Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our New Blog Address: Unveiled.



MamaCandtheBoys Second Edition.
Leaping to our new home.

Enter (click) here.

A big request to those of you who have been so generous as to include me on your
blogroll-can you please update to this address?
http://mamacandtheboys.com

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Retrospective

Impossible to pick my favorites.
Good, the bad and the ugly?
(Behavior or parenting or both?)

Besides, that is why I am writing the book. So you don't have to scroll backwards in time to relive all your favorite Mama C mishaps.

This blog is my co-parent.
My witness.
My confessor.
My ally.

Building an audience has been like saying your are going to have a reunion and having new members of your extended family calling everyday to say; I'm there.

I'll repost this post at the new home, to build my roots there.

I spent the day getting a crash course in html, font kits, cascading style sheets (makes it sound so pretty) and patience thanks to my brother. He is also the one who taught me how to drive stick shift twenty-five years ago. This was easier on both of us. Chain Bridge Road up hill at rush hour in the rain in Washington, D.C. The man personifies patience.

Mama C and the Boys First Edition-Posts Of Note

1. Buy Paper Plates-the essay that started it all. Action in the form of flying slippers and my perceived not so eventual demise. One mom, two kids. Oh dear. (First published in SMC quarterly, effectively launching my professional writing career.)

2. For Posterity's Sake- I interview Sam. He tells you all you really need to know.

3. Living with an 18 year old. I decide to pull some from one daycare and back into another because he insisted. Blog as co-parent at end of day. Best part-listening to him turned out to be the right choice.

4. Divine. Convertible and sun glasses. Check it.

5. He's Got the Whole World. The rewards of listening to Sam (for those of you who like happy endings!)

6. Ghost Story. On birth parent's real and imagined. One of my favorites.

7-8-9. Rage and adoption and other light observations: Open Fist and You are not my real mom take one and two.

10. On a lighter side--some singing turkeys to close with.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Packing it up.


Official unveiling of the new Mama C and the Boys home this Sunday.

A fare-the-well blogspot, you've seen us at our best list of my favorite posts from the last two years to be posted shortly.

Sam is busy preparing the dance floor in the new virtual playroom.

I have been honored this week with being featured on the blog of the aforementioned ultimate in adoption resources Adoption Mosaic, as a blog not to be missed. (See their shout out here.) You can also reread my now signature piece, Black Enough, featured as the poem of the week on the literary blog devoted to women writers of color- Color Online today. Huge appreciation and gratitude to both of these sites for their ongoing recognition, encouragement, and support of my voice and work.

I have been drafted for the post dinner soccer game between the polar bears and the tigers. Face painting Friday at school and Uncle's fabulous Friday Night rice and beans and frog gut guacamole has us all wound up!

Le Jour de Roi et des dot coms!


The Islanders celebrating Le Jour De Roi.
Haiti on the left, Guadeloupe on the right.
E by way of her parents, me by way of my mother and maternal grandparents
claim our Jour de Roi-ness

The hats we used last year only fit our heads.
Sammy's rested at an angle, while Marcel's looked
more like a bracelet.

Uncle started from scratch.

Quiche Lorraine (also know as cheesy-pie for those
who would prefer to only eat cheese + pie)
and Eddie's Galllette des Roi.

King for the day?
We shared the title of the Gifter of the Magic
as we toasted a new blogdom about to be unveiled
with her design and help.

The song of the night; Mama's got a brand new Dot Com!

Official unveilling on Sunday.
Sneak previews for our loyal readers here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mama C's Manuscript, Marcel's Desert and Honeysmoke

Today I received a slick, 168 page, indexed and bound copy of my manuscript. Well, a draft of it. I ordered this blog from inception to my Solstice post through the blog2book arm of Sharedbooks. I paid over $60.00 clams, and it was well worth every one. They lay it out in a very satisfying way, and include almost all the images (no rhyme or reason as to why a few were omitted). It looks like a book, smells like a book, and Sam just about bust a gut seeing it on the counter; "Mom your book is published already?"

How much do I love the fact that Sam knows the word published, and attaches it to me so freely?

I explained to him that it is a draft of the book that will be coming eventually.

"When? By my next birthday?" he asked.

So here it is: the beginning of the story of how Mama C becomes a published memoirist too. I am going to blog about the stages of turning my blog into a book. O
f what I add, what I take out. Of how I write my proposal, and how I decide who to send it to. I'll attach rejection letters, and words of praise. I will chronicle the process here, so that I can document how it came to pass, and what I learned from the process so others can benefit, contribute, caution and support the odyssey. In my new blog I've already started a category called Mama C the Book to organize the trip there. I thought putting it out here to you, my faithfuls would hold me to it even more than my own thrill at the prospect has thus far.

+++

My review of Mike Tauber and Pamela's Singh's Blended Nation is enjoying a new home on the blog Honeysmoke as of this evening. I encourage you to check out her blog, as it has been a source of real inspiration to me of late, for content and format alike.

