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"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Pot Roast

     I love my kids.
     Let me try that again.
     I LOVE my kids!
     And I don't just mean the babies. And I don't just mean because of something good or lovely they did. And it's not a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of love. Guys, like, I love them...even the crazy one (yes, you know who I'm talking about!). If someone ain't whooping out a heck of a Hallelujah right now, I'm pretty sure the mountains are gonna do it for you, because it appears that somewhere between swim lessons, homework, weekend visits, and kidney scares, a miracle has gone down and THIS Mama is on the receiving end! (In my mind there's literally a gospel choir in long, purple robes out there singing "Glory!" as the congregation shouts "Amen!" because I am in desperate need of some theatrical rejoicing right now!)
     But seriously, it's funny how love can sneak up on you all of a sudden. It can happen so slowly and gradually that you're not even aware that it was there the whole time. I remember when I first started dating my husband. We were just hanging out, really - I don't even know if you could call it dating. But one day I woke up and I just knew.... I loved him. It wasn't butterflies or a crush, but a love that took it's time. Something that grew out of a friendship, something that came on without me even noticing because of how subtly my heart had been changing. I've never had microwave love. The only loves I've ever known, the only really good ones anyways, have all been developed crock-pot style. They've simmered slowly for long periods of time, warming me from the inside out, not the other way around.
     Yet, when the foster care system handed me kids and two seconds later asked me to keep them forever and love them unconditionally, I found myself looking at these crazy little strangers and wishing for a pot roast instead of a Hot Pocket for a family. I never got to get to know my older kids as they grew inside my belly for 9 months; Never got to anxiously await each prenatal appointment and their upcoming arrivals. I needed more time. I needed time to court them and get to know them without the pressure of having to make it all work overnight with people that were already set in their ways... ways that I didn't particularly care for. I needed time to fall in love with my children. And after two and a half years, I feel as though I should re-propose to them. Will they take me to be their mother? Because I think I'm finally ready to commit, not just legally, but emotionally... completely... with my whole heart.
     I've noticed a few changes creeping up on me over the last few months. One morning after they'd gone to school, I caught smiling as I remembered something funny Cameron had said. And another day I laughed out loud at an utterly ridiculous joke that Taylor told, and it didn't feel forced or awkward in the slightest. Someone said to me earlier this week, "Can you even imagine those kids if they hadn't come to you?" And for the first time, I couldn't picture my life without them. As a mother, you hate to say you're surprised when these things happen.... but those of you that know my story, that truly know our family's story.... you know how I struggled, how we all struggled, to connect and love and be OK with our thrown together, emotional roller coaster existence. You know my resentments and bitterness, all the uncomfortable and unmotherly things that I thought and said. And now, I sit here wondering how worse off my life would be if I didn't have these four little people calling me Mama.
     I'm so glad I don't have to find that out. I'm so glad that God gave me my pot roast.

     PS, that being said, yesterday, while Isaac was here for his weekend visit, I found myself on the unlucky end of a particularly rank and mucky diaper. Trying to engage him in a helping task so that he would be more compliant during this extremely nauseous task, i asked him to hold a wipe for me while I got his diaper undone and legs pulled up.
     "I hep you, I hep you!" his little voice said to me.
     "You're a good helper, Isaac, thank you... hold the wipe for Mama, ok?" I replied.
     "I hep you, I hep you, Mama."
     And then Isaac helped.... by attempting to wipe his own wiener. Sadly, the wipe was in the other hand. He, too, realized this and promptly switched hands to give it another try, smearing the poop onto his leg in the process.
     "Eewww," he said.
     "Don't. Touch. Anything. Please, baby. Let me wipe your hands first."
     To his amazing credit, he smiled at me and kept his hands in the air. I finished with the diaper and used about 13 wipes to mop up the goo that saturated his chubby little fingers. He sat up and kissed me square on the lips as I was carrying him to the sink to wash his hands. I thought it was sweet at first, but I now realize that he did this to distract me. Because while I was caught off guard by this beautifully sweet gesture, he took his index finger and shoved it into my mouth, despite my slightly delayed but firmly pursed lips.
     Yup.... there it was. Poop. It must've still been between his fingers or underneath his fingernails, because it was there. In my mouth.
