On #InternationalWomensDay – Be You, Because You ARE Strong

Happy International Women’s Day!

You might be surprised to know that history records the first International Women’s Day as far back as 1911! Women have been fighting a loooooonnnnnnnggggg time for equality, and will continue to do so. I hate this fact, but to avoid dwelling on the negative, I will take pleasure in seeing how far we’ve come! Keep up the fantastic work, my sisters!

I’m seeing so many quotes and memes on social media today about women, and I’ve observed many of these quotes and memes focus on the word STRONG. Why is that?

Even my personal favorite: “Strong women: May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them.” urges us that being strong is the ultimate goal. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this battle-cry is being interpreted the same way across the board.

Naturally, the physical sense of the word is a positive goal. Being physically strong isn’t just about how many pounds you can bench-press, but about being healthy. Everyone wants health for themselves and those they care about, right?

But what about being strong in other ways? How do we define that? And what about the women who don’t exude the “traditional” traits of “strength”? I use quotation marks simply because these words are so open to interpretation.

I worry that International Women’s Day is moving towards a different meaning – a celebration of society’s perceived “best of the best” so to speak. That’s not what it’s about.

The woman who doesn’t run marathons for herself or charity can still be strong simply running after her toddler at the park. Or watching Netflix marathons on TV.

The woman who doesn’t own a financially successful business or have a high-powered career can still be strong owning the responsibility to feed her children by working hard at her minimum-wage job.

That woman who doesn’t prepare kale-qinoa-chia seed-avocado crust-less pie to feed her family can still be strong asking her kids to set the table and put the ketchup and plum sauce out for the frozen chicken fingers with tater-tots her family will devour with enthusiasm.

That woman who never declares loudly “Fuck that shit!” can still be strong when she sobs into her pillow because someone hurt her feelings.

That woman who can’t be Ms. Independent-I-Can-Do-It-All-Myself can still be strong when she asks friends or family for physical or emotional support.

That woman who doesn’t kick that asshole partner’s ass to the curb can still be strong when she stays in a seemingly unsatisfying relationship for complex reasons that nobody but her really understands.

That woman who doesn’t proudly don her swimsuit while ignoring her obesity can still be strong when she avoids pools and the beach.

Nobody defines “STRONG” for everybody.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone who opens their eyes and confronts the challenges of life each day is strong, and even those who open their eyes but then decides to close them, stay in bed and avoid the world are still strong in making the decision to do just that.

If you are human and trying to live your life as best you can – you are strong.

Should women be equal with men? Youbetcha.

Should women stop being human to try to fit into someone else’s definition of “strong”?

I think you know my answer to that question.

Be you. That’s strong enough.

 

My Child’s Thoughts on Menopause

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Yesterday, I was rushing around to get out the door by a certain time and as is usually the case when you’re stressed and time-challenged, the process made my body temperature increase. I removed the sweater I was wearing and said to Captain Sassypants: “Phew! I’m getting hot and sweaty!”

Her response?

“I hate to say this, mommy, but maybe you’re getting the HOT SHOTS.”

I knew immediately she meant “hot flashes” but tried to contain my laughter because I wanted to know if she knew what she was talking about. I asked her “What are the hot shots?”

“Actually, you probably won’t get them, because you know it’s when a woman has made a baby in her womb and the baby has come out and then when the woman gets older, she gets the hot shots? Well, you’re old enough to get them, right? But you haven’t made a baby in your womb, so you probably don’t need to worry about it!”

I like her thinking. Yes, I DO deserve an exemption from menopause because I wasn’t able to make a baby in my womb!

Who do I speak to about arranging this?

5 Tips For My Stepson As He Starts High School

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My stepson starts high school tomorrow. He asked me the other day how high school was for me. At first I was going to give him the quick-and-easy “Great!” story to encourage him and bolster his courage, but fake optimism has never been my style, so I gave him the long version.

High school was hard. That was twenty-nine years ago, so I can only imagine how much harder it is today. In fact, I don’t really have to imagine all that much because social media has made a giant two-way mirror for parents to sit and watch all that goes on in high school and have the living shit scared out of us.

