Sunday, May 14, 2017

The quibbling of an emotional mother

I never thought I was going to be a mother. I thought there were women better suited, more compassionate, more loving, patient, gentle and kind..and yet here I am- a mother of two. Some days are fist pump worthy and others? Well, I just apologize, crawl under the covers and start again the next day.

It was at church that my mind started wandering and I thought about the moms whose children had left the house..moved away- grown men and women with families of their own- how will they celebrate? When my sons are grown, will they call me? Visit me? Miss me? These fleeting moments that I'm spending with my boys- will they remember? Will they cherish them? Will they tell them to their sons and daughters as a delightful bedtime story as they reminisce about their childhood? Will I be an older woman with regrets of what I should have or could have done? Will my children harbor resentments and untold hurts against me? To raise a child for decades only to see them once a year with an occasional obligatory phone call rips at my soul.

I think back to the day I found out I was becoming a mother. The mix of joy and horror- the fear of the unknown. The fluttering I felt when this child began moving in me for the first time. The endless months of vomiting, Dr's appointments and the anticipation of this child's arrival. The moment I was told I was having a girl and stared blankly at Will as he stared blankly back until we were told it was a mistake and we both sighed deeply. His reentry into the hospital with jaundice and the terror I felt that I was going to lose him. My feelings of inadequacies of having a first born. What do I do, how do I act? Will I break him? All the firsts. Seeing our Wyatt for the first time, loving him but not feeling that immediate attachment that I thought all mother's had. Faking it til' I was making it. Seeing him develop. His sense of humor. His sensitivity. His sweetness. A mother's pride. Finally feeling that attachment and the fierceness of a mother's love.

I think back to the day we chose to adopt. The choice to become a mother of two. The mix of joy and horror-the fear of the unknown. The fluttering I felt when I opened the email in my inbox and read a  biography about a little boy. The endless months of meetings, background checks, paper trails and the anticipation of his arrival. Walking through the MRT station in Taiwan looking at grown Asian men and teenagers, wondering if that's what my son would look like one day. Tears streaming down my face in public places became commonplace as I thought of my inability to hold him, love him, nurture him. all the firsts that we missed. All the firsts that we experienced. Seeing our Alex for the first time. Loving him, feeling that attachment and praying to God he felt it as well. My feelings of inadequacies as we brought him home. My helplessness to "fix" the problems. Faking it til' I was making it. Seeing him develop. His sense of humor. His bravery. His resilience. His zest for life. A mother's pride. Experiencing a love for two boys that I did not feel was possible.

I'm thinking of the mothers today who have experienced the loss of being unable to bear a child, those that have lost a child, or those unable to care for their child and then selflessly placed them in the arms of another woman. I think of the women AND men who have lost their mothers and the indescribable grief that must sear one's heart at a loss so great.

I'm trying to pull myself together here. Seriously I'm an emotional basket case right now. Anyone else like that today? Right before I started writing this, as I was tucking the boys into bed and with Will out of town, Wyatt asked if he could sleep with me. I rolled my eyes. ugh. My perfect opportunity to starfish hindered by a ten year old body. But these moments are fleeting- and one day he may not call me, visit or miss me, but tonight? He wants to cuddle with pardon me while I end this here.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Alex and I butt heads and test one another on a daily basis. I lose my temper? He throws himself on the ground and begins beating his head. I raise my voice to discipline? He laughs in defiance. He’s small, he’s quiet and I lose him in the house on a daily basis. He’s smart and strong-willed. He’s a dare-devil who loves to leap from high places. People gasp. I sigh. 
I love him. From the depths of my heart to the bottom of my toes I love him. I mourn that I was not the mother who carried him in my womb and brought him into this world. I anguish on the fact that he did not feel my love for him the moment he was conceived, that it was not me who was able to provide him safety and nourishment within the womb and cradle his sweet face and nuzzle his little neck his first day on earth.
I’ve had to parent him entirely differently from Wyatt and a lot of days I feel broken and incapable. I know that the Lord is using Alex in my life to stretch, mold and break me into a better, stronger person. His inability to communicate his needs in a clear way forces me to listen, repeat, listen, repeat…and focus on what he’s trying to say. He snaps me into having to be present…REALLY present. The Lord has broken me into learning patience. The Lord is dealing with my anger issues. Alex is my emotional barometer. Each emotion I display is reflected in my child’s behaviors. There is nothing more simultaneously humbling and horrifying. The Lord has brought the hammer down on my judgmental spirit. We have no idea what another human being is going through. Instead of an eye roll, I ask that momma if she needs help getting things to her car. A mother’s kid is screaming and tantruming in the store? I tell that mom.. You got this. A kid looks like he hasn’t bathed in days and is eating an ice cream cone? I get it. Do whatchya gotta do. I have no idea what I’m doing. There was a picture on Facebook that I posted of Alex in the ergo. It had been months since I had put him in that ergo. Naturally it was another day of ultimate nap resistance despite him needing one, and he was beside himself. I was beside myself. So I threw him in the pack….he was feeling my frustration, my anger, my exasperation…and I believe in those moments he just needs to know I’m there, despite myself, and he needs to feel my love for him despite what I may be saying or showing. So in the pack he goes and he immediately settled and fell asleep. I feel uncomfortable with people saying I wish you were my mom, you’re so sweet…on and on….because no-one saw the moments leading up to that raw picture of seeming sweetness. It is only by God’s grace that I get through the day. It is only by his strength that I make it to the end of the day without having verbally torn my children to shreds. I am a work in progress….and I am thankful for my savior who daily packs me into his ergo and holds me close…because momming is hard..and I’m pretty sure it does not get any easier. 