     Do you want to know what love looks like? It looks like turning your head away from your child before you puke... that's what love looks like, Friends. And I love my kids.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

     Friends, I'm tired. TIRED.
     This week, Life happened. She walked in, kicked my family and me around, and then stood there, watching to see how we would respond. And for a few minutes, it kinda felt like the end of the world. But sometimes the end of the world is really just the beginning of a new one. Oh, it doesn't feel like it though, not in the slightest. I can look back through my 32 years and see lots of Ends that felt so painful that I was pretty sure I couldn't go on. A failed exam, a break-up, getting fired, a terrible fight with my husband, fertility struggles, watching my family suffer, losing a child... it all feels like the end of the world. And it is. If you really think about it, each life catastrophe changes us; it changes our worlds, the way we respond to new situations and people, the way we approach future challenges, whether we choose to fear or embrace. It literally ends the way we used to be, the way we used to live. Life changes our vision and the way we see things. We may start out with 20/20 vision but end up needing a prescription for our sight after going through a bout with cancer or the death of a parent; our end of the world experiences making it hard to get out of bed the next day or cause us to question why we're even here at all.
     What's your prescription for when Life deals you a hand so unfair that you can't see straight? Binge-eating? Alcohol? Chain-smoking? Lashing out at your family? Breaking things? Self-loathing? Or maybe you're like me. Maybe you tend to get depressed by replaying the troublesome situation over and over and over in your head, sure that you missed the one detail that will re-set your vision; sure that you'll find a way to solve this problem, this End. If you've tried any of these, you're already painfully aware that they are awesomely ineffective tools. Because ultimately what we want is to change our situation, not put on glasses to help us see clearer. We want to go back to the time when Life was amazing and wonderful and our vision was perfect. We want death to be undone, words to be taken back, second chances given. Anything but The End. 
     This week, my kid got sick. Kidney-problem sick. My kid got sick the same week that I was struggling with my husband in our marriage. My kid got sick and I struggled with my marriage the same week that my baby had a four-day fever. The same week my back went out and I slept on a cot in my son's hospital room caring for him and my fevered baby while being hunched over at a 45 degree angle in pain. The same week my daughter's old behaviors started back up because she didn't get to be the one sick and have me give her my hunched over, undivided attention. The same week my mom tells me that my grandma has skin cancer and that my brother's custody battle for his precious little boy has taken yet another blow. The same week my husband called the hospital to tell me that his company is closing down and that we will be without any income or health insurance by Christmas.
     End of the world? Yep. It really is. It's the end of the way I felt about life before these things happened. My vision has been altered and I don't feel that I can see as clearly as I once could. It's a lot harder to see the next steps to take or even which direction to go. It's blurry when I try to use my ole faithful prescription of replaying situations, trying to find a way to fix things, to change them somehow. It doesn't work, and the End has come. 
     But again, sometimes the End of the world is just the Beginning of something new. I will never look at my son's health in the same light. I will always worry about him getting sick, worry about his treatments failing, worry about seeing that fear on his face again. But my kid got to come home. MY kid left that hospital on his own two feet while we watched other kids, sicker kids, being pushed through the hospital play rooms in wheelchairs as they passed the time waiting for a donor. You see, my world of healthy-kidneyed children ended, but at the same time, a world of gratitude began. 
     And my back pain may cause me to want to scream and ask "Why Me?!?" as I shake my fists (ever so carefully, as not to twist my spine) in frustration. But something about being brought to my knees in pain reminds me that I'm supposed to be there way more often than I am anyways. Pain is the end of our worlds in so many ways... but it's also the beginning of a life that needs to be slowed down a bit, a life that requires a little more rest than it was getting, a life that feels such thankfulness for doctors that can help alleviate some of the pain. And, oh my heavens, being without an income and without health insurance for our family, especially our little baby.... yes, this DOES feel like the end of the world! Right before Christmas? Right in the middle of all our kids' birthdays? Right when I make the choice to leave my job to stay at home with our little ones and help them with all things they've needed from me since they beginning? It is most definitely the End! And this End will most definitely be followed by a Beginning... a new job, with new health insurance, new hours, and new routines. 
