A Short History of My Daughter’s Life as a Mother…


Both Mother and Daughter

My daughter is a born mother. I am (in my own opinion) decidedly not, despite my long desire to have children and be at home to raise them. I would argue that mothering is more science than nature in my case. But I have watched her in fascination for some time now, all the while struggling with the faint discomfort of someone raised by a 70’s era mother who, like most of her sisterhood, ran from the kitchen and child-rearing as a sole occupation. Our mothers sought to have a bigger life than the one that was offered to them and there has been a burden on us, their daughters, ever since – to expect the same.  Some wear it more lightly than others to be sure, but there can be a guilt at work for wanting to stay home. Perhaps it is connected to the lack of a paycheck associated with it, but being just a mother is only given lip-service as an occupation. And yet, here is this girl who is  two generations away from Gloria Steinem, obsessed with baking, asking for cross-stitch lessons and mothering her brothers and sister, and sometimes me, and I think, aren’t we supposed to be pushing her out of the kitchen?

She was born an adult, and at all of 11 years of age she acts with perfect comfort embracing the responsibilities of the business of our home. There have been moments where it has been hard to tell which one of us was leading in this mother-daughter dance we do. She has been my equal in certain subtle ways since she first weighed in at 3 tiny pounds of certainty, and her imitations of me, which have not always been flattering, began at a profoundly early age. The most curious part about it was how really clear it was that it wasn’t a recreation of me personally that drew her. It was the role of motherhood that she aspired to.

It didn’t start out this way. If you went by our earliest conversations about “How you get a baby” you would never have suspected that she would be who she is now. I can still recall the frantic, panicked conversation she had with her frantic, panicked mother who was trying to merge onto the Southern California freeway system (I am always trying to get on the freeway it seems) with no sleep and the equivalent of the new Starbuck’s Trenti in her system.

“I don’t want to have a baby!”

“Well, you don’t have to.”

“Well how do stop it from happening?!” she asks, starting to cry

“They have medicine you can take so you don’t have one.” I say, wondering why we were having this insane conversation anyway.

“Well, I want the medicine!”

OMG. “You don’t need it yet!  You don’t have to worry about this right now. Can we just let mommy get on the freeway and worry about this later for the love of all that’s holy?”

She was 5 at the time…

And yet, despite this, in her tiny heart resided the sensibilities of a born mother, which despite the aforementioned conversation were clearly evidenced by the arrival of her younger brother when she was 3 years old. She found him irresistible in every way, announcing to all and sundry, “This is MY baby” and showing him off.  She watched carefully the pattern of his care and at the slightest cry from him, little hands would appear out of nowhere and begin pulling at my clothes, undressing me as she announced, “he’s hungry.” And more amazing still to me was when I would lie down to nurse him, she would lie on the other side, putting him in the middle, and stretching her tiny arms as far as they would go, around us both, making herself part of the tableau.

I admit, I am sensitive to the idea that I am unfairly making her care for the children that I had or agreed to take on, but she really did sign onto this with me during one of our early conversations about whether or not we were the best place for her two young cousins. Could we give them what they needed if there were 6 kids? She asked what would happen to them if we didn’t do it and I told her about foster care. And she told me that it wasn’t happening. That no matter what I decided, she wasn’t going let that happen. She wasn’t being defiant, she was being who she was. She just knew the answer deep in her own heart and wasn’t afraid of stating it.

Also, the boys, when asked to meet the same mark, well, they are just ever so slightly more lame in some incomprehensible, DNA-related fashion.  I’m sorry guys (Mommy totally loves you), but they’re just different.  I can give you evidence of this genetic difference. When the triplets were born and we had absolute teams of people coming in to help care for them, not one of the men ever knew which one they were holding. They visually could not tell them apart. They were not identical. 3 different eggs. None of the women had this problem. I found that fascinating. Our brains are built differently, thank god, and I value them as well, but we’ve stopped pretending by now that the male and female brains are similarly structured, right?

So, through all this, my daughter has been the blessing I never knew I was going to get. She forgives me for all my many mistakes as a parent.  She has been my hero and my partner in holding our family together, and it must be said, she is amazing. I miss her terribly on the weekends (especially now that she has become my chief ally in the current war against the 2 year old). I didn’t expect it to happen this way, but my gratitude for who she is as a person knows no bounds. I could even begin to do this without her.

