Brian Is Their Father.

I was scrolling through facebook which is definitely one of my favorite hobbies and I saw this meme.

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Well, I was about to make a silly comment about how I had no choice because he lives in the house and then it hit me. Brian is their father. My mind never went to anything but that. Yes, someone else did their biological part to cause their existence but Brian is their father. It made my heart happy to know how little I focus on the fact that they are not genetically ours. I am aware that they aren’t and I am proud of our adoption story but it only partially defines us. And I know that Brian feels the same way.

I was having lunch with a friend, the other day. He was talking about his kids and how he relates to his son’s emotional reactions to life because they are similar to his. He said something to the effect of “Well, it makes sense, our kids (referring to both of us) have our genetics.”

Then he realized that it wasn’t true for me. He had the same delayed realization that I did because sometimes I forget, too. haha. We then spent a few minutes agreeing with each other that my kids would pick up on our tendencies just by being in the same house. He might have thought he upset me but he didn’t. Even though, I have my moments of forgetting; it doesn’t hurt me to remember. It was all good and all true. Our kids are so much like Brian and I in so many ways, not all of them good. 😉

I know that there are different schools of thought about adoption. They say it’s loss. And I know that’s true in some ways. I know there are different reasons that children end up adopted. Some sad, some noble (when the parent is trying to do right by the child), and some unavoidable. I know that there is often trauma around it and it can truly be heartbreaking. I don’t want to minimize it.

But, I can’t speak to that. I haven’t been on that side and I never will. And it definitely doesn’t change the fact that I’m so glad that we did it. I know my kids are happy and that’s everything.  Or in William’s case, as happy as a teenager can be to be with his family. 😉

If you are out there and wondering if you could love a child who is not yours biologically. I mean, could you love them enough? Could you accept them as yours? And feel the love that you would feel if they were biological? The answer is yes.

Yes, you can. I assure you that you can love them enough to want to strangle them, just like you would a biological child. 😉 You can love them enough to be hurt when they don’t want to hold your hand anymore or just want to stay in their room on their tablets. You can love them enough to cry when they get an award at school or when they wandered too far in the neighborhood and your mind went to worst case scenario. You can love them enough to get true happiness from the simple things like baking cookies together, hearing their stories about rappers and youtubers that you’ve never heard of or hitting a beach ball up and down the stairs with them while praying it doesn’t hit the lamp. You can love them enough.

And, with 400,000 children in the foster care system who won’t be yours genetically but could be yours in every other way, why not prove my theory? (Come on, you know I had to work it in!)

Meanwhile, I want to bask in the awareness that I absolutely, completely, one hundred percent, love my children as my own. Because they are.

 

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Nah, We’re Gonna Need You To Stay.

So I have quit my job several times but it never takes. The first time, I was offered part time instead. When I still found it hard to keep up with because we were moving, I quit again and it was suggested that I hang in there until after the move and see how I felt. When I decided that it was just plain time because I was tired of trying to juggle all the time, I quit again and I was asked to just work with one individual (who happens to be my favorite) and then I went ahead and offered to stay with one other individual, too (my other favorite).

Looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking, trying to work full-time. I do know what I was thinking but I don’t know why I thought it would work. I was trying to get us in a better place financially. But, I have been miserable for most of the time. This has nothing to do with the company or the job. Full-time out of the home work is just not for me. Frankly, neither is part-time. But, I do adore my two guys who I work with so what are you gonna do? Once they are in your heart, you are stuck. 🙂

I should clarify, I work with adults with disabilities. This is something that I have had a passion for, basically, always. So it’s definitely rewarding. It’s not, however, financially lucrative.  And now that I am down to two people, I am going to have to make some adjustments like staying off of amazon. I’m kidding, I’m not going to be able to stay away from amazon so I should probably figure out a different way to make my money last longer. 🙂 And, I’m determined to do so.

For starters, I bought a Budget book! Yes, from amazon.

