September 6, 2013

does this mat make me look fat?

     I learned about hiding myself in all black clothing shortly after someone asked me when my baby was due.  In case you are new around here, I’ve never been within ten miles of pregnant; and at the time I wasn’t even remotely interested in it.  I was out shopping and the lady at the register kept grinning at my waistline.  Naively, I just thought she was checking me out (air quotes).  Looking back, I should have picked up on the fact that she was in her mid to late seventies and wearing a wedding ring.
“When are you due, hon?” she sort of cooed at my bellybutton as she folded my new purchases.
“I’m sorry?” I could feel a burn crawling up from the middle of my chest spreading out all over my body.  Did that spinster just say what I think she did?  Luckily, I’m a levelheaded sort of girl and quick on my feet.  I picked up tiny a plastic hanger-y thing and with each word, slammed it on the counter a little harder.
“NINE.MONTHS.AFTER.I.GET.PREGNANT.OLD.LADY!”  With that, I spun on my apparently chubby heels and huffed (and puffed) straight to my car where I sped to the nearest McDonalds for a “Number-one-no-onions-please-with-a-supersized-diet-coke (really?)-and-a-side-of-barbeque-sauce”.

That was the overeating phase of my eating disorder.

I quickly found that black was, in fact, the new black.  No color, no patterns, no deviations, just hide.  I could not bear to have any attention brought to what was happening on the outside of my body, much less the inside. Because the over eating was all about hiding.  I stuffed myself to stuff the feelings.
            Eventually, I became miserable and unhealthy and a danger to old salesladies all over (yes, it happened again.  And again) and so after at least 14 different failed "diets" I learned how to eat right and exercise the old fashioned way.  I HATE THE EATING RIGHT AND THE EXERCISING AND ANYTHING OLD FASHIONED. 
            But, I began to lose weight.  And then I lost more, and more, and suddenly I made it back to the place of numbness where I began.  Only this time I was starving.  And people noticed.  And again, I was so ashamed for anyone to see me.  I thought that they might look at me and know what was really going on.  So I continued to hide myself in black.  Hoping I could camouflage the thin and the pain.
The under eating was hiding too.  I starved myself to starve out the feelings.

            That was the under eating phase of my eating disorder.

            Time has passed now, and I ran out of ways to run away from the feelings, so I had to get healthy.  No more shenanigans.  I gathered up all the fear and the hurt and shame and distortion and gave them a great big heave-ho up to God.  I sort of hate to admit He was able to handle it all without any help from me.  He has been so good to help put the broken pieces of me back together into a better whole than I started with.  He's so beautiful that way.

    After a long time of no physical activity, my counselor recommended Yoga. YOGA.  I laughed.  I don't consider myself to be the yoga-ish type. I consider myself the drink aspartame, talk too much about myself, and wear big jewelry type.   But, then I decided to try it.  I mean, I blog now... why not join the cool kids in the rest of the cool things?  

            Last week I walked into the studio, filled out my paperwork and met my instructor.  When it was time to purchase my mat, I grabbed a black one and then stopped.  I’m not going to hide anymore. I am changing my default. I reached back and picked out the brightest, ugliest, PURPLE yoga mat you have ever seen.  You would certainly lose your focus and your zen and everything yoga-y with a glipmse of my fancy fuchia towel.  But you know what? Every time I look down at it, I don’t see a dark square reminding me of hidden hurt and shame.  I don’t think pounds or calories or numbers… I see hope. 

And if I ever see that saleslady again, well, Namaste sister…

August 9, 2013

on old hurts and rotten milk

Matt was driving us somewhere the other day and starting frantically shoving toys around, looking under bags, and opening compartments.  My car is super clean and organized except not at all.  His face scrunched up and twisted all funny and I said “WHAT?!”

“I’m looking for the rotten milk.” He said breathing at only half capacity through his mouth.

“Oh, babe, don’t be so sensitive.  Here, it’s probably just this.”  I gathered up three different fast food bags from the floor board, closed them all and tossed them in the way back of my car.  “Better?”

“Mmm hmm.” He repositioned uncomfortably. 