To say that I rest uneasy at times in our partnership wouldn’t be overstating it.  I am not looking to produce a resentful young adult who felt that I had kids and made her look after them, but so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. I have held onto the words of a young cousin, the oldest of six herself, and her observation about the younger sister who just always seemed to know she wanted to be a mother. It reminded me that it was alright to have motherhood be one’s highest aspiration. After all, feminism was about being valued for our choices as woman equally, no matter where they took us, not just being free to choose from the “Man Menu”.  I wish for my daughter whatever she most wishes for herself. She is one of the best people I know.

 

 

 

 

 



JUST BRING ON THE LOCUST AND GET IT OVER WITH…


It’s started. The beginning of the end is here. The Ten Plagues.  The punishment of God upon our people. Woe be it unto all those who didn’t believe.  Out of fear, I will be marking the door with lamb’s blood, but really, nothing can save us now.

My daughter, who is an angel on earth if ever there was one, disappeared last week, almost overnight. In her place, for 48 hours was an alien creature armed with a stony expression and burning coals for eyes that shot death-lasers of hate at me, and everyone around her, anytime I dared speak. The alien creature spent the whole of the 48 hours making snarky asides to any conversation, whether she was in it or not and provoking fights and dissension with those around her. When she wasn’t doing this, she was stomping around the house, slamming doors and shooting us glares of contempt.

We’ve seen little signs of this before now. Every so often, in the course of the normal day, you’d look into their eyes and you’d see something peeking. A little crazy that wanted to come out to play…but that was still years off, right?  Oh, wrong…SO. WRONG.  My girl just disappeared. Like overnight!  I had no idea that it would be this fast, but when I think about PMS and how fast that arrives, I guess I should have figured it out, because it’s like a dose of PMS, but on Human Growth Hormones.  Perhaps I will entertain myself by thinking of it as “The Cream” and “The Clear”.

My Bestie, The Dragon Lady, was all tea and sympathy for her, “Oh, maybe she needs chocolate!” she said over the phone.  “What she needs is gin, a cigarette and some Valium, but as this isn’t the 1950’s what I’m going to do is offer her some chocolate and a hot shower.”  But the message of what she was saying got through to me.  My Darlingest One was unconsciously dipping her big toe into the waters of The Sisterhood and she would need love, and a guide…and a horse tranquilizer from time to time, but hey, don’t we all some days?   So After the first approximately 6 hours of it all and finding that she had actually barricaded herself into her room to cry with rage and confusion, I brought some tough love into the mix, since she had proven to be utterly intractable in the face of every other piece of love, reason and understanding.

I took a deep breath and stormed the room, ordering her to march herself into my bedroom and get in bed. Then I announced that she would now be subjected to forcible hugging and comforting.  Once she had wept a little more I broke out the understanding and empathy for how hard her day had been.  And then I talked her into a hot shower to help her feel more herself, then back into bed for more cuddling. Basically, I tried to draw the roadmap to self-care for her.

This is not to say that I got the whole 48-hour event right. We clashed, I ranted, we cried and made up, dogs howled, swine gnashed their teeth and men fell, because perimenopause and teenage hormones, as previously noted, are bad. They’re BAD!  At other various times the two girls, my preteen and my five-teen year old were secretly at work sharpening spoons into shivs in their respective cells so they could go after each other in the exercise yard, occasionally triggering a lockdown. Sisterly love, I am told, sometimes looks like this.  One of the nicest women I have ever met, back in our church-going days, once admitted to me that she made her younger sister drink perfume, just because.  I suggested that a real older sister would send her perfume as a reminder for all birthdays and Christmases. How did I get here?

One of the chief features of this hidiosity seems to be the fact that they are unable to assess their own state. They think they’re fine. It’s you (and all the other clueless bastards in the house) who are the problem.  The other exciting discovery I made is that for much of this, there is no right answer. You can’t win and you can’t head it off; you’re just going to have to experience the event.  I think my early assessments here are correct, and it leaves me speechless with horror and fear. I think I’m going to miss my babies over the next few years and I hope they’ll come around for brief visits, but by and large, I fear it will be these evil aliens who will sleep in their rooms at times. I mean, it’s not as if there’s some sort of strong family history for hormonal stability at work here.