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There are all kinds of pages for writing down bills, budgets, daily spending, etc.There are pockets for receipts, bills, and coupons. And there’s a cute little ribbon to hold your page.

The irony of spending money on a budget book was pointed out to me (by my mom) but you gotta spend money to make money, right? I also got envelopes so we can try the cash system. If you don’t know what that is, here is a quick rundown.  Put money in separate envelopes like food, gas, eating out, etc. Only use what you have in that envelope for that expense. Don’t borrow from other envelopes and don’t spend any more when you don’t have any cash left in that envelope. It’s evidently a good way to keep track of what you are spending.

And, I’m getting back into coupons and ad watching. And, I’m all over reward points!  In the last few days, I racked up 2400 points at Winn Dixie, 3000 at Walgreens and 1580 at PetSmart. I admit it, I’m very proud of myself. 😉

So, I’m wondering, would it be helpful or interesting or entertaining if I shared my money saving finds? Would an Economical Emily section be something that people would read?

If so, I’ll blog about it (or maybe just facebook about it) and it will hopefully inspire others while keeping me on track. If not, I’ll keep my inevitable massive success to myself. 😉

couponlady

I Wanted To Save Him.

I had to take a First Aid/CPR class at work, the other day. It would be safe to say that I didn’t want to. Initially, that was just because I’m lazy. But, as it progressed, it was hitting a little too close to home. See, if you bring up anything related to the heart, I’m going to think of my Dad. And that terrible day when my mom left me a message saying that his heart stopped and that I should come to the hospital.

It was the day that I lost my dad and was forced to accept the fact that life stops. I spent years saying how grateful I was that I had both my parents and then suddenly I didn’t have both parents.  I have had a hard time accepting how it happened or that it happened at all. And I live with the awareness that I will lose my mom, too. That is something that I can’t handle dwelling on so let me just skip past that thought.

When I took the class, my mom was in the hospital. She’s home now and she’s ok. But, it was obviously on my mind. I explained to the instructor that I would be checking my phone and she understood, totally.  Anyway, between worrying about my mom and missing my dad, the class was emotional for me. I also was anxious about performing the cpr on the dummy because I am not known for my strength. I was anticipating not being able to make the little lights go on to indicate that I was doing it hard enough and that the rest of the class would wait while I kept trying and trying. But, that’s not what happened!

I reluctantly got down on my knees over this cpr dummy and gave him cpr. When I did, I put my heart into it, no pun intended. (Well, maybe a little pun intended.) And to my surprise, my classmates were saying things like “Wow, she’s got some crazy arm strength!” and “He’s gonna live, damn it!” I laughed with relief. My only mistake was going too fast. She told me to slow the thrusts down. I passed quickly and easily. I awkwardly (but with relief) got off the floor and back in my chair. I was amazed that I, of all people, was referred to as someone having any kind of physical strength. I mean I’m notoriously not strong. I breathe heavy when I walk up hills (small ones) and I can’t spin in a circle without getting dizzy. So why had it been so easy? Then it hit me. I was trying to save my dad.

When I realized that, all the memories of that horrible night came back. Seeing them try to revive him will haunt me always.  I don’t actually think that I could have done better but I think in that moment with good old cpr dummy guy, I was going to try.

But, of course, there’s nothing that I can do. I continue to struggle with finding peace. It will probably be a bit longer. There’s really no probably. It’s funny, I attended a funeral for a friend’s father recently. It was sad, obviously. And it was weird to realize that she, I and another friend who was there have all lost our dads. Sometimes, I feel like no one could understand and sometimes I wish that was true. Because I hate the idea that she will now understand and that my friend next to me already did. And as I sat there, I wanted to feel the peace that these people already seemed to feel due to their strong Christian beliefs. But, instead as I listened to “How Great Thou Art,” three words kept going through my mind. I’m Still Pissed.

I am. But I don’t want to be. I do believe he is in heaven. I do believe he is at peace. I do believe that he is hanging out with his parents. But, I still think it’s unfair.

