Tag Archive | Family

The Talk

Wife. Mother. Author. Seeker of the Extraordinary.

I adore being a mom.

I was never even sure that I wanted that honor but when those boys came into my life, so much finally made sense. The missing pieces came together and I was complete.

They gave me purpose.

They also taught me the value of laughter and forgiveness. I’ve learned to laugh at myself which I’ve always struggled to do and I’ve learned to forgive myself too.

With boys, nothing is sacred and the fact that they find humor in anything, has been good for my soul. They also forgive fast and love hard and they’ve given me far more than they can imagine.

Before them, my serious nature prevented me from seeing opportunities for joy but because of them, I seek it out every day. I’ve learned to laugh at the ridiculous and inappropriate and I’m so thankful for everything they’ve taught and continue to teach me.

How could you not smile at the cuteness? Throwback 2011

But, being a mom has always carried so much responsibility and as they grow older, I’ll admit that I’m freaking out. I see the window of our daily time together quickly closing and I don’t know if I’ve taught or given them enough. There are still years left but it’s going fast.

Recently, I told my youngest that we were going to have The Talk which unexpectedly weirded him out. Inquisitive by nature, I didn’t anticipate how icked out he would be about our conversation. He insisted his older brother be there for “support”, so we had it where we have many of our important talks.

In the car.

Driving home from sports.

When I had the talk with the oldest son a couple of years ago, we were in the grocery store. I vividly remember walking through the freezer section and telling him that STDs can make it burn when you pee and a few other gross details.

He responded with the appropriate amount of disgust, then I had him hand me a box of Uncrustables and asked him if he wanted any frozen waffles.

It was an easy, albeit awkward, conversation and afterwards I realized it wasn’t as embarrassing as I thought it would be. Nothing exploded and a veil of knowledge wasn’t lifted, instantly changing him from a boy to a man. He was still my kid, with a little more knowledge and hopefully enough fear to keep him safe.

But with the youngest son, I expected questions.

So many questions.

He usually has questions for his questions and then even more after that!

We’ve always indulged his curious nature expecting that it will be serve him well in the future. We’ve covered too many topics to count but this one made him squirrelly and he didn’t attempt to disguise it.

His older brother’s presence did give him comfort which made my heart so happy. When I dove into the talk I asked what he already knew, which were the basics. Then we had an open conversation about sex, STDs, babies, condoms, the sacredness of sex, and the peer pressure that they’ll face. I used clinical words which he didn’t like and I talked to him like sex is the most natural thing in the world, because it is.

Even though neither son wanted to talk about it with me, I told them it was better than talking to their dumb friends who wouldn’t know any more than they do. I don’t know if they believed me but since I had a captive audience, I just went with it.

I’d always imagined that the conversation might result in one of us rocking back and forth in a corner but I was relieved when it was over, because it was truly very unspectacular. Just like when I had the talk with his brother.

It took about ten minutes to cover the important points and then I reminded them both that I’m always there, for everything and anything. Good, bad, ugly, and uncomfortable; that’s what a mom is for.

At least, that’s what I plan to be there for.

Even though they didn’t want to have these conversations they were necessary and important and I think they understood that.

While they may think they know enough, they’ve never considered the shame of an STD, or a broken condom, or raising a baby as a teen parent, They don’t know that when their friends start having sex it’s okay for them not to, or that kissing doesn’t have to end in intimacy, or that “no” means no. We didn’t dwell long on the actual act because experience is the best teacher and they understand enough. But we did talk about everything else that they don’t teach you in sex education.

The things you only learn from screwing up life or from someone older who will tell you all the ways you don’t want to mess up. I hope that at least some of what we talked about will sink in.

Especially, how crucial it is to choose wisely, even when hormones are telling you otherwise. Even more importantly, sex isn’t random, it’s meaningful.

It’s important.

And it can be life-changing.

In a culture where hooking up is the norm and girls move just as fast as boys, I don’t know how else they’ll learn these things if they don’t learn them from us.

The parents.

There will be more in-depth conversations about when girls say No, and the importance of respecting women and yourself. There will be follow-up conversations about falling in love and heartbreak, but I think these conversations are ongoing and not necessarily wrapped up in one event.

While being a mom has given me so much, it’s also taught me the importance of preparing them to live in a world where choosing well is the most important thing, and relationships between men and women are complicated at best.

I’ll admit I was nervous about having The Talk with both of them. While my husband certainly could’ve done it, I chose to because I wanted them to feel comfortable talking to a woman about something so personal, even if it was their gross mom.

There will be many important conversations in our future and I feel fortunate to get to have them. Being a mom of boys has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I can’t imagine having these talks with anyone else.

