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Posts Tagged ‘Love’

The other day I was at my son’s preschool to pick him up. Often, we have “big yard” playdates with some of his classmates after school. The big yard is one of the common areas at the school where the kids play on the jungle gym, run around, pretend to be pirates on the big ship and eat leaves from the vegetable garden. On this day there were a lot of kids playing in the big yard, including little girl visiting the big yard with her younger sister. This young girl, who I’ll call Marla, couldn’t have been more than 6.

The Littlest E was playing with his friends as I sat at one of the children’s picnic tables.  Next to me was this beautiful, little girl with long, wavy hair, a round face and doe-like eyes.  The following is a conversation we had. I ask that you read it with the innocence of a 6-year old.

Marla: Is her your son?

Me: Yes, he is.

Marla: He’s really your son?

Me: Yes. Would you like to know how he’s my son?

Marla: Yes.

Me: We adopted him.

Marla: What’s that?

Me: Well, he didn’t grow inside me, but in his birth mom. For whatever reason, she wasn’t able to take care of him and he needed a Mommy and Daddy. My husband and I wanted a family so we adopted him and he became our son.

Marla: He has brown skin.

Me: Yes, he does.

Marla, said with great concern and caring: We have peach skin and there’s no one else here with brown skin. Will he be okay?

Me, smiling: That’s a really good question. He’ll be fine. He has lots of friends and, in his class he has other friends with brown skin.

Marla was quiet for a moment.

Me: It’s a pretty cool thing that there are all kinds of families, isn’t it? There are many ways to become a family.

Marla: Yes.

There’s another quiet moment.

Marla: Do you love him even if he has brown skin?

Me: I love him because he has brown skin, because he’s my son. I couldn’t love him more than if he grew inside me. I love him.

There’s another quiet moment.

Marla then yells to her sister: What are you doing?

Our brief exchange has ended and she left the table to play with her sister.

© 2015 Melanie Elliott

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Is it just me, or does it seem like the last few months of the year go incredibly fast?  We hit October and there’s Halloween.  You blink and it’s Thanksgiving.  You blink again and it’s Christmas/Hanukkah, and one more blink and it’s an entirely New Year!

New Years Eve

As I wrote in a previous post, we celebrate many holidays in our home.  We keep the Christmas decorations up after the New Year until the 12 days of Christmas are over – January 6.  The Littlest E was on break from school for 2-½ weeks and my husband took a staycation for 1 of those weeks.  It was wonderful to have both of them home.  Tom and I didn’t need to set an alarm clock because we knew our lively lad would wake us up around 6:30. I think once or twice during that week, we were blessed with a 7:00 appearance.  The luxury of sleeping in!  Part of me does look forward to the day when The Littlest E is a bit older and actually, truly does sleep in, however, I love the mornings when he wants to come in bed with us and hang out.  It’s awesome family time.  And, of course, our dog, Pepper, has to get in on the action, too.

Holiday time is such a busy time, with vacation, visiting friends, holiday gatherings, all the planning and prep it takes, etc., etc., etc.  Many people take time to reflect at year’s end and come up with resolutions for the approaching year.  I used to pick Angel Cards to see what words would be my focus for the year ahead.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person though, and, since bringing The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia 4+ years ago, there doesn’t seem too much time during the holidays for major introspection.

That time happened on January 6.  Tom started back to work on January 5, and The Littlest E went back to school the next day. After I dropped him off, I came home, walked the dog and then proceeded to put away all our holiday decorations.  It was the first time in a couple of weeks I was alone for an extended period.  Pepper was resting and the house was quiet.  The only sounds were cars driving by on a street nearby, the heat coming through the vents wafting warm air my way, and an occasional bird making its voice heard.  It was the perfect opportunity for a bit of contemplation about the year past and the year ahead, and the floodgates of my mind opened with numerous thoughts rushing in.

Meeting Mickey

We had a good year as a family last year.  We traveled a bit to see our families, went to an Ethiopian adoptive heritage camp, went glamping with classmates from preschool, and took The Littlest E to Disneyland for the first time.  The Littlest E began asking more questions about his adoption.  Both Tom and I provided him and will continue to provide him with answers that are appropriate for his age. You’d be surprised at the kinds questions he was asking.  Kids are perceptive and understand more than we think they do.  I won’t go into details because it gets into territory that belongs to our son, since his adoption is his story to tell. I’m just really glad we are here at this point, and he’s asking.  It’s so important for him and for everyone concerned.

