hethorn made her feel "cool to be Mexican" and she loved that Darcy Naughton would say hello to her whenever she went into the office. I can say that all these ladies and so many more, made it so easy to figure out how to a "mom" at school instead of a teacher. When I went to withdraw her, there was genuine sadness and gentle assurance. At the height of my stress, I had to call and leave a message for Ashley, Darcy was so calm on the phone that I instantly became calm too. What an amazing staff Lyle has.

Justin and I are both fortunate to work in buildings with very supportive staffs. There is something amazing about going to work with people who are genuinely interested in you as person and willing to pitch in and help you when you need it. Jared has carried me for the past month, not only do I owe him cookies, but I am very thankful to have a teaching partner who is caring and understanding.

We have amazing friends. I can't even list all the ways our friends have reached out to support us.All I can say is that we don't deserve to be blessed with so many people who are willing to listen, support, celebrate and cry with us.

Our families took this journey with us. There is no way to describe what they did for us or how they stepped up and helped us make decisions, pray for us, listen to us and generally just be there for us.
It will take awhile to process all of what I have felt in the past month, but today I am feeling thankful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Change in Plans....

The toughest thing about our entire journey through infertility has been uncertainty. There have been hundreds times when we didn't know what the right answer was, because we were overwhelmed by what ifs? We pushed on, we had faith, we kept running the race. When we took Ashley into our home, it was the hope that she would be our forever child. We were only foster parents, we made no promises to anyone, but it would be a lie to say that we didn't this child to be our child. It was so hard to pray for God's plan while in my mind planning for forever. She settled in and seemed happy and things felt good. I was sure this had to be God's plan.

In the past two weeks, I have been reminded that God's plan can be so different and much more awesome than we are able to imagine. Three weeks ago, I called Jill to complain about the fact that I just kept feeling nauseated and tired. She suggested a pregnancy test and I thought I should take one to not have to pay for it at the doctor's office when they wanted to figure what weird virus I had. That night a positive sign appeared. Justin and I were in shock, the next morning a second positive sign sent me to the Dr.'s where they confirmed that we will be having a baby in June. This is such and overwhelming miracle that I am not sure that I have fully processed the epic blessing we have received. I really relate to Sara and Abraham.

My amazement at this miracle has been tinged with stress at the question "what about Ashley?" Around the time that we discovered we were pregnant, her behaviors escalated dramatically. Mornings have become intense. She argumentative and angry. We haven't told her about the baby, because we don't know how she will react. From the moment I discovered I was pregnant, I have ping ponged from the highest mountain of joy, to the lowest depths of despair. As her behavior has escalated, our inquiries, through our social worker and my intense "Micheal Lomas do what I tell you" voice, led to the discovery that DHS, and her social workers, failed to inform or openly lied to us to us about several things.

I have spent the past 24 hours being very angry, sad, guilty, frustrated, and generally feeling like a failure. The fact that we are pregnant disqualifies us from being an adoption option for Ashley, she needs to be an only child, however I am not even sure that we can be a foster resource to get her to adoption, because I am not sure that we are equipped to deal with all of her issues. That isn't true, I know that I am not equipped to deal with her issues. I am frustrated that we were honest about what we could handle and were lied to and put in this position.

Juxtapose this with constant wonder at somehow becoming pregnant with no fertility drugs and no major effort and combine it with pregnancy hormones and I have been a nutcase for the past 48 hours. My friend Gabrielle talked me down last  night and gave me some very wise words that I have clung to today. My Mom reminded that Ashley is ultimately God's child and no matter what I do, I clearly cannot comprehend the wondrous plans he may have for her.

This is very wise and offers hope, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a part of me that feels awful for not being what I hoped I could be for this girl. I would never not want this baby, or regret being pregnant, but I feel like I should be able to do it all, gracefully, without complaining. I have to let go. I have to admit that I cannot do all I think I should be able to. I have to admit that I cannot handle this child's issues and that I have failed at taking care of her. That breaks my heart.

I feel as if I let all the people who have supported us through this time down. So many people were rooting for us, and I am pained at the thought of having to tell them that it isn't going to work out. I am thankful for all the love and support that we have received and I am so sorry that I can't do it. Even as I write this I know it sounds silly, but this blog is about me being honest and at the moment I am simultaneously still amazed that I am pregnant and feeling like such a failure.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Today I experienced a part of parenting a child who has experienced extreme trauma that I knew was possible, but never realistically considered seeing. I don't want to go into the details of what happened, but I was genuinely frightened and I had no logical concept of how to deal with situation. It was purely God intervening and getting me through it. When I got to work, I locked the door to my room, kept the lights off and sat at my desk and cried. I had such sorrow for this child and was so scared about what else could happen. A chat with some coworkers who have experience with difficult children, a long email to my husband, and a phone call to our social worker got me through my day.

Our social worker rearranged her entire schedule in order to be able to come over and speak with us this evening. That is how awesome she is. She listened and assured me that I wasn't overacting and then mapped out a plan. By the time she left, I felt like we weren't alone and that things were going to be ok. In the past few weeks, I have been learning that I thought was the plan, is far from the plan. Maybe my job isn't to plan, but to do my best to get through today.

God truly cares for this child and I have faith that no matter what happens in the future, He holds  her in the palm of his hand. This is hard, but to be honest nothing about this has been easy. I feel like parts of me are being ripped open and brought out. This is a painful process, but in the end it will be for my good. Today, I had to stop and say "God, I am scared and powerless and out of ideas". I had to get out of the way. I had to keep stopping and handing my anxiety off to him.

I am still scared, I am still hurt, and there is a huge part of me that feels like a failure. I hate not excelling and exceeding at things, and I truly hate admitting when things are too hard for me to handle. Friends, the truth is, there is a lot going on at the moment that I am struggling to handle. There is a lot about the reality of this child's life that overwhelms and horrifies and frightens me, and when I admit that, I feel like a selfish awful person. I am a selfish awful person. God makes me a better person, but only if I willing to submit to his plan and put my plan aside. Psalm 139 says "You have searched me and you know me." God knows the ugliest, darkest parts of me and He loves me anyway. I clung to this today. I am still clinging a little tonight.