Luck, mamahood and iambic pentameter(ish)

All the mamas in Maeve’s first grade class were asked to write a poem about their child and read it during a Mother’s Day tea. The kids wrote an acrostic poem for their mom and read it to them. (So cute!) One would think that given my fear of public speaking, my poem would have been short and sweet. (And preferably e-mailed. Sadly, that wasn’t an option.) Don’t know about sweet, but short it is not. I even warned the 46 (!) people I was reading it to. After I read it (without fainting!) and sat back at my seat, the mama-friend sitting next to me said it was classic Gretchen — just like my text messages. (aka L-O-N-G…)

Didn’t Shakespeare say that “verbosity is the soul of wit”? No? Are you sure? Hmmm, that’s a shame.

For you Maeve, on this Mother’s Day eve.

Love you more, love you most. -mama

This is the story of one lucky mama
And I’m not being silly or chock-full of drama.
This mama’s more lucky than lucky finds seven
From one to ten, my luck is eleven!
Why am I lucky, you may wonder and ask?
I’ll spell it all out, but it is quite a task.
Each day that I wake and take a big stretch
My heart is so full and my breath I must catch.
It was six years ago, this change in my world
My daughter arrived, my heart it unfurled.
This dear little bundle so precious and small
Grabbed onto my soul — in love I did fall.
A new little family, my heart was aglow
Then I saw something! What do you know?
As new baby slept, her lips in their pout
Made a perfect heart shape, of this I’ve no doubt!
I had to just watch her and take in the sight
I couldn’t love baby with any more might.
Toes oh-so-tiny and hair oh-so-straight
Big dreams I had dreamed but then had to wait.
Like large ocean waves, in blues deep as the sea
Maeve entered my life and changed all of me.
Before I was “mom,” how I’d wished on a star
Maeve’s middle name, then picked from afar.
Its African meaning I’ve always been told
Is a message to me that will never grow old.
Kya means diamond, so high in the sky
A star with the power to make my heart fly.
Dare to discover just how lucky I feel?
To be part of her story, and know it’s all real?
Well, catch the world’s luck and hold it real tight
Push it under your pillow then dream big all night!
As new mamas know, there’s so much to learn
Unknowns and surprises we don’t always yearn.
But there are some, so full of delight
Like seeing a change just appear overnight!
One morning’s bath, I received such a shock
When sprung from her head was a curl in her lock!
And each day that followed, more spirals did spring
How sweet it all was — yes, oh what a thing!
I looked in those eyes so dark and so round
Couldn’t believe all this luck I had found.
If four-leaf clovers, I thought, are called such a prize
She’s my million-leaf clover! How’s that for size?
Such awe that I felt as I witnessed her grow,
One step, then another — wait, where’d baby go?
The new toddling toddler taught me so much
Adventures we shared, sweet, silly and such!
Her first word was Ella (that’s our long-haired gray cat)
How she’d grab that big tail, oh, yes I remember all that!
Life’s full of choices — that holds true for tykes
They grow into people with their own list of likes:
At the beach she did frolic, diving in sand.
She ate olives like me, five on each hand
On the color of yellow and giraffes she did crush,
When her first tooth appeared, my heart went to mush.
So quickly that toddling, turned running galore
And playing and laughing and learning much more.
As time flew right by me, all her teeth they flew in
And now that she’s six, she’s changing that grin.
When the Tooth Fairy comes, so sneaky at night
I so want to yell, “No! This just isn’t right!”
She’s growing too fast, discovering herself
Those old baby days tucked high on a shelf.
Now in first grade, just how can that be?
Wasn’t a baby just crying for me?
She loves to be tickled, keeps begging for more
We don’t even stop until we’re both sore.
Then we cuddle and dance and laugh ‘till we cry
Then calm ourselves down and join in a sigh.
From fun family game night to lollipop licks
I watch from the sidelines her big soccer kicks
She rides her bike fast to see where it goes
Big adventures await her that nobody knows.
I’m lucky to know her and love her as mine
Forever her mama and helping her shine.
Her name it was picked from some cool Irish lore
Where Maeve was a queen and never a bore.
So strong and so smart — knew what she wanted
From fears and unknowns she never was daunted.
My wish for you Maeve, is to grow and be strong
Do what you fear and sing your own song!
You’ll learn and you’ll love and you’ll shed a tear,
But you’ll always have me and my big – biggest – cheer.
How much do I love you? Let me tell you it’s more
Each day that you knock on my tender heart door.
Luck it comes and luck it goes — but mine will surely stay.
You are my sky-bright star, my heart-shaped lips, my luck in every way.
So fling coins in a fountain, hang horseshoes upright
Walk around ladders then close your eyes tight.
Wish on the stars and cross fingers for luck
Inside of your shoes, old pennies do tuck.
Grab hold of ten wishbones then give ‘em a pull
That’s still not as lucky as my own heart is full.
These things may be nice and can feel so divine,
But not one can compare to this daughter-of-mine.


