Mommy Wars

If I had known yesterday was going to unfold the way it did, I would have just written a blog from the beginning instead of posting eighty million times all over social media.

I relied on the support from friends today, though, as we fought through the weird day as it happened in bizarro land.

Part of what made it bizarre, though, is that at home everything was actually going really well.

I was on call overnight at the hospital on Thursday night, which gave me Friday off to spend with Nathan for our anniversary.  That’s not a special getaway or anything, but after three weeks away from home it was good to be at home with him for a whole day (while children were at school).  I worked hard on cleaning the house, catching up laundry, and doing my best to reclaim our home from me being gone several weeks in a row.

It felt really good, and was like a gift for Nathan, to have the help and for the house to be in better shape when he has Monday on his own again, so that he can spend his time writing.

After school on Friday, the campaign buttons we are selling to raise money for Kyrie arrived, so the kids were excited about that and wanted to make a short video.  Then Mary worked on riding her bike while the boys finished up their chores in time for family movie night.  The three second graders helped me make pizza while Nathan picked up the littles, and then we enjoyed Miracles from Heaven even though it was a little too close to home.

Saturday went as well:  Kyrie got her feeding tube pump finally, which means I don’t have to do it by gravity or syringe, which means no staying up all night just to feed her 5 mls every 15 minutes.  Now the machine can run at the rate we set but without us having to do it ourselves all night.  It also means it can run while we all eat together, and even she can still eat while it works to give her vital nutrients and energy she needs to breathe.  The children played happily, and we enjoyed our time together after missing each other.  We made pancakes while Nathan went to Bartlesville to clean out our freezers that were a mess after we had the power off but then a baby in crisis before we could finish the job, and he got them moved with help from the ward we miss to store the freezers in his parents’ storage unit until we can settle back into a home where we are staying.  It’s hard work squeezing into our tiny home, even if we know it is only for one year!

The littles helped me make lunch in time for Nathan to be home, and then I watched a movie with the second graders while the others all took naps.  Our evening was more “normal” in the best way, as we cooked together and sang together and washed dishes together and cleaned up for the coming Sabbath.  The children were mostly behaved, handled their squabbles on their own, and it was fun to be with them while they were so happy and full of positive energy.  We have many hard days, and many difficult moments, and they still carry such wounds and grief, so I love these moments when we are just at peace.

That was our weekend.  Even Sunday was lovely, with everyone ready for church on time, and Kyrie’s feeding pump slowing us down only a little as we figured out how to finish her feed while in Sacrament meeting.  But they were good, and she was SO BUSY with the extra energy, and the missionaries came over for a food storage surprise lunch.  We had such a good time!

We did also meet with the Bishop to ask for help for the second time in two years because of the medical dramas for all of us.  He gave us a food order, which we did not ask for, but I did cry, and he gave me ANOTHER talk about us being so self-reliant but needing to ask for help and utilize our resources of support.  He also had Nathan give me a blessing right there, so I pretty much just bawled my way through church yesterday.

I worked on the girls’ hair after the missionaries left yesterday, getting them all braided, and getting two evening meals prepped and ready for Nathan to pop in on nights I will make it home in time for supper this week but not early enough to be helpful in getting it ready.  We are all trying so hard to do our part this year, and it really is making us a good team as a family.  I can see how many blessings we have received as our attachment and bonding and unity have grown through this experience of being thrown together in real life in the crazy circumstances of this year.  I am grateful, because even though nothing has happened (ever) as we had planned, we can truly see how it has been exactly what we needed – and very good for us.

While all that was going on, however, the world was swirling around us like a tornado.  One bio-parent relapsed, so we had to call off visits until they are clean again.  Another just got out of jail, and is mad that she missed a visit day and wants hers rescheduled RIGHT NOW.  While I understand and appreciate her urgency to see her child, she has no idea the context of our family or how precarious things are with the baby even on a good day, or how hard it is to prepare the kids for another visit and the family exposure and the recovery after a visit.  Another bio-mom had a baby, and we did visit a week or two ago, but now DHS is already involved and our house is full and she needs to do what they say and there is not much we can do to help.  Then finally, Anber and Kyrie’s bio-mom got 17 years for all her charges and what she did to the baby, and her sentencing all this time later means moving from county jail to prison… and we were informed she was using suicide watch to avoid the transfer, but in the meantime the family is angry at me for upsetting her by keeping her girls when I didn’t have anything to do with them being placed into custody, or not being able to go to family, or needing adopting.  We did adopt when that was what they needed, but even then we have worked hard to try and maintain connections with the biological families in the ways that were safe and appropriate with those who cared.  We are doing our best, but it’s not my fault one of the moms got four felonies and sentenced to prison.

