Six years ago…

…today my son was born.  Except I wasn’t there.  He was born to another mother whose exit from his life has left a hole so big that even more than half of his life later–it comes out in all the ways.

hands

My son is wonderful.  He is smart, funny, full of stories which are the direct path to my heart.  When I make him food he likes, he is quick to pour on the compliments and gratitude.  He tells me I’m beautiful, and–to my ever-living wonder, he means it.  He adores his sisters and brother.  He looks after them and loves them.  He invites them into his play developing them into little storytellers as well.  He is passionate and full of feeling.  He is my biggest helper.  He will pick up and clear the table and helps his sisters scrape their plates into the garbage.  He gets me the diapers I need for little brother and littlest sister.  He plays superheroes with his next sister.  They put down their pirate ships and have epic battles in my living room.  He is a TV zombie who loves stories in whatever their form. The biggest horror in his next sister’s life is that he is big enough to go to soccer and school and she is left behind.  Because HE is her hero.   When littlest sister needs help, she is as quick to call for him as she is for me.  Whenever he’s not home, she won’t stop asking for him–he’s her star.  superman

I don’t object to his being born to another mother.  There are times when I regret the things I missed.  The first steps.  The first smile.  But, I don’t object to the years I lost.  Six years ago, today, he was rocked by another mother.  A father certainly looked down on him in wonder–how could he not?  Grandparents squealed with delight as they held him for the first time.  This little, red-haired, tiny piece of a human.  He would have been so little.  So light.  So fragile.  So quick to cry–he couldn’t tell them his stories then.

And it will ever be both a tragedy and a miracle that I get to be the one who hears those stories. That I get to see his mind unfold the complexities of his world.  He’s gone from Turbinado–the hero with rocket packs nearly everywhere to Dark Matter–the super villain.  His mind feels out the edges of a story–and I wonder at it, because mine does the same thing.  There’s a real possibility that the two of us will begin working on a story together this year.  There’s a real possibly that he will continue to struggle with the hole in his heart.  And it will come out making other things harder than they should be.  Kindergarten is hard for lots of kids, but it will be harder for him.  Losing a friend is hard for everyone, but for him–it reawakens that first, biggest lost.

Because adoption is always associated with loss.  It is associated with complex feelings.  It is both beautiful and horrible.  For me, I am the lucky one.  And I want it to be understood that I am well aware of the magnitude of my blessing in this little man.  Tonight, I rocked him.  Tonight, I pulled him into my arms and made up a birthday song for him that his sisters and I sang together.  Tonight, my three oldest took turns getting tickles.  And I was the one who got to hear the lullaby composed of squeals of laughter.  Tonight, I kissed his head and left him awake with his book.  And tomorrow, when I wake, he’ll run to me and call me Mommy.

achildborntoanotherwomanThere is something a little impossible for me in not thinking of her when these moments come.   Because somewhere out there is another woman who thinks of this–her son–with sadness and I am not unaware of that either.  I don’t think you read my writing, but if you do, I’m sorry for your pain.  I’m just so sorry.  If it helps, he is loved.  He is adored.  He is wonderful.  He’s ok.  He loves you still and he is reminded often of your love.

Happy birthday, my son.  You are so very loved.

~Amanda

#FirstSevenJobs

Not sure why this became a thing, but I found thinking back to be very interesting (in reference to me) given that this is the last week of work for me at a place that has colored much of my adult life.

1- Babysitting

2- Dairy Queen

cherry di

3- Fred Meyer Shelf Straightening chick

4- Built printers at Hewlett Packard on an assembly line

5- Engineering Clerk at Tidland Corp (so much filing….)

6- Phone Customer Service Banker

bang

7 – Technical support for phone customer service reps

And because it rounds it out —

8 — Email Customer Service Banker

9– Fraud Analyst and Writer

Hallow Graves Cover Art

10– Mom and Writer (staring Monday!)

