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Archive for the ‘FAMILY’ Category

Being a pregnant or mom hoping to adopt is hard.

Being a mom of a newborn is hard.

Being a mom of a toddle or preschooler is hard.

So is being a mum of a child in elementary school, an adolescent, a teen …

Hey, being a mum is hard.

My three are all now wandering through their twenties. Post secondary schooling, careers, new relationships, travel, pets, moving out from under the family home … they are flying solo, mostly out of our nest, more often soaring on winds from other places … from other people.

I have to admit, this has been the hardest mom-stage for me. To go from the equivalent of a cruise ship director to a sideline spectator is a big role adjustment.

The other day I read a post called, 15 Things I want my Teenagers to Know, by Jess at Wonderoak. Though my kids are no longer teens there is much similarity in her list and what mine would be at this, next, stage.

It got me to thinking … what would my list be?

So, here is my list of 10 things I want my 20-something ‘kids’ to know :

  1. Even though I sometimes struggle with your independence, I also admire and am thankful that you are living life with little need of your dad and I.
  2. Though your need of us is significantly less, I still yearn to brought into your life … to hear your tales of life and living, to share the joys, laughter and sorrows of life.
  3. You are not how you feel. Your emotions are real and valid, but they do not define you, nor are they your identity.
  4. In the words of another mother, I know things. Oh, how we parents of adults love to impart our knowledge (insert rolling eyes … yours and mine). Feel free to ask … how to clean that spot on your favorite shirt, how to keep plants flowering, the meaning of life …
  5. Ask me about your childhood. You are in the stage of life that is sifting through your life so far. Let me share my experience of the events of your early years. Let me express the big picture, imperfect, first years of your life … maybe even surrounded by photos.
  6. I love when you send that picture of the yellow tree (Forsythia), that clip from a movie we loved, that meme of a joke we shared, the lyrics of a song we sang driving to school, to swim meets, to play practises.
  7. I still want to know about your friends. I want to know who you love and who loves you … it reminds me that you are okay, that you will be loved beyond me.
  8. There are three of you who shared similar (but not exactly the same) histories … I hope you hold those relationships in high regard, with mutual love and respect. They may, or may not, be relationships that are easy, but you each share with the others what you will not share with any others in this life.
  9. I love you, I love you, I love you. I am hearing Sharon, Lois and Bram singing, I love you in the morning, in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, underneath the moon … my hope is that you will feel it, that you will know it.
  10. I don’t love you most … I never will, nor will another other mere human. Your very breath was given to you by the Creator of the world, you were bought with a price … because you were, you are worth the cost.

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To my grade one doppelganger (except, you’re not, because we are biologically related).

From day one of your life, I felt as though I was simply your carrier, the one who bore and delivered you into this life. For, from my first glance of your squirmy body, you looked like your daddy. Your copper-colored hair, your squinty bright blue eyes, your face shape, your skin tone … all of it. And I loved every bit, for a mother does not love a child for what she knows, but simply because the child is hers.

Then, when you were not ever two, we moved and the receptionist and nurse and our new doctor’s office were in awe at how much we looked alike. Though I doubted what they said, it did warm my momma heart that we might share something more than just DNA.

A few years later, I picked up photos from the drug store (because that was the way it was done back in the stone ages). As I flipped through the images of our growing kids I was immediately halted when I came to the photo of you at a birthday (above). The same squinty eyes, the same smile, and face shape, and eyebrows, and even the hint of similar freckles was looking back at me … not at the 30-something momma of three, but the grade one me. Heck, you even tilted your head like me … just in the opposite direction.

I don’t know why exactly seeing that we were similar was so comforting to me. Maybe there is something primal about it …

maybe I simply longed to see,
not me in you,
but you in me?

The perfect unity of I am in you and you are in me. Oneness, perhaps, was my heart’s desire.