So many things are unfair. But, some things aren’t. It’s nothing short of a blessing that I have my mom. My sisters. My nieces and nephews. My husband. My kids. My friends. My animals.  So many things to be grateful for. And I definitely am grateful for the fact that I am apparently stronger than I think. And that I didn’t have to be embarrassed in front of my co-workers. 😉  I will try to focus on all these good things and be grateful for what I have. Because I have so much. I will try not to be pissed. I will try to be a good person, make both of my parents proud, pay it forward and enjoy my life.

Even though, I know some part of me will always be trying to save my dad.

cpr

 

 

 

Is There A Handbook For This?

Let me just start with saying, I love my children. We all know this. They are the best and make my days brighter and my heart full. But, seriously, what is with their inability/unwillingness to clean??

Well, not necessarily clean, but just pick up their stuff. Well, not necessarily just pick up their stuff, but pick it up and not leave it somewhere else.

Ever since we moved, cleaning and organizing has become my hobby. (Yeah, I know, I need better hobbies.) It’s important to me that everything stays in good working order and oddly enough, I actually enjoy it. But, the kids don’t seem to share my inspired motivation. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would say that Antwan was deliberately thwarting me.  It’s amazing the amount of times that he moves things right after I put them away. And I knew it was bad when William was upset that I asked him to sweep and mop the upstairs floor. He said that he can’t enjoy his weekend now because he has to do chores. (20 minutes, tops, people! 20 minutes!) Kaleb says things like, at least, I didn’t, insert slightly worse option. Lizzie is the rarest offender, she almost never makes a mess anywhere in the house but, what’s up with the collection of food wrappers in her room?

I know that this isn’t just me. If it is, don’t tell me, it might make me cry. 😉  But, I don’t understand why my 19 year old thinks it’s ok to clean his shoes with the hand towel in the bathroom. Or why he insists on setting the toilet paper on the floor. And don’t even get me started on his tendency to throw his shirts in the sink and complain that I put them in the washer because I assumed they are dirty when they are actually  clean. And, I don’t understand why my 16 year old can’t put the towel back in the bathroom but instead throws it on his bedroom floor.  And  can’t take his dirty clothes to his room but leaves them on the bathroom floor instead. Or why my 12 year old has to decorate the living room floor with his orange socks, leave his toothpaste on the kitchen counter, and why he left hangers on the porch. Or more importantly, why did he bring hangers outside in the first place? And why can’t he close a cabinet. Why? Why?

I thought about putting signs up everywhere as reminders. But, that would be an eye sore and I have a cute cat sign in the bathroom reminding them to flush and that sure doesn’t happen so why bother?

Cuter than it is effective!

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I haven’t gotten very far with this winner, either. hahacatsign2

But, I did think of a potentially pointless and definitely time consuming, but maybe at least irritating enough to work, idea.

I’m going to write a Parker family handbook!

It will come with all of the expectations of the household! It will insure that no one can say that they didn’t know that I didn’t want them to leave plates in their room, for example. They will sign that they received it and get their own copy!

As I typed that, I realized how pointless a handbook would be. But, as far as I can tell, everything else is, too. But, please, (seriously, please!) let me know what works for you parents out there. And if nothing works, definitely tell me that, too. Maybe we can get together for coffee and cry together. 😉

But, meanwhile, I’m going to make my little handbook. I love to write so might as well.  I’m sure that my children who I love so much will appreciate my efforts and understand the importance of following rules. They will grasp the fact that I’m trying to mold them into successful and competent future adults and they will thank me for it. It’s ok, you can laugh. I can’t hear you over Brian’s laughter, anyway. 🙂

 

Should You Really Sing Like No One’s Listening?

When I was in kindergarten, my mom decided to play friendship matchmaker with a little girl in our neighborhood and me. We hadn’t lived there that long so I didn’t really know the kids yet.  As my mom asked the girl her name and introduced us, I wanted to run and hide. But that girl ended up becoming one of my closest childhood friends. She and I and two other girls in the neighborhood spent countless hours together over the years. That is until sixth grade when she became popular and I did not.  (But, that’s another much less funny story!)

