Around here when something makes me nervous it was described as “giving me hives”. It’s one of the familial shorthands that has evolved over time in the FullPlateHome. When the kids are doing something dangerous I used to tell them “HEY! The way you’re balancing on that wall 40 feet in the air is giving me hives. GET DOWN!” *Editor’s Note: No child in the FullPlate Home has ever balanced on a wall 40 feet in the air, at least, not that FPM or FPD are aware of. Please DO NOT send CPS to their home*
Over the years, “giving me hives” has been shortened to “making me itch”. As FPD pretends to drop Dolly in a way that elicits HUGE squeals of delight from her, but a nervous tick from me, I remind him that she has a huge heart defect and that this action is “making me itch”. In other words, it’s making me very nervous. I’m a nervous mom. It’s what we do, folks, especially when your baby has that extra little need (like 2/3s of a heart).
I get nervous about a lot of things. Asking for help is one of the main ones. It’s not like I pretend to be perfect, or want to be one of those Stepford wives. In fact, I do everything I can to let people know I’m NOT perfect. When people tell me “you’re my hero” just because I have eight kids and I manage to get dressed (well, usually) on a day-to-day basis, I remind them that I’m no hero, that my kids are the heroes for being so amazingly strong and brave. I’m no ones hero.
I was in my last year of high school when Hillary Clinton published her “It Takes a Village” book. I remember thinking how stupid that was. Raise your own children already. Good lord.
Then, I had eight children.
Adopting Dolly has made the village come alive. We have so many people who volunteered to help us. I have yet to be able to thank them all. We hope to do that, in a big way, as soon as life evens out a little again.
There are two moms who actually took time away from their families to sleep at our house while I was in China to make sure that FPD could still work while I was gone. That is the first time I have let anyone do that, outside of our family, do this. I wasn’t sure they really meant it when they offered, until they did it. Amazing, and so needed.
I have a dad who traveled all the way to China to be with Dolly and I. I got sick, he took care of Dolly. She got fussy, he carried her all around the lobby of the hotel. We toured China together, and then we flew home, on a very long flight, with a baby neither of us was totally sure would live through the flight. We never discussed that possibility, thankfully, we just both soldiered on, happy to be coming home with this amazing baby who had bonded to her “bupa” instantly.
When we got home and started going to MANY medical appointments, my mom immediately stepped up to fill the gap. She hasn’t always understood me. I haven’t always understood her. But, here we are now, all of us working to do what is best for the eight amazing children that she calls her grandchildren. There was never any doubt that she would love Dolly. And, she does. She never questions when I ask her to watch the kids and they LOVE going to her house where she has a play room, a craft box and, inevitably, a very grandma’s house style cookie baking session.
My mother-in-law does the same for our poor neglected beagle. She takes him to the dog park for us and spoils him with treats too. As much as we complain about our stupid dog (he is stupid, beagles don’t rank highly on the doggy intelligence index, the loyalty index, that’s a different story), he is part of our family. We’re grateful not to have to worry about him. She also came and slept here with the kids while I was gone. She just lost her husband, and she is still so supportive of our kids, setting aside her own pain to be there for us.
My brother and sister-in-law never fail either. I snapped this picture at Christmas this year, and while not the best quality, it’s pretty indicative of how awesome my brother is with our boys. He likes the people they are becoming. He likes that they are becoming some pretty good little soccer players, and came to nearly every one of their games this fall. While he is the man with the older kids, my sister-in-law has endless patience for the little kids. Bubbly and Giganto can be annoying. She would never let them know that. She’s a 1st grade teacher, sets the limits we would set, but is otherwise, is a source of endless fun for our twinadoes and our Diva.
Then there are the people I work with. I was off for six weeks at a time when it wasn’t incredibly convenient. As we move forward with surgical plans, I will be off for 2-3 more weeks. I have never heard an utterance of a complaint, only support, for what we are trying to do in our home. They give notes of support and are constantly filling in for me. I’m a girl who likes to hold my own in the workplace, never letting how many kids I have come into play. It’s in play now, and no one has ever said a negative word about it. I work for, and with, people who are totally committed to healing children, mine included.
The people who work for me have been so understanding too. So has my amazing business partner. She has shouldered so much of the day-to-day running of our business. I can’t do a lot of what I did before. I’m not nearly as present as I should be. Everyone has stepped up to make sure I know how much they support us.
The financial gifts, oh my gosh, these stun me. We’re not hurting per say, but Dolly’s medical care is costing us as a family. A wonderful church gave us a financial gift that has been earmarked for travel expenses for Dolly, to help make sure we aren’t limited when it comes to where she’ll receive care. We’ll begin to use that next week when we drive nearly two hours away to meet with another surgeon who may be more qualified when it comes to Dolly’s heart. Our extended family made sure our kids had a wonderful Christmas, even though the number of kids in our home makes that an expensive prospect. They all amaze me.
So, even when it makes me itch, I have learned that it really does take a village, and that the village will move in ways you never imagined at the time you need it most.
who couldn’t be more thankful for her village.