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Riding in Cars with Boys

21 Aug

You soooo don’t want to know this (I have future visions of you plugging your ears and singing, “la la la la la” every time I bring it up), but I’m going to tell you anyways. I’m telling you this info partly in the spirit of full disclosure and partly because it was a highly educational experience.

Mama’s got a boyfriend. He’s caring and respectful and stable and handsome and he makes me ridiculously happy and I’ll stop being gushy now. Let’s put our creative powers to work and call him…The Boyfriend.

You’ve met him twice. He was nervous at first — I kept having to remind him that you were two and probably wouldn’t remember if his first impression totally sucked. But you two took took each other, and the fact that he cared about a toddler’s first impression of him was adorable. He helped you play baseball and tossed the football with you and dunked you in a giant tub of water at Grandma M and Pop Pop’s house. Also, he bought you a “bubble gun” for your birthday. Automatic win, I know.

A few days after I returned from my summer internship in New York with NBC, he took me to the beach. Yaaaay five hour road trip. But I’ve always been a fan of road trips and The Boyfriend has a good CD collection, so I was ready to spend a good ol’ five hours jamming to music (yes, I jam) and talking to my guy. We get along unbelievably well and I figured we’d just talk, talk, talk until the beach showed up on the horizon.

Except for here’s something I learned about riding places with boys for extended periods of time: they don’t talk in cars. Boys are perfectly content with silence. Well, music and silence. After road trips full of girls and chatting and rolling the windows down and more chatting followed by obnoxiously singing along to Prince or “Baby Got Back” (I know every word and I’m really proud), “quiet” was a new concept. One that didn’t last too long either because I decided that this whole “quietly observing the rolling countryside in peace” thing was highly overrated. But there was relative quiet for at least two-ish hours. I mean, I actually twiddled my thumbs in the car at one point. Literal thumb twiddling. Sad face.

Once I brought it up to The Boyfriend when we finally reached the beach, he laughed (because my neuroses are so adorable) and said guys would be guys. And then I tried to dunk him in the ocean. That’s unrelated to the story, but it was fun.

But sometimes I look at The Boyfriend and I think of you. Not because you look alike, but because one day you will be a taller-than-me, probably-still-blonde, hunky 23-year old. You will probably jam out to music and not talk unless spoken to. Maybe you’ll even fall in love when you’re 30…or older…and you’ll take her to the beach. But it’s instances like that with The Boyfriend that remind me just how much I have to learn about boys. It’s a lot. A whoooole lot to learn. I truly know nothing about boys — having you has been a learn-as-you-go experience. I’ve still got a ways to go knowledge-wise, but I have a feeling you’ll be a wonderful teacher.

On the bright side, at least I’ll know that when you and I go on road trips together and it gets quiet, you’re not giving me the silent treatment.

The Boyfriend helping you into the swing!

You are SO my kid.

This photo does a heart-melty thing to me.

The ultimate reason why you like him ;)

The E-mail That Changed the World

10 Aug

Thank You Gmail

Well…it changed my world anyways. Nothing like a little hyperbole to get the day started off right.

After I signed adoption papers and you were handed over to the interim care mom (whom I LOVE to this day), I didn’t talk to The B’s for almost a week. We’d text here and there, but I didn’t really talk talk to them until exactly one week after you were born.

This would be totally normal and okay. Except for I had told The B’s that I wanted to be in constant communication with them after you were born. I figured it would be easier for me to stick to my choice knowing that they would always be there. And then you born. And then I wanted to keep you. And then I felt bad about it because I knew they were expecting you. So I didn’t return their phone calls, only occasionally returned texts, and was all but basically silent.


I still feel bad about this, I really do. I would have been seriously annoyed with me if I was them. But as a birth mom, you really don’t know how you’re going to react until you get there. And once I “got there,” I felt…sad. Really, really, really sad. I missed you. I wanted you. I needed you. But the fact that YOU did not necessarily need me (and actually needed people with much more resources at their disposal) kept me from calling my social worker and demanding you back. You deserved better than what I could give you, and no matter how badly I wanted you, I wanted you to have better more than I wanted to be contented with your presence. And “better” was The B’s.

So after a week (and a couple of therapy sessions) I came to a realization: J had told me that she wanted to hear from me. Up until the adoption, we had talked multiple times a week via e-mail (and a couple of times in person during visits) about everything under the sun — our favorite movies, the best ice cream flavor, summer camps Sports Man was involved with, etc. It suddenly dawned on me that The B’s wanted our relationship to be open. So that meant that I could tell them anything I was thinking…even if I was thinking about keeping my son.

