Sunday, December 10, 2006

Imprinted

I started reading this post over at "Lumpyhead's Mom" and she referred to this post about her adopted brother and I started writing a comment that was so large I decided to bring it back here.

My brother is adopted from Vietnam. He came over on Operation Babylift and for the first 2 weeks he was placed with another family - an older, childess couple who was expecting an older child, not a toddler. He cried quite a bit, and they decided they could not handle it. The agency then looked on the list for a family with children and found us, a family with three and room for more.

When he came home to us, he didnt cry for several weeks. Ever. He would fall down and hit his head and get up and just keep walking. He was only 19 months old. A child psychologist told my mother that he had probably made the connection between crying and then being rejected by the first couple, and did not want to risk rejection again so he stifled his tears. Censored his feelings. At 19 months.

Just thinking about my boys, at 21 months, having the wherewithal and fear to stifle their natural need to cry makes ME cry big fat, hot tears. They cry and laugh and shriek and howl with laughter in any given minute. They give big hugs and wet kisses indiscriminantly. They have no filter, no censor.

As we go through the daily marvel that is our life with these two boys, I often catch myself in a moment and wonder if they are going to remember it. Last night they followed me into the front living room as I checked the huge, heavy, lit wreath hanging outside in front of the bay window. I was afraid the high winds would knock it down, or worse, bang it right through the window.

As I stood there watching it, a huge gust came up and set it swaying back and forth. The boys were in front of me, little hands pressed against the glass. The gust frightened them and they pressed back against my legs, mutterring warnings to me in toddler speak. I pulled them back onto the loveseat with me and explained about the wind and not to be afraid.

We sat there in the glow of the Christmas lights, warm in our snug house, the boys in their fleece PJ's (and inexplicably wearing their snow hats). I called Tom in from the kitchen to join us and we sat and watched the wind blow the lights in the trees outside. The boys snuggled on our laps and chattered on about "wind- wind!" and "yights". We did eventually take the wreath down (the gusts were 30 miles per hour) but not until the boys decided it was time to move out of the comfortable warm glow and onto to their next adventure.

It was a wonderful 20 minutes or so.Will they remember that? Will they know about wind the next time? Or will they still press back against me in that wonderful way that toddlers do, reaching for my leg and pressing head to thigh? Do my 21 month olds remember individually any of the good things that happen to them every day, or do they live in a sweet whirl of laps and hugs and baths and chasing Daddy around the house, so comfortable it just blurs into the background?

My brother certainly gave in to crying eventually, but never like most toddlers. He grew into a brilliant student and is a huge success in his field and a wonderful brother and son. He will make a great husband and father. But even now, at 32, he is reserved and holds his emotions closely in check. I cant help but wonder, what came first? Was he destined to be so reserved, or did his experiences at all of 19 months leave that imprint on him?

What imprints am I leaving on the little people in my world?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Boat People

I have not been blogging long but in the 1+ months I have been around, I have had the distinct pleasure of *meeting* some amazing women - many like myself, who struggled with getting our families started and have finally reached our new Mom status via IVF, ART, adoption or sheer luck.

In the last few days I read through a passionate and rather harsh discussion about adoption vs. biological and all of the issues surrounding why people did what they did. I feel compelled to throw my two cents in even if I am the only one who ends up seeing this. Compelled both because a blogger who I have really grown quite fond of seems to have inadvertently kicked off a firestorm that leaves her looking like the bad seed that I know she isn't, and compelled by having been on both sides of this very delicate fence.

I have two bio kids that we fought hard for in a painful 3 yr struggle with infertility. We went through many phases of denial and acceptance and coping during those three years - times when all of our options, including domestic and foreign adoption and IVF were on the table, and very dark bitter times when NOTHING was on the table and we were ready to burn the table and the entire sad house surrounding it.

It hurt like hell, EVERY day to not be able to have what it looked like everyone around us was achieving so easily. We didn't chose IVF as the *better* or *preferred* choice over adoption - it was just a road in the middle of a huge mess that opened up to us. (I wont go into the how or why but it involves money and job changes, etc.)

I come from an adoptive family (brother adopted from Vietnam) and we raised 14+ foster babies in my family. I am pro-family, regardless of how it comes together. I am stunned at the anger expressed by both sides on this issue. Haven't quite a few of us come to our current situation (adoption, ART, IVF, whatever) via a more difficult road than all of the people who "weren't even trying and wham we got pregnant!" people? Don't we all know the pain of wanting something so badly you start avoiding those who have what you don't? Wasn't ANY option going to be harder, longer, more expensive than what we expected?

I went through a special hell in getting to what is now my dream state of motherhood. It hurts 1000 times more to be criticized or judged after what I went through. People who see my beautiful fraternal twins and immediately ask "In-vitro?" with absolutely no shame. As if I would ask them what sexual position they used to get their *natural* baby.

And yes, some people I know and love, who knew how hard the entire journey was for us still have said things like "I guess you wanted to really know where your kids came from, instead of adopting." If they could only understand that during my darkest days I understood why there was a black market for babies and children, and why people would do it, and wondered how much it would cost to get some baby, any baby, any child.

