Tag Archives: sadness

Adoption, this day, 11 years ago

I’ve been in a tough place again around work and the amount of time it keeps me tied up and away from my daughter, her friends, her school, our time together.  I miss my partner a great deal– we are ships passing in the night lately, and I miss that precious time of sitting at the dining room table, hot weather or cold weather, writing. Writing.  My partner had hand surgery to repair that broken finger two weeks ago and we are at four weeks of her being unable to drive, shower on her own, do dishes, send an email.  We’re both tired.  There is some kind of grief right at the surface.

But even so, this is a special day.  Joy.  Love.  Satisfaction. Hope.  The sense that some things are very, very right in the world and in my world.  I’ve started, but not finished, a post about my daughter turning 11 and about her birthday itself, which happened on May 20. I will finish.

But this is my day in a certain way.  It’s hers too, but it’s mine for real. I have written more about our beginnings before. It’s the day we flew to her hometown in Texas, arrived in 106 degree heat 11 years ago and met her, and took her home to our temporary-hotel-room-home, and became the mothers of a 12-day old baby girl.  That was what I wanted.  Right then and there and still now, she is who I wanted.  I remember it as “welcome home, baby girl”  and also it was like a big welcome home for me– she made my home and my place in the world bigger, more solid.

So to my beloved, hilarious, beautiful, brilliant, funny, loving and lively N., I say this.  Your two moms lives were pretty great and full of love and interesting people and things to do way before you came along.  We had a good life together.  But our lives and our home and our days and nights have only been exponentially better because you were born and came to us– because we know you and love you and get to be with you so much.  I love you and I love your other mom and I do love the close-in people (near and far) who are the village that has surrounded us with you right at the center of things.  Just where you and every young person deserve to be.

Then. May 24, 2001–at four days old, this was the day we learned about N. and the first picture we saw.

Then. But a little later. She became undeniably, unmistakably our daughter when we saw this picture, taken four days before we met. She needed a family and we needed a daughter. May 28, 2001.

And now.  Today.  At school and across the table from me.  The two of us working together.

I was glad to get out of work early enough to get to hang with her at school, then take her home. Shy. Just a little. June 1, 2012.

Working, writing great messages in invisible ink.

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Tectonic shift

We’re now officially less than one month away from my daughter’s 11th birthday.  I am pinned between the rock of her ever-increasing independence and growing up-ness (and all the complexities contained in that)  and the harsh reality of having gone from a lengthy, not chosen, stint as a stay-at-home-mom who fell completely in love with that job, hard as it was– to a 50+ hours a week working mom.  For those who equate tears and struggle with bad– you’d be hard-pressed to categorize how I am.  I’m doing great, I’m thrilled, and I feel just awful a lot of the time, and this job, and the things I do at work are the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time work-wise.   I mean really, serious fun.  And I am, as I said just the other day– bone-tired.

Since I’ve gained confidence on the job, and the first rocky, scary weeks of new-jobness have ended– I’ve turned my attention a little more outward.  As a result, I have been bursting into tears quite a lot when I think of the hours and hours I am not getting to be with my daughter.  I just can hardly bear it right at the same time I am loving what I do at work.  If you could grant me the 48 hour day and she could sleep quietly while I work, I would, I think, be happy.  But I cried with my boss on Friday when I realized I was going to have to work all day Friday and then a fair bit over the weekend.

And I burst into tears when I walked through the door at home on Monday night at 8:30.  I’d been at the very last of a series of in-the-evening community meetings.  And then, at the very end, they decided to schedule another meeting this week that I have to staff– for 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.  I literally barely kept it together at the meeting itself when they decided on a second this week.  And I will work this weekend while daughter and partner go ahead on a long-planned camping trip to a gorgeous park on a river where it is nearly impossible to even get a permit to go there and camp.   Me.  I have to miss that.  Aaaaachhh.

I wasn’t actually with my daughter all the time when I wasn’t working.   Sometimes I felt I was barely with her.  She went to school and camp and Hebrew school and basketball and drama club and wanted playdates with friends and… she was busy.   But I was with her a lot and I was available— and she knew it and I knew it.  Being truly available to a young person is kind of like being together though nothing like being together.

I’ve been walking around for days trying to pull up from some distant memory– or some non-existent memory,  a phrase I believe I’ve heard, for what I am feeling.  If after I write this, you know or want to make up the phrase– please do write me.  Comment.  It’s something like womb-loss or early-empty-nest but not really either of those.   I mean by that, not either of those at all.  Something else.  It’s a phrase that connotes excruciating, tectonic plate-shifting loss even though it’s really change and not loss at all.  Maybe the word I’m looking for is weaning, only it’s me who’s being weaned.  She’s busy, interested in her friends, her iPod touch, her YouTube videos, something she calls “alone time”, nail polish, friends, art projects, wrestling, playing hard outside (sometimes) and a whole lot more.  She misses me a lot, I know– she cried about it one night last week and I really felt terrible, like I’d let her down.  But I miss her more, I really do, though it isn’t a competition.  The fact is, this change has been hard on all of us, but then so are life-saving surgery, childbirth, writing and editing a book, starting a marriage or life with a new child, and training for a marathon to name a few.  I’m not sure which of those I’m in the midst of, but you get the picture.