Today is your birthday. A quarter century of the gift of life. A gift that comes with little foretaste of what will come your way … the tough decisions to be made, the struggles (with relationships, with health, etc.). Sometimes it can feel that it is too hard … but, hard is accompanied by other things … the better things (relationships, art, beauty in nature, successes at work, good food … cats) and these things are the things that bring a twinkle to our eyes … our squinty eyes.

I wish you a new year of things that make you smile, sunshine that brings out your freckles, squinty-eyed smiles and oneness.

I love you, my baby girl. I am so glad that you are mine … and I am yours.

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In 1969 the term Helicopter Parent (HP) was first coined in a book called “Between Parent & Teenager.” But it was in the 1990s when the phrase became part of our conversations.

This generation planned play dates, scheduled extracurricular sports, lessons and tutoring, pushed towards a failure-resistant future. HPs are known for being over-involved in their children’s friendships, schooling (even university), housing (of adults) and future plans.

Since I entered the realm of parenting in the early 90s, I am part of the generation of parents who were considered ones who hovered over our children (though I am from Generation X, not the typical Boomers, who represent the copter parents). We are the first generation who notoriously feared for our children’s every move. Our elementary-aged children were not typically ones who left the house after breakfast and not return until lunchtime.

The thing is, helicopters eventually need to land.

The same could be said for parenting.

Chuck Yeager (a pilot who broke the sound barrier) said,

“If you want to grow old as a pilot,
you’ve got to know when to push it,
and when to back off.”

He could have been speaking, equally, about parenting. For, even those of us who have spent our parenting years hovering over our kids, eventually need to land … backing away from the controls, allowing them to take total control of their own flights.

And, you know what, there will be dangers, and uncertainties, and failures, and life-altering decisions … this is part of life and living … and it is the only way for one to learn their own way.

As I was reading interesting facts about aviation, something stood out to me.

Periodically, pilots on a plane place the controls in the hands of George, saying, “George is flying the plane now.” George is simply reference to the autopilot system of preprogrammed direction, speed, etc. This gives the pilot opportunity to address other issues related to flying.

When I read about this I found myself snickering, thinking that perhaps we helicopter parents need to rely on George, the autopilot … or, by another name, on God, the co-pilot of all of our lives. This is the only way to back off wisely.

What our adult children need most is not security from harm, heartbreak and failures, but opportunity to learn from their mistakes, build resilience in relationships that don’t always go as hoped and develop an understanding that failure is ways we learn. All of that leads each of us to look for someone to be our co-pilot … God.

Helicopter parents, it’s time to let George fly.

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Today is the day I celebrate my main man, more commonly known here simply as hubby (for, though he is famous in my heart, I like to keep his identity mostly to myself).

I am thankful for this man, born on the day (usually) following the dark winter solstice. He likes to say that his birth heralded the increase of more light. He does, indeed, light up my life.

I have now spent over 60% of my life with this man and I can no longer fathom life any other way.

Marrying so young, we have learned so much together. Music is an area where we do not often share common ground, except when it comes to hymns. He has opened my eyes to the beauty of the sound and theology that is expressed in ancient songs, usually sung in ancient cathedrals.

So, on this day of celebration of his birth, I thought I would share his favorite Christmas carol sung in his preferred manner (congregational singing … despite the fact that he almost exclusively listens to music sung by choirs … perhaps congregational singing is simply the way this carol is best intended).

Hark the Herald Angels Sing was originally titled, “Hymn for Christmas-Day” and truly it is that, for it is often sung at worship services on Christmas Day.

Written by Charles Wesley, it was first published in a book called, Hymns and Sacred Poems, over 280 years ago. Changes were made to the words, over the years, but the meaning, the theology, the story of the celebration of celestial heavenly choirs at the birth of the Savior of earth remained. The jaw-dropping, celebratory music of Mendelssohn was eventually added, as if it was designed especially for the lyrics.

It is based off of the passage from Luke 2:13-14 :

And suddenly
there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

When I asked hubby why this carol, he replied, “it is the perfect combination of musical score (Mendolhson) and theology….”

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King:
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Refrain:
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.

