Tag Archives: sister

Sisters. part one.

Two sets of sisters.  Me and mine, my daughter and hers.   This post is her (daughter) and hers (her sister).  Another to follow about me and my sister.

We went on a very cold, kind of dreary day, to another city, about an hour away to see my daughter’s sister.  Two weeks ago tomorrow this was.   Sister and her mom (a single mommy) life about three hours away, but the grandmother of my daughter’s sister, a grandmother called by the Yiddish name, like my mother is called– Bubbe lives in the city an hour away and we agreed to meet there.

We were all nervous and filled with different emotions, but at the same time we all– my daughter included, I think– felt a little bit like old hands at this.  We’ve known her brother and his two moms for almost four whole years now.   It’s an interesting set of things you become expert at if you have a family by adoption.  The occasion was no less profound, no less heart-stopping, no less scary or beautiful or amazing by virtue of our experience.  But it wasn’t quite brand-new unknown, mouth-hanging- open, tremblingly new.  It was a familiar kind of heart-stopping if that makes any sense.  On the way in the car, there was some kind of fighting and upset about what time we left, when we should have left, whose fault it was but I cannot remember it now.  Happily it passed.

What have I said, not said?  This sister of hers is a sister.  She is Jewish, like my daughter.  She is Latina, brown skinned, dark eyed and gorgeous– like my daughter.  They look– not exactly alike, but like family, like sisters.  We got a little twisted around heading to the specific meeting place and called the mom several times on the cell phone.  She was warm and reassuring and we relaxed a little bit.  We drove to the supermarket parking lot where we agreed to meet.  When we finally got out of the car and spotted them and began to walk toward them, younger sister was holding her mom’s hand tightly and jumping.  Jumping up and down.  Jumping.  My daughter was suddenly the 11 year old who was thrilled, and touched, but doesn’t jump up and down.  She chuckled.  She laughed (not at, but in pleasure) and gathered her small gifts in hand and sprinted ahead of me.  And they met.

I am not going to tell the whole story of the day, but it was a good day.  A good day.  Not good, like in, “have a good day.”  But good like in the Torah, good like in biblical references.  “And then G-d did such and such.  And it was it was good. ” I loved the mom again, as I had when we met almost exactly two months earlier.  I loved the Bubbe and they both loved my big girl, which is always a big hit with me.  And N. and her little sister, they bonded.  They did things together, they hung out, they talked though I don’t know exactly about what.  There were wonderful things that happened and normal things, like the tuna fish salad and green salad and challah dinner that was delicious and familiar and that we ate at Bubbe’s table all together.

But one of my favorite moments was this.  A moment that made me laugh inside and out because there is something about the spirit, the temperament of these two girls that is so similar– down to the expression of it.

N’s younger sister had just gotten– and the girls decided to watch– her new Curious George DVD.  My daughter who will watch a lot of DVD recordings of tv shows almost anytime she is given the chance, has grown a little old for Curious George.  But sister, at age 8 is not too old for it.  They watched episode after episode after episode.  I worked at the dining room table drafting clues then walked throughout the apartment and building–  to create a scavenger hunt for them, that would take them out into the halls, the elevator, the lobby of the apartment building.  I wanted them away from the tv, in league with one another, whispering, conspiring, laughing, moving around.  My daughter, who can take a lot of tv, was about spent, but patient– wanting to be with her sister.

Finally, at the end of one episode, I intervened.  “How about you both pause it now and do the scavenger hunt?  Then you can watch the rest of the episodes later.”  Without missing a beat sister said brightly, “the pause button is broken, we can’t stop it!”  and that was that– she plopped herself down and my daughter gave me a look like “what’s an older sister to do?” sighed and in her generous, good-natured way, sat down to watch the rest of the Curious George dvd.  Then later, eventually, the scavenger hunt ensued.  They ran around, flushed, laughing, with the modern day twist of hiding but calling on a cell phone, and had a great time.  That was their/ our beginning.  I look forward to more of the spirit, the warmth, the stubborn singleminded- ness and humor of this new girl in our lives and to seeing the two girls and their brother too– grow and play and and scheme and laugh and occasionally cry, together.