Not because I worry about my stepson – he’s a good kid. I worry about all those *other* demons prowling the halls of his and other high schools. I thought maybe I should give him a few words of advice, so here it goes:

1. Be yourself. Do NOT change who that is to try to please ANYONE, or to try to be accepted into a group of people of ANY sort. If they don’t accept you the way you are – screw ’em. They’re not worth it. Don’t waste time wishing you could be part of the “cool” group – you probably won’t be, and that’s actually better. There’s less pressure, less stuff to worry about. If you don’t want to have that drink or smoke that whatever-that-thing-is, then don’t. What you wear, eat, listen to, drink, smoke or do in your free time does NOT make you cool. Nobody else defines what’s cool except you, unless of course your definition includes illegal activities or substances – then WE will define for you pretty damn quick what is NOT cool. That being said – you don’t HAVE to be like your parents – it’s ok to be separate from all of us, just don’t toss out the good stuff we’ve taught you.

2. Be kind. Yeah, I know. It’s getting a bit Kum-by-ah in here, but it really is important. I know you’re not the type of person who would do or say mean things intentionally, but don’t follow the crowd if they are doing or saying mean things. Stand up for the underdog and if you see someone who looks like they might be hurting in any way, ask if they’re ok. Encourage people and set an example of how to be an all-round nice guy – they don’t always finish last.

3. Be honest. With others, but mostly with yourself. If you need help with something – get it. If you don’t like something, say so in a respectful way. If you have a romantic interest in someone – show them or tell them that you’re interested. Lying only hurts everyone involved, including you, and kidding yourself is still a form of lying!

4. Be prepared. High school can be shitty at times – don’t let that get you down – it’s temporary (but if it does get you down a lot – please tell us or a guidance counsellor so we can help you deal with it). It can also be fun and rewarding, if you let it. Be open to trying new things. Be ready to do well at the things you know are coming like tests, exams, projects and homework. Do your best and try your hardest, even if that means hard work and missing out on something more fun. Sure, the first year is a bit of a throwaway, but then it gets more serious and while I agree that it’s absolutely ridiculous that you need to decide at your age what you want to do for your entire adult life, neither one of us is empowered to change that, so you will need to bust your ass to get into a good university and get a PH.D in some field that will negate me needing a huge pension.

5. Be open. High school will teach you many lessons and while I wish it weren’t so – some of those lessons will suck. Lest you think this message is just one big warning about how crappy high school is – be open to all the fun that you are going to have also. Each day you can get up and be afraid or worried and pessimistic about what your day might do to you, or you can wake up and feel like you are open to some fantastic experiences and finding the joy. Thankfully you are generally a happy person, so keep that up, keep doing what you love and be open to trying new things that you might also love.

I love you, bud.

You’re going to kick high school’s ass because you’re brilliant, funny, kind, considerate, and just all-round awesome. You’ve got everything it takes to have the best four years of your life.

I hope you do.

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Happy Anniversary to my Huzbo

Today is the 7th anniversary of me marrying Huzbo.
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Pretty momentous, considering when my first marriage died at 5 years, I swore I’d never get married again.

For those of you that know me, or those that read this blog regularly, you know I don’t often talk sweet about poor ole Huzbo.

So today, I’m going to talk about the GOOD STUFF for a change.

1.  He is the hardest working man I’ve ever met.  He is the major breadwinner (where on EARTH did that stupid term come from? He doesn’t win bread, for crying out loud!) and he doesn’t quit when he gets home.  He does every kind of housework that I do and he also does ALL of the outside yard work, shovels, takes out the trash, does any house repairs required.  He is my Superman in the work department and even my closest girlfriends will attest to the fact that when we sometimes gather for our ladies’ bitch-about-our-husbands sessions, I certainly join in, but never when we get around to bitching about how husbands don’t help around the house.  He does.  Lots.  More than any man I know.  And I am very grateful for that.

