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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Progress (v)

So silly but a Facebook memory today prompted this post. Levi five years ago. Sleepy, scruffy voice. Newly developed speech. I’m coaxing coaching, coercing him to say “Mama, I love you.” That could be a whole separate blog post and savings account for future therapy for erry one of the Melton kids. So sweet baby boy says Mama and I oooo uuuu. Open vowels but great inflection and eye contact and he just looks happy and well fed and nurtured and loved. His eyes are smiling. He is home and he is ours and he is making gains and that is all that matters in that moment to this Mama.
Fast forward to today. First grade IEP meeting with a sweet and devoted team of speech and teacher and administrator and mom and dad. The system working 💯 the way it is supposed to and little boy surpassing expectations and growing and achieving yearly goals and serving up willfulness and determination with a side of bossiness. He’s got stuff to work on. He’s come so far. 

Two parallel thoughts streaming in my muddled teacher brain. 

Adoption is amazing. How did I get to do this?  Three  times. My kids surprise me and surpass me and surround me with their spirit. A will to overcome. This deep and good soulfilling reminder that life isn’t always or usually wonderful but we can look and listen and trust that God is at work and making a way even when it seems impossible. 

I don’t need to be or have to be worried. Every little thing is gonna be all right. Show up. Do the thing and the next thing and the thing after that. Progress happens. And the progress...that is actually the goal. The goal isn’t really and truly what matters. The progress. That’s where we measure and succeed and stretch and achieve and celebrate. 

So my question to myself and to all of us is- are you progressing?  Are you moving it forward, showing up, all in?  My encouragement as a mom of and teacher to special needs amazing life lesson loves is—the goal isn’t the goal. The goal is momentum, motion, movement in the right direction. 

Intend. Aim. Progress. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


paradox:  something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is true

Graduating a girl.  She is graduating.  My girl, the graduate.  

I am happy.  She is ready.  This is the natural and right path and I have done my job and I am not finished but THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING and did I do it right and how can I be finished with the thing that defined me for practically every breath of my adult life.  

The shadow of how I pursued and relentlessly chased motherhood looms over me (read all the other blog posts from oh so long ago).  From the age of 23 I prayed and actively worked and drove my husband crazy and drove myself crazy and maybe I drove God crazy with a plea and a prayer and a purpose to be a mom, or more precisely to mother.  I wanted to mother.  And it took a long time to happen and when it did I dropped everything and I did it.  I relished it.  I rejoiced in it.  I relished them, these perfectly imperfect human beings born into a moment of suffering that turned into my greatest joy.  

This year on Mother's Day it occurred to me that maybe we should call it Happy Smother's Day because oh my, mommy is having a hard time letting go.  I am aware of the natural path of parenting and the goal to "raise independent human beings" and I am definitely not desiring any more dependence and...she, the first, is preparing to fly the nest.  She has strong, sturdy, beautiful, graceful wings.  She is practiced and accomplished and capable and smart and funny and sure of herself and she is ready to fly.  I want her to fly.  And then I just can't do it.  I can't.  I'm not ready.  She and her sister and her brother and their daddy are my heart and soul and I am grateful that I am cultivating my own garden and that God is leading me toward my passion and giftedness in loving and teaching kids with different abilities.  But still.  This moment is here.  I am not ready.  And I am ready.  She is ready.  I cannot wait--like I'm holding my breath--to see the path that she charts for herself.  

So I'm holding this paradox, these two opposite emotions that seem impossible but both are true, close to my heart.  I'm holding her, my graduate, close too but don't tell her.  And I'm thanking the giver of all good gifts, the One who brought blessing that runs both ways to heal my mothering sorrow and to heal my girl's tragic and undeserved beginning, the One who is writing her and all of our stories still.  

To God the Father be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.  

from Brene Brown~an Instagram post reflecting on her own daughter's high school graduation
"There's a combination of joy and grief that can take your breath away.  The sum of these two parts wells up inside you and holds your breath hostage until you let go of the notion that you can control the paradox and choose between joy and grief.  Your breath returns only when you submit to the reality that you are caught in the grips of both delight and sorrow.  Both are strong.  Both are true."

Monday, July 13, 2015

Silver linings

Today  marks 25 years with the

Love of my life
Father of my kids
Best friend
Workaholic--keeping it real!
Relentless provider
Funny funny funny
One and only

25 years is a crazy long amount of time. We were babies and wide eyed and optimistic. We are mid forties, clear eyed, and optimistic.

Marriage is no joke. The stats on folks getting married at 19 and 21 are not good. And yet.
We grew up together. We innovated. We dug our hearts in and trusted God when things seemed scary and overwhelming (Three adoptions from China. Three beautiful blessings. Hard fought parenthood.).