+++

Dry.
Completely.
Marcel.

All day.
While wearing big boy pants!
(As in underwear for the gleefully uninitiated in potty training.)

Translation: I am very nearly
the mother of two
non disposable undergarment wearing
children.


Translation: more money every month,
and my strolls down that aisle in the grocery store
will be limited to the occasional bottle of Pedialtye
from here on out.

Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Odd ducks, Goats, Wise men, and the Anti-Racists Who Love Them

Mom: Marcel you are an odd duck.

Marcel: No I'm not.

Mom: Yes dear you are an odd duck.

Marcel: No Mom I am not a duck!

( I happen to believe he knows what odd means, or else it is not so funny.)

+++

Marcel: Uh oh peh-tea-goat.

Mom: What's a peh tea goat?

Sam (my Marcel translator) : spaghetti-o Mom!

+++

While rinsing Sam's hair in the bath as he is laying back the length of the tub he says;

"Mom is this what it felt like when you washed my hair as a baby?"

"Yes," I say smiling slow across my face in a soft way. His smile mirrors mine as he replies;

"When you smile like that I remember being your baby too."

+++

Blog update: I am weighing a zillion options. I won't bore you with them here. My designer/art student/all things fresh and clean guru forbids me from revealing any more details until we work things out a bit more. I want your input. She insists that I wait.

+++

Incredible resource that I would challenge you all to read on Love Isn't Enough website on how to be an Anti Racist Ally. I have printed it out and put it by my bed because it feels that important to me. There is also a conversation after the post where one of my comments invites all sorts of responses. I felt attacked. I felt ashamed. Then I responded from my experience. The conversation that ensues could be another blog entry somewhere... One of the women who came to my "defense" has another transracial via adoption family blog that might be of interest to many here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Growing Pains


Like a child I am feeling the after effects of being exposed to CHANGE
and GROWTH last night. I am over tired, cranky and unsure of myself today.

As the old timers know, Mama C is looking at a new home for this blog.

With the help of the magnificent E we visited some a very promising spaces, and pictured where we'd put the kids room, my writer's desk and the like. The boys would have so much room to play there, and I could expand in all the directions I crave.

Then this morning, waking up in my comfy little Blogger bed, I hear myself asking, isn't this enough?

Sigh. Change is good I tell the kids all the time, allows us to grow, even if we're not sure of ourselves at first. Not all choices are the right choice. It is what we make of it that matters. Blah, blah, blah!

I promised myself and the kids I'd not be stuck to this keyboard today, on our last day of winter break. So I entreat your patience new friends, and loyal readers alike. A day to consider, and a day of play is what this hot diggety-digger mama and her boys need.

Gulp.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Teetering and Outgrown?
















When Sam sat on this teeter
totter. He proclaimed; "Mom this
is too small for me now."
I had to ask him, if perhaps he wasn't too big for it?

I am feeling same about this Blogger format.
Not that I am too big for it,
but perhaps the format is no longer the right one for my
blogger/writer aspirations.

This blog has been my life line this year especially.
What has emerged out of this year of writing here is:

1. The more I write, the more I write.

2. My mainly free verse style is most conducive to my voice on most topics.

3. Adoption, race, single parenting, transracial parenting, and reflection are the areas that feed this blog, and my thinking the most. But there are others too.

4. I have a book to publish, and it came in large part from this blog, and the first five years of my parenting. Sharing that process, and how I get there from here feels important too.

5. Sam's fifth birthday was a marker in ways for both of us I haven't begun to understand. So it feels like a natural launching point-and stopping point for the first book (single parent/choice parent parenting, open adoption, race, transracial family and all that means for starters)

6. You, the reader, are now part of my daily consciousness.

7. Inviting your comments/feedback in an easier way feels increasingly necessary to me.

So tonight Eddie, Sage and I are going to work together and look at what I am imagining, and where that might lead me. Uncle will have the boys, and we'll hole up in some cozy inspiring wifi environment and consider: Can I stay here, and use it differently? Do I need two blogs? Would another format meet my needs, and feel like the reader can navigate to areas of importance to them more easily? Hiring a twenty-two year old art student to set me up for my next blog chapter feels like an arrival all ready!

I am a Pisces. We have an amazing year ahead of us according to my favorite astrological report and the twelve year in the waiting return of Neptune apparently.

Stay tuned, and fear not. If we leap-you will be able to get there from here, and the two sites I have been assured will be able to link together in all sorts of ways.

If you have an opinion, or expertise you'd like to share on the matter please do.

If you see me not budging an inch, it is because those two fish are always swimming in opposite directions!

To following the right fish!

Mama C

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Decade in Review (in less then ten sentences).

1999-Leave New York City for an island in Maine.


2000-Begin my teaching career.


2001-Organize first of five annual week long artists retreat on a lake with five amazing women.


2002-Buy my first home on the mainland.




