Malcolm returned home from Afghanistan in one piece, which was the best way to start 2014.
|That's the Malcy Poo in the third row on the left! Just returning from Afghanistan!|
|Mom and Malcy Poo right after returning from Afghanistan.|
Malcolm has one semester left at Purdue and whether he finishes that tomorrow or two years from now makes absolutely no difference to me. As long as he's happy with his life and moving in a positive direction, I cannot ask for anything more. It's funny how much my attitude about that has changed in recent years. Despite the fact that I genuinely gravitate toward not normal, there
In terms of my other amazing child, he continues to teach me that he is quite capable of carving out his own unique path, thank you very much. Mychael and his new wife, Constance, are doing really well. Did I mention that they got married? That was truly one of the happiest days of my life. Constance brings out a side of Mychael that I have never witnessed. It's amazing. They got married at a little pavilion at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Mychael planned the entire thing, and it was extremely sweet. There were six of us in attendance: Mychael, Constance, her mom, me, Will and the woman who married them. Little C stayed home because he was under the weather. The sentiments that Mychael expressed to Constance during his vows were so raw and emotional. Not to mention, the way Constance talked about my son (MY SON) during her vows was incredible. I learned that day what it means to cry tears of joy. Okay, to sob tears of joy. The fact that Mychael has found this level of connection with another human being is a gift from God. I am so thankful for my beautiful daughter Constance and grandson Little C!
Mychael is planning to adopt their son Little C, but has to wait a period of time before doing so. During this period of time, he has to prove his worthiness to be legally identified as Little C's father. What does this entail? Among other things, he has to be present in his life, serve as a willing participant and loving member of their beautiful family and help contribute to Little C's living expenses. As long as he does all these things successfully, he has the chance to become Little C's legally recognized dad. Of course in order for this to occur, he will have to dethrone the biological father. We all know him, he's the one who has done nothing from day one, but was handed the title because he donated the sperm. That's fair. I mean really, it makes total sense that Mychael has to battle to be legally acknowledged for the role that he already plays in Little C's life. Oh, but you already know this so well. It's interesting how much more this irritates me as I watch my son go through it than it did when I went through it. Maybe it's just been long enough that I have forgotten.
|Little C's first day of school|
The other day Mychael asked me if I could please address packages to his son using the last name Thompson versus Constance's last name (I refuse to acknowledge bio dad's last name). He said, "I took him to the Y the other day and they gave me all this grief because he doesn't have my last name. I get tired of having to prove that he's my son." Been there, done that. Notice I didn't say doing that. After fifteen years, I don't feel fraudulent at all when I say that Mychael and Malcolm are my sons. If someone can't look at us and see that, that's their problem. We're innocent.
When Mychael met Constance and Little C, his life changed in amazing ways. Frankly, all of our lives changed in amazing ways.
Mychael takes his role as dad very seriously and is such a great father. It's really rewarding watching him in the parents role. He now appreciates all the things I use to teach him. Constance always notes all the ways that Mychael infuses Thompson values and traditions into their lives. Had you asked me five years ago if I though Mychael would end up this content and happy, I would have said no. I would have been really sad to say no, but I would have said no nonetheless. Thank God for them. Malcolm talks about wanting to adopt one day, too. Being able to serve as the adoptive parent has definitely helped Mychael appreciate how much we love him. His relationship with Little C is therapeutic. Every experience that he has with his son is another opportunity for him to appreciate how much he is loved. How beautiful is that?
Did I mention before that Little C was born with a very rare illness that required him to spend the majority of his first two years of life in the hospital? The fact that he's alive today is a testament to Constance's love, perseverance, dedication and commitment. He still requires constant care in order to be healthy and thriving, and they make sure that he receives it. It's a very stressful situation and yet, they do an amazing job of normalizing the experience. On the surface, Little C looks like every other normal three (almost four) year old. Constance loves our philosophy about normal. However, she admits that she initially wanted the easier route, the normal route. Yet, she knows that part of what makes her so wonderful and amazing are all the things she has learned throughout the not so normal trials and tribulations of the last four years.
One of Little C's nurses gave her this poem that was written by a parent of a child with special needs. Constance sent it to us sometime last year. It is a beautiful poem in which so many parents with unique circumstances can relate. It's good for us to be reminded that even when there is a mom and a dad, and matching genes and skin tones, it's not necessarily easy.
Personally, I prefer Holland.
by Emily Perl Kingsley
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...…
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
|At Mychael's in August|
|I love the grandma and aunt role! It's so much easier!|
|Malc with Mom and Paul|
|August in NC. Yes, we are missing Malc. He had just returned to Purdue|
|Shawn meets his niece for the first time|
|The first night we met Constance. It was Mychael's birthday. We went to El Jarocho, which is the best Mexican place in Philly!|