2.  He scoops cat shit every day.  In addition to the household contributions described above, I have to point out separately that when I met Huzbo, I had 2 cats, and upon marrying him, he blindly agreed with me that a 3rd cat was just what our household needed.  From the time we began living together and trying to procreate, he has scooped the cat doo-doo.  In the past 7 years, the only times I have ever scooped are when he had his gallbladder removed and couldn’t bend over for a week, when he broke his ankle and couldn’t walk down the stairs to the basement, and when he went to Florida to help his mother there for 2 weeks.  That’s a LOT of cat crap that I’ve avoided, especially considering two thirds of those cats were mine to begin with.  Even now that one of those cats is a very senior citizen and has some senility with respect to where he should be doing his bio functions, Huzbo understands how much my cats mean to me and has never suggested they be removed from our family.  He has also committed to me that no matter what, when it is a cat’s time to leave this earth, Huzbo will be the one who goes with them and stays with them through it all, because I know I just could not.  He loves our cats too and I know it won’t be easy for him either, but he’s willing to do that so I don’t have to.
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3.  He does amazing things with his hands.  Oh jeez – c’mon now!  Minds out of the gutter! (Although if you really want to know about that business, I’d have to say he does more magic with his mouth than his hands…)  He is a carpenter and a cabinet-maker and he listened to my desire to have real hardwood floors, laid on a diagonal with a dark strip border around every room in our 1st floor.  He told me I was crazy and it would be too hard and virtually impossible.  Then he did it.  He also did the same thing with the wall-to-wall built-in wall unit I asked him to build.  Then he did it a 3rd time when I told him the fancy plans I had for landscaping the front of our house, which he had never even done before.  He’s a talented man and not afraid to take on my challenging projects.
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4.  He is not shy or quiet and loves to have fun.  I am not shy or quiet and sometimes need someone to pull the stick out of my ass to have fun.  I love going to parties with him, because I do not have to babysit him, ever.  He can work a room better than any politician.  He is the fun parent and our kids love a rumpus with daddy, because he puts everything into it.  He’s a big kid at heart, and sometimes it’s cute and endearing – like on Christmas eve just past, I arrived home with Baby Girl and he had a bowl of sugar waiting for her, with a bowl of multi-coloured TicTacs.  He told her to plant the magic seeds in the magic sugar, and she would get a big surprise in the morning after Santa worked his magic fertilizer on the seeds.  After she went to bed, he pulled out all of those TicTacs and instead stood up large candy canes of matching pink and green colours.  I’m pretty sure you can imagine Baby Girl’s eyes when she saw those magic candy canes that had “grown” from the seeds.

5.  He has a cute ass and beautiful hazel-green eyes.  ‘Nuff said.

6.  He will go to the store or fast-food restaurant at almost any time of day for ANY kind of products.  I’m not sure I want to get into too may details here, but we all have embarrassing items we sometimes urgently (or not-so-urgently) need at the pharmacy and Huzbo has never once said “No way am I going to march up to the counter and buy THAT business for you!”  And trust me when I say that sometimes I would have been embarrassed to have to buy some of those things.  He also is usually just as willing to run out at 9pm for a craved bag of chips, should my craving arise.

7.  He has seen me in some pretty awful states, some medically-induced and some self-induced, and he has held my hand (and sometimes the barf bag) and cleaned me up and he still wants to kiss me when it’s all said and done. After I’ve brushed my teeth, of course.

8.  He is the reason I am a mother.  When I met him, he already had a son.  Yes, he wanted more children, but considering the lengths we had to go to trying create a baby and then trying to adopt, I think he probably would have called it a day and accepted the fact that his one child was enough for him.  But he didn’t, because he knew I wanted, needed, one child for me also.  He wanted Baby Girl and he loves her to the moon and back, but when all is said and done, I think if I hadn’t wanted to be a mother so badly, he might not have pursued it to the extent that he did.