2003-Decide to become a choice mom.


2004-Welcome Sam into my life.



2005-Publish my first piece in a magazine.



2006-Commit to being a writer as well as teacher and a mom.




2007-Welcome Marcel into our lives.



2008-Voted for a president who won!

2009-Put Mama C and the Boys on the map, published ten times.


Thank you to one an all for being part of this amazing decade.


* And thank you to Honeysmoke for the inspiration for this decade-in-review post and it's design:
http://www.honeysmoke.com/


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Language of Love



I can't keep all this sweetness to myself.
Marcel woke our first morning home full of
joy and brotherly love.

Here he delights in the sounds and the mastery of his own instrumentation.

Consider this your New Year's Baby from MamaC.

It was either that or my big mug wishing you all a laughter filled
New Years. (One of my big goals, is more laughter-for me-of me-around me.)

They say VLOGGING is the new blogging.
I say reading is still something one enjoys doing on occasion.

I am in my "what will I manifest in 2010?" mode.

I have two days to myself, after eight days solid with the boys.
I started with a hot stone massage.
When you create space in the body, it's amazing
how much space opens up outside the body,
my magical masseuse/healer/visionary guru and dear friend Sage offered.

I left there seeing my manuscript writing itself,
a gym membership landing in my lap with the time to
use it, and the key to the perfect and affordable writer's studio
handed to me by March.

Then I imagined myself in a nourishing relationship.

I walked home slower then I have placed one foot in front of the other in years.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Adoption Mosaic--A Model for All

The Adoption Mosaic newsletter is out, and ready to be downloaded. You can reach it and them through my link on the right under "Mama C in Print" as they included "Black Enough" in the Winter Edition!  But as much as I am fond of self promotion, that is not why I am writing about them here.  In their own words :
  
Adoption Mosaic is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing educational resources and ongoing support to all those whose lives are influenced by adoption. We provide pre-adoption support and post adoption support through adoption readiness trainings, transracial adoption workshops, adoptee and community movie nights, our adoption blog, book reviews, movie reviews and much much more.

Based in Portland, Oregon they are providing a model for what the adoption community should expect, demand, and commit to world wide in my humble opinion.  I can't imagine how much more connected and supported I would feel if we had an events calendar like this to look forward to:

January 2010
Calendar
In addition to all of the above is their thought provoking blog, and resource rich quarterly newsletter.  I feel as if A.M. is a constant affirmation to all of us in the adoption mosiac of what we should, could and can expect in the way of dialogue, community, connection, and education. With this kind of resource and think tank as a model it ups the anti and importance of the day to day work we are all doing already. 

So check them out, spread the word, and offer them your feedback, praise and ideas! I have also noticed on one of their calendars of programs they have co-hosted in other cities as well. So don't let the location stop you, if you are an East Coaster for example.

Thank you to Tara Kim for introducing me to the organization, and for including my poem in their newsletter as well as a handout for their African-American Hair Care event!
 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Living Large






















I love this photo.
What a magnificent image of Sam at five, Sam and I.
We're home safe.
The boys were remarkable travelers.
Strangers were kind, help was abundant.

Uncle retrieved us from the airport
and had a feast waiting for the weary trio-
what a gift.

(In the car waiting for Uncle to put the suitcase
in as I buckle him in Sam announces; 
Mom that was the best time-
I am so happy still!

I kiss his head and reply,
You couldn't have said anything to make me happier.)

Unpacking is one of my joys.
Reliving the week in folded pieces,
and play dough canisters tucked in winter boots.

Sam's birth mother's birthday present was waiting
on the kitchen table.
Transformer pajamas, two DVD's, and a five one dollar bills.
An envelope full of family pictures,
and the card.
"I love you very much, and I always will."
What a gift.

Of course to myself I am thinking;
you wouldn't have loved the way he
just tackled his little brother...

I want to text her immediately and thank her
and tell her that he loves the pajamas
(and not tell her they were a little small,
and how I am secretly OK with that, as if
somehow that shows that she is not
completely in sync with everything
about him, although
damn close) but I wait.

I need time to land too.

I notice the floor in dire need of a wash,
the draft blasting in from the window,
and the hole in my quilt that looks
even bigger somehow.
Sam asks if our toilet got lower
to the ground, as Marcel
runs around with the one stuffed animal
he managed not to bring with us
in his arms.

Everything is perfect in the homecoming
light.

Sam asks if he can eat in my lap.
Marcel wants to sit next to Uncle.
I can't believe how lovely the man next to Sam
was on the plane the entire way home.

We are all soft around the edges.

Lists start to write themselves;
thank you notes,
grading,
bank,
grocery,
call someone about this,
and ask someone about that,
and then I look at them
and all of us
and I relax-
because we made it home in one piece-
 and we are all amazing and
this is enough.

Wisdom of the Ages

When Marcel can't communicate his needs
he falls to the ground and gives in to the primal
release of frustration and anger.