Case in point, the following week, her two brothers became snake-charmed as well.  The Golf Pro kind of freaked out a bit. He’s so mellow that he didn’t have an actual mood swing as a teenager. But I argued that if you think of them in single terms, if you isolate their behavior into individual events, then it seems actually kind of normal. However,  if you take that one of them and their head full of bad hormones and have all their interactions take place with 2 other people who have heads full of bad hormones…well, that’s just bad science folks.  Don’t put three people who have undeveloped brains, bodies being poisoned by their own body chemistry and poor social skills together. The results aren’t good.  Then you add the five-teen year old and the 7 year old, who imitates everything, the perimenopausal parent and the coping-challenged 2 year old into the mix, and seriously, I don’t know why the Golf Pro even comes home at all. And I don’t know what’s to become of us all.

To top it all off, during the 8am Friday school drop-off, when I told the 2 year old that he could have a lollipop for breakfast, from his little rocket seat in the back of the car, he screamed “I Hate You.”  #FML. But, during one of the breaks in the storm, I got to hold my baby girl in my arms and watch this video with her. I guess those will be the moments to look for to keep us connected over the next few years…




Failure to Dock With the Mothership…


RAD Mantra...

I think it is no secret that I have been stressed of late.  If we know each other on Facebook, then it is really no secret, since I made my Facebook timeline submit to forcible support the other day while I crawled through a series of pride-swallowing phone calls and other things that must be done when the safety-net suddenly gets cut out from underneath you. Sometimes, that’s the only way to keep your balance…by sharing and hoping someone out there will throw you a rope.  Someone did…and by making a series of positive statements I was able to affirm for myself that I was indeed making it across the rickety bridge.  There are a few more to be crossed, but I think I can lead the children through it, even though they don’t know they’re being led.  Leadership always involves more knowledge than you can share.

But, in the midst of it all, the thing I forgot to factor in was my 5 year old, my daughter, the one with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The one that cannot be parented in the normal way. Traumatized children cannot be parented in the same way as the ones without trauma. In fairness to me, it’s not always easy to constantly straddle and attune simultaneously to the world they exist in and the one that the five other children live in.  Sometimes, when they seem to be doing ok, you can lose focus on the fact that their attachment to you isn’t like that of the other children and the next thing you know, you’ve fallen out of your ‘Therapeutic Parenting’ role. You slipped and just let you be you…and that’s always when they hand you the bill.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) comes in two general flavors: Inhibited and Disinhibited.  Those are the starting points. From there, they can zig-zag all over the list symptoms and ways this disorder presents itself.  But generally speaking, they will start in one camp or the other.  Our daughter is in the ‘Disinhibited’ camp.  She comes to the world like Alexander, where everything is Be Conquered or Go Home. Whatever the type they happen to be however, the battle (and it will be a battle, make no mistake) is to successfully affix a normal attachment between them and one caregiver. After that has been achieved, if it is, then from there they will hopefully have a blueprint to successfully model all future attachments.

We have made progress over the past 3 years, but never as much as I’d like to believe. I have had to learn how to become that “Therapeutic Parent” that she needs, and I am still very much learning. In the normal course of things, when we come to parent our kids, we rarely come to it so clinically. But for RAD kids, they will be saved no other way.  One person has to be willing to go and stand in the storm with them and lead them out. And that storm around them and within them is a howling of the gods.

In an ideal world, that one person has a very good support system, because it’s a relentless job. Most of the time that child is focused on you like a laser,  24/7. They are inexhaustible in their energies and strategies, because they remain in a constant, vigilant state of hyper-alertness. For them, they are engaged in a battle for nothing less than their very survival. This has been hardwired into the brain trauma they have experienced at the most crucial developmental stages of their early childhood.  At times you can well end up feeling as if you have attachment disorder yourself.  And all this effort can be frustratingly empty at times, when they will, with a gesture or a word, show you once more that you are still discardable.

So, yes, I’ve been stressed this week. Terribly stressed. Terrified and feeling without safety. And in the midst of it, my daughter lost her way again because my focus wandered in the moment.  And these kids, RAD kids, are so hyper-aware of your state, and reactive to it that sometimes all it takes is one asteroid strike on the mothership, and like a badly wired escape pod, they will pull the emergency cord and  just detach, floating free into space again, determined that they can survive without you. They have no idea that they are wrong.

And in that moment, all you want to say is…eff it. Because no matter what else you’re trying to do, all crises management has to stop and you have to go after that detached escape pod. You have to put everything and everyone else aside and bring them back into the docking procedure.

