May 31, 2011

come what May

New 'doula baby' Jenaleigh (Her mom wants to be a doula now, too!)

My g-baby, Mayah (almost 9 months)

The 'grad' Kevie-poo with his Nana and Papa

Wild graduation bash!

May 07, 2011

pick your own title - it's been a long week

Michael ordered a cookie cake for Sara's birthday last week, which we offered to pick up. So I had Kevin drop me at Sam's to get a few things, while he ran into the mall to get the cookie. While I was in Sam's, I texted him to come on inside when he got back, because he had my debit card, and I would need it. He responded, "on my way now" to which I replied, "no hurry". Please note the manner in which I replied. No caps. No punctuation. Just simply, no hurry. But NOOOOOOO. Kevin read it, "NO. HURRY!!!" and sped through the parking lot, darted around old ladies like they were traffic cones in an obstacle course, and slid the cookie cake into the floor of the van. By the time we got it to Mike & Sara's house it said, "Happy 30th Birthyad ARAS."

So, we had a little 'Fajitas & Games Night', and played True Colors. Now, I love my friends. They are the BEST people on earth. So when the question is "Who would you most like to help you write a love letter?" I'm fine being chosen. I am, after all, the writer in the bunch. When they choose ME as the one "most likely to get an inappropriate tattoo" . . . well, it might be time to find some more interesting friends. And when the question is, "Who would you most like to live next to when you are 80?" and NONE of them choose me, I'm also fine with that. Offended, but fine, because I am (by far) the oldest one in the group, so when they're 80, I'll likely be dead anyway. Or at least on the floor and not able to get up.

I have managed to eat at TGI Friday's three times in the last few days . . . and once was on a Tuesday. On the last trip, Kevin noticed the sugar packets had questions printed on them. So he asked, "Okay, Mom, what actress would play you in a movie?" Quickly I answered, "Julia" then changed it to "No, Angelina - you know, because we have so many features in common." Kevin just stared at me for the longest time, then said, "Yeah. Right. I'm thinking Kathy Bates." I'm thinking I'm ready for him to go to college.

An hour before this insult*, I got into Eddie van Honda, put him in reverse, and backed smack into the cowboy's red F-250. Hard. Yeah.

How's your week been?

*Insult being the comparison between Kathy Bates and myself. This is in no way a slam on Kathy Bates. She can hobble James Caan with the best of them. It's just that she's 15 years older . . . and she has more insurance.

May 03, 2011

it doesn't really matter who draws the blueprints

I always wanted to build a house. Well not ME, literally with hammer in hand, so to speak (unless they make little cordless electric ones in lime green with tiny turquoise finishing nails). . . but I digress. I wanted to design my own house, and then have it built exactly as I wanted. And I spent countless hours - which in hindsight could have been spent in so many more productive ways - drawing house plans. Somewhere between 1997 and 2003, I achieved, what I believe to be, the perfect house. Not too big, not too small, great for large groups but still cozy, a good flow, no wasted space, designed for four but accommodating for 24 . . . it was just right. That was the appeal to building . . . getting exactly what I wanted. Someplace where people would walk in and say, "Yeah, this looks like Steph". Sure, I might find, after awhile, that is wasn't exactly PERFECT, but at least the imperfections would be mine. Nobody else's mistakes. Nobody else's dirt. Nobody else's history.

I have realized, over the last couple of years, that my approach to parenting has been the same. I wanted to design my own children. A girl. A boy. Good spacing between them. I wanted them to be "just right" - healthy, happy, beautiful, intelligent, funny, interested in the things important to me . . . people would look at these children and say, "Yeah, they are definitely Steph's kids". Somewhere between 1986 and 2011, I achieved, what I believe to be, amazing children. And parenting them has been the greatest joy of my life. No, they aren't exactly PERFECT, but at least I know the imperfections are mine. Nobody else's mistakes. Nobody else's dirt. Nobody else's history. (Sorry to disappoint you, son, you are NOT adopted.)

Some time back, my sweetest friends found that biology was not going to allow them to "design and build" their own family. I know this happens to many couples, but to know THIS couple, you would understand this to be nothing short of tragic. They were MADE to be parents. The perfect blend of responsible and silly, disciplined and fun, loving and lovable . . . if PARENTING had a poster, these two would be on it. My heart broke for them. For months, I prayed for God to change their circumstances. WHY would He allow children who are unwanted to come into this world by the thousands, and yet prevent one child who is SO wanted from coming into this family? Made no sense to me. Then again, God often makes no sense to me.

One day, in talking about their options, they used the 'A' word: adoption. I felt a rush of disappointment. Not IN them, mind you, just FOR them. Adoption can come with such problems, such issues, such . . . heartache. When you adopt a child you have to deal with somebody else's mistakes. Somebody else's dirt. Somebody else's history. And I didn't want this for them. I wanted them to have children we could look at and say, "Yeah, they are Darling children". I wanted THEIR lives to as perfect as they could be.

But somewhere between "Steph, we've decided to pursue adoption" and "STEPH, WE'RE NUMBER ONE ON THE WAIT LIST!!!" all that changed for me. In watching them give their hearts to a child they hadn't even met yet, I realized I had been looking at everything backwards. Being a parent is not about having a child who resembles you, it is about forming a child's life so he resembles God. And parenting is not about having a child who will make your life better, it's about unselfishly making a better life for a child.

(My evolution, in part, can also largely be attributed to ET's parents and their relentless pursuit of Little Matheny, who has now endured three birthdays without a family to hold him . . . and to certain other precious friends who have adopted abandoned and abused children because it was the right thing to do. My apologies for ever thinking this was a lesser way to be a family.)

Cohen: You are the MOST Darling Child. . .in every sense of the word.