I’m watching you Momma

Just when I think I can escape for a cup of coffee outside, I hear a small tap behind me. Her hazel eyes staring back at me with a beautiful smile. I beg her. Please go inside. I have served your breakfast. Your coffee is warm and waiting on you. Her reply is “I just want to watch you Momma”.  She patiently stares at me. Every sip I take. I sigh, because I know I won’t enjoy this cup of coffee in silence. 

 I see you watching me. You watch everything I do. I see the way you sigh like I do. The eye roll. The sarcastic expressions. I see the way you look at babies. I see your heart is pure. I see every part of me, the good and bad, in you. 

 Please don’t watch me too closely though. Sometimes I am a mess. Sometimes I lose my patience. Sometimes I want to be the best mommy I can to you and your sisters. I realize that I will look back one day and know that I should have done somethings different. Please forgive me for not always painting your nails every time you ask. Please forgive me for forgetting to read the book, as promised. Please forgive me for getting upset with you for shredding one page of a very important book into 1,000,000,000 tiny confetti papers all over my back seat. Lastly, please forgive me for telling you how a princess should act and not being a perfect queen.

 You see, I’ve always told you three girls that you will be a queen someday. I left out an important detail. No queen is perfect. They hold their head high. They smile when faced with fear and know within themselves, their strength is enough. A queen will continue to fight everyday to be a better queen. To be stronger. To be braver. To love deeper. 

 So when you watch me, I pray that’s what you remember the most. 

A Commitment That I can’t give up 

I forgot the exact place of commitment. I was very young. I was alone. I made a promise to myself that I would save the world. Every small child. Naïve, I was, but my dreams were big. Of course I wanted kids of my own, but I would adopt every child that I could take care of. I would save every child from feeling alone or scared.  I stand now with 5 children. Only one is adopted. Our lives don’t stop. It never does. Our days are long. They are filled with tantrums, ups and downs, and very little time to ever sit down. I see our chaotic lives and I anticipate the next time I can just sit in the bath tub without the awful guilt of not letting the girls in. They love being by me. I wait for the time that I can grocery shop without having kids throwing anything unhealthy and stuff that’s not on budget into the basket. As we speak, I am writing this blog, while rocking a baby and having my 4 year olds crying because church is tomorrow morning and not right now. This fit will last awhile. 

I read blogs and do and don’t lists online every chance I get. I try to understand how I should parent for whatever stage the kids are going through. To be quite honest, I suck at this. I study. I study hard. No one could have prepared me for this test of sanity that I receive. Even with the test, I won’t lose site of my goal. I will save every child I can. 

Over the past 10 years, we have raised 18 children. 13 have come and gone. There’s so much self satisfaction that has come from this. It’s almost selfish. I am proud of the number of lives that we impacted. I want to make that number grow. Some days, I feel exhausted though. I feel like I am drowning. Maybe this is just a stage. I am sure I can learn to balance my own needs with my own kids and this “dream”. I want to tie the tubes. I want to put a halt to foster care. There’s a big part of me that dies considering that commitment. 
6 months ago, we lost our son. He was going to take our last name. He was a big brother. He was our oldest son’s best friend. They were a team. I haven’t spoke about his disappearance from our lives. I close my eyes and I can see him here. I can see him running. I can see him asking for another family game night. I see his bike still in our garage. I see his old baseball cap every time I go in his old room. Words can’t describe how much I miss him. Words can’t describe how much I hated making the decision for him to leave. Nothing on google, reassurance from family, or foster care class could have prepared me to make such a decision. I don’t see the guilt ever leaving. I see him in my dreams. I look at our family and I see him..but he’s not here. A huge part of me is scared if we continue foster care, we will have to make another decision for a removal. That kills me. 

I have faith that I have the right dream. I have faith that one day I will see why this vision can’t go away. I can’t see the big plan. Worn, tired, and weary, we will keep strengthening each other. We will keep growing and be the Lara’s. 