Fists and feet pounding.

At forty-one I do the same thing, but instead of the floor
I take it out on myself through constant
internal doubt laden
comment and questioning.

I prefer the Marcel model.

As a highly verbal child with a relatively clued in Mama
he has less and less opportunity for
such dissolution into his emotional flooring.

As a highly verbal and communicative
woman/daughter/mother/sister/friend
it is remarkable how much I could learn from Marcel.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Houston We Have Landed














He did it.
His first overnight a grand success.
Just spoke to the small voice, in the large boy.
Mommy where are you?
Have some breakfast young man. I am so proud of you.
OK.
And then call me when you are ready for me to come pick you up.
OK.

Thank you G & G for guiding him to the top of this star safely.
I am well rested, as Marcel calls it all;
Mommy I'm ready to see Sammy now.

To Nana last night I confess;
I didn't realize how hard it would be to let Sammy find his
independence.
She nods with understanding, having raised two boys too.

A night apart gave me needed light and lightness.
A night apart gave me the space to see
how much I have been dragging  him in,
while he has been pulling away.

I can see the earth more clearly from the moon.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Air and Space















We took to the air.
We conquered space.

Seat 12 A finds Sam alone with Mama and Marcel
behind, marvelling at how my almost five
has already claimed air travel as his own-
while I try to keep Houdini at two
from the call button, again.

Washington, D.C. landing at night
lights large on merrily lit lawns.
Keeping tired eyes wide
the entire ride to Nana's house we go.

Waking to birthday balloons
jelly donuts and the promise of a day
devoted to being high and five.

Birthdays are for adoptees either of epic import
or stuffed under the carpet hushed for another year
Sam falls under the first category:
airplane+bowling alley+pizza party meet the bill.


















I can be an astronaut
as he places his flag in the new moon of his independence.
Tonight this explorer is on his first overnight
with Grampy and Grammy Bear-Bear and Blankie,
I'm here with the co-pilot and
Nana navigating a lift off of another direction.
Marcel lands so softly in my heart these days.

The territory that I am fogged in again is the familiar
ground of dissapointment unwrapped.
Being fourteen wrapped in forty-one.

Motherhood is a gravitational pull
though not always pulling me to the mother I want to be
in a yoga pose, sleep deprived on the warm carpet before
the waiting tree I promise myself
space to let this be enough-for once.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Unpaired and Prepared

Solstice.
Incremental return to light.
A five year old on the horizon.
A packed suitcase and two copied birth
certificates on the ready.
Imminent flight.

Single Mother by Choice
or circumstance we are
Unpaired and prepared
for travel and arrival and
the getting there.
Daily.

Hats of to us at the holidays
ladies as we make it as big
or as small as they require.
Stoking the fire in the hearths
of our intentional
families.

Short haired with a vision.
On a mission to collect
the day in keystrokes.

Stronger at forty-one then at
forty. A soccer mom not becuase
I take them there, but because I join
them there on the basement floor
where I have the moves flying
by Sam scoring with precision
as Marcel yells GOAL Mommy!
Discovering alone while Uncle is away
the autonomy I need is not in the dishwater
or on the screen, but in the score
of 3 to O.

Every day an incremental
return to the light.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hairless and Hepless living with Hip



























Music is Sam's passion.
For his birthday-an ipod nano shuffle
loaded with his twenty favorite songs
and a special decibel limiting head set.
(Who knew ear buds didn't fit little people's ears?
Thankfully I had him open this present a few
days before we got on the plane.  Uncle saved the day
with a pre departure swing to the Apple store
with nephew to re-fit the nano's listening device.)
Now he spends hours moon walking in footy pajamas
to MJ, Madonna, Outkast, The Jackson Five,
Stevie Wonder, and Jack Johnson.

He earns an i-tune download every few days for
remarkable feats of Sam-ness.
He ballroom dances with his friends at school,
and leaves a gaggle of adults speechless.
He has never seen ballroom dancing,
but he appears to have been taking lessons for years.

I played the cello in middle school.
I saw Annie Lennox in concert before she was the Eurythmics.
I pressed my ear to the floor
that was my brother's ceiling downstairs
to fall asleep to Simon and Garfunkle, and Bonnie Rait.
I went to the bands my friends started in college.
I go to bands my friends started in middle age.
I haven't initiated a musical choice in my life.
I listen because I am invited to.

Living with this new generation musician
may or may not change this.

I am trying to invite musical intelligence into my life.

Like this morning-
sitting in the chair,
watching my hair fall to the ground,
(Pixie style? She asked.
I want it off. I said.)
I did not tense up when she began the conversation.
Of course I couldn't remember anything I listened to.
Doves, Ya Ya Ya's, Muse and Metric
are her current faves.

I write these down
in the little hard bound
blank book I keep in my pocket
for such occasions.
I have been carrying that
little book again.
This is a good sign.

