Archive | January, 2013

Open Adoption Bloggers

24 Jan

Open Adoption Bloggers

Dear Little Man,

Along with our mention on BlogHer, your letters are now part of a wonderful site I found called Open Adoption Bloggers! It’s a collective of people from all over who are involved (or want to be involved) in open adoptions, and our site has been added!

I’ve found other birth mother blogs (eee!), prospective parent blogs, a “roundtable” for discussions, interviews, book reviews…it’s incredible! It’s like a card catalog for adoption blogs: I love all of the info I’ve found, but mostly I just love the access to all of the other open adoption bloggers out there — you really get the 360 degree view of what open adoption is really about and how others have handled it. There’s even a few blogs written by adoptees involved in open adoptions…something you may think about one day.

However — not that I’m biased or anything — I think you and I and The B’s still top the ‘Awesome Open Adoption Chart.’ Either way, stay tuned. I have a feeling we’re about to learn a lot… :)

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My Friends Are Married

23 Jan

Dear Little Man,

One day you’re going to reach a magical age. It’s not when you turn 16 and get a license. It’s not when you turn 18 and you can vote. It’s not even when you turn 21 and you can drink (if you so choose. And if you do choose, try the Brews Cruise in Asheville — Beer City USA).

No, this magical age is “magical” because it doesn’t just last for one year. It doesn’t even last for two. It’s at least a solid decade of your life. A solid decade of an age I like to call, Everyone I Know Is Getting Married.

Now, I love weddings. I really, truly do. I like being invited to them, I like being in them, I like the dressing up and the celebration of love and the pretty decorations and the vows and the dancing (especially the dancing. Cupid Shuffle!). Weddings are something that I always look forward to, and even though it’s the festivities that bring me out, it’s the declarations of love that make it meaningful.

One of the best weddings I’ve been to was the only wedding I’ve ever been in. Your Aunt C married her Hubby in September 2011. The day of the celebration we ate cheeseburgers while we got ready and I saved the day by running down a grassy hill in heels (harder than it sounds) to retrieve tequila out of the car so the bride could, ahem, calm her nerves before she walked down the aisle. The ceremony (like, the entire ceremony) lasted less than 10 minutes, but the food and celebrating went all night. We set up tents outside and camped at the site once the reception was over. The sun was shining, the decorations were beautiful and all of our friends were there.

I was 20 years old at that wedding. It was the second one I’d been to that year, but I’d been invited to three others. Since the age of 21, twelve of my Facebook friends have gotten engaged. Since the beginning of 2013 (as in 23 days ago), I’ve already received two wedding invitations. The Age of Marriage has begun. It’s really exciting…

…but also not. To be blunt, on Facebook, weddings get pretty annoying. Partly because the repetition gets tiring (12+ Facebook friends posting about the same thing…it’s like the 2012 election all over again). But also because brides-to-be post status after status about caterers and locations and dresses and dates and stress and excitement and…then I’m not sure what they talk about because I’m too busy drooling on myself after falling asleep at my keyboard.

I understand that this will eventually be hypocritical. I know I’ll be excited and I’ll post pictures and maybe even a wedding status or two (or three) when I become a fiancé. But I’m going to do my best to save the Facebook world from my agonizing decision over whether the tablecloths should be cream or off-white.

Aside from the sometimes aggravating social media reminders, weddings themselves are generally great. Free food and cake and a wonderful thing to celebrate — as an attendee, it’s a no-brainer. But I sometimes wonder if people see past that. The ceremonies and receptions have gotten so hyped up in the past several years that, when the question is popped, we immediately think about celebration…and not the actual marriage that follows it.

Though I was never the little girl who planned her whole wedding by age six, I did always think that I’d get engaged at 26. Why 26? At the time I decided that, I had no clue. I think I just wanted to pick a mid-20’s number and 25 seemed too clean cut. But as I (slowly and ever so agelessly) approach my mid-twenties, I realize that I chose my mid-to-late-twenties because by then, I’d be mature enough to see past the wedding.

By then, I would have gone places and done things and had adventures and be ready to quiet down (a little). I would understand that when you’re proposed to, you think about the guy — not the ring, not the color of the bridesmaids dresses, not your next Facebook status…you think about this person asking you to spend the rest of your life with him and you understand that “yes” means for the rest of your natural life. If you’re mature enough to really comprehend that at 21, full steam ahead! But — not to doubt my own age group — I’m not sure if most 21-year-olds can do that, myself included. I’d start thinking about what kind of cake I want and that would be the end of it.

