Choose Wisely

complicatedmelodi.com readers: This will be the last blog at this site. I’m moving over to mimirobinsononline.com. I hope that you add the new site to your bookmarks. You can also sign up by email over at the new space. Hope to hear from you soon.

Last year, I decided that I had reached my limit. After months of coming home from work too tired to play with my daughter, barely smiling at my husband and spending weekends confined to bed, I finally realized that I was in a bad place.

I was living in a city that I didn’t feel attached to, in a job that I didn’t really like and too tired (or too depressed) to make any changes. I wanted to be closer to family and to feel more connected to my community. I felt like I was barely living. I was wasting time.

After a stressful week at work, I finally broke down sobbing to my husband.

I can’t take it. I don’t want to work there anymore. I don’t want to work for anyone. I want to change my life.

What do you want to do?

I don’t know. Something different.

Let’s move…to South America. Let’s take a six month sabbatical and take language immersion classes. Then we can travel to different cities and do volunteer work. Nana will be fluent in Spanish. We’ll have an amazing time.

I was completely serious. But, yeah…uhm. That didn’t fly.

I’m blessed though. Because my husband didn’t dismiss my distress. We talked about it. And talked about it. And kept talking about it.

It took a few weeks of iterative discussions before we finally settled on moving back to one of our hometowns. I would focus on my daughter and getting a web business up and running and he would continue to focus on his career. After considering cost of living and job markets, we decided to move back to my hometown.

It took six months of discussion, planning, saving money, spending money, freak outs, calm down sessions and true commitment to get us ready to make the move.

When I finally announced at work that I was leaving, I was met with both absolute delight and incredulity. I had to remind myself that someone’s response to your plans are often reflections of their personal situation. Their responses often have nothing to do with you.

People that are happy with their lives want others to be happy too. Those who want to change but haven’t found their way will meet you with resistance. Ignore them.

It’s been a month and it has been the best decision that I could have made. I haven’t laid in bed a single day yet. I’m homeschooling my daughter. I’m cooking everyday. I’m hanging out with my family. I’m reconnecting with friends. I’m getting involved in my community. I’m dating my husband. I’m happy.

Changing your life isn’t necessarily easy, but for me, it was essential. Every day you get to make a choice in how you are going to live your life.

Choose wisely.

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Add Water and Stir 19: Adoption Disruption and Rehoming

AdoptiveBlackMom

The Podcast! The Podcast!

Be sure to join Complicated Melodi’s Mimi and AdoptiveBlackMom’s ABM this Thursday as they wade into to touchy subjects of adoption disruption and adoptee rehoming.  What kinds of things lead to adoption disruption and how common (or uncommon) is adoptee rehoming?  The ladies will talk about various articles on the topics and share some of their own musings about some of the scary topics no one really likes to talk about when it comes to adoption.

The ladies will catch up on their respective homefronts, chat about trash tv, and mayhaps, drop a few recommendations, too!

Tune in live on Thursday, April 16th at 9:30pm EDT/8:30pm CDT on Google Hangouts.  Or catch us later on Youtube, our podcast page, Itunes and Stitcher and be sure to leave us a review!

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I’m Officially a Soccer Mom

Saturday was Nana’s first day of soccer!

Nana was excited, not because she had any idea of what soccer is, but because her “best friend” Gigi was going to be there. I totally got it.  Getting to hang out with your girlfriend outside of working hours is a guaranteed good time.

She chattered and sang the whole way to the fitness club.  We both share singing as an expression of happiness so I love listening to her random nursery rhyme remixes.  This was sing-a-long on steroids because she was constant and LOUD for the entire 20 minute drive.

The class was filled with little ones ranging from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old with all that wonderful kid energy that keeps you young. Some kids were running around and shrieking, some were being tended to by their parents. Nana got swept up in the energy and immediately ran into the mix. Those little legs were a-running.

Speaking of running, home girl is definitively un-fast.  Tortoise slow. Matrix slow.  Ketchup in a bottle slow.  You know how in cartoons the character’s legs are moving but they are running in place. Yeah, that’s Nana.  She is forever trying to race somebody though.  It is amazingly cute.