It amuses her I think-
that I am curious what she listens to.

Last week I asked my 6-8th graders to tell me their top three songs.
I am compiling a list, suddenly curious
what my students are listening to.
I spent the afternoon watching their choices on You Tube.

Two words sum up the recurring themes: apocalypse and romance:

Yankee Daddy
Lady Gaga
Mario
New Boyz
Bad Boyz
Cupid
Beyonce
Rihanna
Justin Bieber and
and Lil Wayne

We do listen to Chopin before bed.
Jim gave me the CD when I asked him to get the boys
some good classical music next time
he was in his basement of freebies.
(For a non musical person, I am surrounded by DJ's,
musicians, composers and the like.)

Annie Lennox taught Lady Gaga everything she knows in my opinion.
Luckilly no one is ever going to ask me for my opinion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

History in the Texting Part II














Around this time
each year there is a flurry of activity
in our communication.

At first it was letters.
Then it was calls.
Then emails.

Now, Sam's birth mother and I text each other.

Texting is short, less direct, and safe:
for both of us.

The flurry is attributed to Sam's birthday
and Christmas.

Both of these holidays are important to her, too.

The last flurry of texts:
shirt/pant/shoe size
if Sam had Monsters and Aliens, the movie.

(I google it quickly, read the preview
is it something I will be able to support?
The eighty-six foot tall blonde protagonist
scares me, but I say "no he doesn't" and reply.)

I ask what books her kids are reading.
What they are doing that interests them.

I warn her that what Sam picked out for her
was well, something she might not want to wear
out of the house.

OK, LOL she replies.

Will she choose to wear a gaudy
necklace out?
Will she explain who sent it?
Where does the ink to that story land?

It was five years ago that we all met in the hospital
room, twice. Then once in her house on our
way to the airport to say goodbye.

I felt loose with her this time.
Light even. So I venture into
new territory. Leave the familiar
warn down chips of the
polite, semi-formal well
establish path,
and venture to new ground;

It was five years ago
this week that I got the call
that you had chosen me.
We have been talking about
that a lot.

Send.

That was the hardest
thing ever. 
There was so many people
2 go through.

Received.

I gasp.
I picture it-on her couch.
Her pregnant with a pile of profiles.
Mine in there somewhere.
Did mine stick out a little
with it's horizontal orientation?

Imagining her turning each page,
picturing a little version of
herself inserted into each family
portrait.

But, I can't imagine
the meaning
of hardest in that text.

I feel the gratitude that she shared this with me.
In a text, that I can save here.

(She chose me because I was the
most like her
I was told.)

We were both-
single.
She wanted to be a-
teacher.
She liked to read-
plays.

I did too.

Whoa. Sam and I like to 
say that he helped you choose
me. I am so thrilled you 
made the crazy choice you did.
He is my pride and joy.

Send.

Then I quickly follow with;

We love you so much.

Send.

I love you guys 2 :-]
Go to bed lol. It's 
late over there.

Received.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tears from the Royal Family: Ode to Ti & Naveen






















We were all crying at the end-for different reasons.

E the older was crying because as a twenty-one year old Haitian woman
seeing a gorgeous hard working brown skinned princess on the screen-
opened up so many years of not seeing herself up there.
With Marcel sleeping in her arms, she cries because these boys
who are her boys too-won't know what it's like
to be invisible in Disney's World.

E the younger was crying for the loss of Ray,
and all the sadness his passing opened up in her little
compassionate five year old soul. Her mother  guiding
her to the gentle message there-of fireflies into stars everywhere.

Sam was crying, because movies do that.
Evoke. Even if he didn't know why.
Maybe crying at something so much larger then you
when you are almost five.

Shadow Man was so scary that
he hid behind his home made tiara-mask that he and little E
created for the event.  His brown eyes seeing his brown eyes
through glitter lined holes, filtering the fear.

I was crying too.
Funny how never seeing yourself as a princess girl-
keeps you from yearning for a certain kind of charming.
Drawn more often to the shadow of a man.

Mama Odie tell us to dig a little deeper
to find what you need.
Ray's in love with the evening star,
and my sons can now be the president and the prince.

+++

Note: A more measured take on the film may follow.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Black and White























This is an oddly perfect picture of us.

(And if you have the dubious distinction of being on our
holiday card mailing list, you'll get the hard copy
as soon as Snapfish says so.)

The best part was that I ushered us all on the floor
the other day for an inspired;
"Hey lets make our holiday card right now" moment
and it worked on one try.

I have a feeling 2010 is going to be the decade of making things 
work like that more often, because my first forty years of trying
to be perfect did not yield much in the way of perfection.
It is the parts that were not what I intended
that have turned out the best.

I had another piece that you read here first accepted for publication
today-- the Shades of People book review-at Adoptive Families Magazine.)

