Listen To Your Mother

At this very moment, cystitis the Valley girls are asking Siri how to bake cookies.

What could possibly go wrong?

photo 2(35)Anthony and I are trying to stay out of it and let them figure it out for themselves, but we had to intervene on a few questions we overheard coming from the kitchen:

“What is baking soda?”

“Is butter really necessary?”

“Do you think I could get away with 1/4 of the butter it calls for?”

photo 1(36)“The oven beeped. But I’m not ready!”

I hope my kitchen isn’t totally destroyed when they’re done. Or worse.
Lord, hear our prayer…

photo 1(37)Today a dream of mine was fulfilled. I performed on The Rep stage as part of the nationwide series Listen To Your Mother. I am completely humbled and honored that my story of motherhood was among the 15 stories shared today in Little Rock. There was some serious talent on that stage!

photo 3(25)Longing Fulfilled by Stacey Valley

I think I always wanted to be a mom. Even when I was young and careless, viagra dosage
I thought (foolishly) that I wouldn’t mind if I got pregnant. But I never did. I wasn’t like my friends with a steady boyfriend and marriage plans right after college graduation. So I dove full force into my career and the years flew by.

Fast forward to age 32. There he was sitting across from me at Cock of the Walk. Cute, blonde and gorgeous blue eyes. I was smitten. And a few months later, we were married. I’ll spare you the shitty details since this piece is about motherhood, but it ended two years later – the same month as my unexpected hysterectomy. My fertility slipped away along with my marriage.

But I had my career!

When I turned 40, I couldn’t take it any longer. The urge to be a momma overshadowed everything else. I left my job in DC, and moved back to Arkansas. Within three months, I completed foster parent training, got my home study done, fingerprints, yada, yada, yada… I set up the spare room with a twin bed and a borrowed crib and changing table. I decorated “the baby’s room” in gender-neutral colors. I just knew I would get a baby placed with me. I dreamed of a beautiful, little, dark-skinned, baby girl that would one day call me momma.

Friends and acquaintances, well-meaning of course, would tell me not to get my hopes up. Healthy babies are rarely placed in foster care and if so, the chances I’d get to adopt one, well…don’t hold your breath. I just smiled at them, thanked them for their advice, and moved on.

A month or so passed after I’d been approved by DHS to be a foster parent, and not one single placement. But then one rainy night in February, I got a call around 6 p.m. – Hello? Could I take in a black baby girl about 9 days old? Of course, I said. When? We’re on our way! (Deep breath.) Okay – see you soon.

I called my momma (who lived just a few blocks away) – GET OVER HERE NOW – WE’RE GETTING A BABY! I think I may have hung up on her in my excitement. Mom quickly came over, and we waited with such anticipation. We were like two little kids waiting to open Christmas presents!

Then the two social workers arrived carrying a car seat covered by a blanket to protect the child from the pouring rain. I answered the door and let them in. Paperwork, and more paperwork, and a few instructions, then they handed me the most beautiful little six pound brown bundle of pure joy. I held back the tears. I was in love instantly. I asked her name. The social worker said Hope. Mom and I exchanged a quick knowing glance. (Hope was my ex’s new wife’s name, so that certainly wouldn’t work.) I whispered to mom, we’ll call her Marley.

The next 10 months were a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Nights of interrupted sleep and me still having to work full time. Parental visits with birth mom. Court hearings. Comments from strangers – like the little girl in the Wal-Mart check-out line, “How’d she get a baby that look like that?” (shrug) Conflicting messages: “Looks like you’ll get to adopt her;” “we’re now working toward reunification;” “Wait, birth mom failed her drug test again.” Up and down it went. Besides falling more and more in love with this child, the only other real positive was that I was losing weight. Seriously, I lost about 30 pounds that year from the stress of it all.

But then parental rights were terminated. At court that day, the birth mom hugged my neck and thanked me for taking such good care of her baby girl. She asked for a final photo with the baby. I thanked her for being brave, and I promised her that I would continue to love this child as my own.

Two months later the adoption was finalized. NOW I REALLY was a MOTHER. Forever and always. I held back my tears at the adoption hearing, but totally lost it at the Office of Vital Records when my baby girls’ new birth certificate was handed to me. Next to mother it read Stacey Reid McBryde. That’s me.

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