Notorious

 

Hard times OsnatHalperinBarlev

Photo: Osnat Halperin-Barlev

 

When you know how stress

Rewires

Little ones’ brains

To lifelong pain,

You mark yourself ever

Notorious

When you cruelly

Add

To their wounding

Day and again.

 

 

Merriam-Webster’s word for June 22, 2018:

Notorious

This post continues the blogging challenge in which Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, serves as inspiration a-la the “Daily Prompt.”

Want to join me? Feel free to link to this post on your blog, and/or post a link to your blogpost in the comment section below so others can enjoy it, too. Poetry, photography, short stories, anecdotes: Go for it!

For more visibility, tag your post with #WordOfDayNY, so your post can be searchable.

“Follow” me if you want to receive future prompts, or just pop in when you’re looking for inspiration. Here’s to the fun of writing and our ever-evolving blogging community!

 

“I Am Waiting”

mostlymommyhood.com

Photo: mostlymommyhood.com

 

“I am waiting,” she crouched with jaw ensconced by tiny fists supported on little elbows pressed into small knees.

Her eyes did not leave the circle of translucence and white suds.

“It will be a while,” her momma said. “How about we go have a snack? I think we still have some cookies left.”

“But I’m waiting,” the toddler admonished, as if the wait itself precluded any other thing from being done … not even the consumption of normally-tantrum-before-dinner-worthy cookies.

Then again, maybe this wait indeed required full attention. After all, it was her terry friends being tumbled, wet, forlorn and all alone, so far away from hug and hand.

 

 

For The Daily Post

For Photo and how-to: http://mostlymommyhood.com/2012/11/17/the-friends-get-a-bath/

 

Mystery Mom

church pew AMDB7 on Flickr

Photo: AMDB7 on Flickr

 

She doesn’t know who her mom is. She was left as a newborn, wrapped in a piece of old bedsheet, under a pew in the church. Or so the story goes.

She spent her first year in the orphanage. Many mewling mouths and too few holding arms. She found a way to survive.

Halfway into her second year she got picked up, fussed over with odd sounds, carried out of the room that had been her world. It was confusing. It was good. It was a lot.

She has a family now. They love her. They are patient. Most of the time. They try.

She’s a big girl. Almost ten. She understands. Sometimes.

She still can’t help but wonder who she is. What made her undesirable. Why she was left, naked not only of clothes but of clues.

She still can’t help but wonder about the woman who’d had her, then left without a sound. The woman who isn’t even mist and fog of memory and yet she still is tethered to in heart and mind. Her Mystery Mom.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Little Closer

vugust on tumblr

Photo: vugust on tumblr

 

“Granpa is no here anymore,” he stated, morose, “he go back to very far.”

The little boy raised impossibly long-lashed honey eyes to me but I didn’t think he was looking at anything in the room. His eyes were seeing through the walls and out to where a presence is not constrained by oceans, mileage, and topography.

His little face was pinched in a sad frown and he fingered the edge of his shirt, before taking in a long breath that seemed to fill not only his lungs but also return the sparkle into his eyes. He pointed a small finger at the center of his chest. Exhaled. Took another breath.

“But Granpa no really faraway,” he declared, the last two words blended into one in a sing-song. “My heart think so he only little closer very far.”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Jiggly Biggly Boo

There’s a special place in heaven for well-loved toys. Missing ears, tatty limbs, dangly eyes, bald patches, poke-out stuffing, stained coats. Wet tummies with mold, too.

A little one described it to me, his gray-blue eyes bright with loss.

Their house had gotten damaged in a flood. Along with wet carpets and soggy couch pillows, a few unredeemable yet oh-so-precious loveables also had to be tossed out: a bunny, a teddy, and a well-hugged-sloth named Jiggly Biggly Boo.

“He got wet all the way inside him tummy,” the boy shook his curly head. “Maybe we don’t have no more towels … ” he paused, confused, then sighed. “Jiggly Biggly Boo had to go to toys heaven.”

He raised large sad eyes at me. “They have tummy towels? Him tummy got wet. He got mowed.”

 

stuffed-animal-sloth

Stuffed Sloth: The Discovery Channel Store

 

 

For The Daily Post

A Forever Family

The little boy was beaming yesterday.

“You know what?” he said, having barely parked himself on the little chair in my office.

“What?” I pretended.

“I’m SO happy.”

“You are!” I exclaimed, smiling. Even a boulder would see that the little guy was delighted. Delighted and relieved, actually.

“Now my parents can be my REAL parents!” he gushed. He sobered then–this boy does not take family for granted. Abandoned at birth with visible deformities, trundled through foster care homes and more losses, and finally finding an adoptive home with parents who were dedicated to him and where he was cherished. “If something happens to Daddy …” he paused, “then Papa will still be my father.”

He reached for my hand, excited and a little scared at what he just stated, momentarily overwhelmed by the proximity of both loss and hope. It took a lot of love to get this boy trusting that his home was a ‘forever home’ and that he was really wanted; and sometimes worry still snuck in, triggered by the destabilizing challenges of very real uncertainty.

Such as when he needed surgery and only one of his adoptive parents was allowed to escort him to the operating room, because only ‘legal guardians’ could, and the law did not allow both his parents to adopt him, only one. Daddy was recognized as his parent. Papa was not. It scared him that people could say that Papa was somehow not his real father, that other people could — again — decide about his life.