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The general state of things, finding her sister and a few words about adoption.

With the little bit of time this season– this odd season of slowing down but commercial madness, the time the season allows a working mom, I am slowly unpacking all that has been jammed in over the past many weeks– both emotions-wise and activity-wise.

Until a week ago, I had been working at a fevered pitch– too-long hours again.  Things never slowed until the Friday before Christmas day.  In much of November and the first 2/3 of December I was leaving at office often at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m.  Some nights I walked out at 8:00.  Twice I managed to pick my daughter up at the end of aftercare and the couple of days I left at 5:30 felt like a full day’s vacation.  I missed my daughter’s school “Peace Concert” which I had never missed before.  I hadn’t gotten around to reading the school email update that announced it.

The legislation I have worked on since I walked into my office the first week of February, passed on December 18.  I am deeply satisfied with the work I have done and with what I have learned in this job over the course of almost a year.  I found skills, endurance, speed and political savvy I didn’t know I had– or didn’t have previously.

But I am still often sad with the hours and days that keep passing when I am not home after school or home to supervise homework or free to drive my daughter to Hebrew school.  I miss the kinds of talks that happen in the car, especially in winter, when it gets dark early.  I am sad about the volleyball games I missed which will never be seen again.  I miss talking about my daughter’s day with her while it is still fresh.  I know she misses me.

Thursday, December 13 was the start of the next phase of our expanding family.  We left the house at 7:15 a.m., took my daughter up the block to our neighbor/ one of our closest friends for them to feed her breakfast and bring her to school.  Then my partner and I got in the car and drove north two hours on the main highway, the main artery here where we live– to meet– my daughter’s sister’s mother.  The sister she has not met yet and we have not met yet.  We met at a rest stop– this one a very nice, clean newish rest stop with a Starbucks.  Until that day the mom and I had emailed but never spoken.  She made contact with us and we did a  lot of sharing and all our planning by email.  We decided that the adults should meet first before planning a meeting for the children.

We spoke to one another for the very first time when we were ten minutes drive from our meeting place.  She called on my cell phone (we had exchanged phone numbers before this trip)– saying she was there already asking if she could order coffee for us.

She laughed and I laughed– warmly– happily– when we heard each other’s voices on that call.  We had broken the barrier of the abstraction of virtual communication with live voices on two ends of one phone call.  When we arrived exactly ten minutes later, we couldn’t find her at first and then found her– in line waiting for our three coffees to be delivered by the barista.  We hugged each other– all three of us and she cried hard and I cried too.  I like all that in a woman– her open laugh when we heard each other’s voices and her tears and hug when we met.

We gathered our coffees and found the most private place we could.  She took us in when we sat down and she said, “We’re family, we’re family.”  I agree and am glad she that she is the kind of woman for whom that is a given fact– not a question.

We sat next to a window, and it was a gloriously sunny, warm winter day.  We, all three, took each other in and we took out our photos and talked for an hour and a half.  Our daughters, these two sisters, look a lot alike– both brown-skinned with pitch dark beautiful expressive eyes, both with very dark, brown hair and wide, round faces.  Their own faces, but faces very much alike.

We talked about deep things–and we talked honestly.  We talked about the things parents often don’t share easily– what we worry about, what we most want for our children in the biggest sense– in terms of connection, now and in their lives forever–after we, their parents are gone.  We talked about the adults and other young people in our worlds who are the deepest connections for our daughters.  We talked about our daughters as Latinas and as Jews and about identity and what we have figured out about giving them a sense of place in their worlds.  We talked about our own real experiences and what is hard and what we have loved about being a single parent (she) and a lesbian couple (we).

We did not talk about the kinds of things that parents sometimes talk about–things that matter too– but that can easily slide into a conversation driven by competition or insecurity.  We didn’t talk about our daughters’ grades or ease or lack thereof in school; we didn’t really talk about their activities.  I have no idea if my daughter’s sister is a swimmer or piano player or the best singer in a choir or whether is in the girl scouts or loves animals or likes princess clothes.