Moments later he rolled his window down and began to lean into the air, hoping I wouldn’t notice him gulping down breath after hot summer breath.

“I mean, does it really smell that bad in here?” I was starting to get annoyed.

His eyes started to get all shifty like they do when I start acting unrealistically emotional/(am wrong).  The latter is hardly ever the case.  “Oh, you know, I just thought some fresh air might be nice this afternoon.” 

We live in the deep south.  In 100% humidity. In 100 degree heat.

When I opened the car the next day, I was hit with pure putrescence.  We’re talking the stink of a thousand dead rodents in a wall.  Mind numbing, eye watering, STINK!  I held my breath in increments and dove around the car until, sure enough- I found it! A sippy cup holding a subtance formerly known as milk, but in it’s current state resembled a cheesy yogurty dead-dead nasty swamp gag vomit something.  It was buried in a box of Mills’ toys.  Every thing in the box was infected too.  Once the culprit was out of the car, it took a good two days riding windows down and heads half out until the stench was gone.

I got to thinking about other hidden things in life.  Like old hurts.  Recently I was talking to my counselor Melea and said, “But I left that situation SO long ago.”  Her response is still bouncing around my ears.  She said, “Distance doesn’t heal the pain.  It just gets you away long enough to let you think it's gone.  But when you return, the hurt is still there, sometimes bigger than you left it.”

Hm, so that old “Time heals all wounds” bs... People are well meaning liars.

I am learning that when I stuff painful things down inside (family situations, body issues, anxiety, worry, sadness, shall I continue? ) if I don’t deal with them, they begin to rot and fester and turn into a molten lava of yogurty cheese yak just like that mess in my car.  Soon everything around it (all of my insides) begin to suffer too.  And it doesn’t matter how much good I try and put on top of it.  I STILL STINK! 

I had gotten so used to the funk in my car, I didn’t even notice it any more.  That’s like pain in my life.  Sometimes I get so used to carrying these things around, I begin to think that they are normal.  Or, I don’t even notice them any more.  Friends or family will try and gently bring up an issue (you smell like curdled milk, honey) and I just start balling up trash and dismissing them.  Worst of all is when I think maybe I do know, but I am afraid of the pain, so I try and keep going.  Drive faster-add an air freshener-smile bigger-maybe no one will notice-kind of thing.

But you know what? I wasn’t meant to smell like gut rot.  Or carry past pain.  God wants to come in and heal the broken places.  I am learning that I have to admit I need help, move some toys around, and allow myself to be helped.  It takes some adjusting, and some time to air out, but it’s so worth it.

July 22, 2013

8 things to stop saying to your adoptive friends

Preface to the Disclaimer for the List:

Allow me to introduce myself.  Hi, I am Pot and in a moment I will wag my finger and lovingly direct all you Kettles in a new direction.  Before Sugar Baby came home, I would sprint up to any baby of a brownish shade and begin to make a scene with the parents.  I would ooh and ahhh and usually pluck said baby right out of the terrified mother’s arms.  While bouncing her stranger-infant in my lap, I would go on and on about her adopted O-R-P-H-A-N.  “I just SOOOOO have a heart for BLACK babies and I have GOT to have one of these!” I'd gush as if he was a member of the Fall 2013 line of Coach handbags, not an actual human.  So, I get it. I’ve been there.  And that leads me to the disclaimer.

Disclaimer for the List:

I know that you love your friends and family who are adopting.  I also know that you have the best intentions and purest heart when you talk to them about the adoption process.  Please don’t think your interest is taken for granted.  Let’s be real, it’s a hard subject to broach.  Sometimes it’s like trying to answer the “do I look fat in these pants?” question.  Tricky, tricky.  You won’t always get it right.  But, I feel that there are a few repeat offenders that need to permanently come off your list.

The List

8.”Can I just ask how much he cost?” Can I just ask how much you make a year? Besides, if someone DID tell you that, you may have cause for worry.  It’s like this Oscar Wilde quote I love, “One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”

7.”Now, you know to be very careful that the birth mom never finds you.  She may come try and take the baby in the middle of the night.”  People, this is not the Lifetime Movie Network.  Bring it on back to reality.  We just went through months, and lawyers, and thirteen trees of legal documents to make sure all parties were on the same page about this.  Adoption ghost stories? Not helpful.