I love my family and honestly, couldn’t ask for anything more, well, maybe a bigger house, but that will happen in due time.  Our nightly gratitudes we say at dinner make me feel, well, grateful.  I hear the things my son is grateful for and it puts a smile on my face. Pepper, joined the family this past September and she’s love personified.  She fit right in with minimal adjustment.  Our new routine of daily walks including one in the morning with my son, allows me special one-on-one time with him, and a bit of exercise to boot.  I love just being with him.  We’re all good.  Tom and I could always use more date nights, but I think we have a balance that works.  I want to continue to love and support my hubby in all his endeavors.

Lightsaber!

The explosion of growth that has gone on with The Littlest E this year, not just height, but brain power, imagination, energy, and appetite.  You name it.  He’s sight-reading some words, and they’re learning to write in class.  Watching him figure things out is one of the neatest things I’ve seen or when he’s focused on building something with his Magna Tiles or figuring out answers to questions from his Sylvan learning books, it’s the best.  His imagination is on fire. The first part of last year was all about the Ninja Turtles.  Then the last six months and currently, it’s everything Star Wars. Everything is a lightsaber or sword.  He’s watched a Star Wars movie with lightsaber in hand ready to do battle along the other Jedi, literally. We have rules of play in the house that he observes (most of the time).  He can fight with Darth Wingback or Darth Couch, but can’t fight with Mom and Dad, if neither of us cares to join in.  And he loves stories, too. Right now Tom is reading to him a lot of Greek myths.  The Littlest E LOVES them and regularly asks on the way to school, “Tell me a story, Mommy.” Star Wars, Disney movies, Eurydice, anything made up, often make the ask list. Being a Mom is the coolest thing.

Myths

A headspace occupier for us this past year has been the quest for a kindergarten.  When I was a child, schools were vastly different. So it’s been a blog-worthy journey trying to figure out the best option for our son.  We’re not sure how things will unfold.  We’ll know in the next few months.  We just hope we do right by our son, and are excited about where he’s headed for his next phase of life and education.

Aside from a bit of skin cancer, I had a pretty good year.  Now that The Littlest E is older and heading off to kindergarten in the fall, I’m ready to get back to work and start contributing financially to our house.  In serving on the board of Connect-A-Kid and working on my project, I discovered that I’m pretty adept in reaching out to strangers, making cold calls, and networking, particularly when I truly believe in something.  I’ve got my project and I’m also partnering with a girlfriend to help her event company thrive.  I’m excited about both opportunities and have faith that it’s all going to fall into place one way or another. Somehow the Universe has always provided, when I do the footwork.  The biggest challenge from last year, as I think with any parent or person for that matter, is balance, when to say yes, when to say no, and when to take action or take it easy.  Balance will be key this year, too.

So, no resolutions, though more exercise should be on the list as well as cutting back on watching so much television, just ideas and thoughts about 2015, and reflections on 2014.  With life there are ups and downs. Hopefully, the year ahead will have more ups than downs. Hopefully, all the grandparents will stay healthy.  Hopefully, the year will be filled with wonderful adventures, good times with family and friends, and personal, professional, spiritual and emotional growth for the three of us.  We’ll see how the year unfolds!

Images: Cindy Kilpatrick, Melanie Elliott

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I truly can’t believe it’s been 4 years since The Littlest E became our son.  Where did all the time go? I’m sure most parents feel the same way when celebrating their child’s birthday, along with tremendous joy and gratitude.  As an adoptive parent, I get to celebrate the birth of our son, and the birth of our family, our Family Day.  I hope I never forget what life was like before The Littlest E came home with us, so that I don’t lose the gratitude I feel everyday that I get to be his Mom.  Adoption is a gift, one that I cherish with my very soul, for without that gift, my life and my husband’s life would be drastically different.

