Saturday, May 03, 2008

OK, I'll Say It...

…no we haven’t heard anything from the agency.  No, we don’t have a match yet.  There.  I said it.  Now I can move on.

I have avoided blogging for the past couple of months because I SO wanted my next post to be news about our baby.  But, now too much time has passed, and people are going to stop checking if I don’t write something.

I’ve heard so many adoptive moms talk about what they call “emotional labor”.  Adoptive moms don’t have the physical pain of carrying and delivering a child, but our hearts ache deeply as we wait for the child we have prayed for for so long.  I’ve definitely been experiencing that.  Even though we KNOW that God is going to give us the child He has chosen for us at the perfect time, we still long for our child in such a real way that we can almost feel him/her in our arms at times.  We stand and look at our nursery stocked with all the things we need to care for a baby and imagine what life will be like when he/she is here.  It’s both exciting and excruciating.

For some women, infertility is the hardest experience of their lives.  For me, waiting for our adopted child is much harder than all of my years of infertility combined.  I think it’s because having a child biologically is not ULTIMATE for me.  What IS ultimate for me is being a mom.  Honestly, at this point I don’t think I would feel a tremendous loss if I never birthed a child.  As my friend (who is also an adoptive mom with no biological children) says, “God just had a different plan for how I would get my children.  They are no less mine than if I gave birth to them.  And, if I had given birth to children, I think it would have been these exact two children.” 

For many women, giving birth is ultimate.  I can usually tell who they are because when I talk to them about our adoption the conversations inevitably end with their encouraging me to keep the faith that I’ll have a baby “of my own” one day.  I can’t explain why God has made me OK with infertility, but I’m thankful He has.

The pain of waiting for our child is magnified with Mother’s Day approaching.  If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you have heard me say how hard Mother’s Day is for “infertile” women.  It is especially hard for women who go to church on Mother’s Day.  Typically churches have a ceremony or some kind of treat for mothers—and they should!  Mothers need to be recognized for what they do.  It is a rewarding and beautiful thing to sacrifice and serve others on a daily basis.  I can’t wait to be included in that!

This year, Andy offered to take me away somewhere for Mother’s Day.  But, I thank God that I don’t feel that is necessary this year.  Three or four of our close friends are having their new babies baptized on Mother’s Day, and I want to be there for that.  I dream of the day we have our little one baptized as a symbol of our recognition that this child belongs to God, not us, and we are committed to raising him/her with that in mind.  Part of infant baptism is a charge to the congregation to support the parents and help raise the child(ren) in a covenant community of believers.  I want to be there to make that promise to my friends.

One of the most beautiful things about our church family is that they long for this child to join the family almost as intensely as we do!  I could mention our pending adoption to almost any woman at church at any given moment and the water works begin.   They hurt for us and are excited for us.  It is such a beautiful picture of 1 Corinthians 12:26.  I know that if I’m having a hard time on Mother’s Day, church is where I want to be!  If I cry, it’s OK because I know they are going to love on me so hard that I will be comforted and reminded of God’s love and promises.  And I know Andy will love on me too.  I told him that it would help me this year (as we’re closer to getting our baby than we’ve been in the past six years) that it would help if he treated me like a mother and reminded me throughout the day that I AM going to be a mother soon.  Thinking of it that way makes me a little excited about Mother’s Day.  Who knows…I may be eight months “pregnant” right now and just don’t know it yet!

iVoy a Guatemala!

Translation:  I’m going to Guatemala!!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  I’ve wanted to go again all along, but my number one priority this year is getting my baby.  So, I put myself on the alternate list so that I could avoid having to contact my supporters (in the case that we got our baby and I couldn’t go) and say, “Oh, well…I’m not going now.  I’m going to give your money to the other missionaries.  I hope you don’t mind.”  Well, two weeks ago a team member had to drop out, so I got moved from the alternate list to the official list of team members!  Of course, we could still get our baby before July 5th, in which case I wouldn’t be going to Guatemala, but at this point I’m planning on going.

Guatemala is significant to me for many reasons.  Most notably, it is where we were last year when we decided we were going to step out on faith and pursue this dream of adoption.  You can read about my life changing experiences there last year in my August 2007 post titled, “Get In My Belly!”

There’s a new Cuban restaurant in Rock Hill called Carlos CafĂ©.  Andy and I went there a couple of months before I knew I’d be going to Guatemala this year.  Plantains and rice with black beans, two very common sides in Guatemala, were served with the entrees.  As I was eating, I got so emotional I almost lost my appetite (but it was too good to stop eating!).  I wanted to go to Guatemala so badly!  I avoided Carlos for a while because I didn’t want to think about it.  Now I can go enjoy it again!

This year, our team will be staying in an orphanage that Pray America (aka Manos de Jesus) recently purchased.  Our church has been asked to build the chapel that will overlook the orphanage, which is nestled in a mountainside in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  (See details of the plan on their website,  Are you kidding me?  I get to stay in an orphanage where God will work to bring families together?!  What an incredible blessing!  I know it’s going to make my heart overflow and tear it out all at the same time.  I pray that one day soon Guatemalan adoptions stabilize so that, if it’s God’s plan, we can adopt from Guatemala too.

Andy and I, along with thirteen other team members, will be leaving July 5th and returning July 12th.  A second team of 16 will be going the following week.  We will be building one-room houses for widows (most are single moms), building the chapel, and participating in feeding programs.  The cost of the houses has gone up (as you might expect with the economy) to $1250 each.  (Yeah…I know…think of what we pay for houses in America!  It’s incredibly humbling.)  Each team member is responsible for raising the funds to pay for the plane ticket, food, lodging, and transportation while in Chichi (about $1300 each).  On top of that, we raise as much as we can to pay for the houses we will build.  Last year our teams built 10 houses in one week!

