Saturday, October 20, 2012

teach me to braid

My mom had been encouraging me to start a blog for years. She knows that I love to write and that I have a lot to say. So during those weeks when the genetic family was considering us as a potential adoptive family for their embryos, I started to seriously consider the possibility. I didn't expect very many people would want to read it but I thought it would be cool to keep track of our future children's story so that they would know how they came to be Ericksons. I wanted them to be able to read about how much their parents wanted them and how hard we worked to bring them here.

After nursing Harriet and climbing back into bed one night, a title for the blog just sort of popped into my head...teach me to braid. The meaning is two-fold. I came up with the idea when I realized that if we have an African American child, I'm going to need to learn how to braid hair. I'm super intimidated by that prospect because I can hardly manage a ponytail some days. But it's part of the culture so I want to give it a shot. "Teach me to braid" has a deeper meaning too - the idea of braiding together cultures and skin colors to create a family. I put the "teach me" part in there rather than calling it "learning to braid"  because I want to acknowledge that I'm going to need lots of help in this process - from other adoptive parents, people who share our child(ren)'s ethnicity, etc. They will all be our teachers and I want to have an open, teachable heart. That's part of the reason I started the blog - to jump into this adoption/infertility community online.

When the embryo adoption fell through, we were bummed. Really bummed. It sounds so trivial but one of the first things I thought about was this blog. Wait a second, I thought, this was my plan. We were going to create a family that blends genes and cultures and skin colors. I was going to chronicle all of this, share it. Now what?

So I stopped writing for a while. What was the point?

When I started writing again, I decided not to change the name. We really hope to have a multiethnic family someday, but even if we don't, "teach me to braid" can mean a lot of things. Maybe all of our kids will be white. Maybe they'll all share our genes and maybe my braiding career will consist of twisting blonde hair into french braids. But that's still braiding, right? And as a mom, won't I need to learn to braid my career with my family life? Won't I need to teach my children to braid justice with mercy, humility with confidence, education with experience, gentleness with strength, joy with sorrow... Won't I need to keep myself accountable to enriching my own life with other cultures and perspectives? So even if my hands never weave a cornrow, a fishtail, or a french...I'll be braiding.

Harriet's godmother sent me this poem a couple weeks ago. The further I got into the poem, the more vividly I remembered reading it as a child. It's such a beautiful piece of writing. I had to share it with you. I think Corrie Ten Boom knew a thing or two about braiding.

The Weaving

My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Oftimes he weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.
Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern he has planned.
—Corrie ten Boom





19 comments:

  1. Love to know the meanings behind blog titles. I emailed you last night, but forgot to tell you that a friend of mine did embryo adoption and had twins. They live in the mpls area...but used the NDEC in TN for things. Let me know if you'd like to connect with her.

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  2. you will be helping so many people. I am not struggling with infertility or trying to adopt a child or embryo, but I have my own sorrows and heartbreaks, and your blog touched my heart. We all have to be taught to braid, no matter what stage in life we are in, and that poem was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. i love you.

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  3. Love learning the meaning of your blog and that poem. I especially loved this line of your blog "Won't I need to teach my children to braid justice with mercy, humility with confidence, education with experience, gentleness with strength, joy with sorrow..." - those are things I want to teach my daughter as well. I am glad you started this blog - unfortuntately infertility hits close to home for too many people and it is really nice to know you are not the only one!

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  4. Mel, Thanks so much for reading my blog. I'm glad we've connected again and I'm looking forward to keeping up with your journey. I'd love to connect with your friend. Maybe email me her info if she's okay with that.

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  5. Karla, It is so wonderful to know that the my writing is useful to others. Your comment was so kind and encouraging. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and to respond.

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  6. Jackie, Thank you for your comment. It's a great poem, isn't it?! My prayer is that we will all be able to teach our children to braid and balance these things mentioned above. I'm sure you're already doing a beautiful job with your little one.

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  7. I love so many things about this post...I love your heart and your teachable, willing spirit. I love imagining me teaching you to braid your little brown girls hair. I love the poem and that your your daughters godmother sent it to you, makes me love her sensitive heart. I was moved by this and I know you are a fantastic mama. Bless you and so happy to have met online.

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    1. No comment on my blog has made me cry as hard as this one. Especially the third sentence. I just keep reading it over and over with tears streaming down my face.

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    2. and then I cried too .... first time here and just reading, and learning .... and crying.

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  8. I enjoyed reading your blog. Although I am a great-grandmother,and already raised our two daughters it was a good reading. Never looked at rearing them the same as you did,even before they arrived. They came and I did what Should be done and Enjoyed every minute of it.

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  9. A friend of mine just shared this blog on FB. For some reason I opened it and read your story. I wanted to tell you that you are a gifted writer and you touched my very soul today. Thank you. I "felt" your words, especially the part where you just started to write again and the poem you shared. Beautifully stated. God Bless and keep you and your family!

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  10. We don't do braids in Australia, we plait hair. Same thing really, just that we use a different word. It just means combining multiple strands to make one, which is what we are doing when we make a family anyway, isn't it. Parents, children, maybe grandparents and other relations, all woven together into one strong cord. I had very long hair as a child- like Rapunzel- so someone else had to braid, or plait my hair every day. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.

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  11. after reading your blogs... this one gave me cause to reply... "Teach Me To Braid"... you already know how to braid... you do it everyday.... you braid you husband, your children and yourself into a loving family... and the tie that holds that braid.... that is your faith in God! thank you for your blog... may you continue to have a wonderful and loving life! Keep the Faith!

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  12. Love the story behind the title of the blog...From one adoptive mom to another -- if you ever need to know how to physically braid hair for a multi-ethnic family, "Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care" is a great blog and book.

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  13. You are a beautiful soul. Keep writing, keep sharing and keep teaching the world to braid.

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  14. I think of that verse Ecclesiastes 4:12 when you say "teach me to braid".
    And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. The typical braid is 3 strands. It is very strong, beautiful & holds together well. It sounds as you learn how to braid, the Lord is growing you stronger & making you more beautiful in the process.

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  15. loved the meaning behind your blog title. thank you for sharing that poem--loved that as well. i too am hoping to weave more children into my family. best of luck to you in your journey

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