No matter how uncomfortable it can be, it’s always worth it.

Always.

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Special Day

Seeker of the Extraordinary

Today is my Special Day.

It’s the first one without the people who gave me a reason to have this day. I’m not sure how special it’s really going to be.

When I was a kid, it was like having another birthday. I honestly don’t remember if we had cake and presents, but it was a well-honored day in my house because it was the day I became my parents daughter. It was the day they became parents for the first time and I was saved from a life in a country that didn’t value women. I don’t know what kind of life I would’ve had if I’d have stayed but as an orphan, I can’t imagine it would’ve been worthwhile.

So I owe them everything.

Tomorrow will be the first day I don’t have one of them to thank. My dad died in 2014 and my mom, in March.

They adopted me when I was two, picking me out from pictures and choosing me from all the others.

I’ve struggled for more than a decade to understand who and why my birth parents would abandon me. I was a toddler and unable to care for myself but somehow I survived. There are far more questions than answers, and the people who have the answers left me on the side of the road.

Me at age two in a Korean Orphanage.

As I grew up, I never thought much about that early struggle to survive. Strangely, I didn’t consider it at all.

My new mom and I in my new home. Day One.

Then I had children and it changed me.

It made me realize that as a mother, there are things I would never do. Abandoning my children was one of them.

Because of that, I began to write.

I’d always been a writer, but when my youngest was two, I was facing personal trauma that was too much to bear. As I looked at him in the crib, I realized that he was the same age I was when I wandered the streets hungry and alone. Something inside of me changed forever so I turned to the one thing that had always given me solace and I wrote a book.

 http://a.co/fCMD9Lo

As Eva’s story poured out of me, so did the pain. My story became Eva’s story, and I realized that there had always been a part of me missing. I’d always felt it but never knew what it was.

Her abandonment story wasn’t quite my own, her story riddled with poor choices and addiction while mine remains a mystery.

Her broken leg was my broken arm and her shattered heart was a reflection of my own, calling out for a mother who no longer wanted her. Left in fear as darkness.

Writing brought healing and so did the laughter of my boys and their tiny voices and endless hugs. With them, I had purpose and I understood why I had survived when nobody cared if I would.

So on my first Special Day without the parents who raised me, I’ll think of them with nothing but gratefulness in my heart. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have this life, or my children, or the freedom to love and create.

I am so thankful for all of this and this makes every day special, for me.

These two make every day special 💙💙

Orphan

I recently became an orphan for the second time in my life.

My mom passed away nearly two months ago, my father in 2014, and my first set of parents were lost to me for reasons I have no memory of. Compared to most my age, they are gone far too early.

It’s strange to lose that thread; that intimate connection to your early life. Even though I didn’t come to them until I was about three, they were all I’d ever known.

While I should’ve anticipated the losses, they were unexpected. I learned a long time ago to always brace for the unknown, but I had forgotten, lulled by a false sense of security that she was never going to die. And when she did, I wasn’t ready.

(But seriously, how can you ever be truly ready to lose someone you love? No matter how plagued with health issues or illness, can you ever come to terms with letting go? I don’t think so.)

So I’ve had the unsavory task of going through her house and belongings. Deciding what to keep and what to give away, what to sell, what to discard has left me feeling dirty. Even though there’s no other choice it feels invasive and wrong to go through every space of someone else’s entire life.

Although I didn’t find anything earth-shattering or life-changing, I did find a lot of photos of people I didn’t recognize and knick-knacks I didn’t know the story behind. I found stripes to my dad’s navy uniform and their wedding rings that had gone unworn for many years (I’m wearing them now) and other small treasures long-forgotten, but remembered from my childhood.

I was shocked to find so many of her precious memories haphazardly left behind in tattered old cardboard boxes without any rhyme or reason. There were faded, worn, photo albums but many pictures lay In boxes without labels, tags, left unloved and untouched for many years.

As much as I would like to say that I was surprised, that was who she was. Preserving memories and protecting the past was not in her DNA. It was one of the things that frustrated me about her the most. As much as I loved her, our relationship was complicated and often messy. The cardboard boxes full of haphazard memories upset me more than I expected.

I realize that relationships between mothers and daughters are often sloppy and complicated. Especially in recent years, we often struggled to find a common ground and our stubbornness often got in the way.

So as most writers do, I put our relationship on paper. I write about that strange relationship between mothers and daughters because that’s all I’ve ever known. There have been many good memories, as well as many sad ones. The bad ones inspire stories and in those stories I’ve been able to exorcise Demons and quiet nightmares. Like me, my characters face mothers who didn’t always preserve and protect their past.

I never realized it until I became a mother, a fierce protector of my own children, that I needed to purge the anger and resentment that I had toward the mother who buried her previous memories in damp, unkept cardboard boxes.

Complicated and messay.

But I did love her very much and always will, the good memories, also weaving their way through my stories. Her memory always with me. As much as I’ve learned about what not to do, there were things she was great at that I need to do better. She taught me that none of us are perfect.

So, I will continue to sift through her belongings, sort though pictures of people I don’t recognize and blindly give away things that may or may not have been important to her. And as I do so, the only thing I will hold onto is the knowledge that no matter what, she loved me.

And no matter what, perfect or imperfect, I still loved her.

Seven Weeks

It’s been seven weeks since I last saw you.

Seven weeks since they told me there was no hope and you would be gone and I didn’t believe it.

It just didn’t seem possible.

It couldn’t be real.

But it was.

And before I was ready, you were gone.

It’s been seven weeks since I held your hand and listened to your last breaths. You couldn’t even open your eyes and see me. You couldn’t talk, you could barely breathe, and I don’t even know if you knew I was there.

But I was.

We were all there. The ones you loved the most who loved you in return.

Waiting.

Holding our breath.

Crying.

Hoping.

Wishing there could be a miracle … but there wasn’t. Not this time. The miracles had already been spent and you were living on borrowed time until suddenly you weren’t.

You were supposed to live until you were one hundred. You were stubborn and resilient and you’d been through so much worse.

This wasn’t the time. Not this time.

But then it was.

The last time I talked to you, you apologized for being a pain in the butt and I told you that you weren’t. I told you I loved you and you did the same and I thought the next time I would see you again, I would be driving you home.

But you’d never go home again. You’d never see your house, or pet your dog, or sit in your chair, or put your puzzles together.

It was over without warning.

I never got to say goodbye. I didn’t get to look at you and tell you how much you meant to me. I hadn’t done that in so long. Our relationship had gotten messy over the years as mothers and daughters often do. But I still loved you because you were the only mother I ever knew, and you saved me.

I remembered the time years before when I cried because I didn’t know what I would do without you. Then I hardened my heart because I thought I would have to.

Then you asked for so much more than I could give and I grew tired, and angry and finally, sad. But there was always love.

It’s been seven weeks and it hasn’t been the same without you and I know that it never will be again.

But you’ll always live in that space in my heart where only a mother belongs, because that’s where there is always love.

A Dog Named Libby

Today was a dark day.

It was one of the worst we’ve had in many years, and for a long time there were a lot of them. But we knew this day was coming and despite the anticipation, we still weren’t prepared for how hard it would hit us and how much it would hurt.

Once a family of six, we are now a family of five, saying good-bye to our sixteen year-old fur baby, Libby.

We knew it was time. We purposely didn’t travel for our summer vacation because we didn’t want to be away when it happened. Coincidentally (or not) it did happen during our vacation. A dog smarter than most, we’ve come to the conclusion that she knew when she wanted to go. She waited until after her human brothers were done with their baseball seasons and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, to make her departure. She did it gracefully and considerately like she did everything else.

She came into our lives at just the right time and left the same way. She was the perfect dog, a wonderful companion with a beautiful soul. She gave us comfort and hope and joy, and I’m afraid I’ll never find that in another dog again.

I’m sure you can tell I’m a dog person and always have been.

From my own Princess who lived to about sixteen and died in my arms, to my grandparent’s dachshunds, and then my own two dogs, I’ve always loved their soft brown eyes, wagging tails, and happy tongues. Nearly every member of my family has a dog, and I’m that girl that wants to be best friends with every dog I meet.

Their loyalty and happiness, goofiness and unbridled joy, is not only endearing but inspiring and I can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. Between you and I, I prefer them to most people. They don’t complain, judge, or criticize. They don’t care if you’re successful, pretty, or smart. If you’re sad they try and make you happy and if you’re happy, they try and make you even happier.

Their only purpose in life is to make yours better. I don’t know that there’s another creature on earth who is that unselfish and loves you so unconditionally, even after only knowing you for two seconds.

That’s why the loss of our girl was so difficult. She was the perfect dog. Everyone said so and everyone who met her loved her instantly. She was gentle and loving. As a puppy she was adorable. As an older dog, she was a sweet lady with soft fur, perky ears, and an agreeable personality.

My husband was the one who adopted her. He found her during an APL event and chose her because she was the runt, but she fought back against a sibling who was trying to bully her. He chose her for her spirit and she was forever bonded to him because of it.

He was her person and if he was nearby she was over the moon. This loyalty lasted throughout her entire life, even up to the end. They loved each other and because of him, we got to love her.

When we got her she was shorter than a wine glass. She was supposed to be a Pomeranian mix and no bigger than ten pounds. Imagine our surprise when she grew to thirty-five pounds and we discovered that she was a Shepard-mix instead.