~Amanda

Things…news, events, memories, etc.

Three years ago on Tuesday, I published my first book.

LyingEyes_CVR_LRGWhen I look back at what I’ve accomplished since then, I am pretty dang impressed with myself.

But lets talk about what’s important.  Spiders.

Yes.

Spiders.

As in the giant house spider.  Something like this fellow:

gianthousespider

One of these evil little … um… things.  Well it CRAWLED across my desk on Tuesday.  Mere inches from my HAND.  From.  My.  Hand!

1)  I did not scream.  2)  I was forced to recruit someone else to kill it.  I am not ashamed of this.  It took me about 10 people to find someone to get rid of it.  3)  There is only one thing to be done.

Clearly, I must leave my job.

Nothing else can be done.  There could be a colony of them underneath my desk.  They may be currently planning to attack and embed themselves right into my flesh.  Nothing else, whatsoever, can be done.  I have to leave.  But in all seriousness, yes.  That’s right.  I am leaving my job of 16 years to be a full-time mommy and writer-from-home.  Today, I gave my leave.  I’m giving myself a year to slow down this crazy train and give my books a big push.  I don’t know what will happen but I’m grateful to be in a position to take a break and catch my breath and do things like snuggle my kids a little more and not lose it when my kids (inevitably) wake me every single night.  Currently daughter #2 wakes every morning at 4:00am.  Every. Single. Morning.  Then son #2 wakes at 5:00am.  I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re plotting against me and my job.

But not any more.  I have set *very* high goals and will be working hard in the coming year in order to make this year the first of many.  But, regardless of what happens, I’ll appreciate the chance to be only a member of the Allen Family Team and my only requirements be hugs for each of my babes and seeing to their health and happiness first and foremost.

Aren’t I so blessed?

~Amanda

ps, If anyone cares about what I’m reading, currently I’m re-listening to the Harry Potter audio books.

 

 

Sleep, oh sleep you beautiful thing…

Sleep is an elusive state of being as a parent.  It’s the weird shadow in the distance that’s always three Pokemon steps away.  WTH is that thing and why is it never catchable?  Why must it taunt me?

At my work, I set next to three dudes.  None of whom have children.  I was explaining to them the other day that–as a parent–you reach a level of tired where you feel physically ill.  Your stomach hurts.  You can actually feel your pillow under your cheek even when you’re sitting at your desk.  The longing for your comforter and mattress is so deep and abiding, it’s a physical thing.  You get so tired that your bones hurt inside your body.  You become abnormally aware of the placement of your shin bones.

Sometimes when I wake up now, I can feel the bones in the back of my heel. This actually happens to me every single day when the littlest wakes growl-screaming for his bottle.   This is not a life badge I’d have chosen out of the bag of life badges.  (That’s a thing right?  The life-badge bag?  The growl-scream is DEFINITELY a thing and it’s horrible.)

Sometimes, as a parent, you can sleep through anything.  Thunder storm?  Dogs barking?  Anything except the sound of your baby crying.  Maybe even just moving around in their crib or outside your door.

We’ve had a rough–like 6 months–of sleep issues.  Turns out you can’t really sleep train a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I’m a foster parent of a child who can get so angry while being tired that he’s physically incapable of settling down enough to sleep.  I mean…I don’t even have words for how I feel about that.  But if I were to start choosing some–they’d all have four letters.

We’ve added to this so many illnesses I want to punch someone.  My daughter had something called stomatis.  (It’s possible I spelled that wrong.)  Think canker sores, plus fevers, plus general yuckiness and lack of appetite plus a cough that makes you puke once you *finally* start eating.  She would wake every night, screaming “mommy” and be unable to sleep until I came into her room, told her she was ok, and settled her back onto her pillow with her blanket.  I am pretty sure that she didn’t even know she was doing it.  It was this sort of instinctive need to be soothed while so tired she was delirious.

