Thursday, September 10, 2009


I was going to write about my vacation. Really, I was. I was going to tell you how blissful it was to be completely and utterly secluded from the bulk of civilization. I was going to proclaim the virtues of vacant beaches unmarked by hideous tire marks (who drives on a beach?!?!). I was going to gleefully recount how joyful it was to be without a telephone, a television or internet service. I was going to paint a picture of my idea of a perfect beach trip: nary a chain restaurant, kitchsy shop or taffy pull in sight.

But then life intruded and here I am, thinking instead of Oliver and sighing one of the deepest, heaving sighs I have ever felt wrack my body.

Your children should move you to tears. It is their right. They are beautiful, and blessed, and adorable beyond words. They are amazing creations handed over to you for a time; neither an extension or yourself nor a completion thereof--a distinct entity of their own. But still, somehow, a connected piece of your senses that hits you in the soft places and moves you to emotions you can't quite muster otherwise. It is heart stuff, this. It is tear-inspiring.

Until this morning, I have never, ever cried
because of one of my children. I have cried for them, with them, and, oh yes, I have cried out to the Lord on their behalf. But never have I surveyed a moment and felt myself shaking with the kind of desperation and fear that I found myself awash with this morning. Never.

Last night, Oliver flooded his bedroom. How it happened isn't important. All you need to know is that he overpowered two obstacles and worked his toddler magic on three separate childproofing mechanisms to get to the toilet and manage this feat. Mr. Blandings and I awoke at 1:30 in the morning, put things to rights (no small task) and spent the few remaining dark hours with one ear towards the room where the mischief had been made.

This morning, after fitful, restless sleep, I found my way downstairs, the incident still on my mind.

How, Lord, can I parent this boy? Show me, Father, because I am flying blind here. He's never done this kind of thing before. And he's not even three yet! This is going to get worse, isn't it? Help me, Jesus. Help me be his Momma.

And with that, I opened the door to my garage and stepped out into my flooded schoolroom.

My schoolroom, people. My schoolroom.

There are few
things in the world that I have a sense of connectedness with. Strip me of my house, my car, my favorite black Old Navy t-shirt. Take my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. Burn it all. I don't care. I could walk away from it all and feel nothing but a lifted weight.

But my schoolroom? My books?

The tears were real and they were painful. My feet tread the soggy carpet as I took stock: our entire Core 5--with some of the books that helped cement our call to Nepal--was completely awash. My used IG's, which had been destined for reuse: limp. Our beloved, much-used copy of Usborne Time Traveler ... so wet that the once-hardback cover had disintegrated to mush. This doesn't even mention all of my books, my treasures--the ones I was saving for special read-alouds with my kids--that are now molting in a box on the curb. My beaten, highlighted high school copy of
To Kill a Mockingbird will not be passed in the hands of my own high schoolers, it seems.

And amid all of this:
oh, Oliver ... what does the future hold?

Oliver has FAS. I have said this before. What I have not said, what I have not
had to say until now, is that the primary hallmark of FAS is a complete and utter inability to learn from one's actions or to control one's impulses. FAS, in a nutshell, is brain damage. And friends, you do not grow out of brain damage.

Oliver is loved, adored, and cherished in our home. He is a valued member of our family, inseparable from us. His place in our hearts is not at risk. But, nonetheless, our hearts break. Because we know that this is but the first taste of what we will experience as we watch Oliver grow and yet still remain, in many ways, the toddler that he is today.

I can't replace our books. The cost of buying them all again is simply too much. But, praise God, Oli is safe. This time, he did no damage to himself. This time, he came through unscathed. And that is far more valuable to me than any SL Core could ever hope to be.

But my heart knows there will be a next time. And I'm praying now--constantly--that God's hand hovers over him, and pulls him back from the falls and scrapes and dangerous places.

