About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Proud of Idiots

     In every parent's life, there are moments of such pride that you have in your children. Most of the time you feel like you're walking around banging your head off of walls, and then you turn around and your child does or says something that makes you say, "Wow.... that's my kid!" Cameron's day in court was one of those days. His decision to come to my grandmother's funeral instead of his best friend's birthday party was another..... and then he pees his bed and tries to blame it on his sister. In a haze, I find myself rushing to the phone to call Children's Hospital, because only someone in need of a cat-scan would pull such an idiotic stunt.
     Taylor... my dear, sweet, child. She is so full of hugs and kisses, "I love yous" and compliments, even right after getting in trouble. I say to myself, this child is such an example of God's love. And then she gets into my make-up, whitening mouth wash, and expensive face lotion 5 times in one week with no fear of consequence or wrath (and trust me.... there was wrath) and I instinctively enter Children's Hospital's phone number into my speed dial because, low and behold, we need to order the "Family Cat-Scan" package!
     I admit, I often sound fickle in my love for my children. Don't be fooled, I truly love them to pieces (and someday the detectives may find their pieces buried somewhere in our lower field).... but the amount of CRAZY I feel on a daily basis because of these little people is utterly astonishing! I'm proud when they finally flush the toilet... five minutes later I'm screaming at Cameron to stop trying to create a pulley system with the dog leashes to "assist" his sister in the fine art of tree climbing. I'm moved to tears when they tell me I'm the best mom they've ever had.... later that night I find myself weeping over the smeared poop on my sock that was "cleaned up" in the bathroom following an "unexpected" emergency. One night I can't wait to tuck them in, say their prayers, and give them their cuddle times... the following night I can be heard throughout our neighborhood threatening the lives of the next child that calls my name from their bedrooms as I try to finish the dishes.
     Isaac hasn't become an idiot yet.... so he just rolls around like a ball from one side of the room to the other, yelling at the dogs with furrowed brows trying to get their attention, and attempting to figure out if his mouth likes his fingers or his toes better. I'm sure that there will be a day when he turns against me and my sanity, deciding to create an emotional disaster out of me... but until then, we're putting him in charge of the other two. I'll keep you posted on how the trip to Children's goes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