Thank God it’s Friday.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Brown cylinders and date nights

Image result for bathtub waterWill and I stared into the tub, willing those dark cylinders at the bottom of that murky water to be lego figures. Please be legos, please be legos, please be legos.......
ALEX.......are those your toys?????
He was not lying.
Sighing deeply, Will and I looked at one another and our minds synchronized as only fifteen years of marriage can allow our minds to do and we both silently/not so silently called it.
I read an interesting blog article the other day that talked about married couples and date nights. I think the general gist was that an hour in a restaurant does not make a marriage (which is exactly what the title said); she doesn't date much with her hubby, and it's about living the vows they made daily, in the when possible, but not to waste their days....
I get it.
I appreciate the writer's sentiment and I agree with her that marriage is fun and meaningful with or without date nights. There is nothing that makes me love my hubby more then getting down and dirty in the trenches of our sweet life and doing that life together. I appreciate Will and the sacrifices he makes. I adore when he comes home after running to grab eggs(Cadbury included) at the store,  gives the little one a bath, and doesn't utter a single complaint about eating pasta from a box....again. One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my rocker with him on our tiny porch drinking a cold beer while we both watch the kids play on our patch of grass. Both boys would pile into our bed every night if given the opportunity and our sweet Alex, our sleep struggler often times always ends up snuggled between Will and I. Every. Night.
Image result for brown lego cylinderA dinner out in that corner booth the writer was talking about will not save an unhealthy broken marriage. A dinner out in a corner booth will definitely breathe a breath of fresh air into a marriage that needs a minute from the murky cylinders on the bottom of the tub. A dinner in a corner booth where you can hold hands with your spouse without speaking may be just what the Dr. ordered. A moment to pour open and vomit out thoughts, feelings and emotions that have been piling up for a few weeks may be imperative.
With all that being said -date night does not have to be a dinner out in that elusive corner booth...Perhaps we need to rethink what a "date night" means. What it comes down to is carving out that time. Being creative. "Penciling" it into the electronic calendar. Writing it down will be a reminder to me...Aly, wash your hair. GET OUT OF ACTIVE WEAR. For me, these scheduled pockets of time are times of refreshment, revitalization with the outcome of being a better self with my love and a better mom for my kids.
Without these scheduled periods of reconnecting I feel spent, tired and a little bitter if I'm going to be honest.  For the last few months I've ordered date boxes for Will and I to have a night in, sans kids (i.e. continued yelling at them to leave the room we're sequestered in) and to reconnect with one another after a tiring couple couple weeks at our jobs. It has been so much fun, and he's been a great sport about rolling with it.
Whatever it is do it. Carve it out. Your marriage deserves it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nothing to see here- just us Cheese balls

