Tell Me What God Is

I worked with the question “What Is God?” during this past enlightenment intensive and have remained with the question.  I keep hearing the direction in my head for dyads – “tell me what God is.”  Over and over again until I fear I am going to lose my mind.

Fear of going insane and fear of death are two of the blocks to enlightenment from what I understand from the master.  And I have lost my mind in the past.  It is hard to be in the psych ward as much as I have been earlier in my life and not have a fear of going insane, of getting locked up again.  And much of it stems from needing this connection with God so much and feeling like I don’t have it, or have it nearly as much as I want.

Wanting, longing for something, is so hard.  The pain sits in my heart and belly like a huge gaping open wound.  But even though it is painful there is a sweetness to it.  The sweetness is new to me, the pain is old.  The sweetness comes from having a taste of what it is to feel God in me, in the world, in others.  The relief of not having that feeling of isolation and separateness for even microseconds is tremendous.

I decided last night that I need to work on my relationship with God in a different way.  The longing and crying out to God is essential but it is rather vague in some way.  And I need that relationship to be personal.  So I have started my own conversations with God. And giving God all of me – all my thoughts, feelings, and life stuff, all of my struggles.  One of the teachings I have heard is that we have to give all of it to God, even the hate, the anger, the fear, the anguish.  It is hard for me because that is not what I was taught when I was young.  But it is what I am trying to follow now.  It feels much more authentic than pretending not to be angry about life, about how hard the journey is, about how worried I can get, about how alone I feel in this world.  Although truthfully I am feeling less alone now than I ever did.  Slowly, ever so slowly, I am building that sangha, that community.

But for now, my focus is on that connection with God.  A deep and personal connection.  A vision almost that God could hold me much like a child giving me all the comfort and love in the universe.  That feeling is what makes the struggle mean something.

Expanding Beyond Traditional Family

I always said that family is not who you are related to but rather it is the people that you love who also love you.  I used to think that this was just something I said to make myself feel better because my family was so screwed up.  But then we adopted and I truly understand that blood relations has nothing to do with it.

Yesterday we brought someone else into our family.  A 17 year old girl.  Her story reminded me a lot of my own and I wanted to help her so she moved in last night.  The official story is that she needs a place to stay until she graduates from high school but I don’t intend to have her leave then unless she wants to.  I think she will be just part of the family by then.

It is horribly tragic when people have kids and they are not willing or able to love and take care of them as they should and as the kids deserve.  The beautiful soul has a horribly alcoholic and from what I understand a sometimes abusive father and a mother who is beyond neglectful.  The mother actually came here yesterday at our insistence.  I did not just want to take the girl in without verifying her situation to make sure her mother knew where she was.  This mom asked me no questions about myself, my family, what we intended for her.  I have not heard from her since she left her daughter here with us yesterday.  I can’t imagine leaving my kids with someone that I did not know.

So this mother’s day, I have a third teenager that I am quickly thinking of as my own.  I tread lightly here because whatever the circumstances, peoples relationships with their parents can be complicated.  I don’t see myself as a replacement for her mother.  More as a new member of my little tribe who is just here to receive love and support.

Thankfully my daughter is thrilled to have her and she is going the extra mile to make this new member of our household feel comfortable.  Its a good thing.  This girl does not seem to have many friends she has met in real life, most of them are from chat rooms.  She does not have any family support although I have heard that her grandparents are quite lovely.  I talked to her this morning about including her on our trip to our VT house this weekend and her face lit up.  Just to be included, wanted.  My heart breaks for her.

So I find myself relaxing just a little bit on the technology rules for the house as she makes dance videos with my daughter.  And I find myself sitting back and watching her receive kindness and love.  Love from one human being to another.

I want to tell her to relax, that everything is and will be ok.  But it is too soon and she is too vigilant right now to take that in.  For right now, its enough that she has a place to be and a family to be with.  And I will take her to yoga.  A place to learn to breathe through life.  I want to tell her she is not alone.  I keep hearing the expression “you are not alone, you have the whole universe inside you.”  The lessons of yoga.  Breath linked with motion, meditation.  It helps.  As the community helps.  I hope that somewhere here there is something she can grab onto.

This mother’s day then will be even more special.  It will include another person for me to love.

Adoption: A Quick Look at the Beginning

I was talking to another mom today and of course we got to the topic of our kids.  It does not come up often anymore that my kids are adopted (twins) but today it did.  At some point in the conversation the woman looked at me and said “You took them both?”