The best mommy for this little girl

I’ve been here before. A mother and a mommy. One sweet little girl. Anyone can be a few wrong choices away from being in this situation. The Mother has the shame on her face. She has the scars on her arms to reflect the bad decisions she has made. She knows her wrong choices brought her and this precious girl here. She picks her head up with a brief smile every time she is approached by the baby girl. An immediate excitement comes on her face when the toddler puts her hands on her lap and anxiously says a whole lot of gibberish. The look on the Mother’s face is memorized on how much her baby girl is growing. She seeks her forgiveness and approval with a hug and a repeated whispered phrase, “I love you”. Little does she know, first, she has to forgive herself. The intimidation and shame quickly arises to maximum levels as the toddler runs away into the Mommy’s arms. This is when the bitterness is almost tangible!
Mommy is a well dressed woman. She’s a few right choices away from being qualified a better mother for this little girl. She immediately returns hugs and tries to transition every conversation into fulfilling the Mother in new aspects of the little girl’s life. Not in a boasting way but an informative way. Any way to side track the tension. However, this well carried woman is quite intimidating. She appears to be incapable of making wrong choices. She seems to be the obvious choice as a better woman figure for this little girl. What this lady hides well is, she’s scared too. You see, there’s hard truth to Foster Care. She is only Mommy for a little while. She may be falling madly in love with a little girl she will never see again. She is one court hearing away from never getting another hug. She is one judge’s decision away from never hearing, “Mommy, I love you!”
These two women may look completely different. One may be looked upon with disgust and lack of respect for. One may be looked upon as a saint or great citizen. Both women sat there today fighting for the same trophy. Both women had the same fear. They looked at each other with envy. One will lose a daughter and one will gain a daughter. Who will get the prize?
I know this feeling. I never wanted to be that way. I didn’t want to see anyone lose their daughter. I surely didn’t want to be the person that “won” either. I guess no one wins in situations like this. I wish I could have seen things go differently. I may have got to keep my baby girl but that meant another young lady living everyday without the little girl she loved and will never see again because of some wrong choices and an addiction.
To the world, this picture may look like a regular office visit, but to these ladies it was one of the hardest visits.

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Lost and without purpose

Why do you work? Do you work for pleasure? Do you work just to make money to feed your passions or is what you do your passion? 

A wise man once said “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and to get paid just enough money not to quit.” Does this hold true for you? It does for me, Especially recently. The economy has our leaders and business owners scared, hesitate, and more selfish than ever. It has become an epidemic. With the burdens of bills, children, relationships, and livelihood, it causes a sense of dissatisfaction of life.  

One of the first things I was told by the owner of the dealership that I currently work for is that “If you didn’t get into the business to make money, you are in it for the wrong reasons.” This statement has always confused me because I didn’t get into it for money. I got into the business because I loved helping people. I loved the idea of learning new things and attaching every inch of dedication into being the best that I can into making this place successful. Little did I know, this place had a lot of people that were in it for the money. For the “pop” that they can make. These people have been doing this for many years. Please don’t get confused my statement with all the crap you may hear about dealers. It’s not just sales people are a greedy, snakelike, and a sociopath. That “disease” has effected a lot of America, in every business.  I hated their love for money. The love that has most of them losing site of what really matters. Little did I realize, I have become “ill” in the same way.

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It’s not about creating a bigger lifestyle for your family, driving the best cars, or even being the top dog at your company. I have lost sight of my passion. With everyone getting pay cuts or the stress of even having a job at the end of the week, we all are scared and feel hopeless. I sit at my desk every morning and before I begin my work, I make my goals of hours, appointments, and calls that I need to accomplish for the day, just so I can make the bills that were due a month ago. I tally up every penny at the end of the week so I can make sure I have enough to pick up a “surprise” for my 5 children at home on test folder days, on their conduct reports, and so my toddlers can get a reward for not “pee peeing” in their pants the sitter. We work so hard to see our kids and spouse for 2 hours before lights go out and to wake up the next morning and repeat the “work day”. 

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Instead of going through another work day with the same bitter, resentments, under paid and unappreciated, zombie approach. Let’s try making a difference. Let’s try feeding our passions instead of feeding “the American Dream”. Let’s forgive the “money hungry epidemic” that has struck most of our coworkers and leaders. Let’s show them a true meaning behind “working” again. Make an impression on someone because, after all, that is the only thing that you will leave behind you that will be remembered.  

To the one that had none 

 I sat at a restaurant by myself earlier this week and I listened to a gentleman complain for 45 minutes about how there is no money to make. These words haunt me, because I have come to realization that times are hard and I fear of not being able to provide for our children as needed. I have heard several people, and I am guilty, of complaining of not being able to give the Christmas that we want our kids to have, much less making a bill. Things are hard and it is scary, how can we get into the Christmas spirit of giving with a cheerful smile?  I didn’t realize how soon I would be knocked down to reality two days ago at a doctors appointment for my daughter at Childrens Hospital. 

