Is it harder?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel, closing this joint down, and pretending like this blog never even happened. Because, my life isn’t that interesting, and what could I really even have to say, and being open with all of you is HARD!

And then, as I’m going about my day something strikes me. A thought, a phrase, a situation that brings my heart joy or deep grief…and I find myself wanting to share this thing with you, to encourage you or challenge you…maybe sometimes even to make you laugh.

So, after weeks of silence this is where I find myself, with a thought that I want to share with you so badly that I’ve decided to allow you to see into my heart a little bit.

I have had this thought for a week or so…or this stream of thoughts really…about adoption, and parenting, and teenagers…I feel like I’m ALWAYS sharing about this, but this is my reality so it probably is going to be something I talk about…anyways, back to the thought.

It began as I left a brief conversation with a kind and loving woman that left me a bit unsettled…not angry and not hurt, it’s just that something about the conversation didn’t sit right with me…it’s a conversation I’ve had before, and the words she said I will most likely hear again.

“Adopting a teenager is such a hard thing to do.”

Why does this statement bug me so much? It’s true. Adopting a teenager is hard. But, I think what bugs me about it is the implication that adopting a teenager is somehow harder than adopting an infant, a child, or having a biological child…but is it?

Is there some sort of scale I don’t know about, some sort of system for quantifying and measuring the difficulties of parenting that I have been left in the dark about? Do biological moms sit around discussing their child raising and the one that has it the easiest gets some sort of all expenses paid trip to a private island, and poor me doesn’t even get to be in the running for it because I adopted a teenager (insert dramatic music here)!?!

Sure, there are things that are harder. Walking through his grief and trauma with him is hard. When behavioral issues arise, weeding through what’s learned, what’s instinctive, and what’s teenager is challenging.

The moment I became a mom was hard. It wasn’t simply an elated moment of joy where the child I had spent 9 months growing and loving finally arrived. Instead it was a moment where the child I had spent years praying for and loving from a distance was finally here, and that moment of joy was shared with deep grief, because to acknowledge me as mom means to recognize the loss of the two moms that came before me. The moment I became his mom meant choosing to open my heart fully, to love him with abandon as a mom should, and then to grow into that in time…and to pray he would choose to love me back…it is still a bit terrifying! So yeah, that’s hard.

But, how do I quantify if this is harder than parenting any other child, if these pains are worse than having the child of your womb telling you they hate you…because I’m pretty sure that HURTS!!!

Then, this week, clarity came in the form of a shared video on FaceBook and I heard these beautiful words…

“Healthy seems easier, healthy seems normal, healthy seems nice. What I didn’t know then is that easy, and normal, and nice would do little to make me a better and more complete human being.” Heather Avis watch the video here

Those two sentences welled up a crazy mix of emotions in my heart and I found myself overwhelmed with grief and joy…seriously, I can’t even write about it or re-watch the video without becoming a crying mess…they are written not about teenagers, but about adoption in general, and adopting children with special needs specifically. But, they spoke so clearly to my heart because I suddenly realized why that statement above had bothered me so much…

IT’S A LIE

It’s not harder…it’s scarier, more complicated, messier, and abnormal.

But so many of us have bought into the lie that somehow adopting older children is harder. Adopting children with special needs is harder. And when faced with the opportunity or the challenge this is the lie that many of us tell ourselves to justify inaction…I’m so guilty of this when it comes to special needs.

But, the truth is, our lives were never meant to be about easy, simple, or normal. 

My mom-ness may be more complicated than most. I may not have memories of my child as an infant or toddler. I didn’t hear his first words, or see when he took his first steps. I wasn’t there to send him off to his first day of school. But I have been given an incredible gift. Because when those moments come when I’m discouraged…as they do for all parents…when I feel inadequate, and like there’s no way I can be the parent I need to be, there is a sudden gust of wind that rushes in and lifts me back up and reminds me…I was chosen for this…I was chosen for him…he was chosen for me.

Is adopting a teenager hard…yes. Is raising a young man hard…yes! Is being a parent hard…YES!

But this was never meant to be about simple and easy. Because what growth, what depth, what demonstration of true love ever came out of simple and easy?

This Christmas

It’s December! The cold has arrived…kind of…snow has fallen…a little…Christmas lights are going up all over the neighborhood, the shopping has begun, the Christmas worship rehearsals have begun…goodbye lazy Sunday afternoons as a family…and the plans for Christmas Day have begun.

So far, this holiday season has been the hardest on my boy. I don’t know if it’s because it will be just the three of us this Christmas…no big trips to London or grandparents visiting…or if it’s because he’s getting older and emotionally processing the losses he’s experienced differently…or if it’s simply because with time he’s finally allowing himself to remember and to miss those he’s lost.

