20 September 2010

A First Kiss

Over on my personal Live Journal, I'm doing a 30-Day Meme to get me back into the habit of writing daily. It's been working well for the most part, but today's question, "Your First Kiss, In Great Detail" stumped me.

It took me a while, and in the end I drew inspiration not from a torrid and wonderful, love laced past or doe eyed adolescence, but from an amazing few days in which I've been thanked for a perspective on adoption by a local adoptive mom...and cried on during a chance and wonderful encounter with a birth mom. She is a woman I've known for a while, a woman I never knew had a son she gave up, and who is back in her life, as her son in adulthood. Our stories are different, but needless to say, both encounters gave me serious pause to reflect, once again, on this topic.

So, I'm sharing a version of my meme response here today. It's pertinent to the topic, from my perspective as an adoptee.

Read on...

Your First Kiss. In great detail?!

I think that the immediate conclusion one feels they should make from the question posed is that they must dredge the recesses of their memories to find the file marked, "My First Time Kissing a Boy/Girl Based on Sexual Preferences Exhibited in Early Childhood".

I disagree. A kiss is a kiss, unless it has a meaning behind it. Truthfully, I have memories swimming in the miasma of time of kissing a boy in pre-school when I was about 3. He ran up to me and stole a kiss on the playground. We were toddlers. It was also the day that he came to pre-school wearing his sister's barrettes in his hair. I'm not even sure that such an encounter could possibly count as a first kiss. After all, how seriously can you take a boy with barrettes in his hair?

Trudging ahead, there is a memory, but I'm not even sure that it's truly real, of kissing my neighbor when I was probably around 12. He must have been 13 or so. It was a "real" kiss. But even then, my memory tells me that I thought it was rather meaningless. It was an experiment. We had passed the Making Out With Our Pillow stage of adolescence and wanted to try the real thing. We'd known each other since childhood, but we weren't close and didn't play together as young children. Yet, it was a safe kiss. There were no sparks. I don't really remember ever kissing him again.

I could even say that my "first" kiss was one I'd already written about in another entry in my Live Journal. It was a first kiss from M. It had meaning. There weren't just sparks, there were lightening storms. But it wasn't my first kiss ever. Just the first one that I remember meaning much of anything at all. And in some way I can't help but wonder if every first kiss, in every past relationship doesn't somehow count as "your first kiss".

Maybe I'm just stalling because I never really liked kissing before I met M. Maybe my body knew what my brain did not fully realize (that I didn't care for kissing) until I met M and my life changed forever, and so before that point, my body chose to give me a mildly repulsed reaction to the act of kissing?

Ultimately though, I know when my first real kiss was. This is it, in great detail. Brace yourselves...

It is a day in April 1975. I have spent almost a month between a hospital and then, a foster home. I am brand new to this world and I don't think I've found a home or a bond that will last. I don't know what my foster mother or father look like. I don't know if I've kept them up each night, as newborns do. I don't know what room I am in, what my crib or bassinet is like, or even where I really am.

I know that I am fed formula. A lot. And on this day in April 1975, I am bundled into a blanket, and then into a car. 

I am taken somewhere else. There is a hand over to someone else. And then another one, again.

A woman takes me, with something like tears in her eyes. She looks into my blanket and I look back. She looks happy, shocked. And then she kisses me softly on my forhead and says, "Hello, little girl. I'm your mother."
 She is not the woman I was born to almost a month ago. She is not the woman that has been feeding me and changing my diapers for the last month. She is, in fact, my very own, real mommy. For the first time in my short life, I am kissed by own mommy. It is the most enduring first kiss that any child will ever have and it lasts forever.

I don't know that it actually happened that way, but I like to think that it did.

What do you think?

16 September 2010

On Poop

There are a great many things that I never thought I would say in my lifetime...and among them, the following utterance probably ranked right near the top: "Now remember, don't pee on Ni Hao honey. It will make her saaaad."

So began our final journey into a diaper free world last Sunday. It's been almost a year since A bought her own potty, but last week, she also picked her own underpants.

For the record: Ni Hao was the compromise. Even though she doesn't watch Dora the Explorer, she knows who Dora is. I hate Dora. We both agreed on Ni Hao. (And don't talk to me about Dora being the same as Ni Hao. They're not. I don't hate Ni Hao.)