 The site was terrible to see. I walked to the door and seen a mother crying kneeled down at the entrance of the hospital as she just received the test results that her 3 year olds cancer was still there. Terrified, she wept. I didn’t speak to her. I knew her pain. I knew what it meant to hear that you can lose your son. I kept my head high like I didn’t see her, and walked into the hospital. This seems, to most of you, pretty heartless, but trust me, she didn’t want a pity party. She didn’t want a hug. She didn’t want comfort. This was tears of anger. It’s tears of confusion that a hug can’t make it go away. It’s an emotion that NEEDS to come out. She doesn’t want anyone looking at her. She probably wouldn’t notice it if they were. 

 I simply signed in and sat into the first waiting room and spoke with my daughter about the things she likes talking about. Hair, princesses, shoes, and dresses are her favorites. Ignoring everything around me, until a very special girl caught my eye. She was speaking with an investigator with Children and Family Services on about how she got “hurt”. I was sitting very close so I can hear this conversation very well. She tried several times to cover up why or how she was pushed down the stairs by her father for saying “no” to her step mom. After several attempts, she broke down and said he hurts her quite often. Shortly after I hear this, he takes normal protocol and gets on the phone. He walks away and you can see the fear in the eyes of this little girl. It hurt to see this. I know what happens next. She will go to home she has never been before and softly cry herself to sleep as she realizes all that she has known, that she loved, and that held her to “normality” is gone. 

 Shortly after, we get called to the back. As we wait for my daughters Doctor, I dry my tears and we go back to talking about all the girly things that my daughter loves to speak of. After several tests, we wait with another little girl for her results too. 

 She was about 6. Though, during cancer it’s hard to tell what age children are. Maybe it’s the skin and bones, maybe it’s the pale skin, or maybe it’s the bags underlined under their eyes and bald head. She sat on her daddy’s lap as he played a thumb war game with her. Even though her body looked weakened, she giggled. You could see the humbleness in the daddy’s eyes. That view, is happiness. 

 We can worry about the economy. We can worry about our credit score being kept up. We can worry about having gifts full and overflowing under the tree for Christmas, but the fact is, that isn’t happiness. It’s terrible that it takes the site of another suffering to realize that. Sometimes we all need a little humbling though.

 This Christmas, lets reach out to the single mom that tries to hold strong by the Christmas tree, as her husband has just left her. Let’s reach out to the man that has a thin jacket that walks to work everyday. Let’s reach out to that “bum” on the side of the road with a smile and a plate of dinner left over that we had from our Christmas Dinner. Let’s pray for those that we can’t see suffering in the hospital, because trust me, there is plenty more out there. Such as , the 2 year old that lays in the hospital bed with no one to comfort him because he was left abandoned in an abandoned building, paralaized from whoever beat him. Such as, the infant that is being weaned off of Crack Cocaine that lays there. 

 They know the meaning of Christmas. They know the meaning of happiness. Unfortunately, it’s too easy for us to forget that…even when we have a lot. 
  
 

How do you adopt a child that doesn’t want to be adopted? 

   We sat on a conference call with all the case workers present as we spoke his “new” beginnings to an adopted child from Foster Care. Marshall looked up at me as they spoke about these new adventures of all 9 children being in their homes they were “meant to be “with”. His big brown eyes were filled with fear, anguish, and total hurt. He knew what this meant. He was never going to see his mother again. This precious 6-year-old boy came to us to a weekend placement in May 2015. His aunt needed a break from his “bad behavior”. For the weekend, he was an angel for us. I absolutely fell in love with him. He had a heart of gold. It was pure and full of love. It was a terrible site for a boy that had been rejected by 5 homes before he came to his aunt, and now his aunt was number 6. I prayed somehow he would come back to me.

 Sure enough, the following Tuesday we received a call to take him. We said yes gladly! He made himself very comfortable over the next few months. I could see how anyone could get frustrated with some of his actions. He had no idea how to communicate his emotions. He didn’t know how to socialize. He was very angry and had no problem acting out on it. He had a past of physically hurting other kids and adults by whatever he could find near. He didn’t know how to pronounce letters, his colors, or even his numbers by the age of 7. He was felt dumb. He had no idea how to stop this rage inside him of pain and anger. It had slowly spiraling into a boy that no one wanted or would take the time for.