May, 2011.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been having a hard time.  I have some guesses about why, but really– I don’t know why.  I have the writerly problem of deciding whether it is just too personal to write about here.  Or too boring for a reader, which is a different writerly problem.

I’m in the midst of my April-May-June cycle.  April and Passover– are about spring, liberation.  Passover eight years ago was the last time I ever saw my father.  May and Mother’s day– the commercial holiday that was, for a number of years, oddly meaningful as I worked through feelings of wanting to be and worrying I wouldn’t be, a mother.  May 20th– my daughter’s birthday.  May 20th has been a very special day every year since she was born– but for a mother of a daughter whose birth was announced to us after the fact, it has been a very special day every year– except the year of her actual birth when we didn’t know she was being born nor did we know that there was a very small girl who would be our daughter.  I think often about her first 48 hours in the world– untethered to anyone who had a plan to love and care for her.  I believe it was a very hard way to come into the world.

So yes, with all of that as backdrop, I’ve been feeling down for weeks now.  Discouraged.  Some days it is up in my face, all day.  Other days it is just a quiet hum in the background.  I know I’ve been down this road before; I think I have written these exact words before on this blog.  Those of you who read this blog have been down this road with me (as well as yourselves, I assume, but that’s a different story, isn’t it?)  I’ve not posted here in a while, but I’m not exactly having a hard time writing; I have several drafts of several posts in various states of finished standing by.  But I am having a hard time fully deciding and fully articulating just what I want to say and pushing the “Publish” button.

I have been worried about going back to work– worried about whether I will find work again that is as meaningful, as consuming as the work I did many years ago running the HIV/AIDS legal program here and about what that work might be.    For many reasons my world has shifted in certain ways and some things that were very meaningful and held great interest for me fifteen or even ten years ago, do not feel the same anymore.  The ground has shifted imperceptibly and here I am on a new landscape– trying to find my way.  It feels scary some days, it feels terribly discouraging some days.

I do know someone who says that all discouragement and worries are old feelings.  That we can heal from earlier disappointments and losses, and that it makes no logical sense at all to be discouraged about the future — like what does it mean to be discouraged or worried about something that hasn’t even happened yet?  And I must admit I follow the logic and agree with him though I definitely don’t feel that way.

But today in particular and for the last several days in general, I’ve gotten glimpses that there might, maybe possibly be something really wonderful ahead.  And my mind has wandered again, more and more often, to a few of the extraordinary interesting things in this world to write about other than this internal discouragement.  A good perspective is returning and a good perspective is a good thing.  Stay tuned.

Too quiet

I was too sad yesterday.  I picked my daughter up at school and she was in an especially good mood.  We worked with her art teacher to find and print and laminate a picture off of the internet of Bernice Johnson Reagon, who my daughter has chosen to be the subject of a portrait each child is doing of an influential person–artist, politician or other.  Then we came home.  The house was a little disheveled.  I was more disheveled– internally. 

I had left in a hurry early yesterday morning when I planned to be home, to go to a funeral.  There was clean-up to do after emptying a cabinet to take care of a plumbing problem, dishes on the table and small piles of paper that seemed more daunting than usual.  So when we got home from school, I didn’t get to hang out with my daughter too much, I was pulling it together because we were having a good friend and her two daughters over for dinner. 

We had a nice noisy evening with a good meal that we had mostly cooked a day ahead of time.  My friend and my partner and I got to talk while the three girls played– it was so nice to be together and catch up.  It’s different now than when the girls were younger, when their needs were more demanding and different from the year when the three of us adults were urgently trying to figure out together what school(s) we would get to send them to. 

Days ago when we made the dinner plan, they had invited my daughter to come home with them after dinner for a sleepover, but she had told me she wanted to sleep home and go over to their house early in the morning.  That was more than fine with me.  Then last night she had a change of heart and left with them.  Ok, good night, see you tomorrow, I said. 

Now my partner is sound asleep and I have the luxury of being awake in a quiet, cleaned up house before I leave for the many things I have to do today.  It turns out it’s way too quiet.  My daughter and I are usually the first up, often me then she, but sometimes the other way around.  And when we are up early together I am sometimes sneaking off to write or read.  What a mistake.  Here I am missing her, wishing my noisy, walking around, awake- with- many- ideas girl was here.  I hope she’ll call soon.