So that’s what I told them.

Exactly one week after you were born — one week of the worst kind of internal tug-of-war you could imagine — I sent J the longest, most emotional, most raw e-mail I’ve ever sent to anyone. Maybe I’ll post it one day. But it was all about how much I missed you and how I’d always feel like your mom even when she was, and how I felt like I wasn’t good enough for you and that I wanted to keep you so, so bad but I couldn’t find a way. I told her how I felt when I first saw your face and how broken I felt without you. I told her how I felt about adoption. I told her everything.

But the e-mail that changed everything wasn’t the one I sent to her. It was the one she sent to me in response.

The first thing she did was thank me for being open with her. She told me she thought of me as “her Renee.” She told me she ached for me in all that I was feeling. She told me she never, ever wanted to take away the fact that I was your mom too. She told me I was not alone. She told me a lot of things that I have since saved, re-read and cherished for the past two years, and will continue to cherish for all the years to come.

Everything changed that day. The pain, the hurt, the horrible tug-of-war…it all kind of dulled after The E-mail. It all became more of an echo than a reality, because I knew everything would be okay. I felt reassured. I felt like this family, The B’s, really, truly did understand my desire to be a part of your life and their family. A desire that was, thankfully, mutual.

My erratic heart, my frantic mind, my up-and-down mood…they all calmed that day, the day I read her response. That e-mail was one of the many small things The B’s did that made all the difference, but it was the last thing. From there on out, I was okay with my choice, because I knew I would never have to leave you. I would get to be a part of you forever, not just because wanted to be, but because they wanted me to be as well.

Which is awesome. Because now I get to see all of your cuteness on a regular basis. And you are really, really cute. Not that I’m biased. But in all honesty, I’ve never looked back. I never miss a beat when anyone asks me if I regret it. Because I don’t. Not for a single second have I ever regretted it. I love them with my whole heart. And you. And your cuteness.

So I’m just saying…anyone who knocks technological advances should rethink the wonder of e-mail. You’d be amazed what it can do for a girl.

Gotcha Day

3 Aug

Two years ago today, you were adopted. The B’s call it Gotcha Day. I think that’s adorable.

The day itself wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. There was an official ceremony at the adoption agency and everyone was there — me, Pop Pop, Grandma M, Aunt S, The B’s (I finally got to meet Sports Man that day — Happy Second Anniversary of Knowing You, Sports Man!) and your foster family whom we all still love dearly and talk to frequently. There was also cake (not a terribly important detail, but it was delicious). The B’s had to sign their half of the paperwork and that day, you became theirs.

The wonderful thing? That was the day I became theirs too :)

We all became each others family. It’s been two years of tears and adjusting and overwhelming love and getting to know each other and learning new things and becoming sisters and brothers and daughters and mothers and friends. If it were possible for me to be any more thankful, I might try. But I feel so fulfilled, I truly don’t believe it could be any better than it is.

All because of you, Little Man. All of this — this family, this love, these lives that you have completed — is all because you exist. You are beautiful. You are incredible. You are a miracle. You are everything everyone needed. You brought us together. You are my angel for that, and so many other reasons.

So Happy Gotcha Day!

Happy Family Day

Happy Anniversary

Happy Day-You-Met-The-B’s

Happy Day-Renee-Got-the-Sister-She’d-Always-Wanted

Happy You-Are-Not-Alone Day

Happy Day-We-Started-The-Best-Adventure

Happy Beginning-of-a-Wonderful-Journey-Day

Happy First-Day-of-the-Rest-of-My-Life

Happy, happy, happy day. What a beautiful thing it’s turned out to be.

My Family. I Gotcha <3

The Adoption Papers

24 Jul

Two years ago today, I signed your adoption papers.

It was my last day in the hospital. You were born on a Thursday and I’d spent all day Friday with you, but Saturday, we had to go. My social worker from the adoption agency was there, along with the hospital social worker, the interim care mom, and Pop-Pop and Grandma M.

I’d seen the papers before —  my social worker had shown them to me in one of the many meetings I had with her before you were born. She wanted me to get acquainted with them, read them over, know where I would sign and what exactly I was signing. I hated those papers. It felt like signing a document that said, “Yes, sure, take my child away from me.” In the back of your mind and at the bottom of your heart you know that you’re doing it because it’s what’s best, but at the time, it just feels so wrong.