She was no angel. Through the years, she caused some trouble for me but it’s all water under the bridge. With the possible exception of the scar that I still have in my arm from the time that she stabbed me with a pencil. Ah, memories. 😉

But, she was fun. Lots of fun. And she will always hold a special place in my heart. And she was also responsible for one of my most embarrassing memories to date. Side note: Can you tell that I was googling blog post ideas? 🙂  Anyway, here is probably my most embarrassing moment. I must have done ok in life if nothing beat out fifth grade. Or maybe I just go used to doing dumb stuff.  Who knows?

Anyway, our fifth grade class was taught in a portable trailer. I guess maybe the school was growing. All I know is that my friend was already starting to pull away from me. I’m realizing this now as I look back on it. She also seemed to enjoy making things awkward for me.  She must have because one day, she told me that it was lots of fun to sing in the bathroom because of how it echoed and that I really should try it. (The bathroom was inside the portable with the classroom.) I appreciated any advice that she had for me so I made a mental note to try it. Ok, it’s important to tell you that I was extremely shy and quiet. To the point that I was later signed up for the big sister program because they thought I must be troubled. I was fine, I was just shy. It was rare for me to talk in class and I only relaxed around close friends. Like her.

So one day, I had to go to the bathroom.  And I decided to see if my friend was right. I sang a few bar from “Annie.” She was right, the acoustics were great. I’m not a skilled singer, mind you, but I am skilled at belting it out. So I did. I did a little medley of Annie tunes, complete with a little clapping and dancing routine to “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” I  then moved on to Ah-a’s popular song, at the time, “Take On Me.” Now if you are from my generation, you have seen the video. If you haven’t, there is a part where the character is slamming into the wall repeatedly, trying to break through. That is unfortunately the scene that I decided to re-enact.

I was having a great time. Unaware of how thin portable walls are. But, in hindsight, I really should have been aware. But since I wasn’t, I really did have a great time.  And when I finished my creative bathroom experience, I collected myself, returned to quiet Emily and came out.

I instantly picked up on the combination of my classmates looking at me or trying not to look at me. I told myself that it was my paranoia. But, I soon learned that it wasn’t. As I sat down, Mrs. Foster gently and slowly said (like she was choosing her words carefully), “Emily, in the future, please don’t sing in the bathroom.”

The realization hit me that they had heard it all. They had heard me sing and heard me slam into the walls. I don’t remember how I got through the rest of the day but I do know that I never sang in that bathroom again. 😉

I guess the lesson here is be careful who you trust and think before you sing. Pick your moments seems to fit, too!

Anyone else want to share an embarrassing moment?

keep-calm-and-sing-in-the-bathroom

 

I Should Have Read The Room.

 

 

The whole time that I have been mom to my kiddos, we lived in an area that was not particularly diverse. I guess that’s the reason that everyone knew who we were.  Transracial families were also more unusual than they are now. Not that they are particularly common now but it is definitely a bit less note-worthy.  Anyway, we have grown accustomed to everyone knowing us. Often more than we knew them. We constantly got comments about how they are growing, unsolicited but welcomed advice on Lizzie’s hair and sometimes direct questions about our family dynamic.

Brian and I have joked that we are local celebrities and this awareness probably kept me in check when my temper was about to flare in public settings. So, thanks, St Johns County! 😉

Now that we have moved to a more diverse area, this is changing. Our neighborhood has many more people of color and my kids are just kids.  I love it.

I also have a part-time job that involves a lot of independent work. This means that I haven’t spent a lot of time with my coworkers. We are all out in the field and don’t spend much time interacting. I love the freedom but don’t love the lack of socializing opportunities. That’s not the point, though.

The point is society’s perception of us has changed but my perception of our image hadn’t. I still think that everyone knows my story. Until the other day when I went to a work training and I noticed one of  my black coworkers had a new hairstyle.