The reason sleep is on my mind today is because I actually slept through my alarm.  This isn’t unusual for me.  But today, I slept through it for around an hour.  I woke to my littlest moving in his crib, having entirely missed the buzz of my cell phone from beneath my cheek.  Despite the fact that I had pushed snooze enough that it was still counting down.  This means I pushed it at least 3 or 4 times.

What. The. Ever-living. HELL…

So…parenting…it’s a bag of awesome.  But it’s also a bag of horror.  And there is my random tribute to sleep.  Good night!

~Amanda

 

I object…

In fact, I object strenuously and overwhelmingly.  It super pisses me off.  I am riding a little bit of a rage train.

What about you ask?

Let me give you a little background.  My life has been crazy for the last 4 years of single parenting, foster adopting, having my biggest supporters move across country, losing my Dad, working full-time and trying to make my books successful.  During that time I fostered 6 kids who I loved like my own. I haven’t seen two of them for almost 3 years.  It SUCKS.  So damn hard.  I worry over and love them still.  I adopted three after a roller coaster of years that left me a ball of worry and anxiety.  I didn’t believe the adoption would go through until after it did.  And then, somehow, we got a little surprise of a baby boy who is dealing with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome issues.  Those issues SUCK.  It doesn’t mean we don’t love the Bean but FAS is a beetttttccchhhhh!

Not surprisingly seeing the list above, I have been dealing with some anxiety issues.  What is surprsing to me as I deal with these things is the shame associated with mental and emotional issues.

In fact, it super pisses me off.

I **SHOULD** be overwhelmed.  Did you see that list up there?  That’s isn’t a crazy train.  It’s a crazy rocket flying to the crazy planet with the new queen of the crazy town.  Queen Captain of the Crazy Town, in fact.

That list is, in fact, bull crap.  And I’m working on making it more manageable.  Because I recognize that it is BULL CRAP.  But, as I came to the slow realization that my stress and worries were having physical and mental side-effects (again not surprising), I only did so because one person was willing to help me recognize what was happening.

I think that the reality is that a LOT of people are overwhelmed right now.  I think, in fact, that many people either are quietly taking anxiety and/ or depression meds.  Or they should consider taking them.  And taking them without shame.  I think that as a society we ask too much of ourselves.  We expect ourselves to do pinterest parties and cook organic kale for our children after we make them bread from wheat we grind ourselves.

What kind of nasty joke is that to play on ourselves?

I saw a post in a parenting group the other day about a mother who had her first child 5 weeks ago.  She was still trying to cook, clean, take care of herself, her baby, and her significant other including massages for said significant other.  I have no idea if she worked.

But.  What. The. Ever. Living. HELL?!!!

You just grew a human being and then pushed said baby out of your vagina.  You don’t have to give massages.  Or clean your bathroom for that matter.  And it’s perfectly acceptable to survive off of cheese and crackers.  Cereal is totally fortified.  Consider it.  If your significant other doesn’t like that–he’s welcome to order pizza or make the kale smoothies.  You aren’t responsible for everything.

Because, let’s be honest here, the ideal life doesn’t exist.  No one has it.  No one.  Not without staff anyway.  If you have a personal shopper and a chef, by all means, carry on and on about how you and your kids love your kale and organic strawberry smoothie every day.  But for me and my house–we eat Wendy’s.  Sometimes we eat cantaloupe, cheese, crackers, and lunch meat.  I don’t make sandwiches anymore.  The kids just eat the meat and cheese off.  So why pretend?

Why pretend that we’re perfect?  Why pretend that everything is okay?

I have a friend who is pregnant, gestationally diabetic, and dealing with serious health issues with her husband. I have a friend dealing with terrible anxiety.  Another dealing with both anxiety and depression.  I have a friend who has an autistic child and a child who has horrible anxiety.  That sweet thing is tiny and dealing with worse anxiety than I have.  I have a friend whose boyfriend is recognizing he has attachment issues.  One whose mom and grandma are having cancer scares at the same time.  I have a friend whose parents just divorced and it’s rough going.  A relative has terminal cancer and is leaving behind little children.  My mother has illnesses that no one has even heard of.  My sister struggles with infertility.  LIFE IS HARD.