And this is Maeve’s acrostic poem to me:

My mom is smart.

On Fridays she lets me pick out a movie.

The pizzas she makes are really good.

Her hair is pretty.


Reads me books.

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On missing teeth … and so much more

They’re dropping like flies. Little white enamel-covered flies.

Tonight, when Maeve is sleeping, floating in slumberland, her body resting up for another day of intense summer play, the quarter-laden Tooth Fairy will make yet another appearance in our neighborhood, at the homes of two of Maeve’s friends.

As for Maeve, she’s not yet welcomed this mysterious visitor. There’s been no flutter of wings that brush by her sleeping face or tiny bits of sparkle left behind on her pillow. And if her deeply rooted pearly whites are any indication, that visit isn’t on the Tooth Fairy’s itinerary anytime soon. (This, despite her pulling and pushing on each, sure that “this time” something’s come loose.)

Tooth talk is fast and furious among the five- and six-year-old set, with gleeful announcements and excited displays of tooth-wiggling and look-at-my-tongue-poking-through-the-new-hole moments.

Inevitably these casual celebrations of coming of age turn to tallies – who’s lost how many and when. Then, as if on cue, comes the natural jump to tales of genetics: When Sally’s mom got – and lost – her first tooth, if Harry’s dad was in preschool or first grade when he lost his and whether his teeth came in early or late, and what all of this means for their progeny.

At this point in the conversation, of course, there’s not much I can contribute. Spurred by maternal instinct, my mind wanders to my own childhood and tooth timeline in an effort to uncover some sort of predictor for Maeve. But in a flash I am back, a bit embarrassed I’d sort of forgotten about my path to parenthood and the lack of DNA threads tying Maeve and I together. There simply is no charted course we can follow as she nears these biology-based milestones.

The truth is, of course, I never really forget. Not just because, as an adoptive mom and a wife to an adoptee, adoption has hugely impacted my life. No. I don’t forget because each day I am presented with yet another opportunity to see my daughter learn, struggle, celebrate, fail and overcome – and I know her first mother is missing it all.

Sometimes I am there with tears of joy – seeing her dance her heart out in the year-end recital, graduate from kindergarten, earn her next karate belt with ease, or finally conquer the sight word that had eluded her. When Maeve left her training wheels in the dust, her eyes lit and my heart swelled.

Other times, I shed tears of frustration – a friend’s rejection that left her broken-hearted and confused, her recent wrestle with particularly intense stuttering (the medical forms at the speech pathologist’s office asking if there was a genetic predisposition), or a temper tantrum or bad choice that comes seemingly out of nowhere and with full force.

Still, whether celebrating or struggling, we are together and this could make it possible to “forget,” to consider myself and my carefully crafted family a whole unto itself – daily reminders like developmental milestones and medical history forms be damned.

But the fact is, we are not whole. Maeve’s own story is missing key players. And because of that, our family’s cast of characters is not quite complete.

At this time, contact with Maeve’s first mom B. is entirely in her control – her stepping back some time ago means we can only wait, our arms open and our hearts committed, for her to be ready. Honestly, it’s not an easy place to be.

No matter how much I love Maeve, or how “perfectly” I try to love her, celebrate her and support her, I will never be her first mother, the woman who made her and brought her into this world. The world in which she now celebrates, struggles and finds herself landing in all the confusing places inbetween.

And therein lies a loss that cannot be swept under the carpet or placed neatly into a box to rest on a forgotten shelf. As Maeve’s mom — but not her first mom — it’s a struggle: How can I make her feel whole when she has such a fundamental loss? I am all too aware that my very presence in her life is because someone else is absent.

