Thursday, May 31, 2012

Night Musings

When you tell people your child sleeps through the night your child will then stop sleeping through the night. 

I may or may not be speaking from personal experience. 

I may or may not have been up every night the last few weeks between 1:00 and 4:00ish.

Good times. 

I'm a 8-9 hours of sleep kinda girl. 

Less than that makes me cranky and ornery.  

Sorry Brian.  

And my co-workers. 

And the general population. 

But being up in the middle of the night does allow me plenty of time for random thinking....

  • Can I stretch $30 into getting me a new summer wardrobe? 
  • At what age is it appropriate for me to stop listening to rap music? 
  • Why do businesses use the letter "K" to replace words that begin with a C in their company name?  Is the Klassy Boutique really classy?
  • How many times is it acceptable to go into Target in a given week? When do the employees start to address you by  name?
  • Why on God's green earth will this child not go to sleep? 
  • What happened to Bachelorette Emily's teeth?
  • How long does it take to put in a inground pool?  Could I have it by next weekend? 
  • Do I have time to take a nap tomorrow afternoon? What about tomorrow night? What's the earliest I could be in bed by? 

At some point the little man starts snoring.  Daylight is breaking and I climb back into bed.  

Mentally establishing the number of times I can hit the snooze button before I get up.  

From this day out, I do solemnly swear to never, ever state that my child is a good sleeper.

The end.    

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I do not do change easily.   My husband, on the other hand, relishes it.  

I liken it to the time we went sky-diving while we were dating.  I was clinging on to any part of the plane, trying to keep from being shoved out to what I was convinced was my untimely death. 

Meanwhile, he offered to jump first and dove out head first. 

Even after the jump, I was nauseous the rest of the day and wondering why I had done it.  

He was ready to jump again. 

That's our life picture for change.  Suh-lightly different. 

But, change is inevitable and thankfully, when it comes, we're able to balance each other out through the process.  

Here's some of the changes going on with us....

1.  We've switched adoption agencies.  After a very looooonnnnggg process of praying and talking through our decision, and for reasons I won't go into- we felt like it was the wisest decision for us to switch to a new agency.  

It was a decision that did NOT come lightly. We had already been in process a year and had invested money- our own and money donated to our adoption- and that weighed heavily on us.  After viewing all sides, we did not have a peace about staying with the current agency, so we have switched to Lifeline Children's Services in Birmingham.  They have a pilot program in DRC, but are working with many other countries around the world. 

One of the reasons we really liked them was because their main concern is what's best for the children- not the adoptive family.  We wanted to work with an agency who we knew was advocating for the children and not just trying to find kids to place in families.  

We have quite a few friends who have used them for adoptions, so we knew it was an agency we could trust. 

It won't make the process go any quicker.  But at this point in the game- timelines have gone out the window.  

We are just focusing on being present with the little one already in our home while we wait for our referral.  We've been able to connect with other families already in the pilot program, so that has been a huge help as we wait. 

So, there's not really a "wait list" at this point- just waiting on being matched with a child who is in our age range. 

2.  On a much shallower note- I'm now a brunette.  Granted, I've technically been a brunette for at least a decade, but I've been holding strong to those blond highlights I pay for every few months.  After asking Brian 4.2 million times what he thought about me dyeing my hair to a darker shade of brown, he finally told me to go do it and quit talking about it. 

So I did.  

And then we did an interview for the nightly news a day later. 

Good thing I liked it. 

Since that was debut of the new me- I'm pretty sure there were some folks in Montgomery who questioned whether I knew that Brian was refinancing a home with some random dark-haired woman....  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Definition of Motherhood

My definition of motherhood has changed drastically over the past few years.

Ten years ago, I would have defined it as a woman who birthed or adopted a child and then raised them in their home.  A mother would be a primary caregiver- full of love, good cooking, and hugs.

Some of that definition remains true, yet I've realized how much I missed the mark on what true motherhood is.

Motherhood cannot and should not be compartmentalized into a 50's sitcom.  It is so much broader and richer than June Cleaver and Mrs. Brady.

I have not birthed or adopted a child. Yet I am a mother.

For five months this past year, we had a 20 year old young man living with us to get on his feet.  He needed a place to stay, guidance on his future, stability, and love.

There is another young man in our lives whose mom currently lives 500 miles away.  He has no place to stay, so he lives with his girlfriend's family while he finishes high school.  He watched his father pass away in front of him a few years ago.  He has no family here.  He calls my husband and I, "Mom and Dad."

We have a foster baby that has been living in our home the past six months.  He is in state custody but we provide his everyday necessities- food, clothing, snuggles, and lots and lots and lots of love.

I did not birth or adopt any of these young men.  But they are my sons.

Motherhood has many different faces and each one of them is so significant.

The woman who birthed their children.
The woman who adopted their children.
The woman who chose another family to care for the child she birthed.
The woman who fosters children.
The woman who raises their sister's and brother's children.
The woman who raises her children's children.
The woman who raises their kids as a single parent.
The woman who shares parenting roles because of divorce and remarriage.
The woman who mentors young men and women.
The woman who waits for a child in their heart but not yet in their hands.
The woman who has lost little ones too early.
The woman who spends her weekends loving on kids in the housing projects downtown.
The woman who cares for children at an orphanage somewhere around the world.
The woman who has a child in an orphanage across the ocean.

Being a mother does not always include a shared DNA.  It is not just about home-cooked meals and bedtime stories.