That brings my number of pieces published or accepted for publication
to a total of nine this year, not including a podcast scheduled for
January or February on Mixed Chicks Chat. My goal was five.
Give yourselves credit readers for giving me the lift, the incentive,
and the feedback to keep at it.

Happy Hanukkah, Princess and the Frog Opening
in most of the country, and above all 
Happy Eve of Anticipatory Motherhood to me. 
December 12th, 2004 was when I got "the call".
Sam was born, and in my arms less than two weeks later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Self Portrait by Sam






















This is why Brown Santa Man is getting him a camera.
He took this yesterday-after sledding.
He loved it-and asked me to post it.

Not just any camera--the Argus Bean-in green.
Not mentioning it here to promote it--but to warn you away
from those "my first camera" numbers by Playschool and the like.
According to this budding pho-tog you can't see a thing in those-
the screen looks like a muddy puddle-and what kid wants that?
Argus Bean clips on to anything, is water proof, indestructible,
and has rechargable batteries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breakthrough on Ice


I slip on my green slippers with the pom poms and sneak into the kitchen to make the instant coffee.
It is a snow day. I am not full of joy for the day off. I wanted to go to work. This tells me that I am more off balance then I thought. 


A few hours later I am sledding down a hill in a blizzard with Marcel in my lap pausing from the crying long enough 
to holler in delight

and Sam holding onto the back of the sled
laughing his butt off.
We are there with a new friend and her daughter.
Soon we give in to the ice pellets on raw skin

and trudge back home to thaw with hot cocoa, 
popcorn and ugly decorated cookies.

My new friend admires my home, my children.
Her daughter looks like I did as a girl, with her square jaw
and wispy bangs. 
Girl energy in my house is balancing.
I realize I still long for that daughter too.

I remember the one I lost at thirteen weeks,
and the message on the machine identifying the tissue as female.
Her fantasy name: Dixie. Meryl Dixie Junior Girl Dale actually.

I like being reminded of her, and what it felt like to carry
all that girl knowing for that blip on the screen,
that then faded out.

If I wasn't a mom, I would have been in all day
longing for an opportunity to be outside sledding with 
a superhero like Sam, and a loop like Marcel.
I would have had no idea how easy it was to stay inside alone,
and write. 






















Because to me then, that was a hard choice.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Are Not My Real Mom, take two.

The following is as verbatim a record of our conversation
after dinner tonight as I could reconstruct.

I've been here before, and had several hours of
(now discontinued for financial reasons) family therapy
to help me navigate it better each time.
It begins with Sam.
_______________












I want my real mom.

I am your real mom.

No, I want my real mom.
I want her to be here now.

You mean your birth mother?

No, I mean, my real mom.
She's my everyday mom, not you.

It feels really hard to not have her here doesn't it?

Yes!

I don't want to hurt your feelings.

OK.

But, I want to live with her now.

[As the wrecking ball heaves itself out of the debris
which was my heart, and gathers momentum
for the next hit, I breathe and remember that this is
all about him.  I can do this. I can.]

That doesn't hurt my feelings, I say.
It makes me feel good inside that you are telling
Mommy what is in your heart.
I always want you to tell me what you need to.

You don't love me everyday.

Now that is crazy talk. Of course I do.
Why do you think that?

If you loved me everyday you wouldn't yell at me.

I wish I wouldn't yell.
And I wish you would listen
when I ask you the first three times.
And, I wish I wasn't so tired.
But you're right. Sometimes I do yell. 
I love you even when I am yelling.

[At this point Sam gets off the stool he is sitting on,
and climbs into my lap, putting his head underneath
my chin, and against my neck.]

I am looking up at the letter he gave me
that he wrote at school today.
It is taped to the wall, all alone looking regal.

The first letter he ever wrote:

I U. I L U Mom. Sam. (L=love he tells me).

Sam, I know that you have so many feelings in your heart
for her. I love her too.

You do?

Of course. Without her there would be no you,
and no you and me.
I wouldn't be a mommy, you wouldn't be you.

I love her more then I love you.

It may feel like that sometimes.
But the thing about love
is you can love more then one person at a time.

Like I love you and Marcel and her?

Yes.

Can you hold me in front of the Christmas tree now?
I need a cuddle.

Me too.

Marcel needs a cuddle too! he screams.

***
A little back story:
Last night Sam's birth mother texted me to ask
what Sam wanted for his birthday which is approaching.
I had told him she had asked.
I had asked him what he wanted me to suggest.
We brainstormed, and I wrote her back.

Then this evening two of my friends-both adopted
were over for dinner.
Sam knows their stories. 
He wanted to know why I wasn't adopted too.

***

If these conversations are this hard at four, imagine fourteen.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Vignettes-On the Lighter Side

Marcel on seeing the significant snow fall upon waking;
Mom?! Who put all that play dough on the cars?

On our economics situation after I say I didn't get yogurt this week:
Sam: Are we poor?
Me: Not in the important things, like friendships, love, having our
health, a roof over our..
Sam: But Mom, yogurt is important.