Nothing exotic or awe-inspiring going on here. I'm trying to find simple treasures in the ordinary. Humor in the every day adventures of mom-ming. Cue my last shopping adventure to our local Harmon's.
Seeing as it was a Saturday, I had the luxury of sleeping in; waking up to the bright sun outside and dressed for the warmer weekend in cute jean Capri's that I actually fit into again and my new converse sneakers. I looked freaking adorable, with the exception of my hair, which was having some serious issues. Nothing that couldn't be tamed by pushing sunglasses on top of my head in place of a headband.. like I said..freaking adorable. 
Caffeine. I needed caffeine. I stared at my coffee pot. It stared back and wasn't going to brew itself. *Sigh.* Will had gone back into work for a couple hours and I stared at the boys after staring at my silent coffee pot . I needed coffee, it was gorgeous out and we needed to kill some time. We were walking to the grocery store. 
With new tires on my jogging stroller that I, at this time only use for leisurely strolls, and random piles of crap on the bottom of it which included a 6 month bag of popcorn and some clothing items that I didn't have the energy to remove, we headed out. 
As we were crossing the highway a middle-schooler who was skateboarding in the opposite direction called out, NICE SHIRT!! I was wearing my Operation Underground Railroad tee. I smiled to myself. Clearly I was killing it today. 
We had a few extra items to pick up, all which would fit perfectly under the stroller. A few items ended up turning into a lot more, but still looked like it would fit. I eyeballed the checkout lanes....Ugh. I HATE self check out, but we were still under the required amount, and The Wyatt loves scanning. Because I'm such a great mom, I thought, sure. Let's go crazy and self scan today. After codes were typed in and the lady came over like 4 times to clear our screen because WE DIDN'T WANT A FREAKING BAG and Alex got his sticker, I shoved all our items under the stroller and we were finally ready to get my coffee. Sweet mother. 
With my order placed, we traipsed over to my iced coffee where a sweet, slightly older then high school looking girl sat smiling at me on a stool by my coffee. Excuse me, she said. Oh man. She  wants to tell me how cute I look today....oh the burdens I bear..... Seriously people. These are my narcissistic thoughts. Like, for real. Yes?? I ask with a confident, knowing smile. Well....I didn't want to embarrass you when you were standing in line....
Ugh. This conversation had taken an ugly turn. Did I have a poopy pull-up somewhere on my person?? Something was on me. CRAP. Something was definitely on me. Where was it. Shhhhhoooot. 
Yes?  I asked this again taken down a couple notches. 
Well, the lady at the self service counter didn't want to embarrass you but she thinks you forgot to scan a cheese ball.
I heard, embarrass you and cheese ball. Oh for the love of all things..I have a cheese ball in my hair??My hand flew to lightly touch my hair. We didn't eat cheese balls for breakfast. Crap. Did we eat cheese balls for breakfast?
Wait. That's not what she said. 
What? handed her my receipt.....the Cheez-Its...did I pay for those? 
No that's on there....she said she thought she saw a cheese ball. I'm so sorry. I'm sure it was just an accident...
Ok. I was finally tracking with what she was saying. Took me long enough. I stared longingly at my coffee which I had not yet picked up. ugh. Stupid non existent cheese ball. She didn't know that though...SO
I unloaded everything on the grocery store floor in front of her. Item by item.
She was mortified. I think it was that really old bag of popcorn...I really needed to throw that out..particularly if it's being mistaken for a cheeseball....I actually felt really bad for her, she kept apologizing....
But at the end of the day..everyone has a job to do. I told her this. Hers was to ensure I wasn't pilfering a cheese ball and mine was to respect her position and show my boys that their mother was gracious without coffee and could remain polite despite a silly mistake. 
At the end of the day we all left content, me with my coffee and ALL of us with a hankering for some cheese. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Career Day.....

I have been struggling with mom-dem lately. I don't know what my issue is. I don't know why I feel like any kind of self-worth is wrapped up in a paycheck. I don't know why I am struggling with working within the home as of late.  That is why I started to laugh...kinda, sorta,  not really... when Wyatt brought home a flier about career day. Hmmm. If I had balls enough to do it, I'd sign up and get started on my powerpoint...but I don't so I'll just lay out my presentation here. Thanks for listening.

Investmenta devoting, using, or giving of time, talent, emotional energy, etc., asfor a purpose or to achieve something ((
Engineera person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering : a mechanical engineer; a civil engineer. 2. a person who operates or is in charge of an engine. a skillful manager (

