Monday, 9 November 2015

How adoption has changed my life

In case you were under a rock, in a padded cell or had your head up your own (or somebody's else's ass), today is World Adoption Day. A global day to raise awareness and celebrate adoption. 

I am the very blessed mom to two adopted children, and even though the debate rages on as to whether adopting across color lines is an injustice (to all who involved), I believe our lives have all been changed for the better. 

They turned my world around, in good and bad ways, but more importantly they have moulded me into the person I am today, a self-employed mom with her own little business. 

Waking up today, I was flat. Flatter than my 40 something old boobs. And I've been battling to motivate myself. Money's tight. For me the end of the year means a much quieter time and so I find myself stressing about cash flow all the time. And every now and then I think 'I can't do this! I need to find a job' and then I look at my children, my two miracles, and realise I am strong. I am stronger than I ever imagined. 

Against all odds I have two gorgeous, funny, smart, incredible children, who I fought for. I stood up against all the negative comments, I stood up against family and friends dissuading me from going that route. With sheer determination and gritted teeth I did it. And I would have moved heaven and earth if I needed to. 

So today, when I was ready to give up and update my CV I remembered just how strong I am. That if I really really want my 'baby' to be successful I need to fight tooth and nail, like I did for Emma and Ben. I need to not take 'no' for an answer and not be afraid of the unknown. I need to not doubt myself and move forward, head down, with bull-like tenacity. Like I did six and three years ago. 

I am a mother. Thanks to adoption. I am where I am, because of adoption. I was, and am, an incredibly strong and resilient woman who did, and can, move mountains to achieve what I want. 

I know all of this to be true. Because of the best thing I ever did. To believe that blood doesn't make us family. Love does.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Why does my vagina have a nose?

The other day Emma asked me "what's this mom?" I wasn't really paying attention so I said " I'm not sure my angel. What do you think it is?" 

I heard her eyes rolling to the back of her head as she replied "if I knew I wouldn't be asking!"

I turned to look and she was standing there in the nude, curtains open, so to speak. And she was pointing to her clitoris. "Why does my vagina have a teeny tiny nose?" She asked. I almost said "ask your dad", giggling in my head to all the possible responses to his "I don't know!" 

"That's your clitoris Ems?" 
"What's it for?"

I almost answered again "ask your dad" as I silently guffawed in my head at even more of my responses to his "I don't know!"

But instead I messaged my worldly wise friend Kagiso. 'Help!' It read. 'Emma's asking me all about her clitoris! What do I do? What do I say?'

And as always my worldly wise friend answered a question with a question. 'Would you feel uncomfortable if she was asking you what her earlobe was for?' 
'Of course not!'
'Then why be strange about this conversation?'

Point, excuse the pun, taken. 

"Your clitoris is part of your body Emma. It's like your earlobe!" Somehow I don't think this was the point Kagiso was making. 

"But what does it look like?"

"Go to the bathroom or your room and have a look."

A few minutes later she's back. She can't see her clitoris properly and wants me to take a photo of it. On my phone. 

"I don't think that's a good idea my angel. If my phone gets lost or stole I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do! What I'll do is buy you a small mirror and you can look and explore as much as you like, preferably when you're on your own in the bathroom at home, or in your room."

And so the question "why has my vagina got a nose?" got me thinking about a few things. 
1. I'm nowhere near ready to be having this conversation with my six year old
2. As 'open minded' as I thought I was I was stumped as to how to answer the question
3. There isn't nearly enough current literature on this topic. There are books about the body for preschoolers,which looks at the differences between boys and girls, shows pictures of where babies come from, shows rather oddly drawn penises and vaginas and explains 'new kinds' of families. And then there are books for kids 10 years and older and they talk about masturbation, menstruation, sex, pregnancy, birth control etc. There's no 'just right' for where Emma (and I'm sure hundreds of other kids) find themselves. 

