Monthly Archives: May 2007

My Own Love Thursday

weddingblurred.jpg
Being silly and betrothed, 1999

Eight years ago yesterday, Thomas and I said “I do.” Well, technically we never said those two words as we had written our own vows, not realizing the infamous “I do” wouldn’t still be included by the priest marrying us. I’m fairly sure, just moments after walking up the aisle with my new husband — tossed rose petals still in my decolletage — I panicked and then asked quizzically, “Wait — did we say “I do”?

A week later, on our Bermudian cruise, we renewed our still-fresh vows along with about 100 other couples likely betrothed much longer than seven days. But still, I was happy to have said, “I do.”

Several years later, Tom’s parents celebrated a milestone anniversary and we all ventured to Chicago where they renewed their vows in the very church they had said them decades ago.  Their own siblings, as well as others who had stood up for them on their wedding day, were there to celebrate the moment.

At the end of the renewal, the priest called Tom’s parents’ five children and spouses up to renew their own vows as well in this beautiful old cathedral on the anniversary of their parents’ wedding.

Seems to me, at this point our vows are set in something darn-near stone.

Although yesterday we celebrated eight married years together, in two weeks, it will be 15 years since our very first date. Fifteen years. I was just 19 when we met and took weeks to muster the courage to ask him out. Until then, I’d been asked out or it had been a mutual decision to go out with someone — this was the first “boy” for whom I was brave enough, determined enough, smitten enough to make the first move.

Last night I arrived home from work to a large bouquet of 20 or so roses he had picked from our backyard garden and arranged himself, accented with large, green hosta leaves he’d clipped from the front garden. We then went out for dinner while Maeve played at home with her aunt and cousin.

Funny thing is, the entire Adult Dinner was spent talking about our little sassafrass Maevy Gravy. And her birth mother. And our upcoming visit. And how we want things to play out for our daughter and the life we are determined to provide her. For an evening free of cubed food, board books and sippy cups, she sure was with us: we laughed about her latest silliness, smiled over her juiciness, admired the outgoing personality that emerges more each day, and shook our heads in disbelief that she will be two in less than eight weeks.

Hours later, as we prepared for bed, I fell asleep before Tom ever made it into the bedroom from his readying-for-bed routine. Him setting his alarm and climbing in woke me up. I grumbled and mumbled something about being jostled from sleep. As I tried to rediscover slumberland, myriad thoughts of things to do, things to remember, and things to remember to do filled my mind.

In an effort to remove some of the To Do’s hijacking my brain, I reminded him about two phone calls he needed to make today. He stirred a bit, grumbled and then mumbled something about how now I had woken him.

Ah, how “old and married” we sounded.

Then he reached over and rested his hand on my back in what I knew was code for “Didn’t mean to grumble. Happy Anniversary, You.”

As I began to drift to sleep, I thought: So this is what us being in love for 15 years is like. I’m sure I was smiling.

Oh I do, baby, I do.

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Filed under Family, Husbands, Love, Relationships, Weddings

Adoption Leave moves forward!

Success! S-2249 was approved 8-6 today by the Budget and Appropriations Committee and will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration!

New Jersey is on its way — at least closer than ever before — to securing paid family leave for all, and being the second state in the nation to stand by its families.

Here’s an article from the state’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, discussing today’s movement on the bill. It seems the 12-week leave period was shortened to 10, and I’m working on finding out what other tweaking was done to the bill.

My sincere thanks to all who clicked through and e-mailed the committee leaders — I actually wrote to every last member of the committee and heard back personally from one of them.

Be assured, I will keep you posted and seek your assistance again in getting our voices heard on this before it’s voted on by the full Senate. (Just finding my blog now? Check out the “Adoption Leave” tab at the top for the sequence of essays that not only discuss the subject, but track legislation here in New Jersey.) 

The seeds are planted and there’s new growth peeking through the soil here in the Garden State. Paid family leave legislation not only survives, it moves forward.

May blooms be on the horizon. For New Jersey. For the 48 others that will need to follow.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Children, Family, Family Leave, Legislation, Making a difference, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting

Adoption Leave: Sample language

One more reminder that tomorrow’s the vote on S-2249, the bill to mandate paid family leave, which would include adoptive parents.

Need a quick primer? Scroll down a couple posts to get the full story and links to past essays detailing the bill.

Now’s the time to send off those notes of support to the heads of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Sens. Bernard Kenny (SenKenny@njleg.org) and Sharpe James (SenJames@njleg.org).

And to make it even easier, I’m providing sample wording a colleague of mine used. Feel free to copy and paste the succinct language for use as your own — or simply as a base upon which to build. Either way, it’s imperative these folks here from you. Now.

***

Senators:
I am writing to express my support for S-2249, which extends paid family leave benefits to adoptive parents, and is up for a vote in the Budget and Appropriations Committee tomorrow (Thursday, May 24).

I hope you share my belief that all families should be given the opportunity to take time to forge the necessary parent-child bonds free of financial worries related to missing work.

I urge you to support this piece of legislation. Thank you.

***

It’s that easy folks! Please take the time today! And remember: You don’t have to be a Jerseyan to show your support for paid family leave. California and New Jersey may serve as examples that push your state to act on this important issue.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Children, Family, Family Leave, Legislation, Making a difference, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting

When one door closes, another one …

It’s good to know people other than myself have days like this:

Tonight when Maeve and I were leaving her daycare and navigating the parking lot to my car, a woman sitting in the backseat of her car knocked on the window to get my attention.

After my heart resumed its beat — I hadn’t noticed her before that moment and she scared the you-know-what out of me — I figured I must know the woman, that she’s a parent of a little one in Maeve’s classroom. But when I bent down to get a better look and see what she was trying to tell me, I realized I didn’t know her at all.

Yet this stranger — sitting between her two young children snug in their carseats — sure was adamant about getting my attention. She was mouthing words and pointing to the inside of her car door.

Ok, I thought, I’ll bite.  I’ve always liked charades.

So I opened her door.

“Thank goodness!” she exclaimed, a bit exasperated.

“I childlocked myself in here.”

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Filed under Adoption, Children, Parenting

Adoption Leave: Defining Moment

If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it.
You have an obligation to change it.
You just do it one step at a time.
— Marian Wright Edelman

OK, folks. This. Is. It.

Two days from now, on Thursday, the piece of New Jersey legislation I’ve written about extensively here and here — it gives all working parents paid family leave to care for their new child — comes to a vote in the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Now is the time to again voice your support in providing all families — no matter how they are formed — the invaluable adjustment and bonding time they deserve without fearing severe financial detriment. No one should have to choose between caring for their family or supporting it. This is about embracing families and making their health and happiness a social priority. Period.

If you aren’t an adoptive parent but know one, care about one, love one, think you might one day become one — heck, have nothing to do with adoption but just think it commonsense that all new parents bringing a child into their lives, into their family, be treated equally — then this is the time to take notice. If you’re not up on the issue, read my previous essays linked above for details on the legislation, including how the paid leave actually would be financed.

And by the way: You don’t have to live in New Jersey to care about this, because it will affect you too. Read on.

Word here is, the governor’s administration and some folks in the state legislature are saying the family paid leave legislation — after decades of dying in limbo — is finally moving on a fast track and that Gov. Jon S. Corzine is pushing hard to get it to his desk for signing.

Thing is, the state’s powerful Chamber of Commerce is pushing right back. In opposition to the bill they call “onerous” and one that will “severely disrupt the operations of comapnies, as managers scramble to find and pay for replacements for workers taking time off,” they’ve got an e-mail blitz going on now to senators to try to dismantle support for the historic legislation.

We can blitz, too.

Thomas Jefferson said, “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.”

So, make your voice heard before Thursday — even if you did so months ago when it was first discussed here on musings:mamahood&more — now is the time to let the committee members and governor (links are below) know how imperative it is that the Garden State join ranks with California in requiring paid family leave. Although New Jersey and federal laws already allow 12 weeks’ unpaid leave, many families cannot afford that option — especially after handling extensive adoption costs. Often, adoptive parents have their children placed into their arms only to hurry back to work to pay the bills. Bonding be damned.

S-2249 would mandate up to 12 weeks’ paid leave for employees to care for a newly adopted child or an ill family member. The full text of the bill is here. And, for the first time, the leave would apply to businesses with less than 50 employees. That’s where the Chamber of Commerce is balking. Seems to me, offering such a benefit is a long-term commitment to an employee that, more often than not, the employer will see return in spades. Job satisfaction goes a long way to stem sick time and turnover.

Those of you not in New Jersey who think this won’t affect you, please consider this: Every time another state takes notice and gives its families the rights they deserve, the momentum grows. Parents everywhere should be heard. The larger the group, the louder the voice, the blurrier the state lines, the more unified the message nationwide. Your state could be next to step up and embrace today’s families.

Two days and counting. Reach out now to the Senate committee chairmen, Bernard Kenny (SenKenny@njleg.org) and Sharpe James (SenJames@njleg.org), as well as Gov. Corzine, to give your nod to the notion.

And may you find inspiration in these words from Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption leave, Children, Discussing Adoption, Family Leave, Making a difference, Paid Adoption Leave, Parenting

Drizzle to drama

So here I sit, late Saturday night, comfy in my living room, warm blanket tucked over me and around my cold, bare toes (where did this frigid-for-May weather suddenly come from, anyway?), fire crackling in the fireplace we thought had been put to rest for the season, my husband and daughter tucked into their beds, and my shiny new laptop before me. (Fun!)

