Outlasting the Outtakes

It’s spring break in Grand Haven, but spring break or not, we’ve always been a family that travels. For a week or sometimes just a couple days, we hit the road whenever we get a green light to go. We are privileged in this way, having been able to show our boys so much of this country at such young ages. Their excitement each time they discover something unexpected, something new, makes the work of these trips worth it. Burrowing down into crisp hotel sheets at the end of a full day with all of my children gathered in the same room, I listen to them drift off one by one until I am the only one left awake. This is when I finally recount the hours, tucking the highlights away for a bit of warmth on a day when it’s hard to find the sun.

My Only Resolution

“Wagon Wheel” pounds from the radio, and we are headed south. “Louder,” shouts a kid from the back. I should insist on manners but don’t. I’m so tired of talking. “Where we going?” says the baby. “Mama! Where we going?” he repeats. “To the mountains,” I say. “Where?” “To the mountains.” “Where?” Forget it. It’s impossible to hear in this car, but the song and the sun beat against my chest, begging me to turn it up, so I do. We are calling in the good spirits to bring back that joy we lost all those months ago. Joy was a fickle friend last year, and the warmth soaking through the windshield says she promises to change. She means it this time; I want to believe it. As the chorus hits, my husband points out a waterfall charging down the rocky roadside, a scene created by heavy morning rain. The kids keep count of each stream leaping off the edge. Eventually, an argument erupts. There is a cheater in our midst, someone fudging numbers to claim all the glory for himself.

Children Who Do Not Look Like Me

I have been blessed with children who do not look like me – which has always been a sore point, truth be told. I did all the work to get them here. It was my body, now stretched and tired, that carried each of these babies from seed to scream. Through damp, hot summers, I waddled around, thick thighs chaffing, sweat pooling under too-tight bras. It was my pelvic floor threatening to collapse with every step of those final trimesters. Then, in the chill of fall or winter, through piercing pain and force of nature, this body delivered them safely into the doctor’s hands. And when those freshly birthed babes looked up at me, all wrinkled and pink, hair matted, eyes searching, I saw nothing of myself reflected back. “Maybe as they grow,” I thought. Maybe once they’ve evolved from shriveled suckling to human child. Maybe once they fill out and start toddling around the house, they’ll look like me. When they hit 3 or 4 and their features become more pronounced, I’ll find my eyes or nose tucked inside those faces. But, no. I could never find myself there. Today, I understand why.

How to Build a Foster Family

We sit around a bonfire, roasting hot dogs and s’mores as the daylight starts its slow transition to sleep. Our newest additions, a 10-year-old and her 4-year-old brother, stare longingly at the bag of marshmallows as they await their turn. They’ve been in our care less than 24 hours, and given the brief notice and Friday night arrival, our original plans for the weekend were quickly amended.

Waking up to a White Christmas

I am shopping for Christmas pajamas to outfit our crew…again. I’ve already done this once. About a month ago, I bought matching sets. They were delivered and shoved in the back of our basement until this weekend when I pulled them out and was struck by a very obvious thing – the jolly Santa faces peering back at me were white. Like super white. Like, in all my life, Santa had never looked so shockingly white. I gazed around our freshly decorated house. Alabaster Santa stared back from every corner. On cookie jars, candles, plates and mugs, from oven mitts, towels and ornaments, there was Caucasian Santa with his pink cheeks and knowing smile.

Adoption: Making Room for the Moon

Two years ago, in early November, we pulled a crib from the basement, pieced it back together and began wondering who might come along to fill it. We made space in the corner of our room. Pictures were hung, one with the alphabet, another boasting a beloved song lyric, and though the crib beneath those pictures was empty, anticipation filled our home.

Leaving Should Behind

After my first child was born, a question entered my headspace that I could never quite shake. It swirled around in there, never really landing, never really taking hold. Then my second was born, and with him came months of worry over medical concerns that thankfully resolved within his first year. But that premature birth had my husband and I wondering if we should risk trying for number three. Maybe a different path would be better the next go-round.

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