     When you're 7-years-old, the world is an exciting new adventure just waiting to be explored. When you're 7-years-old and you've been severely beaten by someone that was supposed to take care of you, the world can be extremely dark and terrifying. You learn to be distrustful, defensive, and fearful of everyone and everything around you. Hurt or be hurt. Hate or be hated. Be feared or fear others. Yesterday, my 7-year-old stopped being the fearful boy that he was only a year ago. Yesterday, he took a huge step of courage that made this Mama incredibly proud.
     It took a lot of preparation, leading up to the preliminary hearing regarding the abuse charges against Cameron's biological dad. He met with the District Attorney multiple times at the courthouse to review his testimony, he met with his therapist and was able to get the recommendation for his testimony to be used via video camera, and he endured emotional breakdowns as he was quizzed incessantly about details that he has tried for over a year to forget. The process was exhausting and heartbreaking. Finally, the day of the hearing came. We woke up yesterday morning and Cameron got dressed in his Easter shirt and tie. Even his dress socks made a special appearance for the occasion. Once again, our little Man needed reassurance that no matter what happened at this hearing, he would never return to his first father, which is a belief that continues to pop up in his mind to this day. Together, we said a prayer for courage and asked Jesus to accompany us into the courthouse. Cam was thoroughly excited that God took out time to come with him (he even offered Taylor's booster seat for the Lord to sit in on the drive down).
     In true legal fashion, we arrived on time... and then we waited. We waited for a while longer, and then we waited some more. Finally, the DA announced to us and that the accused would not be accepting a plea bargain. Our options were as follows: 1) Back out of the abuse charges and allow this man to pay a small fine and then be off scott free.... no jail, no probation, no charges on his record or 2) have Cameron go forward with his testimony today via video camera and then confront his father face to face at a trial later this summer, a process that they assured us would take months to resolve.
     The social worker in me and the new Mommy in me started to fight. Of COURSE we are going forward, are you kidding me?? Think about Cameron, Shivonne... can he really handle facing his dad and enduring this process for months? But this man has already hurt several other children and gotten away with it... he's just going to continue to hurt others with nothing more than a FINE?! But what if Cameron gets nervous and can't remember the details needed to put him away... then he's off anyways and we've put our son through this heartache for nothing? But...
     As you can imagine, the argument continued... all the while, the DA, CYS workers, arresting officer, and my husband stared at me. I felt like everyone thought that I was cruel for even considering putting my baby through this ordeal. Feeling like an awful mother, I made the suggestion that we should ask Cameron what he thought about it(because leaving the decision up to the traumatized 7-year-old is the answer, obviously). But what I really wanted to do was to inform him of the decision at hand, without going fully into the details. He is the one having to go through this ordeal, afterall.
     I spent some time explaining to Cameron that we had two choices. On one hand, we could be done today... no testifying, no judge, no more coming to the courthouse ever again. His biological dad would move far away and we would never see him again. The other choice was that we would talk to the judge today, and then we would probably have to talk to the judge again, but in the same room as his abuser at the next hearing, and he would have to tell his story many more times. I told him that I am soooo proud of him right now, and nothing was going to change that, but that I wanted to include him in the decision.
     "Would he go to jail if I was done today?" Cam asked me.
      "No, buddy, but he would go back to his new home in a state very far away from here, so you still wouldn't see him ever again."
     "Would he hurt anyone else?"
     "I don't know, bud."
     He thought for a second.
     "I feel really brave today, Mom. I think we should go for it."
     I don't know if it's possible for a heart to smile, but mine must have looked like the Grinch when he finally embraced Christmas. I asked him several more times, and each time, he informed me that he could do this... he could talk to the judge, even if his first dad was in the room. He reminded me that God made him brave in the car. Fighting social injustice.... who said you need DNA to have your kids take after you?
     And wouldn't you know it, that boy of mine walked right into that courtroom with confidence and courage. He answered numerous questions and he did it clearly, calmly, and with a grace that I've never seen my impulsive child possess! When the opposing lawyer tried to trick him up, Cameron said, "I can't lie, right? Then my answer is still 'I don't remember'." I literally laughed out loud, because that's what we practiced over and over was telling the truth, not trying to make up an answer you don't recall simply because of pressure from the questioners.
     Our next appearance at the courthouse isn't until July.... a lot could happen between now and then. Cameron may wake up tomorrow morning and feel scared or unwilling to go further. And I will hug him, tell him I'm proud of him, and call the DA immediately to back out. Because my kid did much more than testify yesterday. He was the 7-year-old severely abused child that turned his back on distrust, defensiveness, and fear. And I have a feeling that, for him, exciting new adventures lie just around the corner.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Mother's Day Lessons

     On Sunday I had the privilege of celebrating my first "official" Mother's Day. Last year was such a chaotic time (and now things are.... calm?). Cameron and Taylor had been placed with us for foster care a mere 6 weeks at that point and Mother's Day was a bit of a touchy holiday for them. My gifts last year included a lovely plant, a card, screaming, hitting, and fecal smearing.... and that was just before church. I told them that this year I'll be happy with just the card, thank you very much! And cards I got. By the truck load. Store-bought, hand-made, and last-minute cards cluttered my bed as the kids bounced into my room with their goodies. Cameron and Taylor graciously shared my chocolate gifts with one another as my chubby Isaac looked hungrily at the bouquet of flowers my husband bought.
     So, in honor of Mother's Day (although a bit belated), I decided to spend some time reminiscing about lessons that I've learned throughout the past year. Hopefully, other Mommies out there can relate!