On our way back from our monthly transracial family/potluck gathering:
Sam: Mom were you the only not brown skinned person there?
Me: Uhm, no, there was so and so there, why?
Sam: It's OK if you are the only one that looks like you,
because I have  friends who look like me. And so can
you and Marcel.
Me: Thanks for that reassurance Sam.
Sam: But, maybe you should cut all his hair off next time so he
can look a little bit more like me.
Me: No! His hair is magnificent, and so is yours.
Sam: I am growing an Afro mom, so I can be in the Jackson 5.

Me: Marcel what are you playing with?
Marcel: Mom you know this is a train.
Me: Right.
Marcel: Not right mom. Say; Yupadoodle Mr. Noodle. OK?

+++

I lay down next to Marcel singing Summer Time for the fifth
time tonight, with Sam chiming in at the end from the top bunk
and I don't much mind how imperfect I am.
(Picture above is in the Nana's bed two summer's ago-
inspired by the topic--and who doesn't love a sleeping babies pic?)

At the end where the song goes;
Until that day nothing is going to harm you,
With your mama and ________________ standing by,
we insert the names of everyone in our lives who we love, cherish etc.
It is the closest thing to a family ritual we have!

We also edit the beginning --to the Single Parent friendly version:
Summertime where the living is easy-
fish are jumping and the cotton is high.

Your mama's rich and your mama's good looking..

 or

Your mama's rich, and your uncle's funny/good/not looking...

+++

With the newly strung lights twinkling in the next room
reflected in Marcel's deeply conditioned and glistening hair,
Chopin by request (Jackson 5 not allowed at night night time)
tucking them both in softly around the edges
their deep breaths descending into sleep
I inhale our combined strength.


+++
A final Sunday request: What do you want to know?
I am soliciting feedback, or suggestions for blog topics.
Email me at: mamacandtheboys@gmail.com with anything 
you'd like to see tackled here. I'm game.
I'm eager to know if there is anything you've always wondered
what my approach or take or experience with is or isn't.
Let's have it!

To more vignettes from the lighter side!
Have a great week, Mama C

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stella Luna Lands a Letdown

Sitting in the auditorium I notice
first the lack of color around us.
One biracial father, one other adoptee.

Including my family, that makes four
out of say, three hundred.

My first response is not dread it's curiousity.
Why aren't there more, OK any families of color here?
Here being a public school auditorium just outside of town.
What is the cultural difference in entertainment value
that is of little or no interest to families of color here?

What is it about children's theater that holds no appeal?
Or was it how it was advertised? Or to whom?
Where could I go on a Saturday afternoon 
and see another or other demographic?


Then when the play starts, the dread sets in.
All white cast of four from Toronto.
Two men, two women. 
They sing, they dance, they exude.
They manipulate the puppets, 
and they attempt to captivate the all white audience.

Then the content unfolds igniting the dread like a pile
of dried leaves, crackling and swirling around me.
An accidentally abandoned 
baby fruit bat "adopted" by his bird friends is forced 
to deny all that he knows 
to survive in this new family's home.

He eats bugs instead of fruit,
Sleeps upright and by day so his new mother 
doesn't kick him out.

She threatened once.

He calls himself clumsy, and flies away in shame.
Where he is happily reunited with his real mom.
Bye bye bird family. 
My biological family has saved me now.

With Marcel on my lap laughing, 
and Sam three seats away next to his friend
with a serious and distant look on his face.
What is his interpretation? How will I ever know? 

To be a transracial adoptive parent is a constant
unending stream of messages that require 
interpretation, mitigation, and action.

Like a fruit bat, I just want to hang upside down 
sometimes and let that be enough.
Writing this blog, and knowing that my readers
can see me hanging here, is so very often 
the enough that I need. Thank you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's not funny


I woke up this morning
worried.

Am I too serious?

Will my kids be humorless?
Am I that mother?

Well I know I am that mother to some.
But I don't want to be the one all the other
kids avoid.

Uh Sam, we like you and all but your
mom? Well she keeps hounding us about making good choices, the importance of education, racial identity and self advocacy to name just a few. Man she can't let it go!  We just want to chill and be with you. 

Or:  

No dear you can't go over there. 
We love Marcel too, but his mom, is well
you know vegetarian, and kind of well serious. 
Let's invite him over here, it'll be good for him.
The kid needs a break.


I mean aside from being two,
could this be why Marcel covers himself in paint?
Draws long blue lines on the wall with a permanent marker,
and hurls my shoes into the air while singing
"That's poppycock Mr. Noodle!"

Is this why Sam asks me to dress more like Madonna?

[Yes I showed him a Madonna video. OK, I'll
admit it, I showed him three, even four.
He liked the sound of her name.
Then he liked the sound of her music.
Last night he liked the appearance
of her thigh high boots.

Mom do you have boots like that?
Can Santa get you those?]

