Things I Don’t Own

When last we were in the Emerald City, I abruptly realized that Ruth and Nora have almost certainly showed their family and friends pictures of me (with Cricket) from the day I gave birth. This horrifies me for no rational reason—okay, I looked terrible, but I had a pretty decent excuse.

The realization came when we were driving somewhere and Nora stopped to say hello to a friend of theirs who was out raking leaves. The friend said “Hi, Ruth and Nora! Hi Cricket! Hi Mr. Book! Hi Susie!” My husband has no idea who this woman is; they’ve never met. (I met her while pregnant, so am able to focus on how weird this is for him rather than having it be weird for me.) I assume that this lady—I’ll call her Alice—that Alice had seen pictures of the Mister with Cricket, and that Ruth had said something like “And here is Cricket with his birthdad, Mr. Book.” That is totally reasonable and non-boundary crossing . . . so why did it feel so gross when we met her in the car? My best guess is that at least for me, it was a reminder that I don’t and won’t (at least for the next seventeen years) have any private time or experiences with Cricket. One consequence of being part of their lives instead of central figures in his is that they (again, so far and for the foreseeable future) run and in some senses own the experiences we have with Cricket. And they can do whatever they like with them.

There is one other piece to this story: Mr. Book could have known who Alice was. There were a couple of months when Ruth labeled the people in the pictures she shared with us online, and Alice was among the people holding Cricket during that time period. But Mr. Book doesn’t look at the pictures unless I bully or trick him into it. Sure, maybe he wouldn’t have remembered at the critical moment—but it didn’t need to be quite as one-sided as it was. We’ve never met Ruth’s sister, but if she happens to wander into the room on a visit, I will know who she is because I look at the pictures. My husband won’t.

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5 thoughts on “Things I Don’t Own

  1. You just so eloquently described one of those uncomfortable pieces of this equation. I almost wrote imbalance but I don’t know if that’s the right word. It’s like the balance just doesn’t quite feel balanced. Which doesn’t exactly mean it isn’t, if that makes sense. I hope over time there’s increased ease all around.

  2. Oh I can soooo identify with what you’re talking about here. And I think that’s part of why I kept some of Cupcake’s birth story from Dee. Why I encourage women that plan on placing to not have the prospective adoptive family in the room during the birth. I cherish my private, unshared memories, and want others to have those as well. A story that I, and ONLY I, can share with Cupcake.

    And, God forbid, should something happen to me, I have a dear friend that knows our story and can supply it. Just in case.

    I do hope that you’re able to create some memories and moments that are for you and Cricket (and Mr. Book of course!)

  3. I’ve had a few of these experiences with C’s parents and friends, too… mostly, I’m grateful that I’m an important enough fixture in their lives that they talk about me with other important people…

    The first time I met their family (C’s baptism), they hadn’t made such a point (out of a desire to offer me anonymity if I needed it- it was still very very new), and it led to an awkward exchange with one of C’s aunts- they had left C with me to go change for the service, and his aunt came and took him from me. I was a little hurt because I assumed she knew who I was and wasn’t sure how to take her baby grabbing. At C’s birthday party (the next time I was around the bulk of their family), meeting me was pretty much the first stop when people who had yet to meet me walked in the door.

    Hopefully you and Mr. Book will have some alone time with Cricket as he gets older!

  4. I think that was a little weird of the friend If I were in the friend’s shoes, I’d have been inclined to say “you must be Mr. Book” or actually probably more likely “Hi, I’m Susan” and let Mr. Book introduce himself to me or let Ruth/Nora make the introductions. I don’t think I would use the name of a friend-of-a-friend unless I’d been introduced (even though, sometimes I might hear that So-and-So is visiting). It just seems overly familiar…which of course, is the point you’re making, that you’re cast as a character in their story and not as a person with her own relationship to Cricket.

  5. I think it is a bit creepy myself. We only just had our first vist with my daughter’s birthmother in 2 years. And it was in our neck of the woods. I did ask what she’d like us to do if we ran into folks that know her (she never told anyone, including her 3 older teen/20s children that she had our daughter) or that know us. I have never shown her photos to anyone but my immediate family, which she okayed. I think your birth photos are private and should be for Cricket, not neighbors. It feels yucky to have those shared.

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