Our Family - 2010

Our Family – 2010

I remember our first days with The Littlest E, all 19 pounds of him.  He didn’t want to crawl; he just wanted to be held and held and held.  It was a big adjustment getting used to each other, but he knew we were his “go to” people.  We were there for him night and day.  At the foster center where our son stayed in Ethiopia before coming home with us, he attached to one of the caregivers so we knew he’d be able to attach to us, and he did.   After being home for a couple of weeks, Tom, my husband, went back to work, and I was at home with our new son.  Quite a discovery we both had during our hours together.

One day, I took him on a tour of our house (which isn’t very big) so he’d feel more comfortable in his new digs.  I got on my knees and crawled around with him from room to room.  Seeing the house from his vantage point, I could imagine how overwhelming his new environment might be.  Yet we had fun discovering each room.  I would explain the names of the rooms and what happened in each.  From that point on, The Littlest E felt comfortable to crawl around.

As time passed, he went from crawling, to waddling, to walking, to running.  Now, he often starts in our kitchen, sprints, and does a running leap onto our couch that is frequently used for tackle wrestling.  Yes, he’s home and we’re home and we’re a family.  Love really does make a family.  Blood doesn’t matter so much.  Families come in many different ways these days.  Thank God for that.  Here’s a poem I posted several years ago when I was writing for an online parenting magazine that I found on a friend’s blog:

The Gift of Life

I didn’t give you the gift of life,

But in my heart I know.

The love I feel is deep and real,

. . . As if it had been so.

For us to have each other

Is like a dream come true!

No, I didn’t give you

The gift of life,

Life gave me the gift of you.

– – – Author Unknown

Our Family - 2014

Our Family – 2014

There’s nothing like waking up every morning knowing our son is down the hall in his room sleeping.  He greets most days with a smile and a snuggle, then it’s time to continue our morning routine.  He’s 5 now and still as active and energetic as ever.  In the evenings when Tom is home, we have family time, usually around the dinner table.  We say our daily gratitudes, takes turns saying a blessing, eat and talk about the day.  It’s a lovely routine.  After that, I do the dishes and Tom gets some good, quality time with his son.  Who could ask for anything more?

I can’t wait to continue to experience life with The Littlest E and our family we’ve created through adoption.  We are blessed to have what we have, live where we live and do what we do.  To those of you who are waiting to be parents, your time will come.  You’ll hold your child in your arms, however that child comes to you, and life will take on new meaning.  Hoping that your wait is short and that your child is with you soon.

This blog can also be found at Mothering In the Middle, an amazing website for midlife parents, where I am a contributor.

©2014 Melanie Elliott

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I wrote this blog yesterday while my son was napping and didn’t have a chance to post it until now.

In my last blog, I wrote about The Littlest E discovering gratitude.  I’ve practiced gratitude for many years and it’s a joy to introduce that concept to our son.  I write “practicing gratitude” as if it were a verb, knowing the dictionary classifies it as a noun.  Perhaps English majors reading this blog are cringing, but I do consider gratitude a verb; it’s the act of being grateful.  With the Christmas and New Years holidays upon us, it’s easy to forget being grateful and get caught up in the mayhem of Christmas shopping and pressure for the holidays to go smoothly.

Shopping

The Littlest E started his winter break yesterday.  He’ll have close to three weeks off from preschool, and I am grateful that I get this opportunity to spend solid time with him.  I am fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom, though I have a project I’ve been working on for a while and, while it hasn’t yet brought in any income, if I execute it properly, it could be a nice income generator, but that’s beside the point.  The point is I get the privilege of being with my son.  My husband, Tom, will be off between Christmas and New Years, so we’ll have wonderful family time.

I think before, when The Littlest E was younger, I was a bit freaked out about so much time off from school, worrying more about how to occupy our time together than the holidays.  Now that he is 4-½, he can play a bit more by himself and when we do have playdates or excursions, I don’t have to watch him so closely as when he was younger.  It’s also such a joy (most of the time) to hang out with him and be with him.  This time together is valuable to me and I know it’s fleeting.  When he’s older, he’ll have sleepovers, sports, homework, going over to friend’s houses, and, down the road, high school, college, and hopefully falling in love.  For now, for today, I get to cherish the days and moments we have together.  Mind you, it’s not all the time. We have our disagreements and struggles, our wills battling each other, like every mother and son.  Today, it was one of those lovely, cold and rainy days.  It was a day of chilling at the house after running a couple of errands.