I’ve seen it happen, though. I follow a few high school friends who are not only married, but also have kids, and they remain in very happy marriages. I have close friends who are married or engaged and, though they are all older than me, I feel very confident in the solidarity of their relationships — as do they. I’m definitely not saying it can’t be done. I’m positive it can. I’m just saying that personally, I wouldn’t mind taking the next 5+ years to think about it. Not surprisingly, The Boyfriend is okay with that. We love each other very much. We’re together. We’re happy. We don’t share a bank account. That’s what matters.

I think relationships are all about taking it day-by-day. But just in case you end up with plans, I was wondering if you could block out some time for me between the ages of six and twelve? I may not know what color tablecloths I want, but I’d really like you to be the ring bearer ;)

P.S. — My Friends Are Married is a hilarious tumblr, and I say that as a (relatively) taken woman.

A Legacy of Liams

22 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Currently, I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their name is very aptly given (just Google them and you’ll see) but the mountains aren’t just fantastic scenery (which they so are) — they also make for great hiking!

Yesterday was one of the warmer winter days we’ve had in a while, so I got together with a few friends to hit up the trails. Your Aunt S and I joined your Aunt L, her Hubby and their baby…Liam!

Yep — your Aunt L loved the name Liam — just like me — and when her son was born last February, she and her Hubby bestowed the world’s best boy name to their little man too! A lot of women are possessive about their baby names (our gender can be fiercely competitive about really weird things) but I love sharing mine, especially with a friend that I care about so much. We have fun sharing the namesake…although when we talk about “Liam” with our friends, we have to specify which one we’re referring to :)

I always think of you when I’m around her little guy. He’s such a happy baby — he was all smiles, giggles, and playfulness during the hike…when he wasn’t sleeping — and happy little boys remind me of my own (especially since you have SUCH a great laugh). I hope that I can take you hiking through these beautiful mountains someday. The B’s love ’em so I’m sure it won’t be too tough ;)

And when we go, hopefully Aunt L’s Liam will come with us because I’m loving the alliteration in “Legacy of Liams” and now that I’ve come up with it, I’d like to use it as often as I can.

 

It's Little Liam!!!

It’s Little Liam!!!

photo 3

Aunt L and her Hubby :) Cutest couple EVER. And Little Liam’s arm hanging out of the side of the carrier. He was passed out.

photo 2

Your Aunt S and I :) My best friend!

Aunt S's Dog is really good at Hide N' Seek

Aunt S’s Dog is really good at Hide N’ Seek. Me…not so much. Apparently.

photo 3

Aunt S using the wind to determine our location. Except not really.

photo 2

One of the many beautiful rivers in the mountains :)

Brought Together at the NFL Playoffs

20 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Today, you and I are going to be doing the same thing — just not in the same place. And no, I’m not talking about running around in our underwear.

I’m talking about watching the NFL PLAYOFFS!

At 3 p.m. the San Francisco 49ers are going the beat Atlanta (who I pulled for in their last game…but not now. Sorry Georgia) but at 6:30 p.m, I have a dilemma. I was born in Baltimore, but I was raised a Patriots fan. I had this problem last year — the Ravens played the Pats in the same exact game. Last playoff game. Winner goes to the Super Bowl. What to do?!

Last year, the Ravens kicker screwed up and lost them the game. But this year, Tom Brady’s passes remind me of those “trust exercises” where you blindfold yourself and let other people lead you around. Only they’ve ditched you so you keep walking around in circles and running into things. So we’ll see about Playoff Game 2013.

Either way, I know your brother Sports Man wouldn’t let you miss a big football day like today. You probably won’t watch the game (something about having a 5-second attention span), but you’ll be there while it’s on. To me, it’s kind of like being separated from someone you love, but at night you can look at the moon and be comforted by the fact that they’re looking at the very same one.

Only in this case we’re watching football. And that’s way better :)

BlogHer and Blog Bling!

19 Jan

Dear Little Man,

We’re sooooo popular. This past Monday, my letter “The ‘F’ Word” was featured on BlogHer! It’s a lovely site full of wonderful women writers — moms, chefs, college students, world travelers, entrepreneurs, poets, artists — all kinds of women with all kinds of interests.

But our letter was an Editor’s Choice and now “The ‘F’ Word” is a Featured Member post! I mega blushed when they told me. So exciting!

It’s a small victory, but hey…we’ll take ’em where we get ’em. Plus they gave me “blog bling” (check it out on the right hand side underneath Little Man’s e-mail address).

