Category Archives: Raimy

“This is NOT home.”

airplane over cochabamba, bolivia, january 2015

Our little mob of weary wanderers rounded the final corner of our 36 hour journey. Mama and Papa caught each others’ eyes and puffed out a breath to prepare for impact.

“You ready for this?” they asked.

“Nope,” they answered.

“Here we go,” they said.

All the kids, with baggage to drag, followed the plod of their parents up the ramp from the airplane to the airport. I saw my parents before they saw us. My mom, my dad, my youngest brother, and my youngest sister came out that chilly Saturday afternoon in January to gather us. You might tell me that was only four days ago; it feels like a lifetime ago.

We left Bolivia. To quote a friend, “It is not so weird that you left, what’s weird is that you are not coming back.” Oh the sting.

The impact of the separation has not yet hit me. I am sure the ones we left back in Bolivia are feeling it. I have been the one left behind, it is excruciating. I can see on the faces of some of my kids the sadness and loneliness. Others beam with relief and renewal. The colors of our emotional profile burn bright like a sunset on fire. Or is it the sunrise?

The transition material tells me that a new beginning starts with an ending. The rites of passage of ancient cultures teach us to face the end, embrace the grief, and move through to the new. Denial, slap a happy-face emoticon on it, fake-it-’til-you-make-it, just won’t do. Honest tears help wash the soul.

It hurts so much, though. And there are so many people so very happy to have us here. And we don’t want to disappoint people. But it is not fair to them if we are dishonest with our “glee” in the hopes to manage their emotions. No. This is not what we want to do. So we sit broken, together. Yet, there does exist happiness in all the grief. Sparks of hope of what will be flare up and our faces make genuine smiles.

Oh yes, I was talking about the airport.

We walked into view. My mom burst with shouts and ran to catch me. My sister cried and wrapped my kids in her arms. My brother said with pride and joy, “My sister!” My dad laughed as he welcomed us all. What was left of my mascara ran down my cheeks. I felt like my heart would explode.

Then I looked around at my children. My oldest stood off to the side, away from the huddle of hugs. I moved over to her. The anger and helplessness radiated from her reddened eyes as she met me with an indictment. Through gritted teeth and a cracking voice she whispered a gruff, “This is NOT home.”

I wrapped her in affirmation and understanding. Yes, I told her, you are right, this is not home. We cried. I told her we would talk later. She nodded.

We grabbed our 12 checked bags off the conveyor belt. I unzipped a few and snatched out sweaters and jackets for all of us. No matter how many layers and hats and scarves and gloves I put on I couldn’t cut the chill. We loaded up the people and the stuff and drove to our borrowed residence. The rest of the day rushed by as we set up beds, tended to the kitchen and bathrooms, and sorted the bags into the rooms.

When just the Washingtons remained in the home warmed by the wonder of heat blown through vents I called Raimy to my side. She initiated the conversation. Her countenance was calmed yet fatigued, and she said, “About what I said… this is not home, yet.”

Yes. That’s right baby.

Love. Be loved.

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Birth Stories – 3 – Timothy

bunny birth stories logoOn Valentines Day of 1999 we confirmed the pregnancy of our 2nd child – not quite one year after our 1st child was born. Again, I cried in fear and an overwhelming sense of helplessness and inadequacy. Married, traveled out of the country, had our first baby, DaRonn lost his father to cancer, we moved to another State, both of us working, DaRonn a full time university student, and we got pregnant again – all in the course of 2 years and 2 months. Talk about some stress!

The pregnancy progressed completely normally. During the third trimester we prepared for a road trip from Missouri to Chicago. My prep consisted of growing our firstborn son and getting him born. DaRonn’s prep consisted of training for a marathon. He was doing it as a fundraiser. Did I mention he was still a full time student (due to graduate shortly after we returned from Chicago) and working to provide for our growing family? During our “free time” also we volunteered at our church leading a marriage small group and spending Saturday mornings at a kids club in a downtown neighborhood.

This pregnancy taught me that children have distinct personalities from the moment they are conceived. Whereas Raimy’s intrauterine movements felt like a butterfly or the gracefulness of a jellyfish, Timothy’s movements were deliberate and almost predictable and scheduled. Raimy remains a free spirit and beautifully flows in grace and softness. Timothy is my scientific, structured thinker who thrives on schedule, predictability, and logic. How fascinating that their traits were identifiable from the very start of their lives in my womb.

