I've been a little quieter than usual. I write to process and have written throughout our entire journey with Baby A and foster care as a way to do just that. Lately I crave quiet. I'm changing and who I thought I was once was isn't who I am anymore. I am meeting this girl and giving her the space and grace to be as she is. Just as she is.
I used to have a lot of free time.
This was completely lost one me of course. I cringe now thinking of the many, many times I complained about travel or my to-do list. The irony is that my life is much more "full" these days but I'm also way more grateful and fulfilled.
Before Baby A came I took the month of November to ground in my rituals. I remember saying to my best friend that I was going to meditate every single day and not drink coffee so that I continued that when our little kiddo arrived from foster care. “Sounds good,” she said. I have no doubt there was a major eyebrow raise on the other end of the phone.
Baby A came, seven days old and so much younger we expected. Just like that my morning rituals flew out the window. For a few months there I could hardly differentiate morning from mid-day. "Groundhogs day" my husband would call it, pulling us out the door for a midday walk.
It has taken several months to recalibrate, to meet myself where I'm at. Between sleep deprivation and living with this high level of uncertainty, I wasn’t exactly feeling like myself, (In fact I taught a yoga class about five weeks in and taught the same side three times in a row.. Microphone and all. My friend Allyson finally pulled me aside and said, “Are you okay!?" Ah, to be human..)
And now about seven months into mamahood and a very new version of myself I’m remembering what’s absolutely imperative, and non-negotiable, for my self care. Here's what is feeling like nourishment.
Less Phone: I use an app called Freedom. Ironic that I'd use an app to cut my phone time but it has helped so much. Every night my phone goes on "lock mode" at 8 pm and doesn't unlock until 7 am. I can text or take phone calls in an emergency but I can't look at apps, web browser, etc. It's been beyond helpful and you truly can't unlock it so it helps if you're like me and your willpower in the phone department is ... lacking.
Meditation: I’m working with an amazing life coach and she has me committed to meditating every single day. Today is Day 39 and I sit every morning, sometimes again in the afternoon as well. I want to do this for the rest of my life. Whether I'm in complete silence or Baby A is crawling all over me I sit. It's a non-negotiable now and has created space for me to feel much clearer, more trusting and "held."
Movement: I'm finally getting back into a movement practice. I try to work out 3-4 days a week whether that's a long hike, a sweaty yoga practice, Pilates, spin, etc. It's been awhile and it feels so good to be back in my body and feel some endorphins.
Reading: I recently got a library card and downloaded the app "Libby" on my iPad. Currently loving YA and mystery novels. Send any rec's my way!
Coffee Shop Days: Every Monday I pack up my laptop, my headphones and my English bulldog Rosy and we head to a coffee shop to sit outside and get a whole lotta work done. I spend a good amount of time writing and scribbling and getting clear on my intention for the week. Giving myself Mondays to ease into the week has been so rewarding and something I truly look forward to.
What are your favorite rituals? What's feeling good to you as of late?
This little boy doesn’t belong to me. I don't get to call him ”mine.” But it's my job, and an honor and responsibility I don't take lightly, to protect him.
As a foster parent I've sat in countless courtrooms, hospitals, county offices and waiting rooms the last several months and I've seen kids who have no one fighting for them or advocating of them or simply giving them a hug when they need it. There are thousands upon thousands of kids who need you here and now thousands separated from their parents at the border.
We can do more. We can do better. We can do hard things especially for these kids who do not have the voices, the support, the tools, the privilege and the ability to look away from what makes us uncomfortable.
Call your representatives, give to Together Rising, raise your voice, open your home or even just your heart. As adults this is OUR JOB. Protect our babies, protect our neighbors, protect our family we may have never even met. Six months ago this little boy was a stranger and today he is my purpose.
As a mama I have about a quarter of the time I used to have. And it’s made me so much more clear on what I need in that time. Having a busy social life isn’t super high on my list of needs these days.