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I opened the envelope, with a bit of trepidation in my heart. The manilla envelope dated 1972, was written on in the meticulous writing of my mum, For Carole Wheaton ONLY then, circled were the words, adoption info.

I have known since a very young child that my mum had me as a single woman and that, when they married, her husband, asked to adopt me.

I have been fortunate to have always felt loved, wanted, adored by both of parents, one by blood and both by sweat and tears.

Inside the folded and excessively taped envelope were three more envelopes, two of them yellowed with the years, the third still white, written on the front, This is for Carole Wheaton ONLY.

I first opened the newer envelope. Inside, folded up was an older envelope, a letter from my mum, including the name of the man who is my biological link to life. I moved this aside.

Then the other two envelopes. The first I opened was the final adoption order.

The second one I opened was from the office of the lawyer who oversaw the adoption process. In the letter he says “I appeared before the Judge of the … County Court with the Petition and these documents and the Court is issuing an Interim Adoption Order which will become final in one years time.” I smiled.

Then I lifted the letter, to reveal a longer piece of paper, with a red sticker, stamped with the County stamp, and in bold lettering ADOPTION ORDER … so old-school official looking.

This was simply the best. This was the legal evidence of his pursuit of me to be his own.

Then, because dates have always been a thing for me, a manner that, in so many instances, I have seen the hand of God, I looked for the date of this adoption order …

It couldn’t be … was all I could think.

For, just two years ago (today), on November 25, 2019, my dad …

the only dad I have ever known, ever wanted to know … the father who chose me, bought me with a price (cause I have the invoice for the costs associated with my adoption), the man who raised me to believe I was valued, worthy … then man who gave flesh to my understanding of the love of God the Father, who adopted us in grace …

died, leaving what and who are seen, for that which is beyond the bounds of life and breath.

But, fifty years ago, today, I was adopted by my father. Today is like a birthday for me, for today I was grafted into his family, with all of the legal rights and responsibilities of a daughter born of flesh and blood. I was blessed beyond measure for the forty-eight years with him and how God, through His will gave me such a good father.

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There is a Japanese word that I recently discovered,

Yūgen

It has to do with a deep emotional response that is triggered by a profound awareness of the universe (Wikepedia)

When I encountered it, I was visiting my childhood home. It was the day I arrived and was taking a walk, soaking in the East coast air, the great big sky and the changing leaves. Everything about the sights, sounds and scents of that moment made me think of my dad, how he would appreciate each of these experiences … for this is what we shared … a love of the wonder of nature …yūgen.

Two years ago today I heard his voice for the last time, as I called to wish him a happy birthday.

Now there is silence.

Yet, because of our shared love and awareness of the natural world, I am reminded of him in the call of the coyotes, the mysterious fluttering of a hummingbird’s wings, the sunrise and sunset (red sky in morning, sailors take warning. red sky at night, sailors delight), the early spring budding of pussy willows, the scent of artisan roses, the moon big and bright in the sky … a leaf fluttering and falling from the branch of a tree.

You see, I still see him, hear him, for our shared love of nature, of Creation echos within me.

Two years later, I am learning to not only appreciate this nature connection, not only seeing him in that which we loved and shared, but I am learning the value of leaving a legacy. Leaving whispers of encouragement and love for those you love.

Leaving whispers in the dark that say, not just remember me, but remember who you were in my heart.

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Happy birthday to my firstborn.

There will be no birthday number talk, since … well, to rewrite Shakespeare,

“what’s in a number? One Mrs. Dunster’s donut would taste as sweet as two.”

I am writing this days before the day that marks your birthday. Writing just hours after being in my chlldhood home, sitting with my mum, your grandmother.

I heard your name quite a few times as I was with her. I heard stories about the months that you spent on the East Coast (the ‘other’ coast) as you did a semester at a university there a number of years ago. I heard about drives to look at the foliage, meals around your grandparent’s table, an early Christmas meal at your other grandparent’s home, your fashion advice for Grammie, the pet names you had for them. 

Mostly, maybe with the most excitement, I heard about how, since that short semester you have continued to keep in touch, with calls, texts and emails.