9.  Every once in a very long while, he completely shocks the shit out of me in the most touching of ways.  My parents mean the world to me, and Huzbo loves the bones of them also.  My dad has had a few health issues in the past few years, and recently has had some pain from one of them.  When the snow began to fall in December, my mother mentioned a few times how she worries about him shovelling their big driveway, and how he now needed to rest in shifts of shovelling.  They live close enough for us to see regularly, but not so close that we can pop over there every time it snows and do their driveway for them.  Two weeks before Christmas, Huzbo says to me “I think we should get your parents a snow blower for Christmas so your dad doesn’t have to hurt himself and strain his health every time it snows.  I’m worried about him.”   This, my friends, is when I fell in love all over again.   Not only was he willing to help pay for the snow blower with my brother and I, but he actually thought of the idea.  Forget flowers  – romance gets redefined when your husband does something so touching for parents that you love dearly.

10.  He loves chocolate.  I didn’t always think this was a great thing, to be honest.  Before I met him, I liked chocolate, but I didn’t LOVE chocolate.  I generally only indulged about every 3.5 weeks or so, if you catch my drift.  But living with a chocolate addict has its advantages.  Like, whenever those cravings hit – I know we have a cupboard FULL of choices that I can choose from to satisfy myself.  What’s not to like about that?

I could add a bunch more here – how he doesn’t mind eating at restaurants regularly, how he allows me extensive input into his wardrobe choices, how he will watch and actually enjoy chick-flicks with me, how he will sit on the couch and let Baby Girl play hair salon with his head for hours – but I think you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong – he’s not perfect and he’s no angel, at times.  But neither am I.  Which leads me to another thing about him that I love:  he puts up with me, most of the time.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart.  It’s been a bumpy 7 year ride, but I’m still glad it’s you.   xoxo

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The Spirit of Christmas Past

Christmas is over.

I can’t say I’m sad about it, either.

For a number of reasons, I really didn’t have much self-created Christmas spirit this year.

It’s been bugging me since early December, but I’m trying to let it go.

As part of that, I’m sharing the most touching, good moments so far over the Christmas break:

1.  I totally scored with every single gift I bought my stepson.  This is a record.  He is not picky, but he has everything, and each year becomes harder and harder to buy for him.  This year I really had to rack my poor, tired brain to think of creative, fun, useful, educational gift ideas, but he LOVED every single one of them, and I was one happy mama, especially when he showed genuine appreciation for my efforts.

2.  Baby Girl opened a present from my parents that turned out to be a doll that she already has at home.  My mom began to pack it up for return to the store and told Baby Girl she could come along and pick something else she liked in place of the doll, but my sweet Sassypants had other ideas.

“I already have lots of dollies. Why don’t we give it to a boy or girl who doesn’t have any money and doesn’t get nice presents for Christmas instead, Nanny?” she suggested.

BUSTING.  WITH.  PRIDE.

3.  I’ve spent some really good times with my kids.  Not just sitting in the same room as them, using my iPhone or laptop.  I actually got down and dirty and made gingerbread with them, and ate a bunch for them as they were decorated.  I played old board games (You’ve got Trouble? Wait don’t run! THIS kind of Trouble is LOTS of fun!) and new games that Santa brought and genuinely talked with and listened to my kids.  I took Baby Girl to Disney on Ice with good friends and really chatted with her on the train ride there.  I held her hand in the scary parts of Walking with Dinosaurs.  I laughed with them.  I feel closer to them.  Nothing beats that.

4.  I watched my daughter – who prior to Christmas Day couldn’t stop talking about all the THINGS she wanted to get from Santa – get out of bed and show far more excitement about handing Huzbo and I the handmade pinecone glittered-to-the-max tree ornament she made at school and boxed in a self-decorated box, than she showed over almost all of the gifts Santa gave her.

5.  On Christmas morning, I finally woke up Baby Girl at 7:30am because I couldn’t wait any longer.  I crawled into her bed and wrapped my body around her sweet little warm curl.  As she slowly wakened, she asked if it was Christmas yet.  I told her it was and asked if she wanted to go see if Santa had brought her any gifts.  Her reply?