6.”Are you afraid you won’t love it like you would a ‘real’ child?”  It is best to delete the word “real” from your vocabulary when talking adoption.  This is a real child.  The love for adopted babies is no different than the love for biological babies.  Obviously you mean biological, but your phrasing insinuates that we are welcoming Pinocchio into the family.  And, that’s just awkward.

5.”What happened to his ‘real’ mom?” Again with the “real”.  You can see where this proves to be a problem.  Once the baby comes home (well, actually before) we view ourselves as the “real” mom.  Also, if you whisper this, as if to infer the parents may have been killed, it is SUPER uncomfortable.

4.”Ethiopia or Uganda? No, don’t tell me…Sierra Leone?” Do NOT walk up to someone and begin to vomit names of countries in an effort to guess “where they got their baby”.  It’s not a game show; it’s a family! Control yourself!

3. “Are you worried he will grow up to hate you?”  Well, I wasn’t. But now that you bring it up…

2. “You know, God just didn’t want you to have babies so you could save the orphans! If a part of your sentence can easily be replaced with “save the whales!”, maybe you should reconsider. 

1. ”You know, as soon as you adopt, you’ll get pregnant!” If you take ANYTHING away from this post… stop saying this! I KNOW that your sister’s friend’s neighbor’s teacher’s realtor’s daughter’s third cousin twice removed did it TWICE last year AND that you know of 52 other documented cases in your county alone.  But really.  This doesn’t happen as often as you think.  Even if it does, if the mama you are talking to doesn’t get pregnant… your words could be hurtful. You are setting mothers up for disappointment they aren’t even expecting.  Unbeknownst to me, I was convinced in the back of my mind that after Shug came home, all our fertility issues would melt away and shazaam! We’d be pregnant! I had heard this well-meaning statement for so long that I allowed it to become my reality.  Be protective of your adoptive friends and family.  Don’t say this anymore; total urban legend.


Don't let this deter you from talking to your friends and family going through the process. (or total strangers... because let's be honest, I still do it!)  In fact, adoption can be a very lonely road and it is easy to feel forgotten.  My first suggestion is:
-When I want to check in with you, what's the best way for me to ask? (Win! Every time!)

Others to consider:
-How are things going? I'd love to hear anything you want to share with me about the adoption.
-I'd love to hear about your process so far and how you chose international/domestic adoption.
-I have heard adoption is so expensive.  I'm afraid I'd never be able to afford it.
-I have so many questions about adoption.  Do you think we could sit down over coffee one day and talk? 

Have you said any of the top 8?
Have you had any said to you?

July 19, 2013

well, that was awkward

Not too long after Mills had come home, (meaning days) my best friend Lolly decided we should go out to dinner.  I was so deep in the newborn fog that I found it completely acceptable to venture out with five-day dirty hair, jeans that barely passed the “can people smell these?” test, and possibly day-old make up with some fresh mascara and lip gloss slapped on top.  This also reads like me (pre-baby) scrambling to make it to a function after a Real Housewives marathon on TV.

We met at a local barbeque place in the middle of a row of restaurants on a quaint street near my house.  Lolly picked a table outside claiming, “some fresh air would be good for me”.  She could probably smell my jeans.  It was so good to just sit there, holding my baby, talking to my best friend and enjoy the quiet spring evening. 

As the waiter took our order, I noticed a very tall man all the way at the end of the row of shops shuffling down the sidewalk.  I didn’t think much of it other than, “Huh, he is rocking those overalls.  Wonder where my overalls are?”

We continued to laugh and talk and several passers by complimented us on my tiny bundle. I smiled at them, my eyes lingering as they walked away watching for signs of "did you smell her?"  Right about the time our waiter delivered our drinks, the man in the overalls approached our table.  Let me set the scene for you.  This gentleman was not one day younger than 126 years old.  He was African American and dressed in said overalls, a plaid shirt, a trucker hat and some work shoes.  To say he stopped and stared at us is an understatement.  It would have been less awkward if we’d just pulled up a chair for him.  After what felt like 17 minutes of silence, he gave me the once over and peered at Mills as if double checking something. (he sort of growled) to me, “Times sure have changed since my day, little lady.  Girls like you didn’t have babies like this.  You must be married to one of them professional atheletes.”

