[Every Friday for the first two months of 2013, DWLA will feature a story from Barbara Shipka's blog about her personal experiences with adoption and parenting. We will sample a story from each of eight categories: 1) Before; 2) In Peru; 3) We’re Home; 4) 2 – 6 years old; 5) 6 – 12 years old; 6) 12 – 18 years old; 7) 18 + years old; 8) Musing / Thruout. Barbara's son Michael's video was showcased in Gifts to the World.]
by Barbara Shipka
We had been on a winter road trip and had just left Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we spent Christmas 2001. We even found arestaurant that served both rack of lamb and pizza for Christmas Eve dinner!
Now we were heading east and south toward home. It was a beautiful blue-sky day with the sun shining on the new snow that had fallen during the night. Windless…several inches of snow sat atop fence posts and the occasional mailbox.
I was breathless in awe at the rugged, articulated beauty of these mountains! Perhaps the most spectacular I had ever seen!
As we drove along, I wanted to share recognition of this abundant beauty with Michael. He was about 10 at the time. He sat in the backseat, occupying himself listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on tape and reading along. As a result, he wasn’t looking out the window so I asked him to pause the tape and said, “Michael! Just look at how incredibly beautiful these mountains are.”
His response? “Mom, we have been looking at mountains every day since we left home! You know what I think? These mountains are just more rocks with snow on them!”
Wow! That these glorious giants might be seen as “just more rocks with snow on them” had NEVER occurred to me…
I mused for some time after that. I wondered what brings me to having experiences of some physical places which are so compelling that I am moved emotionally by their magnificence. And I wondered whether there was something I could/should do to bring Michael to a “place” of appreciation.
This led me to reflecting on how often during this trip he had shown appreciation. For example, there was the farm we visited where he named the sheep the “Baa-Baa Crew,” the early morning sun, the mist and the flocks of birds over The Great Salt Lake, the mountain goat we stopped to watch as he stood right on the road, the bison grazing in the Black Hills…and I noticed his theme of animals. He was so appreciative in these situations, in fact, that each time he didn’t want to leave. I also reflected on how much he loves our dog, Bibi, and how well he had taken care of her throughout this trip. All of these years later, we are fortunate that Bibi is still a member of our family! (Addenda: Bibi left us at 17 years old on Sunday, March 27, 2011.)
So…I finished my musing with appreciation for Michael in general and, in specific, I was appreciating that he was able to accurately give me a glimpse into his honest experience at that moment. I was also appreciating that we are different and that we see the world in different ways. Magnificent!
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder!
[Photo by Barbara, Big Horn Sheep, Banff, Alberta, 2011]
Barbara is a single mom and was in her mid-forties when she adopted her son, Michael. He was 10 weeks old at the time. Together, they spent many months navigating through the rather overwhelming legal processes for adoption in Peru. Today, as a junior at the University of Minnesota, Michael is majoring in Native American Studies.
For much of her career, Barbara has been an executive leadership coach and organization effective consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Another part of her career has been working in education and with non-governmental organizations in Europe, The Middle East, Africa, and The Caribbean. Over the last twenty years, in addition to becoming a mother, she has also become an author and artist. You can learn more at http://www.barbarashipka.com
These blog posts are snapshots from Barbara’s collection of stories about her experiences of their life together from March 1991 to today. Visit her blog, Adoption and Parenting, to read more of her stories. When you arrive, click on “Label” under “Home” where you see the tabs Recent…Date…LABEL…Author. This will rearrange the stories into 8 categories: