I expected to be posting my OART #14 here today, but I am really struggling with this one. =/ Probably Monday.
Things have been happening. I had another short email from Ruth yesterday saying that she’d like to talk over Facebook chat, and since I am online much of the time, I was able to sign in and talk with her just minutes after she sent that message. I ordinarily stay signed out of Facebook chat—I don’t like the format, and I’ve got these annoying cousins—so the medium was a bit weird, but I think the actual live-to-text conversation went well. It made me think of the adoptive moms I’ve seen online talking about how they never really used text messages before, but the birthmom prefers to communicate that way—only, y’know, backwards. She talked about her trip home for the funeral, which sounded pretty awful, she updated me on Cricket, and when we were saying goodbyes she said she wanted to set up a visit. I said I’d email her with days that are good for us, but now I realize that I’m not sure whether she meant that she wants to confirm a date for the Passover visit or that she wants to see us before them. Hmm. I will share my uncertainty with her in the email.
So Cricket is now initiating talking in a whole new way—he’ll see a cup and start saying “Juice! Juice!” or notice something that Ruth hasn’t yet seen and call out its name. I jokingly mentioned that I was glad she hadn’t asked me to call (I hate the phone =/), and she said that we’ll have to start phone calls at some point soon so that Cricket can be involved. Had. Not. occurred to me as a possibility. I wonder what it says about me that I keep being startled by the idea that he’ll be really talking soon….
That woman to whom I was assigned as a birthmom buddy finally got in touch with me; she showed me a picture of herself holding her boy in which they look super alike. She lives about an hour from Stumptown, but we’re both attending an agency event on Tuesday, so will get to meet then. The weirdest part of our conversation so far definitely has been that she talks casually about having a counselor—this agency is just infinitely more ethical than the one I worked with. She sounds so peaceful and balanced—less than six months after losing Cricket, I personally was anything but.
Last and least, I just found out that I made it onto the about.com Top Ten Birthparent Blog list, which is pretty cool and totally inexplicable. Woo!
I got an email from Ruth. It’s a short one, but a sweet one; she says that she was completely wrecked this weekend, and in fact all week, and that she’s glad I was able to anticipate that and that the visit was cancelled. She sounds a bit frazzled, which is what I’d expect if I stopped to think about it. Here’s the thing about me: I think I’m pretty good about being able to give someone space or meet a particular need or overlook something if that’s appropriate, but I need the heads up if I’m going to do that without being at all resentful. Feeling like you just can’t talk to me this month? Cool, just tell me that before you vanish. Need me to stop asking whether you want something to eat when I see you? I will totally do that if you let me know. So now I am not only not annoyed at all about being left hanging before the scheduled visit, I feel guilty about having been annoyed before. (sighs) Well, this is probably a better place to spend time, emotionally.
I told Mr. Book that I asked people what Cricket will likely want to play with when his family visits here in May.
“What did they say?”
“Balls and trucks, mostly.”
“That sounds about right—I think that’s what I was into at that point.”
That transitioned into a conversation about possible birthday presents for the sprout, which it is of course ridiculously early to be planning, but I wanted his input. We both worry a bit about what it will look like if we give traditionally masculine toys to the kid while his moms provide him with baby dolls and a purse, but I am comforted in the knowledge that I have the support of ladies like Andy and Thorn. I’m not trying to make sure that Cricket grows up to be a man’s man or anything like—but when I was little, I liked trucks; when Mr. Book was little, he liked trucks—we’re just playing to our strengths, here. If by age three or four he’s asking for ballerina outfits, heck, we’ll get him a tutu and a copy of Angelina Ballerina. But if I’m perfectly honest with myself, that’s not what I expect; I expect that we’ll be asked for dinosaur stuff, or other “boyish” accoutrements. That said, I would love to get him wooden kitchen stuff if he’s interested later. I always loved that stuff as a child.