Or when his legal parent was away on business and the new school guard gave the boy’s papa trouble picking him up because there was no official note on file indicating that he was among the ‘approved caregivers.’ It took a tense while to locate the classroom teacher to confirm that this man that the boy called “Papa” was indeed one of his parents and had collected the boy from school before. For several days later this little boy refused to go to school. He insisted on waiting for Daddy to return. He was scared that school people won’t let Papa take him home.

Now in my office, this little boy fiddled with my bracelet, as children often do when they are feeling a little tender but need to be the ones establishing how much connection to allow. “Sometimes at nighttime I have bad dreams … about having to go back to foster care.” He looked up at me, dark eyes like deer in headlights, hair framing his little face in a frizzy halo.

I squeezed his hand gently. He looked at his papa, who was sitting quietly with us, his own eyes bright, and allowing his son–son in all ways but legally until now that the Supreme Court declared the constitutional right for equality in marriage and family–the space for these complicated feelings.

The boy reached out for his father and received a hug. “It is  going to be more safer now, right?” the boy asked, face buried in his father’s shirt.

“Sure is,” the father planted a kiss on his son’s head, who at not yet six years old was already a veteran of too many worries. “Your home is with me and Daddy. We are a family, you and Daddy and I.”

“And Priscilla!” the boy added in reassured indignation. “You forgot Priscilla!”

His father chuckled. There was no forgetting Priscilla the ever-into-something dog. “Of course, Priscilla is part of our family, too!”

The boy snuggled into his father’s hug another moment. Sighed contentedly. Peeked at me and smiled. “The judges said that my Papa can also be my father now. Like my Daddy. Forever and ever and ever and ever.”

family

Universality of Love

Today, I marvel at the universality

Of love.

At the way deep care connects us all.

And should. And can.

How it forms us.

How it spells the words of heart upon a child’s new soul.

How it breathes hope into desperation.

How it nourishes across languages and color, tradition, race, religion, state, connecting all.

How it writes upon the slate of birth

And opportunity.

How it shapes resilience to withstand strife and sorrow.

How it holds through thick and thin, through calm and turmoil.

 

Today, I marvel at the universality,

At the miracle.

Of love.

So utterly expected

So innately ordained

So perfectly humane

Yet so often bent by apathy, oblivion, ignorance, senseless hate, violence, disdain.

The very shock we feel at its absence

In itself speaks volumes

Of Love’s natural flow.

Its ingrained, spirit-sustaining need.

The bounty of fortitude and growth that it can seed.

 

Today,

I marvel at the awesome

Touching

Never mundane

Breathtakingly beautiful

Universality of love.

mothers love

 

love

love1

love2

love3

 

love5

 

love7

love4

 

 

 

 

Heartbeat of love

heartbeat

The little boy had a difficult beginning. Born unwelcome, left at an orphanage in a rural area overseas, raised in a crib in a room full of other babies in cribs–bereft of stimulation or affection or even much in the way of nourishment, when funds at the orphanage were low.

He was among the fortunate ones who survived infancy, and was adopted at age two, to parents who showered all the love they had on him and then found that they had even more to give when that threatened to run out. He was not easy to care for, you see. Unresponsive, non-communicative, alternately rubbing himself against their legs like a kitten, squirming to get off, or slumping like a lump of potatoes in their arms. He either cried inconsolably or stared stoically. He would eat things that should not be eaten and hide foods that should. He could not fall asleep unless he was in an empty bed, never a quiet room, and only after a long while of rhythmic head banging. He barely spoke. Only sometimes responded to his name. It was not looking good.

Fortunately, these parents had excellent instincts, stout souls, and good guidance. They sought help to know how to best assist a child so traumatized that he had learned to take himself away to cope. How to support a child who did not know others could be relied on. How to guide into love a child who did not recognize affection as markers for attachment or caring. They did not believe those who said that their son was autistic. “Maybe he is,” they argued, “but how could we know if he’s autistic, if he never had a chance to truly communicate?”

They sought other opinions and took him to speech language therapy and sensory therapy. They went to counseling themselves–there was much heartbreak to deal with in finally having a child and finding him unwelcoming of love. They looked for help with someone who understood developmental trauma and the adjoining dissociation that often follows–they wanted to know more how to best support him. They knew just loving him more was not enough: they had to find a way to help him process what he’d lived before he could find hope to live differently. Together with professionals, they worked to help give voice to what had none, they walked with him along the story of his lost beginning and his suffering and his strength and masterful coping and his current safety. He needed to know it in all of his being before he could trust it. Gently, they helped him heal.

Persistent gentle kindness integrated with knowledgeable attention and direction helped. The child bloomed. He is no longer checked out from his world, or words, or feelings. He’s in first grade now. Still closing gaps in language and communication, and he may always carry scars from his early years and a plausible exposure to substances before birth that make it difficult for him to regulate his body’s reactions and excitement. However, a more affectionate little boy you would be pressed hard to find. He’s happy. He knows he’s loved.

Not too long ago we were busy with a task where we listed things one does in the morning, or after school, or on weekends, or in a mall, or a park, or before going to sleep at night. To the last he said: “take a bath, brush my teeth, read a book, put my head on mama or papa’s chest.”

I smiled at that–the mom told me that they had a nightly routine where they’d cuddle, making up for the many lonely nights of empty cribs and no arms to rock him. They would snuggle together for a while, let him use them as a pillow, then kiss him goodnight. The parents had held him most the night when he was younger, once he let them.

The boy nodded at me, maybe taking my quiet smile as a sign that he needed to convince me of the veracity of what he was saying, or its importance. “Mama is softer, …” he continued, “and papa’s chest boo-booms louder. I like it. It makes me feel nice inside and it helps me not feel like I have to bang my head.”

Enough said.