Friday, December 26, 2014

Didn't we almost have it all?

"...When love was all we had worth giving?"  Whitney Houston

For some reason, that old Whitney Houston song popped into my head this morning.  And I started to think about how it pertained to me.  Until I realized, it didn't.

We DO have it all. Family and friends and love and laughter. A daughter here with us and one that is always looking over us. I am not sure what stage I am in now, 3 and a 1/2 years after saying goodbye to Allie, but I am not angry.  I am not mad. I am not questioning why. I just...am.

Grief is a strange thing. It creeps up on you when you are not looking. It seeps into the crevices of your life. It pops up when you are sure you told it to stay away.  Today, though, I feel like I am in control of my grief. 

Maybe that is because my focus is on the here and now. I am truly living in the moment because as any parent will tell you, there is no other way.  Between meals and clothes and diaper changes and dress up and play time and puzzles and sticker books and tickles and tumbles and all things in-between, there is simply no room for my grief. 

There is plenty of room for my memories, though. I often wear a butterfly charm around my neck and I love feeling my first daughter so close to my heart. I also think often of my pregnancy and how nervous and excited and anxious Gary and I were.  I think a lot of people forget things about their pregnancies because so much comes after, but since we were deprived of the after, I swear I can still feel the kicks and the heartburn and the sheer euphoria of knowing that I was creating a life inside of my body.

Miranda says Allie's name.  She lights up when she says it because she knows it will make us smile. And it always does.

2014 is coming to a close.  I turned 40 this year. I ran a 5k.  I became a freelance writer.  My proudest accomplishment this year, though?  Learning how to be Miranda's mom and making sure that I excel at it.  Our family unit is different than we thought it would be a few years ago, but different is not always bad!  It just...is.

I feel happy more than I feel sad. I feel complete more than I feel empty. I feel good more than I feel bad.  Turns out I do have it all.  

"Loving you makes life worth living..." Whitney Houston




Thursday, December 18, 2014

To You...To Me

To you...it was just a Winter Party.  To me, it was the first time I got to see Miranda in her class environment, playing with friends, eating a mini-cupcake, decorating a cookie and looking up to make sure her dad and I were near by.  We talked to other parents and compared eating habits and behavior quirks and listened to her teachers as they raved about our daughter.

To you...it's just a doll.  To me, it is a Cabbage Patch doll who came named, "Ally".  Now Miranda says her name even more than before, all the while carrying around this dark hair, light eyed, little bit of love.

To you...it's just another day. To me, it's the one year anniversary of the day the judge used his gavel to declare that the adoption was final and that Miranda was ours.

To you...it's just a holiday season. To me, it's a celebration of our life together.

There was a time when I thought the holidays were always going to be difficult.  I imagined a lump in my throat as I watched other children light the candles and open presents.  I could not fathom a day in which there were no tears.  I could not imagine a life that I enjoyed.

And yet somehow, with a lot of hope and compassion and patience and perseverance, here we are. 

To you...to me...to all of us, happy holidays. 




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Generous...to a fault?

If you are a generous person, it is a large part of who you are.  And not just in December, but during all the months of the year.

Gary's company "adopts" about 100 kids each holiday season. There is a list of children, their ages, and what they want.  Any employee can pick any child and buy him or her the toys or clothes or dreams that the child might not have without the generosity of someone else.

This year, Gary picked a little girl who is 3 and a half. Her name starts with an A. He saw it as a sign and has been shopping for her the past month. It brings him such joy to shop for someone Allie's age and he is more than happy to do it.

It's harder for me. I can shop for Miranda and for her cousins and for other little girls and boys with no trouble whatsoever. My credit cards and Paypal account are getting quite a workout this month. I have trouble, though, shopping for a girl that is Allie's age but is not Allie. I think Gary does, too, but he can see the big picture and does it anyway.  And I am glad he does.

We learned recently that some of our generosity in another situation has been taken for granted. It hurt us to the core to think that we were doing something nice and it was not perceived that way.  Are you still generous if others do not see you that way?  I guess it depends on the situation and if the opinion of other people matters to you.  To Gary, it does not. To me, I am trying to get a thicker skin.