To be a mother to someone is to impart wisdom, guidance, empathy, compassion, hugs, tears, smiles, laughter, joy, discipline, nurture, and love.

May you never feel inadequate because your reality of "motherhood" looks different. Your story has been designed distinctly and uniquely for YOU.

I pray you feel valued and loved today and everyday, because your role in this world as a mother is significant and desperately needed.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Letter to My Fourth-Graders.....I mean, College Graduates....

I took my first teaching job just outside of Atlanta in 1999. I was fresh out of college, new to the big city, and looking about seventeen years old.   I actually wasn't much older.... a whopping 22 and given a classroom of twenty-five kids.  Who allowed that???

My first class of students were fourth graders and I absolutely adored them.  I somehow lucked out with a bunch of really sweet kids who got along and listened to a teacher that could have been their older sister.

Those kids are graduating from college this month.  Gulp.
(Well, most of them.  There are some on the five and six year plans- much love for y'all too)

This is my letter to them.

To my Crabapple Crossing Fourth grade class of 1999,

First of all, thank you.  When you walked into my classroom on that August morning, you had no idea that I was a nervous wreck and pretty sure I was going to ruin all of you for life during your year with me. I had been put in charge of twenty-five precious, vulnerable minds and was expected to actually teach you things that you would take into the rest of your life.  Yowsers.  Quite a challenge.

Thankfully, you were up for the challenge.  You were willing to learn, you asked funny (and sometimes inappropriate) questions, and you made me want to come to work everyday.  I loved my year with you.  So much in fact, that I moved up with you went you went to fifth grade.  I got two great years with you.  You were my favorites.  Seriously.  (Ignore the fact I told all my other classes that too.)

And then you graduated high school and I was there, with tears in my eyes, watching you walk and get your diplomas, wondering how time flew by so fast.  I wrote you Red Letters, encouraging you as you stepped into college.  Prayed for you as you went off to UGA, Auburn, GA Tech, Alabama....

Four years later, you are walking to get another diploma.  And somehow I'm still only turning 25 this year.  It's amazing, huh?

If I could tell you a few things as you graduate  from college this month- here is what I want you to know....

1. This is your time to GO.  It is the best time of your life to travel where you've always wanted-  you have decades ahead of you to work at that job, find your significant other, buy your dream home....   THIS is the time to travel, to serve, to go where you feel like you are being called.  Move away from good ol' Alpharetta- experience other parts of the country or even the world.  You can always come home.  And mom will be there to hug you. 

2. Don't settle.  Now that you are potentially heading out to the "real" world, you've got some decisions to make.  Where you need to work, where to put down roots, who to marry....all questions you may feel that need to be figured out ASAP.  They don't.  You don't need to take the first job that comes along.  You don't need to marry your college sweetheart.  They may be great, but if they aren't the best, don't fall into the trap of getting engaged/married just because that's what everyone does.   You've got all the time in the world - don't settle for the first thing that comes along because that's what everyone else may be doing.  

3. Be a game-changer.  You are leaving college with a fresh perspective, new ideas, and a willingness to work.  Use those gifts to change the world.  There is lots to be done to make this world healthier, safer, and a better place.  Please be a part of the change.  My generation and those older than me NEED your heart and your vision to partner and build on what we've been doing. 

I am so, so proud of the men and women you have become and thankful to have walked a small part of the journey with you. Thank you for the sweet memories you gave me 13 years ago. 

Praying for you as the next adventure begins in your life. 

GO.  Don't settle.  Be a Game-Changer.  And come visit if you're ever in Montgomery, AL.  

Love you all, 
Ms. Harris 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Few Small Ways to Make a Big Difference...

Foster Care has gotten a bad rap over the years.  In fact, most people don't even entertain the idea of ever becoming a foster parent because of it's reputation.  I can say that was definitely me for many years.  

In just the past year, I've gotten to meet quite a few foster parents, some who having been fostering for decades, while others just a few years.  I often ask them what are some of their needs- because being a foster parent can be lonely.  Because of it's stinky reputation, some people in the community can't understand why in the world anyone would ever foster---And they stay far, far away from the situation.  

But foster care isn't scary, it's just a process that's often filled with a lot of unknowns.  The kids are kids- some need more nurturing and stability than others, but they are still kids.  

If you don't know any foster families in your area, I encourage you to get to know some.  

If you do know some families, here are a few ways that you and your family can help them.  While they may never ask for it, so many families would love to have the community come around and support them in the journey. 

1.  Pray for them.  The Foster Care process can be emotionally and physically draining.  Families who are fostering need a community around them who are praying for their journey.

    2.  Provide a meal.  Many times, a foster family has less than a days notice before taking in a child.  The first few weeks are often needed to get to know one another and establish a routine.  Some families can get babies as young as two days old, so sleep comes at a premium.  Having meals provided lifts a huge burden for families who have just taken in a child.

    3.  Donate baby clothes, diapers, wipes, or toys.  If you have these items sitting around your home, please consider giving them to a foster family.                      

    4.  If your state foster care system allows it, offer to babysit for the night or a few hours during the day to give the foster parents a breather or a night out together. 

    5.  When a schoolage child is brought into care, they often have academic delays or gaps.  Provide free tutoring to help them catch up. 

    6. If you are a semi-professional or professional photographer, offer your services for free to foster families.  Foster children do not often have any pictures of themselves, especially if they were taken from their home suddenly.  This is an amazing gift to them that will last a lifetime and provide them with memories to take with them. 

These may seem like small things- but they are potentially huge blessings to foster families!!!!