All I know is that my boy misses mom #2.

She LOVED Christmas! She loved decorating, went all out with décor and throw pillows and lights all over the house.

I am just not that person.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, I’m just not a major decorator. I have some simple decorations I put around the house…and then forget about and leave out the whole year…sometimes we put some lights around outside…but I don’t have throw pillows and garlands don’t hang gracefully from my ceiling.

Andrew misses that. He misses the decorations and the garlands and Christmas throw blankets…because they remind him of his mom and his Grandma…and they are who he really misses. He wishes he could have just one more Christmas with them. One more Christmas full of tradition and routine…because his Christmases now are anything but routine and we have weird traditions…

As mom #3 I find myself in this awkward place of being fully mom…but also not…sometimes I find myself wondering what mom #2 would have done…if she would have been better at handling a situation…and this Christmas I have found myself wondering if I should be better at decorating to fill that spot in his hurting heart.

I want to help his hurts, to fix his pains…but these are hurts that can not be fixed, they can heal but they will forever leave scars, they will forever be tender spots in his heart…even if our house turns into Santa’s workshop it will still hurt…it may even make it hurt worse, because it would be me pretending to be her

So instead I bought him a tree for his bedroom…I set it up for him so that when he came home from school it was there and ready to be decorated…because I wanted him to know I love him and I wanted his heart to find comfort, and I thought that instead of me pretending if it was him finding joy in decorating his space it might be healing…he loved it!

But then…

I get all ugly on him because he wants lights to hang all over his room, and he wants to use lights I had planned for decorating the porch…yeah right like that will happen…and he asks if he can get some of those $3 wired lights from the dollar spot at Target and I suddenly transform from loving mom to selfish beast…I grinched outwhy would I buy more lights when we have a box downstairs that work perfectly fine you just don’t like the color and you’ll just have to use what’s there…he leaves to go back upstairs and “make do” with what we have.

He doesn’t give me attitude or get yucky back at me, he just says ok and walks away…but I can see the disappointment on his face.

And that’s when the quite, peaceful, and loving voice inside me starts to talk to me…why did you do that? Isn’t it the most important thing that he knows you care, that you see his pain and that you are a place of comfort? Are your things and plans really more important to you than bringing his heart joy? Just spend the $9 to make his heart glad!

So, we went and got him lights and now it looks like Christmas exploded inside of his room!

As mom #3 I recognize how easy it would have been for this child to take the stance that he already has a mom…two in fact…and to lock me out of his heart.

I am so grateful for my boy who has a heart open to all three of his moms. He calls us all mom…he says things like my mom before this, or my birth mom, or this mom so casually it both blesses and breaks my heart…he loves us all for different reasons and in different ways, but he loves us all as his moms…and the weight of this is not lost on me…even when I have grinchy moments!

“A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy & depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”
-Joy Landers

Step away from the pit…

Good news everybody…I have decided to step away from the deep dark pit of loneliness and self pity that I was sitting on the edge of this past week…mind you I was not in the pit wallowing in the sludge at the bottom, I was just sitting on the edge…what was so horrible about last week you might ask…great questionmy hubby was on the other side of the world, just about as far away from me as it is possible to be on this earth. And, yes I am one of those girls that no longer sleeps when he’s away because I just miss him too much…not really sure when I became this personbut now he has returned, hooray, and I have decided to step away from the pit.

Upon my departure I realized that I have lost my focus a bit the last couple of weeks…I feel like I JUST wrote about this, am I seriously back here again so soon!?! I’ve kind of forgotten my purpose, forgotten why I started this adventure in the first place, and lost a bit of my brand identity in the process. I’ve gotten really caught up in the hustle of opening a shop, the anxiety of watching statistics and waiting for sales, the excitement of seeing them rise and sales come in, and the confusion of seeing them drop.

So, I’ve spent most of this week focusing not on designing or making jewelry, but on the businessy stuff of owning a creative business. Oh the businessy stuff…businessy is not a real word but please humor meit is the stuff of my nightmares and my #2 enemy in this venture…the post office was #1 but having conquered that enemy the sewing machine has moved into the #1 spotI’m just not really very inclined to business type things.

Historically I have done best at jobs with flexible schedules, lots of human interaction, lots of moving around and changing tasks constantly. I’ve worked as a secretary twice in my life both times for a couple of months, and both times the end of the job felt like the release from some sort of punishment that consisted of sitting in a chair, staring at a wall, and listening to the same stupid music all day…one of these jobs was working for my aunt and I feel I need to share that I loved the people, loved working with my aunt and cousin, but hated the desk, the chair, and the phone! I drank SO MUCH COFFEE when I worked there; it was like I was trying to drown my boredom with caffeine.

