Hey, it’s Mike. I was cleaning and dusting today and came across something special my mom made. When I was little, mom imprinted my footprint and wrote “Michael Mess” repeatedly around the border. She made this quick piece of artwork. It was once used to put hot pots and pans on the kitchen table. However, it’s too cherished to do its job and is now displayed in our living room.
It got me thinking…
My mom loved pottery. In the basement of my childhood home, my mother had an art studio. She had a large potter’s wheel, a large kiln, and tons of art supplies and tools. Under the stairs, where it was cool and dark, my mother kept large slabs of clay. If you dared to complain about being bored, mom would pull out a slab of clay and start dropping it onto the floor to get the air bubbles out. Before you knew you would be molding and shaping anything you desired. Once finished, mom would often look at her studio and say I made a, “Michael Mess.” It was an amazing way to grow up.
My mom gave us free range to grab almost anything in her studio. Sometimes we’d make things together, creating amazing art pieces, other times I was left to my own to create. I’ve been thinking about how this is something I want to give to our children. I have many fond memories of creating art, both alone and with friends. Maybe we won’t go so far as having a giant kiln in our home, but we will have lots of supplies for kids to do arts, crafts and experiments.
**About the Photo**
Mom imprinted my footprint and wrote “Michael Mess” repeatedly around the border.
While snooping though adoption profiles, I noticed a commonality; many couples portray themselves having perfect lives. I saw big smiles, lovely homes, etc. I thought to myself, “Nobody has perfect lives, why isn’t this reflected and discussed here? If I were considering a family for adoption, I’d want to see that they deal with struggle, not that they go on great vacations.” I’m not being critical of other people, like us, who are online trying to find a true connection. Once I looked back at our own page, I saw that we seem to portray ourselves as a having an unusually perfect life as well.
So, let me fix that. I’m going to talk about a few bumps in the road in our household.
As a married couple, we have disagreements that can lead to one of us being upset. Shocking right! You will be hard pressed to find a marriage that doesn’t. The good news with that is that we are not arguers. We are good at sharing our feelings and differences. We point out what is bothering us and discuss it before things blow up. As a kid, I (Mike) never saw my parents fight. They aired out their differences in private. I’m sure this seems great to some people, but the truth is that I needed to learn to stand up for myself elsewhere. I didn’t have a dialogue or vocabulary to navigate conflicts for a while. I think it’s positive for a kid to see their parents disagree and talk their differences out in a healthy way. It’s healthy for a kid hear someone express their feelings, showing them that their feelings count without violence, demeaning statements and bad language. It’s how we find common ground.
We’ve lost contact with family members. While the majority of our family is wonderful, some extended family do not want to be a part of our lives. Because we are two men married to each other, they think we are going to influence their kids in negative ways. This is something taught to them by their church. We respect that they have these beliefs but will not lie or mislead loved ones about our relationship. We are here, ready with open arms, if they ever want to contact us. Family is important, but for now some are absent. Eric and I are Christians, we just interpret Christianity differently than they do.
While we are not addicts, we have friends and family members who are fighting addiction. I don’t want to go too much into details about this because addiction is a serious matter. I feel anything I would write here is their stories to share, not ours. I will say this, addictions have led people to be missing, to rehabs, jails, half-way houses and back again in a vicious cycle. We also have friends who struggle with addiction, but who have remained clean for years. Addiction affects everyone in the family. The best thing we can do is be there to support one another the best that we can. Addiction can tear families apart. The fact our family has stuck together speaks volumes about the strength of our relationships and love for each other.
We look forward to the joys of parenthood. We also know that we need to prepare our children for the realities of life. I guarantee that there will be times we say the wrong things and make poor decisions. Life is a bumpy ride and we all make mistakes. It’s about how we move forward, how we forgive, and how we treat others with kindness, support and respect. It’s vital that we teach our children how to navigate life when life gets messy.
*To honor how messy life can be, here is a photo taken when we were in the emergency room after Eric got hit by a car in September.