Assuming for a minute that I’m not going to experience secondary infertility and that we’ll get pregnant within a couple of years, in some ways, the fact that I’m getting baby and kid stuff without any idea of whether futurekid will be a girl or a boy feels like a gift. I’ve got pink stuff and blue stuff, and soon there will be both kitchen stuff and trucks—I am charmed by the idea that our kidlet will be able to rampage around and make relatively free choices about what to like, at least until he or she starts school. (Peer pressure, woo!) Dawn’s description of Noah breastfeeding his trucks is wonderful—hopefully our futurekid can nurse trucks, bake trucks, and ram stuffed animals with trucks when the time comes.
Well, we never did hear back from Cricket’s parents, and we stayed here. I wish there was something more interesting to say about it, but we just stayed in town and I missed the kid in a way I hadn’t expected to. I’m also a bit frustrated that Nora, as the nongrieving partner, couldn’t drop us a quick email saying either “Come” or “Don’t bother,” but I suppose that’s an issue for another day. I am here by myself, not pregnant, not a mother in any meaningful way, missing the kid who isn’t mine.
I’m writing this late Sunday night, I’ve had a couple of drinks with my husband (we play this drinking game with Mario Kart that is super fun), and he has fallen asleep. I am essentially alone at this moment, doubting that I’ll ever become a mother, and assuming that I deserve it. This is perhaps oversharing, but I mean it.
Typing an entry with a migraine: I am clearly becoming some kind of blog-addicted lunatic. For me and the mister both to be afflicted within a few days suggests a major shift in the weather. Maybe it’s spring.
Still no word from Ruth, and the idea of not hearing from her at all and then not showing up makes me a bit nervous. Perhaps I’ll write to her this weekend if that is what happens—maybe even tonight, something like “While we won’t be seeing you this weekend, I want you to know that you’re in our thoughts as you” etc.
As I’ve been looking at toys for Cricket’s next visit to Stumptown, I’ve also been keeping a weather eye out for possible birthday gifts (what can I say? I like to plan ahead!)—I’ve got a short list of options, trucks and boats that float in the bath and Duplos and suchlike. It’s weird to think that he’s going to be talking, like talking talking, at some point in the near future. Right now our adoptive relationship is really with his parents, but I imagine that will shift as he is able to tell us what he wants. Unimaginable from here. Not that he doesn’t seem like a person with opinions already, but—I guess I’m a little scared of dealing with a Cricket who can talk to me. And I suppose he’ll be getting into separation anxiety pretty soon, which I don’t think will bother me (apparently it is italics day here at the blog); I’ve never expected him to be affectionate with me. Why would he be? He has reached out a couple of times, and it always startles me. That said, once he is speaking in sentences and everything, hearing him say mean things to me feels like it would destroy me. I’m not sure what to do about that, aside from the unhelpful “wait and see”; if my choices are (1) hideous vulnerability with basically no upside to it save the fact that I am remaining emotionally available to this kid who might value that at some point or (2) build walls, be warm but not actually open, and ignore what my therapist says about this being a terrible idea . . . I mean, you can probably tell what my impulse is here.
This isn’t Cricket-specific—it’s more that the kid is raising all kinds of old issues for me. I was seventeen when I decided that my life would be better if I killed the part of myself that could feel things (of course this is hideously melodramatic—I was seventeen), and I spent a couple of years working to accomplish that. Then, you know, therapy. I’ve got a predisposition to take away from any given situation the message that reaching out to people/being vulnerable/openness to my own feelings is a lousy policy—I’m less likely to jump to this conclusion now, after much therapy and seven point something years of a loving relationship, but with the adoption I just go straight for it. Something in me is looking for reasons to shut myself off from the kid. I assume it’s at least in part a desire to get out before I’m thrown out.
Okay, I’ma take my ice pack and go home. I hope everybody out there in radio land has a good weekend.
First off, a couple of random toy notes: Ruth is explicitly opposed to electronic toys, and I guess I am too, albeit in a more relaxed sort of way, so things that make noise are probably out; and I’m kind of creeped out by realistic baby dolls, for whatever reason. If I end up having a child who longs for them, of course we’ll pick up a couple, but they aren’t going in the hope chest, darn it! 😉 I’m probably going to spend my March allowance on a couple of Vilac cars, which seem very nice, and a ball—that etsy ball is adorable!—I’ll also set out that smiling rabbit. And I’ll resign myself to the possibility that he’ll be most interested in playing with cans of Dr. Pepper. At home, his two favorite things are the box in which his toys are kept (he likes to sit in it) and a cushion from the couch that he likes to drag around.