Rain drops on my window

I was at the computer this morning, when The Littlest E got up.  Right away he wanted to watch some personal videos  on my desktop.  One of them is the video my Mom took at my friend, Krista’s house, during a Welcome Home party for our son.  We’d been a family and home from Ethiopia for a little over 3 months at that point, and The Littlest E was 15 months old.  We live in Los Angeles and were in the Bay Area.  It was the first time many friends and family got to meet our long-awaited son.  It featured the 3 of us with me thanking everyone for loving and supporting us during the 6-½ years it took for Tom and I to start a family.  To this day, I can’t watch that video without tears welling in my eyes, feeling deeply grateful to be The Littlest E’s mom, and even more profoundly grateful we adopted him.  He loves to watch it and see the living testament of our love for him.

We moved slowly today, you know, being on vacation and all.  After breakfast and doing our morning routine, we ran a couple of errands.  It’s great grocery shopping with him now because he can walk by my side (most of the time when there’s the occasionally running away) and help me pick things out and put them in the shopping cart.  He loves helping out.  By this time in the morning, the clouds turned a darker gray and they scattered rain here and there.  Once home the rain increased.  It was a good day to be inside, warm and toasty with the heat on and the Christmas tree lights plugged in.  We were both hungry for lunch so I made it and we sat at the table eating.  He wanted to play the drinking game we play on occasion.  It’s a contest to see who can drink their drink first, him with his milk or me with my soda water.  You start saying “On your mark. Get set,” but instead of saying, “Go,” you come up with another word, any word instead, and then after saying other words, you finally say “Go.”  He came up with more ideas than he’d ever come up with before, plus he’d never initiated this before so it was doubly great to watch him go to town with this and take part!  He had such a kick, too.

Tangled

When lunch was over, I promised him he could watch the movie “Tangled.”  I have to tell you and I’m sure many of you can relate, there’s nothing better than sitting next to your child with them snuggling into you while you watch a movie or reading them a story.  Again, I get teary-eyed writing this because for so many years being mom and parent eluded me.  There were many points on this journey to our family that I knew it would never happen, yet there I was sitting with my son, watching a movie, enjoying our rainy day together.  Adoption is a miraculous thing.

He’s napping now, which gives me time to write.  When the Littlest E wakes up I told him we’d make chocolate chip cookies together.  He loves to cook and can’t wait to help with that.  I, too, can’t wait.  As I’m writing this, I can see the light from the sun’s reflection on the wall of our kitchen.  The rain has ceased.  It doesn’t matter.  We’ve had our rainy day Thursday and we can continue it even though it’s not raining anymore.

There’s still a lot to do before the holidays, but this day has been a gift, some quality time with my funny, light and amazing little boy, and has been a reminder that it’s the little things in life that make it all worth while.

Christmas Lights

In case I don’t get the opportunity to write another blog before Christmas, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Images: Alan Myers, Angeli Laura De, Brett Jordan, George Deputee

© 2013 Melanie Elliott

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It’s with the deepest gratitude that I write this blog.  Today’s our third “familyversary,” the day Tom and I became parents and the day The Littlest E became our son.  It’s such an emotional day for me (probably for Tom, too) because it’s the day we met, held and took custody of our amazing little boy.  I remember the day like it was yesterday.  We were in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and had been for a couple of days.  I know we had little sleep the night before due to excitement and nerves.  Most couples go to the hospital for delivery and they leave the hospital as a family.  Our “hospital” was half way around the world, and our “delivery room” was The Thomas Center, where The Littlest E stayed.

I remember Tom and I looking for him as we arrived at the Center with some other families.  We can’t find him, then, near the entrance, we see this little, sleepy baby being carried toward us.  He’d just woken up from his nap.  My heart is beating a mile a minute, as we get closer to him.  I reach out to him and say “lay-ah-ZEKH,” which is “can I hold you” in Amharic, the primary language in Ethiopia.  He reaches his arms out to me and I hold him, our precious cargo.  We’ve been holding him now for 3 years.  It’s truly been an amazing journey.