     Yes, my vision definitely blurred for a "little minute" as my son would say, but I got a new prescription for my eyes. And this prescription is a crazy thing called faith. I can't see the answers for my son's health, but I have faith that he will be alright. I can't fix my brother's situation, but I have complete and utter faith that God will keep my nephew in the palms of His hands. I can't fix my daughter's behaviors, but I have faith that God can make her so confident that she will never have to rely on someone else's attention to make her feel worthy. And my marriage may have it's problems, my God, it does! But FAITH lets me hand the whole, hot, messy package over to Someone that knows just how to fix hot messes. In fact, it's His specialty. 
     I'm not saying the new lives we get dealt are better than the old ones. Because sometimes they are and sometimes they're not. But this is the one thing in Life of which I'm positive: No matter what the vision, the prescription is the same. "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2). 
     God is the author of Life, the writer of all my Beginnings and all of my Ends. And he not only writes my Life story with all its twists and turns, but He also perfects my imperfect faith. Because He loves me and because He knows I'll do a pretty crap job of it all on my own, He sent me an example to follow. Someone to go through His own Ends and Beginnings; Someone who was also kicked around by Life. And if I keep my eyes there... if you keep your eyes there... we will have us some amazing Beginnings, Friends.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Little Boys

     There's something about little boys that makes my heart go pitter-patter. (I just went to go check on Baby Wyatt in his bed and came back.... upon reading that first line over, I feel the urgent need to clarify that I'm not a pedophile. K? Carry on.) But little boys and their rambunctiousness, growling, ability to make car sounds, and contentedness to just run full speed into nothingness is what makes then so special.
     Cameron, unlike his sister, can amuse himself with a tennis ball, a few toothpicks, and a paper towel roll.... for hours. I'm not kidding. The boy goes into his room and comes back with some sort of creation made from garbage, Lego pieces, and disassembled toy cars. EVERY TIME! I love this about him. Just yesterday he showed me a couch that he designed from a paper plate. A paper plate. And no, it wasn't a clean paper plate (naturally), and yes, he did spill cookie crumbs across two rooms as he brought his creation to my spot in the living room. But he was just so dang proud of this couch that I couldn't say anything to discourage such creativity. I mean, isn't that why we have three big dogs, anyway? They'll eventually stumble upon that trail of cookie crumbs and think they've died and gone to Doggy Heaven.
     Yes, creativity in sons is amazing. As is their ability to see my pre-coffee need for quietness in the morning and behave accordingly. In fact, I used to cringe when my bladder would wake me in wee hours of the morning...that time when you know that, if you hurry, you can be back in bed and still get another half hour of sleep. Not having an on-suite master bath, that meant leaving the safety of my own room to venture out and meet the Little People before I was ready to start conversing. You mamas know what I mean.... no coffee, still groggy, not ready to talk. I'm basically good for grunts and grunts only during those first few minutes. But that was when my daughter's room was upstairs with us. She would listen my sheets crinkle as I prepared to get up from my bed and run across the hall to the bathroom, undetected. But there she was, every time, always quicker than I. No sooner would I have turned the door handle and Taylor would be right there, begging for someone to talk to (probably because she sleeps a total of 4 hours a night and has been awake for hours just waiting for attention).
     "Hi, Mom, how'd you sleep!?!? Did you have any dreams? I dreamed of strawberries and ponies and I made up a song to tell you about the dream, but then I forgot it and had to make up a new one, but then I forgot that one, too, so I sang Jesus Loves Me until I remembered that I love to color.... can I have my markers now? Oh, wait! Let me sing Jesus Loves Me to you, first, and then I'll color you a picture of strawberries and ponies and, HEY! I remembered my dream, wanna hear it?!?!"
     Oh. My. Gosh.
     I just wanted to pee..... and now I see that I will be forced to purchase adult diapers if this living situation continues. Thankfully, God granted me with a baby and we had to move Taylor's room to the first floor in order to free up her old room for the nursery. Now, it's me, the babies, and Cameron upstairs. And when I feel that urge to pee, I can now open my door freely, because my son is just as groggy by morning as he is creative by day. He sees me, nonchalantly waves me a "hello" and says, "Hey, Mom", to which I respond, "Hey, Cam", and we go our separate ways. It's practically magical. This is why I love little boys!