That was the context for my weekend, when I shared pictures of Kyrie carrying her tube feeding bag like a purse, which was totes adorbs.  How else do your normalize the challenges she goes through?  The bag is as big as she is, and even that almost too heavy for her because she is so tiny.  Needless to say, she cannot carry her feeding pump, which is bigger than her head.  Older kids, or stronger kids, or bigger kids, can carry it in a backpack so they can stay busy during feeding.  It’s just too much for her, so we still help her out.  Some other moms of children with challenges told us about the backpack in case we didn’t know, which was super helpful and something we look forward to someday.

But some other moms, who don’t know us, and who don’t know Kyrie, and who don’t understand how small she is, went crazy with telling us about the backpack and kind of disapproving of it in a way, that we hadn’t gotten it for her.

First of all, I’m not spending $80 on a backpack for a toddler.

Second of all, we have a small backpack she likes but the pump is too heavy for her.

Third, it’s one thing to be support and friend-ish and share tips – which we very much appreciate – but it’s another thing all together to be intrusive or pushy or accusatory because of mommy wars.

You know the mommy wars I mean.

The ones where instead of having opinions about public school or homeschool, moms are mean and rude about their own preference and look down on those with differing opinions.

The ones who instead of explaining in good debate their side of vaccinating or not, they are hateful because you did the other thing.

The ones who are bullies instead of compassionate, as if they are still back in high school, when the rest of us are way too old to even want to pretend that.

That’s why I was fed up and at my limit and out of patience for the mean moms – not the helpful ones – and posted on Facebook about the backpacks not being right for Kyrie.

Because we were really having a good weekend at home, very restful and very peaceful and very happy, despite the chaos and judgment and tornado of drama being thrown at us.

I didn’t want to get sucked in or lose time worrying about it.

I wasn’t going to let our peace get stolen.

I just wanted to scoop up all my children and hide them in a bubble of safety and provision and happiness, which I cannot often actually do.

I just wanted a day to celebrate a baby who had enough calories and oxygen to be a real toddler for one whole entire day.

I just wanted a day to celebrate a Barrett who didn’t scream at his teacher for three whole days in a row.

I just wanted a day to celebrate an Anber who was brave enough to talk out loud at church TWICE.

I just wanted a day to celebrate a Kirk, who is consistently opening doorknobs with his left hand while his right hand does other things, which is as much a miracle to our family as anything.

I just wanted a day to celebrate an Alex, who noticed all kinds of social cues during our afternoon of Anne of Green Gables while I braided and beaded the girls’ hair.

I just wanted a day to celebrate a Mary, who finally conquered the word “skunk”, which is actually pretty hard in speech therapy world.

So you see, I don’t have time for mommy wars.

Because my wars are fought advocating for a toddler to weigh more than her age, and encouraging a little boy to bless others with his words rather than screaming the curses he remembers from before he could talk, and to help a little girl finally believe she is safe, and to help a boy who just wants freedom to move, and to help another learn autism is a framework and not the enemy so that he can understand how to be a superhero, and to help a quickly growing up girl find her voice – even when her voice is on her hands.

Other moms, who understand that, are amazing.  They encourage me, and support our family, and let me take my turn and encouraging them from time to time as well.  I am pro mom-friendships.

And that’s exactly why I’m not going to war with other moms.

And I’m not going to fake all the good to avoid sharing what is hard or ugly, not if we are supposed to be learning together.

That’s where I am:  #TeamMom.

So yeah, fostering may be really hard, even after adoption.

And you can’t blame me that the baby is still alive.

It’s because she had a nurse who researched.  And a pediatrician who cared.  And a dozen billion other nurses who would do anything for her, and even more people than that who pray for her every day, and a preschool that believes in her and learns how to care for her as fast as she goes through their curriculum, and early intervention people that visited more times than they were paid to do and advocated in hospitals they aren’t required to visit, and even speech path – whom I normally would avoid – who did not give up on her and taught me how to keep her breathing and swallowing and moving that too-tiny-little-mouth.

That’s why she’s alive.

But so are her five siblings, and they matter, too, and they are miracles just as much as she is.

And our life, we have decided as a family, is going to move forward in faith.  Every day.  No matter the opposition.

So we don’t have time for mommy war nonsense or backpack drama.

Because we are busy watching miracle children conquer the world.

And nothing in life has ever been so hard as the last few years, but nothing has ever been as amazing.

I wouldn’t trade it – or them – for anything.

This is our family, you guys, and that’s a battle worth fighting.

Posted in Life, Parenting permalink

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Mommy Wars — 4 Comments

  1. Although I may mention praying most often for Kyrie, please know that ALL of you, by individual name, are brought before the throne on a regular basis! #teammom

  2. Heart felt prayers, even though I cannot hope to understand – even when you explain – but I can feel the need and offer my love in asking the Lord to bless you – even though I am ignorant and don’t even know what I am asking for – but He is there, and your Celestial family is amazing, and I want to support you. I don’t even feel worthy since I do not have understanding, but every time I read what you have written you teach me a little more. For my life the pains are enough. I can’t imagine yours. But when this mortality is over I will so delight in hugging you, your Nathan, and each of your angel children. I love you.