Monday, April 25, 2016

Not What Some Imagine

They lied to us! They sold us the idea that babies were ONLY cute, and cuddly, and all gummy smiles. Only.

They said we'd fall asleep nicely in bed with the dog at our feet. All napping happily away.

They told us we'd look wonderful in our matching outfits and headbands. They said we'd have rocking chairs and rock our docile, sleepy babies to sleep before putting them in their tidy cots to sleep for the night.

They said our older two children would play ring-o'-roses on the lawn, smiling and giggling away.

They told us my husband and I would stand at the baby's nursery door, smiling at our good fortune before closing the door and going to bed every night.

Lies! Well, lies for me! Don't believe them!

My daughter can't match the stain on my top from her brother's butternut. Instead of matching me, I made her match her big sister. Except she wasn't wearing any matching clothes today. Today she stayed in her sleepsuit. It matched her slippers though!

There was no napping with the family dog. One, I'm allergic to dogs and two, when one baby naps, the other is awake. I spent most of my day going from one to the other. Miss Toddler has come with her own nap time schedule. It's "whatever time I wake up deciding I'll sleep at" o'clock.

Little brother woke up this morning already wanting a nap, so he also made up his own routine. The first thing on his schedule was, "Complain as if someone else woke me up while I was dreaming blissfully."

There was a time they both wanted me to carry them. At the same time. One screaming because he's got terrible separation anxiety so wanted me not his sister,  "RIGHT NOW!" and the other one screaming at him and wanting me because she's teething. Don't ask me what she was saying. I just recognised his name in that diatribe.

I don't have a rocking chair. I don't think I ever will, even though I dreamed I would from baby number 1 all the way to number 4.

Yes, there are gummy smiles, but there's also drool. Lots of it. In my mouth when I'm holding him high up. Lovely drool. Also there when he's meant to be docile and sleepy. He prefers to gum my chin and smack my face instead of just putting his head down like they do in fiction.

My elder two, instead of playing on the grass spent all their time playing in the mud the weekend storm brought in. If you'd seen my son's T-shirt, you'd think he swum in the mud! They only sing ring-a-roses when their little sister is with them. And they come in dragging grass and sand with them.

My husband and I did not stand at our son's door and gaze beatifically at him as he fell asleep. Instead we realised that he wasn't satisfied with the full bottle he'd had with me so his dad had to give him another one. At this point, I was lying in bed, back aching from wearing his older sister.

Yeah, that's another thing they don't tell you. Baby-wearing isn't all sunshine and roses if you've got a spine problem!

The reality isn't like the lie they sold us.

But it's so much better. Watching someone else cuddle their baby is not as satisfying as cuddling your own. Laughing at your toddler trying to put her bottle in your mouth or your nose is so much more fun than matching outfits. I feel more alive laughing at with than looking like her.

Having her baby brother nuzzling into me as he lets me know he wants to go to bed...Laughing at his drooly, gummy smile as he flashes his big eyes at me. That butternut stain? Hey, it means he ate!

Them both wanting me? Who doesn't like being in demand?

And who knows what new thing baby girl will find to torture entertain me with tomorrow?

Those lies don't change. Reality does. You have good days. Bad days. Bad nights. Good nights. The babies in he print ads stay the same age. Our babies grow. The toddlers grow. The children playing on the grass grow up to maybe have their own children. Each milestone bringing its own moment of joy. Reality is so much better than the lie. We change, we grow, we improve. We watch our children doing the same. Changing, growing, improving.

It's messy. It's dirty. It's tiring. It's tear-stained. It's real. It's awesome. It's amazing. It's cuddly. It's smiley. It's joyful.

It's parenting. Real parenting.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thankful for Racists

The rest of this quote from Ellie Wiesel states, "Wherever anyone is persecuted for their race or political views, that place must become the centre of the universe."

There's a Facebook group I'm part of, and the premise of the group echoes statements I've seen on American website. It goes something like this:

"All whites are racist, and it is impossible for Black people to be racist.

Whites might be unconsciously racist. They may have prejudices and assumptions they don't realise but either way, those stem from racism. And this racism comes from the fact they hold much power, historically and even today.

Blacks on the other hand, can be discriminatory and prejudiced, but racism cannot exist because they have no power and no privilege."