It's not funny.
I worry.
Is Sam's appreciation of Madonna OK?

(Uncle calls her a class act, and calms me that way.)

While taking the veggie lasagna out of the oven,
I think Class? Billie Holiday has class. 
Well troubles too, but she had class!
Why isn't is he asking me to dress like her?

Last night when I grabbed the empty orange juice container
and pretended it was a mic while singing
"If we took a holiday, took a time to celebrate.." 

Both the boys screamed;
MOM DON'T DO THAT! 

But, I protested;  "It's my right to express myself!
Remember the Bill of Rights?"

And the holiday I was thinking about was Kwaanza
and we have so much to celebrate,
and the heft of the juice box
really does make it funny.

But they were too busy
singing; "ABC it's as easy as 123"
while sliding around the kitchen floor
in their socks pulled up over their footy
pajamas (more slide potential) to notice.

I guess they'll be OK.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Braggarts Beware


Braggarts beware of open containers of paint
on newly bathed bodies-not for the faint

of heart, seeing full arms, torso, and head.
Slathered in less than sixty seconds in red

tempera, a thick chalk like paste.
Marcel didn't have a minute to waste

to decide what to color on when the easel is bare.
He walks into the room, smiling so wide as we stare.

Look Mommy! I paint my body all by myself.
Announces one very red and curly haired elf.

Bragging Rights in Blue

I don't indulge
in this practice often
so forgive me when

I recount the following
with unabashed pride.
Which is probably more

revealing about my values
then the accomplishment itself
but lets not over think it

so. Two lollipops for a Monday
car ride home-offered to the buckled in
dynamic duo: one brown, one blue.

After trying to negotiate a peaceful
solution to simultaneous screams of BLUE.
I give up. Sam won first pick, and Marcel

lost.  Without so much as a prompt from
me-Sam exhales as he delivers his own
deeply considered blue;

This is so hard for me, but
here Marcel you can have mine.
The exchange, the quiet, the amazed me.

A mile down the road Marcel delivers too;
Thank you so much Sammy for 
letting me hold-on-and-have your blue.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Blind Side-Movie Review




Considering how precious my night outs are you know that I pick my entertainment carefully. I was curious about this movie because of a review that I read in Adoptive Families Magazine last month.

All of their claims about adoption friendly language and treatment of the issues was 100% accurate. 

This is based on the book Blind Side by Michael Lewis. It is a true story about a young man, "Big Mike" taken into an initially informal foster care situation in Mississippi by a very wealthy and thoughtful family.

Among other things handled with care and insight was the depiction of Michael's biological mother and her inability to parent.  The film painted her as troubled, and compassionate. I particularly appreciated the final nod to her at the conclusion of the film when Mike, who now goes by Michael, explains the root of his resiliency.

I went on YouTube to see interviews with the real characters in the story, and was impressed by how well Sandra Bullock was cast as the spit fire outspoken designer who finds herself
changed by Michael, and not the other way around.

All of the characters undergo subtle and meaningful shifts in the film as they each discover their own potential.

An amazing endorsement of foster care, formal or not, and what could happen if all of our non parented youth, had such an opportunity.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Sosa Reaction/ A Girl Like Me (Video from 2005)


This video  (see below--I got carried away with the Sosa images) was posted on the Love Isn't Enough Website- in response to so many of the viewers not seeing a problem with Sammy Sosa's recent DRAMATIC intentional skin lightening.  [My own musings here, are directly inspired from there: Love Isn't Enough (formerly Antiracist Parent) website. I always have trouble posting their link here, but the address is: http://loveisntenough.com ]


A high school student recreated research done as evidence for the Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) where children of color were asked to chose which baby doll was "better" or "nicer"-the brown one, or the white one. 

In 2005, the results are not different then fifty years before:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqSFqnUFOns&feature=related 

For the entire seven minute long documentary you can You Tube "A Girl Like Me".


I read on an adoptive parent focused web page where the white parent was told it was normal for her African American child to want to be white like them. What disturbed me was not that a child would want to look like her parents, but that the assumption that this is normal from a developmental perspective was not separated from the implications this has for the parents in terms of the child's identity formation. Wanting to be white is not normal, wanting to look like your parents is.


When my Sammy saw these two pictures, he looked at them very carefully and finally said; "That's weird."

When I asked him what was weird he said; "He looks white there." I did not recreate the experiment with Sam by asking which picture he liked better-because I found myself anxious to not leave him alone in that moment. So, I agreed that it was weird, and followed up that it made my heart sad that this man did not love the way he looked before. Sam and I then agreed that he looked better as a brown skinned Dominican man.


This also brings to mind Sammy's noticing that MJ wasn't brown when he died. I wonder now if he isn't thinking that brown skinned people turn white when they get sick! That you lose all your color and turn white.


*A special shout to KJ for bringing this conversation up this morning in terms of the daycare/what does a princess look like/can she have brown hair?/bring on Princess Tiana please!