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Graduates

13 Jun

Dear Little Man,

We graduated!

Me with a masters. You with a kindergarten diploma.

Me with a lot of debt (worth it). You with a big, bright future, and a “Class of 2028” banner.

Six years ago when I imagined what this adoption might be like, I always dreamed of sharing things with you – stories, love, art, words, pictures, difficulties, experiences, fun, happiness, life in all its messy glory.

What a dream it was (and is) to share excitement and accomplishments as well.

I’m so, so proud of you. We are, quite obviously, the Dream Team.

I love you so much.

xo,

Nay Nay

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It’s Been A While

22 Jun

Dear Little Man,

I haven’t written you in close to a year, give or take a month or two. Luckily, I’ve seen you — many, many more times than I’ve written to you. Up until a few weeks ago, I had four jobs and everything was busy, and I guess life just got in the way. It’s funny how we say that, if you think about it, because life can’t really get in the way of itself. It just is and you just are and things just happen. Anyhow, I’m sorry I’m behind on our documentation. I’ve missed it.

Since my last post (last August…yes I know, I’m bad at keeping up with the times) many things have happened with you.

 

    • You went to pre-school
    • You started to actually understand fantasy football (a little)
    • You taught me about Despicable Me
    • You displayed the best impression of “purple minions” I’ve ever seen
    • You had your first school picture taken (yes, I cried, and yes, it’s still on my fridge)
    • You got a fish…and decided that “feeding it” meant “dumping an entire container of fish food in the tank all at once”
    • We went apple picking together again!
    • You started talking a LOT more and I love hearing absolutely everything you have to say
    • You came over before Christmas and you and I spent 45 minutes on our own, opening up invisible presents and getting really excited about them. I would “unwrap” one and you would ask me what it was. I would say “a soccer ball!” or “a train!” or something else I thought you’d like, and you would get really excited and (coincidentally) open up the exact same invisible present. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun with fake presents as I did that day
    • You got to play in your first big snow, bundled up like an Eskimo
    • You went out West (before me…so jealous). Arizona has never looked cuter ;)
    • We celebrated our 3rd Mother’s Day with J (4th if you count the year you were hanging out in my belly)
    • You graduated pre-school
    • You tried to jump into a pool backwards and missed. You ended up jamming your front tooth into your gums and now you look toothless. Luckily it’s only a baby tooth anyway. But even more luckily,  J called to tell me about it the day after it happened. It made me think of how lucky I was to have found adoptive parents who know how much I care and how much I would have wanted to know something like that
    • You learned how to fish at the Outer Banks
    • You’re about to turn four

 

Lots of things have happened with me, too. They just weren’t as cute, or tiny, or blonde.

 

    • I got my first professional job tutoring children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, even though I only went in to interview for an intern position
    • The Boyfriend became The Ex. It was sad and then it was normal. Then it was freeing and now, I’m happier than ever. So is he, I hope
    • I applied to graduate school
    • My tutoring job earned me a LOT of clients because it turns out, I’m not as bad with kids as I thought I was
    • I got into graduate school everywhere I applied. And subsequently, spent a solid month trying to decide between programs
    • I wrote my first article that went viral on the internet (yay Buzzfeed!)
    • After a year with my tutoring job, I quit because I was working 70 hours a week. This was the year that I realized that no matter what cause you’re working for, there are things in life that are more important than a job
    • I cried on my last day with every client I had, because each and every one of them was incredible, and they all taught me something about life, but also about myself
    • I moved out of the first apartment I ever had on my own. I’m not going to say I teared up on my last day moving out, but I’m not prepared to deny it either
    • I celebrated my one year anniversary of graduating from college
    • I turned 23 and experienced the first surprise party that truly surprised me
    • I chose Appalachian State University for grad school. I start this August!
    • I’ve missed you every day I’m not with you. Although I suppose that’s not a new development

You turn four in a month, exactly. The changes that have occurred in the last year are a little mind blowing, so the changes that have occurred in the past four aren’t even thinkable, so I won’t even start. You are an incredible kid — with your missing teeth and zealous enthusiasm for invisible presents and preschool genius. I am lucky to call you mine. I am lucky to call you ours. And I can’t wait until I see you next.

Thinking about you always.

