Category Archives: Beauty

Diva in the rearview

Driving home tonight with Miss Maeve in the backseat and my mother at my right in the passenger seat, I commented how quiet Maeve had recently become.

Glancing down at the clock, I reasoned that since it was just about her bedtime, and we’d just spent a good handful of hours out and about doing some good ol’ fashioned girls-gone-shopping topped off by dinner out, she surely was well on her way to dreamland. The snoring would begin any moment and since we were just around the corner from the house, I began to consider the task ahead of me: gently removing her from the car, a delicate diaper-change and then some juicy kisses as I would tuck her in, snug as a bug in a rug.

A glance in the rearview mirror, however, proved me wrong. (And suddenly had me feeling like I was on Miss M’s payroll. Her personal driver, bringing her home after a long day doing whatever it is that busy two-year-olds do.)

There was Maeve in her pink floral fuzzy coat, donning a new scarf knitted by grandma — wrapped and knotted ever-so-funkily ’round her neck and draped down her front, of course — a fleece pink hat keeping her delicious curls in check, and, despite it being very, very dark outside, there she sat, looking straight ahead, straight-faced and wearing her bright pink sunglasses.

Chillin’.

Hmm. (Like she didn’t know How Darn Cool she looked.)

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Children, Curls, For fun, Maeve, NaBloPoMo

Open adoption … and hope!

Did ya hear that big sigh of relief yesterday? Yeah? Well it was me.

It seems things are moving in the right direction again as Maeve’s first mom has made contact, explained some absolutely valid and quite personal reasons for not being touch, and more communication seems to be in our near future.

Of course the details of this seemingly temporary break in contact aren’t mine to share, but suffice it to say I am so very thrilled at her commitment to being in Maeve’s life. For her. For Maeve. For their future.

But! I won’t forget the dark — and sometimes suffocating in their power over me — worries that have bubbled to the surface as I watch Maeve in awe and wonder, through my lens of love, adoration and humility that she is even part of my life, and begin to wonder how I would help her embrace all of life’s happiness and find the self-fulfillment she deserves … when a piece of her own life puzzle might be missing forever.

Having known how that feels, having feared how it would be for Maeve in the coming years, those are thoughts that have further solidified (not that I was wavering) the importance of openness in adoption.

There’s also another lesson for me in this. A dose of perspective, considering the varied levels of openness and first parent involvement (and availability, of course)  in adoptions everywhere.

It’s my reminder to embrace every moment B. is in our lives, embrace not in the thankful way — because that has always been the case — but embrace in not being afraid to say or ask what I’m feeling/hoping/looking for. That’s something I regretted (as I’ve discussed very recently) when it came to thoroughly discussing a “plan” for the future. I naively thought there would be time for that. Now, though, I can’t let that happen. I want to be sure we talk about talking, about acknowledging the need for a break, about discussing when something needs tweaking, or when something is or isn’t working. I need to be sure we’re all not afraid to talk it out, that we’re committed to each other enough to listen to the hard parts and not throw in the towel. Certainly lessons I learn over and over when I read those who write with the authority of experience, Jenna chief among them.

Oh, I hear what you’re thinking. Cool your Communication Jets, mamagigi, there’s another side to this open-adoption coin. I know. As much as I want to say everything while I can, I know I must temper things and be sure to continue to let B. know that as we move forward, we always are willing to go at her pace. She controls that, and that’s okay with me.

I’m trying not to spew doublethink here, because it’s not. It’s just a multi-dimensional thing, adoption. (As if most of you didn’t already know that. Preachin’ to the choir.)

I know the future is unknown and surely full of hard work and a focused commitment from us all, but I’ll take it.  Because I’d had the comfort of the notion of a future for a year-plus, and then for a while I feared it might have been lost forever.

I’m happy to know those out here in blogville with experience far more established than mine. Because there’s always learning to do.

Just knowing (again) that B. wants to be involved in a future at all — and that this was hopefully just a winding curve in a long road we all will travel together — gives me hope.

And hope? Hope is bright and beautiful.

Just like the daughter we share.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Children, Discussing Adoption, Family, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Still learning

Adoption talk, spot on

Here’s a well-reasoned, inspirational, informative, thought-provoking post that is perfectly matter-of-fact in its approach to explaining important transracial and adoption issues to one’s child. Something to aspire to. I’m so glad this woman’s work — literally — is on my blogroll.

In the next couple years, Maeve will likely find herself tackling similar questions. When she verbalizes these types of thoughts, feelings and concerns, may Thomas and I be this well-prepared and balanced in our approach. May we not always explain away her fears and sadness — a knee-jerk parental reaction to ease pain, of course — and instead know when to let her sit with them awhile and make sure she knows it’s alright to feel whatever she’s feeling. And that no matter what, we’re there.

We’re here, Maeve. We’re here for you and we love you just as you are. For who you are.

(As I’ve said before, if Maeve were biologically my child, she wouldn’t be the same little girl I adore so completely.)

