Ruth and Nora have bought us train tickets to go visit them this weekend. Moments like these give me some perspective into the mix of good intentions and concern that drive their end of this relationship; they reach out and pull back, and it’s hard for me to read the motivations behind the movement.

Before committing to an overnight visit (our first, kind of a big deal), Ruth wanted to talk on the phone: I abruptly put it together mid-conversation that she had been asking (via email) “Are you going to be okay?” and I was saying “I think Joey will do just fine.” This happened a few times. I was thinking about naps and car seats and it hadn’t even crossed my mind that my skittishness around Cricket might be even worse at his house with no real option to get away. Ruth also mentioned that an overnight visit was a big step, and not one that we were taking because it felt right, but for circumstantial reasons: this is reasonable, and my feelings were (unreasonably) hurt. Rationally, I know that the fact that we’ve been “good” is the reason that they are willing to let circumstances push them into an overnight visit: irrationally, I want Ruth to say that they feel like it’s time anyway, because of how awesome we are.

With the move and the visit both, I am focused on details rather than the big picture. I am ruthlessly culling the bookshelves; I am wondering how many outfits to pack for Mr. Snerks. I am cleaning out closets and deciding whether to bring the stroller. I took a moment last night to try to get a look at the long term: I asked Mr. Book, “Looking at the next few years, what are you hopeful about?”

He couldn’t come up with anything. He’s caught between moments of joy (No more terrible job! Infinitely more time with his family!) and crushing shame and despair. The Mister told me that I will have to be his sense of perspective during the transition, so I came up with my own list:

I’m hopeful about Joey getting to really feel that his grandparents are part of his family, something I’ve never had.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to maintain a good relationship with my mother even while living together.

I’m hopeful that Mr. Book will make it through law school and thrive there.

I’m hopeful about having a sibling for the Snerks and people to help with the baby.

I’m hopeful about the impressive kitchen and grocery budget I’ll be working with to feed the family.

I’m hopeful that we’ll come back to Stumptown like music video rock stars, climbing out of the limo in slow motion, wearing shades and poofy coats.

Partway through my recitation (as I rolled out pretzels, standing in the kitchen and thinking), Mr. Book began to cry.

We’re in a strange time—a few weeks that feel timeless—and I’m trying, now, to take a good look at what is ahead of and behind us. Mr. Book keeps saying that we tried to make a go of it here and failed, and I keep reframing it: You know how we never so much as visited Stumptown before deciding to move here? Well, friend, this was our scouting mission. It ran a little long, but I think we’ve really gotten a feel for the place, and now when we move here in four or five years, we’ll be supremely well prepared.

Trying to get some perspective on the adoption is less encouraging: We’re not as close as we’d hoped, we don’t see Cricket very often, and that is only going to get worse. On the other hand, he is doing well, and his moms have turned out to be excellent parents: thank God. Cricket has a brother now, and will most likely have another couple of siblings arriving over the next couple of years: one local and one long-distance. In the meantime, Ruth has said that as long as I can guarantee that my parents won’t be in the house at the time, we can Skype.

Unrelatedly (but inseparably), Joey is growing like a weed. For some time now he has been able to sign “all done” (most frantically and plaintively when I am trying to get his pajamas on: <all done> <all done> <all done>, over and over)—now he has started signing “nurse,” although he uses the two signs to mean <want> and <not want>. It’s deeply odd to be able to communicate with him this way; my tiny son starting at my glass of water and saying <want> or trying to escape a diaper change with <not want>. He is sleeping in the crib, now, after moving from rolling out of bed accidentally to crawling out of bed deliberately, rolling onto the crib mattress or pile of pillows, and then scooting away to have adventures. No bed rail could contain him. =/ I miss him, but the adjustment was quick and pretty painless. All three of us are sleeping better.

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4 thoughts on “

  1. Susie I am really excited for you and the move….I know it is a lot of change and transition but I think it will be a great thing! I also really appreciated you sharing what you are looking forward to, what you hope for. It actually shook me out of a little funk I have been in lately (not even adoption related, well sort of) and reminded me that life is moving FORWARD and your approach to be optimistic and hopeful about concrete, do-able things is just the ticket to keep moving along with it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Change is scary, but you will be OK. Poor Mr. Book – he sounds like he’s in a rough spot right now. Nothing you do is ever really a failure if it provides you with useful information to point you in a different direction. I think you’ve both learned a lot about what you want and what is important to you during your time in Stumptown, so I’d consider your stint there a success.

  3. Feeling you’ve failed is so hard; I hope Mr. Book can hear your wonderful re-framing. Rather than even the hoped for things, maybe all Mr Book needs now is three small good things a day–he can find them. I hope the visit is surprisingly lovely. I’m glad you’re feeling R&N are turning out to be excellent parents. Somehow that helps with all that you’re facing.

  4. I’m super late in commenting, but I’m thinking of you guys a lot as you prepare for the move and the visit. The move doesn’t seem like a failure to me at all. That said, I know how painful shame is and I can imagine how much Mr. Book is hurting. I really feel the empathy, strength, and support that you have for Mr. Book and I know that you’re going to help him pull through this. Meanwhile, I hope you feel supported too. I’m so glad that you three are sleeping better!

    The email from Ruth reminded me of how in third grade we wrote little storybooks. They were called “Fortunately, Unfortunately,” and we alternated between the two on every page. And I’m also reminded of the phrase “one hand giveth, one hand taketh away.” Hope the visit goes well and that Joey does okay away from home.

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