See, I was excited because Lizzie had just gotten crochet braids.

And while her hair was being done, I asked the stylists some questions. They kindly and patiently answered them all. So anxious to test my knowledge, I asked my coworker if she had crochet braids.

She looked surprised (as did the black co-worker next to her) and said, coldly, “No. This is my hair.”

Awkwardly but still trying to be cheerful, I said “Oh, my daughter just got crochet braids and I’m trying to learn all the terminology.”

More strange expressions accompanied her response, “No, this is my hair. It’s locked.”

More awkwardly, “Oh, it’s very pretty.”

“Thank you.”

Silence.

Meekly and totally confused with her reaction, “I hope it’s ok that I asked.”

She said it was totally fine.  Neither of the women looked like it was fine, though.

The room sat in silence as I wondered why that interaction had been so weird. Then it dawned on me.

She has never met my children.

And since I don’t go running around saying, “Hey, we’re a transracial family! Nice to meet you,” she had no idea that I didn’t have white kiddos.

I sat there, dealing with the realization that the women were imagining me taking my white daughter in to a African American focused salon and getting braids in her hair. And, to make it better, I then came in acting like I’m now the authority on African American hair styles. Man, in a world where appropriation of other cultures is a common topic, it would not be cool to come in to a meeting room, bragging about basically appropriating one of their hairstyles. Which from her perspective, that’s totally what I did.

But, I wasn’t!

All I wanted to do was scream “No, you don’t understand! My kids are black!” But, something told me that it might have made an awkward situation more awkward. 😉 So I just sat there. The group moved onto other topics while I obsessed until our boss came in and rescued me from my mental loop. (Thanks, boss lady!)

It’s a little funny, a little embarrassing, and I think it’s safe to say this will not lead to a friendship between my coworker and me. But, since I see her maybe once every couple of months, I guess that’s ok.

And it is definitely a lesson in thinking before I speak and not worrying about what people think of me. I also probably shouldn’t take the hair stylist up on her offer to put braids in my hair. At least not until I quit my job! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it’s been amazing being let into this secret circle, so to speak. I’ve gotten so used to it that I forget that every black woman in America is unaware of my honorary membership

Everyone Has Their Stuff.

I was talking to a mom of someone I knew in high school and she was telling me how her daughter was often made fun of in school. I was shocked. So shocked that I called a mutual friend and asked her if she had any idea. (She did not.) You see, this girl always seemed very confident and happy. She dressed differently and definitely walked to the beat of her proverbial own drum. And I regarded her as the coolest girl in the world. To be honest, this opinion hasn’t particularly changed much, through the years. 😉

So, I never would have known. I never would have thought that she had a care in the world or that anyone gave her a hard time for anything. Because being different was what I thought was so cool about her.

It was an important reminder. You just never really know. You never really know what it’s like for someone else.

And, when I listened to her mother’s story, I was reminded of an image that I often connect to my high school friend. I remembered when she walked across the stage to get her diploma at our high school graduation. We had been warned to be appropriate…get our diplomas, shake hands, smile for the picture and get off the stage. And, that’s what we did. I mean, that’s what we did.

Except for her.

She got her diploma, shook hands, smiled for the picture, and then threw her hands up and did a dance. And IT WAS THE COOLEST. I remember how we cheered. I don’t remember but I’m pretty sure, the administration did not join the cheering. But, seriously, it was so cool.

My point in telling this “had to be there” anecdote is that I see it differently now. Now I realize that that there may have been more to that celebratory move. Maybe it was more that just the average happiness about being done. Maybe she was glad she made it through the crap; maybe she was relieved that she made it. Much like many of us, I’m sure.

 

I’ve been trying to take it to heart. I mean, I always tried to be kind but I like to think I am a little more aware now.

We all have our own battles. We all have our own stories, our traumas, and our successes. I’m going to try not to forget that.

Be kind.  It matters.

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