Category Archives: Love

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

Photo Op: Lemons Into Lemonade

Maeve and I had a fun Saturday, joining friends of ours (a classmate of Maeve’s and her mom) for a musical storytime at the bookstore, lunch, a carousel ride (with me miraculously not getting ill all over myself) and an impromptu meeting with the Easter Bunny. A good, long day with heavy eyelids on the ride home (the young girls, too!).

After my friend dropped us at home and Maeve and I made our way to the door, I realized my house keys were in the most unhelpful of places: inside the house. My friend was gone and my cell phone, which needed charging, sat on the buffet in the dining room. Ya know, the dining room inside the house. Thomas wasn’t home and I wasn’t sure when he’d be back.

At first I was frustrated — we were tired, Maeve should have been napping by now, and although we’d had a great “potty” day, as I searched my bag and the stroller’s storage areas to be absolutely sure I didn’t have the keys, she announced, “I did it. I peeped.” So much for the dry pull-up we’d been celebrating in various bathroom stalls all day.

Realizing there was nothing to do but wait for Thomas to arrive home, I reined in my frustration and worked to change my outlook. We made it a special Mommy and Maeve adventure, playing in the backyard, looking for squirrels, saying hello to a neighbor’s dog, taking a loooong walk around the neighboorhood led by Maeve (which then required the already-tired me carrying my 30-pound daughter home the last four blocks), and then returning to the still-locked house for a rest on the front steps.

And then! I remembered I had my camera from our day with our friends.

And so, without further ado, from the Lemons of being locked out, I bring you … Sweet, Sweet Lemonade.

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Filed under Adoption, For fun, Love, Maeve

Pig On Her Head

When Thomas and I were dating about a gazillion years ago, we spent many a vacation day attending the concerts of our favorite band. Over the years we made our way — when our work and school schedules could accomodate the band’s tour schedule — from Pennsylvania to Maine and back, enjoying the music, the camaradarie and adventure of exploring various locales along the East Coast. Some of the shows were two-day events at huge venues like retired military bases. It didn’t take long for the empty, bland tarmac to fill with fans and morph into a colorful patchwork of tents as far as the eye could see.

I’ve said here many times before that music is big in our home — there’s always something playing in the background. Since Maeve’s arrival, of course, the repertoire has grown to include more child-centric selections. Among them is Laurie Berkner — someone we actually enjoy listening too as well. (It’s not uncommon for me to be nearing the office in the morning when I realize the CD has been playing since I left Maeve at daycare — and I’ve missed an opportunity to put my own music on.)

So, given our “Got Music? We’ll Travel” history, it’s not that entirely unthinkable that last Sunday morning Thomas and I found ourselves piling into the car with Maeve and heading out of Dodge. (Well, New Jersey.)

And before we knew it, we were through New York and arriving in Connecticut. Hartford, to be exact. And here’s why:

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Yes, that’s the beloved Laurie Berkner — or as she’s known in our house, Loor-eee-berk-a-ner. Let’s just say this: When we woke Maeve up that morning (that’s how early we needed to leave), she rolled over, still groggy, she rubbed her eyes and looked up at me. “Loooor-eeeee?” she asked. She’d remembered where we were going that day. So I asked her if she wanted to go see Laurie Berkner sing and dance, she sat up in bed and said, “Of course!”

A phrase I’ve never heard her use.

As we traversed one of the highways along our route, she perked up, pointed to a rooftop we were approaching and declared it “Laurie’s house!” As we continued on our way, she declared from the backseat: “You missed it! Turn ’round! Turn ’round!” (It had never occurred to me she would assume we would be going to Laurie’s house to visit.)

From Laurie’s Buzz Buzz and Walk Along the River to Pig On Her Head and I’m Gonna Catch You (as well as two new songs from the upcoming album), we had a great time singing and dancing along. And there were a couple times when Thomas and I caught each other’s eye and exchanged a smile. After all, this was surreal indeed. We were “on tour” with another band, and as parents.

Funny how life changes … yet stays the same.

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Filed under Adoption, Love, Maeve, Music, Parenting

Connecting Adoption’s Dots

I chatted online with Maeve’s first mom tonight. IM’d as the cool kids say.

Although I’ve been steadfast in my sometimes impatient desire for more — more contact in any and every which way — I’m having to remind myself here, right now in the blogosphere, to be happy for these small steps. Because these steps face forward. She’s in our lives and I have to respect — and have pledged to honor — the pace at which she wants or needs to move.