Still no word on whether we’re supposed to visit on Saturday, and we’re both assuming “not” at this point. If we’re staying in town, we’ve decided to go out to a cheap dinner at that vegan Vietnamese place with some of the woulda-been gas money. Mr. Book had the day off yesterday, but ended up in bed with a migraine for most of the day while I ran errands and bullied him with cold compresses. Today is my support group, but I’m taking a people-free day.
Edited to add: Thanks especially, Andy and Thorn, for the support of the internet lesbian mother community. 😉 I grew up not allowed to play with “boy toys” myself, which is a crappy policy–I would have loved to have Transformers as allies to the wild My Little Pony clans who warred against Barbie in my imagination. Ah, well.
So I spent a bit of yesterday window surfing on the internet for toy trucks and balls—I do have some nesting block things that I may put out. Board books are a no-go, because he’s not allowed to chew on them, and having him reprimanded by Ruth for trying the last time was kind of depressing. I’m researching toy cars, which is a more interesting than I had expected—I haven’t really moved on to balls yet, because I’m not entirely sure where to start. If anyone feels like mentioning by name particular balls, trucks, etc. that their own kids went nuts for, email me or leave a comment and I will conducted an investigation. I can pick out things that seem to be well-made, or that seem to come from reputable companies, but there’s nothing like a personal recommendation. I know, of course, that it’s likely that Cricket will be disinterested in most if not all of what I have to offer, but there will be other kids in the future who can get some use out of them. Ruth seemed pleased in October that I’d have toys and they wouldn’t need to bring any, so I don’t think she’ll have a problem with my quiet acquisition of tiny trucks.
I got a strange email from one of Ruth’s friends—it was a mass email, sent to about fifty people, and it gives a schedule for an open house at Ruth and Nora’s this weekend along with directions to their home. I’m not quite sure what this means, but I think that unless I get an email from Ruth in the next few days telling me that it’s very important to her that we come, we’re not going. I’m glad that they have a community around them to provide support, I would like to be supportive, but spending six hours in the car in order to support them at home for an hour doesn’t seem like a good allocation of resources. I know that sounds cold. Like I say, if Ruth wants us there, we’ll go; but if she’s lukewarm, I think we’ll let it go at the card and emails. I hate waiting to find out, but Lord knows she’s got enough on her mind right now without spending energy on emails to yours truly. Mr. Book wants to just tell them now that we aren’t coming, but I feel we need to wait on them, since our last word to Ruth (written by me and vetted by the mister) was that we would come if she wants us to.
This might sound silly, but I’m also worrying a bit about having not putting out any toys traditionally targeted at girls. I don’t care personally, but Ruth and Nora work for balance to an extent that I admit seems at times goofy: he has dolls; they have encouraged him (unsuccessfully) to carry a purse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally behind the idea of giving kids all plausible options, but I think it’s possible to go overboard. I do have a pretty cute stuffed bunny—perhaps that will be adequate “girl toy” representation. Balls, cars, stuffed rabbit named Molly. Yeah?
I believe Ruth’s father’s funeral is today; if anyone out there has spare good thoughts, I know she’s probably having one of the worst days of her life today. I’m wishing that I was just a friend, today, so that I could call and be an ear without being a stressor in and of myself. Not my role, I guess. I got an email from her, and it’s sounding like she might still want us to come on Saturday. I know that I’m an introvert and therefore constitutionally unsuited to understanding her thinking on this one, but I am deeply surprised—I can’t think of anything I’d want less than company while I was grieving. My husband, sure, maybe a parent or a sister, but that’s it. But Ruth is different. I sent her a reply that included “If you want us there on Saturday, if it would be a comfort or even if it would just be a relief to have us bring food, we will absolutely come. But if you’re more wanting not to cancel a visit and trying to manage everything you’ve got going on right now, we can see you at Passover.” And now I wait. And plot what I could cook for them, of course—tofu spring rolls and frushi are probably a go, with a couple of other complimentary things—cold food that can be eaten straight from Tupperware while standing in front of the fridge. I guess that’s me projecting my ideas onto her grief again, but it’s a harmless projection, right?
