Nine years ago, you walked into my life and my world changed completely. At that moment, the life I thought was good, became great. God saved you for me and for that I thank Him every day.
You started the day as Hong Hao Yuan Jie and ended it as Grace Yuan Jie Locke.
You opened the door for so many other kids who needed families. When they saw you and heard your story, they too, chose to adopt an older child.
You never cease to amaze me - your compassion, your strength, your determination, your love. You make me look forward to the future so I can witness the amazing person you are becoming.
Thank you for being my daughter.
My last post might have seemed like I was complaining, but I truly wasn't. I recognize that all of these experiences do not last very long. And, although I thought I had a good handle on this role of parent, I found out this summer, I do not.
I have watched as moms post how sad they are as their kids reach new milestones - going to kindergarten, middle school, especially those headed off to college. And I've thought to myself, "I won't be sad when mine leave. I will be so proud of the progress they've made that I will celebrate it instead."
I was sure I was going to be different than the other moms.
And I would probably still be thinking that except for something that happened this summer.
Our house was built in 1923. Slowly, but surely, we are trying to bring it into the 21st century or at least the second half of the 20th century. My daughters' bathroom still had the original tub, not a pretty claw foot that people covet, but a massive cast iron tank of a tub. This thing was big and so old that the one of the handles was marked refuse, meaning the drain. There was no way to convert it to have a shower, which is needed if you have a teenager, especially if your hair is waist length.
So a decision was made to rip out the tub and put in a shower. This ended up taking most of the summer. Until then, everyone just used my shower. When the job was finally finished and it was time to move the huge assortment of shampoos, conditioners, and soaps to their new shower, it suddenly dawned on me that, for the first time since becoming a mom, I had my own bathroom, again.
That's when it hit me! I missed them! I missed all the messes and the need for a schedule, I missed the wet towels, and pile of clothes in the floor, I missed it all and they were just down the hall from me!
Oh no! How will I handle college?
We live less than 5 minutes to my job, grocery store, downtown, and one of the hottest areas of Dallas. Great, right?
The only problem - every, single thing for my daughters is a minimum of 30 minutes away. For school, while this isn't the best, it's ok, because they stay all day, they get dropped off and then picked up 8 hours later.
Lately though, we've added more and more places they have to be.
Last year, we added Chinese school. Still no problem, as they have a class for the parents during their class.
This summer, we added drivers training school. Class lasted 2 hours, so I could drive 30 minutes to drop them off, 30 minutes home, 30 minutes back, and 30 minutes back home, or I could wait. But there was no where to go and it was incredibly hot. For someone who has a really tight schedule, this was difficult.
With the start of school has also started group projects. Because it is a charter school, the students come from all over the area and numerous cities. For the last 2 Saturdays I've been taking one daughter to meet her group, 30+ minutes away, to work on their project. Each time for about 2 hours. Ugh!
This Saturday, I'm sitting outside the school, waiting.
So I've decided I need one or both of the following -
A more comfortable car to wait in
IPad, so I can write on a larger keyboard than my phone offers!
My dad wears a size13 in shoes. I took after my dad. I have always had big feet. In school it could prove embarrassing when your feet were bigger than the boys. I eventually grew into my big feet and finding shoes is fairly easy.
My daughters on the other hand have very petite feet and it is almost impossible to find any choices in a size 5. Usually what is in a 5 was either meant for a much older woman or a kid.
Tonight is the big freshman social. I have extremely good kids and both were ok with wearing something they already had but i knew this event meant more so i insisted we go shopping.
Grace usually knows exactly what she is looking for. She requires little input because she has worked it out in her mind way ahead of time and when she finds it, she Is satisfied.
Annabel, on the other hand, does not see the need for all the fuss and thinks t shirt and jeans should be appropriate for all occasions.
We actually found exactly what each wanted within the first hour and then we moved onto the shoe department.
I asked for anything they had in a 5 and the salesman just shook his head.
Not to be defeated, i led us to the next shopping center that has 2 shoe stores, surely we could find something.
As usual, Grace found just what she wanted within the first 5 minutes, only i balked at the price, the fit, the height of the heel, pretty sure we could do better.
Annabel gravitated toward the sneakers. I put my foot down and said no way was she wearing sneakers.
We pressed on to the next store.
The next store.
At that point i was tired, hungry, and ready to go home so i did what i should have in the first 5 minutes of our search and bought the shoes they liked.
I've dropped them off as my shift to volunteer doesn't start yet but as i did they both said thank you one more time and went to the social in just what they wanted, sneakers and heels. I love my girls.
I was really sure that tonight I would be able to sit down and catch up on the many things going on this week. Unfortunately I'm having one more night of frustration. We decided to upgrade our internet service to Uverse, just in time for the girls to do research needed on a big project due tonight at midnight. Each night we have had a new tech who assured us that they had solved the problem that the previous tech had not caught. Each night I've spent considerable time on the phone with AT&T trying to report that it still was not fixed, becoming more frustrated each recording that I had to listen to.
Tonight? No internet.
Sometimes when I am writing I get a little sidetracked and miss the point of my story, so today I am going to do a Paul Harvey imitation and tell the rest of the story.
With Grace sick, I've realized I have felt a great deal of stress. Of course I was worried because she did not feel well but I also realized that it felt like more than that.
I am a horrible caretaker. I recognize this weakness and have told my parents that if they ever need a caretaker, I hope I will be able to afford to pay someone to do it. But when my kids get sick, I try to overcome this. But I already knew this about myself and did not think that was really it either.
Sunday I jokingly told Annabel that I was afraid that the teachers at the Chinese school would think I wasn't a good Chinese mother because I let them get sick.
BAM! That's when I realized the source of the stress - I feel like I have failed my kids when they get sick! AND that I might be perceived as a bad mother.
Yes, I can be rational and know that none of this is true, but I can't help but think, "what could I have done to help avoid Grace getting the flu?". Sure, she went out without a coat one day that it was cold, went to bed with wet hair, did not eat her fruit, none of which caused her to get the flu, I know, but was there something else, something I missed? They had their flu shots and I was trying to be diligent, yet I failed because the end result was she got sick.
AND if that's not enough, I have really stressed because I felt like some were raising an eyebrow in suspicion of my mothering skills when I told them that she was sick. I was quick to point out that we had gotten the flu shot in December as my defense! I was prepared! Or at least I tried to be. I want to ask them, "What else could I have done? Was it not enough garlic? Should I have insisted on more water? Do YOU hold the key to detering this illness?". OK, I haven't done that, but I have wondered and they probably aren't thinking anything other than, yuck, the flu.
This brings me to another thought. There has been a story in the news lately about a horrible situation in which a young boy ran ahead of his mother and was hit by a car and killed. I cannot imagine the pain that mother is going through, how many times she has replayed the event, stopping at each frame to see how she could have prevented it, yet each time she has to play it through to the same ending, no matter how much she wished it could change.
Being a mom is hard. I don't think there is another job that requires as much due diligence 24/7, because there is always the risk of that one second where things can go terribly wrong.
I know I have it much easier as a mom than most. My girls are extremely self-sufficient. I don't have toddlers who rely on me for all their daily needs. My girls have good judgement, usually, so I don't have to second guess each of their decisions. I can go on and on as to why my job is easier, but when they get sick, maybe we are all more similar than different, regardless of their age and ability. Sometimes it is hard to be the mom.
It's not about sandwiches! It's about my life!