We picked soccer very deliberately. Nana is extremely social and easily distracted. She tends to follow the crowd and wants to always be in the mix. She is so busy that she doesn’t listen and finds it hard to finish a task to completion.  These are all normal three-year-old developmental milestones that some kids reach a little later than others.  I was willing to wait it out and let her mature a bit, but since her teachers have mentioned this listening thing multiple times, we needed to do something.

We get it.  Our child doesn’t listen. *sigh*

We hoped that soccer will help her with listening and following directions, focusing on a single activity and burning off this incredible amount of energy that she has.  Unrealistic expectations, much?

After a couple of minutes watching the kids warm up, I realized that I was a tad bit anxious. Real talk? I was stressed. Most of my time was spent comparing Nana’s behavior to the other children and keeping a running commentary in my head.

The other children are all lined up and waiting for directions, why is Nana running over here?  Oh, okay, that kid is rolling around on the ground, and that one is crying to her dad. Nana is doing alright then.  Yeah! She kicked in three balls and some of those kids only kicked in one.  She’s a natural! Wait, why is she picking up the ball with her hands?  Seriously Nana!  Pay attention!  Aww…look at her. She is so cute when she is running in place. Yay! She did it!

Wood was tense too.  We both stepped onto the field multiple times to help redirect Nana’s attention to the coach.  We would retreat back to the sidelines, arms crossed, physically forcing ourselves to stay put and just let her have fun. We had to remind ourselves that she’s only three.  Having fun is the point, right?

We weren’t alone. Other parents would step in to help their children, but I was hyper aware of how much time we spent in correction mode. When we weren’t fixing her, we were smiling through gritted teeth, making small talk with the other parents and trying our best to have fun and not be “those parents.”

Why was it so hard for us to just relax?

I admit that it’s hard to disassociate myself from Nana’s actions. The reality is that people see your child’s behavior as an expression of your parenting skills. If your child is running around and not following directions, then folks may think you are too lenient. If you child is way too focused and seems introverted, folks may wonder what’s wrong with them.

And as quiet as it’s kept, there is also an underlying racial component. Studies have shown that black children are judged more harshly even when doing the same things as their white counterparts. A lot of my reactions stem from an unspoken fear that someone will write my child off as the little sassy black girl that can’t follow directions.

How can we raise a #carefreeblackgirl when we have all these standards and expectations? When will she get the opportunity to just be, if not as a three-year-old?

I’m sure this will continue to be a struggle for us as we try to balance her opportunity to have fun and be a kid with our own internal concerns about how she is perceived.  Who knew that being a soccer mom came with all these extra bags?

Toddler Bits: Can I Wear Your Shoes?

Today when dropping Nana off, I noticed one of her classmates had on some cute cowboy boots.  I exclaimed over them and asked if she thought I could fit them.  She shyly shook her head no, with a slight grin on her face. Silly grownup.  How funny is it that an big person would want to wear her little shoes?

I started going around the room, “Ooh look at those Hello Kitty shoes, do you think I could fit those.”  The next girl grinned, and gave me an extended, “noooo.”  Then all the children started gathering around showing me their shoes so I could comment on them.  “What about those with the Spiderman, can I wear those?  Oooh, those light up, will my big toe fit?”  With each question, more children joined in until eventually my questions were met with a loud chorus of “NOOO!” and a whole bunch of giggles.

Finally, after commenting on everyone’s shoes and getting no one to pony up, I exclaimed in faux exasperation, “all of these cute shoes and no one wants to let me borrow them.”  Nana exclaimed, “You can wear mine, Mommy.”

That’s my girl!  I knew she would have my back.  Since her shoes are cuter than mine, I counting down the years to take her up on that offer.

Adoption Panel in Houston – February 28th

adoptionflyergraphic

RSVP to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thinking-about-adoption-panel-and-discussion-tickets-15777595212

Hosted by yours truly – Mimi in partnership with Spaulding for Children.

We will have adoptive parents to speak about their experiences and adoption professionals representing foster-to-adopt, straight adoption from foster care, domestic/private infant adoption and international adoption.

Please repost for folks that may be reading in Houston!

What do I write about now?

I think about writing often.  But the topics are always so elusive, right on the edge of my remembrance but too hazy to put into words.  When my ideas settle down, I am immediately and continuously self-editing, discarding each thought as dull, uninteresting or unimportant.