Can’t we just admit that to ourselves?  LIFE IS HARD.

Why shoot for some impossible ideal?  Why worry and stress and expect more of ourselves that is reasonable to expect?  And why, for the love of all that is holy, WHY do we not admit that we can’t do it sometimes?  Why not just say–hey i’m struggling with depression right now, and I’m working on it?  Why not say, I have the stress poops, can’t sleep, can’t focus, and sometimes feel like I’m having a heart attack.  Stress is what is doing this to me and therefore I am 1) getting a doctor’s help and 2) expecting less than some perfect, impossible ideal from my life.

When I was going through these things one person told me that they didn’t want to have a mental health record so they weren’t going to get help.  What. The. Ever. Living. HELL?!??!    Why is society doing this to us?  Why are we doing this to ourselves?

As I was going through these trials this year, one person handed me a fast acting anxiety med when I was having a MOMENT and let me see the effect.  And thank God she did.  Because feeling like myself again for those 3 or 4 hours was heart-breaking and enlightening and just what I needed, and I wouldn’t have figured things out so quickly without her.

I don’t feel shame about having anxiety.  I object to the shame others might feel about theirs.  I object to a society that tells us we’re less if we have mental issues or physical issues or whatever it is for us.  I don’t feel shame about being frustrated with aspects of my life.  I have EVERY RIGHT to feel that way.  I don’t want those I love who struggle with depression to feel shame about it.  My son is on the attachment spectrum.  He has no reason to feel shame for his heart and mind having side-effects from the reality of his life.  The reality of his life demands and deserves those reactions.  Not even John Wayne was John Wayne.  And no one white knuckles the hard parts of life without side-effects.

You know what white-knuckling your life does?  It leads to sleeplessness, stress poops, lack of focus, depression, haunting worries, and–in my case–the inability to deal with other people’s bull crap.  My tolerance for other people’s crazy is low.  Now, I don’t mean anxiety or depression.  I mean the weird tricks and judgement we pull on each other.  You want to mom-judge me for eating Wendys?  Suck it.

You want to tell me my books aren’t good enough?  Suck it.

You want to make a snide comment about someone I love?  Suck it.

You want me to do something extra that I can not possible squeeze into my life and then get upset when I don’t?  SUCCCCCKKKKKK it.

There is no shame in being overwhelmed regardless of what the trigger in your life is.  You don’t have to have a mile long list.  It’s okay to be overwhelmed by school.  Or family.  Or any number of other things.  It’s okay to wear a button that says, leaving the house makes me want to puke.

But.  If you feel shame because you have attachment issues, or autism, or depression or whatever.

Stop it.  Stop it right now.

You’re okay.  It’s okay.  These are the side-effects of living.  Can we just make a deal?  I’ll try to be kind to you.  You try to be kind to me?  Let’s all just be nice humans.  Let’s stop expecting too much of ourselves.  Let’s stop seeking the perfect figures and perfect meals and perfect budgets and perfect cars.

My brand new van is a rolling trash heap / carrier of hoodies and school bedding.  Because if I don’t bring the laundry inside.  I don’t have to do it. And my arch nemesis is LAUNDRY.

But the mountains of clean and dirty clothes aside.  How about if we just stop judging each other.  Let’s start supporting each other.  Let’s not be afraid to say to someone, I can see you’re overwhelmed right now.  It’s okay.  I am here for you as much as I can be and even when I can’t help you pick up your load, I am loving the shiz out of you.

You got on meds?  Good for you.  I hope they’re working well for you.

You need insulin?  Good for our for figuring it out.