On my "happy anniversary baby"  I'm grateful for a shared faith  I'm grateful for our parents living out commitment. I'm grateful that when my feelings were hurt or I felt alone or we argued or he saw my failings and I saw his that we both chose to stay in it. Marriage is the ultimate vulnerability. Exposed. Raw. Seen. Compassion is essential.

Marriage is the iron on iron, soul on soul, sharpening, refining, daring, dreaming, desiring, taking flight union by choosing every day to connect and to encourage and to lift up the other one and to be lifted up in that choice.

It is the hardest thing. And the best thing.  And I love him. And he loves me. We are not perfect but we are perfectly partnering to do marriage together. Wherever you are in your life, married, single, hoping to be married, happily unmarried. Your story isn't finished. God is doing something--especially in the difficult moments--that will be amazing and beautiful and transcendent. Be faithful. Love boldly. Live a life of wild extravagance.

Happy anniversary to my one and only. I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rainy days and holidays always get me down

Thanksgiving happened and I got sad. I last visited my grandmother at this time of year.  Christmas was her thing, life sized singing Santa, family united, she glued us together. I miss her.

I had my last real visit with a beloved friend about this time several years ago. She was with me in the fight for mothering when we connected in Texas and we somehow ended up together in the   Midatlantic. Her battle with breast cancer was valiant. And this time of year I remember looking into her eyes and knowing. I can't see a tree ablaze in autumn glory withiut thinking of my Wendy living her final earthly days in a room painted in stately autumn style and reflecting her love of this season. I miss her.

I want to feel happy but the cycle of the season resists, darker days, longer nights, less sunshine. This too is important, to embrace the darkness. I'm not sure we can feel the sun unless we have tasted the night.  I want to be happy and carefree but I feel this weight. "Be here" is the voice I recognize. I am. Advent means God with us. Wherever you are. However that shows up. Whatever that looks like. That is the meaning of Christmas.

May you know it just so.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Productive Marriage

After all these years, I am productively married.

“Productively?!?” I can almost hear the sarcastic riposte: “Be still my beating heart - tell me more Romeo!” Admittedly, “productive” is probably not the word that would cause most women – at least not the one I know best – to swoon. But hear me out on this one.

First: I am happily married – yes. And I am grateful for that…whatever “happily married” actually means when one has 3 kids (including the resultant bills and a soccer carpool), a dog who relishes creating yellow stains on white carpet, a house in perpetual need of weekend work, the deep drive to feel successful in a career, and a checking account with occasional convulsions. Being married to Julie in the midst of all this is (of course!) blissful joy – EXCEPT when she is exhausted from caring for a preschooler, enduring hormonally-induced moodiness, or suggesting that we should spend money (ever).

In other words, EXCEPT when real life kicks in. 

That’s what this post is about – real life. It may be that exactly none of the above pressures on modern marriages create extra space for “happy”…at least not in the way that I think of “happy”…as sort of a pink, fluffy, cotton candy kind of experience.

Now - I have indeed felt many moments of “happy” with Julie. We have created endless (yes, endless) lighthearted moments together. You won’t hear me brag about it with the guys, but way back when we used to go see G Rated Disney movies together for fun…Aladdin, The Little Mer…. (Back then, the computer graphics in animation were kind of a new thing. Anyway….)

Happy is good. And I would not say that “happy” with Julie has evaporated. I would say that the spice ingredient called “happy” went into a meal called LIFE that demands – and promises - so much more.

Happiness, I think, is great in courtship. It is great in marriage at any stage, in the same way that digging around for that plastic toy in the Cracker Jack box used to be totally WORTH. IT.

But now there are other things on the plate besides caramel-coated crunchiness. There is meat that needs to be carefully chewed, and vegetables that are not always the tastiest (but they nourish). On the plate of marriage is something called human growth.

And this is the reason I am grateful for a “productive” marriage. Because I am still kind of gristly, and there is a lot of me that would probably never make it to the plate in a chic five-star restaurant. I try to act like it, but I don’t know if I am a five-star restaurant kind of guy…my genes tilt more toward the Woolworth’s lunch counter experience, actually. But God and Julie – they keep trimming off the gristle so that my soul can get lean. 

Maybe – long term – that’s where the meaning in marriage is to be found. It IS about “happy”…it IS about “romance”…AND maybe the significance of marriage over the long haul is also about the pain, challenge, promise, and deep gratification of soul-making. 

So perhaps if you are challenged (and even frustrated) in marriage, it could be that you have passed from one stage into another where there is some protein amidst the high-glycemic carbs.

