Saturday, August 7, 2010

Where We've Been...And How Far We've Come

It's been a long time since I've blogged. For a lot of reasons, none of which I really want to go into right now. So let's just get to the good stuff. Another blog posting...FINALLY!...from yours truly.

We had such a fun day today. Matthew, Jeff, and I went to a place called Clark's Elioak Farm, a small, family-owned farm (that has a long history of families going there over the's somewhat of a Maryland legacy) where you can walk around, pet the animals, go on pony rides and hayrides, host birthday parties, and play on the gazillion fun things they have there for kids. Including a huge, larger-than-life sized shoe (pictured here), reminiscent of the Old Woman in the Shoe fairy tale. This is just one of the many fairy-tale statues they have here. It's really cool.

Matthew is walking now. As of last week...FINALLY! To say I'm relieved is putting it mildly. (Now, if we can only get him saying something besides "ma-ma" and "da-da" and "uh"! I know, I know...patience!) So he had fun finding his feet and walking around on the (very unsteady) grassy field of the farm. Good practice for him. He'd fall in the soft grass only to staunchly get up again. It was a riot to see him walking like a miniature drunkard, belly sticking out, feet wide apart, toting his Buzz Lightyear sippy cup with water in it. As a mom, I'm really enjoying being an almost breathless witness to this whole walking transition. I see before my eyes my child changing and growing--somehow, as a "vertical" kid he seems so much  more grown up and already, not the baby we brought home 8 months ago (yes! Next week it will be EIGHT MONTHS! Can you believe it?!?) but ever so much more a little boy.

Later that day, we ended up at the bookstore. And Matthew and I inevitably ended up in the children's section while Jeff was browsing through the science section. We were playing with one of the toys when this woman approached us and very purposefully said "hello, there" (to Matthew, not to me). She began to engage me in conversation, asking me how old he was and when we brought him home. I began to suspect we had a common adoption connection right then and there. Sure enough, the next thing she said "How long did you wait?" and then "We're waiting, too." And she pointed over to her husband and her daughter, who kind of waved at me. The daughter, armed with a pile of children's books, didn't look thrilled and actually looked kind of embarrassed that her mom was seeking out strangers simply b/c they were parents of adopted children--parents just like the one her daughter is about to become. They were buying one of the "classic" adoption-friendly kids' books called "A Mother for Choco" and of course, the memories started to flow for me. They asked me all kinds of questions. How long did we wait. Did we know we were getting a boy. Which agency are we using. How was the transition. What was he eating when he came to us. And on and on.

The woman (future adoptive parent, that is) seemed hesitant to talk with me too openly (although you all know I'm an extremely open person so I was gabbing away as easily and proudly as could be, more to the woman's mom than to the woman herself), so I didn't push it or ask her too many questions. I got the sense she was kind of shy about it still, and still feeling her way around her foray into the world of adoptive parenting. She clearly didn't seem to be in a very good place, or state of mind, on this particular day. She emanated sadness and frustration. There was a heaviness about her spirit, a sadness that I distinctly saw b/c I remembered feeling it, too.

I asked her "So, are you getting excited?" She sighed and said yes, but this wait is just so hard. "We sent our dossier to Korea back in January. We've been waiting ever since."

She reminded me of me, just one year ago. It felt like Matthew was so far away, physically, mentally, emotionally. At times, I was ready to lose my MIND. But I gently reminded her that we are lucky, in the adoption process (vs. the IVF or "getting pregnant" process that I carefully avoided directly referring to but she knew what I meant), b/c we absolutely positively KNOW at the end of all this, we will have a child. We WILL be parents. I tried to keep the conversation upbeat, and positive, but I empathized with her outright about how frustratingly long and difficult and roller-coaster-like that wait really is. I told her to hang in there. They were all smiles and sweetness for Matthew, and in that moment, I felt SO PROUD to be his mama. He was clinging to my shirt but shyly smiling at them all the same. I can't even put into words how proud I was. And how proud I was to be sharing my story with others. Loudly. In the middle of a bookstore, where perhaps we were the only two adoptive families in the bookstore. (In this moment, I realized that I think I'm comfortable with the role of "educator of others" about all things adoption!) I thought about where we've been as a family (we've certainly "been there" just like she and her husband now are...WAITING, WAITING, WAITING). But mostly, I thought about how far we've come, and how happy I am to have strapped myself into that roller coaster in the first place, wearing my fear around me like heavy armor but still getting into that damn car. It was at times a terrifying ride. With unknown twists and turns that jolted me forward and then backward. It was also an exhilarating ride that left me breathless and amazed at the miracle that emerged from all of it.

Not just one little boy, but an entire family, transformed.

Dammit, I love my son. It's the hardest thing I've ever done but also the most rewarding. He pushes EVERY SINGLE ONE of my buttons. But still, I love him as the day is long. Perhaps one of the reasons I've not written in so long is simply b/c there is SO MUCH to say. So much has changed. Mostly for the better. Where do I even begin? (So today, I finally dove right in, thanks to this family of strangers who walked up to me and acknowledged the kinship that we all share.)

So, I dedicate this blog posting to the young woman in the Germantown Borders who seemed to have some sadness and frustration tugging at the corners of her smile.

And her parents (who are going to be FABULOUS grandparents, I can already tell!).

And her husband.

And to all parents who are still waiting to be parents.

If you're waiting for a referral or waiting for your child to come home (shout-out to Emily and Lauren and their respective spouses here!), just know that SO MUCH JOY awaits you. Trust me; he or she is (or they are) worth the wait. I'd sign fifteen more mountains of paperwork and wait even longer than I already did, if it meant bringing Matthew into my life all over again.

Today, the simple act of human connection, in such a random, "at-the-right-place-at-the-right-time" kind of way, caused me to reflect on where we've been, and how far we as a family have come. No, it's not easy. And I'm so often NOT finding motherhood nearly as intuitive as I thought I'd find it. It's not perfect. But it's now a part of my identity. But am I happy, and do I feel full up with the satisfaction that comes from mothering my son?

Hell, yeah.

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