My Top Priority

I sent a message to Ruth and Nora.

How’re things up north? We’re having some rainy weather, which always makes me think fondly of the Pacific Northwest. It’s been a few months since I asked about a visit this year, and I thought it might be useful for me to let you know what I’m thinking.

My top priority is for the kids to know each other and have a relationship growing up, and that isn’t happening. What I would like is for them to be able to Skype, and for you guys to visit us this year some time. I know that things haven’t turned out the way we might have predicted, and that sometimes we get busy and things get hard, but this is really important to me—and the hard and busy times are going to keep rolling around. I’d like to find a way to connect the boys—and keep them connected—whatever is going on in their parents’ lives.

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Hope you’re well.

And the same day, I heard back from Nora, saying that they want the same thing, and for Cricket to have develop his relationships with me and with Mr. Book, and that they’d be in touch soon about a visit. She suggested times for a Skype date, and we set up a time. Ruth asked to talk on Facebook chat, and we talked for three hours—she didn’t mention Cricket, and I kept looking for an opening to bring him up and failing to find one. It was a frustrating conversation for me. Ruth is having a hard time, and has been having a hard time for a long time now, and I feel compassion for her but also—I feel like she takes advantage of me in these conversations. She needs to vent to someone, and I was not encouraging her to do that with me (saying neutral, pleasant things, mostly)—but on some level, at least, she knows that I can’t tell her no and I won’t go away—and people have been going away in her life recently.

If things were easier in my life, I would have more compassion and more desire to do what I can to make Ruth feel better. But things are hard right now. I came into the conversation tired and sad and worried about Joey and missing my husband, and there are people here in town that I can reach out to and have more of a reciprocal relationship with. The pattern with Ruth has been that she will initiate a big, heavy conversation about her life, occasionally detouring into my failures, and then I won’t hear from her for several months. She still isn’t willing to Skype, and she did mention that she is the reason that visit planning has not moved forward. I have had bad, bad times in my life—my mental health record is full of thick, black marks. I know how that can color everything that happens in your life. But Ruth and I don’t have any history outside of adoption, and the incredible power imbalance seems to make her feel safe . . . but has made me more and more disinterested in a friendship. We haven’t been friends, and I don’t think that we’re going to become friends. And these conversations are too much with someone who isn’t my friend.

That said, I’m not in a place where I can imagine closing off any avenue of contact, however difficult or stressful. But Nora made it clear that they are planning on coming for a visit this year, which is the best news I’ve had in quite awhile.

6 thoughts on “My Top Priority

  1. That’s a great email!! I’m so glad that it sounds like you’ll get to see Cricket this year and the boys will get to spend time with each other. I feel like you should get a medal for sitting through a 3 hour conversation with Ruth with zero mention of Cricket, omg.

  2. Wow–so glad you are able to communicate with them so forthrightly, and hoping that perhaps in their divorce you will end up with a more stable line of communication at least with Nora (I forget how their custody division is set up). Fingers crossed….

  3. my first thought is how wonderful that you sent such an honest, direct and heartfelt email. you should be really proud of yourself for that, especially when they have been anything but.

    yet I am disturbed by this keen insight: “the incredible power imbalance seems to make her feel safe . . . but has made me more and more disinterested in a friendship.”

    it’s troubling that she vents to you so freely without being responsive to your needs and interests. I can’t believe she didn’t actually even mention Cricket. I wonder if she would have deflected had you mentioned him, and assume so based on the fact that she didn’t really address your email.

    I’m also reminded of how we dealt with J’s birth father, when he wanted to talk (vent) about K (J’s birthmama) to us, when we met him. we wanted to treat them as distinct people (ie, not talk about the other at all) and made it clear it was inappropriate to speak about her. I wonder if you might do the same with ruth, maybe adding that it makes you a bit uncomfortable to talk about such things with her, reminding her that your primary concern is cricket’s well being and his relationship with his brothers. bcz clearly she needs that reminder.

    meanwhile sending lots of love to help you through this one. you’ve got a lot going on. xo

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