mother's day

Mother's Day rolled in with it's (thankfully broken) promise of all-day thunderstorms and accompanying chaos. We made it to the beach before nine o'clock in the morning, thinking we would have to beat a rainstorm that never actually ended up being more than looming black clouds on the horizon. We ventured to a beach just minutes away from where Carmen was born, and it was hard to not think of the woman who will always bear the c-section scar from the surgery that pulled my daughter from her body. I certainly couldn't answer any of the cutesy Facebook questionnaires about peeing when I sneeze or epidurals or if "daddy" was in the room during my delivery (also, no thank you on that heaping helping of heteronormativity), but none of that is what it means to be a mother. In my own heart, birth is the least of what makes someone a mother and that much is apparent in the day-to-day moments that come with mothering Carmen. Yet a little over one year ago only minutes from where Carmen splashed in the Intracoastal yesterday, another woman had only her birth to claim her motherhood.

Life and all of it's intricacies, all of the constant remolding we go through to be humans -- some days it's all more apparent than others. Perspective shifts and feelings that tap at your heart but for which you have no adequate words to explain to others.

Sometimes I pee when I sneeze, but the cause of that is not my son born via c-section as much as it wasn't my daughter born to another woman's body. It was thanks to the delivery of the child who died and was born nearly three years ago on a date that is creeping up quicker than I'm ready for. My wedding anniversary and also the day that we said goodbye to the baby who never got to come home with us. Motherhood -- it simply cannot be defined in saccharine Pinterest quotes or graphics about coffee consumption. Motherhood throbs deep inside my veins and defines who I am despite the journey that spun me around until I was too dizzy to really answer that for quite some time.

My babies. These babies. These beautiful, fierce world-changers with their laughter and stubbornness. I can't get enough of them.

They are joy. They are peace. They are love. They are my motherhood journey, the roots that hold me in place.  photo signature_zps5tftxxmn.png


grabease: baby's first self-feeding cutlery set

I was first introduced to Grabease when I saw these adorable self-feeding utensils for toddlers tagged in a photo on Instagram. Carmen never liked being fed and has always preferred to feed herself, but usually with her hands (or by shoveling fistfuls of food in her mouth, let's be real). Typical silverware is too large for tiny toddler hands, so I assumed I would just deal with her heaping handfuls of self-feeding and the mess that accompanies it all -- until I discovered Grabease. Grabease utensils are recommended by occupational therapists and designed to promote self-feeding in toddlers. Each set comes with both a fork and spoon, each with an ergonomically designed handle for a natural vertical grasp. As a total neurotic mom (or shameless helicopter mom, you decide), I also want to point out that I love the choke protection barriers that make it impossible for little ones to swallow or choke themselves with their Grabease utensils.

From the first moment I presented her with the Grabease, Carmen seemed to know just what to do. Lately, Carmen is at that stage where she mimics what she sees us do and that includes use utensils to eat. At first she was a little frustrated that she could not get the food onto the Grabease fork, but after a few tries, Miss Independent was totally getting it. It was really cool for me as a parent to watch her successfully feed herself dinner with her own utensils!

We've always had some issues with Carmen and her weight. Having been born a few weeks premature, we had a hard time getting her to cross the threshold from underweight to normal weight. Throw in the fact she is just too busy to take time to sit and eat, mealtimes were a little bit of a struggle (and a whole lot stressful). Grabease -- and the thrill of letting her independence blossom -- have totally made meal and snack times fun for Carmen. She loves learning to use her Grabease to feed herself and will polish off an entire plate of strawberry slices if I include her Grabease fork along with them. "It's exercise for her brain," as my five year old says.

We are loving Grabease around here -- and are really, really excited to get the opportunity to offer a super-exciting giveaway, too. 15 winners will get the chance to win their very own set of Grabease for their toddlers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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adoption isn't a punch line

"That's it, I'm putting you up for adoption," joked the mom at the playground splash pad with her on-purpose messy ponytail to her unaware toddler, sharing a round of uproarious laughter with her friends. Just a few feet away, my two children wandered into the splash pad: my son, running in excitedly but cautiously, and my daughter, still crawling but far more adventurous and less concerned with safety. I felt my stomach tighten to the point where my knees felt weak under me, and I felt the familiar feeling of heat flush into my cheeks. I tried to discreetly stare at them, to assess the faces that looked nice enough and yet could be so unintentionally cruel. It wasn't the first time I'd heard adoption as the butt of a joke, and it sure wouldn't be the last time. "My sister doesn't look anything like the rest of us," a mom at the library joked to her friend, "so when I'm mad at her, I just tell her she's adopted."

I have heard people make racist jokes, likely because I'm white and they have no idea that my daughter is black, and they wrongfully assume that such jokes are funny if no one in the audience is impacted firsthand. I wholly reject that ignorant theory with everything within me. Racism, rape, misogyny -- these things aren't funny, regardless of the experiences of the person listening to your joke. The same goes for adoption. The pain and life-altering turmoil and sacrifice that my daughter's birth parents had to make aren't a punchline to some silly joke that does nothing but perpetuate the stigma that one must be defective, somehow, someway, in order to be placed for adoption. Adoptees grow up bearing the brunt of a lot of that stigma, sometimes believing themselves that they were unwanted, unloved, not good enough. Older children sometimes believe that they did something wrong, something bad, something that warranted them placement -- and I can't blame them, because these are the jokes we hear on a regular basis. The notion that an adopted child is loved less than a biological child -- that learning of ones adoption is an insult -- has been perpetuated a thousand times over in the memes I've seen pop up on my timeline last month alone.

I'm not an adoptee, but I am an adoptive mother. I know that in my daughter's brief year of being a part of our family, I've gotten countless stares and inquiries over the fact she looks different from the rest us. I am sure that soon she will feel the stares herself, and internalize the comments from well-intentioned strangers who are eager to know in the inner-workings of our family dynamic. I am sure that in her quest to know herself, as all adolescents go through, she will find a more intricate path to trudge through than most. And if she had been a little older that day at the splash pad, I can only imagine the way that stranger's joke would have held onto her heart and not let go.

Adoptees aren't throw-away children. They aren't children who were unwanted, or unloved. I can empathize with the ache in my daughter's birth mother's heart that she will have to live with for the rest of her life, and sometimes this is what I think about when parents make jokes about placing their child for adoption over a tantrum over a cookie or broken toy. I think of the battle that my own family fought to get to the point of bringing our daughter home with us through adoption -- the pain, the tears, the moments of feeling like our lives would forever be incomplete. I think of the struggles my friend faced in multiple failed adoptions before bringing home her beautiful daughter, and the level of heartache there that most people will never be able to comprehend. I think of the infertility treatments, the needles jabbed just to the side of my belly button, and the physical pain that paled in comparison to waking up with a half-broken heart and empty arms each morning. And I think of my daughter and the other adoptees just like her -- innocent, loved beyond measure, just trying to exist in a world that turns the very essence of who they are into a joke.

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