“In a minute, mommy.  The only present I want right now is for you to huggle me.”

MELT.

Turns out my Christmas spirit wasn’t something I had to find to create excitement and enthusiasm for myself and my family.

Christmas spirit was there all along – waiting to wrap its loving arms around my heart at the most unexpected moments.

The Journey

For my regular readers, just a warning that this post is a bit…darker and heavier than my usual posts.  Writing is therapy and I’ve needed to get this out for a long time.

For everyone else – there is cussing contained within.  Consider yourself warned.

The Journey

I don’t expect you to understand why I am who I am or why I am the kind of mother that I am.

I don’t expect you to know what it is like to spend ten years trying to become a mother, spanned over 2 different husbands and a marriage that fell apart partially because I couldn’t conceive, or to have not 1 but 2 boyfriends tell you that they weren’t sure they could marry you because you might not be able to make babies.

I don’t expect you to know the paralyzing fear of attempting to conceive in my own body, knowing that everything I did or didn’t do could potentially harm a baby growing inside of me because of my own medical conditions.  I don’t expect you to sympathize that I often wonder if that fear is the reason why I didn’t conceive.

I don’t expect you to comprehend the bewildered astonishment of a positive home pregnancy test after a “one last time” interlude with my estranged ex-husband.  I don’t expect you to feel the disbelief of that pink plus sign, after 1 failed IVF and 2 failed IUI treatments.  I don’t expect you to get that I had to race to my brother’s house with the pee stick in my hand to ask him if HE thought it said “Positive” and then even when he agreed that he too saw the pink plus,  I still had to go to the local E/R to get a blood test done,  because my own pee was not trustworthy enough.

I don’t expect you to understand the devastation one week later, when I saw those spots of blood, knowing what they meant but still having to return to that E/R to wait 6 hours to be told that the sac was no longer attached to my uncooperative uterus.  I don’t expect you to grasp the horror of feeling and then seeing that unattached sac exit my body.

I don’t expect you to know what it is like to fall in love with someone who tells you AFTER you’ve fallen that he’s had a vasectomy when the only thing you’ve ever wanted your whole life was to be a mother.  Or to wonder if your decision to stay with him and pursue a reversal is a decision that will forever prevent you from becoming a mother.  Or to know that the semi-failure of the reversal coupled with your own failed fertility equated to three more failed IVF’s.  I don’t expect you to understand what it’s like to deal with all of these fertility failures, while having the evidence of that man’s fertile-on-the-first-try first marriage living in your home half of the time.  I don’t expect you to sympathize with trying to hide the shame and fear and embarrassment and pain of your own union’s infertility from that evidence so his mother won’t be even more smug than she already is in her thinking that SHE is the only one who will EVER provide a genetic link to your husband, while telling that link that he is his father’s only “real” child when she found out about our plans to adopt.

I don’t expect you to know about the urge to scream with rage from the physical pain of the daily multiple injections of drugs and hoping upon hope that the reports you read are wrong about the fact that they can cause cancer.  I don’t expect you to get the disgust of waking up soaked in your own hot-flash sweat from those high-dose hormones or the daily blood tests from veins that never gave up blood easily before fertility treatments, never mind how they began to look like veins of a heroin addict after 3 months of almost-daily torture to them.  I don’t expect you to know the initial shame and embarrassment that soon turns to numb indifference after a different person probes my most private area on a daily basis. I don’t expect you to get how the cocktail of hormones made me cry at the slightest provocation, yet also created volcanic anger explosions for the most minimal of offenses.

I don’t expect you to know the disappointment of finding out that your eggs and your husband’s sperm, and then a strangers sperm, failed to create an embryo, and then failed to create an embryo that bothered to stay alive long enough to put back inside your uterus, yet have the doctor put 4 dead embryos inside of you anyway in case your uterus could magically awaken the dead and create a baby out of those useless microscopic dead cells.