Fortunately, play skool also potty trains. And of course, because she's an angel at play skool, she's a champion potty-goer there too. But at home, especially this weekend, after a week in underpants, we've had more out of the potty than in, or so it seems. She refuses to poop in the potty at all here, although I'm bribing her with sparkly, shiny stickers as of todaytty, so who knows.

Last Monday, I spent 40 minutes in the bathroom waiting for a poop. I showed her how to make the  "I'M POOPING!" face; I sang the pooping song. I applauded poop. And I thought to myself, when I used to say I was in the shit, especially overseas, I never thought that someday it would come to mean this. My, how the toughest do fall...

That was the first, and last, potty poop thus far.

Now, I am so tired of poop. I know we're in the beginning stages, but poop is poop and I have "potty trained" enough puppies in my day to know that I'm so damn done with cleaning up accidents, especially poop. If I never see another poop where it doesn't belong again, it will be too soon. Even my own mother, mother of all mothers, sent me a text on Monday that said, "Potty training is a good form of birth control."

I texted back saying that was true, but it's also a milestone, and almost typed millstone instead.

I know we'll get there. She's great with not peeing on Ni Hao, Yo Gabba Gabba, or her frogs. It's just that I don't like poop. I really don't like poop.

Tips or tricks on potty training you'd like to share?

14 September 2010

Down Home Wisdom - Not Always Wise

There is a saying, probably as old as the hills. It is a saying that, for some reason, middle-aged women often lay before me in conversation. It is: "If Momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy!" In every instance, it's followed up with a knowing wink, a little nudge-nudge, and an, "Amiright?"

I hate that saying. In fact, the next time someone throws it out there in conversation, I'm going to respond, "NO! You are NOT right!!"

Let's nevermind the fact that I believe that any unhappy family member will, to a greater or lesser degree, affect the general happiness of the entire family. In the last couple of weeks especially, I have come to determine that ultimately, in families with young toddlers, the real saying should be, "If baby ain't happy, ain't no one happy."

Never had I dreamt of the power of a two year old. She does determine when we will be happy and when we will not. If misery loves company, then there are many days where she's got close companions in this household for sure.

An irate, irritable, or just plain stubborn two year old is capable of pegging the family's Happy Meter at zero. In fact, there are times when I'm fairly sure that she's engineering the Happy Meter to reach into the negative numbers.

I understand the age. I understand the push and pull, the Jekyll and Hyde, the love and loathing. I've just never experienced it so acutely, so clearly, as I have lately. I mean, it's bad enough that we are, apparently, nothing more than trained circus bears, here for her amusement ("MOMMY! SING A SONG!" - mentally, I always add a "DIDI MAU" to this, and the many other like it, demand(s))...

Now, we're only allowed happiness when she is happy.

Nope. Mothers do not mandate the mood in their households. Their children do. And while it is possible to remain happy in spite of a tiny whirling dervish's best efforts, they are still at the forefront of Mood Control.

Best of luck with that. And the next time someone starts to say to you, "If Momma ain't..." - slap them for me, will you?

12 September 2010

Like a Bucket of Ice

I am an emergency responder. A attends day care at my place of work. These two facts don't seem, on the surface, to be at all related and in fact, I had neatly compartmentalized them into two separate bins myself...until a couple of weeks ago.

When I dropped A off, her teacher said, "Hey, big day tomorrow, Miss A!" and looked at me. "She doesn't do well with evacuations. It scares her."

Because I was currently rummaging about in the "Dropping of fat Daycare" bin in my brain, I gave her a blank look. "Um, and what's tomorrow?"

She looked at me funny in turn. "The active shooter exercise? You know? The whole base?"

Oh. Damn. I did know. I knew because my job puts me in the nerve center for response and command and control. But then, I didn't know because daycare is...well, not located in that mental compartment.

I knew when A was evacuated, twice the week prior, for smell of smoke in the facility. And I knew about what had happened during the first evacuation. But I wasn't part of that because it was small in scale and easily handled by first responders. I also knew that she, along with many other kids, didn't do well with it. So, we talked about it on the way home and now, she's walking us through fire drills. She doesn't like the alarms, but she's working through it.