     1) It's OK to go to work with questionable goo on your shirt, as long as lick your finger and dab at it with mild effort for at least 3 seconds.
     2) It IS possible to never have uninterrupted time to eat a full meal, and yet gain a fair amount of weight in a year!
     3) It is absolutely acceptable to febreeze your children's bedding and call this "doing laundry".
     4) It is impossible to own a clean car or home, no matter how many behavior charts, consequences, or rewards you post throughout your house.
     5) Sleeping with your eyes open as your child tells you the ever-changing thoughts that rush through her head is not only acceptable, it's downright recommended.
     6) Laughing with derision as a non-parent tells you they're tired because they stayed up late watching a movie or going out with friends may not bode well for your relationship with that person, but it does make you feel a little better about your jealousy towards them... afterall, they'll know what true exhaustion is soon enough.
     7) If your child does something completely ridiculous or horrendous, consult the internet immediately. Not only will you find some much needed support, but you'll walk away feeling grateful that your kid wasn't the one kicked out of school for repeatedly licking the teacher's leg.
     8) Taking the long way home from work is one of life's greatest joys.
     9) Going to the bathroom is a luxury.... make the most of each trip!
     10) It's ok to get the occasional odd/dirty look from strangers while you have your kids out in public.
     11) It's also ok to get odd/dirty looks from strangers while you're NOT with your kids in public, simply because you look disheveled, you're talking to yourself out loud, and you have a burp cloth over your shoulder.
     12) Eating hand sanitizer will not kill your children, despite popular belief.
     13) Calling your clients "sweetie" or "buddy" out of habit does indeed lead to an awkward silence during a therapy session.
     14) Cuddling with bed-wetters is a risky sport.... a simple sniff test first will save a ton of laundry later.
     15) Kisses are sloppy and sometimes sticky, but totally recommended.
     16) Motherhood is insane and beautiful all at the same time. It's alright to ask for help, cry, and call your own Mommy for advice.
     17) Even if their back rubs hurt a bit, be happy that they're learning compassion and the gift of touch.
     18) Pray. Often, fervently, and passionately.
     19) The homework will still be there after he catches the frog, rides his bike, or tells you about his day.
     20) Give yourself grace every now and again. You're not called to be perfect, you're called to be a Mother.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Phone Call

    Hate versus love. Loss versus abundance. Anguish versus joy. Fear versus peace. Despair versus hope. For every great feeling there is an equally intense opposite. In order to know the fullness of one, you must, at some point, experience its opposite. Throughout the past week, my husband and I lived through a plethora of heart-breaking emotions. When faced with the possibility of having your baby taken from you at a moment's notice, it's unreal how your entire world starts to swim; drown is more like it. The complete fear, devastation, and grief that washes over you feels like an all-consuming tidal wave threatening to ruin everything you've ever loved and wanted. The other things in life become foggy, the events of the day seem tortured with waiting for that one life-changing phone call.
     Will my baby stay or will my baby leave me forever? Hate. Loss. Anguish. Fear. Despair. I experienced each of these strong emotions, along with so many more during this past week. One minute I wanted to cry, the next minute I felt too drained to shed a tear. I wanted to binge eat at one moment, and then I found myself hungry for nothing once I got to the fridge. The endless ups and downs were starting to take their toll. And finally the phone call came. My husband answered. I was on the phone with my parents, driving to work, as my husband's name flashed on my call-waiting. When I answered, he shared the news that my heart had been anxiously waiting for. The man in question is not our baby's father. 
     In that moment, I felt the full weight of each emotion as it drained from my body and was replaced by the opposite feelings. Love. Abundance. Joy. Peace. HOPE. And, in true woman form, I sobbed uncontrollably... and then I called my parents and brother and sobbed some more. Thankfully, they're weepers, too.
     Even though I'm very much aware that this tumultuous process is not done with until we take that one final picture with the judge to celebrate Isaac's adoption, I am able to rest well tonight, knowing that my baby boy is right here with me, just where he's supposed to be. And once again, I count my blessings. One amazing husband, three amazing children, three insane dogs, a loving and supportive extended family, and a vast number of friends (and strangers) that will go out of their way to pray for a situation that they only just heard about. I love you all.