It never occurred to me otherwise.  I guess I don’t often realize how hard the journey was when we first brought the kids home.  They were born at 27 weeks and weighed a little over a pound each.  They both had heart surgery at 5 weeks and both had BPD and ROP, one much more severe than the other.  They both came home on oxygen with monitors.  My son was in the NICU about a month longer than my daughter.

Our adoption process was quick.  One of the quickest I had ever heard of.  We started the process in October, the kids were born in October.  The adoption was finalized at the end of January, a mere three months later.

I spent six weeks in a hotel in another state.  My daughter was discharged a week after we got there and my son remained in the hospital for another month.  Every day I took my daughter to the NICU and I took care of both of them during the day.  Then at night I took care of her.  I could not wait to get home with them.  I was so happy all the time.

I would stroller her around the hospital stopping people constantly asking them “isn’t she the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?”  Everyone agreed.  And my heart would ache at night when I had to leave my son there.  I enjoyed being with them all the time.

Coming home was a challenge.  We could not fly commercially because of the oxygen tanks and the fact that we could not get a direct flight.  The doctors did not want them in the car seats for as long as it would have taken to drive (probably about 10 days with all the stops we would have had to make).  Angel flights came to our rescue and got us home, for which we were really grateful.

Maybe it was because I had never had one kid so I don’t really know how it would have been easier.  I can’t imagine my life any other way than the way it is.  I also could not see at the time that they were all that sick.  I was so certain they would be fine that I never questioned it.  And it never occurred to me that the kids would be split up.  I have always thought it a gift that they have the same biological and adoptive family.  We have always talked openly about being adopted and we saved everything from their birth mother for them.  We take it out every year when we celebrate adoption day so that they can look at it.

Our kids are comfortable with the fact that they are adopted.  I overheard someone giving my daughter a hard time about being adopted and they said to her that she did not grow in my belly – like it was an insult.  She looked at him and said no, she did not grow in my belly but rather she grew in my soul.  Best answer ever.  And indeed they did.

 

Mommy and Me at Playlist Live: The Aftermath

Watching them grow up is often a struggle for me.  My daughter’s excitement about coming to this event was infectious and at times extreme.  So it is no wonder that she experienced some disappointment; she had built it up in her mind to be something so spectacular that it was bound to disappoint in some way.

She is at an age now where the presence of her friends is part of what she needs.  It was nice to be here for her, but it would have been nicer had she brought a friend.  Someone with whom she could share her excitement and disappointment.  She could tell me about it and we can process it but that is not the same as being with someone who shares those feelings.

Indeed, the event was a disappointment in many ways.  She did not get to meet the people that she wanted to meet.  There was not much to do all day except walk around among the perhaps 15,000 people here hoping to meet someone she admires.  And the noise was incredible.  It seemed very much like watching a trailer for a movie that is really funny and then going to the movie and realizing that the only good part of the movie was the trailer.

I found the event fascinating in many ways.  So many young people in one place without any trouble going on.  I did not see any evidence of drinking, drugs, not even much profanity.  They were genuinely well behaved and often quite kind.  There were very young people giving out free hugs, songs, dance, and discussions on things such as bullying, body image, self expression.  And music that seems to appeal to this younger crowd more than it does me.  There were some with shirts expressing ideas that were troublesome (like the shirt that said “dead girls can’t say no”).  But overall I was really impressed with these young people.  That, however, did not make the event enjoyable for my daughter.

Throughout the day I watched her go from excitement and joy to sadness and disappointment and back again.  It was hard.  As the mom there is a huge part of me that wanted to step in and make everything better.  And there were times where I tried to do that.  There were also times where I felt I needed to let her be in the struggle, let her just experience being sad, overwhelmed, and disappointed.

We spent quite a bit of time throughout this long day processing her emotions.  She came to a point where she was able to understand that it did not serve her to be overly attached to having something happen, having a particular person being here for her to meet.  She understands the pitfalls of letting her excitement run away with her.  The need to reality check her expectations.  We called it a learning experience.  She had more independence here than  I have ever given her at an event.  I did not hover constantly although I was constantly in the venue watching over her perhaps without her knowing or sensing that all the time.

So quickly she will be an adult making all her own choices and I have to give her some time to start doing that where I can guide the process and be there to help her understand what went wrong and why and what went right and why.  But she needs to have her journey, not the journey that I want her to have but the one that is authentically her own.  I find my daughter to be a fascinating young woman and while it can be painful at times to let go and watch her struggle, it is necessary to do so.  With kindness, with compassion, with support, with immense love, I know she can face anything.