So today, I cried because of one of my children. But I also learned a whole new way to pray. I learned the kind of total supplication that one must enter into when the odds are impossibly stacked against you. I have, I think, come to the point of total, utter dependency on the One who chose the members of our family by birth and adoption. If the cost of all that is merely a few boxes full of book, ought I not be grateful?


sea salt MOSAIC said...

mmmmm. . . .I feel my heart mourning with you at the loss of your many treasures, and yet I rejoice with you as you discover the depth of prayer and the unending vastness of God's mercy and grace. Praise be to Him who created each of you uniquely and individually so that He could weave you together into a tapestry of praise. I pray that your heart can overflow (ahem - be flooded) with His graciousness and patience today. Your little one needs that - just as you do.

Melissa Stover said...

oh i'm sorry. i don't know what else to say. but i'm sad for you.

Deborah said...

My heart goes out to you, for the heartbreak of the lost books and for the uncertainty of the future with Oliver. You are a much stronger woman than I am, and my prayers are with you.

Mama JJ said...

We have close friends who have an adopted daughter (now in her early 20s) who has FAS. There's not anything easy about it. My heart goes out to you...

Kindred Blessings said...

I'm so sorry; I don't know what else to say. I love you cousin.

The Beaver Bunch said...

Wow. I would cry too. Praying for you to gain strength from the One who provides all.

Cory & Kris Thede said...

Sorry. The pain of losing the books is real. But your focus on your son being more important is right on target! May the Lord comfort you and supply you with peace, joy and love. [And you know if He wants He can also replace those books.]


The Hayes Zoo said...

Wow MG. You are much more mature than I would be in the moment. Although I will say I understand the KNOWING something in your brain all the while you heart is having a melt down in a real, albeit different, way.

Thank goodness God is in control and promises us to remain with us in an amongst the floods and other moments, because THAT is the only way to get through things sometimes.

Abrazos amiga...

Rachel said...

OH my goodness. No words. I'm praying for you. Is there anything practical (other than prayer) that we can do for you? Want to put up a list of your Must Have Books so we can at least replace those treasured books with serviceable copies? One of my walls in my schoolroom got waterlogged this year, and I lost one shelf of books. I felt ill for weeks, and it is nothing compared to this.

FriĆ°rikssonS (and Parents) said...

My heart goes out to you. My little sister (now 25) has FAS. I have seen how heartbreaking it is up close - I have watched my mother cry countless times because of the struggles. But not once was there regret that we adopted her. I love her. It is this painful kind of loving - because one wishes it could change for their sake.
We are praying for you and your little one!

Sarah said...


Traci said...

Every moment my brain came to last night while sleeping you and little Oli were brought to mind. I prayed every time. MG thank you for being a Mommy to this little boy.

Lisa H. said...

Two years ago my middle child (my dearest, lovingest child) flooded several rooms of our house, including a bookshelf & all of my scrapbooking stuff (including 10 years of photos). I can truly say that I'm right there with you understanding this moment. I'll be praying for you in the upcoming weeks.

Is there any way we can send you books? Could you post a list of the most important losses so we can help?

Luke said...

Thanks for sharing this, Mary Grace. It's heavy, but it's good.

Hang in there! All I've got is my prayers and a virtual hug:

Lord, I ask that You will continue to watch over Oliver. Give his parents wisdom and insight and the grace they need to care for him. Continue to bless them and provide for them. Amen.



Liz said...

oh , MJ....i am so sorry..i don't even know what to say. i will pray for your whole family-

jessy said...

I am so sorry. I know what you are going through. I know what it is like to be truly afraid that your child will not survive to adulthood, because their brain does not work right.
The age that your Oliver is in right now was a very difficult time for my Marina. I was in a dark place. Almost despair. I want to encourage you. It did get better. I don't know if the Lord worked a miracle, or our training and consistant love and discipline finally, finally, finally, forged pathways in her disconnected brain, but either way, keep praying and keep working! The Russians have a proverb for the storms of life: Pray to God and row to shore.

Julie said...

My heart is with you.
As one adoptive mom to another all I can say is: Keep leaning on Jesus. It's amazing just how much He can take. :)