So this past Monday morning I made a giant pot of coffee and got right down to it. I started at the beginning…asking myself why I started doing this in the first place…who am I making this jewelry for…why jewelryand then I worked my way through my websites and blog and FB page and Instagram accounts, I evaluated my products, my packaging, my photos, about sections, shipping information, checked all my links…and now I have a list of things that I need to fix, adjust, change, and redo.

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Detail from my chalkboard…ADOPTION…every day it seems I want this more…I’m ready for the rest of our kids!

Basically, at the end of a very thorough audit of all things businessy I have a long…seemingly endlesslist of more businessy things I need to do. …but instead of being overwhelmed and stressed and discouraged by it I find I have drive…and even a bit of excitementto plow on and do it…and I think it’s because I started at the beginning.

Frippery House began…because I love making jewelry…actually I love making anything I can, but pretty rocks are so fun! 

Frippery House began…because I wanted to have a source of income that can go directly towards growing my home…adoptions.

Frippery House began…because there are things that God has put on my heart for the future with working in missions again and I believe this is step one.

Frippery House began…because being a SAHM is what is right for my family right now but there’s a lot of alone time involved…and me bored is just BAD news.

Frippery House began…because I believe God uses our stories to inspire, encourage, and transform lives, because I love people, I love the people in my life and their stories, I am inspired and changed by their stories…business allows me the platform and opportunity to share these stories with others.

Before I pounced on my to do list I sat down with my newly acquired chalkboard…It’s a precious gift from the Treus, made by Brandon and used by Ernie, and fortunately for me unable to travel to Irelandand I wrote down all the reasons for Frippery House, all the things I need to personally remember. And, you know what’s not on there…numbers! There’s not one reason for Frippery House related to sales, stats, likes, follows, or shares. Sure, I have business goals for sales and such…but numbers have nothing to do with why I stepped out into entrepreneur life.

At the heart of my business is people and stories…Love is at the heart of Frippery House….I don’t ever want to forget that.

For today I have learned this lesson, hopefully it sticks this time, I pray it takes root in my heart and I just live it out and don’t have to learn it again…but I’m human and I’ll probably need reminding, but the beautiful thing is that now I have all of you to remind me!

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I did find a bit of time for the creative this week and I finished up a design I’ve been working on for a few weeks. I’ve had several requests for the very popular the Ernie but smaller. This 18″ necklace with a delicate mini spoon is precious…meet the Mini Ernie. 

Available now on FripperyHouse.com

Mommy Firsts

This year our boy started high school. And, I know for all parents it seems to come too soon…they just grow up so fast…but for us it really did!

Andrew’s only been with us a few years, and while much of the time it feels like we have always been a family, there are still so many new things, so many firsts. High school is a big change for all kids, and full of firsts, but I think that high school has had more firsts and changes for me than it has for him!

Since Andrew was my student before he was my son I have always known his friends, his teachers, and being on staff at the school have always known all the goings on of his day…sometimes this was a great thing, sometimes it was challenging…but now, I know only what he tells me. I don’t know most of his friends, I’ve met most of his teachers…but they aren’t my best friends…his teachers before are my besties…and I know only what information he brings home to me.

I didn’t do the kindergarten drop off, I’ve never been on this side of things as his parent because I was always parent/teacher, I’ve never had to figure out how to meet his friends and get to know them, I’ve never had to “mommy date”…back to school night and parent teacher conferences always made that easy…so this is all so new.

I don’t know who the trouble makers are or the good influences. I don’t know if he spends his lunch talking, playing soccer, or sitting in a corner lonely and sad…anyone who knows my child knows that last one is a ridiculous thought…and while I know that this is really good for him, and really very normal, I don’t really like it!

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I drove away from that first day of school just wanting to cry and feeling so sorry for myself because he doesn’t even need me anymore…when I told him this he reassured me by letting me know that he still needs me…because he can not drive or afford groceries on his own yet…he did follow the statement by letting me know he will always need me.

It’s just strange, to be in this place where I am the mom of a 15 year old but yet a mother for less than 4 years. I learn new things about him all the time…recently we discovered he had never mini golfed…don’t worry we took care of it immediately! I still get so anxious leaving him home alone because this is all still so new, he feels so new…the other day my mom reminded me that it’s not that Andrew is 3…I am…she’s a wise wise woman!

So, for now I am working on accepting that my life will be filled with lots of new mommy firsts, that it is a good thing that my child is picking his own friends, and that he is growing into a man…he is growing into such a wonderful young man and I am so proud of him! And, I will be excited about the new mommy firsts, I will enjoy the things he shares with me when I pick him up from school, and I will get to know his friends and their parents over time…that last part was a little pep talk because I’m still a bit anxious about it!