I don’t expect you to comprehend the agony of the Two Week Wait between the transfer of embryos into my uterus and the morning 2 weeks later when the pregnancy blood test is done, all the while begging those microscopic assholes to please, please, please stick to my uterus and dig themselves a comfy little nest for the next nine months.

I don’t expect you to know what it feels like to wait that morning at home alone after the blood test is drawn, sitting with the phone in your hands, dying for it to ring, but terrified it will ring and wondering why the FUCK it hasn’t rang yet and trying to find something to occupy your mind while you wait out those hours when nothing on this earth could possibly do that.

I don’t expect you to understand what it’s like to get that phone call alone, yet at the same time be so glad that nobody is there to witness your ugly cry breakdown on your hands and knees on the floor after you throw the phone against the wall when you hang up.

I don’t expect you to feel the crushing, tidal-wave blow of hearing “Your blood test was negative” from the IVF nurse on the phone, not once, not twice, but SIX times over a 10 year eternity.

I don’t expect you to applaud the teeth marks in my tongue from not telling that same IVF nurse to fuck off with her sympathetic voice when she delivered that news each time.

I don’t expect you to feel bad for me about the wasted loss of all that money spent for NOTHING.

I don’t expect you to understand what it is like to grow up your whole life believing that one of the world’s expectations of you as a woman is to have a baby, to become a mother, and then to know that you are a failure as a woman when you fail to create and produce that baby for motherhood.

I don’t expect you to feel the fury towards Mother Nature for making you suffer through a period every single month for NOTHING if you can’t even have a baby, long after you’ve accepted that you’re not getting pregnant ever, and wishing your entire female reproductive system would just piss off.

I don’t expect you to appreciate actually looking forward to menopause just to finally feel like you really are like other women.

I don’t expect you to empathize with the bitter resentment felt for the man who expected me to plan HIS child’s birthday party one week after the news of our final failed IVF in Europe, because he HAD a kid and could never truly comprehend my pain.   I don’t expect you to get that I really wanted to fall to the floor kicking and screaming as we walked past the Baby section that day in Toys R Us while looking for a gift for HIS child.

I don’t expect you to comprehend that even now, even after my acceptance of our infertility and the absolute knowledge that my daughter was meant to be with me, even with my acceptance that I will NEVER feel a baby I helped create grow and move inside of me, never see that baby leave my womb and watch it take its first gulp of air, first scream, first look at the world – even NOW, I feel a tiny little stab in my soul when I see a pregnant woman or a baby or read about a pregnancy or see a newborn baby picture.  I don’t expect you to get that while I am at peace with my destiny, there are some wounds and scars that will never completely heal.

I don’t expect you to understand that FINALLY becoming a mother completed me, despite those wounds and scars.  My daughter gave me peace.  And yes, she is MY daughter.  She has a father, but she is mine, and I don’t expect you to understand that, either.  She provided the balm for a 10 year quest that nearly destroyed me more than once because I had no comprehension during the journey that she was my destination.

I don’t expect you to comprehend that I wake, live, eat, breathe, exist for my daughter.  My love for my daughter consumes me.  She is the meaning of my life and the purpose of my existence.  I don’t expect you to understand that any harm to her, or Dear Sweet God above NO!, the loss of her, would destroy me.   That is not drama, it is fact.  I don’t expect you to comprehend why my thoughts would even go there because I don’t expect you to understand that I am too old, too emotionally spent and too financially drained to endure the journey of another adoption.  I don’t expect you to empathize with why I worry about harm coming to her, after everything I’ve been through to finally be her mother.  Nor do I expect you to get my fear of my own death before she becomes an adult, as she would also be destroyed.  No, that is not ego.  I simply understand that there are only so many hurts a young, beautiful heart can possibly survive, and hers is at capacity.

I  don’t expect you to understand that every person, place, thing, new environment, new experience is a potential threat to my daughter, in my mind.  Although it may not seem that way sometimes, I try my very hardest to not allow the world’s threats to stand in the way of allowing her to experience the world as a beautiful, educational, magical place without fear.   I don’t expect you to understand that if my choice is between keeping her safe or hurting someone else’s feelings, she will ALWAYS stay safe, and that I don’t really care if you don’t see the same risks to her safety that I see.

