Tag Archives: anniversary

Counting the year

We’re getting ready to end and then begin a new, Jewish year.  I was raised in a home that was both very Jewish and very secular.  But the combination of the way that the educational calendar as a child and now as a mother, imprinted in my mind and the fact that the Jewish year ends and the new year begins at this time of year means for me–  that the winter new year has very little meaning and this time of year really is my end and then my beginning of a year.  Every year has its counting up to do, but the counting and accounting and recounting seems especially relevant this year.  I’ll begin but not end here.

Returning from vacation rocked my world in many different ways.  There are so many milestones and things to count, and recount (as in tell).  For one thing my daughter turned 10 this past May.  10 is just a different kind of number than the ones before.  I didn’t think so very much of it until I found myself in the thick of it.

The start of 5th grade for my daughter the day after we returned from vacation, an earthquake on the second day of school, hurricane Irene at the end of that first week and the anniversary on the same day (yes, it has been one full year) of walking out the door of my last job. Other significant beginnings are happening here too.

My daughter and I have been going through an especially rocky patch– or perhaps better said, a patch of tumult; she hates me, finds me horrible and mean, ugly, fat and stupid, critical, unfair and a lot of other undesirable things.  And she adores me, wants me, wants my undivided attention cries that she doesn’t want to go to school and wants only to be with me, comes to me and says “see, I’m shaking” and presses against me so I can feel that she is, indeed, scared of something and is trembling.  Some days she only wants to be home with me, to spend time with me, to do what we call “special time”, wants me to bring her to school late, get her early and then do that again the next day.  I lament these days of difficulty and at the same time I look to the not very distant day when she will just be busy all day, with barely a moment to call me– or traveling somewhere far away without me and I’m not so bothered by life as it is right now.  Some days she wakes up with her eyes on the horizon of time with a friend and I help arrange that and then as soon as that one is getting ready to leave, she is asking “who else can I play with?”

I am struggling hard with some of the same questions I was writing about last year at this time– what do I want to do with this part of my life.  There is pain and deep mind-bending fear and feelings of failure, there is excitement and hope and just a lot of pleasure in there and then there is work like everyone else does; endless emails, meals to plan, laundry, groceries, broken things to get fixed– like the fact that the brakes completely and dangerously went out on my car the other day on the way to a dental appointment.  Money to be thought about and budgeted.

I am certain of a few things though;  That it is nothing but good that I am gone from the job I left which was a bad place.  And that it has been good to have year at home with my daughter, with a schedule that allowed things in relation to her; like being able to drop everything and be at school with her 25 minutes after the tremor of the earth moving and shaking underneath us last month.

This past weekend we observed the 4th yahrzeit since my father-in-law died– a death that has been especially hard on my partner–and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 which happened here in our city as well as in New York City and Pennsylvania.  This year my daughter had a school assignment to interview someone about 9/11 and she interviewed her uncle who lived then and still does work just blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.  I thought about what it has meant to have a family in which 9/11 marked the beginning of motherhood– what has it been like to have had that happen just a very few months (3) into my daughter’s life and to try to be hopeful and easy and relaxed in those weeks and months after– holding a sleeping baby in my arms or going to the store and listening to the radio in the car or flying on a plane.

Raising and nurturing a young person in the aftermath of all that has been a joy but the backdrop has been; a war that is without end, Abu Graib and torture that has gained legitimacy such that it has been the subject of national debate rather than the terrible act of a tiny fringe of outliers, deceit, a crashed and crashing economy.  But also hopeful things that seem to flow also from that time. Revolutions of different varieties brewing in Wisconsin, Ohio, Egypt, Israel– but all of them expressions of regular people longing to be heard, to be part of a true democracy where their interests take precedence over the manipulation of the interests of the few.

There is a lot of counting and accounting and recounting to do and I am only just beginning.

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Tomorrow, last year and open adoption

This is in the category of material that I do not yet know how to write about.  In the adoption world, for perfectly fine reasons, the idea of open adoption centers very primarily around open-ness between birthmother or both birthparents and adoptive family and child.  In our family, our daughter’s adoption was “closed” supposedly at the behest of her birthmother, about whom I know quite a bit– but who I have never met, nor have we ever seen pictures.  We would have welcomed the chance to figure out a relationship with her and I think we still would, though my daughter would now have a say in the matter and I do now know exactly what she would say at this moment in her life.  We have sent letters and pictures and a special necklace early on.   I have this woman, this wonderful woman who gave birth to my daughter and who I know has struggled– often in my mind’s eye.  I believe I would like to know her, woman to woman.  I am a woman who has struggled too.  I think we would have important things in common. 

I know, through the agency that worked with all of us, that my daughter’s birthmother has received and read most of what we have sent.  I say it was closed “supposedly” at the behest of our daughter’s birthmother, because there are things I have learned since that have called into question the reliability of information we were given, but be that as it may, no direct communication between her and our family is hers and our circumstance, whoever chose it or for whatever reason.

Last year, tomorrow, I believe, is the anniversary of when we got another phone call, years after the call that a child was born and she would be our daughter.  In that call, a year ago, we learned that my daughter has two younger siblings who were both placed for adoption right after birth with other families– families three and four (let’s call us family two and birthmother’s family, family one).  We, my partner and I, were devastated that we had not been offered the opportunity to adopt and parent her siblings.  And we said without hesitation when we learned this news, that we wanted our family to know the other two families if they were willing.  One of the two families was also wanting and willing and we were all together within 4 weeks of learning this news.  The family of her younger brother, has welcomed us and we them, into a bigger family.  It has been hard to fathom what my daughter actually feels about the loss of the chance to grow up with her siblings, but it appears to go something like our feelings.  Great loss and an unbelievably wonderful find– her brother.  My daughter’s relationship with her brother who is seven– got off to a remarkable start.  I easily say that yes, they are in love with each other, yes they do look alike in many ways, yes they have many things, temperamentally speaking, in common– and yes both she and he have known from the very start that they are brother and sister and their relationship looks like brothers and sisters look.  I have been fairly out of touch and the children haven’t gotten to see each other for several months– but I plan to rectify that soon, and I hope that on their end, this recent lack of contact is, as it is for us, almost entirely a reflection of a life that moves way too fast and a bit of a reflection tha we all moved fast to get to know each other.  We spent two long visits and three holiday weekends all together in the time between last April 28 and the new year this year.  Maybe our adult hearts (not the children’s for sure) needed this time to catch up with what has happened to us– our immediate family, suddenly grown.

There is great complexity here.  But yes, we have an open adoption too.  I love the brother of my daughter and his two moms (he, by interesting coincidence has two moms).  I need to pick up the phone and call all three of them and get us together.

So I write to no one in particular, but to myself and my own reflection– and to my daughter and her brother and my partner and his two moms,  happy anniversary of this open adoption.