The time tonight spent typing back and forth was nice in that it was a real-time conversation, something we haven’t had since our last in-person visit quite a while back. It felt good knowing that in those moments, in that block of time, she and I were connected, literally and figuratively. In this busy world with our mutually busy days, we chatted. Each a mother to the same little girl, each reaching out to one another.

In talking to Maeve recently about her pregnant teacher’s expanding belly, the discussion moved from babies and babies in bellies to the fact that she’s been both a baby, and a baby in a belly. A baby in the belly of B.

If you ask her whose belly she grew in, she’ll tell you. Of course, at two and a half, her understanding is limited, both in biology and the layer that is adoption.

But. Still. She can answer the question. It’s a conversation we’re having. It’s part of the everyday-speak of our lives.

So tonight’s IM session felt like the lengthening of the ribbon that curves between and connects the small dots that are her adoption books tucked into overflowing bookshelves, the photos in our home of B. with Maeve, the telling of her story in those special moments, the other children she’s getting to know who also were adopted, and of course those baby-in-the-belly conversations.

Her first mom, her dad and I, all connecting with each other, connecting for her. A strong, wide ribbon twisting and turning along the path that is Maeve’s story and connecting the dots.

Dots that one day will bring to life a picture from which I know Maeve will draw conclusions about herself; a picture from which I hope she can answer the very questions it provokes; and a picture from which she will likely encounter myriad emotions.

How I hope that most often, in and among everything she draws from that picture, and from all of our efforts to connect during these days, is the love.

For there is so very much of it.

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Love, Maeve, Open Adoption, Relationships

Monday Morning Maeve: Dreamy

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Filed under Adoption, For fun, Love, Maeve

I think I can, I think I can (celebrate)!

Thanks to a fellow blogger and adoptive mom for reminding me that there are reasons to celebrate adoption. (Sound strange to some? Let me explain.) Although this is National Adoption Month, “celebration” hasn’t been a word I’ve been throwing around much.

After all, adoption is a very serious subject. There’s so much to consider, so much involved, so much to understand. There is loss. Inevitable loss, from first parents and first families to culture and more. And facing that loss, with my daughter in the forefront of my mind, is hard. It weighs so heavily on me. Add in the matter of ensuring that this and any future adoption be ethical and whew, boy! So much to think about, worry about, carry around in myself.

So for me this National Adoption Month has been about using my own experiences with adoption to educate. It’s been about taking advantage of those conversations, working to make a difference in how others perceive adoption, working to ensure that Maeve’s first mom is respected and that others understand how open adoption really works. In fact, I wrote about how I planned to spend this month in my latest AFTH column. And I stand by all of that. The month’s just half over — there’s plenty o’ educating to do!

But there is also room for celebration, too, and my sincere thanks to Judy for the most-needed reminder.

I carry around with me all the hard parts of adoption because I love my daughter. I love her so much that the hard parts impact me because I cannot help but think how they will impact her as she grows. These concerns don’t rest very often, and when they do, guilt creeps in and takes hold.

But, given all the concerns about the myriad hard parts of adoption, the truth of the matter is, adoption is how Maeve came into my life. There are beautiful parts to adoption. No, that’s not all there is to it, of course. Not by a long shot. But there is beauty and happiness in it too, and those moments mean so much.

After all, adoption gave me the most beautiful, funny, sensitive, silly, determined little girl to nurture and love each day. I am lucky enough to share my life with her and hers with me. She is my amazing daughter. My daughter through adoption.

Recognizing this — I mean actually taking the time to breathe it in and feel it — doesn’t take away the importance of all the other things wrapped up with adoption and doesn’t negate the loss involved. No, but I think it’s alright to relish the happiness she brings, that I hope I bring her, the happiness and joy in being mama to a little girl that makes my life seem like it’s playing in full technicolor.

Having this beautiful soul in my life is, quite simply, cause for celebration.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Discussing Adoption, Love, Maeve, Making a difference, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Parenting

Faces of First Moms

Nicole over at paragraphein is compiling photos of first moms and has begun crafting a most powerful slide show with a most simple purpose — showing how birth mothers aren’t any different than anyone else. Surely a fact that shouldn’t need explaining or proving. Sadly, though, it does.

She’s continuing to add photographs as she gets them, so if you or someone you know might be interested, please be sure to consider contributing to her powerful statement.

Now, go have a look for yourself. (And if you get all melty when you hear Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” — I have for years — be warned. Between the subject and the music, it packs a one-two punch.)

The Faces of First Moms

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Children, Discussing Adoption, Love, Making a difference, Music, NaBloPoMo, Parental surrenders, Parenting