My mama role means ensuring my child is healthy, happy, generous and kind; that she is whole. The work to do that, of course, is monumental. It can be exhilarating and uplifting, it can be exhausting. Depends on the day.

As we merged onto the highway after leaving this year’s adoption picnic, Maeve shared an observation from her perch in the backseat: “Hey, Mom? Dad? I didn’t see B. there.”

No, Maeve, you didn’t.

But oh how we wish you did. She could try to wiggle a tooth loose for you and share with you her own tooth timeline. She could hug you hard when you fall, try to make sense of confusion, twirl your curls around her own finger and clap as loudly as we do when you soar. We could all work on being whole together, in our own version of a family that makes sense for everyone.

And it would be monumental. And exhilarating. And uplifting. And exhausting.

But most of all, it would be amazing.

This is the latest Musings of an Adoptive Mama column from the quarterly publication, Adoption News, by Adoptions From The Heart.

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From grief … a gift

I’m in the midst of losing my grandmother. Losing her to a wicked disease that has transformed her body into a prison from which she cannot escape. Not being able to turn a key became not being able to hold a fork, which became not being able to walk. Now, she cannot speak. But I look into her eyes, a color of brown that Maeve’s crayon palette would deem Burnt Sienna, and I see a world of things she wants to say but cannot. I see a life of experiences she can no longer share with those around her. Recipes and rituals once rote to her are now outside her reach, and outside of ours for posterity. Her body has turned on her.

I watch all this play out before me like a car accident, tires screeching with urgency, yet seemingly in slow motion.

I am not unique, I imagine, in having the childhood memory of riding in the front seat of the family car when a parental arm suddenly flings out, steady and firm against the child’s chest, as the car brakes to avoid an accident.

Today, dear mirror on the wall, I see that I am my parents after all. My arm now instinctively reaches to Maeve, as if I can somehow protect her from the tragic scene unfolding before us. Yet I know that as the matriarch of the family slips away, I must loosen that grip and expose my daughter to certain pain.

As little as two weeks ago, Maeve could run into her grandparents’ home to greet her great-grandmother like countless times before. She’d sit near my grandmother’s chair and they would chat, Maeve bringing to life my grandmother’s pale blue plastic statues of the Virgin Mary in skits of domesticity or glamorous theater like only a young girl can.

Those rituals are no longer; my grandmother has slipped further away from us. My grandmother was there the day we arrived home from our three-day stint in a hotel as new parents. She has since attended her dance recitals, kid-centric birthday parties, and even watched from the front row as a cap-and-gown clad Maeve graduated preschool.

Her presence over the years has taught Maeve to be gentle with her touch, to recognize when someone might need extra help. Like “helping” Gram-Gram to the electric lift chair along the stairs that Maeve not-so-secretly wishes was her own plaything, installed not to give mobility to an ailing parent but rather as a grand gesture purely for a granddaughter and her visits! Or the birthday candles Maeve proudly “helps” Gram-Gram blow out on her birthday cake — this despite my grandmother’s germ-concerned pet peeve about the whole candle-blowing ritual to begin with.

While their lives have overlapped just a handful of years, the two generations are now forever linked by these memories, these threads that when woven together create a tapestry of family history and heritage.

The grief in eventually losing Gram-Gram will eventually be outweighed by the gift of them knowing one another. Each flavored one another’s existence in some unchangeable way that is unique to them — all the while without a shred of shared DNA.

So exactly why is it that so many seek to keep others — with actual genetic proprietary rights! — from living so authentically?

Sealed birth records take what is splintered and force a fracture. As manila files replete with long-sought answers sit in dark, dusty storage units, life outside moves on, time takes its toll and key characters in each story can be lost forever.

Blacking out identifying information weakens the thread of family heritage, to be sure; but such black-lining cannot erase a story that’s already begun. There is no ink dark enough.

Now, I have no pie-in-the-sky notion that every birth mother, birth father and child will link arms, sing Kumbaya and skip into a forever full only of familial bliss. (Do you know any family like this?) Still, we each deserve the opportunity to write our own stories with its full cast of characters. No one should have their story written for them, missing chapters be damned.

