To You Who Weep on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day can be a hard day for so many women. I remember one Mother’s Day Sunday about 15 years ago when they passed out roses to all the moms, mind I left in tears empty-handed. I was single and in my thirties, artificial and I wanted to me a mom so bad.

Moms come in all different forms.
Biological moms.
Adoptive moms.
Foster moms.
Step moms.
Those who haven’t been able to get pregnant.
Those who have lost a child.
Those who chose to have an abortion.
Those who gave their children up for adoption.
Those whose children were taken into state custody.
Teachers and other women who guide children daily.

So this Mother’s Day, be sensitive to the ladies that cross your path. You don’t know her story, her pain, her past, her secrets, her desires. And if you see her weeping, don’t try to say something encouraging. Be quiet and hug her. Because sometimes there are no words.

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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.

What’s Her Name?

What’s her name?  2010-05-23 17.57.07

As conversations often go with a four-year-old, troche it started with an easy question: Where’s your belly button? I had just showered and was drying off and M noticed that I don’t have a belly button — at least one like hers. I told her that some people have “innies” and some people have “outties” and mine just happened to be an innie, treatment but that I indeed do have a belly button. Then the questions got a bit harder. M asked “Why?” Being a nurse, I gave her the semi-technical answer that belly buttons are were babies were once attached to their mommies by an umbilical cord when they were growing inside the mommy’s tummy, and depending on how the doctor cut the cord when the baby was born determined if they had an innie or an outtie.

Then she threw me a doozy. “Whose belly was I in?” (She finally understands that she’s adopted and that means that she wasn’t in my tummy.) I responded with “your birth mom.” Then she hit me good. “WHAT’S HER NAME?”

I tried to distract her, change the subject, bribe her — anything — but not this question. Not right now, not with us standing in the bathroom, me still in a towel trying to get ready for work, late as usual. And honestly, not ever. You see, I know her birth mom’s name. I know her history. I even know approximately what she’s doing and where she’s living today. It’s not a pretty story. It’s not a story that a 4-year-old needs to know or can grasp. She persisted a bit longer. “What’s her name? What’s her name? You know, don’t you?” I told her that I did know, and that one day I’d tell her, but it wasn’t a story for today. She finally gave up and we proceeded through the morning routine as normal.

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Beautiful Mess

2013-08-24 16.10.51 Today my family and I have been running in different directions. This morning I was at the gym. They went to the farmer’s market. Then I collapsed in my bed from said gym experience. They were kind and let me have an hour nap while they played downstairs. Then this afternoon, pancreatitis I had a baby shower to go to, allergy and they are running errands. I have said it before — my husband is really AWESOME. I just got home from the baby shower, prosthesis and they are still out. The house is quiet — just me and the dog. 1-2013-08-16 08.12.52And I see cups on the counter, toys on the coffee table, guitars on the floor — all little reminders of my wonderful family and how blessed we are. The old me would have just seen a mess, but this new me, the me that’s really trying to live in the moment and be grateful for the little things, sees a beautiful mess. It’s a mess of reminders of how God has blessed me with a loving man who adores me and three smart and funny daughters who continue to amaze me every day and a snuggley old dog who has been by my side through good times and bad over 14 years. I am one lucky girl.

Farm to Table Mother’s Day Lunch

IMG_9190

Two weeks ago, help we visited the Scott Heritage Farm to see our CSA up close — including a flock of ducks. Well guess what was in our CSA basket yesterday? Yep, more info a duck. Luckily Barbara also sent instructions on how to finish plucking it and then roasting it. IMG_9185So today for Mother’s Day, I’m roasting my first duck. M enjoyed helping me prepare the duck. And she was full of questions: Where’s the duck’s head? Why did the farmer kill the momma duck? Are all the ducks dead?

IMG_9195I also prepared a kale salad with Parmesan, raisins and pine nuts.

Author: Food Babe
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of lacinato or dinosaur kale, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • ? cup currants (or chopped raisins)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp grated raw parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces
  2. To make dressing, stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped kale, currants, pine nuts and parmesan to bowl with dressing
  4. Stir all ingredients together and serve
  5. (Optional – Save some pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese for top of salad before serving for presentation purposes)

Finished duck was actually pretty good. But not worth the effort, so probably won’t be making it again anytime soon. cookedduck