And for those times when Maeve does need just the right answer to soothe her soul? May we have it, or be smart enough to know when we don’t. And in that case, may we do our damndest to find it.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Body image, Children, Discussing Adoption, Family, Growing up, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parenting, Relationships, Still learning

On Girls, Dolls and Self-Esteem

So very, very sad. As I watched this (thanks to Dawn for the video reefer), I fought back tears to hear these girls describe how something so fundamental as their skin color directly correlates to the value — or lack thereof — they place on themselves as human beings. Now, I’m not oblivious to the ridiculously horrid way advertising, society and the culture within which our children are being raised affect their very sense of self. It’s just that seeing it, in such a black and white form (literally), is a five-minute, startling reminder of the hugeness of it all.

No little girl should ever feel she is less than another simply because she was born in her own special skin. She shouldn’t consider herself the “bad” doll or resort to adding bleach to bathwater in an attempt to attain beauty, status or happiness.

As Maeve’s mother, I’m forever charged with working to ensure she doesn’t learn to think, believe or hurt this way. (Because, by the way, I absolutely believe such thinking is a learned behavior.) Maeve needs to know she is beautiful inside and out, just like Ruby and Ariana and Madison and — well, you get the idea.

But how?

During a time of early imaginative play, many young girls innately connect with a doll. One they bestow their love and attention to, nurturing it, sleeping alongside it, talking and hugging it, feeding and changing it. Relating to it in the only ways they know how. Doesn’t it then make sense that the emotional connection to a doll that actually resembles their own features, skin color and hair type will one day translate positively into how they care for themselves?

No? Well, let’s give them porcelain-white dolls with icy blue eyes and blonde ringlets to pet and love and call pretty — and tell me that doesn’t send the alarming message that only these girls are the kinds worthy of love.

Dawn’s words resonated with me — that taking the seemingly simple matter of a childhood doll so seriously is not an overreaction. If you think so, heed Judy’s advice and read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Then come back here and please explain how today’s stark selection of realistic and ethnic dolls isn’t problematic. I believe that for a little girl like mine, the doll in her arms — and all that she naturally learns from it — can seriously impact how she views herself, the world and her place in it.

Interestingly, I watched this video today just before taking on the tedious task of tackling the 10,000 pieces of mail that arrived while we were in Nags Head. The mail chore — and my mindset — were unexpectedly brightened when I stumbled onto the children’s catalog, Magic Cabin. Completely unfamiliar to me, I was soon engrossed in its colorful, handdrawn pages, relishing in many of the “simpler” toys and activities of my own childhood.

Launched in 1989 solely as a doll company by a stay-at-home mom, its motto is “Childhood’s Purest Treasures.” It notes the words “batteries not included” never appear in its catalog because its items are “kid-powered.” From origami lanterns, tin tea sets (yes, tin!), teepees, wooden cash registers and alphabet wallcards, to flower presses, science and nature kits, crafts and candle-dipping, theater pencils and yo-yo dolls. (I hadn’t thought of my own beloved yo-yo doll until seeing the photo, with its countless circle scraps of fabric forming floppy arms and legs. Ah, the memories!)

And then … I stumbled into the doll section. Specifically, the Magic Cabin Dolls collection.

Now, not all of the company’s doll offerings are as ethnically varied as they could be. But the Magic Cabin Doll can be selected in such myriad shades and combinations as blush skin/blue eyes/blonde hair or mocha skin/brown eyes/brunette hair or brown skin/black eyes/black hair. I would like to see its girl dolls not be limited to long “flowing” hair — only its boy dolls have the shorter “mop of mohair curls.” (Oh, I smell a letter to the company in the making: “You are so close folks, so close.”)

For the really handy sewing types, make your own doll but buy the cotton skin from them in, as they say, “all the colors of humankind” — fair, blush, golden, mocha and brown — as well as doll hair in two textures and nine colors: blonde, golden, sandy, auburn, cinnamon, light brown, brown, brunette and black. 

Progress indeed. Now, if only the mass-market corporate behemoths carried as many options so all children — no matter economics or geography — were presented the world, quite literally, on a shelf.

(Although K-Mart this month is releasing a new collection of ethnic dolls, a search on its website provided little results. Press accounts indicate the move seemingly was motivated by the success of Dora — to this I ask, exactly how many years has this girl been exploring and we’re just now seeing the light? But still. Baby steps, I suppose. K-Mart does carry the American Girl collection, which offers a Just Like You line and the Bitty Baby, which comes in several skin-tone shades. Thing is, most of these dolls cost a not-very-attainable $90. Now, if ethnic dolls were the norm rather than the exception, I’d think shelves in stores everywhere would be stocked with such dolls in various price points so all children could love a little one more like them.)

Choosing to think outside the blonde-hair-blue-eyed box when buying a doll may mean driving further for an adequate selection or conducting time-consuming online searches for that perfect doll. For me, it would be a gorgeous little mocha face, tightly curled brown ringlets and eyes the color of dark olives.

Every little girl should feel worthy because every little girl is worthy. The little girls we now cradle and hug will soon become unsure teenagers with the world and all its options ahead of them. And one day, these girls will become women, making choices, finding their own way and even raising children of their own.