I can relate a recent moment that might illustrate the reality. My 5 year old daughter, the child who has been with me, with the exception of a few short months, for over 3 years as a part of our family. She has called me Mom from almost the beginning, zeroed in on my stress, which reads to her as instability of her environment, and said “Mom, you really only have 4 children, cause we’re only living with you for a little while.” That’s a survival statement that says she’s ready to go if things get dicey. Notice that it doesn’t occur to her that staying with her family or her adults is the safest place to be.

Hearing that statement you have to struggle with the knowledge that the most intense efforts of your life as a parent have achieved such incrementally small successes at times. And you have to lock down the feelings of unfairness that you aren’t even allowed to be stressed, even when it is so justified. And you have to pull out the much worn script of the Therapeutic Parent and begin it all again.  For the RAD kid, you have to be “On” 24/7 . There are no carefree moments, no moments of casual parenting. Everything you do can seem weighted down with the most impossibly heavy layers of context.

And then, you do it anyway. Because it’s your child. Because you cannot afford to lose even one pod. Because despite your exhaustion you will never quit on any of your children. Because they are lost, alone out there in the void and failure is not an option. No one gets left behind.

Attachment Disorder – as it appears in our house:

Control issues. Most children with reactive attachment disorder go to great lengths to prevent feelings of helpless and remain in control. They can often be confrontational, disobedient, defiant, argumentative and manipulative

Anger problems. Anger may be expressed directly, in tantrums or acting out, or through manipulative, passive-aggressive behavior. Children with reactive attachment disorder may hide their anger in socially acceptable actions, like giving a high five that hurts or hugging someone too hard.

Difficulty showing genuine care and affection. Easily replacing caregivers, showing no marked preference for a primary caregiver.

An underdeveloped conscience. Lack of empathy. Children with reactive attachment disorder may act like they don’t have a conscience and fail to show guilt, regret, or remorse after behaving badly.

Also included are hypervigilence, sleep disorders, food issues, poor response to discipline and consequences, physical contact issues, hyperactivity and a desire to be constantly stimulated, difficulty learning cause/effect, poor planning & problem solving, pervasive shame, poor communication strategies and failure to produce interactions that facilitate demonstrate mutual enjoyment, appearing to be on guard or wary, engaging in self-soothing behavior lack of eye contact, rage, aggression, lying, stealing, hoarding food, an apparent lack of a conscience, nonstop chatter, a desire to wield control, and a desire to create chaos among others.



Why I Took My Daughters to the Homeless Shelter…


This is the exercise: have your children pick out their 10 most very favorite, most special things in the whole world. Have them take their time. It can be anything – ice cream, football, an adored older brother, a beloved grandparent, their father, their pet, You…Have them tell you about what they love about that thing most. Everything about how it makes their life a place that is safe and happy and complete. Now…I’m going to take 8 of those things away from them.  That is what has been done to my 5 year old daughter.

**********************************************************************************

For much of those 5 years, her life has been chaotic, unpredictable and out of her control. It has been full of losses impossible to imaginable, and dependant on the decisions of other people. Often those people, while they loved her, have not been able to accurately judge or sustain even her most basic needs. They have been ill with the demons of addiction and efforts to come to terms with deeply troubled pasts of their own. At times, this has made them a danger to her.

And not knowing any other choice was available to her, she has loved them anyway…because they were the source of warmth and life and food, which you need to survive. Because you can always love someone who is dangerous to you if you aren’t taught not to. Loving in a healthy way is entirely learned behavior.

At 5, my youngest child has already had to “overcome her circumstances”. And while I have been able, with much education on my part, to help her do that, I have not been able to do the same for her mother.  At various times over the past 3 years, I have tried to be available to support them both, but in reality my job here, is to choose between the mother and the child when it becomes necessary.  My actual job is to choose the children over her.  It’s not a job anyone would willingly sign up for, but it is also not one that can be walked away from.

And so, yesterday was another step on an unchosen journey of courtrooms, visits with social workers, therapists’ appointments and supportive participation in a variety of drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. Another one of the endless meetings seeking a course through the havoc that addiction brings to the lives of everyone around them.

Why do it at all you ask? Well, to the people who have said it is too much, and they are many, I make the point that life is often messy. No one chooses for their mate to get cancer, or their child to get sick, or for the terrible car accident that steals a life. It happens and you simply have to respond.  It happens to these children and just because their parents are sick, that does not mean that their need to have contact with those parents, where possible, doesn’t have to be managed as best as one can.

