The Bones

While we were in California, I got Cricket a souvenir at the Natural History Museum—I had wanted to send a postcard, but they are apparently too cool for postcards—not even a postcard of megamouth! Shocking! Now it (a dinosaur mug; when filled with hot liquid, the dinos fade to fossils) is packed with a note, the box is addressed and studded with stickers, and I have but to hoof it to the post office. Yesterday I talked to Joey about Cricket without crying for the first time, and we looked at some pictures of five-month-old Cricket, and I was shocked by how much he looked like himself already. I know how silly that sounds. But he looked so much like the boy he has grown to be, and so different from (if obviously related to) his brother. I have a copy of Sam’s Sister and don’t really know what to do with it.

I have been able to set aside my regret about Cricket not being in Pete’s baby pictures because I only just figured out that I might be in a couple of them. I’m pretty camera shy, wear jeans constantly, and have no idea what I should be doing with my hair. To make matters . . . more, Mr. Book has decided that he should take the day off work so that we can all be in pictures together. I think I’m supposed to pick his outfit, too. I asked my sister, who has done some modeling, if she had any tips; she said that I should try to wear clothes that fit. At least she has a clear idea of where I’m starting from!

Mother’s Day is coming, I guess. It’s not a holiday I’ve ever really been able to skim past, as it’s often the same day as my mother’s birthday; I have some idea of what to get her, and then I need to get a card for that other mom. In the past, Ruth and Nora have called on the day before—Birthmother’s Day—and I haven’t picked up, but have listened to the message and carefully thanked them by email. The fact of the matter is that I hate Birthmother’s Day and hate hearing from them; I want to be left alone to grieve, which of course isn’t their fault and I really do appreciate that they reach out. It seems like a bad idea to ever discourage that. This year, I sort of want to pretend that I am a normal mother on that weekend, although I know that the odds are slim. And now Cricket is old enough that he will understand that they are calling, and I will have to answer the phone. A craven sliver of myself wants to make the Mister do it, answer, tell them I’m busy, and say hello to the kiddo for me. Not acceptable, although he’d probably do it if I asked.

My therapist keeps encouraging me to call Ruth and talk about the Big Things. I have explained that we don’t do that—we email—and she insists that email is a terrible way to deal with emotionally fraught issues. But on the phone, I feel trapped; I can’t take the time I want to think about things, and my first reactions can be heard. We just don’t call them—we sent a text when Joey was born, and that’s about as immediate as it gets. And right now, the Biggest Thing on my mind is discontent with their unavailability, and that’s my problem. They are about to start homestudy visits; there’s a lot going on. But the lack of what I’d hoped for is rubbing up against Ruth’s insistence that I am important to Cricket because I am his birthmother. That’s both true and obvious, but it feels awful. I’d like to be friends, or liked because I am interested and interested, or a resource and relative, but no—I am valuable because I gave him up. They return my emails because I signed the papers. My value to him is my worst thing.

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5 thoughts on “The Bones

  1. This sounds so hard. I really wish there were a way to get closer than arm’s length. I wish R&N would embrace the potential for a real friendship with you and Mr. Book, not just for Cricket’s sake, but because you guys clearly rock. I love the sound of the mug you’re sending Cricket. Maybe in addition to emailing, you could send the occasional card or letter (one for Cricket, one for R&N).

    That’s so cool that Mr. Book’s taking time off to be at the portrait session. Are the outfits you guys wore to the christening an option?

  2. I just keep thinking about how much this has to do with Cricket being a little guy. I mean, he’s not really old enough to have friends or find mysterious grownups interesting for consistent reasons, though I’m sure he’s bordering on that. You’re interesting and part of his life because you’re Mama Susie and that must be a weird situation, but it’s what’s going to open him up to having a more nuanced relationship to you. And it does sound like he has a lot of personality and curiosity, so I’m sure he’ll get to that deeper stage as soon as he’s developmentally able, but there’s this part that’s in-between that’s just weird for everyone involved.

    I say that, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, because I’m also thinking about Mara. Mara’s not supposed to have visitation with her mother and hasn’t seen her in 15 months, which is a huge amount of time for a three-year-old. It’s also a very different situation from the one you and Cricket are in. And yet from my pre-adoptive parent perspective, I do talk to Mara about her mother and I do imply that it would be worth knowing her because she’s Mara’s mother, because I have empathy for her, because I’m told they look just alike. I can’t offer more than that because I don’t have any relationship with Mara’s mother myself and because it’s going to be up to Mara (at least in large part) to figure how how/why/whether she likes and understands her mother as she gets older. My job, though, is to keep her from forgetting, to make sure there’s some placeholder idea she can latch onto about this woman out there in the world as she’s building her own story.

    I don’t know that this is useful, really, but I think you’re in a weird in-between place with Cricket because there’s no alternative to that. And that sucks, but it could change with time. You know I hope it will.

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