Kaleb Should Be In Pictures.

Life is strange.  And, adopting children can be strange.  (Much like giving birth to them can be.)  Adopting a teenager is definitely strange.   Because it totally goes against all of the laws of nature…whatever that means.  I could write a book about all the challenges involved and why it’s so much harder to start with an older child.  And, it would be a long book.  I’m talking 13 chapters! 😉

But, the afterword, where I explain why I’m still glad that we did it, would be short.  I would say that it was the right thing to do.  That the siblings deserved to be together, even if they don’t appreciate it now.  And, that I love him.  I really do love him. 

I have changed so much in the past year and a half.  I only use that specific time frame because that’s the one that Kaleb keeps using when he says that I’ve changed.  Even though, I didn’t love how he was telling me again that I’ve changed as we drove to Mothers’ Day festivities, last week.  He’s still not wrong. 

There are many different ways that a mom or a person, in general, can evolve.  And, I’m no exception.  But, there’s one change that I hate.  Yes, hate.  I hate that I’m not as much fun.  I like to think that I’m still fun, but I can feel myself holding back, I’m just not as much me.  I’ve told myself that I would get that back, eventually, but it still stinks that it’s gone.

When Kaleb first entered the scene, I was dressing the kids in matching clothes on a regular basis.  It was so extreme that Brian would check with me before he got dressed for a family activity.  But, the thing was no one minded.  Everyone just let me be silly me and put on the matching shirt.

I was taking pictures of EVERYTHING. I was keenly aware of how quickly it all passes and I wanted to capture all of it.  Aside from the occasional groan from Lizzie, no one minded this, either. 

After the Kaleb honeymoon phase had passed, all of these things annoyed Kaleb.  He didn’t want to be told what to wear (which really is understandable, being a teenager and all).  He didn’t want to have to stop and pose for so many pictures.  And, although, I had seen proof in previous pictures and in real life that he knew how to smile, he seemed unable to do so when I pulled out my camera. 

As time passed, I went from uber-silly, enthusiastic mommy to what I am now…a light version of that.  I still take pictures, occasionally coordinate our clothes, still a little silly and I’m still most definitely devoted to my family.  But, it’s not the same.  And, over time, I accepted that, mostly. 

But, here’s the thing.  Lately, he’s been asking me if I want to take pictures of different things.  Usually it involves a dog on his lap or cuddled on his blanket.   This is a common scene because Kaleb really does love dogs.   The other day, he wondered if I wanted a picture of him trying a cold pack for the first time.  Not that he’s never used a cold pack, but this was a fancy, snap the packet and, ta-da, it’s cold, kind of packet.  I said that I would, but my phone was dying (which it was). 

And, he said, “What happened to the mom who used to take pictures of everything?” 

I was surprised and said, “She had kids who got mad when she used to take pictures of everything.”

I generalized so it wouldn’t come off like an attack.  But, yeah, I was referring to him. 

So, he’s been mentioning these things over the past several days.  I’ve changed.  I don’t take as many pictures.  I don’t do all the silly things that I used to do.  I’m not as cheerful.

And, he’s right. 

I had no idea what I was getting into.  And, I had no idea how much I would sometimes suck at it  I had no idea how much he would frustrate me.  (Sometimes through no fault of his own and sometimes through total fault of his own.)  In a lot of ways, I’ve given up how I want my family to be because it just doesn’t work.  Sci-fi conventions don’t really work.  Outings don’t really work.  Family dinners don’t really work.  Not like I want them to, anyway.  Nothing works like I want them to because everything is so much work.  I understand that this is natural in families.  Things change as kids grow, but, in our family, the change was so sudden.  So, I wasn’t ready.  And, I just plain didn’t cope with it well.  So, I became a pessimist, masquerading as an eternal optimist because that’s who I really want to be.  And, I tend to assume that things aren’t going to work out and usually end up making them happen that way.  Gotta love that whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing!  But, if you’re wondering if Brian loves that whole self-fulfilling prophecy thing, the answer is no. 😉

Anyway, enough of that.  That’s a little more melodramatic than I meant to be and I’m sure that I’m exaggerating, anyway.  So, forgive me.   🙂

Many people have commented on various posts saying how much Kaleb really likes all the family stuff, but doesn’t know how to show it.  And, it turns out, they were right!  It would seem that he did love it when I took pictures and did my other mom stuff.  I don’t know why it was necessary to hide it so effectively, but there it is. 🙂   

It’s so crazy how people work.  It would seem that Kaleb and I want the same thing. 

