Four Years.

Four years ago today you arrived in our home twinkly and tiny and so brave under the circumstances…
Or did we misread that?
In retrospect you must have been flooded with fear. Your little body stuck in a massive terrifying moment that went on and on. And because we didn’t know you, we assumed arrogantly that your smile was a symptom of calm and acceptance. A sign that we were in fact good parents already who had a good grasp of your needs.
I’m so sorry my darling for our naivety.
I’m so sorry I hadn’t a clue about the trauma you must have suffered.
I wish I could go back and cuddle that baby girl with the insight I have now. But I can’t.
So here we are four years on.
Four years of waking up to your chuckle.
Four years of wiping way your tears
Four years of being called mummy.
Four years of loving you so much it hurts that I’m not perfect at it.
Four big years.
I can remember trying to look forward in time to the little girl you would become but it seemed impossible, scary even. Like the 5 year old you would be a whole new little person I would have to meet and get to know all over again. What if you were harder to win over than the baby in front of me? Who in fact were you going to be?
And yet here we are 4 years on. You are simply you. A bigger, brighter more articulate version of that baby we brought home. It’s miraculous how children grow and develop so quickly and there is so much more of of it to do. So much more to look forward to.
Thank you for our four years.

Best years of my life so far.

Easily.

Here’s to many many more my beautiful daughter.

Dear Lilly

IMG_2722Dearest Lilly

In a couple of hours John and I will meet you in person for the very first time.

I am incredibly excited!!! Hard to describe – much like bursts of colour exploding beneath the ocean.

There have been photos and many stories and description from your Foster Mum (Tara) and Link worker (Ruth). Throughout this I’ve felt a growing, quiet knowing that I will be your forever mum and with John, your forever family.

I am looking forward to getting to know you enormously!

I can only guess what a huge upheaval it is going to be for you, to move from what you know as your family home with Tara, Oslam and the kids.

I promise to do my best, to be there for you and to help you through any feelings of loss that may arise. As I put on the mantle of motherhood; I wish for you the joy/comfort of a warm, loving family. My greatest desire is to parent in a way that allows you to discover your uniqueness and be (with confidence) whoever it is that Lilly is.

I wish for you to experience the MAGIC! of life and living.

Committed to forever…

Your ‘new’ mummy

A Birthday Wish

IMG_4105It’s your birthday, it’s your birthday.
Last year we didn’t see you.
But we thought of you so much.
All day, every hour.
Wishing you fun and laughter and cake with a candle.
We took ourselves to the beach and played in the sand, amused ourselves on the penny slots and ate lots of ice cream.
We wondered exactly what you were doing. We tried to see into the future.
To see if we could connect with you, almost transcend time.
I sat in your newly painted room, I rocked myself and pretended you were here with me on my knee.
I willed you in my life. I desperately imagined what life might be like with you.
I felt I couldn’t bear to be without you for a single day, even though I had not even met you yet.
But dear daughter, it really didn’t matter, as soon as we glimpsed you from behind the door, all those anxious moments, melted away. Our hearts were open and you jumped straight into it.
So my dear, on your birthday our wishes have all been answered as we have you in our lives forever and you darling can wish for the stars.

Just Her

7A65C10A-761D-4661-84A0-2E9EAD37C988I can remember reading Sally Donovan’s blog ‘Fake mummy’ and loving it.

I totally identified with it and it reminded me of my fortune cookie mantra just fake it till you make it, and that’s exactly what I do. I Force feed myself with trips to soft play hell, and weekends rammed with kids parties.

Kids parties are a breeding ground for insane, extreme and completely crazy behaviours at the best of times – not just from the kids but from anyone within a hundred mile radius – but it was pure embarrassment that drove my wife and I home after the last fiasco.

We were both asked at different points in the evening by the same person how old our daughter is, and we both gave different, inaccurate answers.  Somehow we just couldn’t get it together and she probably thought we stole her.

In retrospect we realised that we were remembering her at the age she was when we were introduced to her, but 5 months have  flown by since then and we hadn’t added this on.

To complete the scenario, the same lady had also asked us when her birthday was and when I gave her the month, I saw her mentally calculate the age, realise we had given it wrong the first time, then choose not to correct us. She was simply too polite to tell us that we the parents were half a year out. What parent makes these mistakes? It’s embarrassing, and from now on, we plan to arm ourselves with relevant facts and figures before leaving the house in the hope we can quell any suspicion that she is in fact stolen.

So here we are, 2nd child adopted and well into the initial settling in period.

I had thought it was just about safe to venture out to some groups and join the rest of the community, but I had completely forgotten what it feels like to be the new kid/Mum on the block.

The dry mouth. The stumbling over the birth date, and the histrionics that fly so effortlessly from other mums mouths but not mine.

I managed 6 groups in total then gave up.

The last one we went to completely threw me. My daughter and I had arrived in the middle of winter, wrapped up in a cazillion layers, and overheating as soon as we entered the threshold of the venue.

A dozen NCTers in full throttle greeted us. Breast feeding, cooing and swaddling new borns with near perfect post pregnancy weight loss.

Then there was me.

I looked like the Michelin mum carrying a screaming, overheated baby. A baby who on paper is in my care, but from whom there is no invisible strand of golden bond linking up to me the mother. No bond. No relationship. No eye contact.