 I wish I could say at this point that he had a connection with my husband and I and miraculously opened up his heart and mind immediately! It took 6 months for him to have a conversation with other children. It took 6 months to learn to breathe and speak about how he felt. It took 6 months to gain confidence. It took 6 months to learn all his letters, colors, numbers, and how to read. He adores his “brothers and sisters” at home. He is a little guardian angel over them. He is my little helper. He admires his older brother and wants nothing more to be JUST like him! He has come very far, but this took time. Much needed time. Time is running up and I’m losing him now.

 As I have said before, he is one of 9. He loves those children and his mother more than anything! He looks forward to seeing his siblings anytime they can get them together. He looks forward to seeing his mother and is destroyed every time she doesn’t show up. He dreams of being a “good boy” and one day they will all be together again. As the case workers spoke about this, I could see his eyes watering up. They asked “What do you think about this?” to my boy. His response was “I want my Mom”. These words made me feel as though my heart was being ripped out. How do you adopt a child that doesn’t want you?

 After leaving the conference call, I cried all the way back to my office. Selfishly enough, I need to put my family and myself aside and realize this is the hardest thing it will ever be for my son to accept. Whether he wants to or not, he is forced to be released for adoption. I am naturally angry because this woman he loves and needs in his life, isn’t going to be there due to her selfishness and inability to put her kids first. She has allowed so much violence and pain into his life. He has seen his mom’s boyfriend get shot. He has witnessed his mother’s prostitution. He has witnessed his sister die by being ran over a car and blamed for not watching her. I believe at this point; you can understand my frustration for her doing this to my son! I want to give him the world. I want to see him flourish into the great man of God I know he is designed for. I’m stuck. How can I be his “Mom” if he doesn’t want me to be?

 

The mother that I can’t be.

I sit and look through my Facebook newsfeed and I catch a glimpse of a few pictures posted by a couple aquaintences of mine. I suddenly feel a slight sympathy for my mothering over my own five children. So many “friends” on Facebook post pictures of their children dressed perfectly, having the perfect evening, with no blimish. I like the “friend” that always posts a picture in front of their big house, beautiful SUV, or Children dressed in their private school uniforms. I feel quite jealous that I can’t provide these things for my kids.

After several minutes of taking a break from folding the mound of clothes that I have been so willfully neglecting, I took a look up as my husband stood there. He could see my frustration in the ability to provide the fanciest, most incredible, attractive “lifestyle” for my kids. He smiled, hugged me, and shown me the kids in the living room. They were scattered all over the living room, jumping, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. The most simple words came out of my husband’s mouth that laid a peace over me. “We have all we need, and that’s each other.”

I can never keep a white shirt, EVER, in my house. Bows get lost,  hamiedowns are appreciated, rooms are shared (by more than 2),  a get-a-way is a day away and a long drive back home that same night, their shoes are bought on sale and never the latest model. With this said, they are best friends. They play together, protect each other and pray together.

I do wish that our lives could be without worries of providing their next wardrobe, Christmas list, sports for the year, and the random things they deserve for being such an amazing student and child. With our 6th child on the way, I worry about nothing more than the ability to make financial room for one more. I do know one thing. He/She will have more love, best friends, and support than they should  ever need.

How the “Big Five” changed my marriage…and not for the better

After 10 years, I wonder why we fell out of love. Why do we dislike each other? What changes our marriages?  Physiologists’ say that we have five traits in our personality that changes us through environment and experiences. Inevitably, marriage is difficult. It seems impossible at times, most of the time. When you think you almost want to throw in the towel, there’s a small hope to come home to the person you first met, but they aren’t there anymore. Events in marriage changes our traits, and those traits become disliked, if not hated.

The first of the “Big Five” is openness to experience. It’s a general appreciation for emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity and variety of experiences. Over years, this is one of the first things we lose.

The second of the “Big Five” is conscientiousness. This is tendency to show self discipline, aim for achievement against measures or outside expectations. When’s the last time have we used this trait?

The third of the “Big Five” is extraversion. This trait requires us to want to be enthusiastic, action-oriented, and full of energy. Does this even exist in marriage? Ever?