Hi. My name is Alyson Cooper and I'm an Investment Engineer of a small outfit called Cooper Inc. This is a co-ownership that my husband and I have ventured into together, however my husband works two jobs, so I assume a large portion of the day to day responsibilities of the company when he is unavailable. Let me say however- without him, I would not reach even half of my potential within this business.
Currently Cooper Inc. is running with two employees, a perfect number in my opinion. While I have learned never to say never due to the fact that God laughs as soon as that word is uttered from my lips, I am confident in the assessment that I would be unable to handle additional employees and function at normal human capacity at this time. I.E....I would freak. So no, we are not seeking out further employees at the time if you are looking to change corporations.
My job responsibilities include a certain degree of the following: flexibility and empathy with a working knowledge of how to clean, cook, read, drive and maintain appropriate health and nutrition.Oh yeah...and financial management. That one is critical apparently.  One must be playful with a cheerful attitude, have the ability to lift anywhere from 20-50 pounds daily, possess a certain degree of physical and mental aptitude with problem solving-skills, have infinite patience and the ability to maintain enough organizational wherewithal  to manage multiple schedules and to do so in a punctual manner. This all must be done on approximately 4-6 hours of sleep.
Basically Mary Poppins on crack. 
Our two employees could not possibly  be any more different. The skill set you have to work with one, will not work for the other. Rewards that work for one, will not work for the other. One is a rule follower while the other is not. I have found that I have to be extremely creative, stick to a schedule that both are comfortable with, outline the day precisely with little digression and possess the ability to repeat tasks without losing my ever-loving mind.
Bribery is completely acceptable within my line of work.
Describe an average day of work.
One of the exciting things about Investment Engineering is that you NEVER know what you're going to wake up to! Crazy exciting right?! Each day is anything but normal. In fact, you almost crave normality in this job! Sleep is at a premium since we engineers are on the clock and can be summoned by our employees anytime during a 24 hr period. Our employees can be high risk, demanding, whiny, moody, wiley, forgetful, dirty and sometimes just gross. One currently is still defecating himself. I know what you're thinking. BUT on the flip side they can also be loving, caring, sensitive, warm, inviting and SO much fun. Investment Engineering is a high stress job, so when looking at the big picture, you have to soak up that side of the list that hugs your heart so that it acts as a salve when the other behaviors are playing out.
Ensuring that the Physical, Social, Emotional and Spiritual well-being of both my employees are met is paramount. While I am only human, it is imperative that I have a mental checklist going daily to see how our employees are faring and what I can do to be a loving source of encouragement. We HAVE to be our employees biggest fans. We HAVE to be in their corner and be fierce advocates for them if the situation arises. This is not to say that we let them do what they want, but we have to lovingly hold them accountable so that they can live their lives in a Godly, compassionate, courageous manner. As Investment Engineers, we are investing in our employees lives.. in their their spouses future if that is a path they choose to take.
NO PRESSURE. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
If you choose to go into Investment Engineering, the investment is high, and the initial payout may sometimes feel low. Unless you're looking for hugs, kisses and which case, that payout is HUGE. HOWEVER...payment accrues over the years and while it takes a signifigant amount of time to see the investment, it pays you back in spades. I am told this. I am still within the initial payout phase. I'd be happy to follow up with the class in approximately twenty to thirty years.
You may be thinking. Whoa. Um....I'm not ready for that kind of career. I get it. I said the same thing. I went to school for 20 years to do something entirely different. And one day I may take a second job and do that as well. That's the incredible thing about Investment Engineering. There are SO many different types of personalities and ways to run your companies. There is not ONE right way to do it. Successful Investment Engineers see the big picture and work toward small, daily, acheivable goals. Investment Engineers all look and act different. What works in one company may not fly in another. Owning your own company is's something you really should take a lot of time to discuss and go over before jumping into.
Help students to see the connection between academics and your career
UMMMMMM....As I just mentioned..I went to school for 20 years. I know. You do not need your Masters or a PHD to become an Investment Engineer. What IS helpful is to have common sense and a strong support network. You will find that while yes, it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of 4th grade math (I don't) may be better for the relationship of you and your employee if you just send them to a tutor...because some battles aren't worth your relationship.....but I digress.
I think what the school is looking for is for me to say education is important to and will help with this future there you go.
I have attached requested visual aids below and have described each briefly.
I hope I didn't scare any of you away from this career path. Despite challenges you may face, I feel myself growing more as a person daily. The woman I was when I set out in the start up phase of this company is not who I am now- and that is a good great thing.
One day, should you advance onto this career path and you feel like you can't make it through the day...if your employees are loved, fed and alive, you have done an incredible job....Tomorrow is always a brand new day.
Thanks so much for listening and having me in today.

Visual Aids
Investment Engineers all look different


A few job responsibilities of the Investment Engineer

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I've been on this keeping it real kick lately...just being sensitive to those around other women...other mothers. Just my disclaimer before you decide to read any further. It may sound's just where I'm at right now.