So, forego convenience and encourage diversity in today’s toys.

The esteem of our daughters — and our daughters’ daughters — may depend on it.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Body image, Children, Growing up, Making a difference, Parenting, Products, Racism, Self-image

Favorite things

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I was thinking recently about how, despite a comfortable home and all its stuff, there are just a few things inside it that actually have a deep, sentimental, in-the-gut connection for me. Things not necessarily of great financial value, but of utmost import personally and emotionally. Some bring me great happiness; others are bittersweet. Thought I’d share some of them now and then. Here are two.

Topping the list is Maeve’s adoption box, which includes hospital records, her birth certificate and anything written to her by her first mother B. In that same vein, photos of Maeve with B., and all of us together; and the stuffed animal B. gave her four days after her birth, when everyone gathered the first time.

My Pandora bracelet. A gift to me from Thomas and Maeve on my first Mother’s Day. When I received it, there were three charms: one to symbolize our dating years, one our marriage (a three-tiered wedding cake), and one the arrival of Maeve into our lives (an old-fashioned baby carriage).

Since then, a few more have been added as birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, even any old day made special. A dangling pearl marks my birthday, the garnet my all-time favorite stone. The black Murano glass bead and small daisy-like flower is especially beautiful to me. The charms move loosely along the bracelet, jingling when I move my arm.

Since a day hardly goes by that I’m not wearing my bracelet, Maeve is accustomed to seeing it on my wrist. The best part is that as she grows and learns, she discovers a new piece, running her little fingers along its path. Cake! she exclaims, delighted with herself. As she befriends a charm, I share its story, re-living its history — more for my own sake, I imagine.

I look forward to filling and crafting a most unique and personal piece over the years, until one day the completed bracelet is a representation of me, the paths I’ve traveled, the people I’ve loved, the experiences we’ve shared. Something that hopefully will be treasured in some way by those here long after me.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Birthdays, Children, Family, For fun, Gifts, Husbands, Life changes, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Relationships, Treasures

Valentine wishes

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Happy Valentine’s Day!
2007

For your sake, I won’t go into all the grueling details about how long it took to get this photo or how I’d hoped this photo would actually turn out. Suffice it to say, as much as I’ve learned as a parent thus far, I have more to learn. And I must admit, some of these lessons need to be taught more than once for them to sink in.

I had grand plans for this photo shoot. Maeve would be caught, mid-giggle, as she playfully held the sign up for all to see. I would snap The Perfect Photo and it would become part of some cleverly crafted Valentines she’d share with playmates and loved ones.

A lesson I still must master in this Parenthood Journey? Letting go. Losing expectations of perfection.

That doesn’t come easy for me.

On the day we went to court to finalize Maeve’s adoption, my nervous hands and clumsy fingers ripped a huge whole in her little tights as I negotiated them onto her chunky legs. I freaked. I’d had a beautiful dress for the occasion and the tights had been carefully selected to complete the look for this important day which would be recorded by photo, by video, by memory. I wanted to capture as much of this event as possible so she could look back years from now and feel the energy of the day.

Did I have another pair of tights on standby — another pair in the exact shade I’d selected? Of course not. (There’s a lesson, too.) Did I have to choose another pair from her dresser? Yes. Did her second-choice tights affect the outcome in court that day? Of course not.

During the wardrobe malfunction that morning, my sister (my polar opposite when it comes to rolling with the punches — I more easily roll up in a ball somewhere and worry) said something very memorable. As I clung to the useless tights, panic setting in, disappointment creeping up, she chuckled and said: “Welcome to parenthood, where you can’t control every little thing. Going with the flow is just part of the deal.”

I’ve never been good at going and flowing. In fact, I don’t think that river is even on my map.

But I heard her. And that day, when I would become a parent in the eyes of the court, the state, the law, I did find some humor in my initiation of sorts. She’s right, I can’t control every little thing because there’s someone else in the picture now. And that picture, with Maeve in it, is brighter and better than it had ever been.

So, in the interest of learning the lesson of letting go and relishing results that aren’t in The Plan, I post my less-than-perfect picture of Valentine wishes. And ya know, it’s not so bad. She’s clearly a very happy little girl — and that’s all that really matters.

So, we’re off to school to deliver our little photo valentines and share with her nursery school playmates a big heart-shaped oatmeal and chocolate chip cookie I baked — a cookie I’d better get out of the oven before it gets too brown or loses its shape. (Hey, Less-Than-Perfection is a lesson I’m learning — present tense.)

Happy Valentines Day — may you all find love today in the least perfect of places.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Children, Family, Friends, Gifts, Love, Maeve, Parenting, Still learning

Love Thursday

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Love is your birth mother playing with you in the park.
 June 2006

Happy Love Thursday, everyone!
May your day include all sorts of playful and unexpected love.

For more posts of love on this Love Thursday,
visit Love Is All Around and Love Thursday: Love is All Around Us.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Children, Diapers, Family, Gifts, Love, Love Thursday, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises, Relationships