Timothy’s due date came and went. We scheduled his induction for the 11th of October. I felt that was providential since Raimy was born on the 11th too. Another cold morning for going to have a baby. The same IV and bag breaking procedures were followed as with my first. This time I wasn’t so happy to be connected to an IV, though. I had the urge to be moving around. They allowed me to walk some but wanted me in bed. So I tried as many positions I could on the bed. I moved around alot!

The laboring time was again around 6 hours long. He was born face up. This means the back of his skull rubbed against my bones as he descended. Usually babies are born with their squishy faces down. When the back of the head pushes on the spine there is no break from the pain between contractions, just a bit of a lesser pain. Still, I opted for only mild pain killers through the IV drip. I was glad that the pushing was started and done in just a 10 minute span.

Timothy Aaron Washington was born in Saint Joseph, Missouri on October 11, 1999 – my first son. This beautiful, round boy weigh a nice 7 1/2 pounds. His low cries sounded like manly moaning. We took him home as soon as we could.

Just weeks later we made the road trip with our family of four to the marathon event. We stopped along the way to nurse and let our toddler run around. The highway rest stops from St. Joe to Chicago are very nice. I enjoyed our trip very much.

We didn’t go out to see the early morning start of the marathon with DaRonn. He told us an estimated time to be near the finish line to see him cross. I loaded the kids up in the double stroller and we found a sunny, grassy spot in the crowd to wait and watch.

I sat with my back against a tree on the frozen ground to nurse my newborn and corral my toddler. I felt so strong, like I could do anything. I watched people of every shape, size, ability, and age cross that finish line. Considering the crowd, the finish-line crossers, and our little trio under the tree had an empowering effect on me. My little son, especially, gave me a sense of strength and worth. I am capable and resourceful thanks to Timothy Aaron.

DaRonn’s race took about 4 1/2 hours. My labor to birth our oldest son took about 6 hours. As a couple we supported each other during these tremendous physical feats. We made a good team.

December 1999, Timothy 2 months, Raimy 1 1/2 years, married 3 years.
December 1999, Timothy 2 months, Raimy 1 1/2 years, married 3 years.

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Birth Stories – 2 – Raimy

bunny birth stories logoSeven months after we were married DaRonn and I found ourselves in the beautiful yet smoggy city of San Jose, Costa Rica. For a month we led a group of 25 teens in evangelistic drama outreach. Our band of youth made up just 1/4 of all the kids who went to Costa Rica that year with Teen Mania. Every morning all 100 of us started our day with a big plate of rice and beans with a side of papaya for breakfast. In full costume and makeup we then loaded up in our respective buses to go out to the various drama sites scheduled for that day. To keep energetic teens occupied the pace was designed to be a bit grueling.

Inevitably on the first bus ride of the day through the congested down-town streets I would lose every bit of what I could force myself to eat from breakfast. After many days of this I stopped coming down for the morning meal. DaRonn graciously talked to the hotel people about a different option for me, something simple like cereal and milk. They brought stale Frosted Flakes in a tiny tea cup with a side of warm, frothy milk. This did not help my tummy problems. Every morning I made myself eat with the team, at least a little bit. Every morning I puked it right back up.

Near the end of the trip the leader of a different group of kids, who happened to be a nurse, asked if we might be pregnant. The purchase of an “embarazada” test at the corner pharmacy was laughable. “Embarazada” is the Spanish word for pregnant and it sounds similar to the English word “embarrassed”. It was very embarrassing as we tried with hand motions and discrete whispers to make the old man understand what we needed.

Back in our tiny shoe-box hotel room with the unforgettable grimy turquoise walls we sat on the edge of the creaky bed waiting for the results. By the dim light of that little bedside lamp we discovered we were expecting our first child. The head-honcho leader lady came in and started jumping on our bed making whooping noises. (I can only imagine what the people downstairs might have thought.) She was so very happy for us. I cried.

Costa Rica, 1997
This is a page from the scrapbook I put together of our month in Costa Rica. I was 21 and DaRonn was 22. I didn’t know it at the time but I was pregnant in this picture; we found out the evening of the day this photo was taken.