You need your boobs chopped because of breast cancer, I will totally buy you cookies cause who has time to bake?  But I am here for you in all the ways I can be.

Why can’t these all have the same level of not-shame?

I am so very grateful to the person who was NOT ashamed of her anxiety.  Because without her, I might still be sleepless.  Without her, I might still be having to stop to stress poop before work every day.  Without her, I might still be staring off into the distance incapable of focusing on my dreams and the mountain of laundry and horror.  Without her, I might still be struggling with the little things in my life.  Because of her, I went to the doctor.  Because of her AND her willingness to speak up, I got the medication I needed and Thank God for it.

I am on Busprirone. I have named it Susy and it’s my BFF right now.  Because a few weeks of that drug and some rest and I feel like the Amanda of 5 years ago.  Before my life got so stressful.  And I really liked that Amanda.

I like this one too.  Because I am being a nice human.  Even to myself.

#noshame #considercereal

~Amanda

 

 

There she goes again…

So, I have gone off on the lack of female figures in Imaginext a time or two.

And I thought I was finally done.

I mean…what can you say? That I anxiously searched the Imaginext and Toy Fair 2016 hoping they’d finally release Batgirl and Supergirl? I did.  (As far as I can tell, they’re not.)

Can I say that I considered buying stupid overpriced Halloween Polly Pockets to get the heroes in the right size range for her that way? Cause I did.

supergirl batgirl

Shall I tell you how I have been looking for Rey from the new Star Wars movie every single time I’ve gone to the store since I saw the movie? Cause that’s happened.

Why even bother telling you those stories? They ALL have the same theme. No heroes for my babygirl.

Until, that is this last Sunday. You see, I’d told my kids to go get toys before we left the house.

My son, as per usual, got a random assortment of Imaginext guys. My daughter was more particular. She got Robin—her favorite super hero. And several of the smaller My Little Ponies. Whereupon, as I heard her play while I wrapping things up before we left, you know what she was doing? She was sending her ponies and Robin on a quest for Starfire.

starfire

You see. She loves Teen Titans. Which is why she loves Robin. You can find Robin so… no problem. You can find Cyborg. But you can’t find either of the girls. Imaginext doesn’t make them. My daughter’s pretend play is a SEARCH FOR THE FEMALE HEROES.

This is where the headslamming began. Or continued. You choose. I have been, since I realized what she was doing, low-level furious.

Girls can be heroes.

Girls can do anything.

Girls should have heroes to play with if that’s what they love. One of my girls loves babies, and we have the baby stuff. The other loves to get on the floor with big brother and play with action figures. And, despite the new line of DC Super Hero girls that are FINALLY being released, they don’t have the one my baby loves. And even though we will buy every single one of those heroes, they’re not the small action figure size that my baby loves.

Imaginext  Gotham Girls

My son can have and has every single random male hero he desires. My daughter’s loves are, however, unfillable.

And that pisses me off.

~Amanda

Sometimes

Sometimes live is just hard.  

Sometimes despite knowing, intellectually, how blessed you are–it is still JUST HARD.

And I could go on.

20120506-215021.jpg

The truth is that I’ve been having a really hard time lately.  And that I know, intellectually, that I need to be counting my blessings.  And I do.  But it doesn’t change the allure of my bed, and the frustration that I feel, and the reality that I am Just.So.Very.Sick&Tired of some of the bullcrap of my life.

And it is so very possible to be tired of the bullcrap while also being grateful for the magnitude of your blessings.  And it is so very possible to be grateful and FRUSTRATED at the same time.

The reality of the nature of life and existence seems to be one of struggle.

And I am struggling.

Jack in the Sun

But as I have said this to others, I have realized how many of us feel the same.  And I just want you to know that you aren’t alone.  I am struggling too.

And it’s okay that we are.

Everything is going to be okay.  We’re gonna make it.

cake

And until then….there’s cake.

~Amanda