     When Isaac comes on the weekends, we get to see an entirely different side of boys. The I'm-loud-crazy-and-wild-but-can't-be-bothered-to-care side of boys. This weekend, we had set our sights set on going to the Science Center in Pittsburgh. However, due to a Pirate's game, we were unable to find parking and decided to go to the Ballocity Zone at Fun Fore All. The Ballocity Zone is a massive indoor climbing structure where kids can go through small passages that scale higher and higher, slam into netting, scream loudly while going down the tube slides, and bash themselves off of hanging mats.... oh, and there are lots of balls. Everywhere. These foam balls come flying at you from air guns as well as from a huge volcanic structure in the center of the Ballocity Zone that fills with balls and erupts when a button is pushed, sending balls raining down with a loud "WHOOSH!". Needless to say, this is the perfect place for a rabid little man like Isaac.
     Once he moved past the initial terror of large kids shoving their way past him as "WHOOSH"ing occurred every few minutes, he began to fully submerge himself into his surroundings. I took him into the Zone and he walked straight up to the ball volcano, clenched his fists, and he growled/shouted/yelled with all his might for about 10 seconds straight. This was before he ran head first, as fast as his chubby legs allowed, into a netted wall. This was then followed by about 10 more seconds of growling/shouting/yelling (naturally). At one point, he bit a chunk out of a ball with a crazed look in his eye that sent a small girl running in the other direction. This.Is.My.Son. And he sometimes resembles Animal from The Muppets, which is ironic, because he used to have a t-shirt with that very character on it. I LOVE little boys! They're rugged, dirty, primal beings are just like little cavemen and it's AWESOME.
     This same little caveman proceeded to pee all over me and his bedroom floor later that evening. And when I say pee, I mean pee. It was as if he'd saved all the water from his body for just the moment that I tried to wrangle him after his bath, before I'd had the chance to diaper and PJ him. Sure, I shouldn't have left him for those two minutes, diaperless.... but he looked stinking so cute blowing his toy trumpet, huge grin on his face, naked as a jay bird. He walked over to me and, just as I lifted him up to set him on the bed, he let go of all that was within him. I promptly set him down and ordered him to stand still while I grabbed the towel... but what you have to know about 22-month-olds is that they can't follow you with their eyes. Oh, no. They follow you with their entire bodies. So, Isaac proceeded to pee in an arch as he watched me move swiftly across the room. I sighed in exasperation because, honestly, what was there to do but stand there and let him finish? Once there was enough urine on the floor to legally call his room a parking garage, he threw his hands in the air and said, "Uh oh!" (Ya think, kid?) After I had sufficiently sopped up the mess with his bath towel, I ran to the bathroom to deposit the towel in the tub.
     And that's when Isaac shut the door and locked me out of the nursery. I mean, seriously.... you can't get this kind of action with a girl! We spent the next few minutes with me pleading the almost-toddler to "open the door for Mama", in which he alternated telling me "OK!" and "No!", (words I'm still unconvinced he can distinguish between). This is why all mamas should keep a tool kit on every floor...if you have boys in the house, you're going to need a screw driver and to pop open locked doors! And when the door opened, there he was, still standing in his naked glory, smiling widely. "Mama!" he exclaimed as he gave me a big ole birthday suit hug. This is why I love little boys.
     When I was pregnant, I was positive that Wyatt was a girl. I'm saying that I was downright sure of it! Lo and behold, God saw fit to bless us with a third boy (much to my 6-year-old daughter's chagrin.). And this little fellow has been nothing short of a Mama's Boy, which I secretly love and hope he never outgrows! But today, true to form, he showed his boy-ness during diaper time. It was a particularly messy deed he'd done, and I thought that I had put the diaper far enough out of his reach. I thought. But it seems little Wyatt has anything but little arms. In his excitement to have his diaper off, he began flailing those Gumby limbs with all his might and, with a wet "splat", his left fist landed right into the gooey diaper. There was a fine mist of baby poo that reached a foot in every direction. Startled by this mist, Wyatt then smacked himself in the face with that same brownish-orange fist. He ginned, gurgled, and then belly laughed. And as I sat there, cleaning crap from my baby's eye lashes, I thought about how it only took a poop splash to make this kiddo crack up. He can literally find humor in anything, including bodily functions. And this is why I love little boys.