Category Archives: Life changes

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.”

Indeed.

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Filed under Adoption, Books, Children, Family, Firsts, Growing up, Life changes, Love, Maeve, Parenting

Favorite things

mypandorabracelet.jpg

I was thinking recently about how, despite a comfortable home and all its stuff, there are just a few things inside it that actually have a deep, sentimental, in-the-gut connection for me. Things not necessarily of great financial value, but of utmost import personally and emotionally. Some bring me great happiness; others are bittersweet. Thought I’d share some of them now and then. Here are two.

Topping the list is Maeve’s adoption box, which includes hospital records, her birth certificate and anything written to her by her first mother B. In that same vein, photos of Maeve with B., and all of us together; and the stuffed animal B. gave her four days after her birth, when everyone gathered the first time.

My Pandora bracelet. A gift to me from Thomas and Maeve on my first Mother’s Day. When I received it, there were three charms: one to symbolize our dating years, one our marriage (a three-tiered wedding cake), and one the arrival of Maeve into our lives (an old-fashioned baby carriage).

Since then, a few more have been added as birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, even any old day made special. A dangling pearl marks my birthday, the garnet my all-time favorite stone. The black Murano glass bead and small daisy-like flower is especially beautiful to me. The charms move loosely along the bracelet, jingling when I move my arm.

Since a day hardly goes by that I’m not wearing my bracelet, Maeve is accustomed to seeing it on my wrist. The best part is that as she grows and learns, she discovers a new piece, running her little fingers along its path. Cake! she exclaims, delighted with herself. As she befriends a charm, I share its story, re-living its history — more for my own sake, I imagine.

I look forward to filling and crafting a most unique and personal piece over the years, until one day the completed bracelet is a representation of me, the paths I’ve traveled, the people I’ve loved, the experiences we’ve shared. Something that hopefully will be treasured in some way by those here long after me.

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Birth parents, Birthdays, Children, Family, For fun, Gifts, Husbands, Life changes, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Relationships, Treasures

Ready? Set. Go!

As not-so-slyly mentioned in a previous post, things have been changin’ here in mamagigi-land in big ways and today’s the first official start of it all.

In an effort to spend more time with my beloved Maeve (sappy, I know) and devote more of me to my writing — on that note, I’ve just filed my next column with AFTH, once it’s published I’ll be sure to link to it here and in my sidebar — I’ve decided to go to part-time status at the newspaper.

After 12 years spent full-time with 25 or so colleagues in getting out the weekly legal newspaper and its 24 or so magazines each year, it’s beyond strange to wake this morning and not be juggling Maeve, my clothes that still need ironing for the day, feeding and dressing her, and getting us out the door remotely close to on schedule.

Instead, we spent the morning playing together as I set up shop in our new playroom and our new “activities room,” as Thomas likes to call it. It’s essentially my art studio pared down and blended with a crafts/puzzle/game space for Maeve. As he describes it, it’s the room for anything that requires a table. It’s colorful and fun, with cool storage and lots of bucket-drawers for supplies, and I’ve framed some of her artwork from her little school to adorn its walls. Her trestle table and mini-Windsor chairs are set up for her to play, and there’s a bright striped area rug and an easel awaiting many creative adventures.

The playroom has a beautiful, dark storage unit with baskets separating her toys by genre. We’ll see how long the organization lasts, but since she’s good at putting things away before opening anew, I’m hoping it might last longer than I expect.

We’ve placed her little armchair underneath the giant green leaf from IKEA, and she’s already spent lots of time there this morning sitting, reading and looking up at the leaf’s underside!

For a finished basement, it sure has become quite the colorful, inviting playspace we envisioned. The third room in the basement will become our TV room, as we’re moving it out of the living room altogether. Since Maeve arrived we watch so much less telly, thank goodness, and we DVR anything we really have our hearts set on and just watch it when she’s asleep. We promised each other we won’t have the TV even turned on when she’s awake unless it’s for her to watch a special program we’ve selected and feel comfortable with — and that’s just once a day for 25 minutes, if she asks for it, of course. Nothing too commercial. The Brainy Baby series has programs with kids at the San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Park, and since she loves her giraffes, elephants and monkeys, that’s a fun no-brainer. It’s that, or Jack’s Music Show, which features Laurie Berkner and all sorts of musical-based vignettes. She loves music and since we’re happy to oblige her on that front, that’s often her telly choice for the day.

Maeve still will be attending her wonderful school three days a week while I’m at the newspaper. This morning during breakfast, she began counting her little plastic farm animals in the distance … in Spanish! I couldn’t believe my ears! Spanish, English and back again. We love the school and all she learns, as well as the little friends she’s making and learning to play with. In fact, tomorrow she graduates to her new class, the Friendly Fish and leaves Little Ladybugs behind. I still can watch her from the cameras in her classroom, so that’s a fabulous plus for those days I am in-office.

So far today I’ve managed to do laundry and run a vacuum, play with Maeve, write a while, and think and plan ahead for some events this week. Nothing I’ve been able to do while in the office, reading for the newspaper.

I’m neither a cook nor a cleaner type. (I’m pretty sure that was somewhere in my vows.) I do what needs to get done and am grateful each day that Thomas is as involved as I — between us both we get done what needs to get done. Of course, it helps to have a husband who loves to cook. And since I try to only pass through the kitchen and spend no real time there, that works for me.

In any case, my being home means my house might get a bit more organized and a bit cleaner a bit faster, but what I’m really hoping for is a saner me who can not only better cherish every moment with my daughter and husband, but make better use of time for me and my writing career.

And as for eating my cake and having it too, (yes, that’s the correct way that expression goes, folks) I’m looking forward to arriving at the office not feeling like the whirlwind I usually do when I sit at my desk each morning, my head aclutter with what I’ve forgotten, what I’ve remembered, what I’ve forgotten I remembered and what still needs doing. All that and a day’s worth of work ahead of me.

I’ve had too many times recently of feeling like I’m barely keeping up. With Maeve’s second birthday just weeks away, time’s atickin’ and I want to live life with her, and more for myself, embracing its juicy details, not trotting after it, working up a sweat, or being dragged behind it, exhausted. Make sense?

It’s totally nuts and a huge leap of faith, for sure. Cutting my salary in half is enough to cause me heart palpitations and rapid gasping for air when I think too long about it — and with a second adoption on the horizon, no less! — but I’m really choosing to believe that the quality of life, for me both personally and professionally, will pay off in spades. Isn’t there a bumper sticker about taking such chances? Wish me luck and send those good vibes my way a little while, wouldya?

So, enough about my day thus far as an official part-timer. I promise there won’t be posts outlining which dish was washed or which boo-boo kissed, ’cause I’ve got lots to say and me being home a bit more isn’t going to change that content. Got it? Good.

Since there’s lots to catch up on and I’ve got bits and bobs of pieces in the hopper for you from the last few weeks, including my recent birthday and what my most amazing husband did for me. Let’s just say it involves lots of secrets (the good kind), Karen at chookooloonks’ super-delicious Trinidadian Rum Punch (sort of) and many friends and family members in my backyard (unbeknownst to me). Stay tuned …

I’m excited. Ready? Set. Go!

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Filed under Adoption, Family, Life changes, Maeve, Work, Writing