I learned later that this sweet woman celebrating our news had lost twins not a year before in a miscarriage. What a brave and kind woman to literally jump for joy for us. I am so grateful there was someone there to be happy about the pregnancy. I only cried – in fear, out-of-control fear. Logic said it was too early. DaRonn was not done with school. Our finances needed help. I was worried. Yet my life-long dreams of being a wife and mother were coming true.

In the first trimester I began to bleed. I felt an unusual faith rise up in me. I commanded my body to work properly. I commanded my baby to remain safely in me. I went to battle driving out every evil I could think of with the authority of a child of God fully aware of the power available to me. The bleeding stopped. I felt complete peace and absence of fear.

Shortly thereafter I went to the appointment with the government subsidized doctor. No abnormalities were found. Baby and I were found to be in perfect health. The rest of the pregnancy went smoothly. I craved macaroni and cheese quite a bit.

Raimy’s due date came and went. Ten days passed and they wanted to schedule an induction. At two weeks after her due date we went in early on a cool March morning. They hooked me up to an IV drip of Pitocin. The contractions started immediately. After some progression they broke the bag of waters.

The music I chose that played the whole time I labored was a guitar instrumental.  DaRonn was at my side the whole time as the worship songs on the CD filled the room. The one song I remember especially is “As the Deer Panteth for the Water so my Soul Longeth after Thee…” The soothing music, low lighting in the birthing room, and a mild pain killer to take the edge off dripped in with the magic contraction chemicals made for a pleasant labor. I was actually glad to be “stuck” in one place with the IV so that I could focus on making each contraction a progressive one.

Labor lasted six hours. Six short minutes of pushing followed. I suffered a small tear that was discovered too late to be stitched up.

Raimy was born just over 7 pounds on March 11, 1998 in Omaha, Nebraska. DaRonn didn’t want them to rush her off to check her out. He was worried and wanted her with us. I felt accomplished, calm, and assured. I was very happy to bring her into this world.

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Girl Power

sanfranciscodeasis flores 05

We approached the new park and started scoping out photo ops. My daughter is almost 15 years old. She and I share a love for photography. Our cameras were poised for the first clicks when a couple guys sauntered over to a bench and plopped themselves down, knees spread, heads cocked. The comments began as low whispers and lusty laughs, as is common from college aged guys in these parts.

“Mama, those guys are making me feel weird.”

“I know, just try to ignore them. Maybe they’ll go away.”

They didn’t. We tried to continue taking pictures. I came up closer to them to see if that would curb their increasing taunts. They whistled. Then they made a comment about my camera. That did it. The following conversation took place in excellent, and very confident Spanish.

“Are you talking to me?” I said, with the tone of a hot and bothered momma. “Because if you are talking to me about my camera then you need to be quiet and leave me alone.” They looked at their shoes. One started to mumble a pitiful apology. “What’s that you say? You say you are sorry? Fine. I accept your apology. And you are not the only one who needs to apologize.” I looked at the other kid. It looked like he wanted to laugh but the embarrassed death stare his buddy gave him convinced him otherwise. He also gave me a halfhearted apology. I looked them both over with a very stern face and continued, “Good. Now you both need to leave us in peace. Please.” They bent their heads down, got up slowly, and shuffled away.

Had they been drunk we would have gotten back into the truck. Had they showed the least inkling of physical initiative by actually rising from the bench and approaching us in aggression we would have headed to our vehicle. Had I never seen this sophomoric behavior that plays itself out almost daily I might have been scared enough to skedaddle. Had they not shown their true docility by a different response to my first question I would have taken Raimy to the truck immediately. But the fact that they just sat there, stunned, and were so quick to apologize, indicated that they needed to be quieted.

After they had gone I went back to Raimy and asked her if she had heard the conversation. She said she saw me confronting them but hadn’t heard anything. I related to her what happened. Her face beamed and she smiled. On her blog today she said I showed, “A lot of girl power!”

Guys here taunt. Girls here flirt. It saddens me to think that girls find this attention validating. It disgusts me that machismo is seen as normal in this country. While I wish my daughters would never have to deal with this kind of situation, it was good for Raimy to watch me take action and not put up with it.

Mothers, we need to teach our daughters to value themselves and be strong. We also need to teach our sons to be respectful. That begins by modeling confidence, strength, and respect. Know today that you are worth it. You matter.

