Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Four

My baby girl turned four today.  It still blows me away.  I know it's a total cliche to wonder over how time flies when you have little ones, but it does and I do.  Still, there is no slowing it down, and so to my big, beautiful four year old girl I say this:

You are such an absolute delight.  Such a very independent girl who loves to do what she can for herself but still happy to let us know when she needs a little reassurance from mom and dad in the form of cuddles.  You do not like it when we use a cross tone with you, though you have been experimenting some with expressing your anger lately.  A couple of times you have told me, "I don't love you!"  I know you are just struggling to find your way and always reassure you that I will always love you.  More often you will spontaneously proclaim your love for me or daddy.

You say so many funny things that leave your daddy and I exchanging bemused glances.  A new one lately has been: "I'm freaking out."  You usually say this when you are being a little funny.  You are an excellent speaker and have been starting on reading.  You can sound out words and even recognize some sight words.  You love learning and creating.  Pre school is one of your favorite things to do and you go 3 days a week from 9am - noon.

You are so social now and love playing with all of our family and friends and their kids.  You are also much more confident in making friends at places like the library and play areas.  You love to play with the IPad, My Little Ponies, Leap Pad, anything arts and crafts and princesses.  You got a scooter today and it took many agonizing minutes to go up and down our block but you didn't give up at all.  You often need encouragement but are willing to practice until you master skills.

You are a delight, pure and simple.  We are so lucky to share our lives with you and see the world unfold through your beautiful, vibrant eyes.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Before the Funeral

Almost twenty years have passed since I got the call.  If I close my eyes, I can still feel the grating of the ringing phone jolting me awake as I slept alone in my dorm room.  It was my aunt, my mother's sister.  I can't recall the specifics of the conversation, only that at some point my aunt interrupted me saying, "You can't what?"

What was she talking about?  Only then did I become aware that I had been chanting the words, "I can't, I can't, I can't."  It came out unconsciously, but the sentiment encompassed exactly what I needed to convey.  I can't cope with this news.  I can't understand what is happening.  I can't lose my mother.  I can't.

Days and calls and car rides went by in a blur.  Those times are just flashes for me, my memory allowing me a glimpse here and there but not a full review of the time.  Perhaps this is the protective nature of my memory; more likely the result of the shock.

As with all deaths, especially those involving a younger person (my mother was 44), there were lots of family dynamics to negotiate.  Divorced parents, step parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.  I followed in a daze, staying where the adults told me.  I stayed near my aunt's side and held all others at arm's length.

My step father was the furthest.  We had never had a good relationship, and now my feelings for him bubbled with rage and hatred.  Why did he get to live while she was gone?  Why was my access to all that she ever was now to be run through him?

On the day of the viewing (a word I have always hated, a word that makes it sounds like you're going to see a lovely movie), I made it into the front door of the funeral home and immediately found a small anteroom where I sat alternately crying quietly and staring off into space.  I can't say how much time went by.  I heard the tears and cries from the next room.  I heard my grandmother's screams as she tried to say goodbye to her oldest child.  Still, I sat in that room.  I made no attempt to rise.  I was not ready to see her body.

Eventually, my absence registered with grieving family members.  Who it was that came to find me initially I cannot recall.  What I do remember is that my aunt, my most trusted confidant so far, and her husband eventually got me to stand.  I started to walk with them and then knew, knew that it wasn't time yet.  But they thought otherwise, taking me by my arms and pulling me, pushing me, dragging me across the lobby toward the room where my mother's body lay.  I began to struggle, to cry, but their grip tightened.  And then, suddenly, he was there.  My step father.  Taking my arm himself,  insisting that I didn't have to go if I didn't want to.  Opening the front door of the funeral home and taking me outside for a walk.  Giving me the moment I so desperately needed to gather up my courage.  When we returned, I was finally able to face the goodbye ahead of me.