On this day of celebration of the gift of your very breath, this day I especially offer thanks for your very life, this day of gifts for you to unwrap … I just want to tell you how you have taught me about your great gift …

the present of intentional presence. 

If you have a gift that is wrapped especially glittery it is that of your intentional presence. When you are with someone, you are completely there, completely invested in the people, in that very moment. Not only that but you also make choices as to who you want to invest in and you apply your all to making the deposits necessary in their lives so that one day there will be dividends.

You invest in those you’ve chosen, even when there is little payback, even when the recipient has been unappreciative of your efforts. I believe you do this, because you are committed to doing that which is right, that which leaves few regrets, that which, one day, you believe in your heart will grow.

When you make those regular contacts with your ‘G-units’ (grandparents) you are ensuring that you have given them your sparkly best. Not only that, but you have also reminded them that they are a gift to you and your life. That they are still worthy of your time and effort. That they are still needed and wanted and thought of … even when they are out of sight and so far away. 

Keep doing what you’re doing girl. 

You were a gift, you are a gift, you will always be a gift as you give your intentional presence.

This you have taught me.

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On March 14, 2020 I had a ticket to fly from the west coast to the east, but then … Covid.

I wrote, a week before scheduled to fly across the country, “from the west coast to the east, from one home to another, my mind begins to prepare for the sights, smells and sounds that will, in all probability, trigger the emotions of grief when I arrive.”

It was to be my first time back, in my province of origin, in the home of my childhood, with the people whom I shared the beginning of life … after the death of my dad in the fall of 2019.

Firsts, after the death of a loved one, can be triggers of grief that still lingers in the heart and mind. They can awaken a loneliness for that individual, as well as for who you were with them … for not only are they gone, but so is the part of you that was loved, adored uniquely by them.

So when I recently boarded the plane headed in the direction of my life’s beginnings, as I returned to my childhood home and family … I was so very aware that there would be one missing from that reunion.

There was a great part of me
that feared
that the weight of his absence
would be crushing …
but it wasn’t.

Though he is no longer there,

no lingering hugs that speak the words of the heart,

no squinty eye smiles from eyes so blue,

no fresh biscuits from the oven,

no information about houses for sale in their area (hints to move ‘back home’)

… he lives on.

I felt his life as my brother offered to drive me from the airport, the long way, so I could see the sights (and as he cringed when I shut the car door too hard).

I felt his life in the lingering embrace of my other brother, surprised to see me standing in his driveway (and in his use of ‘huh’ when he didn’t hear what was said the first time).

I saw his life in my nephews eyes, shining bright.

I heard his life in my niece, as she greeted me with warmth and unhindered excitement.

I felt his life in the stories my mum shared … so many stories that speak of a life … not perfect at all, but a life well lived.

He lives on …

It is a bit disturbing to admit that it wasn’t crushing to return …

but he wasn’t absent, he wasn’t missing.

The best of who he was still is …

it exists in pieces,

shared by each of us.

The seeds of his life have been planted in us and they keep growing,

for he lives on … on both coasts.

One day, while there, I was walking around the streets of the neighborhood of my parent’s home with their dog. A man, walking toward me, said, “is that Daisy?” I nodded and introduced myself. In very basic language, he went on to tell me that he and my dad spoke often. That he was a nice man. That he missed my dad. I told him I miss him too. We walked and talked a bit more … his simple expressions of remembrance of my dad filled my heart … he’s still here, in Bill too.

There was no grief in this visit for me. Only memories of a good life and evidence that the seeds he planted continue to grow.

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An oldie but a goodie image 😉

Here in Canada, turkeys are a-roasting this weekend as we pause to give thanks for all that makes up life and living.

For me, Thanksgiving is always connected to our youngest, our son.

At 10:10am, on Thanksgiving Sunday, October 10, he breathed in the air of life and I inhaled gratitude … for life is tender, fragile, not guaranteed.

Our very own Ben 10 is one I have immense thanks for, so today, gratitude is great, celebration is due.