Family Day - August 2, 2010

I think it took awhile to really get used to the idea that he was our son and no one was going to take him away from us.  Our path to him took such a long time and there were many moments in that 6.5-year period where I was convinced that Tom and I would never have the opportunity to give the tremendous amount of love we have to a child, that we would forever be a single couple.  Even in our darkest moments though, there was a tiny spark inside me that knew someday we’d be parents.  I didn’t know how, but it would happen.  And it did.  I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, I would not have our lives any other way.  I believe, in the core of my being that the Universe guided us to the child meant for us.  I could not imagine not being The Littlest E’s Mom.

1st Holiday Photo

People often say what a lucky boy he is.  Yes, maybe he’s a lucky boy, but I’m the luckiest mom in the world to have him as my son.  My life is richer, fuller and happier because I’m his mom, and the love I have for him is limitless and then some.  I’ll ask him, “How much do I love you?” He replies, “Always and forever.”  Life has expanded so much, too, with new friends, new groups of people, making for a well-rounded complete life.  Couldn’t ask for anything more.  Every day I am grateful for the gift of adoption.

4th Birthday

After 3 years, we’re definitely in a groove as a family, just living our lives like any ordinary transracial, international adoptive family, and often, we’re just a family, a regular family.  Today is a special day, a cherished day we’ll celebrate every year.  All day long, no matter what I’m doing, I’ll be thinking about family, love and the importance of the day.  Tonight, we’ll go out to dinner probably to the restaurant of our son’s choosing and cap the evening off with a family hug before The Littlest E’s bedtime.

For those couples struggling with infertility, for the couples that are waiting for a referral and to the couples who are waiting to bring their child home, your child will be in your arms.  It may take a while, there may be bumps (sometimes boulders) in the road, and it may seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, but one is there.  Please keep that spark alive and don’t lose hope.  Sending you love and prayers that you’ll bring your little ones home soon.

Images: Melanie Elliott, Erin Clendenin, Melanie Elliott

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I’m back after taking a little blogging break while The Littlest E was on vacation from preschool.  He’s in school four days a week so, during the break, we spent lots of time together.  I’m sure every parent loves and adores their child.  Over the 2+ weeks The Littlest E was home, I couldn’t help but marvel at the young boy he’s becoming, so independent, full of ideas, making plans (which sometimes didn’t go off the way he wanted), and full of feistiness with a drop or two of stubbornness.  I, too, love and adore my son, and I also think because coming to him was the end of a very long journey, there’s an added layer of gratitude and deep appreciation for the mere fact that he is in our lives.  I know other adoptive parents who feel the same way, as well as parents who struggled with infertility and conception.  Even if my son and I were getting on each other’s nerves, and that happened during the break, I’m head over heels in love with him and think he’s the cutest kid on the planet.

My Beautiful Boy

We had a number of high points while on break.  For our first weekend, he and I road tripped up to the Bay Area, where my family lives, while The Littlest E’s daddy stayed home (and got a little break from us).  He got on well during the 6+ hour drive.  The portable DVD player helped things go smoothly.  It was fun listening to the movie “Brave,” knowing he was watching it intently.  We also passed the time listening to his station on Pandora, lots of songs from Disney and Pixar movies as well as songs from the 50s surprisingly like “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

I wish all of my son’s grandparents lived closer because he has so much fun with them, and, when we visit, they get to see him in all his glory, splendor and various moods.  There’s an unshakeable, special connection between grandparents and grandchildren, and it’s not just that they have a common enemy.  The Littlest E’s grandparents give out a love that only they can give and my son soaked it up.  My Dad and his girlfriend hadn’t seen him in a while and he and Bubba (my son’s fond name for my Dad) had a blast together; it was awesome watching them play.

Bubba & TLE

If you’re traveling to the Bay Area with young children, I highly recommend spending time at the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito.  Everything about it sparks a child’s imagination.  The museum is at the old Fort Baker and has a number of buildings dedicated to it.  There’s a building for boats and trains with a part of a life-sized fishing boat inside where kids and parents can climb, pretend to fish, reel in the catch, or crank up a net with lifelike crabs, all to reenact fishing life in San Francisco, and the boat can actually rock back and forth.  There’s even a place where you can act as a fish seller.