In other words, into a wonderfully “productive” – nourshing - life. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I wish the world knew about special needs adoption

What I Wish The World Knew About Special Needs Adoption

I’m not even sure our son Levi qualifies as special needs adoption.  His cleft lip and palate have been repaired thanks to an amazing team at Johns Hopkins.  There is nothing wrong now. But for the first 2 years of his life he couldn’t really speak and he couldn’t really hear.  So now he is a spunky 4 year old super hero loving boy who talks all the time but apparently I’m one of the only ones who can decipher his speech.  This makes life difficult.  For him.  And me. 

He is in a 4 year old preschool class and he’s spoiled rotten and he kicked and hit his teacher today.  I am mortified typing these words.  There are no excuses.  There is no denying that he knows better.  It has been a terrible day (for me). 

But when his teacher said that he needed a behavior plan and that they would be monitoring his progress and that she knew being nonverbal was part of the issue, well my eyes filled with tears.  They spilled over.  I, again, was mortified.  He is not this moment.  This is not the truth about my boy.  He is not nonverbal.  I must admit he does kick and hit when frustrated.  So do I. 

I can’t help but think about my friends parenting children with deeper special needs, because we all are special needs if you want to know the truth.  We all have a unique character gifted from our Creator and we all need others to have open hearts and open hands and open minds to who we are.  My boy should not kick and hit his teacher when he doesn’t want to go to circle time.  And I should not feel defensive.  I should not want to justify his behavior, to remind his new teachers that his story is unique.  But I do.  Please, world, please know that my boy doesn’t want to kick and hit and lash out.  He is sweet.  He cuddles.  He is stubborn.  You have no idea what his beginning looked like.  I’m not quite sure you (or I) could stomach it.
Here’s the deal, dear world.  When you adopt a child that doesn’t look like you at all people automatically question.  Or they automatically assume that you helped this little life.  Not true.  In my case for sure my babies rescued me.  Infertility is a terrible, horrible, painful, long slow death.  Peering into the eyes of a sweet soul destined to belong to me healed wounds that went deep.  And although my belly never swelled with their heart beating beneath it, they are mine.  Born in my heart.  Birthed in blood, sweat, and tears of despair, hopelessness, and finally , finally light dawning with God’s plan for our “hope and future.” 

So what I want his teachers to know is that if he does it again he won’t get his Ipad.  Shit’s getting real, y’all.  And what I want his teachers to know is that you don’t have to talk louder to Levi.  He can hear you.  He’s doing his best, but using this relatively new gift of a long and smooth palate is tricky for him.  He really wants to please you but he is also a determined son of a gun. How else do you think he survived the indescribable moments of his early childhood?  I want you to know that he is creative and he loves praise and he sings all the time and sometimes or a lot of the time I wish he would stop asking me questions.  And please don’t label him as nonverbal.  Just because you can’t understand him doesn’t mean he isn’t communicating.  And I also know you’re doing the best you can but I still want to make it better for him and for all the others who feel like their kids are problems and who are in IEP meetings and advocating and feeling worn out and it’s only the 2nd week of school for goodness sake.

Sending love and light to the moms and dads and teachers deep in the trenches—know that you are doing good.  Know that you are important.  Know that no matter what happens with your baby God is holding you close to his heart. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy holidays.

We drove through Roy Rogers one Christmas Eve after worship to get our then kindergartner some sustenance for the journey south to Mimi and Poppy's.  I paid at the window with a "Merry Christmas!" to the poor soul working that night, and a sweet little voice from the back seat fussed at me.  "Try Happy Holidays, Mommy.  He might not be Christmas.  He might be Hanukah."

This little love is still speaking her mind.  I don't want to shut her down but I sure do wish I could shut her up sometimes.  

Parenting *teens* is not for the faint of heart.  They see through all of the labels and masks and they speak their truth.  I saw/see through the labels and masks but I have never, ever felt comfortable speaking my truth.  And really, should one speak every truth one intuitively understands?  I mean isn't truth for me different at a certain level from truth for you?  Unless we are accepting certain universal truths.  And if we are, then respect for others must be high on that list.  Ain't no way back talk is going to be tolerated in this house.

Are you confused?  Because I am.  And exhausted.  Parenting *teens* is not for the faint of heart.  

Kevin Leman has convinced me that raising this species, *teens*, is pretty much like raising toddlers.    <<And yes, it does help to have both in the household at the same time.  The similarities are striking.>>  Don't get emotionally involved.  It's not about you.  It's about raising decent human beings.  Taking away cell phones works almost all of the time.  More yoga for mama is a very good thing.  

So, pardon me while I go pour (another) glass of wine.  It's been a long weekend.  Don't judge.  

Happy holidays, y'all.