What I never really considered though, was the simple fact that, if something does happen here that requires a full reponse, I'll be, well, responding. I suppose that some people might find that comforting, but the problem I see with it is that my job mandates that I know what's going on. Most other parents with children in day care don't know what's going on until a while after it's happened.

And then I did the unthinkable in this particular situation: I started to think, as I drove from daycare to my office, about high impact targets on the base. And if I were a gunman, I'd go for the heart and soul. And to me, that's the kids. It was like I'd been punched in the stomach.

What danger have I unthinkingly put my daughter in? It gnawed at me all day and most of that night. I also berated myself for not thinking about it before. What kind of parent am I?

The exercise, however, came and went. Instead of dwelling on my daughter, hunkering down in the designated safe room with the rest of the class, my focus was on command and control and what was happening out there and what we needed to do in here.

In the end, the kids, including my daughter, did well. They played games involving being quiet and actually had fun. They had no idea what was happening, or why. As it should have been. I try not to think too much about it either, but sometimes, it creeps up on me. I work on a potential target for bad people to do bad things, moreso than most other places of business. My daughter is growing up in many ways there too. The benefits outweigh the risk, but what sort of parent am I that I never before thought of that risk?

What do you think? Is civilian daycare safer than military daycare or are military parents inherently more at risk?

07 September 2010

I Never Thought I Would See This Day...

As A and I walked out into the beautiful, sunlight afternoon today, I looked down at her while she trotted alongside me, watching her feet for anything interesting they might happen across. I stroked her golden hair and thought, I did this for you. No one else but you.

Today was a bittersweet day. In my last post, I made brief mention of the fact that I would probably be going into the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). There's no more probably about it. I submitted my letter requesting the transfer today, knowing that I had my commander's verbal authorization already.

I don't know how I feel right now. The idea of not wearing a uniform for a period of years is foreign to me and it makes my skin crawl. Knowing that I can come back (and will) isn't exactly the consolation prize that I had hoped for. I do, after all, have 11 years of my life invested in this endeavor and part of me feels like I should have my boots in the sand right now - not my butt in a comfy chair.

Yet, I know that I'm doing this for all of the right reasons. I can't operate effectively when I'm needed at home in the way that I have been. So even though I feel adrift and more than just a little lost right now, I also feel a sense of relief and freedom. I'll have more time here. More time to just be here, with her. With M. More time to support them without worrying, even if it was only subconsciously. If something happens, I'll be here. There won't be any more conflicting work schedules to worry about for a long time. It is a relief.

And yet...

I can't fully express how hard this decision was for me. I put off the letter for as long as I could. But it's done, with no takesies-backsies. I'm not sure when I'll return yet, or even where I'll return to. But I will come back. I have to.

Just...not now. Not while I have this golden haired viking's tiny little hand still holding so tightly to mine. Not at this time in her life.


04 September 2010

Labor Day Again?!

I'm not ready for this. Even though it's not the official End of Summer, it's really...the End of Summer. Even as Un-Hurricane Earl passed last night, the oppressive summer weather we'd had for...well...ever, evaporated literally overnight in his wake.

More importantly, it was actually only yesterday that we celebrated A's second birthday. That was at the beginning of spring and I just refuse to believe that the summer passed us by that quickly.

Granted, August was a whirling dervish of weddings, work, TDY, and out of country guests. I expected it to go quickly. And June and July were, well, spent in a cocoon of hospitals and doctors.

So even though we're not packing A off to Kindergarten, and I didn't have to shop for school supplies, I still feel like I've been ripped off and am owed a summer. Granted, the oppressive humidity was enough to make me welcome autumn weather. And yes, I'm looking forward to crunchy leaves, pumpkins, and apples. Because I'm a bit soppy when it comes to autumn and I require these rather trite, traditional things. Perhaps moreso now that I'm a parent.

Yet...this also means that in just over a half year's time, we'll be ramping up for a third birthday. I'm not loving this time flying thing that comes with parenthood.

On the other hand, I'll soon be an Individual Ready Reservist as opposed to a traditional reservist. This may help time slow a little. I won't live drill-to-drill, tour-to-tour. I'll be able to focus on where I'm most needed which, at the moment, is still here. But it won't get me my summer back.

I demand a refund!!