The fourth of the “Big Five” is Agreeableness. We need to show consideration, be kind, generous, trusting, trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interest with others. I can honestly say that this trait has left my marriage a long time ago. I mean, is it so hard to show our spouse what we show everyone else?

The last of the “Big Five” is Neuroticism. This is tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, and depression. It’s sometimes called emotionally instability or is reversed and referred to emotional stability. One word for this trait, everyday!

Divorce can relieve a burden for a short time, but brings so much more in the long run. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think to myself, when did I become so negative? When he looks at me, is he proud of the woman I am today? I miss the man who looked at me with admiration, spoke to me kindly, trusted me with all his heart, and was energetic with our love. This is all unfortunate for any couple to come to this point, but it’s never our spouses fault for the person we are. Only we are responsible for who we become.

I think the key to a happy marriage is finding it within ourselves to continuously not allowing circumstances and experiences to change our traits for the worst. To be the woman/man your spouse looks at and thinks “That’s my forever”.

The little girl with no shoes

In 2015, 14.7 million children suffer from poverty in the United States. Before my last foster child, I never believed that could be true. I imagined the disease, skin and bones, poverty stricken children lived in foreign countries, as I have seen them myself. Seeing this in a foreign country  has given me my passion for the poor and deprived children of the world. I never imagined that this deprivation would be in the “land of the free”. I didn’t think it was possible because we have full access to any assistance medically, mentally, emotionally, and financially we could ever need. 

 We all see these dirty families in local grocery stores. The kids walk in with no shoes, filthy, and the older ones steal and act like animals. We think to ourselves, “oh gosh, look at those kids!”. We never consider that maybe those kids are only a product of the life that their parents live, that they are exposed to sexual and physical abuse, and cruel direct punishment for being a child. I am a product of disbelief in the “less than perfect” and “land of the free” world we live in. These small and disturbing unsocialized children that we see in our local grocery store, are our future. They are what we judge. 

 I received 3 of the 4 girls this past week. They were suffered from malnutrition, sexual and physical abuse, and infested with lice and scabies. The oldest, a 10 year old, weighed approximately 45 pounds. They looked up in fear and whimpered out. They cried for their mom and just wanted any comfort any woman could give, although we couldn’t due to the circumstances of the infestation. The dirt, infestation, and soiled clothes came off their bruised skin.The true color of their hair came out as it was washed. I wanted more than anything in this world, to be able to pick up the arms that were reaching out to me. 

 Because of my current family situation, I was only able to keep the youngest. She is one years old. She thinks baths are scary. The floors are more comfortable for sleeping and eating. She doesn’t let me out of her site and loses it when any male touches her. She is very timid and loving to any female or younger child. She has melted my heart. She is the reason why I will always understand that we can reach out to our local community, personally, to contribute to the 14.7 of children that starve in the United States.  

  

Black child into a white home

This is a difficult situation for anyone. Our “respid” boy is turning into a lot more. Hearing everyone’s thoughts on taking a black boy into a white family is rough. I hugged, kissed, and loved him the same as any other child. Apparently the views from the outside prospective is different. This makes me feel slightly indifferent. 

 In a negative manner, I hear “you can’t save the world”, “if you take him, that’s another child you are rejecting a placement”. The cherry on top is  “have you ever thought about the fact your children may feel pushed aside for the sacrifice of other children”. I have to admit, if you have ever said these comments to me I have smiled and walked away and cried many times. These things hurt. I love my kids more than anything in the world. I would do anything for them. I cry, laugh, play and pray with them, but I have made a commitment very young to not stop there. I will not stop and these comments will never intimidate me or my family. 

 “You can’t save the world”. I hate this phrase. I want to save the world. I need to. Not for my own gratification but for the fact that I know one person can change several lives. That’s enough to change owns own world. Maybe if one of the several that was touched, they would reach out and touch several more. It’s contagious. 

 I see a huge reflection in my children of what being in a home that accepts foster children has done. I see some negative and positive. I see bad habits  that are obtained. These are corrected and guided on the right path. I see hearts of gold that love everyone. They have a great social ability and have a very soft and timid heart. I am proud of these characteristics. 

 Whether my children are blood or not, black, white, Spanish, or Asian, to your standards or not, we vowed to love them regardless. They are our kids and always will be. If we have to build a bigger home or buy a 15 passenger van, we will do it. Whereever this path leads us, we will take. I will make sure that your opinions don’t effect me or my family. Blood or not and no matter what color they are.