Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Big Boy in the Stroller

Artist: Mary Cassatt

Last year just a month or two after adopting and coming home from Chile with our second son, I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store.  I found our encounter a little bit funny and a little bit bizarre.

Sometimes it's not really what people say but the way they say it that's odd.  Then again, a lot of the time, it is what they say.  She saw me pushing C in a stroller and stopped to talk with me.  But social graces were rather lacking I'm afraid.  She greeted me abruptly and asked me who this child was which is a valid question in a way.  I proudly introduced my new son to her and said we had just brought him home from Chile a couple of months ago.  I thought congratulations were in order personally. ;)  However, she stared at him and asked dubiously "Your son?  This is your son?  You aren't just taking care of him for someone?"  Excellent question.  It's always best to make sure that someone isn't just trying to pass off a random child as their newly adopted one.  I assured her that yes, he really was my son!  I was sure of it!  She stared at me for a moment and then charmingly said "It always seems strange to me to see such a large child being pushed in a stroller."  Ah yes.  Exactly what we'd been speaking about right?  I can see how this could greatly concern someone.  I didn't feel the need to explain my reasons for pushing this large child in a stroller to her though so I settled for smiling at her and ending the conversation by wishing her a slightly amused lovely day and walking away.

I notice that this stroller issue is indeed a pressing one though.  Occasionally people have wondered aloud as we pass why "a big boy like that" isn't walking on his own!  Like we're celebrities!  I especially like that generally this isn't actually asked to me directly, just in my hearing.  That'll show me. ;)  Forget the current crisis in Europe, forget the current scandal with Planned Parenthood, this large-child-in-stroller thing is really everyone's business.

I keep thinking I will address these people who never address me directly.  That I should thank them for their concern.  I never do though.  Of course my reasons for this are nobody's business.  I do wonder sometimes though if just to give them a little pause, I should tell them that this large boy in the stroller was so ill he was hospitalized for the first year of his life, didn't walk until he was after two, and in the first information we received about him, they said there was a chance he may need to spend his life in a wheelchair.  It just goes to show you never know so why in the world bother judging such an insignificant thing like a kid in a stroller?

Little C can walk almost perfectly now though.

The thing is though that even if there is no reason whatsoever for a bigger child to be in a stroller, or not to be speaking perfectly by a certain age, etc., etc., really who cares?  There are many things in a child's life and about a child's development that outsiders know nothing about.  This is an important thing to remember.  One I may write about again. :)

Allow children to be children.  Allow them to be who they are.  They'll grow up soon enough. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Girl Who Used to Write Poetry On Trains

This past July marked eleven years that I've lived here in Norway.

Each anniversary spurs me to mull over the years that stretch between the first and the latest.

There's been a lot of life in between meeting a group of wild, friendly Norwegians on a white Icelandic night in the wilderness at 2 something in the morning at the age of 18 and sitting here now, 16 years later, in a city I never imagined living in all those years ago when I traveled and lived for months out of a big backpack with the slogan "War is not healthy for children and other living things" on it. Always was a bit of an idealist. ;)

Some of those years were friendship, some were love, some were heartbreak.
Always this knowledge that in a lot of ways I am still that girl I was at 18...waking up to write poetry on night trains that spun me across these beautiful Northern countries, collecting cool, misty Scandinavian days and nights in my mind, confident and optimistic because living was an adventure and if I met any challenges along the way, well, wasn't that what made the good stories?  Wasn't that what laughter was for?  To deal with the hard things? 

This knowledge that I am still the woman I was at 24, leaving Manitoba on a sweltering July morning and knowing somehow that I wouldn't be going home this time. Then getting engaged a month later, and married just over a month after that.

But then I catch myself, shake my head and think, I am not that girl, that woman, at all. Who WAS she? Why was she so confident?

11 years of everything. 11 years of complexity: becoming, undoing, learning, regressing, loving, despair, light, darkness, journeys to far corners of the Earth to bring together the family God had in mind for us.

