Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tales from Early Morning

The Scene:

Kara is trying to wake up after a week off of work. I, the husband, have been unemployed for almost three months.

Mihret sits on the bed.

Me: Wake up, mama! Time to bring home the bacon!

Mihret: I eat the bacon!

Kara: Aajgksdoijf...

Annnd... scene!


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Motherhood often a shared journey

Post-Crescent column: May 9, 2009
My daughter Mihret has two mamas. Every time Mihret looks in the mirror, her Ethiopian birth mother, Mama Delame, looks back at her.

When Mihret studies herself in the glass, something she loves to do at age 2, I often watch her and smile. I can't help but notice how she is Mama Delame in miniature.

Mama Delame will always be with her, in her serious, solemn look that's well beyond her years, and in her smile that flashes her teeth and shows her dimples.

I don't feel threatened that we share the title of mama, or Mihret's heart.

Ever since Mihret came home from East Africa with me and my husband Josh as a 6-month-old, we've shown her our photograph of me and Mama Delame standing together in a dusty care center courtyard in the countryside, our arms tucked behind the small of each other's backs.

We're both wearing long skirts out of respect for the occasion, our first meeting. I'm in awe of this slender yet strong woman, barely out of her teens, who breastfed and sang to Mihret and told us about her dreams.

As we're about to celebrate Mother's Day, it's bittersweet. The sweetness is our daughter, our precious joy, and the trust Mama Delame placed in us to parent her child. The bitterness is the tang of missing my sister in Christian motherhood, and knowing we may never meet again in this lifetime.

For an early Mother's Day gift, Josh and Mihret strung together a special necklace for me at the Building for Kids in downtown Appleton. Miss Patty, who runs the art studio there, chose for Mihret a stone from Zimbabwe as the necklace's centerpiece. Five beads surround the stone on each side to represent our family: Josh, me, Mihret, Mama Delame and Mihret's birth father figure, her Grandpa Demesse.

As Mihret grows into a young woman, she may wrestle with ever-changing emotions, with all that's sweet and bitter about life after adoption.

We — all of her family — are her constants. And her Mama Delame will always be with her, wherever she goes.

-By Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Random Photo Gallery

Mihret's teachers at day care school helped her make this precious, personalized vase and "flower bouquet" for me for Mother's Day. The felt flowers are her hand outlines and the flowers on the vase are her thumbprints.

This time, I remembered to raise the blinds so our Africa/Ethiopia stained-glass suncatcher, handmade by our cousin Hanni, is visible too!

This girl has hair! Konjo (Amharic: beautiful) hair! She is ready for the big-time braids.

Mihret sitting and "copying" Auntie Rachel, a dear friend of ours.

Our peanut - the girl of many facial expressions. I love this one, for some reason.

Two new family photos on Mother's Day. (We were visiting Great-Grandma Peg and Great-Grandpa David in Oshkosh.)

Mihret pays homage to the new Star Trek movie, which we (Kara, a hard-core Trekkie, and Josh, a semi-Trekkie) are planning to see next week. Maybe Mihret will watch it in a decade or so.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday, How I Love Thee

Saturdays are great fun at our house for many reasons, but one of the biggest of those is that we're (usually) together, all three of us, for big chunks of the day.
After a week of talking with lots of people and writing lots of stories (me), talking with lots of people, writing some freelance pieces and networking with people on the job search trail (Josh), and hanging out with cool teachers and tiny peanut friends (Mihret), we're all ready for weekend togetherness-time.
Mihret is juggling a lot of milestones at the moment, and we're trying to figure out the best way to handle them all without being either lax or pushy. The parenting dilemma that transcends ages.
She's sitting well at the table like a big girl (still in a seat on top of the seat, so she can reach the table) and eating from her plastic Hello Kitty plates fairly well.
In other business, today Josh printed out "Mihret's potty chart," which we posted today up on the side of her bedroom cubby. She picked out her first Minnie Mouse sticker (she likes the "Ms") for telling us she had to sit on the potty, and then sitting on the potty. (By the time she got there it was too late for her to be productive, as it were, but her new princess Pull-Ups are helping her to at least feel when she is messy and associate that with the need for pottying.)
Perhaps the most fun for us is to watch Mihret grow in her capacity to learn, create and express herself. Today at the Building for Kids, our local children's museum, Josh took her to make me a Mother's Day gift in the art room. Mihret wanted me to open it right away. She handed me a tiny, square cardboard box and said, "Here's a present for you, Mama!" I lifted the lid, and teared up. There was a necklace with five small beads on each side of a large, black stone. Josh told me the stone was from Zimbabwe, and he'd helped Mihret string on the five beads on each side to represent the five members of our family: Josh, me, Mihret, and Mihret's family in Ethiopia, her Mama Delame and her Grandpa Demesse. I said I'd consider the big rock in the middle from Africa to represent God. I put the necklace on right away.
To end this post, a humorous out-take from our day. It goes like this:
It's lunchtime. Josh is helping Mihret with something related to mealtime. As I walk back into the dining room from putting away some provisions, I hear:
Mihret: "That was an immense help. Thank you, Daddy!"
We did a double-take and asked her to repeat herself. She said it again.
"That was an immense help."
Words are awesome, and tiny peanuts who say them are awesome. And the Saturdays during which they say them are .... you guessed it. Awesome.