We had so many nicknames for her. Libby Jean (named after my mother-in-law), Libbers Bajibbers, Jib-jibs, Satchel Page (I think that’s a baseball player), Libs Bajibs, Libbers, Libs, Wibby Wibby, pretty girl, and Libby-Lou. She loved her pink stuffed piggy and a stuffed animal of Paddington Bear, who ended up a shell of himself without eyes, stuffing, or clothes. He became a naked and empty carcass covered in dog slobber and smothered with love.

Her favorite thing in all the world was tennis balls. She loved to chew on them and chase them and she was fast. Really fast. She jumped, ran, leapt, and raced after them with everything inside of her, tongue flapping, legs flying, bursting with happiness anytime she found someone who would play with her. She carried that ball in her mouth until she would find a sucker to throw it to her and she always did.

Notice the tennis ball at Libby’s feet.

She’d take her soggy, spit-filled ball and set it on your lap, or roll it toward you, until you acquiesced and played with her. She was relentless and full of joy, and she knew that eventually you’d give in because you wanted to. She begged you with her beautiful brown eyes to play and it was impossible to deny her.

She ran like that for many years until her legs started to give out and we had to stop her from running so much in order to save her legs. She would’ve ran like that until the day she died if we would’ve let her.

Her second favorite thing was her family. She loved company because she loved her people. She was especially fond of her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She loved being the center of attention and basked in everyone’s love and attention. She was easy to love and everyone did.

She also loved to sleep on my husband’s pillow during the day. She’d put her butt right on it and when he would lay his head down at night, he’d have a face full of dog hair and know that his pillow was full of dog-butt. I didn’t envy him for that.

A Shepard-mix, she was strong and intelligent, and highly intuitive. Her mind was nimble but her body could no longer make it which was perhaps one of the saddest parts of all of this. She still wanted to play and run but her body told her that she was too old, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She was funny and feisty and bossy. Toward the end, she often refused food, so every day was a challenge to get her to eat. Some days she would only eat out my hand, other days she would only eat chicken and rice, burger meat, roast beef or soft dog food. She knew what she wanted and didn’t want and kept life interesting.

She was the one who made us a family. We had her three years before our children were born and she was always our baby. Spoiled, loved, and adored we were so happy to have her for as long as we did. We know how lucky we were that she had such a full life, but it still doesn’t feel like it was long enough.

Not nearly enough.

I could’ve had another sixteen years with her. I could’ve had her for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make sense that they’re gone so soon when we love them so much but I know that I have to let her go.

I know that part of life is loving and letting go. I also know that I am sad because I didn’t get to love her as long as I wanted to. I don’t know that I would ever be ready to let her go but I’ll have to. I have to show my children that this is a part of life and that you can’t be afraid to love, because you have to say good-bye. I have to show them that it’s worth it, and important, and worth doing again and again.

There will never be another girl like Libby. She was perfect. But I know that there will be another pup for us to love when we’re ready. We still have one pup we adore and while my husband swears that there will be no more dogs because it hurts so much, I know he’ll change his mind … eventually.

His heart is too big not to fall in love and want to rescue another one. There will be one who loves and needs him as much as Libby did, who will capture his heart at just the right time. In the meantime, we’ll mourn and remember our perfect girl.

Our hearts are broken but they’ve been broken before. Only love and time will heal us and we’ll be thankful that we got to spend so much time with such a beautiful soul.

And we’ll be thankful.

So very thankful.

The Rock

I swear I’ve been writing. I promise!

While I am behind with a book due March 1st, a short story due for a anthology that will benefit autism, and the second book in my Coming Home Series, I try and write a bit at a time. I would love to write in blocks of time but often I only have minutes.

I admit that I’ve been failing at marketing and behind on writing but its a constant struggle that I know I’ll always have. With a busy life, many responsibilities, and shifting priorities, I remind myself that it’s all about the journey. So yes, I have been writing.

I can’t not write because it’s just a part of who I am. It’s how I make sense of the world and am able to face it every day.

As part of this journey, I’m currently looking for reviewers! If you’re interested in helping me by reading and reviewing my books, please fill out this form. Writing is better when people are reading, and people read books they know others have read.

Here’s my latest blog post for the Hummingbird Charm , The Rock. Not the Dewayne Johnson “Rock,” but me. I’m the rock. I love this collective of amazing writers and women and most of blog posts will appear there first though I’ll share them with you!

I’m wondering how many of you are the rock in the center of your universe? If you are, I’d love to hear about it. Us rocks needs to band together!

http://www.hummingbirdcharm.com/family/being-the-rock