Yes, Maeve will hurt when she loses her great-grandmother. Yes, my parental arms will instinctively reach for my daughter, trying to lessen the sting for us both. Yes, I will seek solace in knowing it stings because we were lucky enough to know her, to love her, and to share life with her.

Not everyone gets that chance.

The Adoptee’s Birthright Bill permits access to original birth certificates. A-1406 awaits a posting before, and vote by, the full New Jersey Assembly. Encourage your legislator to support access to original birth certificates. Call 800-792-8630 for your legislators’ names and contact information, or log on to for contact information and a full text of the bill.

This is my latest column from Adoption From The Heart’s Adoption News.

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Adoption’s Doors: Still Under Lock and Key

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round,
round and round, all … day … long.

The doors on the bus go open and shut, open and shut,
open and shut, all … day … long.

Since Maeve was about a year old, her love of music and her animated participation in singing this, or any song for that matter, has made for delightful moments. Since music is a constant in our home, she’s becoming accustomed to its myriad forms, including children’s sing-a-longs, classical, rock, folk, blues, jazz and reggae.

Wheels on the Bus was long on the set list for our morning car ride cabaret. And whether it’s the bus driver’s order to “move on back” or horns going “beep, beep, beep,” her chunky little hands and sweet segmented baby arms were in full musical orchestration from her car seat podium in the backseat.

One of her favorite stanza detailed the bus doors that “open and shut, open and shut,” while her arms stretched to their widest limits, then quickly, and with as much force as she could muster, her hands slapped together — clap — with precision. Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

One morning in particular, though, those words rattled in my mind long after the song’s end. Not just as juvenile lyrics about mass transportation, but as concepts, as realities. Both are realities in adoption; both are realities in my world. After all, I am mother to a young girl in an open adoption. I am wife to a man whose adoption remains tightly shut by the laws in his Ohio birthstate. A stark contrast between the two, to be sure:


I have never set eyes on the woman who brought my husband into the world.
Not only have I met the woman that brought my daughter into the world,
I have hugged her – long and hard.


I have never heard my husband’s birth mother speak.
I know not whether his voice and its intonations echo hers.
Not only have I heard the voice of my daughter’s birth mother, we’ve spoken– sharing conversations, sentiments, moments.


When I gaze into my husband’s distinct eyes or admire the dark, loose curls upon his head,
I have no point of reference from which to travel,
branch-to-branch, along a family tree of physical attributes.
Yet I can trace the rosy hue and heart-shaped curves of my daughter’s lips,
even the contour of her jaw and chin, directly to her birth mother’s siblings.
Because we met them and I saw the similarities for myself.
And on that warm summer day, we sat, on a blanket in a park
and played with the baby that connects us all.


In a moment of medical crisis, there would be no family history on which my husband could rely. No way to shed light in a time of darkness.
Yet, for our daughter, there are forms completed by her birth mother that reference three generations of medical matters. More than that, if our daughter’s health were in peril, her birth mother could be reached.


Based on decades-old recollection from my husband’s adoptive family, two possible names for his birth mother and one for the hospital are scrawled on a sheet of looseleaf paper.

Although agency records cite such specifics, they are black-lined to him. I don’t rely on recollection for fundamental facts about my daughter’s story.

Her birth mother’s name is Known. Written. Spoken. Photographs of her birth mother are in our home, within our daughter’s grasp.

The hospital where our daughter took her first breath? We were called to it.


For my husband, there are questions that remain unanswered. For my daughter, there are stories to share, memories to make, friendships to forge, milestones to mark.


Open and shut. Open and shut. Open and shut.

This is the latest column, Musings of an Adoptive Mama, published in January 2011. Longtime readers will recognize the remix of an oldie but a goodie — and still incredibly pertinent as we await passage of New Jersey’s Adoptee Birthright Bill, opening sealed adoption records. While the bill has passed the state Senate, A-1406 currently awaits posting before the full Assembly for a vote.

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Fostering Friendship

Five summers ago, my husband and I shared a picnic blanket with a couple we’d only recently met. Perched in a parking lot alongside the Navesink River in Red Bank, N.J., we awaited the sun to set and the night sky to fill with an extravaganza of colored lights. “The best around,” they’d promised.

Fireworks weren’t all we were waiting for. That first Fourth of July we spent together was also our last as couples without children. We met during Adoption From The Heart’s education classes and, after talking long after the session ended, we exchanged email addresses in a first act of “oh-my-gosh-they-have-the-same-anxiety-and-excitement-and-questions-and-fears-as-us” friendship.

