Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanks...and all that

It's just a date on a calendar.  And yet it is more than that.

Thanksgiving has always been a loaded holiday for me. With divorced parents, we were used to being separated but it always seemed harder on the day we were giving thanks to look up at the table and see the faces that were not there.  

I always had a place to go and I was always with family, but it was not always the way I pictured it to be.

Fast forward a few decades and now we all have families of our own.  So we are separated again since there are so many that we call family. It would be impossible to celebrate with everyone on one day.  So we will have a few celebrations and be thankful for even longer.

Last year was Miranda's first Thanksgiving and it fell over Hanukkah. I am glad she will not remember it as it was confusing even to the grown ups! This year, she will probably not remember, either, but at least she will get two distinct holidays!  I am excited for her to try the organic turkey that Uncle Jeff and Aunt Neda are preparing. I am looking forward to her first bite of apple pie.  I can't wait to see her in her booster seat at the table and smiling from ear to ear. To say I am thankful for her is not enough. There are no words to express how thankful we are for her. They simply do not exist.

I feel like I should be angry that Allie is not with us.  That I am not shopping for the perfect outfit for her.  That I will not get to see her eat or play or smile or laugh.  But I am not angry. I am just sad.  We are starting to use her name more around the house.  Miranda can say Allie. She smiles every time.  Is that just because she is mirroring us? I am not sure.

My family is everything to me. My family by blood, my family by law, my family by adoption, my family by choice. My family that are my friends. I am so lucky and and so thankful - not just tomorrow but everyday.

There will always be faces that are not there. To that, I say look harder.  Look in your heart. There they are.There they will always be.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Below are just some of the reasons that I am giving thanks this year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Plain Old Mom

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” —Sophia Loren

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.”Oprah Winfrey

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” Tina Fey

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.”Robert Browning

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”Maya Angelou

This past Saturday, we had a visit with Miranda's birth mom.

It was a good visit.  It really was.

I believe very strongly in open adoption.  I do not hide the fact that Miranda was adopted. I speak openly and freely about adoption.  And yet I dread these visits like you would not believe.

There is no handbook for how to handle these situations. There is no way to know how to behave.  So you have to trust that you will just do the right thing.

We always give M several dates from which to pick.  We give her a range of times and ask her to choose what works best  We ask her to decide where we should go. We want her to feel in control of the visit because we feel that will make it easier for her.

The fact of the matter is, though, there is nothing easy about these visits. They are a little bit awkward and little bit uncomfortable. Miranda is the common thread between us and yet we can't really rely on her to carry the conversation!

After the initial greeting, we all usually loosen up.  Miranda goes to M and gets her hold her and make a big deal out of her. She lets herself get smothered in attention and love and handles it all very well. Then there is play time. Then there is catch up time. We all relax some more and find our rhythm.

In every visit to date, there are always tears.  I am not sure if they are tears of joy that M knows she made the right choice for the child she created?  I am not sure if they are tears of sadness for all that she is missing in Miranda's life?  I am not sure if it is a combination of all of those elements, plus more. I just know it always breaks my heart.

We parted with the promise to send pictures from the day and to set up our next Skype call around the holidays. We all gave hugs and said our goodbyes.

I feel fiercely protective of Miranda all the time and I worry about how we are going to explain all of the intricacies of her life as she gets older. I worry about Miranda having two moms.  A birth mom and a what?  Real mom?  Practical mom? Everyday mom?  Or just plain old mom?  You know what?  I do not need a title.  Plain old mom sounds good to me.  Very good, in fact.

I guess the rest we will figure out along the way.  When we get it wrong, we will learn.  When we get it right, well how sweet that will be!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Party On!

I can't tell you how many children's birthday parties I have been to over the years.  They are usually all fun - either because I know the other adults there or because I have a close connection with the child or they serve wine...or all of the above!

After Allie died, parties of any kind were hard.  We still went to any that we were invited to, but they were much more difficult.  Either I was missing that my daughter was not there or I was reminded of a stage or age that she would never be or see.  The ache was strong and the pain was  so raw.

Years later, I do not look at other children that are the age that Allie would have been and wonder "what if" anymore.  It just was unproductive to me and hurt so much.  Once and a very rare while, I allow myself to think like that, but then I try to get back to the present as quickly as I can.

Parenting Miranda has helped me with that.  I simply do not have the time or energy to dwell or sulk.  I mean, I could make the time when she naps or is playing, but I really try to be as positive as I can be.  And good thing, too, because we are raising a party girl.

We have had 3 birthday parties in the past few weeks and let me tell you, this child loves a good time.  From the toys that she finds to play with to the icing that she gets to eat from my fork, she loves it all.  From the other kids that she gets to play with to the socializing she gets to do, it's all fun for her.  The noisier and more chaotic, the better.  The more kids, the more she tries to keep up.

I feel badly that Miranda will grow up without any other kids to play with in her house.  So we make sure that she is always stimulated and around other kids.  It's easy to do since she is (for the most part) so much fun to be around!  We have play dates at least twice a week and daycare continues to be a very good outlet and learning experience for her.  She can point to her nose and her ears and her belly and squeals with delight when we applaud her genius.  

I feel like as an adult, we all say that our parents screwed us up in one way or another.  I am sure there are things that I am doing wrong, but you know what?  There is a lot that I am doing right, too. If necessary, I will remind her of that when she is older, just like my mom did (does?!) to me!

In the meantime, I can't wait for our next party!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My "thing"

When I was younger, I desperately wanted to find the thing or talent that was unique to me.  Both of my brothers were involved in sports.  Soccer and little league practices were a constant.  I did gymnastics and took tap and ballet lessons but both were when I was really young.  I played the flute and then the saxophone but never stuck with either.  I had a brief relationship with the piano, but we broke up after I learned the opening to, "Greatest Love of All" and was tired of playing, "I believe the children are our future" over and over and over.

By junior high and high school, I realized that theater was my thing.  I loved performing and transforming myself into someone else.  I loved rehearsals and practice and costumes and stage makeup. I loved the spotlight.

Decades later, I still love being the center of attention.  

So what is my thing now?  Well, it turns out I have several things.  I am the face of child loss.  I am the face of adoption.  I am the face of loss and I am the face of hope.

No one nominated me to be these things.  Life just happened and I felt it was my role to make sure that none of what happened was in vain.

Gary and I ran into someone last week who lost his nephew to SIDS.  I immediately asked if he would go to a support group and started to think of ways to help this virtual stranger.  If there is one thing I learned, it's that you do not have to suffer alone.

November is National Adoption Month.  I feel compelled to share Miranda's story of how we came to be her parents and how lucky we are that she is in our life.  She is the sunshine and light that makes each day bright.  I know how cliche that sounds.  I know!  But that doesn't make it any less true.

2 years ago this very month, we went to our first adoption meeting.  4 months later, we brought our daughter home.  I still can't believe she is ours sometimes.

I find it interesting that years of searching for my passion and in the end, it's my 2 daughters that supply me with what I was looking for all those years.  

Funny how life works out, huh?

Searching for her own "thing" by constantly running away from us!

Adoption In My Heart

Today was the Adoptions From The Heart Annual Picnic . We love this event. It is close to our house, it is early enough in the summer that i...