Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing a Christmas Letter to Umma

One of my all-time favorite photos of Matthew (even with that ridiculous buzz cut
they gave him, poor kid)'s framed huge and hanging in our hallway
upstairs...he's 4 months old in this photo.

Note to my readers: This is not one of my most concise of posts, so please get yourself a cup of tea or a glass of wine and snuggle up before reading this. I know that blog postings are supposed to be short and sweet. This one is sweet, I promise you that...but definitely not short.

Well, folks, I finally did it.

As I ramp up and start preparing for the holidays, one of my first steps (which will be an annual tradition of ours now) is to send Christmas letters and gifts to mail off to Korea: One for the amazing woman who brought him into the world and another for the equally amazing woman who introduced him to it--who took him to his monthly doctor's appointments, who held him when he cried, who comforted him and kept him safe. Note that I say "equally"--his birth mother is no less important than Umma, for without her, there would be no Matthew, no relationship with Umma. I am deeply indebted to, and grateful for, both of these ladies. Strong, beautiful ladies whose hands touched his and who gently guided him down the path to us.

So, after months of admittedly avoiding it, I have finally started writing a letter to Matthew's Umma (his foster mom; that's what we call her). I've written only one letter before this. And I was so nervous doing it, because I so wanted her to approve of the way we are raising him, of how he is growing into the amazing little boy he's become. (He's become much less serious; he laughs all the time. He babbles constantly, and says things like "uh-oh" and "all gone" and "airplane" and "baby" and even "yogurt"! And "please" and "thank you" are uttered often [compliments of Ms. Kim, his daycare provider!].)

It's almost like I'm scared to share him or something. Fearful that her mothering was "better" than mine is. That he'll remember it and prefer it over my own mothering. I know it's silly; why do we so often feel the need to compare ourselves with others? I tell myself, "Come on, Kath, he knows who Mama and Daddy are--and it's us! But, I do struggle with these feelings. It has little to do with Matthew, and everything to do with my own insecurities around motherhood (which, yes, I still have, even if it looks like I totally know what I am doing and feel 100% comfortable in this new role of "mother"--oh, the doubts and second guesses that go on in my head!).

And yes, I did say HAND writing the letter--which is how I've promised myself I will always write to her and to his birth mom (that letter will be later this month; that is one I'm avoiding even more than the Umma letter). It just feels more real that way...the paper that my hands have touched, will touch her hands. And because I'm touching Matthew all the time, maybe she will feel the energy of his love and the memory of his heart through such touch. In a world of technological innovations and keyboards and high-speed everything, it's been amazingly satisfying to pick up a pen, touch it to paper, and painstakingly (and time-consumingly!) create words from my own hands--the whirls and swirls and blots and dots that emerge from the purest of penmanship.

Oh, the letter writing: I have had such resistance to this, which in and of itself is a very difficult thing to admit to myself much less announce it to my readers in the blogosphere.

So, there you have it. I know you won't judge me for this. It's not that I don't want to write these letters: I do! I do! There is simply so much to say, I don't even know where to begin. And it takes ENERGY that I often don't have these days. I'm so tired in the evenings after he goes to bed [happily tired of course--but tired all the same]; and right now, I'm fighting this infection in my eye of all things, so reading/writing for an extended period is actually painful.

But, the other night--finally, with a glass of my favorite Chardonnay in hand, lights dimmed, music playing, Matthew safely tucked away in bed--I began writing. And then I couldn't stop. I just started at the place where my heart was at the time. And it got easier. As soon as the ink began flowing from pen to page, my heart opened, and I knew exactly what I would tell her. (And I knew that it would be a multi-day event; a very long letter, which she so rightly deserves, and I know she'll be eagerly reading every word, learning of what milestones Matthew has reached, what he's doing, what he looks like, how he's acting. And I am happy to tell her.).

I admitted to her that I didn't even know where to begin, and I apologized in advance if the letter began jumping all over the place. Lately, I have been overwhelmed, almost frozen, in the emotions that have been socking me over the head regarding Matthew and our life together with him--they are nothing but happy, joyful emotions, but at times, I don't even know how to take the dizziness of feeling such naked, simple, pure happiness. It's been a long time coming, and I am still getting used to the feeling.

And, as a result, I have (perhaps unwisely) chosen avoidance for now. Until now.

I know the court date was really just a formality and that he's been "ours" since December 14, 2009, but that very special day on October 29, 2010, meant much more to me than I thought it was going to. I think it was definitely a trigger for my deepest emotions finally bubbling up to the surface and reminding me that "we are still here; deal with us."

And deal with them I did. In the form of an "old-fashioned," handwritten letter, woman to woman, in a regular old college-ruled notebook. It felt good. And right.

Tonight, I'll go there again. And the next night. Until the letter is done, and I feel that I've said all I've needed to say (at least for another six months or so, when there will be more milestones to report on, more bragging to be done, more smiles to share).

What an odd dilemma for someone like me, a gal who loves to talk, who is extremely (perhaps overly) social, and who is accustomed to "too many vs. not enough" words. But, like so many other lessons I've learned about myself since Matthew came home, this is a lesson in and of itself.

I'm getting there.

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