Twenty years later, I see that time through a lens fogged by time and experience.  The 39 year old me is a kinder, gentler and much more forgiving version of that 19 year old girl.  But I see her and I know what she didn't know at that time: her step father had just planted the seed of kindness that would surprise her beyond belief by flourishing into a rich, vital relationship in her life.

He is not, never was, a perfect man.  Theirs was not a perfect relationship.  But in those moments, I was first able to realize that he had genuine love for me, for our family.  While other family members spent time trying, successfully, to take my mother's things for themselves from his home, he guarded things, saved them for me.  Gave me her engagement ring and clothing and cedar chest.  Hauled around large items through years and moves until I was ready to settle down and collect them for myself.  Helped me buy a car and pay for my wedding and buy a tank of gas each time I saw him.

There are family and friends who will never understand why I remain close with him, but for me, it all comes down to that moment before the funeral.  There I was, needing to be saved, and there he was, ready to save me.  Just like a father would.  It was then that our relationship really began.  My brother had always called him "Pop, a term I had rejected because I refused to give him that much respect.  The child that I was could only see his flaws and would grant him no mercy from them.  The woman I became is honored to have him in her life, grateful for all he has ever given, honored to call this broken, imperfect man her Pop.  And so lucky that he was there for me, before, and after, the funeral.

Monday, March 18, 2013

On your mark, get set, wait.

We became active with our adoption agency a little over a week ago.  I didn't post about it because it is a strange and exciting thing, something of a non-event.  On one hand, it signifies that we ate that elephant and finished the mountains of tasks necessary to get this point.  On the other, it marks the beginning of a strange and ill defined waiting period.

I'll be the first to admit that I have very little patience for waiting.  Even during my regular pregnancies I nearly drove myself mad with the desire for the baby to hurry up and get here already!  This is another animal entirely.  Not knowing how long the wait will be - a baby could come tomorrow or 10 months from now - is a bit anxiety producing.  Each time the phone rings I can feel the panic/excitement/thrill building inside of me that this could be THE CALL.  Family and friends have already been warned that I will be clicking over, running for the phone or otherwise using what I might consider to be rude behavior under normal circumstances in order to get to the phone.

Of course we are living life.  We are doing our usual things.  But soon, hopefully very soon, those things will include our next child.  Until then, we're waiting!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dear Birth Mother

How can I wrap up all of my hopes and dreams, all of my worries and fears, all of the roads that have led our family to yours, in a single note?  The short answer is, I can't.  I can't do it any more than you can readily know that you are making the right choice in our family by reading the little bit of information on the pages you're provided by the agency.

I can try to tell you that there is more than just a baby in this adoption for us.  There is an opportunity that I didn't know existed before we began this process.  Each day I think of you, wondering what your struggles are, wondering if you are okay.  I hold your heart, this woman I don't yet know, close to my own.  I send up my prayers for your well-being, for your health, for your peace.  And know this: I do these things not only because I think I will get the child that you carry, but because you deserve it.

I can share with you that I know, as a mother, that the decision you are making is not your first choice.  I know that if things were different, another time, more support, more money - whatever the gap,that if that gap were closed, this baby would stay by your side.  The truth is, if I knew how to help you close that gap, I would do it, even if that meant no more children for our family.  Because you deserve it.

Since I dont know what happens prior to us joining together to give this child the best life we know how to give, let me assure you this: we love you and we love this child.  We don't know you yet, but we know your hearts are drawing ever closer to ours each day.  We make a space, each day a bit larger, for the little one you carry in your womb.  There is so much room in our hearts for this child, so much love that overflows and will wash over you both.  We will honor you, we will honor our promises to you, we will honor our child.

My mother's heart cannot wait to hold this new little heart next to it, to cup it gently in my hands like a delicate baby bird, to watch it grow stronger until one day we are all ready to open our hands and watch the beautiful flight.  Until then, though you don't yet know it, we are here for you, for both of you, even now.