What can I write about now?

I’m done with all the foster care rigamarole – no more training, paperwork, visits.  We’ve taken down the gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.  Gosh, I hated those gates.  More than once I stubbed my toe or dropped everything trying to balance an armload of stuff and open the gates.  I rebuke those gates.

Our adoption is official.  Nana is happy and thriving.  We are a family.  What else is there to say?

Are you really interested in the totally terrifying and terrific threes?  I mean Nana has the mood swings like a mug.  She runs around jumping, singing and twirling like she is amped up on a case of Red Bull and then crashes in bundle of tears – oh, the tears, the sheer amount of tears – when its time for bed.  Where did all this energy come from?  When did you start crying at bedtime?  What is the world is happening?

But the times when she is amped.  Oh, man.  It’s party time.  We have dance breaks every day.  She plays air guitar.  Yeah, no idea where she got that from.  She improvises words on songs.  I’ll claim that one.  She gets that from her Mama.

We cook dinner and desserts together while listening to 90’s music.  I’m training her to be on MasterChef Jr and to be in a R&B girls group at the same time.  I know she has a few years to go, but train up a child and all that jazz.

But ooh child, you are getting too big to pick up like a baby.  How about I hold your hand and we walk together, okay, said while bent over trying to catch my breath.

By the way, did you know you have to buy whole new wardrobes for these children every year?  Every shirt I put on her, I think, why is your belly button showing?  It wasn’t even a gradual change.  Just one day, her pants were flooding.  I let her wear them anyway. *shrug* No one writes about that.  I’m still salty no one told me to start saving up.

Wood and I finally have a babysitter.  She’s booked twice next week.  Hallelujah for grandmotherly ladies who love little children.  She’s not expensive but that’s still money BEFORE we walk out the door.  Did I mention that you need to start saving up?

So the point is, the writing on this blog may not focus on foster care and adoption so heavily.  The reality is, we will always be an adoptive family and that will continue to affect our family in different ways but it won’t be the only thing we think about as we continue to develop as a family.

Hmmm, I guess I had a lot to write about.  And so it continues…

Add Water and Stir: Narratives & Flipped Scripts

AdoptiveBlackMom

On the 11th episode of Add Water and Stir, hosts ComplicatedMelodi and AdoptiveBlackMom explore National Adoption Awareness Month.  The month of November is often seen as a time when adoptive parents and adoption agencies celebrate families created by adoption, fundraise for agency efforts, host adoption expos and just generally promote adoption.  The narrative emphasizes how awesome adoption is and can be–and it is for those of us who have created families this way.  But this narrative largely ignores the voices of adoptees and how adoption shapes how they view themselves, their unique trials and triumphs and adoption as an industry.  Saying it’s complicated might be an understatement.

On Thursday night at 9pm CST/10pm EST, ABM and Mimi will chat about the dominant adoption narrative and the powerful, adoptee-led #FlipTheScript movement on Twitter.  As usual we’ll Wine Down with some Blackish and possibly some reality TV!

Join the dynamic duo on…

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Add Water and Stir – Episode 10!!

Help us celebrate 10 episodes! Check us out tonight at 9:00 PM Central/10:00 PM Eastern.

AdoptiveBlackMom

It's our Tenth-a-versary!! It’s our Tenth-a-versary!!

Join ComplicatedMelodi’s Mimi and AdoptiveBlackMom’s ABM on Thursday, Oct. 30th to celebrate their Tenth-a-versary!  That’s right, Add Water and Stir is celebrating it’s first 10 episodes with a look back at previous episodes of the podcast, their favorite blog posts and the evolution of their new families!

As usual the ladies will dish during the Wine Down, where they will officially try on Blackish as their new discussion show as well as other pop culture news items.

Join Mimi and ABM on Thursday night, October 30th at 10pm EST/9pm CST for the live podcast on Google+.  You can watch/listen to it later on Youtube, Itunes and Stitcher!

Tell us your favorite Add Water and Stir moments and topics via the comment submission box below and we’ll read them on Thursday night.  Feel free to also send us recommendations on future discussion topics!

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hair barrettes

Bows, Balls, Barrettes…Oh My!

