Friday, July 22, 2011

My Awesome Future is Now

Mr. Double Digits
Today my oldest turns ten years old. This is big for both of us.

He had a tough entry into the world on a couple of levels, and I had an equally tough time handling new motherhood. (I've written just a little bit about this on the NYT's consistently readable Motherlode blog; you can read it here.)

For the sake of the kid's privacy I'm not going to go into great detail, but let's just say we did not have much fun those first six months. It was not the kid's fault. It was instead a perfect storm of inexperience, unpreparedness, colic, passivity on the part of nearby adults, and hormonal malaise. Oh, and I liked to stay up late, and the kid liked to wake up at 5 AM. Like I said, not fun.

We have fun now, though, and lots of it. He is such a special kid, so sweet, creative, funny, and competent. He has a big heart and a fantastic brain. He is training with his dad for a kids' triathlon. So today I'm celebrating what a wonderful kid I have and how far we've come together.

I know some people love the baby stage of parenthood, and to those sweet folks I can only say this: what color is the sky in your world? But for those who are like me let me reassure you, it gets better. So much better. Night-and-day better. In fact, we need to do an "It Gets Better" series for overwhelmed new moms, don't you think?

Although not officially part of my imaginary new series, this bit from Dooce, which gave me the title for this post, would fit right in.

Mexico, July 2011
Happy birthday, Clyde. We love you the most.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Virtual Twins

Christmastime in Houston, December 2010

How old are your kids?

I get asked this all the time. Do you? I guess it's an easy, innocuous conversation starter that can go in any direction depending on the number cited in reply: just commiserate about (or celebrate) the quirks of that particular stage, and you're off.

But I digress.

When people ask me my kids' ages, I say, "Two of them are eight and one of them is nine." (At least I'll say that until this Friday when my oldest will turn 10.) Then the questioner, as soon he or she gets over the shock of all my children being almost exactly the same age, invariably says this:

"Oh, you have twins?"

I never know how to respond to this, because effectively, yes, I have twins. They're in the same grade at the same school and participate in many of the same activities. They play hide and seek together. They bicker ferociously. They compete for my attention. They occasionally camp out on the floor in each other's bedrooms. They share friends.

But are they fraternal, or identical? Neither. They are three months apart in age, and one of them was born in China. For a pretty comprehensive take on what the virtual twins life is like, read this post on Raising Devils, which details some of the pitfalls, as well as the perks: I particularly appreciated the author's riff on Candyland ("I only had so many games of Candyland in me, and I my oldest child exhausted them five years ago"), which describes my usual position on the matter and reminded me of this quote from Anna Quindlen:

Maybe I had three children in the first place so I wouldn't ever have to play board games.* 

I actually like some board games quite a bit, but when it comes to some of the more excruciating (for me) activities of childhood (see tic tac toe), it's great to be able to say, "Go find your brother/sister. Maybe s/he wants to play!" Sometimes it even works.

Visiting the Bejing Zoo, July 2009
*From this essay, "The Good Enough Mother," which is totally me, or at least I like to think it is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Second Anniversary

I'm not supposed to post here anymore, or at least I said I wasn't going to after we reached the one year anniversary of our adoption, but I think I'm going to resume doing so. In the interim I've been doing plenty of freelance writing, some of which you can read here and here, along with some things like this, but I miss having my own blog home. I don't think it will be primarily an adoption blog, or even a straight-up mom blog, but I like the name Axis of Beebles, so I think I'll keep it. Despite the disclaimers, however, my first post back is both adoption- and mom-related. I wrote it last week on the second anniversary of our "Gotcha Day."

Jackson Hole, Wyoming—July 2011

I don't think I've been this proud of my daughter since the day we met. Which just so happens was two years ago today. Though I'm not entirely sure how it happened, I woke up this morning to find myself signed up for a ten-mile bike ride with Mark, the kids and my dad. We're on a weeklong family vacation in Jackson Hole, and while I do my best to stay in reasonable shape, a ten-mile anything is definitely outside my comfort zone. But lured by promises of easy terrain and wonderful scenery—and to set a good example for the kids—I agreed, and off we went.

The ride turned out to be harder than any of us thought it would be, and though I tolerated the challenge I worried about Rosemary. She's so small, and had never attempted anything remotely like this before. I needn't have worried, though, as she faced this new challenge with her characteristic determination and (intermittent) optimism. After a somewhat bumpy start for her and my other young one, she attacked the task with concentration, pride, and sometimes even enthusiasm. Her little legs had to move so fast to keep up with me even at my slowest, but she stayed positive until the very end.

Which took me back to that afternoon in the conference room of the Beijing businessman's hotel. She was so brave that day, scared but seemingly optimistic that things were going to go well. Which, of course, was to a large degree a self-fulfilling prophecy. She was so game, so up for anything. Which considering the cataclysm of change that befell her that day, is quite something.

But back to the bike ride. Occasionally she'd call out "Mom!" and I'd say yes, right here, right behind you, are you ok? And thus reassured that I was still there her she'd reply confidently, "Yes! Family stays together, waits for each other."

Rosemary, I couldn't have said it better myself. We're so glad you're part of our family.