If you would like to participate by making a tax-deductible donation to support the mission, please send checks made out to:

Eternal Presbyterian Church

P.O. Box 1509

Fort Mill, SC  29716

Please write “Guatemala Mission Trip:  Crissinger” in the memo line.

I’ll definitely post pictures!  Here is one from last year.

Curtain Call

I have been dancing since I was three years old.  I have had around a hundred curtain calls in my life.  But, this one will be the hardest.

I broke the news to my faculty last week that I will not be returning next year.  After eight years of teaching dance in public elementary schools, it is time for a change.  Next year, I plan to spend every possible moment with our baby.  I want to cherish every second with this precious child God will entrust to us.  And, everybody says it goes SO fast!

Andy and I have talked about this for years.  When he was struggling through teaching high school, we used to joke that he would be a stay at home dad.  At that time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my job.  I loved it!  Over the past several years, God has changed our situation and our hearts.  Andy now loves his job.  And, while I still love mine too, I love the idea of being with my baby more.

I have been in an ideal teaching situation for the past five years.  Many dance teachers have to travel between multiple schools or teach in less than satisfactory facilities.  I have my own dance studio at one school with a sprung floor.  I work with an AMAZING staff who will do whatever it takes to help children learn.  On top of that, I absolutely LOVE and adore my students.  All of them.  Every last one of them.  Thinking of leaving them hurts me.  Over the years, I have proven to them that I love them no matter what, so they love me too.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a troubled and distant kid start to respond to you and even go out of his/her way to please you.  It’s even better when that positive attitude starts to spread to other areas and relationships in his/her life.  We all respond to love.  1 John 4:19.  I want to love my child like that.

Since the beginning of this school year, we’ve been talking about whether or not I should sign another contract for next year.  The only thing that ever gave us a moment’s hesitation was fear; fear of change.  While I wrestled with certain aspects of not teaching next year, there was never really a doubt in my mind what I would do.

When I told my principal that I wouldn’t be back next year, she said the most wonderful thing.  “If all parents invested in their children as much and you and Andy will invest in yours, our job would be easy.  You are going to be wonderful parents.”  Her words, and the encouraging words of so many others who stayed home with their young children, confirmed that our decision was right for us.  They said things like, “This is the best decision you will ever make.  You will never regret it.”  Besides that, it’s a good year for me to leave and a new dance teacher to come in because half of our students are being rezoned to a new elementary school next year and our school is getting a new principal.  This will make it much easier for a new teacher.  Hopefully she won’t hear things like “The other dance teacher did it like this…” and she will be free to create her own program.

Will it be hard?  Yes, of course.  I will miss seeing the kids and staff everyday, and I will need to find some way to supplement our income.  But, it would also be hard to keep doing what I’m doing and try to be a mom.  The thought of that kills me!  I already get up at 5 am and don’t go to bed until at least 11 pm.  Trying to get ready for school, take care of a baby, drop him/her off at daycare, exhausting myself physically and emotionally through teaching, getting home at 5ish with nothing left to give, dealing with dinner and dishes, putting the baby down, doing whatever work I need to for school or life and then dying at the end of the night does not sound appealing or healthy to me AT ALL!  At the end of the day, I would feel like someone else is raising my kid and I only got to spend a couple of hours with him/her, all while trying to tend to other family business, exhausted!  I know that the benefits of being with my child will far outweigh the challenges.

Something about a simpler life appeals to us so much.  For those of you who don’t know, Andy is the cook at our house.  He is forever cleaning or fixing something (reminds me of my dad).  He does so much around here.  I have certain things that I take care of at home, but I always feel like he does more than me.  I am definitely spoiled!  I look forward to being able to help Andy more around the house.  If he didn’t have to do so much after he gets off work each day, he would have much less stress and be able to spend more time with me and our kids.  I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but we’re willing to work at it.

Andy and I are no strangers to cutting corners.  Granted, it’s been a while and God has blessed us, our first year of marriage I was a first year teacher and Andy was in graduate school.  In case you’re into math, you’ll find there was not a lot left at the end of the month.  I didn’t buy myself a single article of clothing for the first two years of our marriage.  We wouldn’t even buy gum because that was something we didn’t NEED.  But, God provided in amazing ways, and we grew as a result of that time.  We may be going back to our days of Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, but we feel it will be worth it, and we know that God is our ultimate provider. 

We’ve looked at the numbers, and if I worked, the majority of my paycheck would go to daycare.  In that case, I’m not only missing time with my child(ren) while someone else is influencing them, I’m also not saving enough money to make a difference in our quality of life.  I don’t want to work just to pay the daycare bills!  It might be different if we had family close by, but his family lives in FL and mine is in GA.  We can’t really just take the kids to grandmas whenever we want.  So, if other family can’t be with them, we would like one of us to be with them.

I feel like God has been preparing me for this for the past couple of years.  In this area of the country, there aren’t many outlets for “older” dancers.  To take classes, I have to drive to Charlotte and pay $10 per class as well as gas, not exactly feasible or worth it for only one class a week.  Whatever your talent or trade, when you don’t have regular opportunities to practice it, you start to lose it.  And, when you don’t take in, you have nothing to give out.  It’s hard to stay current and relevant and insecurity builds.

While I have loved my job, the farther I get away from college, where I was able to take several classes a day from people in “the know”, the more I see dance evolve and leave me behind.  Strangely, I feel OK about it.  Even though I’ve been doing it since I was three, I don’t feel a great loss.  Dance has served me well throughout my life.  It has given me confidence and a very satisfying career.  But, change is inevitable, and I’m not fighting it.  In fact, I’m excited about it and look forward to my next career as mommy.  :)

I’m not ready to say this is my final curtain call.  But, on June 6th, I will be bowing out, at least for a while.