I get it now. And I'm also adding another dimension. Is it really racism if you hate people who have enslaved you, forced you to get sub-par education that only allowed you to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water?" If you've experienced being called names, being hit and attacked for no reason by people from a particular race, if your mother to this very day cannot articulate the pain caused during apartheid, if your first ever best friend was killed by the apartheid government, is your emotional reaction actually racism?

I thought Blacks who hated other races were racist. Now I realise the feelings they have aren't because someone has lighter skin than they do, it's because of years of pain and anger and seeing how the effects of apartheid laws still exist.

Anyway, that was just an aside.

I am thankful for racists because out of the bad, God has actually brought good out of it. He has taught me lessons I wouldn't have learnt if my eyes hadn't been opened to how bad it actually is. Not only for myself, but for others too.

There are things I would like to talk about but for today I'll just say this. Racism has brought friends into my life that I probably would have taken long to bond with, had we not been fighting this common enemy. We have the adoption bond, but racism is what has brought us-from different races and backgrounds-close to each other. Adoption is a bond based on love for our various children. Racism has formed a bond based on hatred of a common enemy. When you get phonecalls from White people asking how we can fight this, that's love. When White people ask how you're doing every day, when they realise that what's hurtful to them - but has only happened once-keeps happening to you and yet they keep being willing to be hurt.. It's something to be thankful for.

We all talk about God, we talk about our children, we talk about how racism will affect our children (We might belong to different races but our children are all children of colour and will therefore suffer, those who haven't already started suffering.)

God has allowed the pain of racist actions, words and treatment to bring about a bond of love that sees us seeking the best for each other.

Racism and my seeking to understand how it lives on today, has made me join groups I didn't even know of. And in there I have found white people who get just as angry as the victims do. They get upset, they weep. They feel. They allow themselves to feel. As painful as that is for them, they make the conscious to say that they want to get itk. It's easy for some friends to just stay away from the emotional side of it. To say, "Hmm, it exists, what a pity." But so difficult to say, "It exists, I need to find out how my fellow countrymen experience it. I need to know what racist things I'm guilty of thinking and saying so that I do better next time.

For that, I am thankful.

I'm not thankful for racists, but I'm thankful that I experienced such an onslaught that I had to get out of my comfort zone. For only since then, since I've started writing on Facebook, have I become part of this community that I knew nothing about.

I can't wait for the day all obedient souls from the different nations will come together under one Leader Whose name is Peace, and we will rest from the fighting. Rest from the tears. Rest. Together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

His Future Wife

My husband was asking the children this evening, "Don't you agree that my wife is so beautiful?" And my son says, "Yes, especially because she has natural hair."

Ladies, start making sure your daughters' hair is healthy and natural so she stands a chance! I promise I'll be a great mother-in-law to your girl! Just need to see which girl I prefer then tell him who to choose. OK, just kidding about that last part.

But yes, I think it's so interesting how our personal choices can 'brainwash' our children. And then I think of how negative choices have such awful and longstanding effects on the choices our children will make in the future. Shows how even though we know intellectually that drugs are bad, it's hard for some of us as children from drug-ridden families to break away from the lifestyle. It's what we got used to, it's what we saw. What we see decreases or increases our chances of certain habits being lifelong. Habits received from our parents. Typing that reminds me of Bobbi Kristina Brown. So, so sad. What chance are we giving our children?

So the question then comes to me. As a mother, what am I modelling for my son? What type of woman will he think is beautiful? Will it be someone who likes to flaunt her curves? Someone who likes to party more than to study? Someone who's into social uplifting or someone who's into self-worship?

What can I do to make sure that what he believes is beautiful, is also beautiful in His Creator's eyes? And will He understand WHY it's beautiful, so that he never compromises in order to win a girl that's no prize at all?

Above everything else, I hope he'll see a beautiful heart framed by natural hair. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that's the beauty I hope he'll behold in me and in any potential wife-if we're still here at that stage.

And yes, having fathers that are positive about their wives is also probably going to rub off. In fact, I know it will rub off. If children can grow up being wife beaters because they saw their parents doing the same to the spouse, we can turn that around. I hope he'll always speak of his wife with reverence, respect and love and appreciation. Let our men speak beauty in their children's lives. Let them show integrity and restraint, and the sons will follow. Our society needs it.

And God demands it.

The Hunt

Thandi wrote on April 6 and after receiving no response, asked her friend -THAT friend- to write. She wrote on the 12th. Their replies both arrived yesterday. When did this leave begin? And why is it that Thandi, who inquired first, got such an unequivocal "No," while that friend who wrote much later received such a wordy response? A response that gives some sort of HOPE?