Conversational encounters with other adults before 7 pm is generally rare for me, so typically I have unintentional diarrhea of the mouth when the opportunity arises. Just setting the scene....
I'm sitting in the is our usual when Wyatt goes to Math tutoring, and I had just cracked open my book while Alex was potentially going to play. I say potentially, because he hadn't had a nap and we were teetering on the precipice of a meltdown. Another mom and her husband were there with their two toddlers who were about to put on a puppet show. Unfortunately, I had claimed the most comfortable seat which was directly in front of the "puppet theater" and I decided begrudgingly (though with a smile) to offer her my bench so she could see. She said we could share. Awesome..though I figured that meant I'd have to half-heartedly laugh at this kid's show.
We chatted a little and I came to find out she was looking for a Pre-K, so I told her where Alex goes and that he was going 2 days a week, but now it was 4.. blah blah blah...and it's a life saver for everyone. She looked at me with this immense relief, as if she had found a kindred spirit. I mean it wasn't like she was going to tear up but her immediate response was agreement at cherishing the quiet moments and how sick she was of hearing #blessed all the time. I looked at her and said um...well welcome to #real. From that point on we opened up and had a great conversation. Two strangers just having met in the library....united over keeping it real.
Don't get me wrong. I KNOW I'm #blessed. Yup. I do. BUT FOR THE LOVE. I feel like I can't put it out there enough. Please, be real with me. I'll be real with you. Some days it's all I can do to pull myself up and out of bed..that's what Jesus and coffee are for..because it's freaking hard. 
Our neighbor just had a baby and I went over there with a loaf of banana bread and a hat over my dirty hair, knocked on her door and said, It'll be OK. Some days really suck though. Will was like, really Aly? That was very neighborly of you. But it's the truth, and she looked at me the way new moms look and said some days are really hard....

Be there for those women. Be present. Be real. Talk to someone who looks lonely or tired or worn down by life. Love on them. Tell that mom (OR DAD!!) in the store with the screaming kid that the day is almost over, or that she can do it..that you've been there and are in her corner. It may be the only source of encouragement she gets that day.

This Week's keeping it real moments....
*Some days I don't shower. But I ALWAYS sniff myself to make sure I'm palatable enough to exit my house.
*I have a  plastic poop pile of diapers in my garage that desperately need to be walked a couple hundred feet to the dumpster. I thank God for the cold weather that has preserved them.
*When Alex naps in the afternoon it is like a sweet song to my soul.
*When for the 400th  time Alex asks for juice I start sipping half empty juice boxes around my house to ensure they haven't fermented and hand him those.
*I have floated eggs before in my fridge to make sure they're not spoiled. Totally a thing. Check it out.
*I have fish that ALSO needs to go in the dumpster, but it is currently in my fridge so it doesn't smell....cause if I trashed it, that would TOTALLY smell....I really need to go to the dumpster today....
*Dishes are my freaking nemesis. eh. who are we kidding. Cleaning is my nemesis.
*I had a fight with my found bag of Rolos today and totally lost.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Just Enough.

Word gifts from my friend Merriam-

Definition of enough
1:  in or to a degree or quantity that satisfies or that is sufficient or necessary for satisfaction :  sufficiently

Definition of sufficient

  1. a :  enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end <sufficient provisions for a month>

    Definition of all

    :  nothing but :  only <all work and no play>:a :  completely taken up with, given to, or absorbed by <became all attention>b :  having or seeming to have (some physical feature) in conspicuous excess or prominence <all legs>c :  paying full attention with <all ears>
I stopped writing before Alex's adoption was finalized.  I just couldn't risk having my words twisted and potentially hold up the process. That is what I told myself. That and I just couldn't emotionally deal. I couldn't deal with the stress of the adoption and I couldn't deal with my move to Japan. So I stopped. I stopped writing...for like, two years. Two crazy wonderful, painful, excruciating, hard, amazing years where I didn't document ANYTHING that happened. I thought I would start writing again when we brought home our son. I thought, I can be an "adoption mom inspiration" and normalize what other adoptive moms may be feeling! When Alex arrived home, I just couldn't. So much to say and yet nothing would come out.  
This one and a half year old little boy who we picked up from a Taiwanese orphanage and carried away in a taxi cab, screaming for his alma....the only mother figure that he had ever known- all I kept thinking was.,.. am I enough? Will I ever be enough? As the months progressed and the sleepless nights persisted; I felt depleted and quite frankly,  I didn't feel like I was doing life well. I thought that this little man that we had brought home was placed in the arms of the wrong mother. I felt my temper was too short, my patience... non existent. I felt that I was never going to sleep again.  I felt I needed to be more attentive, more interactive, more nurturing, MORE. MORE. MORE. I didn't feel like enough. 
Oh my friends,  the lies we tell ourselves.
The truth? I am enough but I will never be his ALL. That is the way it is supposed to be. I am human. I am a sinful creature and it's impossible. THANK GOD for that. It's too much pressure!!
At the end of the day, through my exhaustion I can sigh with relief knowing that I am not my son's be all end all...but I AM enough. It was by God's great design, that I was to be Alex's mother. What a sweet gift bestowed upon me. I pray that in the small moments of desperation that I never lose sight of the bigger picture.