Monday, January 11, 2010

The Good Stuff

Today, I fell
in love with a fabulous little fellow.
His name is Matthew, and he is my son.
I have loved him and felt love FOR him from the moment I laid eyes on his photo.
But today, I truly FELL in love with him.
It's hard to explain.
Dare I try?
I'm probably going to be all over the place
with this post (it's been forever since I've written)
so please bear with me and indulge me.

I didn't know that falling for Matthew would be this concrete or identifiable.
I didn't know that it would be this framed-in-time, distinct, point-to-the-dot kind of moment.
I thought I wouldn't remember the exact moment or day that I fell.
But I do.
And today, I did.

There are moments when
his eyes, black as coal
(the left one a little lazy and leaning in toward his nose),
squeeze out monstrous tears
that slide down his plump cheeks like snowballs on a fast race to the bottom of the highest hill
and his lungs let me know he has needs
NOW, dammit!

Even then, I am hopelessly head over heels.
Today, I crossed the bridge from feeling love
to falling in love.
And it's 10:16, and I don't want this day to end.

My dad was telling me the other night
about how his dad, my grandfather, used to be what was called a "breaker boy"
at the coal mines in Northeastern PA (where I grew up),
and how Grandpa's job was to separate the shiny, black pieces (very valuable coal) from the other stuff (the less valuable stuff, known as slate).
I look into Matthew's eyes, and I see shiny, black coal--the "good stuff" on which fortunes and futures were made back in the day in PA.
I see fortunes and a great future for him and for us.

When Matthew is happy, he lifts his right hand high up into the air
and BANGS it down on whatever surface lies in front of him,
and he inhales this loud and joyous shriek that sometimes makes him cough.
And his belly laughs, still few and far between, are worth the days and weeks we sometimes wait
to hear them.

When he is sad or upset,
he puts on just about the most textbook upside-down smile you could ever imagine.
He did it a lot the first few weeks, when he was grieving for his Umma (foster mom).
My heart has broken about a hundred times watching him, and helping him, go through this
but being unable to truly do anything about it.
Except, of course, to be there.
Which I was.
Inconsolable grief and anger lived in his heart and our house.
Unstoppable cries.
Little fists beating on my chest.
The "searching behavior" (looking toward a doorway for his Umma, who is of course not there).
He is doing all of that less and less.
Not much at all, in fact.
But it's still there. The sadness, the searching, the adjusting.
And we will still be there for him when it happens.
He, and we, are slowly finding our place together as a family.
But hey, we are finding it!

This Thursday (1/14) marks our 1-month anniversary as a family, united.
Matthew Day will always be celebrated, every year, on December 14.
It's been a long couple of weeks.
Most of it good, some of it not so good.
But anyone who's a parent knows just how tough
those not-so-good moments can be.
Sometimes, I feel weak and inadequate, not enough.
But most times, I feel strong, confident, "enough."
And I realize that all along, I never had to worry about "how" to do anything
when it comes to motherhood...
because loving is not about how.
There is no equation or right formula.
It just is.
And it's perfect.

I still owe you the airport story, I know.
But tonight, I am choosing to tell a story
that feels smaller (not in size, but in "ability to get my arms around it") and more ready to leap
from my heart to your ears
than the larger-than-life moment that I owe you
(and it WILL come).
I am choosing to breathe in
and dance with
a moment of sheer and utter grace--
and risk my vulnerability in sharing this moment with you.
(Please, be kind.)

Today, I fell in love with the most fabulous fellow.
His name is Matthew, and he is my son.
His eyes, the color of midnight, will continue to show me their shine
and prove to me that they are much more than slate, tossed aside as a cheap by-product.
No, his eyes are true coal.
They warm me from within.

My grandfather-the-breaker-boy would have picked him up,
dusted him off,
and placed him--
a priceless, treasured gem--
into the coal car with the rest of the good stuff.
He'd heat not just my heart, but whole homes.

Here's to the good stuff.

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