When the Regional Director for Pam Golding asked whether we've considered moving to Stellenbosch, I was already waiting for a reply to this inquiry from this agent (who's not affiliated to them.) I laughed and cried at the irony, because I honestly was not expecting anything other than a firmly closed door...

There's no Group Areas Act anymore, we don't need to carry Passes to prove we're allowed in certain places, but we sure as anything aren't welcome in their domains. They keep making that very clear.

Why else would they keep giving us such different responses if it didn't reflect what's in their hearts?

And this is why "THAT friend" cannot immediately believe for sure that houses are unavailable when I am told so. This is why agents must remove their ads immediately. For we all start to wonder.

And the hunt continues.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

On The Doorposts

So, Deut 6 tells us to bind the law on our children's bodies-have them as frontlets between their eyes and hang them on the doorposts. Figured I might as well use the same principle for their other laws, their house rules. I'm tired of having to remind them daily of things they should do. I use my voice more for reminder and correction than I'd like to. They know that Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, the girl does the dishes and the boy does the counters and the high chair. But they forget. And I really don't like being the Stern One all the time then when Daddy comes home, all is done so he's the Cool One. Or the Enforcer if they've been naughty ;-) I want us to have more conversations that make us happy and that occur because I am happy.

Solution? Type out a chore list so that the paper does the speaking for me and all I have to do is remind them to look at it. Some things they already do anyway, so I didn't type those. But I also purposely tyoed some things I know they do so that they feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing they've gotten 'somewhere.' Spent a few days typing them out, (Man, two babies eat up one's time!)knowing that once they've proven faithful with these ones, I'd add more. I gave them different chores so that they don't stand in the kitchen both 'washing dishes' and making noise playing. Learnt that one the hard way. Have them do the same chore and they spend more time talking about it than doing it! So one was for each child, and then a reminder of general duties that both should do. Things like removing grocery from the car. taking rubbish our etc.  I printed the lists out, hoping that the headings, "Excellent Eliora and Bukhosi the Brilliant" (Hahahah) would inspire them to want to emulate those characteristics.

How did they react?

They loved it! Especially the meal planning and cooking chore. Though next weekend's meals will be veggie burgers, veggie sausages and veggie burgers again!

To make sure they don't cut corners, I also have a copy and I'm going to 'inspect' before they're free to go and have fun.

So far, all has gone well. Did it on Friday so I can't tell you what I'll be saying in a week's time.  Though the girl needs more reminders to read her reminder than her brother does. At least she took the time to draw on it and decorate it. I assume that means she likes it. Now to see if she uses it consistently! Will let you know!

And yep, they asked for even more chores so I explained what I explained above, "Once you have proven faithful in these, I will give you more." Don't you love it when the Bible and real life collide?

Friday, April 15, 2016

My Poor Unsocialised Children

My children and I drove over to an estate agent (note, this is important. My children were OUTSIDE, interacting with PEOPLE!) to go view a house. After they all greeted each other, spoke about how they were doing and answered why they weren't in school, the agent turned around to me and said, "You do realise your children need to be socialised, right?"

And I thought to myself, "What a patronising tone and what a silly question. Do you think I'm
incapable of modeling to them how to talk, interact, share, empathise and just be? Do you realise that they're talking to you right now, and doing it quite 'normally?' Do they seem 'unsocialised' to you? Have you not been perhaps brainwashed into thinking children need to learn how to live.. from other children."

And sadly, this question comes up again and again and again. "What about socialisation?" Maybe if people were asked to define what they meant, they'd realise how unintelligent that question actually is. And how insulting to the parents who are their children's teachers!

Our children do actually get to be out in the real world, learning from it. And in it. Believe it or not, before schools were invented, THAT'S how socialisation occurred! They learnt in the real world. Out in the fields with their fathers, in the home with their mothers. Home Ec was taking care of their younger siblings, fixing their hems and baking together.

 I'd say not a single one of the homeschooled children I've met, has ever been unable to interact and behave appropriately. They all seem..normal. You know, like they're normal parents doing apparently abnormal things.

What does research say, though, seeing as everyone seems to be so 'concerned' for our poor, unsocialised children? From the Peabody Journal of Education, Issues of Leadership, Policy and Organizations. Vol 88, No. 3.
" Compared to children attending conventional schools, however, research suggests that they have higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults.

They are happy, optimistic, and satisfied with their lives.