We laughed easily and there were more tears in the conversation. She cried easily and tears welled up for me too.  My partner was the calm, warm, direct anchor that she is– with less rattling around right at the surface.  It was a good, good start.  I think we could have sat for hours and hours and hours.  And I liked her.   She is a Jewish woman, like me in many ways.  I felt hopeful, like I and we are not only on the path to my daughter’s sister, but to a close alliance as Jewish women, Jewish moms raising Latina, Jewish daughters.  There are things that need to happen and then the children will meet.  The sun shone through the big rest stop window and on our drive back.

At home at night, talking this over with my daughter, things were not so sunny.  When my daughter found out about her brother, she was nothing but smiles, and when we told her– several weeks earlier that her sister’s mom was ready for them to meet, she was thrilled.  But when we came home from that first meeting, sadness welled up.  Losses welled up.  She cried that her brother and sister don’t live with her and she cried that we have not added another child to our family– that what she wants is a sibling here at home.

I thought about the losses of adoption in ways I have not thought in a little while.  I feel grateful to have had chances to do a lot of the emotional work that leaves me grounded and not insecure about any of her expressions of loss.  Much of the time I can listen and not argue with any feeling she has.  I can understand that feelings of loss have nothing to do with the unfailing permanence of her love and attachment to us.

Some parents whose children came to them by adoption think, “it was meant to be, it could have been no other way than that this child became my child”.  I don’t think I think that way.  I don’t think that any child was meant to be left by birth family, or to be raised in another country or culture.  I do think that even though harsh circumstance shapes our lives– all of our lives, that good can and often does come.  It is nothing but good that we three are family– and it is nothing but good that her younger brother and younger sister are with their respective families.

She is fully and undeniably my daughter, my partner’s daughter.   It’s mine and my partner’s to help her through rough waters and I feel a sense of great happiness that I know she knows that.  We are hers forever and she is ours forever and that is indisputable.  Whatever twists and turns brought her to us, she is ours and we are hers and that is that.

Enough already.

If the line for a new iPhone on Friday morning for a new iPhone offers some imprecise temperature reading– on the state of the economy in the suburb I drove to just outside of my city, or perhaps an indicator of how often Apple can release a new version of the iPhone and get the attention of a big group of consumers–and if those things really matter ( I would say the former does and the latter definitely doesn’t)–then I would say that as to the former we are in trouble and as to the latter, I’ll leave that analysis to the Apple marketing people.

I’ll just say three things and then it really is enough already (well it was enough before I started this post, but I’m asking your indulgence).  One is that I got there just as the store opened rather than a half hour earlier as I had intended.  There was a line of about 8-10 people ahead of me and I waited about the same amount of time to start and complete the whole transaction as I think I did the first time in the retail store there– when I got that old-fashioned iPhone 4 just two weeks earlier.

Two is that because of our schedule that day, I did bring my daughter with me for this transaction– and she was very cheerful and incredibly good-natured about the whole thing.  I really love her for this cheerful, helpful way she can be and her good, good company.  She spent the whole time we were in there at the side, playing with the iPhone 4s and then taught me to use certain features on the phone as soon as we got in the car.  You go, girl.

Third is that from all the reports, I am very happy to be able to say that there were, as far as I could tell– far more people participating in Occupy Wall Street that Friday, than there were people waiting for a new iPhone.  So, though I didn’t quite have my own actions and priorities just right on Friday, many did.  Phew….Really.

I do have a new phone, I had a great time out with my daughter early in that morning and it was much and I do mean much, ado about nothing.  And despite a very, very rainy soggy day, my daughter and partner headed out for a Girl Scout camping trip not long after we got home and had a beautiful weekend.  For a number of reasons I didn’t go on this trip, but I missed them a lot.  And, as promised, I met my sister who arrived in town Friday afternoon to see her older boy after his first seven weeks of college, and Isaac and we headed to Shabbat services, where we really do turn off our cell phones for a couple of hours.

Protected: Preview of the week to come. Brother. Sister. Thanksgiving 2009.

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