Monday, May 15, 2017

For Katie, On Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day, and I am thinking about Katie.  I always do this time of year.  Yesterday was "Birthmother's Day," and she and I texted a little bit about our precious little boy who has brought so much joy to both of our lives.  It feels so sacred to share that kind of love with someone.

Today, I have felt the overwhelming urge to share more with her--more than just our hearts from a distance.  I've wanted to give her a piece of Noah to take with her this week--to fill her up and make her smile.  Because she will always be his first mother, and Mother's Day will always be about her, too. 

It has been a long time since I've written an "update" post about Noah, and I've been meaning to for months.  So even though it's 10:30 p.m., I am going to do it right now.  For Katie, as my Mother's Day gift--so she can carry the stories of this remarkable little boy in her heart this week and marvel at the amazing person he is becoming.

At age 5 1/2, Noah is one smart little cookie.  I'm allowed to say that because it's not my genetics.  He still has a huge vocabulary and it makes everyone laugh.  Just today he told me that his younger cousin has "developed a new ability" by learning how to pump on the swings. ;)   Here's to all of us "developing new abilities"!

 A few months ago, he told me that Sally wasn't napping well because she has an "instinct" that makes it difficult for her to sleep with an unfamiliar blankie.  I said, "Noah, what is an instinct?"  He said, "It's like this data that you have inside of you. It is kind of programmed so that you do certain things and you don't do certain things."  I thought that was a pretty darn good explanation!

He can also articulate complex emotions, which makes it so much easier for me to teach and talk to him. He recently told me that a little girl in his kindergarten class is getting bullied (break my heart!), and so we talked about how he can be a leader and stand up for her.  He thought about this and then explained some really adult emotions to me, things like, "I guess I haven't had the courage to stop it because I'm afraid that the other kids will start picking on me instead."  He also admitted that he wants to feel "connected" to the kids who are doing the bullying, so it's hard to stand up to them. We talked about how all of these emotions are completely normal to feel and how he can work through his fears to do the right thing.

At the end of the discussion, I told him that he is a natural leader and everywhere he goes, people want to be around him and be his friend (which is so true).  I told him how special it is to have this gift because he has the unique opportunity to be a leader who stops bullying.  He said, "Mom, I think I want to be a leader who just stays out of it." Ha!  I just love his honesty and how much I can relate to his emotions.  We will continue talking about empathy, and I hope he grows into a brave and kind young man who is a big influence for good.

He really does draw people to him.  Everywhere we go, he makes friends.  He is super outgoing.  We recently met up with a family who is new to the neighborhood to go bowling.  Before we arrived, I told Noah that we would be getting to know some new friends, and he was thrilled.  He and the little boy who is close to his age hit it off right away.  When I took Noah up to the concessions counter to get a cup of water, I heard him chatting up the teenage worker.  He sat at the counter and told her, "We are getting to know some new friends tonight." She was so amused by his matter-of-fact small-talk and asked, "Oh yeah, how is that going?"  And he responded, "It's going really well!"  I almost died from the cuteness.

His Primary teacher at church absolutely loves him and has told me some hilarious stories about him.  She said that one day they were drawing pictures to give to someone they were thankful for, and he told her he was drawing a train for his Grandma.  But then at the end of class, he said, "Actually, I drew this for my teacher" and gave her a big exaggerated wink.  Then he handed her the picture and walked out. ;)

He is a builder.  He still amazes me with his engineering skills, and he never needs any help.  The other day at the cabin in Sun Valley, I looked over and he had built this multi-level "skycoaster," as he called it.  I was impressed!

We recently toured the elementary school where he will attend first grade, and we stopped by the technology and engineering room.  The 1st graders were in there trying to build marble runs with an upside down loop, but they couldn't figure out how to keep the marble from falling out.  The teacher invited Noah to join a group, and he immediately solved their problem.  The teacher quieted down the class and asked Noah to explain to everyone what he had done and why.  He said, "I made the runway longer and higher, so the marble could build up enough speed to get over the loop with no problem."  Proud mom moment!

This past week we were working on potty training Sally, and I asked him to take her into the bathroom and tell her about it to get her excited.  He took her in there but then I heard him say, "And you just stand right in front of the toilet and pee, like this," so I rushed in there and said, "No no, remember she's a girl--she can't do that!"  After a moment of thought, he motioned to the toilet grandly with one arm and said, "Mom, will you do the honors?" I was happy to be the model for his demonstration.

We were at the grocery store not too long ago, and I said, "Oh darn it, Noah!  I forgot my list at home!"  He looked at me seriously and said, "That's just the way life goes sometimes, Mom. You just have to roll with it."

Today at church, a man was giving a talk for Mother's Day, and he mentioned that his mother had always kept an "immaculate" house.  He went on to explain how orderly and clean every square inch was, how dishes were done right after dinner, etc. etc.  During this talk, my kids were at my feet playing/coloring/raising hell, and of course I didn't think they were listening to a word.  But all of the sudden Noah pipes in and says, "Well our house is always a mess!" Ha!  I must admit, he will never be able to say that his mom was a master homemaker!