Any day where you get bling is a good day.

 

Beef Burgers and First Words

18 Jan

Dear Little Man,

Since it’s Friday — and let’s face it, everyone’s brain is a giant bowl of jelly by Friday — I wanted to write you a short and sweet letter about something fun.

Today, it’s about your first word.

I’m sure your first word was something like “mama” or “dada.” Almost every baby’s first word is one of those two. But the first word I ever heard you say was different from either of those. In all honesty, you probably didn’t mean to say it and I probably heard you wrong. But I found it funny, so I think I’ll keep living in my fantasy world where you really did say it and I really did hear it.

The first word I heard you say was “burger.”

You were a little over eight months old, you were sick and I was playing with you on the floor in between the naps you took in front of the humidifier. You were rolling on the floor (your go-to method when you got tired of crawling), you grabbed red plastic toy that looked like a doughnut and you said, “burger.” I’m sure I heard it. Like, 75-80% sure.

After all, I love burgers. Like true, unconditional, never-ending love. Thanks to my New Year’s resolution, I’m a vegetarian right now. That makes today my 18th day without a burger, and it’s the hardest break-up I think I’ve ever been through. I’m consoling myself with black bean substitutes. And as with any true rebound, they’re great, but not the same. Sigh.

Anyhow, I was proud of that word, and of you for choosing it to be the first one you spoke to me. It was such a special bonding experience. I will forever treasure our special moment and when the day comes…you and I are going out to big, juicy, burger-and-fries dinner, and the black beans can kiss my booty as I go.

Partners in crime forever, right Little Man? ;)

Grown Up Story Time

17 Jan

Dear Little Man,

I am a runner. Not a fast one or a long-distance one, but I do love to run. It’s very cathartic to me — it helps me clear my mind and it helps to get rid of my jitters when I have too much energy. But mostly running lets me get “out of my head” for a little bit, as they say — I’d probably lose my sanity if I stopped doing it.

I think about your letters a lot when I run. I actually started running after you were born. I ran on and off in high school, but never very seriously. I still had great metabolism then, so exercise was more for something to do than something to keep me healthy. But along with the 30 pounds I gained during pregnancy, I also gained a  new respect for the whole exercise thing.

During the school year, I run at the gym. It’s free since I’m a student and the facility is relatively new so I like to take advantage of the nice equipment, not to mention the convenience. But during the summer (or freakishly warm winter days, like the past few), I run around The Lake, less than a mile from my apartment.

I love The Lake. The view is beautiful and the path is a lovely figure-eight shape, perfect for running laps that won’t bore you to tears (like tracks…I really don’t like tracks. It’s one of my ever-so-charming quirks).

I’m never alone when I run around The Lake. The only running mate I actually bring along with me is my iPod, but other people are always walking around The Lake. Old couples walk hand-in-hand, mothers power-walk with their babies in strollers, people walk their dogs, and other seasoned athletes (literally) run laps around me…it’s always buzzing with activity, and I love activity.

But one of the other things I love about all of these people, is that they bring out the writer in me. As I run (ahem, jog) past an old man with the cane, I wonder what his life has been like. Has he ever been in love? What is the best adventure he’s ever been on? Has he ever gone overseas? Did he used to be a runner? Does he have any regrets, does he want any do-overs? Is he going home to anyone? Does he have any kids or grandkids? Does he tell old war stories or yell at kids to get off his lawn?

I do the same thing when I see the dog-walkers and stroller-joggers and elderly hand-holders. Where have they been? What have they seen? Who do they love? Who do they miss? What is their story?

Because — something to know about me — I am of the mind that everyone has a story. Everyone has an adventure. Everyone has a turning point. Everyone has a pivotal moment. Everyone has lots of pivotal moments. Even the people who think they lead uneventful lives probably have a tale worth listening to.

These letters are part of my story. They’re part of yours too. Our stories will be forever intertwined, though yours will take on a more…independent tone as you get older. They won’t relate to me or The B’s, they’ll relate to you and your experiences with other aspects of your life.

But never forget…every story deserves to be told. Not everybody writes theirs down and not everybody wants to share. It’s understandable, but stories get lost that way. I’ve always been a sucker for listening to them — all I did as a kid was ask people to tell me about their lives (a future psych major if I’ve ever seen one) — and now, as a writer, I”m a sucker for telling them.