Currently, their birth mother, my niece, is the resident of one of the numerous Salvation Army shelters for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.  This is at least the second or third such place that she has lived, and there have been other out patient programs.  One statistic I heard said that is takes an addict between 7 and 8 separate attempts to get sober. It takes that long to accept that there won’t be an easy way. That either you or the vice will have to die. Many never reach that acceptance.

The story of how they came into our family is a long one. I’ll likely write it here in time, but by way of a short summary, I have guardianship of the two children who I call my youngest son and daughter. They are biologically my great niece and nephew, but that distinction is biological only at this point. They are my children, brother and sister to my other 4. But they are also still her children. And that is the balancing act that we are learning.  The journey of an unintended open adoption.

All day leading up to the visit, I watched my youngest daughter act out on her stress and excitement and mixed up feelings in a mind-spinning number of ways, as she struggled to cope with everything she was feeling. Feelings that I worked at helping her to understand and find the words for. I spent the day telling her that I would be there and make everything OK for her. That everything she was feeling was OK.  I worked to strike the right balance for her, one that would allow her to view her mother’s circumstances as something she should not accept as normal.  And I worked to impart to her that they were circumstances that were no longer hers (gone are the days when she talks about how she used to live at the “Celebration Army”). And I worked to do all this in a way that would not stigmatize her mother.

I have to admit that I didn’t think about the kind of place that we would be going to. They have visited her in treatment programs before. For a period, when she had regained custody of them briefly, and seemed to be on the road to rebuilding her life, they lived with her in another Salvation Army facility that provided recovery services and a sober living environment.  But  when I drove up to this place, 3 of my children in the car with me, and saw it’s industrial rundown location, the homeless dejection of it’s exterior and it’s occupants my stomach began to clench…

OMG,Omg,omg,omg, I’m thinking, did I do the right thing agreeing to this visit? Did I do the right thing bringing my 10-year-old daughter along as additional family security for my youngest daughter, who was about to see her mother again for the first time in months.  Was I asking too much of her to help me wrap this 5 year old in a blanket of female safety as she sees her mother in these horribly institutional circumstances? Omg, omg, omg, I’m thinking as we are walking into a place that makes me think of correctional institutions and they hand us visitor’s badges, even for the 2 year old. How can she want her kids to be here?  Why didn’t she tell me before we were on our way here that it wasn’t like the other places she had been. Places where children were an expected feature.

It is clear as we walk to the metal tables in the dining hall that the children are attracting attention, and my mind is flying, searching for the words and gestures that will normalize the entirely abnormal.  I am mostly watching my 10-year-old daughter intently, but surreptitiously for her reactions.  She is looking around. At the place, at the people, at me…and I am sending off waves of competence and authority and all of the “I have this handled” energy that I can. Literally shedding it onto her. And as we sit down and my niece is settling the children we have ended up sharing in this strange way, she leans over to me and says, “Some of the people here look…you know, kind of worn down.”  OMG, OMG, OMG.

Suddenly I am appalled even more that my niece was no longer able to judge that this wasn’t an appropriate place to have asked for the children to come. Suddenly these children, who people are working their asses off to give a safe, secure and very normal life are being introduced to homeless people and addicts, as they have become an instant novelty in this place.

I want to leave, but we’re already there and the 5 year old is engaged with her birth mother and I can’t do that to her. I have to ride it out. I remember when I worked at my first job in food service at Nevada casino that I would regularly volunteer to serve meals at the local shelter every Christmas and Thanksgiving, because it seemed like a great combination of good service and the chance to get paid double time. And I also remember being afraid and uncomfortable most of the time…but I was 6 years older than my oldest girl was now. This is not fair. Any of it.

But as moments pass, and the children are greeted politely by the other residents, I have a chance to get past the immediate shock of our unexpected circumstances. I have a chance to broaden my narrative of the event, to challenge my opinions and automatic biases.  Who are the people living here? What is their story and how did they come to be here?  Surely not all of them are drug addicts and alcoholics…surely some of them never imagined themselves living here. I mean who grows up and thinks, “I want to be homeless!”

I start to think of the most recent statistics I have seen on the homelessness of our nations Veterans. Over 100,000 from the recent wars. Some of these men are surely veterans who couldn’t get past the PTSD and other physical injuries to rejoin their lives back here.  Veterans who have resorted to self-medicating themselves as a way of coping with their memories and the lack of opportunity awaiting them upon their return from the war zone.