I want to raise my daughter in a world where people give with their hearts. Where people share what they can because they want to.  Where people are generous with their time and their love and their energy.  Not just when the lights are up and the stores have special sales, but year-round.  I think they best way to have a world like that is to make sure Gary and I behave like that is how the world works.  So that is what we will do...or continue to do, I should say. 

Miranda is still struggling with her vocabulary, but "thank you" is a phrase that comes out easily and often. At 20 months, we like to think that she understands the concept of giving and generosity. Hey, it could happen! 

That makes us both so very proud.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda

There have been Sex and the City reruns on virtually every channel lately.  They are edited for TV, but I have seen each episode so many times that I can fill in the blanks that the networks put in.

The show ran from 1998-2004.  The premise was, "Four beautiful female New Yorkers gossip about their sex-lives (or lack thereof) and find new ways to deal with being a woman in the 90's."

When I watch the repeats, many of the plots seems even crazier now than they did then.  The outfits and music and styles are all so very dated.  But the general current of the show still draws me in.

The friends that I have mean so much to me.  I do not have "four beautiful female New Yorkers". I have "countless gorgeous male and female supporters" that I could not live without. I am the kind of person who works hard to make friends and then holds on super tight once I have them. I have different friends from different parts of my life and they are all in my life for a reason. I feel so very fortunate.

In a twist even I did not see coming, I am now a writer.  Mostly business writing, except for this good ol' blog. It is an outlet for me just like Carrie's column was for her.

Carrie once asked, "... I got to thinking about days gone by. That carefree time when our schedules were as wide open as our hearts. The time before the baggage and breakups and babies began to weigh us all down. I couldn't help but wonder: Does that sense of adventure still flicker inside of us?"

When I watched that show, I was single, working in an office job 40 hours a week (at least), commuting into Center City Philadelphia and trying to find the "one".  I was not sure if he was out there, but I knew I had to look.  I was carefree and didn't know it.  I had silly outfits and bad hair and thought the smallest thing was the biggest deal.

Now I know better. Yet I still have a sense of adventure in me and looking around, I think most of my friends do, too.  Maybe even more so? We do not see each other as much and our times of gossip and shopping and drinking and laughing has gotten less and less. But we are still there for each other no matter what.  As adults, we have learned to appreciate and respect the journey.

10-15 years ago we were just starting to text.  There was no Facebook. I used email at work but I think with my dial up Internet connection, I really did not use it that much during my free time. In many ways, the technology of today is what allows us all to maintain the friendships we made of yesterday.  I love that.

My friends were by my side when Allie died and then back by my side when Miranda arrived.  They are there for the highs and the lows and all the spaces in between.

How lucky am I?   

 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In The Best Interest Of The Child

When we were pregnant with Allison, we never gave much thought to making sure that all we did and all we were was in her best interest. It just was. As her birth parents, it was a given.  I can honestly say that we never really thought about her in those terms.

When you adopt a child, there are a lot of elements that you need to think about and rightfully so. I have written about the classes and the meetings and the education that we had to get so that we were well informed and prepared. We talk about race and religion and drugs and alcohol and mental illness and physical wellness. As an adoptive parent, you need to be evaluated, as do all parties involved to make sure that you are fit to raise a child. This stuck me as odd when we went through the process as we had just come through a different process where obviously none of that was taken into consideration. However, we respected the rules and regulations and had no issues with following them. All we had to do was look at the bigger picture and know that we would do anything.

As a biological parents, you make a promise to do what is in the best interest of your child or children.

As an adoptive parent, you make the same promise but it is in writing.

Last night, I got to thinking.  Why do I have that power?  What gives me the right to decide what is best for Miranda?  I certainly do not know everything.  (Shhh...).  Who made me in control?

I did.  When I became her mother.  Until she is old enough to think for herself, she will have to settle for her dad and me.  For us to know what is best. What is right versus what is wrong. What is safe and healthy.

It is terrifying and scary and exhilarating all at once. I do not think we can afford to make mistakes and yet I feel mistakes are a great way to learn. 

Everything I do has Miranda's best interest at heart. I hope that is enough.

Learning to Love Yourself No Matter What

One of the problems with being a writer is that I use words as therapy. By writing my thoughts and feelings, I can often make sense of the w...