Why I Don’t Write (Much) Anymore

Image taken from “The Seven Silly Eaters,” by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee

I want to write, but three in children in four years has tuckered me out.

Instead of words, there are toy horses hiding in the corner of my room mocking me, Will you let me sit here and stare at you while you think and ponder and write or will my presence so unnerve you that you are forced to return me to the third-floor playroom, and, in so doing, be distracted by half a dozen other things calling your name?

I let the horse sit and stare at me.

My days are filled with sorting toddler underwear and trade negotiations over favorite toys. (In the middle of writing this last sentence, the voice of my four-year-old trickles down the stairs, just as I’m settling in with my blanket, after a day of birthday shopping, writing for my paid job, toting children to and from school, lawn mowing, dish washing, and bath giving.)

“Mommy, you didn’t give me a goodnight kiss.”

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A Baby, a House Project, and Peace Toward Men

Our house was covered in dust when I went into labor.

It was two weeks before my due date and during the previous month, we had been living in a construction zone, pending a renovation of our kitchen and upstairs bathroom. Plastic draped our doorways, floors, and furniture. Every morning, I would spread a covering over the top of our bed and down the length of our dining room table table, each anticipating a fresh dusting of drywall before they would be unrolled for our evening rituals.

Three days after I found out I was dilated three centimeters, I was eating a pumpkin waffle and sensed a tingling on the right side of my tongue. Two days later, it felt as if the entire right side of my face was going numb. A stroke!? the frenzied side of me freaked. Instead, it was Bell’s Palsy, a somewhat rare virus that temporarily weakens the muscles on one side of the face and is three times as common in pregnant women. It would likely disappear in a few weeks, but in the meantime I was told to rush to an eye doctor to make sure there was no damage to my cornea, because, of course, I couldn’t close my eye now without the help of my hand. Also, the doctor recommended, maybe best not to keep living in the Dust Bowl of 2017.

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2016: A son, a mother, and one relentless Love

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Without a question, 2016 was the year of Gabriel.

It was a year of becoming family. A boy and a girl learning to be brother and sister; and mother and father learning to be parents of two. It was a year of abundance and cacophony, family dinners with food on faces and the floor. It was a year of learning new languages and asking questions—about origins and superheroes.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Part 2

bilo-at-christmas

February 1, 2013–I typed the words “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” as a blog entry. We had just learned that our expected 6-9 month wait to bring Gabriel Bilo home was now estimated to take 3-6 months more. For the sake of our fragile perspectives, God is kind to keep the future a secret. On February 1, 2013, it might have crushed me to know that 26 months later we would still be waiting for our son.

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Maybe Today

For My Daughter Caroline

Maybe today I can just sit here
And let the soiled slacks sag on the hook;
Leave the drawers dangling despite discomfort;
Let the dust bunnies burrow underneath the bed.
Maybe I can just sit here staring at you.

Maybe today I can just sit here
And leave the stack of Shakespeare unshelved,
The walls bare and lime green,
The sink stuffed with suds and spoons.
May I can just sit here with your snore.

Maybe today I can just sit here
And leave the pile of paperwork untouched,
The receipts unrecorded and unreconciled,
The to-dos to still be done.
Maybe I can just sit here and soothe you.

Maybe today I can just sit here
And not notice all of the noticeable things,
Not tidy all of the untidiness,
Not order and reorder the disorderly.
Maybe I can just sit here and teach you to smile.

Maybe today I can just sit here
And leave the doing for another day,
Relearn how to be and how to rest,
How to simply be a wife, a friend, a woman, a child, a human.
Maybe today I can just sit here and be your mother.

A Song of Happiness

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This business of planting trees has been a long time in the making.

For those of you who have been following the blog of our journey to make Gabriel our son, I feel it is time to take a few narrative steps back and tell you a larger story. In this story, the journey to get Gabriel is a subplot—and a very significant one at that—but it is one strand of a larger story.

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Kobanga Te

When we began the journey to adopt, we estimated that we would travel to pick up our son sometime this past summer. That was before a lot of things happened (head over to our private FB group to learn more).

As every month passes, we have eagerly looked forward to photo updates of our boy, who turned two in September. The weekend of Thanksgiving, we received an enormous treat when we got to Skype with Gabriel for the first time! Although the connection was poor, he was able to see and hear us clearly, and we were able to communicate to him how much we love him. That same day, he received two little buttons with photos of our faces and recorded messages from us to him. We learned later that he kept pressing the buttons over and over. He particularly liked the recording of Michael’s voice saying “Bilo, nazali Tata. Tata alingi yo. (Bilo, I am Daddy. Daddy loves you).

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Bilo Erler

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First of all, we apologize that it has been all quiet on the Gabriel front for the past month and a half. While we have been silent on the blog, there has been anything but silence in regards to the adoption process. On July 5th–just two days after my last post–we received notice that our case had successfully passed through the Congolese court system!

We celebrated with quesadillas, fish tacos, and adult beverages.

Over the next month, we waited as various other court documents trickled in–documents such as Gabriel’s birth certificate, which we would need in order to submit our petition to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). During these weeks, we often grumbled to ourselves–“What’s taking so long?”–but we were often reminded that things work more slowly in the Congo. Sometimes the guy you need to sign a document doesn’t show up for work that day. Or maybe someone’s lawyer had to wait four hours just to meet with someone pertinent to the case. Regardless, it was another month submitted to God’s workshop in patience.

Finally, we had a half-inch worth of documentation to mail to Texas. A $30 Fedex fee later, and . . . we were in line for another wait–this time to receive approval from the government that we can move forward in adopting Gabriel. (Yes, I’ve stopped counting the steps in this waiting game).

But to make the waiting more palatable–or perhaps, more unbearable–we recently received updated photos of our little guy, smiling, wearing different sandals, and holding a sign that read “Bilo Erler.” Bilo: his Congolese name. Erler: the name that makes this whole crazy adoption business finally feel real!

At this point, we’re anticipating another 4-7 month wait, as the US Embassy in Kinshasa initiates a final investigation into our case. Please pray for rapidity in this process.

We like the number 4 better than 7.

Frayed Flip Flops

It’s July 3rd, and still no news on the Gabriel front. We’re trying to wait patiently, knowing that there are many circumstances outside of our control. If you’re praying for us, would you please pray that we’d have news soon that we’ve passed the court, so we can move on to the next step in the process of becoming Gabriel’s parents? In the meantime, I wrote this little poem after seeing the most recent photos of our little guy.

frayed-flip-flops

Baggy blue overalls,
A physical cord that vanishes the miles,
Chosen by us, worn by him.

A toy yellow motorcycle,
Clutched in one-year-old paws,
A secret delight to the mind of a miniature adventurer.

Flip flops,
Frayed in the Congolese dirt,
Early steps of a future world traveler.

Eyes that smile,
Once worn in tears,
And a hundred sadnesses only he may ever know.

Arms outstretched,
Beckoning us,
A preview of a thousand embraces yet to be ours.