Care for a Crab?

There’s an art room and a room where the kids learn about waves and underwater life, complete with green screen background and camera where it appears like you’re underwater.  My adventurous son wasn’t into that as much as he was into the wave maker.  The Bay Area Discovery Museum was amazing.  Outside was a large play area complete with a miniature Golden Gate Bridge that the children could climb and walk on, and we didn’t even get to that because there was another life-sized fishing boat nearby.  The Littlest E explored that and ran around it for at least ½ hour going on make-believe adventures with other children who were just as excited to be on the boat as he.  We could have spent the entire day at the museum, but had to leave to get lunch.  That was a highlight of our long weekend.

Unfortunately, my energetic son came down with a fever that knocked him out of commission the first half of his first full week on break.  We drove home with him still sick, but he was a trooper.  Watching the DVD player on the way again really helped him, that and lots of sleep.  By mid-week he was his old, lively self and went to gymnastics camp one of the days.  That’s something I could write many blogs about, camp!  For the most part, camps are great, but one definitely needs to check them out before committing.  I’ve heard horror stories of camps where the counselors were just awful.  This gymnastics camp, at Fun & Fit Gymnastics in Burbank, was wonderful.  It went from 9-2, and some of my son’s friends went, too.  After being there less than five minutes he said to me, “Mom, you can go now.”  Isn’t that what every mom wants to hear?  I left smiling, knowing he was going to be just fine without me.

The following week, my husband, Tom, took the week off so we had a nice family staycation.  He had never been to the movies with The Littlest E and we had an opportunity to see a couple of movies together as a family.  The first movie was “Monsters University,” which we all loved.  A few times during the movie I looked over to see Tom watching our son watch the movie.  That put a big smile on my face.  We have “Monsters, Inc.” at home and The Littlest E loves Mike Wazowski and Sulley.  The Dean and Librarian were a little scary for him, but it wasn’t anything that caused Tom or I to worry.  All in all it was a terrific first family movie outing.

One Eyed Minion

The second movie we saw was “Despicable Me 2.”  I don’t know what it is about the Minions that crack me up so much, but I had the most fun watching them.  They’re hysterical, and I can’t wait for their own movie to come out (Minions) slated for December 2014.  [SPOILER ALERT] The Littlest E liked the movie, but found the purple minions scary, especially when one of them tried to break into Gru’s home and appeared suddenly in the window.  He also got scared when El Macho turned into a big, purple monster.  Toward the end of the movie, he was sitting in my lap, clutching me.

We talked a lot about the movie and characters afterward.  Tom showed our son pictures of the actors who played the roles and we’ve even watched some Youtube videos with Steve Carell and Kristin Wiig talking about the movie.  He’s not as scared anymore and likes to us to tell him the stories of El Macho, when Gru and Lucy are in the mall, and when Gru is on a date.  The movie also led to a conversation The Littlest E and I had about adoption (the three girls, Edith, Margo and Agnes are all adopted), which will be the topic of a future blog.

The last adventure we took on our staycation was a day trip to Escondido to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  We drove down early in the morning and spent the day at the park, and it was one hot and muggy day.  I’m so glad we brought our stroller because The Littlest E was not into walking everywhere and there was a lot of ground to cover.  We saw gorillas, lorikeets that sat on your arms as you fed them nectar from little cups, and there was a lemur exhibit, among other animals and things to see.  We took the tram tour to view all the animals in the massive open areas that included a herd of elephants (adults and young ones), different kinds of antelope, giraffes, rhinos, vultures and many more animals.  The best part of the day was watching our son’s Amharic and dance teacher, Bruke.  He is one-sixth of a troupe of acrobats from Ethiopia, who are under contact with the park until mid-August.  Their specialty is tumbling and doing acrobatics on and between two tall poles.  They were very impressive.  The Littlest E sat on Tom’s shoulders mesmerized by their moves.  He didn’t take his eyes off them once and got a little shy when all six of the acrobats came up to us to meet him after their show.  I loved that he was able to see their show.  Now he wants to climb poles and be like them, which is just wonderful.