Sometimes I am amazed and sometimes honestly, a little bit tired when I think of the distances we had to go to for "regular" things...for a family.

A beautiful baby boy handed to me by his weeping mother on a dirty side street in Colombo. People stopping what they were doing to stare at us, at the picture we made: the screaming baby, the sobbing mother, the nuns holding her to keep her from collapsing on the road, and us...feeling so wrong, just so indescribably wrong in the heavy tropical heat, holding this piece of all of our hearts.

Then five years later, a laughing judge in a courtroom in Chili saying in rapid Spanish that we would have parental rights straight away and us, bewildered, walking away from the courtroom with an almost three year old son we'd known for three very short days. It was terrifying and good. Just like that, suddenly ours. We were and were not ready. But this time people were laughing, kissing our cheeks in congratulations. This time no one's heart was breaking. It was as different as night from day.

But after so many years of interviews that leave a person with almost nothing of their own, the question that tags along behind me like a child tugging on a mother's sweater is: Are you really good enough? Are you? Are you? Are you?

So sometimes it feels like a lot of the time in these years has been spent fighting so hard, proving something to someone, proving we can do this thing, we promise, not really ever free from scrutiny, yet also as a dear friend wrote in a photo caption earlier, these are the "happy days". Maybe also the happy years? It seems as good a description as any for these years that can't be neatly labeled because no word can really sum up anything, let alone the way it feels to live a life.

Maybe it is much more simple than I imagine and these, all these days, simply are the happy days because they are my days.

It's been a long and a short 11 years here in Norway.   Grueling in a lot of ways.  There have been so many lessons.  So many surprises. 

Maybe there is not much more to say but that they've held everything.  They've held all the love in the world. Shattering and healing such a multitude of things...

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Sunshine From Mexico

Fabiola from Mexico has a blog where she writes of the beauty, the tastes, the warmth and vibrancy, the all encompassing color and joy of life in Mexico.  Real Mexico. Beneath the touristy, sanitized veneer of expensive resorts.  Apart from all the frightening violence portrayed in the media.  Her goal is to acquaint us with what it really means to live in her beautiful country.

 Even sun-starved as I am, I have never been tempted to go to the resorts so popular in Mexico, but "the heart of Mexico", this indescribable something, this something wilder than I am familiar with, something authentic, now that is something my restless soul can get a feel for.

Two of my favorite books are set in Mexico.  The Power and the Glory and The Lacuna.  They sparked my interest intensely.  So I was drawn in by Fabiola's writing from the start.  In her writing, I can see myself there.  Somewhere in the heart and heat of Mexico.  Maybe one day I will go there and invite myself to stay but in the meantime, I would really like to say gracias to Fabiola for thinking of me when it came to the Sunshine Award!

These are the rules:
Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
List the rules and put the picture on your blog.
Answer the questions.
Nominate other bloggers and notify them.
Come up with questions for them.

Fabiola's questions for me are:

Why did you start your blog?

I have always written.  But of course more privately than blogging.  Blogging is like a journal but for an audience. :)  I made the switch from private scribbling to public blogging in 2007 when my husband and I embarked on our first adoption.  It was a way for me to process the enormity of my emotions and the intensity of what we were experiencing then.

How do you find inspiration for your posts?
I just write and see what comes out. :)

What do you like most about blogging?

Writing.  And the incredible connections formed with like-minded people I would otherwise not have had the honor of knowing

What is your biggest challenge as a blogger?

Good question.  I don't know.  Figuring out the technical things...I am not very tech savvy.

What motivates you to keep blogging?

 I want to keep writing and I could do that without blogging but at the same time, I enjoy interaction and the sharpening of skills that interacting with other writers can provide.

What do you do in your free time?

Many things.:)  I love to read, go on long walks, sit in the sunshine, go for coffee with friends, relax at home with my family, travel.