There is nothing visible to demonstrate we are mother and daughter and it feels like a tragic comedy. If I could have stopped crying internally I would have laughed because to say it out loud it sounds hilarious.

What am I doing?” I silently wonder as I wait for the 45 minutes of the session to slowly tick by.

It does not feel good. It is raw but you know what – it’s real. It’s real life and it’s my life.

Then I realise that this moment is pivotal and my whole head does a u turn.

Parenting adopted children is a completely different kettle of fish and I was unwise to believe otherwise.

I was foolish to dupe myself into believing that I could fit in when actually it’s really like putting a square peg in a round hole. It won’t bloody fit. I don’t fit. We don’t fit. We are not in sync and she doesn’t even look at me when I call her name. Ahhh the agony of it, but then the empowering realisation: I DON’T NEED TO DO THIS ANYMORE! And I made a decision there and then.

I went private and brought the teachers to me and my new daughter.

We now have shiatsu, massage and yoga weekly sessions in our home and it’s a whole lot better. My daughter is relaxed and confident in familiar surroundings and the therapists have built up a fantastic rapport with both of us.

We are still in very early stages but at 5 months in, my girl is definitely my girl. She is smart, sassy and very funny.

I have learnt a very humbling lesson of late, loving her and exactly her in this moment.

Not what we want her to be, not what we expect her to be, not what the red book dictates.

Just her.

I look at her, and I love her in that moment. Now, I can feel the warmth of the invisible strand of golden joy pulling us, binding us together. Fully.

We Are Family Blog 2015 in review!

Here it is! Everything you ever wanted to know about the blog in 2015!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #9: 1 plus 3 makes 4 this Christmas.

IMG_3125

Christmas has been different this year.

The decorations are up, the cake and turkey were cooked and eaten but something else happened.
It was months in the limbo stage; all the usual social services blurb and all the red tape, and now suddenly she’s here in time for the celebrations. Our beautiful daughter!

This is our second time around and most of it feels old hat.

We are familiar with all the upheaval and the feeling of being emotionally dishevelled, but this time we had an added element to consider – our beloved son.

We have been amazed by his reaction to all of this. He is 4 but blimey! – it feels like he could be 24!

He has taken all of this on board and has shown courage, compassion and an immediate beautiful love towards his new sibling. It’s like watching a beautiful masterpiece being painted, watching him shape his enthusiasm, outline and profile his brotherly reactions and eagerness to embrace and cuddle his future. A future that he will now get to share with someone else.

I am awestruck at how willing he is to accept this baby so unconditionally. We were both apprehensive of course and I definitely was nervous about where I was going to find the same equal, immeasurable quantity of love I hold for my son; how was I going to double up? But it came in a heartbeat. Flowing and pushing its way up out into a smile that my wife lovingly calls my ‘giddy as a kipper’ smile.

In the meantime we have been waiting, preparing, fixing things, stair-gating, baby-proofing, John Lewis buying, the Christmas shopping’s prepared and wrapped early; yes, we were ready for her arrival.

Our daughter came home for good with us a couple of weeks ago. We are exhausted already and I have a pile of ironing taller than me to get through. The dishwasher is on twice daily and the washing machine is on a permanent spin cycle. Oh, and on top of that – I almost forgot – my son also asked me to make a cake; a green cake with an elephant on for our celebration  as a family of 4. December really is magic this year. I best crack on!

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas #1: Twinkle in the Sky

20121201_130647Christmas can often be a time for reflection on what went before.

“Auntie, your baby is a twinkle in the sky.” had said my beautiful, little freckly niece soon after my summer wedding.
I will never forget those words. The winter that followed was tough. It was freezing, the country covered in snow.
I sat at my office desk, consumed in my own darkness of winter blues and post wedding blues, but mainly coming to terms with my doctor’s news that having children of my own would not be a good idea. I had no idea a twinkle in the sky was about to enter this world, my son, and in the hospital just around the corner from my work.

There are no words to truly describe those days of introductions. Those moments that are like gold dust to me now.
The moment when I first saw this smiley, beautiful, brown eyed boy. When I stroked his soft black hair. How he didn’t mind getting in the car with two complete strangers to go to the park for hours at a time as we all got to know one another. How it felt to hold his small, warm hand in mine and the moment when he held out his other one to my husband and we walked those first steps together, hand in hand, as a family. Or how his cheekiness started to emerge when he bent down and tickled my feet, saying “ickle, ickle!”.

But there is one moment I will never forget. We were coming to the end of our bedtime routine.Having finished our story, usually Perter Rabbit, my son in my arms, him gulping back the last of his bottle while holding his essential fleece blanket. As I starred into his chocolate eyes I began to run my fingers along his brows, gently over his eyelid, his little nose, stroking his soft chubby cheeks. His eyes didn’t leave mine.
Then he lifted his own hand and ran his small fingers along my brows, touching my eyelids, nose and face.

The tear drops which trickled down were filled with boundless love for this child, for my son, and they were also tears of my grief and darkness leaving me.

My niece was right! My baby was a twinkle in the sky, the brightest and twinkliest one; and with the hands of many, it landed in our laps, into our hearts and is our world.

Merry Christmas everyone!