and what they mean.It didn’t take long for the blogosphere to inform me of the importance both adoptees and first moms can place on birthdays – days of trauma approached with dread and loathing.
That’s not what I use my calendar to track and anticipate.I check for tides, for moon cycles.I record activities. Along with forgetting birthdays in general, I did not take special note of Joy’s birthday during our separation.
The first few years, her father would call me around her birthday.She appreciates that.I never did.In fact when she reminded me of it last night, of his caring, I was infuriated.What she interprets as a caring gesture, I experience as rubbing my nose in my impotence.Once a year, he could call me up and wax nostalgic for what might have been as though this one particular day was different from missing her all the other days of the year. As though her birthday was a cause for noticing that she is not in my life, my whole life, every single day. That really didn’t work for me.I stopped taking his annual calls.
I’m not a “thinker”. Not that I don’t have a good mind, a useful and insightful tool for gathering information. But it’s not my preferred mode. Measured by the Meyers Briggs Type Inventory I am definitely an F, for feeling, probably an ISFP.(Although my funky idealism wishes to be labeled Intuitive.)Thoughts or ideas are necessary to balance feelings and actions.But without feelings and actions for balance, thoughts are useless.
For the first 18 months or so I thought a great deal about Joy, where she was, who was taking care of her and what I could do about it.I came up with nothing.I could do nothing about it, in terms of action.I had no way to contact her physically.That hurt and led to more hurt.Where was she?Was she happy?Did she need me?Want me?I don’t know.I don’t know. I don’t know.I don’t know.
I created and honored a place for her inside me, that extends through the universe to wherever she is.I love her there, where we are in contact.She has always been a part of me and all that I did.I didn’t “think” about her, anymore than I thought about my stomach.She was part of me, a hidden part of me.What I wanted was to care for her.Cue Dolly Parton singing I Will Always Love You.
That’s a little bit crazy.That craziness is part of the challenge of our reunion.I had this huge interior loving thing going on that had no place in the “real world” and then we met up in the “real world”.A lot got lost in translation.We are still learning each other’s reference points and overcoming misunderstandings and hurt.
The last two years we have honored her birthday together.It’s a very special time for me because it is special to her.
Sometimes I do nothing. Sometimes that’s the best thing there is to do. I do nothing and let the nothingness settle in around me, uncovering false constructs I clung to, ideals of friendship and intimacy that serve to direct me to obligatory guilt. The empty space of the nothingness fills with relief and freedom.
I too have been thinking of thirds of my life, as my grandson, Tomtom transitions out of high school into the wide world.Watching my thoughts and feelings and expression – wanting to find an opening to share who we are with each other.
In hindsight the reasoning for holding myself back through his childhood seem specious.The ‘kool aid’ illusions under which I was functioning convinced me that I was protecting him from the volatility of Joy’s and my relationship by my absence, by leaving him out of it. I believed there was escape or avoidance of pan based on my absence. Since I was the source of the shame, trauma, abandonment, I was willing to cut me out.
Whoops!Turns out we were lying about that. I am. I am Joy’s mother. I am Tomtoms grandma. Pain can’t be avoided. So I spent the last weekend extricating myself from the past lies and attempts to avoid pain, avoid participating in my life. I was floating on the stability of communication and sharing in Joy’s and my relationship (the high).
I planned to compose an approach, a letter, increase communication with Tomtom.
And BOOM (the low).Deal with this.Watch how I deal with the little things.What?What is she talking about?OMG. That thing that was precious to me is trash to her.Ok.Let it go.Let it be trash.Let go of foolish sentimentality, and the preposterous thought that she would be aware of my sentiments.Ok, we are both prone to emotional outbursts.We are both susceptible to illusions and self importance.These things occur.These things pass, like the waves in the ocean and breathing in and out.They are not reasons to suspend communication with Tomtom.They are not reasons to hold back from my family.
I am so happy to know him. I am happy to see his mother and his father and his grandparents in him. I am happy that he brought his mother happiness and purpose and to reunion. I am happy that he has opened up my heart in his peacefulness and strong sense of self. I am grateful to know him. I am grateful for his loyalty to the truth as he sees it.
I’ve read these advice columns all my life. My first questions about sex sprang from reading about unwed mothers in Ann Landers when I was in fourth grade. “If God planted a baby in someone’s stomach, how could it be a mistake?” Oh, well it’s all about how God did that planting. Hmmmmm….
This morning Jeanne Phillips aka the new Dear Abby had a fabulous response to a want to be Grandma. If Dear Abby can get it for grandparents it fosters hope that caring and nurturing children can be viewed as an ever present option. If you love children, if you have so much to give, there are children all around! There are SO many children in need of loving. You can add to that child’s life without taking anything away. If you really love a child, wouldn’t you want that child to have it’s mother and family? You don’t have to get the title to them in order to love them. Children don’t really belong to anyone but themselves. Another quote I remember from my own mother’s bookshelf,
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” Kahlil Gibran
Life/God put children with specific mothers. That’s how they get born. To paraphrase an old religious ceremony, “Let not man put that asunder.”
We as humans do sunder our relationships with our children at times. Some, who have not grown fully and wholly, have abused children emotionally or physically. In some cases it is appropriate for society to step in to insure that children are in safe and loving homes. I do ask that we look carefully though that we are not the ones to separate a child from its family, that we only step in to fill the gaps. Too often desire creates the gaps. Examine our desires. Distinguish desire from loving. Desire is wanting. Succumbing to ‘needing’ can turn to grasping. Loving is an expression, an outflow, giving.