I don’t expect you to comprehend the unbelievable pressure I put on myself to be a perfect mom, all the while knowing that such a thing doesn’t even exist, because  I waited, I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I prayed, I suffered and I was finally rewarded with her, so I must demonstrate my gratitude and deservedness by being the best mother I can be at all times, even though I’m not and I can’t.

I don’t expect you to know or understand any of these things.  This is my journey…

The Million Dollar Question

So it happened already.

I knew it would at some point, but last year it took all the way until April.

What happened?  The question.  The one that families via transracial adoption wait for all the time:

“Why’s your mom white?”  Yes.  Said with the italics emphasis on white, in a tone that didn’t sound too impressed.

The little black girl who asked the question had followed my daughter over to me, where I stood waiting for the bell to ring before I left my post watching Baby Girl in the enclosed play yard.  The girl was friendly and engaged me in conversation, so I asked what her name was.  When she told me, Baby Girl proudly pointed at me and stated: “She’s my mom!”.

That’s when the confused look appeared in the girl’s narrowed eyes, as she scrutinized me.

I knew when I signed up for transracial adoption that these moments would come.  We’ve had them before, we’ll have them again.  I knew this little girl’s curiosity was innocent and natural.  I knew this was an opportunity to educate.

But I still wanted to hit “rewind” and somehow make that little girl NOT ask that question.

I wanted to save my Baby Girl from having to answer a question that she shouldn’t have to answer.  I wanted to protect her from the burden of explaining her most painful detail, because she already has to carry the burden of her adoption every moment of every day.

Adoption is such a wonderful, beautiful, life-enriching way to create a family.

Except for the adoptee, sometimes.  This was one of those times.

It was in that moment, when the other black girl who obviously has black parents or at least black family made it obvious that she couldn’t understand another black child having anything but black family, that I truly felt my daughter’s burden.  How she must have felt so segregated from her own race at that moment, because of me.  I felt guilty, almost, for adopting her and involuntarily subjecting her to a lifetime of questions and feelings of not being like everyone else.   At that moment, I longed to be black, despite the fact that we teach our children to accept, respect and embrace differences, simply to make that question disappear.

I looked at my daughter and saw the worry in her eyes – would the little girl make fun of her for having a white mother?  Would she be mean to her for having been adopted?  I asked Baby Girl if she wanted to answer the girl’s question, and she started in, providing an entirely different response than the ones that we had practised together for times like these.

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She explained to the girl that she had been born in South Africa and her mom had been born in Canada.  True enough.  Then she told the girl that she came out of (insert birth mother’s name) tummy.

The little girl was understandably confounded.

I told my daughter that she was right and had made a good start with her answer, and then gently offered to help her explain further, as she was very nervous and had stopped speaking when she started to stumble over what to say next.

I explained to the girl that my daughter was made in another woman’s tummy than mine, and that woman was a black woman, which is why Baby Girl has black skin.  I went on to state that the woman who made her was her birth mother, but she could not be a mommy to our daughter, so somebody else had to be her parents, and my husband and I had adopted her, which means we became her parents without her growing in my tummy, and now we were a family.  I added that families don’t have to all look like each other to be a family and I wanted to continue, but the girl’s eyes were starting to glaze over.

She said nothing when I stopped.  Just looked at me for a long minute, and I don’t really know if what I said had made sense for her.

I asked my daughter after school if the girl said anything more to her, but she had not, and I think Baby Girl and I were both relieved.

I also asked how she felt about the girl’s question and my answer, and she told me “embarrassed”.  I asked her why, and she explained, not for the first time, that it made her feel like she was different from everybody else.

I get it.

She is.

My challenge as her parent is to help her see that this different that she feels and that everybody else sees, is not a bad thing, not something to feel embarrassed or ashamed of.

Sometimes it’s hard to pull what’s in your heart out into the open world and get everyone to feel it along with you, isn’t it?

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