The other night when we got home from my parents, we were planning to watch “The Flash.”  (Because, wow, it is a good show.)  It’s the official one show that the kids and I are all into and we enjoy watching it together.  The popcorn was ready, the blankets were on the couches, the tv was cued….and Kaleb said “I’m going to my room.”


This is the kind of thing that I find infuriating and I’m sure that you understand why.  But, this time, instead of reacting with frustration, I went another route.  Without meaning to, but feeling desperately determined that we would end the day together, the whiniest voice that he has probably ever heard from me came pouring out as I said “Kaleb, no!  Please don’t go to your room!  We’re all ready to go here.  Please, Kaleb, please!  Just this once, go along with things!  Just this once!  Please, Kaleb!”

It was over-the-top.  He looked stunned and unsure of how to react.  He said something about just meaning that he was gonna charge his phone (face-saving story) and that if I would be willing to just give him 10 minutes to get his snack ready, he’d be good to go.  I was fine with that, even though, it turned out to be, at least, 20, haha.

But, after 20 minutes, we all sat down, all of us in good spirits, and watched “The Flash.”  And, it was awesome.  🙂

So, maybe that’s the secret to finding my way back to the mom that I was before.  The mom that he decided that he wanted to be him mom.  Take my pictures, plan my coordinated outfits (within reason…), figure out how to ignore his protests and not let them hurt me, let him know when things are important to me, and, most importantly, not lose any more of my mind in the process.

Because I’m the mom and I want us all to be happy.  Including him.  And, including me. 

So, these were the thoughts that I had on Mothers’ Day as Kaleb inadvertently made me feel guilty by telling me how much I had changed as we drove to Grandma and Grandpa’s. 

But, for the record, I did score this epic breakfast first!  I must be doing something right. 🙂

My Mother’s Day breakfast!

Sharing was not optional. 😉

My Mothers’ Day was more self-reflective than I expected it to be.  But, the fact is, that’s what being a mother is all about or partially, anyway.  Self-doubt and failures.  And, constantly trying to do better.  But, luckily, that’s mixed in with beautiful moments, adventures, and, apparently, soon, even more pictures.

Life is challenging, but my heart is full.


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24 thoughts on “Kaleb Should Be In Pictures.

  1. Hello,Reading your post was like a hike down (up?) memory lane. It's been about ten years since the last of our seven kids moved out of our home. To be honest, I am more the kind of mother who forgot her camera than one who took pictures of everything. But I do remember the outings that held such promise (in my mind) that turned into ugly hours instead of fun. And lots of things much worse happened . . . One Mother's Day one of ours threw a small rock and almost put out a friend's eye. Another Mother's Day, our daughter, who joined our family at age almost 12, ran away (again) and when I found her and followed her in the car (she refused to get into it with me), she hurled small rocks and pebbles at the windshield. Those two are middle-aged now. Our son is on a vacation with his second family, and our daughter is recovering from cancer treatment. My husband says he'd never adopt older kids again, but we both know we did the right thing. Funny! They hated when we called to check up on them, but now they call us. They want to know if we're okay. \”You stay warm!\” they say. Or \”How close was that tornado?\” We know they care about us — even love us as their parents. And despite everything — the good, bad, ugly, and terrible — we love them.


  2. Wow, thank you for sharing this. It's easy to forget that it's not just me and these comments remind me that I'm not alone in my experiences. I'm glad that you all made it through and I hope you are enjoying much calmer Mothers' Days, these days. 🙂


  3. Although one or two usually don't contact me on Mother's Day, the others have an unspoken competition to be the first to call, send flowers, or e-mail me on the holiday. If you happen to own the book, Adoption, The Ultimate Teen Guide, by Suzanne Slade, check out the section (I think it's in the \”older child\” discussion) where a boy named Derrico talks about being in foster care. He's our second to the youngest child. I was impressed with what he said. He now has two adorable girls, coaches their basketball and softball teams, and is the ultimate, great father.


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