Being Wuddles

My son had a speech issue when he was younger and certain sounds were hard for him.  He could not say cuddles so it turned into wuddles and somehow that became his name for me.  I remember the days when he would wrap himself in a blanket and throw himself into my arms saying “Wuddles, I need some cuddles.”  This was after he learned how to say cuddles.  It was so sweet and would make my heart melt every time.

Our bonding was different than that between my daughter and I.  They were so sick when we brought them home, but he was much sicker than she was.  His lungs were not as developed and he had asthma which was quite severe.  He was in the hospital about 30 times until he was 8 years old.  The endless sleepless nights holding him while he struggled to breathe at home and in the hospital.  The vigils when he was on a respirator, waiting for him to wake up again.  My heart hurts just thinking about it now.  And I know it is part of what makes the bonding with him feel so intense.  And my gratitude that he is now healthy is palpable.

This week my husband was talking to the kids about getting tickets to a game and taking them but my son does not want to go.  I felt badly for my husband because he was trying so hard.  But my heart was so filled with joy at the look on my son’s face, his excitement, about the fact that he would spend the time just with me.  My 13 year old man/child looked at me with a huge smile and said “it will be mommy and me time just you and me wuddles.”

He.  Melts.  My.  Heart.  Every.  Day.

I just love them so much.

Moonshadow

Parenting challenge – teaching the kids how to study.

Cat Stevens “Moonshadow” was playing today and I could not stop laughing.  Last year my daughter was in 6th grade and needed to learn about the moon phases.  She was struggling in school notwithstanding two tutors but she has a minor learning disability so we try different strategies.

For this moon phase studying I wanted to see if I could get her to learn off flash cards like I used to make when I was in school and wow was she resisting.  So I turned to a musical assist (the kids say I have a song for everything).  Every time she resisted studying or making her flash cards I would follow her around the house singing “I’m being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.”  It drove her insane.  I also turned to Dark Side Of The Moon and Bad Moon Arising.  But mostly Cat Stevens.

She studied those flashcards like a boss just to get me to stop.  It was hysterical.  But after about ten days I was like when the heck is this test.  She had said it was in one week.  So I emailed her teacher who reported the great tragedy of this moon phase test.  It seemed that my daughter had already taken the test before we even began to study for it and had not done well.  She forgot she had taken the test.

But she really does know the moon phases now.

The struggle is real.

Mommy and Me – Playlist Live

Every year I take my daughter on what we call a “mommy and me” adventure.  This started several years ago because I wanted her to have some spectacular experiences and memories of things we do together.  Things she would remember all her life.

This year we are going to Playlist Live for the weekend.  A YouTube convention of what I guess are famous people among the young people.  I don’t use YouTube much so I don’t even recognize the names of the people my daughter says she is so excited to meet.  But she is so exited and that is fun in itself even though I am somewhat dreading the throngs of teenagers, the noise and confusion.

Being a mom is something that I always wanted and that I enjoy.  I’m also good at it.  Not perfect but really good.  I say that with relief and gratitude.

And I love being that mom.  The one the other kids call mom.  Two of my daughters friends even admitted that they stalk me on the internet.  That’s funny.

But mommy and me time is special.  And we have done some incredible things.

The first year we did this she was 6 and we took a limo to NY and shopped, had a beautiful lunch at a place called “Alice’s Tea Cup” where they sprinkled her with fairy dust, put wings on her, we shopped and had an incredible time.  The next year we took a limo to Boston where we shopped, had a fancy dinner where they wrote princess in chocolate on her plate (she wore a tiara all day), and then went to the Boston Opera House to see Mary Poppins.  The kiddy spa weekend when she was 8 was also a riot.  We got mommy/daughter couples massages and it was so funny to hear her say “mommy you never told me about this” while she got a massage.  I could not help but wonder what muscles hurt in her little 8 year old body.

Now she gets to participate in the planning of these adventures and so we are going to Playlist Live.  She has been asking to go to this for 3 years and I have always said no.  But this time she started with “I know you are going to say no, but…”  So I just looked at her and said “ok”.  The look of shock and excitement on her face was fun to watch.  It made me realize that part of these days is teaching her that dreams can come true.  A little planning, a little footwork, and they can indeed come true.  I know this because she and her brother are my dreams come true.

But, oy, a YouTube convention.