Category Archives: Tessa

WWSMD? What Would a SAINTLY Mother Do?

So I’m sitting at my kitchen table, keeping an eye on the kids in the backyard while I work on the laptop. I’ve got reports spread all over the table with inky notes on them representing hours of analysis.

Tessa asks if she can turn on the hose. I say yes and watch her do so, telling her to turn down the pressure a bit.

Tessa and Reed squirt each other an squeal with delight for several minutes. I step away for a moment to put laundry into the dryer.

When I get back, Holy Crapoly! Water is showering in through the kitchen window — all over the laptop and the my clients’ photos.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” I yell loud enough to scare the neighbors. I can see that Tessa has attached a fan-type sprinkler to the end of the previously naked hose, and she’s ordered Reed to turn on the water full blast, which he does in his usual dutiful manner. “TURN OFF THE WATER…..IF YOU DON’T TURN THAT OFF RIGHT NOW I’M GONNA…” The thoughts are finished in my head, but luckily the words don’t come out of my mouth.

In an instant I decide to head for the water source, though in hindsight it would have been better to get to the window and close it.

I’m blocked at the door by the spray of water, but I forge through and take the patio steps down two at a time to the faucet and turn it off.

“Get inside the house. NOW!” I yell. Reed begins to cry. I laser my anger at Tessa.

I scream at her with my aching, streppy throat: “You’re SIX!” (This fact needs to be pointed out to her frequently, since Tessa believes she’s actually 19 and can thus remove splinters from her brother’s thumb with a needle, watch Sex and the City DVDs with me, answer my business telephone, and boil water for french-pressed coffee — which resulted yesterday in a burned potholder.) “You do NOT get to put on sprinklers! YOU’RE FREAKING SIX!!

By now I am totally out of control, shaking my head like a crazy woman and waving my arms madly.

“Look at this table! My computer is ruined — and the reports, too!” They scamper inside. “Get in your rooms, both of you!”

To unload some of my anger I stomp my feet on the kitchen floor. This scares Reed, who is terrified in his room, crying that he didn’t do anything (which is mostly true). I feel bad for him.

Tessa is at first defiant. “I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” she matches my anger. “Reed turned on the water; IT’S REED’S FAULT!”

This re-enrages me. “You’re SIX and he’s FOUR! You TOLD him to turn it on! Whatever happens to the computer is YOUR — FAULT! YOU’RE — SIX!” my teeth are gritted as I struggle to avoid words I’d regret.

I see myself out of control, ugly, mean. But I can’t stop. I know I’m going to wish I’d handled this better, more calmly. And since all the windows are open, I’m sure the neighbors are hearing my rant. I wonder if anyone is calling social services, or the state mental hospital.

I grab a towel and wipe off the laptop. Luckily, it’s positioning has protected the keyboard and screen, and I’m able to wipe off the non-vital parts. No harm. My pulse rate begins to lower, and I consciously breathe. I remember that Reed is scared.

I go to his room and tell him it’s OK. That it was an accident and he couldn’t have known what would happen. I apologize to him for losing my cool.

By now, Tessa has also come around. I can hear her in her room sobbing, “It’s all my fault. I ruined Mom’s computer. It was me. All me.”

I go in and embrace her. I tell her we were lucky — the computer isn’t ruined. I tell her, “Tessa, you’re six. You could not have known what would happen when you attached that sprinkler, but I could. That’s why you need to ask anytime you do something new.” I also acknowledge the fact that she has taken responsibility.

She nods. She cries and apologizes. We gather the papers and she helps me clean up the table.

What Would a Saintly Mother Do? Don’t ask me. I’m more Joan Crawford than Mother Theresa. Today, anyway.

In Adoption, Last Means Best

I had long struggled with the idea of adoption as a second choice — pregnancy being the default setting and thus, first choice. After all, I had ended up in exactly the right place. I wouldn’t want my family to be any different than who we are. But how to explain this to my children, who are likely to ask questions in the coming years?

One day I came across Melissa at Stirrup Queens, who addresses the term “second” as a chronological term rather than an ordinal term.

is adoption second choice

Was Roger my first choice as a husband? Well, considering I kissed a few frogs before I even met him, Roger wasn’t chronologically my first choice. I wonder how my life would be now if I’d ended up with Alan, the boy who helped me collect worms one day when we were 8. Or Dave, the disk jockey turned radio-mogul, or Bill-the-farmer or Carl-the-slacker or Ike-the-commitment-phobe.

Roger was definitely my best choice. But I meandered to get to him. The meandering is what made me worthy of him and appreciative of him.

It’s oddly coincidental. Tessa developed her first crush this week during Vacation Bible School. She is smitten with a boy double her age, a 6th grader named Cory. She dressed for him, had me braid her hair for him, talked incessantly about him, and dreamed of him. She claims she’ll marry him.

Not very likely. Cory may be her first, but what matters is the last. That’s the keeper.

Just like Tessa, and just like Reed. My meandering to them is what makes me worthy of them. The process of our family forming was absolutely the best choice, even if we started out not knowing that.

Image: Idea go /


Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.