I hadn’t let you out of my sight since you were born. From the moment I saw you, I never wanted to stop looking at you. You were perfect, this little miracle that I had somehow managed to create, and I was just in awe of you. We had visitors — Aunt S, Uncle J, even your Godmother’s mom stopped in to say hi. Looking back, it’s a miracle they got to hold you. I’m surprised I let you out of my arms even for a second. But out of my sight? Not a chance. If I only had a couple of days where you were 100% completely and truly mine, I was going to keep you with me the whole time. You are an excellent snuggle buddy, by the way.

But when it came time to sign papers and make everything official, I really refused to let you go. I held you the whole time, signing my name where I was supposed to, giving you kisses every spare second I could, mostly crying the whole time. I felt like I was just…letting you go, and it was the worst feeling in the whole world, only rivaled in intensity by the following few days during which I became a total recluse, cried all the time and probably scared the daylights out of The B’s by being totally incommunicado. But it all started with those papers, signed two years ago today. I’ll never forget it.

But the beauty behind all of that pain two years ago is that two days ago, I was busy playing with you. Over the weekend we devised a new game that you call “Rock:” it mostly just involved me rocking your stuffed animals in a glider while you laughed and watched from your crib (did I mention that you are easily entertained?). The beauty is that two years later, you know my name and we play games and we laugh together. The beauty is that I have an entirely new extended family that I love being a part of, a family brought together by your ever-wonderful existence. We’re all intertwined, forever a part of one another’s lives. I hated those papers at the time, but I will be forever thankful for what they brought me.

Especially because they brought me things like this:

Drinking out of the hose with you!

Just takin’ an outdoor shower ;)

With our families on your birthday tractor ride!

Yes, your hand was in that cow’s mouth…

…but you thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Photos by J

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

12 Jul

Photo by J

We’re famous! Well…relatively famous…kind of famous. A picture of our family beach vacation this past May was chosen for the Best Family Vacations by iVillage (slide eight)! J did a write-up about why she loved it, and the picture of all of us on the steps is now out there for the world to see and read about. Cool, right? Especially since I know you must be so unfamiliar with having your pictures posted for the world to see on a regular basis. Wait a second…

And just for kicks…

Our Very First Family Photo! How the times have changed, huh? :)
Photo by J

Everyone Loves a Hot Dog Truck

5 Jun

One day, you’re going to ask what you were like when you were little. And even if you don’t, I’m going to tell you anyways because I don’t discriminate on who my audience is when it comes to bragging about you. And when I do tell you, one of the first things I’m going to say is, “You were the most lovable baby in the whole world, and I’ve never fallen in love with anyone faster in my entire life,” followed closely by, “You loved hot dogs and driving small vehicles more than anything else in the whole wide world.” Tractors, golf carts and the ever-wonderful “dot dog” are your best friends right now.

So when J sent me a picture of you driving a mini-hot dog truck, I knew you were in toddler heaven. I suppose I should say terrible-two heaven – apparently you threw a nice little tantrum upon being removed from said hot dog truck. Don’t worry…even when you’re screaming and crying, we love you anyways. Being the most lovable baby in whole world helps you out a lot in that department :)


If You’re Happy and You Know It…

1 Jun

Reason I Love You #28: You have the best smile in the whole wide world. I remember when you started to smile all the time, I couldn’t take enough pictures of you. This is one J sent to me. The two bottom teeth just kill me. I absolutely love it. It’s impossible to look at this picture – and your adorable, smiling face – and not feel happy.

Of course, when you started to laugh, my new goal in life was to do whatever it took to make you giggle, since I’ve already told you that your laugh is one of my favorite things ever – and I do mean one of my favorite things ever. But even when you just smiled and made gurgling noises, I was in love.

You still smile all the time. You laugh at silly things. And I’ve gotten pretty good at making you giggle, so I feel accomplished in life. But the reason I love your beautiful smile and your wonderful laugh is because it means you’re happy. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted for you – to be happy. So every time you give me or J anyone else a huge grin like that one, I truly feel accomplished, like I’ve finally done what I set out to do. That’s one of the reasons why I chose adoption in the first place – so that you would never have to worry or struggle, so that smiles and laughter were all you knew of life for as long as possible. And with a family like The B’s, it’s impossible not to be that way. They are the best thing that’s ever happened to me (aside from you) and they’ve helped to make you into the happy baby you are and for that I’m eternally grateful.