I looked again at my daughter and thought of all the children her age who are currently living in such circumstances because of the devastating economic setbacks America has experienced of late.  Or even the thousands of other children like her younger sister, whose parents are simply unable to win their battles against addiction.  I don’t want her here, but suddenly, it isn’t the biggest mistake I’ve ever made as a parent. And my girl, bless her heart, is taking it pretty much in stride, although she will later state in the car, “I feel really sorry for those people.” This is said without judgment and I marvel as I always do at her unadorned compassion. My girl has such a very good heart, tempered by a good and sensible head on her shoulders.

So while I am not in a place of comfort internally about taking my children into such a place, neither do I think, in the long run, that it have a negative effect.  They will know the results of drug and alcohol abuse in real terms. The next Red Ribbon Week at her school will have context for her that may teach a more valuable lesson.

More importantly still, my 5 year old drew a picture while we were there and gave it to her birth mother. In it, she drew herself, crying and told her mother matter-of-factly that in the picture “she was sad because she had lost her mother.”  She didn’t put me in the picture either. Neither of her mothers were drawn in there and so handily avoiding conflict. No, she drew the only safe figure she knew.  She drew her 10 year old sister in the picture with her.   So while it had a price, this one moment told me that taking my older daughter had done what it needed to do. It gave the 5 year old the safety she needed to get through it.  I shared this story with my oldest girl so she would know why we did what we did and how she had helped her sister.

For me, the visit left more questions than answers and it allowed me to identify another obstacle in the landscape ahead. I was troubled by the fact that her desire to see them out-weighed her ability to choose self-denial at a moment when it likely would have been the better choice for the children not to have them come there to see her.  This was made even more significant by the fact that she was going to be free to leave the treatment facility in less than 2 weeks and come to see them in an environment more comfortable to them.  For me that said that at some level, living in these circumstances has become normalized to her.  And how are we going to do this going forward, because it was anything but normal to me.



The Jacket


Gifts and their meanings when we adopt

I love this jacket. It so suits the girly-girl who is wearing it. But I didn’t buy it for her. It came with several other absolutely lovely dresses as part of a birthday present. It was sent to her by a woman who doesn’t like me. It was sent to her by her grandmother on her father’s side.

It’s possible to count on both hands the number of times we’ve had any interaction since all this started 3 years ago. It’s also possible to count on both hands the number of times those interactions have gone badly, most often due to outside circumstances it seems to me. But to her…well, she seems to blame me.

I have twice been shocked by phone calls that have seemed extraordinarily hostile to me. She has no recollection of the first one. I expect she’ll never forget the second one.

When I looked at my daughter wearing this jacket over the weekend, the best thing I can say is that I am still processing all the feelings from the last time we talked. I am trying to operate on good faith that things can look very different in a year.  I don’t know if this will, but it can. And it might be something that will matter to my youngest daughter one day.

I can tell you that the phone call was full of accusations and a blinding hostility. It was full of emotional response and betrayal. No investigation of the facts. Just emotional reactions and snap decisions. And victimization. What it wasn’t full of were any questions about why I suddenly felt that adoption was what was in her best interest. That was the simple question that was  never asked.

It’s a beautiful jacket.



A Promise…


I will not give up. I will not be fatigued. I will not walk away.  I will work to the best of my ability to recover your life. Only death will make me fail you.  I will be your rock and anchor your life, a springboard into the future. I will not be exhausted. Nor will I get it right. But I will always come back to try again.

I will not try and be your friend, I will be your mother and I will allow you to dislike me for that sometimes. I will not let you walk all over me or get away with anything. I will be tough on you when you need it. And I will hold you afterwards.

I will let them spend their anger on me and do the best that I can to preserve your relationships with your extended family. I cannot promise I will succeed, but I will try my best.  I will be prepared to answer every hard question you have about the decisions I will make for us this year because there is no one else to make them for you. I will do the things that I sometimes doubt that I can do.

I will still be here when you are doing your homework in high school. And when you graduate. And go to college. And get married. I will choose you first. I will tell you that you were wanted. I will fight for you, just like I have for the past 3 years.  I want to be your Mommy and I will work hard to deserve that title from you.  I will fight for you as hard as you have fought for your very survival.  And I will try and be worthy of your indomitable spirit.

You Are My Daughter…