After the next class and later the video shoot, we moved our chats to a nearby restaurant where we shared stories, fielded questions and got to know each other with a fervor – for hours at a clip. Emails seeking advice or sharing thoughts flooded one another’s in-boxes. We even talked about the inevitable situation when one couple would become parents before the other. Good thing, because just weeks after that shared Independence Day, the first call from our social worker came. The second followed within the month.

Weeks later we were together again, meeting newborn baby daughters, coddling them in colossal proportions and propping them next to each other for parent-paparazzi photo shoots. We opened gifts, compared feeding and sleeping schedules, and talked about home visits from social workers. Plans were made for our next gathering and, much like proud parents of a newly arranged marriage, we imagined their future together.

We’ve since celebrated birthdays, shared their first aquarium visit (the girls eating fish-shaped crackers from their stroller trays was an irony we noted more than once), left presents under each other’s Christmas tree, picnicked at the park, visited the zoo, talked of sharing a vacation someday, had family sleepovers capping hours of boardwalk rides or beach time, and spent cool evenings by a fire with tired kids on our laps, stars twinkling and crickets serenading yet another terrific time together.

Over the years we’ve shared meltdowns, milestones and diaper drama, asked “what do you do?” when a new stage or behavior has us stumped, and shared countless new-parent anecdotes. We’ve delighted in confusing strangers who assumed, thanks to the girls’ similar curls and complexion, they were twins. “Well,” we’d respond with devious smiles, “they’re three weeks apart.” When one of us welcomed another daughter, we all shared in that joy. We chuckle nervously about the tween and teen years to come, noting our “what do you do?” conversations will be so very different then.

Last year a move took one family out of state, changing the regularity of visits. Yet we still welcomed 2010 together, sitting before a fire in a new home, surrounded by the chaos that is three girls in dress-up, singing into microphones, opening holiday gifts and blowing party horns until their little bodies could take no more.

This summer we spent yet another steamy July evening crowded onto a picnic blanket along the Navesink River. Despite geography and another imminent family move, the foursome-turned-sevensome carried on as usual, continuing a tradition that began five years ago: sharing stories and making memories, and deepening a friendship that started when making long-haul friends was the last thing on our minds.

A framed photo of the two girls – the once “arranged friends” – sits by my daughter’s bedside. Despite current preschool friends and new friends to make at kindergarten this fall, nothing can change the comforting story of her first friend. Recently, one of the girls actually reflected on their friendship: “Mom, she’s more than a friend, isn’t she? She’s more like … a sister.” Not bad for a four-year-old!

I’d like to think that when the girls really begin to process their adoptions – each with their own very different story – they can trust the foundation we’ve created for them and, much like their folks have done, lean on the friend they have in one another.

My latest Musings of An Adoptive Mama column, published Summer 2010 –

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Roots and Wings

Aside from the pitter patter of pet paws and my own keyboard clicks, the house is strangely silent. As a mom of an almost five year old, this hush doesn’t happen often.

Maeve is two houses away, playing inside with two long-time neighbor girls a few years her elder – and they all are delighted. Yesterday the new threesome played in our home, reading books, dressing up, chasing cats and even plopping down at the kitchen table to ask for a snack.

This is all so new to me. Now, we’ve shared playdates with preschool friends or meet-ups at the park – but as I’ve learned today, that’s so very different than letting her “be” without me or her dad. It’s just not about her being sans parent sidekicks, but we’ve orchestrated most every decision since we changed her first diaper. (Apologies to the future tweeny Maeve reading this. Yes, I mentioned your diapers to the world. Cue eye-roll … now!)

And in these moments I wonder if she will remember all we’ve tried to instill. Who will she “be” when not reminded by omnipotent voices from a few feet away to say thank you. Pick up the toys when you’re done. Take turns. Share. Be helpful. Use your kind voice. Make a good choice.

In five months, I’ll watch her enter elementary school as a kindergartner. Will she bravely bound inside, eager for new adventures? Or will she look back at me for assurance one last time before the door closes behind her? (If it’s anything like her first day at daycare when I returned to work, perhaps I should arrange for someone to get me home afterwards – who can see through all those tears to safely navigate a car through the streets?)