I will always remember something my dad (Pop Pop 3) told me back when I was 13 or 14. We were visiting my Grandma Lou. She was in her early 90’s though you’d never be able to tell it from her looks and spunk. My dad was on his way out to pick up some lunch to bring back and he asked me if I wanted to ride with him or stay to keep my grandmother company. I loved my Grandma Lou, but I had no idea what to talk to her about (I was sooo tired of hearing about her bad knees), but since she was so elderly, I treated every visit with her like it was my last one. Because…well..it might have been.

As I  hesitated with my answer, my dad noticed and he said, “You know, she’s in her 90’s. She’s not going to be around much longer. And once she’s gone, all of her stories will be too. You should hear them while you can.”

He was right. So I stayed. I asked about her childhood. I asked about where she grew up. I asked her about how she met and fell in love with my grandpa, who I never got to meet. I asked her to tell that story a lot over the next couple of years (she didn’t die until I was 16 and she was 95). I love love stories, and she had the perfect, old fashioned tale to tell about ending up with my Grandpa Bernie. I’m glad I asked her because now, I have that story to pass on. It’s a good one. It shouldn’t have been missed.

So when I’m older and I’m walking around the local lake with my cane (or holding the hand of my old, wrinkly husband) and I’m passed by some young jogger, I’ll smile and think of all of the wonderful stories I’ve accumulated over the years. Unless I’m senile. Then I’ll wonder where I am, how I got there and who is the strange man holding my hand.

Either way, you’ve given me an incredible story to tell. I hope you end up with my curiosity to know the stories of others. I hope you always remember that yours is worth telling, too…

Because even if you don’t, J and I are thinking about turning it into a book anyway :)

Dancing Machines, Kings, and Queens

16 Jan

We’re not afraid to dance in public. I’m glad you’ve inherited my shamelessness. I prefer it be that than my stubbornness.

My Son Was Adopted…Now What?

15 Jan

After a baby is adopted, a birth mother doesn’t just go home and pick up where she left off. Everything is different then. Nothing is “normal” anymore. The bed where you slept so comfortably is now the place where you spent your first few minutes of labor. The porch where you like to sit on summer days is now the place where you took all of your maternity pictures. All of your Facebook friends with babies seem like they’re rubbing your face in their motherhood. The sun streaming in through the kitchen windows doesn’t make you smile anymore. Everything feels…off.

That’s how I felt. I felt like I was coming home, but I didn’t belong there anymore. I didn’t fit anymore. Everyone was going about their business but my entire perspective had shifted. My world was different from everybody else’s but I was still expected to live in their world with them. My sense of belonging wasn’t the same. I think that’s because I felt like I belonged with you.

After you went home with The B’s, I made a lot of changes. Not because I planned them, but because I realized I had to. I had to change. I had to do something. Anything to distract myself. Anything to keep moving forward, because if I didn’t, I might get stuck in that sad place forever.

Though I planned to keep living with my parents while I “recovered,” I moved onto campus. Since I lived with them while I was pregnant (my first semester at The University), I had yet to get involved in campus-type stuff. Suddenly I realized that I wanted that college experience (and I do mean suddenly). I decided that I wanted to be the college student that everyone else got to be. So that weekend (yes, that suddenly), I moved out of my parent’s three bedroom, two story house into a single room I shared with one girl and a bathroom that I shared with three.

I became a workaholic. I worked at a restaurant as a server at the time, and I dove into it. I picked up shifts, worked late even if I didn’t have to and went out after my shifts with my co-workers just to make it last longer.

I started running. I ran around campus, and once I discovered the university gym, I ran there. Sometimes, I kept a workout journal to log my miles. Sometimes, I just put on my running shoes and took off and didn’t bother to count.

I joined clubs and went to campus concerts and took up snowboarding (and fell down a lot) and signed up to go to Greece the following summer and declared my major and went on midnight trips to Cookout and basically said ‘yes’ to everything. Except drugs of course. Nancy Reagan need not be ashamed.

You know that saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead”? I took that saying to heart. If I was already in bed and someone called asking me to come out, I got up.

I don’t know if this sounds good or bad, but part of the reason why I became so “do or die” that year was because I figured since I gave you up — since I was going to have to live without you — I might as well live. I was going to live as fully as I could. I owed that to you, but I also owed to to me. I owed it to myself to live a wonderful life.

I hated missing you. It always hurt so bad and since I missed you everyday, I hurt everyday. So whenever I would miss you, I tried to think of how happy you were, growing up with your family. Then, I tried to think about me…I would think about me and how I could be happy too.