I’m past my mad. And Jennifer, you got it in one; I get angry at myself for getting angry, silly as that sounds. I think it’s half a desire to not be like my mom, who was terrifying in her angry when I was a little kid, and half knowing that I am a less pleasant person when I’m angry. And it’s not as though I’m getting angry and using that to, I don’t know, fight corporate pollution—I get mad, I sulk for a bit, I get over it. The fact that I don’t scream at people or kick the cat is pretty sorry consolation. Oh, well. The lame little storm has cleared. Now I am sending out a round of cheerful begging letters looking for freelance work and trying to decide whether to make Napoleons or financiers to bring to the birthmother support group on Thursday.
Ruth and Nora are planning to visit here in May some time, at which point Cricket will be seventeen months old. What do little kids play with at a year and a half old? I have baby and toddler toys, but I don’t want to put out too many things for fear of looking obsessive and creepy—and I don’t know what he might like at that point. I’m assuming that’s too old for rattles. How about stuffed animals? Pull toys? When they visited in October, he really loved that Vulli giraffe toy that is recently popular; he’ll be too old for that, right? He said “Pants” last week. Now that he can say “Pants,” is he too old for baby toys? I so have no idea what he’s like right now. I know kids aren’t supposed to watch videos before age two. Help, please, mothers!
Tonight I never want to see any of them again—I want to shout and break things. The visit next week is almost certainly going to be cancelled (for super legitimate reasons, I am completely not mad about that), and I’m almost just glad. My latest theory is that I have small amounts of adoption rage generated as I walk around, and every so often it boils over: not at anyone, thank God, but in my head. I spend a day or three angry as hell about the adoption and—this is the most bad part—angry at Ruth and Nora for having been made so happy by it. Of course I don’t want them to be unhappy about or with their son. This isn’t a super logical feeling.
Ruth’s father died on Thursday. I never met him, but he was by all accounts an awesome person, and she loved him deeply. She hasn’t actually cancelled the visit yet, but there’s no way she’s going to be in shape to have company just over a week later. I saw an essay that one of her friends wrote about him, and it was sweet and thoughtful and happened to be the occasion that set me off this time. It’s like an Incredibly Hulk thing, except that I don’t show it—I probably seem mildly frustrated, if you’re paying attention, but that’s the only way you could tell that I am suuuper pissed. I’m not pissed at Ruth, her father, or the author of that essay; I’m just mad about the adoption.
In the essay, Ruth’s friend mentioned that one of the recent highlights of the father’s life had been “welcoming Cricket.” That’s what got me going. Of course they were in no way obligated blah blah, but they didn’t let us know when they had a court date, or when it occurred until a fair while afterwards. And that bothered me. They were probably just trying to be sensitive. But for whatever reason, feeling excluded from that confirmation of their great joy at my expense bothered me, and now it’s giving me a chance to be pissed while Ruth has a genuine crisis to work through. I may be loathsome. But I definitely don’t want to visit them while I’m feeling like this. Of course, that has probably been taken out of my hands; the next visit was tentatively scheduled for the very end of March, so I’ve got time to get it out of my system.
Just because I know how unpleasant I am being here, I’d like to mention that I’ve sent Ruth a short and supportive email, Mr. Book has sent a similar email, and we purchased and sent a tasteful condolence card. If we were closer, I’d bring food—I wish that we could bring food, there’s no way they can cook right now. I can’t stand the idea of seeing the kid, but I could manage to drop off a couple of meals. And Oreos, I could make homemade Oreos for them. They have a supportive community around them, so hopefully they won’t feel the lack of my offerings. I wish I could be there to help, though. I guess my best case would be making food and sending my husband to deliver it. Because I still want to break things.
Sometimes I’m jealous of other people’s open adoptions—how could I not be? And one of the things that I most envy is the opportunity to babysit. There are basically two reasons why that isn’t going to happen with us: we don’t live in the same town, and even if we did, Ruth and Nora would never ask us.
I’d intended to write more, but I’m finding the topic depressing, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll do better tomorrow.