My mind sends me a reminder notice that this is just the beginning of an independence I’m supposed to be cultivating. You know, roots and wings.

Yet my maudlin heart responds with equal urgency that the moments are fleeting, the cuddles are numbered and it won’t be long before we’re not holding hands in public anymore.

I can’t help but be reminded of an excerpt in the book Tuesdays with Morrie:

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. … A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.”

That tug-of-war in my heart is as fierce as her concentration while pumping on the playground swings or pushing her little Chucks into the pavement – handlebar tassels blowing in her breeze – as she and her Radio Flyer scooter sail away. Away from me, from her dad. Away from needing us so completely. Away from the cocoon we’ve enveloped her in since the day she made us a family.

The stillness in the house suddenly cuts sharply, and my thoughts are rattled back to the here and now as I hear the laughter and chatter of three new pals heading toward me, and just a few minutes after the return time I’d assigned.

The door swings open and the gleam in her eye is blinding. The energy she radiates brings me back to the bliss of my own childhood when the only concern was what to play next and how much time before dark.

Maeve smiles at me, and in this moment of welcoming, I feel so strongly the connection we’ve carefully cultivated while in that little cocoon.

That passage from Tuesdays with Morrie ends with this: “Which side wins? Love wins. Love always wins.”



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Board books to bikes

There’s a lot going on in my household these days. In fact, as we prepare to close on the sale of our home, I’m realizing just how much has gone on in our household.

When Thom and I bought the house, it was an old place with good bones. Eyeing its potential, we reveled in its charm and old-house details, convinced it just needed some paint and spackle. A couple cases of spackle, myriad repairs and countless gallons of paint later, it did become a home.

With that start, the house already was loaded with sentiment. But then it became the first place in which I rocked my child to sleep, the spot where I began to learn the daunting ropes of motherhood.

Bittersweet is an understatement.

It’s where my mom and sister came just hours after we received “the call” to help pack for the hospital. It’s the crackle of the stone driveway I hear each time I remember bringing Maeve home, our extended families standing there waiting to meet her.

In our living room she toddled her first steps, right into my sister’s welcoming arms.

For her first birthday, we celebrated in the backyard: our closest friends and family, countless balloons, food galore, bright tablecloths, a packed piñata, and multiple cakes.

We gather on the couch to read – first baby board books, now stacks of picture books – in front of a crackling fire.

Maeve chases cats Kate and Ella around and under and over and up and down the house, once a crawling baby and now a young girl, determined to cement a friendship.

Sitting in the shadows of the tree each Christmas morning, we’ve watched Maeve’s excitement and understanding grow. This year, a shiny new bike greeted her as she came downstairs.

We’ve hurried up those same stairs on movie night to pick the evening’s entertainment.

She’s moved from sweet nursery with mosquito netting and soft teddy bear to sassy big-girl room with play tent and carefully arranged dolls.

Maeve took her first bite of corn-on-the-cob — now her favorite vegetable — on the bright red bench in our breakfast nook. In that same spot, we now practice writing her name and numbers.

The screech of her bench dragging across bathroom tile to stop just in front of the sink — the required preface to toothpaste-squeezing (not so much, Maeve!), tooth-brushing (a little longer, Maeve!) and vitamin-choosing (any one of them will do, Maeve!) — will soon be just a memory.

When we all cuddle in our bed, her foot jutting into my side or her head bumping into Thom’s, we ask how she got so big. She giggles and as if she’s revealing a secret, tells us she just can’t help it, she has to grow into “a dult” like us. Then we tell her again how at just a few days old, she lay between us in this very bed and we stared with amazement, watching her every move.

Since the house went on the market, I’ve been stumbling around these and so many other memories, trying to make sense of leaving it all behind.

Then my mother, in an oh-so-motherly tone, set me straight: “Gretchen, when you get down to it, a house is just a bunch of wood and nails. It’s you and your family that make up all those moments. That’s what makes wood and nails a home.”

Enough said. So I’ll keep packing, shed a few more tears and then let go, knowing we’re starting a new chapter in the book that is our family. There are new memories to create, dreams to make a reality – perhaps a sibling for Maeve – and family stories not yet written.

Deep breath, Gretchen, deep breath. Then off to the next pile of wood and nails.

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