But in my defense, and as I pointed out to him, it's not me making all the messes! For example recently he stripped down and changed for his swimming lesson and left his clothes on the locker room floor.  I called after him, "Hey Bud, come back and pick up your clothes!" "Sorry," he responded casually, "but I've got a swimming lesson to catch!" Oh my goodness!  Don't worry, he caught his swimming lesson after he'd picked up those clothes. ;)

When I woke him up for school recently, he rolled over and said sleepily, "You didn't know I was wearing an electric super-powered jet pack, did you?" That must've been one awesome dream!

I love that he is all boy.  He climbs trees like a pro; he rides his mountain bike down the trails in the canyon and hoots and hollers; and he loves to get dirty.

He recently lost his first tooth, and it was a pretty momentous day for the entire family.  His dad had told him that the Tooth Fairy only comes for teeth that have been well-brushed and cared for--and phew, she did come that night so we were all relieved.  I must say, he is a complete wimp when it comes to pain, and he cried and whined every time he ate a meal in the days leading up to his tooth falling out.  Now another one is loose, and I'm hearing the whining all over again...heaven help me. 

One of his most classic quotes lately took place in the car.  We were driving home from school, and he started bombarding me with questions and demands.  I said, "Noah, I don't know.  I just need ten minutes of think-time when we get home to get my life under control."  He thought about that for a second and then said, "Mom, if you get your life under control, does that mean you won't let us watch so much TV??"  Hahaha! 

Our favorite thing to do together is read chapter books.  Every night, I snuggle into his bed and read him a chapter or two of a book, and he can always follow the story perfectly, even when there are no pictures.  I am amazed by how much he can absorb by simply listening!  We started with several of the How to Train Your Dragon books, and we've now moved on to Roald Dahl (we've read The BFG and James and the Giant Peach) and E.B. White (we are working on Charlotte's Web).  This is one area of motherhood that I feel like I do well.  I'm not very good at playing on the floor with my kids, but I could read to them all day long--especially now that we are reading interesting chapter books instead of just picture books.

I love hearing Noah's laugh when we read.  He often bursts into giggles, and once he gets going, I can't help but join in.  He was so amused when the wicked Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker got flattened by the giant peach in the Roald Dahl classic, and he laughed uncontrollably and hid his face in his blankets saying over and over, "This is too good, Mom!  It's just too good!"  I think that will always be one of my favorite memories.

He's a snuggler, and I love it.  He gives hugs and kisses freely, and he lets me cuddle him every night.  I feel like it's our common love language, and it's something that brings us together and makes me feel so peaceful, even after the roughest days.

I was recently having one of those days, with everything going wrong, and we were 15 minutes late to swimming lessons (keep in mind that a lesson is only 30 minutes).  Then I discovered that Noah had taken his goggles out of the swim bag right before we left home, and he refuses to swim without them, so I just decided to throw in the towel, and we headed back home.

On the way he started badgering me about what he would do when he got home and demanding to be entertained, and I'd just had it, so I snapped at him, "Figure it out, Noah!  Go outside, play in your room, I don't care what you do--just figure it out!"  He was silent for about 30 seconds and then he said, "Mom, what's wrong?"  My heart softened immediately--it was the perfect question for him to ask.  He didn't cry or scold me for being grumpy.  He recognized that I wasn't at my best and there must be a reason.  I felt like he gave me the benefit of the doubt.  It was just a really sweet "payoff" moment for me as a mom.

So I explained to him how tired and overwhelmed I was, and how sometimes as a mom you feel like you do the same things over and over and nobody appreciates it, and everything that you do gets undone by the end of the day.  He listened, and then he said, "So it's sort of like when I spend a lot of time making a big castle out of Magformers, and then Sally comes in and crushes it, and I feel like all my work was for nothing, and it makes me feel really sad and mad and overwhelmed."  I said, "Exactly!"  And he said, "So you're not alone, Mom.  I've felt that too."  Oh my gosh, sweetness!  Where do these flashes of maturity come from??

It's truly amazing to see the little person that he's becoming.  I love this age.  Don't get me wrong, he's still very strong-willed and can throw an epic fit on occasion, but overall, I'd say he's mellowed over the past year or two, and he is mostly just pleasant and fun to be around.  Our biggest battles are probably over food (he is so picky) and over the way he and Sally fight (drives me insane!)--but overall, he really has become a helper in our house and, dare I say it aloud, pretty easy to parent.  He's my little buddy.

I am so so so beyond grateful to be his mom.  I think about it every single day.  We recently faced some uncertainly with some plans for our future, and everything felt up in the air.  I was tempted to become super anxious over it all, but I thought about the experience of waiting for and adopting Noah, and I knew that everything would be okay.  It took us much longer to become parents than we had anticipated, but in the end, Heavenly Father knew exactly what we needed: We needed Noah.  That experience has taught me that when life doesn't go as planned, it is usually headed somewhere better.

As I tucked Noah in that night, I told him that the experience of adopting him will always give me more faith throughout my life when I have to wait. "You were my first miracle, Noah," I said.  He hugged me tight and said, "And you were mine, Mama."

But tonight I've been thinking about how Katie was our first miracle. She was my first miracle because she brought me my Noah.  And she was Noah's first miracle because she chose to give him life--and a life that she wanted him to have that she couldn't yet provide for him.

On August 1, 2011, she made me a mother and she became a mother--Noah's first mother, our first miracle.

Happy Mother's Day, Katie.  Words can't express how we love you.