I’m an old school momma so Nana’s hair is either in braids or ponytails.  If she has in ponytails, then she typically has balls on her ponytail holders and barrettes on the ends.

black girl hair style

After we had our first visit with Nana, I couldn’t wait to buy ALL the hair accessories.  I stocked up with all colors, pastels, primary, it didn’t matter.  I bought large and small ponytail holders in every color.  I bought all the good rubber bands.  One our good friends sent a Kaboodle with some additional accessories.  It was perfect.  Just what I needed to keep everything together.

But somehow over the past six months, my supply of accessories has been dwindling. I am now down to about 20 barrettes (in the worst colors) and I have no idea how this is happening.

The barrettes are on Nana’s head when she comes home but somehow they aren’t quite making it back to the Kaboodle.  If I didn’t know better, I would guess that Wood is secretly tossing them.  I’ve even ransacked Nana’s room thinking she might be squirreling them away. Nothing.

*shrug* It’s a mystery.  They are probably hanging out with the missing socks from the laundry.

Now this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem since the barrettes and beads were pretty cheap, but I just can’t find them in my neighborhood.  I have to make a trek over to the other side of town to find a beauty supply store.  I have tried Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Sallie’s Beauty Supply and even the Dollar Tree on my side of town and no bueno.

So until then, Nana will just have to make do with a head full of mix-matched colors.

Informing the outer circle: what do we say to those who don’t know we adopted

I live in a small gated community of about 40 patio-homes.   My neighbors and I drive through the gate and straight into our garages.  We rarely see each other unless passing each other walking to the mailbox or waving as one car passes another.  There are no front yards and most of the families are childless anyway, so you rarely see children out and about.

In the interest of building a community, we sometimes have community events like HOA meetings, garage sales or community night outs.  This Night Out was the first event since Nana joined our family.  So Nana and I rode her tricycle down to the end of the block to visit with our neighbors.

One of the couples asked, “Well, who is this little lady?”  I said, “This is our daughter, Nana.”  His response, “Huh?  Where have you been keeping her?”  I just smiled coyly and focused my attention on Nana since she was close to driving her trike into one of our neighbors.

Another neighbor, who I haven’t had a long conversation with since a garage sale TWO years ago, was so discombobulated she even made up a story.  “Oh my goodness, ” she remarked.   “She is getting so big.  The last time I saw her she was just a little baby.”  I was so taken aback I couldn’t even correct her.  I honestly wondered if she really even remembered who I was. It would be kind of hard to not place me since we are the only black couple in the neighborhood but *shrug*.

You know, I really didn’t prepare myself at all for these questions.  People that are in our daily lives are very aware of our decision to grow our family through adoption. We announced it on Facebook.  I blog and podcast about it (shameless plug for Add Water and Stir podcast). My friends and coworkers have met Nana. It’s pretty well known in my inner circle.

But I never thought about those people outside the circle.  Those folks that I speak with once a year.  Those associates that I run into at the airport, or at an alumni event, or at the park with their children.  Those folks who scrunch up their faces trying to remember when I was pregnant. The ones searching Nana’s face and then my face looking for a resemblance.   What, if anything, do  I owe people as they search for the right words to make sense of our situation?

Nothing.  I don’t really owe them anything. No shade.

It’s the exact same thing that I’m owed when I run into someone whose last name has changed.  Or when I have lunch with someone who no longer works with the same company.  Or when I hear that someone was in the hospital.  Since I’m a peripheral person in their life, they do not have to tell me any details of their life change.  My role is to listen, let the story unfold as they see fit and accept it for what it is.  “It’s Johnson now?  Oh, okay. Let me update my phone.”   “I heard you were in the hospital.  I hope you are feeling better.”  “This is your daughter.  Oh, she is so cute.  How old is she?”

My response is usually based on perceived intent inferred from their body language, phrasing of the question, previous encounters, and current relationship.  I didn’t consider my neighbors rude for their questions/comments, I just felt like they were asking for the sake of asking, not for genuine interest.  And meh, sometimes I don’t feel like answering just for the sake of keeping the conversation going.

For some more perspective on this question, check out the comments section of TAO’s post, “Are some adoptive parents too sensitive about questions, or...”