Earlier this  evening, on the way home from some belated Mother’s Day celebrating, we traveled roads familiar as they are part of my daily commute to the office. But on this cold and drizzly day, my family sat with me as we meandered neighborhoods a town away from our own. And we stumbled into a pleasant surprise.

What we thought was thunder teasing us from the distance, actually was the noise of a fireworks show. The sky lit up before us, pulling us in its direction. Although just a few miles from our home, we actually don’t know the area we soon found ourselves driving, looking for hints of color and light from the sky, all the while wondering the inspiration for such a display, months before Independence Day and a week before Memorial Day.

We turned and twisted back roads, letting the fireworks guide us until we were close, and found an empty parking lot with a great view. We gathered Maeve from her carseat and stood close at the front of the car.

Maeve’s naturally large brown eyes were wide with delight and then with surprise at the sounds and scope of it all. Her little hands clutched Tom’s shoulders and the brown of her eyes — dancing with fear and intrigue — pushed to the corner of her eyes, taking it all in. (Last summer’s brave baby at fireworks is no longer!)

As the cool drizzle highlighted by the glow of streetlights began to take hold of us, I grabbed an umbrella from inside the car. For the next 10 minutes or so, my little family huddled together under the round polyester shelter, gazing into the night sky, taking in the magnificence.

There was something wonderfully peaceful among the loud pops and bangs of fireworks because I was sharing such a surprise moment with my little family. A moment that neither Tom nor I discussed, planned or paid admission for. It was simply a ho-hum, everyday-kind-of-drive suddenly interrupted by brilliant greens, pinks and blues in the night sky.

Memories made most unexpectedly.

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Filed under Children, Family, Husbands, Love, Maeve

Mothers’ Day, plural possessive

This week is book-ended by Maeve’s birthmother’s birthday and Mother’s Day. Like last year, we sent her a little parcel, which includes a birthday gift and card, the usual letter and photo update, and a Mother’s Day card, complete with Maeve’s crayon-ing contribution.

Then, of course, there’s Birthmother’s Day, which is Saturday, May 12. (Not ever printed on any retail calendar I’ve seen. You?) As if B. isn’t already ever-present in my thoughts and in my heart, this week she is especially so, given these occasions.

While I’ve heard mixed thoughts on Birthmothers’ Day itself, pontificating about whether this notion offends or embraces first mothers is something I don’t have the right to do as an adoptive mother. It’s just not my place — I don’t get to decide how birth mothers feel.

What I do get to decide, however, is how I will celebrate and recognize the woman who gave birth to my daughter, to her daughter — to our daughter.

I believe this most emphatically: On Mother’s Day — last year was my first as a celebratee, rather than strictly a celebrator — B. holds just as much place in our family’s celebration of the day as I do. While embracing Birthmother’s Day would be her choice, of course, I don’t need a separate designated day to celebrate her, think of her, want to reach out to her. I’m honored to share The Real Deal with her, actually. Know what I mean?

So, call it doublethink on my part. While I am pleased, in one sense, that Birthmother’s Day is part of an effort to acknowledge the mothers not parenting their children — to shine the light so these women, these mothers, needn’t be forced to lurk in shadows and exist in whispers — I’d be even more pleased to simply celebrate B. on Mother’s Day. And I will. She is, after all, my daughter’s mother.

Of course, there’s also the completely separate argument that folks shouldn’t need a manufactured “Hallmark holiday” to remember those we love and treat them with kindness. Well, of course. Of course.

But these days of honor will continue to be printed in little squares on annual calendars; flowers will continue to be grown, wrapped and delivered cross-country in pastel papers; and card companies will keep rolling out designs and verses for 4 bucks apiece.

Perhaps the day will come some May when grocery, drug and card stores will designate actual space in their card aisles to birth mothers. Perhaps then Birthmother’s Day will truly have arrived. After all, if there are Mother’s Day cards for women who are “Like a Mother” to us, how about also acknowledging the women whose motherhood stems from, oh, I don’t know, biology?

Again, more mamagigi doublethink: While I ask why not have cards in everyday shops where folks see them, read them and buy them that embrace all sorts of mothers — most definitely birthmothers — I also think that’s a matter of semantics, really.

In reality, even if Hallmark, American Greetings or Some Other Big Card Company actually saw the light and produced such all-encompassing card varieties — I’m not sure I’d be buying a “birthmother card” anyway. After all, this year’s card came straight from the mainstream section of paper greetings offering bona fide Mother’s Day wishes, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, bona fide wishes for a bona fide mother on a holiday celebrating mothers.

So, B., no matter how the little box reads in this year’s calendar or future, perhaps more-enlightened calendars, happiness and love to you.

Happiness and love to you always, B.

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Children, Family, Gifts, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Parenting