I hope you keep on smiling. Even into your “terrible twos.” But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it…

The Beginning of You and Me: Our First Photos

31 May

Last night, I was thinking about the letter I wanted to write you today. I figured since I’m so picture-and-video-happy all the time that I would try to find some of the first pictures and videos I have of you. So I began the search through folders upon folders of pictures on my laptop, on USB drives, in e-mails I’d been sent by The B’s,everywhere.

Then I realized that Grandma M actually took our first photos together. She was my “labor coach” I guess you would say. She held my hand through the pushing, was the one who reminded me to breathe, who whispered words of encouragement when it was getting really hard (I love you, but I did not love labor. I take that back. I loved my epidural).

So when you finally arrived and my hands no longer needed to hold anything but you, she grabbed the camera and the official documentation of your life began. It has yet to stop. I doubt it ever will (because J would never let it, and I love her for that). I’m so very happy that I got to be a part of those first pictures with you. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so at peace in my entire life than I did when they put you on my chest. Because our first pictures weren’t just pictures of us – they were pictures of the moment the best part of my life began.


Copying me? :)


Big Day in the Big City

29 May

Me on my 19th birthday, two years ago. With you :)

Guess what, Little Man? Your mama turns 21 today! Yes sir, I am officially the big 2-1 (well…as of 6:11 p.m. tonight technically). You can tell that I’m a mom when it comes to birthdays now because every time my birthday rolls around, I actually think about my mother – I wonder where she was on this day 21 years ago, what was going through her mind, if it’s crazy to her that the tiny baby girl who once fit inside her is now turning 21, living in NYC and has a little one of her own.

Birthdays are a big deal to moms. We get so lost in the excitement of birthdays, in planning parties and celebrating that sometimes we forget that the our moms are the reasons we have birthdays, and that they mean just as much to our moms as they do to us. I know that on your first birthday last year, all I could think about was where I was the year beforehand – that my water broke at 7:00 a.m. That at 11:30 in the morning I finally got my epidural. That you were born at exactly 5:41 p.m.  Maybe after 21 years I’ll stop time-travelling back to the day you were born, but I’m sure I always will a little bit. It’s crazy to me that you’ll be 21 someday. I’ll have to call up Grandma M and ask her how she feels today.

But today is a big deal for another reason – I start my first “big girl” job today with iVillage, part of NBC. I’m interning all summer for their Pregnancy, Parenting, Love and Sex sections. Needless to say, they have me working pretty heavily in the Pregnancy and Parenting section. But that’s wonderful to me. As much as I love relationships and sex (not something you want to know about your mother, I’m sure. Whoops!), doing daily work and research on pregnancy and parenting is a constant reminder of you. Of course, a reminder is unnecessary – even if pictures of you weren’t already plastered on my walls or placed on my desk or featuring as the background to my phone and my iPod, thinking about you every day is natural. You’re a part of me. What can I say? :)

So yes, today is a big day for me. It begins a lot of firsts and will hopefully open many, many doors so that I may one day be able to pass on the inspiration you give to me onto other people. I may do the writing and I may do the work, but you are the cornerstone. You are the necessary component to my drive, to my inspiration. We’re going to change the world someday, you and I. With you as my inspiration, J as my partner, my many friends and family as our support, and the wonderful people who take the time to read your letters, we are going to make a difference in the world. One person at a time.

But this change doesn’t start today. It started one year, ten months and seven days ago. It started with you – you and your beautiful family, all of whom have taught me what it truly means to love and be loved. You may not actively support me (because you’re two and you don’t know what that word means) but you have helped to get me to where I am on this momentous birthday of mine – interning in a city that you only see in movies, at a job doing what I enjoy, working with content I truly love and care about. Today, I am luckiest girl in the world. I love you, and even on the big, busy days, you’re always on my mind – reminding me of the good I’ve done, making me smile.

Knowing that I have you and The B’s is the best birthday present imaginable. My day is already off to a wonderful start. Let’s hope that I end up being really good at my job and my day stays that way :)

Our Beach Trip Pictures

28 May

These are just a few of the many. I tend to get very picture-happy around you…

(Click on one and they get bigger and you can scroll through :) )

You and The B’s started off my summer in the best, most perfect way possible. I can’t wait until our next adventure, Little Man. And thank you, Uncle Kevin, for lending us the beach house!

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