As I feel and know gratitude for him, I pray that he always live a life of gratitude.

For gratitude is our exhale, and it is in the breathing out of thanks that gratitude is inhaled.

When we sit around a table, as we bow our heads in thanks for our food, his grace is always one of thanks.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when he offered thanks for the food, for his sisters, for his parents. This is not odd for him to do, for he knows where who is the Giver. Yet, on this particular day, I was not feeling particularly worthy of such appreciation.

Since that day I have thought numerous times about his offering of thanks … for one who had not been graceful to him just hours earlier. His gratitude, despite imperfection from the one he expressed thankfulness for, has been a new lesson for me.

It is easy to be thankful

for food … when it tastes appealing
for work … when we are enjoying it
for education … when we are succeeding
for people … when we are in good relationship with them
for the new day … when it is sunny

Yet, gratitude is not simply for the things that feel good at the time, for our thanks does not come after, but before the blessing. Thanks is the attitude of faith in the One who gives, not an acceptance for what has already been received.

Gratitude is the attitude that preexists the reality of what we are given … whatever it may be.

In being PRE-thankful … in ALL things, we are preparing for the good, bad and ugly that comes to us in life. We are being cognizant that gratitude is due, even though our mortal self may suffer. This is a great mystery, yet, for those who practise gratitude in all things … a peace that passes human understanding is the gifted result.

Ben knows this. He lives this life of gratitude in all things. He is not perfect, for his closest teachers (that would be his parents) have not modelled this consistently, his humanness fights against such illogical practise. Yet, as I hear him give thanks, for those who have let him down, I am encouraged that his life is heading in the right direction.

Happy birthday Ben. My encouragement to you today, are from the words of Paul,

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Months ago I began writing a blog post. The title, above, was all I wrote. Though I do not remember what exactly I planned to write, I know that I planned to reflect on our anniversary, as we reached the milestone of 32 years married.

And here we are, 32 years under our belts and a title for a blog post.

So, what is a promise?

  • a declaration or assurance that one will do a particular thing or that a particular thing will happen (Oxford Dictionary)
  • a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

But, these are nouns, things like a piece of paper, a marriage certificate, a legally binding document.

A marriage is more than paper and ink, more than a one-time declaration.

Marriage is a living entity. A moving, breathing organism. So, to define a promise we also need to look at it’s verb definitions:

  • to tell someone that you will certainly do something (Cambridge Dictionary)
  • to undertake to do something in the future (Free Dictionary)
  • to give ground for expectation (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

It is here, in the verb definitions, that our understanding of what a promise is takes form and brings understanding … understanding not just in words, but with feet to put it into practise.

Let’s be quite honest here, promises are not easy.

To make this marriage promise-making even more difficult, they are promises made in ignorance … trust. For neither knows what events, challenges and decisions are to come, that will poke and prod us as individuals and as a couple, that will change us, that will change the face, behaviors and mind of the one to whom we make these promises.

  • to have and to hold from
  • for better for worse
  • for richer for poorer
  • in sickness and in health
  • to love
  • cherish

Hubby is not the man I made those promises to …

and I am not the woman who he made those promises to either.

We have changed. Changed in how we live and think. Changed in how we spend our time. Changed in how we spend our money. Changed our location of living. Changed in our perspectives about issues that are important. Changed in how we see the world. Changed in how we see each other.

yet …

(and I can only speak for me)

I made a promise to you …

till death us do part …

And a promise should not be kept with gritted teeth, but with intent to make good what was said.

For the promise I made did not come with a caveat … no conditions or limitations.

It was not a promise to our marriage if … but even if.

Marriage is the covenant that God chooses to show, to reflect his holiness.

This promise-making is what can bring us closer to understanding the love of God (the groom) for His bride (the church). His promise is eternal, unconditional, unwavering and has far more to do with the promise maker (God) than the one to whom the promise is made (the bride).

It is not promise making for the sake of our happiness, but to bring us closer to THE promise-maker!

We must continue to hold firmly to our declarations of love, of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful.

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