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I was her age when I met my husband

He was 15. I was 14.

We went to the same church. He came with the bussed in kids. I rode shot got in the big van our parents used to bus the kids in.

Fast forward 6 years and you will see a happily married couple, best friends for life.

Fast forward to today and that same couple is much more happily married almost 16 years later.

Our oldest daughter is the age I was when I met DaRonn.

Wow.

My parents moved us from a privileged part of the city to a neighborhood of diversity. They exposed us to people of different religions, races, and incomes. They taught us to value the richness of humanity.

As parents we moved our family from a privileged nation to a hemisphere of diversity. We are exposing our children to people of different languages, histories, and cultures. I hope they are learning to value the richness of humanity.

What a thrill to watch the lives of my children unfold.

Wow.

A Step Up

You know the comparison lists people make of pros and cons? Usually we weigh one against the other to help make a decision. Every so often I am sizing up the upbringing of our children looking at the pros and cons. At this moment one of the pros in their extraordinary lives I can see is their colorful friendships. The following pics were taken at the field day on the step bleachers at our school. How beautiful the mix of skin, heritages and languages; just to name a few of the differences giving my kids a step up in life.

Timothy, Abiel, and Fabio
Estefani and Gabrielle
Raimy, Camila, Fernanda, Jesica, Stephanny, and Gianina

Thirteen Thoughts

My oldest daughter turned thirteen today. I am truly happy. Thankful list follows…

  1. She wants to hang with me today getting manicures, making jewelry, and shopping
  2. She still plays with all her siblings
  3. She dreams humongous
  4. She sings at church, even though the other singers are over ten years older than her
  5. She talks to me everyday about everything
  6. She considers deeply about friendship
  7. She rarely complains about sharing a room with her younger sisters
  8. She prays and reads God’s word
  9. She has creativity bursting from every fiber of her being
  10. She has a captivating beauty that shines from the inside out
  11. She writes stories galore
  12. She likes hip-hop dancing and old school rap music
  13. She’s my Raimy Baby forever and always

A self portrait by Raimy with her youngest brother

A Success

Guest post by: Raimy O. Washington

Surely all of you reading must have made a mistake or two in your past. I have made the most mistakes in cooking; it is a bit hard for me. When I was going to bake carrot cake muffins I measured the right amounts and then mixed for the right amount of time. I put the batter in the tray, each one a little bit more than half way full. As I put it in the oven I was sure everything would come together, a few minutes later I found that things really did come together LITERALLY! It was overflowing and it was dripping down the sides in the oven. I didn’t know what to do so I pulled the pan out to clean up the mess. I told Timothy to go get Mama for help. Mama walked into the room as I finished cleaning up and she giggled so Timothy and I did too. She told me it would be ok and she started to pour some of the extra batter into the trash so we could have the right amount this time. I felt a little down but then Mama told me that she had problems in cooking when she was a kid too. She told me a story about her baking cookies with cinnamon. It made me feel a little better but when I checked on the muffins I was worried they would turn out wrong. A few minutes later I checked on them and they still looked a little funny but Mama put them in bowls and they looked super cute. That day I learned two things: one, mama is always there to help me; and two, how much batter to put in for muffins.

Timothy enjoying some of the scraps
super cute bowls
carrot cake breakfast bowls

Photos and true story by: Raimy O. Washington

Trail Mix

Now on with the crunchy, munchy, mixed-up life I lead…

  • Pomegranate season has begun! For the the next four to six weeks my fingers will be tainted purple. Yum!
  • Third week of the 2011 school year started yesterday.
  • Due to strikes in the city two days of school were canceled last week.
  • The city is also gearing up for the yearly week long festival called ‘Carnaval’.
  • After Carnaval comes the birthday of my eldest. We will be parents of a teenager!
  • After that momentous occasion our interns will have their baby.
  • I’ve got babies and birthdays on the brain since the 27th of this month marks 9 months since we brought Kaitlynn home. Need to journal my thoughts about the significance of that date.
  • Do you read the blog we do for the orphanage? Three times a week we have stories going up about The House of Dreams. Here’s the link: http://houseofdreamsorphanage.wordpress.com/
  • Last night I taught a group of people how to eat sushi.
  • I keep replaying in my mind a sentence that my husband said to me yesterday that made me feel so very loved.