8/29/14

Thoughts before preschool

Arie's hand feels big in mine lately. His whole body is growing, of course, but it's the feel of his hot little fingers and palm in mine that I notice the most. It used to be a baby hand, small, soft, and mostly limp in mine. Passive.

Now, when he reaches up for comfort in a shy moment or safety before a busy street, I notice how much farther into the space between my thumb and pointer his fingers reach. He hold tight, mostly. A firm grasp, a preview into the handshake he'll one day extend to others as a man. He also wiggles and squirms, pulling away from my grasp when he wants to explore. More and more I am letting go: learning to trust, push boundaries... and hope to God he doesn't knock over that mountainous display of wine bottles at the grocery store.

He is growing socially, too. I remember last summer watching him on the playground as other kids would run up to play. "You wanna play?" They'd ask. He would stare blankly in return, then his eyes would dart me, anxious for rescue. Last weekend my sister got married and we spent time with her new extended family setting up for the wedding. In contrast, immediately upon meeting a new little cousin, Arie's eyes little up and he grabbed the boy's hand and exclaiming, "LET'S RUN!"
Family picture at my sister's wedding last weekend.
In two weeks he starts preschool. He's excited. He's ready. I can't wait to see how he'll grow! New friends, new experiences, new knowledge. Lately he's been absolutely ravenous to learn; asking questions, doing projects, celebrating victories like learning to write his name.

This week I rearranged his playroom to make a reading corner with low shelves, a lamp, and new chairs. A small change in our home to symbolize our first steps into a new leg of our parenting journey: school. I feel a heightened sense of awareness that these next few years will greatly shape how Arie feels about learning: will be it exciting? Fun? Boring? Frustrating? I deeply hope to nurture his sense of curiosity and wonder.  People often remark to me how imaginative he is and John and I want to keep that spirit alive in him! We want him to claim his capabilities, to widen his sense of wonder and to take pleasure in learning.

Today he will learn with hands in the sandpit and finger paints, but I know how soon those hands will grow to grasp a microscope in science class or gesture widely on the drama stage or etch slowly with pencil on a math page.

For certain, we will have our schooling ups and downs, but for now I take joy in the possibility set before us. In two weeks I will take his little hand in mine, walk through those preschool doors and excitedly begin.

xo

8/13/14

Men, adoption, and three common fears

Today I'm blogging over at the National Registry for Adoption on a topic that frequently finds its way into my inbox: men and adoption fears.  Join my over at the nrfa.org blog to hear my response to these three questions: 1) Can I love a child who is not genetically mine? 2) What if I don’t bond to the child? 3) What if the child has special needs?

xo

8/12/14

I can't explain


There is so much pain in our world right now. My Twitter and Facebook feeds are filled with heartbreak and exclamations from people who can't process the tragedies of war, persecution, disease, death, and suicide. It's all too much. We're overwhelmed.  

I wrote this poem months ago on a particularly dark night of the soul, searching for a little solace. It seems like a good time to share. 


I Can't Explain 

I can't explain
the whispery pink on a cherry blossom
nor the surprising yellow face
of a dandelion weed.

An angry, spiteful God makes sense to me now
as I whither in pain.

Or at least an absent one
who surely doesn't hear
my weakly offered prayers.

I'm not the only one.
Not the only who feels alone
vulnerable
unsaved.

If he was cold
it would explain
why we're wasting away.

But then,

I'm troubled still.

Because then, what

what explains the flowers
in our bleak world? 

8/11/14

Infertility and body image

I have a vivid childhood memory of two adult women in a swimming pool. After a humorous struggle to both climb onto the same double sized floating air mattress, they are lying on their backs, laughing breathlessly and shading their eyes from the sun with their hands. One of them looks down at the other's belly and remarks, "Wow you look so slim!" 

The compliment receiver immediately turns the sentiment on the other, "No way! You're the one who looks great! Look what I've got!" She grabs the soft part of her belly where her babies once grew and gives it a shake. 

"I've go that too!" the other replies, and follows with her own grab and shake. The two continue laughing and firing compliments at one another, jiggling their bellies all the while. 

I remember watching these women both delighted by their laughter but also confused by their words.  I was probably 6 or 7 at the time and it's the first time I remember being confronted with the idea that someone wouldn't like something about their own body. 

At six, my body was for doing. Running, jumping, skipping, playing, eating, smiling, laughing. I had also, around that time, experienced a fairly severe bone infection in my back, wrist and hips, undergoing several related surgeries and treatments. Because of that, I knew bodies could be source of sickness and pain but ultimately, in my experience, healing. I earned two major scars on my body after undergoing two surgeries, however I was never made to feel self conscious about them and even as an adult I never have been. One scar is on my back and sometimes- if I lean over too far so my shirt slips up a little- a person behind me will make a little gasping noise and ask, "What happened??" (It's a big scar.) "I had back surgery when I was a kid," I'll reply and the questioner will quickly catch themselves, "Oh I'm sorry! I shouldn't have asked. I thought you might be hurt." I always wave my hand dismissively because truthfully it doesn't bother me. To me, my scars are a symbol of my healing. 

I've always thought the same about the soft bellies of all the women I know to be blessed with a child by birth. They are symbols of something beautiful: of life and love and this magic thing we call pregnancy and birth. 

From the time I was old enough to understand that I, too, could someday trade my girlish little midsection for one that would grow with new life and then deflate to something puffier in exchange for the gift of motherhood, I promised myself that I would embrace the extra skin with grace. 

I was naive to how difficult that task really is, but I what I thought back then was that I should love my body for what it can do and not how it looks. 

That actually seems laudable, doesn't it? I can see it on Pinterest now: 

original photo source. 

But then... infertility happened. 

And can I say it plainly? At times, infertility has caused me to really hate my body. 

Infertility has caused me to hate my body because I loved my body for what it could do… until then it couldn't do something. It couldn't get pregnant. 

Oh and how well I treated it! The things I ate, the vitamins I took, the supplements, the teas, the chiropractor, the endocrinologist, The Fertility Diet, the exercise, the rest, the medications, the injections, the procedures, the eve.ry.thing. 

My body just won't listen. It won't get pregnant. 

As I cope with jealous feelings toward women whose bodies actually work- whose bodies apparently function like they said they would in my middle school health class (have sex and get pregnant? Imagine that!)- I have to wonder who looks at me with envy. Someone who can't walk or see? A woman who can't hear the world or a girl who wishes she could do something I take for granted every day? Do they get angry at their bodies too? 

"Love your body not for how it looks but for what it does!" That might seem like a great thing to say. Until you're looking into the eyes of a person left quadriplegic in an accident. 

If it's not about how they look or what they do, maybe we shouldn't be trying to love our bodies at all. 

Maybe it's not about love, but about gratitude. 

Maybe it's about being thankful for our bodies we have and the lives they let us live. Thankful for what they can do, regardless of what they can't. 

Maybe I've been so angry at my body for not allowing me to hold a life inside that I've forgotten it already does: my own. 

In Revelation 12, Jesus says of his faithful followers: 

They triumphed over him (Satan)
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.


I believe infertility pleases Satan because it is a perverse twisting of the way God intended things to be. If I am going to triumph over the hold Satan has on me through infertility- whether physically or spiritually- I know I can only do so by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony. 

My testimony can't be that I hate my body. It has to be that I did not love my life so much as to shrink from anything, infertility included. 

This is a new path for me and a hard one. It's easy for me to hate. It's not easy to overcome. But I know I've already got the blood of the lamb... and I'm working on the power of my testimony. 

xo
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