Acrobats

What I treasured most about our little staycation was how much time we spent together as a family, the movies, the day trip, Tom not having to go to work before The Littlest E gets up in the morning.  It was nice just being with each other.  Yes, there were highs and lows (Tom came down with a fever the last weekend), and I reached a saturation point where I needed to take a break, but overall, it was truly wonderful.  I love my husband, son, and the family we have created.  August 2nd marks our 3-year familyversary, the day The Littlest E became our son.  I cherish our family moments together, however short or long, and I hope that in the years to come, the gratitude and deep appreciation I feel never ceases.

Images: Jamie Johnson, Melanie Elliott, Richard McLean, Sonny Abesamis, Melanie Elliott

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Lately, I’ve been thinking about how hugs affect my son, The Littlest E.  If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that The Littlest E is really into storytelling these days.  We retell stories of the movies “Brave” or “Monsters, Inc.”  He’s interested in Noah’s Ark and The Three Little Pigs, and he still frequents stories about how we became a family.  I’m sure as he gets older his own life story will become clearer to him and with that will probably come a waft of emotions and feelings.  I can’t help but wonder about hugs, what they mean to him and if they have a greater effect on him because he’s adopted.

A Hug_1

I come from a pretty affectionate family.  Not sure if it’s because we’re Jewish or if that’s just the way my parents were.  Growing up, every night I’d kiss my parents good night or one of them would come tuck us into bed.  I remember after a hard day at school when kids made fun of me because I wore a back brace during adolescence, how a hug from my mom made the pain go away, if only for a moment.  It reminded me that I was loveable.  Or when I performed in a school play, hugs came from my family as congratulations on a job well done.  They were and are a daily part of life.

Hugs are an integral part of life at our house.  We have a family hug almost nightly where the 3 of us hug each other before my husband, Tom, takes The Littlest E into his room to read him bedtime stories.  I love our family hug and I think our son does, too.  It’s a reminder that we’re a family, that we love him, and it connects us with him physically.  When I drop him off at preschool, he’ll always run to me and give me a hug goodbye, or ask “one more hug, Mommy.”  My heart melts when that happens, and I eagerly give it to him.  Sometimes he’ll hug me unexpectedly, just because he wants to.  I waited my whole life for a hug from my child and it doesn’t get better than that.  I also need to be the hugger, too, and love it when we embrace.

Hug 2

What’s interesting though is when he’s had a time out because he’s having a problem listening or has behavior trouble, he’ll immediately want a hug when the time out is over.  I know of other children who aren’t like that.  I wonder, does this wanting a hug at this particular time have anything to do with being adopted and needing that reassurance or is it only because he likes hugs?  Perhaps it’s a little of both.  I don’t know, and, since The Littlest E is only 3, almost 4, he probably doesn’t even know himself.  I’m curious.

As an adoptive parent, I may read more into things than I should.  It is only a hug after all and he may just like them.  I don’t want to be one of those parents who always turns to adoption as a go to for things that come up.  It may or may not always be the case.  As my son gets older, he may develop issues relating to his adoption, or he may not.  We have an acquaintance that is adopted and she grew up never feeling lack or abandonment while her sister felt the opposite and has serious problems.

A hop-on Hug

How I take these post time out hugs is that he needs the reassurance we still love him.  He wants and needs that connection.  It’s as if he’s saying “I’ve done something wrong, but you’re still here, right?”  Our answer is always yes, whether it’s in the form of a hug or saying to him, “I’ll always love you even if I don’t like how you’re behaving,” or something like that.  Lately, he’s also been asking me if I’ll leave.  I reassure him that I’m not going anywhere.  Maybe the fact he’s adopted is becoming more real for him on some level, which is why he’s asking these questions.  Who knows?  He’s piecing together so many things at this age, like when my husband read to him “The Lion King,” last night The Littlest E was asking about Mufasa and said to Tom, “he died, right?”  His wheels are turning.  These hugs mean something to me, all my hugs with him do.  They let me connect with him and pass my love onto him.  Perhaps exploring the effect of hugs has more to do with me than with him.

Regardless of the reason, hugs have tremendous power.  They provide love, safety and comfort, they reassure, and the list goes on.  I’m grateful I came from a huggy family and that my son loves them.

Images: Melanie Elliott, aarmono, oddharmonic

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