Their moral reasoning is at least as advanced as that of other children, and they may be more likely to act unselfishly.

As adolescents, they have a strong sense of social responsibility and exhibit less emotional turmoil and problem behaviors than their peers.

Those who go on to college are socially involved and open to new experiences.

Adults who were homeschooled as children are civically engaged and functioning competently in every way measured so far.

An alarmist view of homeschooling, therefore, is not supported by empirical research."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

12 in 12 Months!

At 4 months old

I've been doing a series of "Things We Didn't Know Before We Began the Adoption Process" to mark the countdown to our first anniversary-our daughter's Homecoming Day. (Not to be confused with the American Homecoming of which I actually know nothing about but know it has nothing to do with adoption ;-) ) You can find it on my Facebook page, "Imperfect Mom of Four."

The final thing we didn't know-number 12 to mark 12 months of our daughter's presence-was what exactly it would be like, meeting her for the first time. I had visions of her birth mother reuniting with her-seeing as the babies spend the months waiting for their "forever families" in temporary safety care-and crying buckets. But it wasn't like that. There was only a sob at a particular point, when she said she loves her...Then I thought maybe the kanga mom (safety mom) would be crying buckets, but it wasn't like that. She was very calm. Quiet. A bit scary, actually. But she's not scary anymore, we keep in touch periodically. I've mentioned before how when our girl reaches a milestone or does something silly, I tell her or send a photo or send a video. Then I thought it would be awkward sitting down almost interrogating her birth mom about her reasons etc, but it wasn't like that. Kinda. Well, it did feel like that!

I didn't know how exactly we'd receive our child. I didn't know that we'd have beautiful pictures of her birth mother handing her to me. Entrusting this precious child to me. I didn't know how wonderful it would be to finally hold her for the first time. When you've had a dream and finally after 24 years of dreaming it, it comes true, it's a moment I cannot ever forget. I still get chills thinking about it. That dream was so specific, "Someone is going to give me her child for me to mother." And it happened.

What a glorious year it's been! People keep thinking we have blessed her, not realising that she is such a blessing to us! Her smiles when she sees me coming to get her from her cot. The way - when it's her dad's turn to get her ready for bedtime -  she turns his head so that he kisses me good night...The way she loves all her siblings, old and young. The way she goes to knock on her baby brother's door to wake him up-thankfully her knocks are ineffective! The way she wakes up and sings...The way she takes her leggings and diaper off but DOESN'T leave a surprise in the cot like she once did...I did not know how much joy, insanity and laughter having her would bring. I knew I wanted many children, but it was for the way they make me feel, not what their actual presence does for me. I love to nurture, but I didn't know that she would be a balm, an oasis, a treasure.

She crawled into our hearts that day in a way that I cannot explain. Our daughter stole our hearts. My older girl would even 'bunk' (home)school to "help her fall asleep"..and in the process would also fall asleep.

Someone asked a friend of mine if she 'feels like a mother,' seeing as she 's only an adoptive mother. Seriously? What else can she feel like? She's not a nanny that gets paid, she's not a babysitter that gets to go home. She mothers her son at night. She kisses him, baths him, feeds him, cares for him, loves him...Umm. She's his mother, of course she FEELS like it. My husband said that maybe the person thinks that you only 'feel' like a mother if you had the child in your womb. Well, then I'm here to say that there is no difference between how I feel about the bio kids versus how I feel about the adopted ones. I (surprise, surprise) feel like I'm their mother. All of them! I don't spend my day thinking, "I feel like YOUR mother because I bore you in my womb, but you...I feel like your caretaker." Not at all. I feel like their mother because I get to mother them. To dream for them. To pray for them. To love them. I mother them, I am their mother. Each time our daughter cries, I'm her mother. Each time I give her a hug, I'm her mother. Adoptive is just a label that tells me HOW she got into the family, not how I FEEL about her. She's my daughter. I love her.
At ten months

And so does the rest of the family. From a husband who feared that he'd only be able to love her "like a granny loves her grandchildren," to a man who the day after she came home answered my question by saying, "I don't know what I was thinking. She's just like the other children, she's my daughter." From siblings who said they want to dress her up and play with her when I asked them why we should adopt, to children who want to take care of her even at night, who want the monitor in their room so we don't have to tend to two babies... I find pictures I know nothing about, pictures the children took with my phone. I love them!

I'd say we've had an awesome 12 months. She's my daughter. She's his daughter. She's their sister. We are family. Forever.