But I received a book recently called "Let's Talk a About Sex" written by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley. It's brilliant and I wish I had it when I was growing up. There's a chance it's a little too mature for Emma right now but I figured if I leave it on her bookshelf, in amongst 'Jack and the Beanstalk' and 'Willy Wonka' she can page through it, without permanently being scarred and we can talk about issues, as and when they come up!

I'll keep you posted on how things go! 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Those who live in glass houses are lucky...

Cos chances are you don't have kids. And you probably have sleepy lie ins after a restful night's sleep. And get a whole of 'you' time. When you're ill you get to rest and recuperate as per the doctor's instructions. Weekends are yours and yours alone. To party and socialise. Or get through those books you've been dying to read. 

I'm assuming this is your life. Of course I could be way off but given your comment  on how you'd never smack your children (that you don't have) really upset me. It's so easy to make judgements when you're not in a specific situation and believe me, before Emma and Ben came along I was going to be the perfect mom. I would never raise my voice, let alone my hand, to my kids. I would reason and listen and give positive reinforcement and the final resort would be a well explained time out. And then we'd hug and cuddle and say "I love you" and everything would be 'waltons family' perfect again. 

Sadly that's not always the case. Like this weekend. Mark was away. I had been down with a tummy bug. Ben and Emma were at each other's throats. Constantly. But they had some time away from each other, Emma going with her bestie to the zoo for 'howloween ' and Ben trick or treating with his pal. I had to work Saturday afternoon, into the evening, fetching Ben just after 8pm and Emma was dropped off, exhausted, a short time after that. 

I fell asleep in my bed but was woken up with Ben crying for me. Off I went downstairs (my hug pillow under my arm ((that's a different blog post altogether))), snuggled into my crack between the two beds and dozed off. Until I was woken up by Emma. She had picked up the tummy bug and had had a bit of an accident in her bed. After changing sheets and cleaning her up, we attempted another go at that elusive thing called 'sleep'. But it wasn't happening for me. Emma moaned and groaned through the night, running off to the the loo regularly, me in close pursuit to make sure she was ok. 

At 6am Ben announced "it's morning"! And that was the start of the day. After maybe a total of 3 hours sleep in total for me, in two days, because of the tummy bug I still wasn't over. And in my mind I just knew what kind of a day it was going to be. Ben is busy. All. The. Time. If he isn't trying to mow the lawn with the (real) lawnmower, he's climbing our gate to see if the electric fence is working. If he's not doing that, he's 'fixing' things, like hammering nails that aren't meant to be in a wall into the wall or sticking screwdrivers into plug holes. Ben, like most boys, is a full time job on his own. 

Emma and I were just too tired and sick for a 'Benday' and so I arranged with his bestie's mom to collect him, just to give us some time to rest (thank you again Tammy). Which we did. Emma woke up feeling much better. Me not so much. But off we went to fetch him. And then we got home and all hell broke loose. The dogs had gotten into their food supply, which was lying all over the kitchen floor. They had also knocked the bin over, and there was garbage everywhere. Emma immediately started helping pick up the dog food while I looked for a brush and dirt pan. But Ben had wanted to start cleaning first. And so he threw one of his fits. Throwing even more dog food around. Trying to hit at Emma with the brush. I picked him up and put him on the couch. And he hit at me. (I'm so embarrassed as I type this out and relive it . After all I was supposed to be that 'together' mom). I put him, kicking, screaming, biting, punching, spitting, in his room, on his bed and told him he needed to stay there until he calmed down. Which, of course he didn't. 

I snapped. I took by his hands and screamed "STOP! Just stop!" He ripped his hands away and scratched me down my arm. And I smacked his hand. Hard enough to give him a shock. Hard enough to quite him down. Hard enough for me to feel f*cking awful. 

After a few minutes I sat with him and I apologized. And I explained that it's ok to get cross and it's ok to lose your temper but is not ok to behave like that. He said sorry. I said sorry again. We hugged. And exchanged sloppy kisses. But I felt like shit. And then I read a Facebook status by another non-mom about how smacking kids is not ok. And I went to bed feeling shittier, promising that tomorrow I would do better. Because I was that non-mom that was NEVER EVER going to raise my voice or hand to my children.