What is? Taking time to write, to be outside, to connect wholeheartedly when I’m with someone, to nap when I can, to breathe deeply, to spend time on my yoga mat, to dream and scheme about the future with my partner.
When I was younger I used to feel that I had two personalities - quiet and inwardly connected me and super social and “will do anything for a laugh” me. I could never see how these two parts of me could coexist. So I ignored my more introverted self and used booze and really any distraction as a way to ignore my boundaries and personal needs.
I love what Alex Elle says about boundaries : Boundaries and barriers are not synonymous. Boundaries leave room for growth, adjusting, shifting, and learning. Barriers prevent, keep out, insinuate indestructibility, and aren't easy to move through.
As a recovering people pleaser I know how hard it can be to ask for what you need. Then to follow through and make it happen. To let people and things go that no longer serve you. But it’s the most necessary work you can do. There’s no reason to be ashamed of your nature or your needs or the season you are in. It’s all unfolding as it should.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what is “hard.” I hear myself recounting stories of our experience in foster care, focusing on what’s beautiful but also often about our “broken” system.
Our narrative of what’s good and bad keeps us stuck.
It keeps up fighting against reality.
When I posted our story this past week about what has been happening with Baby A I got so many beautiful, heartfelt responses. I truly write to process but I also write to share about this world and these babes who need us. There was a lot of resistance to what is happening with his reunification and believe me, I understand it.
The idea that his life with us would be better because _________ is a choice in perspective.
In this New Age-y world, I sometimes feel like I’m doing it wrong when people tell me they haven’t given up on him staying with us. Did I not pray enough? Did I not manifest hard enough, well enough, aligned enough? This is dangerous territory my friends.
I’ve had friends and colleagues who have offered to continue to hold the space for the idea that we will stay together. What I haven’t done is give up on Baby A. Not even for one second. Every day I pray for the highest good to be done for him. I’ve been inviting in visions of him with a huge extended family, covered in kisses and absolutely adored.
I truly believe that what is written will happen. No matter what. That a story is unfolding beyond our wildest imagination and dreams. That I must trust and lean into that trust even when it fees like I’m stumbling and tripping and can’t see three feet in front of my face.
God keeps showing up for me in the most beautiful of ways. Some days it’s harder to hear or see, some days it’s so profound it brings me to my knees.
The day I took Baby A to the ER a young medic was taking down his information as we transferred him to another hospital. (On a stretcher and in an ambulance!) As she looked at his info she asked me if I adopted him. I said no, but I would love that more than anything. She told me she was adopted. I asked if she was adopted at birth and she said no, she was adopted at three years old from foster care. Big tears just ran down my cheeks and I said “Thank you.”
This happens over and over again - from my nurse at Children’s telling me about her experience in foster care and how grateful she was to her foster and adoptive parents. To my hairdresser telling me about being adopted from foster care at one month old. To new friends on social media telling me they are following this path inspired by what they have read about our experience.
A new perspective - we foster and love the children who are put on our path with every ounce of our beings. And when we adopt we will be thrilled. But I think both Matt and I need to remind ourselves one again of why we took this path - because there was a need and there was a call and we decided to answer that call.
I’m not writing this and I’m not doing this so you see me as a hero. Honestly that makes my stomach turn over. But instead I’m writing, and being 100 percent honest with our struggles, so you see me as a human and you know that absolutely anything is possible. That magic can and will come through on the hardest of days. That you are stronger than you ever could’ve imagined.
I love you. You’re doing great. And I am too.
For airplanes and time to write, meditate and unplug.
For Sunday mornings in bed with my family.
For Shelli, my newly found coach and confidant, and her wisdom and grace.
For deep breaths and remembering to take them.
For the super sweet gifts from my friend Tracy Keough.
For this book.
For the ability to travel and teach and learn.
For sunny afternoons in Echo Park Lake.
For Lacy Phillips and her teachings.
For this tea infusion that is making my hair grow so freaking fast and full.
For my library card and the eight zillion YA novels I’ve read in the past two months.