For quite a while, I felt guilty for giving you up. I felt like I was being selfish and that if I was less selfish, I would have given everything up to raise you myself. But even then — even thinking that — I still knew I loved you. I loved you so much. And the reason I could never bring myself to give everything up to keep you was because it still wouldn’t have been enough. It wouldn’t have been enough to give you the childhood I had, the life you deserved.

But placing you for adoption didn’t give me “freedom.” It was a sacrifice. It hurt. And while the pain has lessened through the years and through my incredible relationship with The B’s (who I truly owe for taking that pain away), I still miss you. Every day.

But instead of hurting when I miss you, I can smile now.

I can smile because I have updated pictures. I can smile because I can think about how I saw you last weekend. I can smile because I can write to you. I can smile because somehow, missing you gave me new life. You went to a loving family to live a beautiful life and though I felt broken and left behind, I was able to put a new me back together. Someone you can be proud of; Someone who will be able to tell you amazing stories of her Grecian adventures or funny stories about her midnight Cookout runs with her dorm buddies.

And at the end of the day, I want to be able to tell you that all of those stories — of adventure or triumphs or just plain silliness — were thanks to you, and my desire to be someone you take pride in. I’m already proud of you. It’s only fair that it goes both ways :)

Recovery happens. Sadness ends. Time heals. Birth mothers get better and adoptive parents can help them. New life is created…in the form of you and, now, in the form of me. That’s why I have hope. That’s why I have never regretted my decision. Because you are happy — and because of that, so am I. We’re survivors, you and me, and we have our whole lives ahead of us to be incredible. I know you will be. So…now what? :)

The “F” Word

14 Jan

As you may have noticed, I get very nostalgic when you hit major milestones: your first laugh, your first words, your first steps, your first birthday, your second birthday, your first big boy bed…the list goes on.

But it’s not just you. I get nostalgic about big milestones in my life too. When you’re younger there aren’t “milestones” as much as there are “days that just won’t get here fast enough.” Time is an unimportant concept when you’re little, except when it’s not going fast enough. The only problem is that time never really slows down after that. Then suddenly you’re where I am: starting your last first day of school.

Yes, I’m aware of how silly that sounds.

But today — January 13, 2013 — is my last first day of school. I graduate from college in May and then…who knows what could happen? (Hint: Jobs and grad school, that’s what).

But before grad school happens, I’m going to see what I can do with my writing. J and I talked about turning our open adoption into a book for future birth mothers and adoptive mothers. We want to give both of our perspectives on the experience so that those women might get some insight and reference into what “openness” can mean and how wonderful it can be. When The B’s and I first started out, we used to joke about how we didn’t know what we’re doing because “there’s no book on this.” We’re going to see if we can change that :)

But grad school is on my agenda, even if it’s a a year or so in the future. And there it is, that scary but enticing F-word — the Future. I don’t know what it holds. I don’t know what I’m in for. No one my age really does. We’re all excited for what’s next but terrified of what it might be. We have dreams of careers and new cities and big opportunities. We have fears of getting stuck or being uncertain or not achieving what we set out to do. We want to make the most of our lives but sometimes, we’re not sure where to start. The journey is the undeniable fun part of growing up but every now and then, it’s almost as if we’re kids again — we just can’t wait to get there (and be settled) already.

My last first day of school is having quite the effect on me…more so than I anticipated. On one hand, the thought of having homework and doing research and studying for finals is such an unwelcome thought. On the other hand, I have no idea what I’m going to do without it come August. I’ve been in school my entire life. It’s what I know. But after May, I’m going a year without it (or more if I don’t get into grad school right away…did I mention that the future can be terrifying?). Some lucky college grads already have post-graduation plans, but aside from a trip to Europe with your Aunt S and my work on your (our) book, I’ve got nothin’.

In some ways, not having plans for post-graduation is the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done. So as much as it scares me, it also makes me a little proud of myself. And that’s where the excitement kicks in. Because when you don’t have plans, you can go anywhere. You can do anything. The freedom is intoxicating because you realize you have the world at your feet and there’s no “plan” that’s going to keep you away from chasing whatever passions you have. All you need is the ambition and determination and confidence to take it on. Luckily, I’m not lacking in any of those categories.

So yes — today is my last first day of college. And when May finally comes, I’m going to cry, and come August, I’m going to miss it. But today, I’ve still got four glorious months of college-life left. It may be my last first day of school but it’s not my last “first.” I’ve still got many, many more of those to go — as do all of my fellow May grads.

As do you :) See, that’s one of the wonderful things about having a child — you get to relive those firsts all over again.

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