Who is the most important person in your life?

My husband.

What is number one on your bucket list?

I have so many things on my list but I suppose at the moment my number one thing is to travel with my family back to Sri Lanka in the next three years.  I want my oldest son to experience it for the first time (in his conscious memory) as an innocent, eager child, whose eyes are truly open to the beauty and wonder there, before a more adult mindset sets in and he perhaps would travel back with a mind more confused by all the great questions adoption raises in a person.  I want him to experience it with joy so that his associations with it are joyful and positive.

What would a perfect day be for you?

A day with no expectations from anyone else.

What is a motto or quote you live by?

I try to live by Mother Teresa's idea that we can not all do great things but we can do small things with great love.  This philosophy means that the smallest task becomes of the utmost importance when done with a loving heart...washing dishes, changing a diaper, buying groceries.  It all matters intensely the spirit with which we do things.  At the same time, large deeds are meaningless without love.  Success in any area means nothing if it was not achieved with love.  So I try to live by this idea of the greatness of small acts but I rarely succeed.

What will you do when your blog makes it big?

I don't know. :)  I hope to write all my life but I am not super concerned about my blog making it big.:)

Now I would like to nominate four other bloggers. :)

Sheena at
Indu at
Lidia at
Alicia at

My questions for you if you would like to answer them are:

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Where in the world are you most drawn to?
What characteristic in others do you like most?
What characteristic in others do you like least?
What area in your own life are you seeking to grow in?
Do you have a daily routine?  
Since this is a sunshine award, what things bring light and sunshine into your day? :)


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Prairies That Whisper To Me

(My brother Sean takes stunning pictures of the prairies.)

Fall. The sharp bite in the air.  The crisp sunshine.  The days so perfectly outlined they dazzle with their brilliance.  I always claim to love summer and I do, who doesn't after all, but fall is more satisfying to my soul.  It has a different depth to it than the light, carefree days of summer.   I love the vivid colors, the scents of pumpkin spice, cinnamon, wood smoke mingling in the air. I also find it a spiritually deep season.  Somber and profound.  Embracing both death and life.  Allowing us to do the same.

Autumn is all memory.  Sense memory.  Memory in the heart and the blood.

It's autumn in Canada that I love.   Where I come from though, the air fairly crackles with aliveness.  Everything is dying all around us but it's such a gorgeous celebration of life.  A dazzling, festive good bye.  Everything exploding with color, with flavor, everything beginning to settle in, preparing for the long winter ahead.

Last autumn was the first one in eleven years that I had been in Canada during the fall.  I was home for my sister's wedding.  From the moment that I stepped out of the airport, I was hit with a homesickness so intense that I felt at a loss to explain it.  Everything whispered to me.  The stark black fields asked me "How can you bear this?  How do you bear being away from this place?  Why did you go?  Come back."  And the thing is to others not from the prairies, these fields would be ugly.  They weren't the gold of summer.  But I've been home often in the suffocating heat of summer when the fields are golden with wheat, brilliant yellow with canola blossoms, periwinkle blue with flax flowers.  I looked and saw beauty but I never heard their voices in my heart.  Maybe fall is so stark, such a contradiction of vividness and barrenness.  Stark enough that I can hear my own hearts longings more clearly.

You need a certain depth of character and imagination to find beauty in the prairies.  To those who don't know how to look, it is easily dismissed as boring.  It doesn't have the drama of mountains or waterfalls.  It has the endless sky though.  It has this.  That you can stand underneath this sky and see forever.  You can stand anywhere on a pitch black night and see all the stars.  In the winter, the sky will dance for you.  Even in the summer some nights, you will see the northern lights.  And you can't imagine how you can breathe.  The beauty of the prairies is subtle and soul soothing.  You need to look to see it otherwise you will miss it.

You will miss the open, open prairies.  You will miss the sky.  You will miss knowing your own soul in the midst of it all.  You will miss so much.