Lolly caught on sooner than me.  I know this because I heard her choke on her Dr. Pepper and then try and stifle any remaining noise.  She is the epitome of graciousness.  Me? Not so much.  I hadn’t yet gotten used to the comments from all of the general population and so it threw me a bit. I just stammered for a minute and then blurted out, “No, no sir! My husband is a pharmacist!”

Methuselah starts laughing and clapping and slapping his knee until we can see tears rolling down his face.  As he turns to walk away, he is shaking his head and we hear him say, “A black pharmacist?? Now that just beats everything!”

July 18, 2013

the morning after

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."
Maya Angelou

Remember that time I hadn't blogged in two years, and then I had 10,000 hits in twelve hours? Crazy town!

Maybe we should back up and get to know one another a bit better.  You know, if we are going to solve life’s problems and such. 

So, the most important thing you can know about me is in this photo.  These two have my whole heart and then some.  That handsome bald guy has been the love of my life since we were both awkward, sweaty palmed fourteen year old freshmen in high school.  I don’t want to give too much away, but that was a loooong time ago.  The little pudgy guy? He is our miracle baby that will require another post all together.  He is our constant reminder that God is so faithful and never, ever, ever (sounding like Taylor Swift here…) forgets about His children.

By day I am a freelance prop stylist for magazines.  I will be working on my first movie set in the next while, so more to come on that soon! By night, I am an artist, writer, cookie dough eater and big dream dreamer extraordinaire.

I am so happy you're here on my little happy space (which doubles as a confessional booth)  

July 17, 2013

I am that kind of mother

A family lost their baby today, because a mother tragically forgot to drop her off at the babysitter’s house.  Instead, as her sweet baby slept in the back seat, the mom kept driving and went to visit her husband at work.  Three hours later, she received a phone call from her babysitter asking why she hadn’t been by with the baby.  Although she immediately rushed to the car, it was too late.

While reading of this news, I was surprised with the onslaught of public criticism and judgment. 

“Who could do that to their child?” “What a terrible human being!!” “What kind of mother would leave her baby in the car?”

Let me be the first to say… I am that kind of mother.  My world was so rocked when our son came home, that I didn’t know up from down.  I dare say I am still working on getting things aright.  It was all I could do to keep him fed, changed, and clothed until help arrived on any given day.  You can forget any type of shower or beauty routine on my part!  So, once he was a bit older and I was expected to, you know, leave my house every now and then, I often felt as if I’d fought the Battle of Mobile Bay just getting the two of us ready and out the door. 

Wake up to screeching baby. Change baby. Feed baby. Rock baby. Put baby down. Start shower. Pick up crying baby. Start coffee. Open yogurt. Gently place baby in swing. Take world’s fastest shower. Step on creaky plank by baby’s nursery. Wake him up. Pick up squawking baby. Bounce. Pour coffee. Look in closet. Hate all clothes. Bounce. Dress baby since he’s already awake. Bounce. Ever so gently lay baby in bassinet. Army crawl away. Start make up. Check e-mail. Remember forgotten to do list. Make baby’s bottles.  Pack his bag for the day. Is the baby seriously awake again? Discover blow out. Change baby. Clean baby. Dress baby (again). Balance baby and make up. Get dressed. Throw away curdled yogurt.  Grab purse, coffee, baby, phone, lock door and head outside. Put baby in car seat. Get in. Start car. Forget diaper bag. Go back in. Get bag. Back out to car. Ready to start the day…

Mamas do not forget their babies in the car on purpose.  This family has experienced a tragedy I imagine could happen with any exhausted mother. They don’t need insults, they need encouragement.  Criticism doesn’t bring their baby back- but community may help them heal.  

The next person who wants to launch a vile comment her way- be sure and pick up two rocks.  You’ll find me at her side.