I know my journey was not unique or more painful than those of the many wonderful women I have met through blogging. So if we all know the struggle, cant we appreciate that we would all find our end states differently, and feel very different about why we did what we did and didn't do what we didn't do? We can be sensitive and we can not like the way someone says something, but do we all have to be so right all of the time? At the end of the day we are all just survivors who ended up on different life boats.

Now that's enough of the two cents from my boat. I am needed up on the Fiesta Deck.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mom, Interrupted

I am coming out of the most cliché’d weekend of my life.

On Saturday, as I folded load #8 of laundry, while the chicken defrosted and the kids wrecked the living room, I was suddenly stricken. I buried my face in a pile of warm, fluffy Downy scented towels and sobbed.

At that moment Tom came in from the garage to brag about how he fixed the brake light on the van and found me, all bereft and shapeless.He tried to pull it out of me. Had something happened while he was outside living his DIY moment? Had my Spic-n-Span failed me? Was the Perdue over stuffer not defrosting quickly enough? Did I need a Calgon moment? What could have befallen the white, middle class, Dove and Oil of Olayed, 39 year old, mother of two, driver of a Honda mini-van, watcher of ‘American Idol” and purchaser of Tide and Yoplait while she was smack dab in the middle of the American Dream?

I succumbed to the oldest house-wife ailment since Shake-n-Bake was invented. The dreaded “Is this all there is to life?” syndrome.It came out of nowhere. I had been going along quite well, pre-treating, spot-cleaning, Swifferring and Windexing away all of life’s little distractions. Playing all the right games with the kids, feeding them right, reading them each 3.5 books per day or more, always more. Always positively reinforcing and gently disciplining. Making my husband feel valued and needed and desirable. Keeping those old “home fires burning”, har, har. Sending Hallmark birthday cards on time, smiling and making small talk with neighbors, recycling, donating, supporting, cheering, organizing, de-cluttering, and improving, Always looking for ways to do it better, and never, ever feeling like I had done enough.And on Saturday I caved in. Completely caved in to the realization that I want more, I need more, and I don’t know how to get more.

It’s a hard thing to admit to myself, me who bought so completely into the ideal of Super-Mom and rejected all of those women who complained that it was an impossible ideal and an unrealistic expectation to place on women. I thought that working hard and doing the "right thing” should be its own payoff. But it seems it isn’t enough, at least not all the time.

The weird thing is, what I need to focus on is figuring out something I can do for me, just me, that makes me happy. And I don’t even know what that is. I do know that I cant expect Swiffer and Tide to bring me that fulfillment. And I don’t want to screw up my wonderful children by making them my little pet self-fulfillment projects. (Isn’t that where Lindsey Lohan got her start?)So in the interest of self-preservation, and because my boys would really hate hanging out with Paris Hilton, I am in search of me and what makes me happy.

Why does this feel like I should be singing "I'm off to see the Wizard...!"

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Little Things

We had a quiet weekend at home and it was so nice. The house was decent so I wasn’t fraught about getting a lot of cleaning done. The boys and I are all recovered and DH didn’t have to work on Saturday so we SLEPT IN – until 7am! That’s big stuff in my world. Then we went for a ride, pre- snowstorm.

Tom had some stuff to look up at the big local University so the boys and I went to a cool little coffee place and had some lunch (well, they had lunch, I waited for Tom) It was funny because as soon as we walked in to the cool coffee place I could see the people in there recoil at the sight of two almost toddlers. My boys were perfect angels, yet people still got up and moved away from us to other tables when we first arrived.

When I say angels, I don’t mean they were on THEIR best behavior, I mean they were on ANYONE’S best behavior. They were quiet as mice and smiley and content to just people watch and snack on their puffs. I had to smooch on them many times because they were so smiley delicious.

Hmm, perhaps people were moving away from me? Afraid if they also behaved as well as my kids I would want to smooch on them too….?

Needless to say the endless ringing of cell phones was WAY beyond any noise the boys or I made smooching. I guess people without kids just cant help themselves but cringe at the potential for noise. I was all prepared to retaliate too, in case my kids dared to giggle and set any of the studying students off on a tangent. It was, after all a restaurant that I brought them too, not a library, regardless of how many people were studying and writing papers.

Then when Tom came to fetch us we had a lovely walk down main street and went to a famous bar for their famous nachos. Well, not a bar, I wouldn’t bring the boys to a bar, but think big old tavern with good food and no smoking. I hadn’t been there in years and years - since I was in college.

Anyway while we were there enjoying the famous nachos, sitting near the fireplace enjoying a chat as the snow started to fall outside and our gorgeous children slept in their stroller next to us, I had a revelation. I remember many years ago sitting in that same restaurant watching a married couple with their kids on a Saturday afternoon and thinking how cool it was that even thought they were married with kids they could still come there for nachos and then I wondered/hoped that I would be married with kids someday and able to do stuff like that too.

Wow – for once, I have become the people I wanted to become instead of feeling like “I wonder if that will ever happen to me…”

It’s the little things, right?

Then yesterday we woke up to big snowstorm – Yeah! I love snow and I particularly love weather extremes because despite all of our technology, etc we still cant control the weather!! So Tom got to be Super Man and shovel about 812 tons of snow while I stayed in and made homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs and a chocolate layer cake for Big Daddy.

It was a regular made-for-TV day at our house. I even got to take a nap. I am all about the little things.