I love you,
Nay Nay

This past November when you came up after Thanksgiving :)

This past November when you came up after Thanksgiving :)

15 Feb

Dear Little Man,

The boyfriend and I were featured today on Confessions of a Love Addict, a blog written by one of my very best friends.

Who says that displays of love have to end after Valentines Day? I certainly love you all year ’round :)

Check it out!

This week’s Falling in Love on Fridays comes from one of my very best, dearest friends, Renee. We became friends 7 years ago while in high school and she quickly named herself (or maybe I named her?) my protege. But in the years that have passed, she’s definitely not in my shadows — she shines brightly all on her own. In fact, she’s rather radiant — both inside and out. She’s not only a talented writer, an insatiable explorer and truly a lover at heart (though she’s stubborn about it) — but she’s a courageous birth mom and incredible friend, too. She writes letters to her son Liam on her blog Letters to Little Man. Her posts almost always make me cry (that’s a lie, they always do) and the photos of her adorable tot are just… addicting. I feel lucky to call her one of my favorites and thankful she’s…

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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… :)

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.

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.

Beauty in the Breakdown

18 Dec

Dear Little Man,

One thing that you will someday learn — as unfortunate as that may be — is that news of a tragedy spreads like wildfire. With today’s social media craze, it takes milliseconds to share news of any kind. I heard about a recent tragedy around midday last Friday, December 14th. I logged onto Facebook for fun, read a few vague but concerning posts and gathered enough info to learn that it had been a school shooting. A quick Google search told me the rest. Shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children. All of those children were younger than Sports Man is now.

And then, I did what every other parent in the country did: I thought of my own child.  The light of my life, the sunshine in my heart, the force behind my continued existence. I thought of you, Liam. Without you, I would have nothing. That’s the magic (and the terror) behind having kids…you’ve lived your entire life without them and as soon as you have one, you’re not sure how you ever functioned before they were around.

There is a quote that I thought of in the aftermath of that sad, sad day. It goes like this:

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Right now, there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut who have lost their hearts, and the hearts of people around the world break for them. I know mine did. My heart broke for those poor parents because I thought of you, and I wondered how in the world I could be expected to go on living if you couldn’t. In all of the details and press releases I’ve read about the children who died, it’s been mostly aunts or uncles or grandparents who comment. I can’t help but think that’s because the parents just don’t have the words yet. How could they? It can’t seem possible yet.

All of those Connecticut parents — or any parent who has survived the loss of a child — is a miraculous sort of hero to me. I imagine that they possess a type of strength that is simply indescribable in its vastness and its depth.  It must be, to be able to survive something like that.

Without you, my beautiful boy, I would disintegrate, and nothing would console me. Everyone always says, “Our hearts go out to the victims,” but what does that even mean? In all honesty, it probably doesn’t mean much at this point. Those 20 sets of parents, that entire town is so enveloped in grief, it must be hard to see outside of it. But now I know what it means, because if I could give part of my heart to another mother who has lost her own, I would. I wish I could.

But you are my heart. You are walking around outside my body and it has never been scarier than it is right now. I have never imagined losing you and suddenly, that fear is not only haunting my nightmares, but my news-feed as well. That Friday, I read about those poor children and the teachers who died to protect them, and I cried. Being separated from you hadn’t hurt that much since the first few months after you were born. For the first time in a long time, I hated that you were two hours away. It usually seems so short but last Friday, it felt like too much distance to bear.

So I texted J. I texted her and I told her to give you extra kisses and hugs from me, from your Nay-Nay. And then she sent me this:

Sleeping Baby

You were sleeping peacefully in your car seat, tired after a morning of Christmas shopping. I have never been so grateful to see a picture of you. I just needed to see you, to look at your face, and somehow, J knew that. I ended up telling her about the Connecticut tragedy shortly after (she hadn’t heard yet). I have no doubt that her heart was heavy with prayers as she sent Sports Man off to school yesterday morning.

Not truly being able to “raise” you, I’ve never thought of myself as the “traditional parent,” though I certainly think of myself as a mother. But this past Friday, I joined the ranks of parents all over the world, as our thoughts immediately went to our sons and daughters, no matter their age. Last Friday, we cried for our own children, along with the 20 that were lost that day…their light, love and potential taken so much sooner than it should have been.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it a billion more, including now: I love you, Liam Hudson. I love you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I have. Your life will forever mean more to me than my own. I could not be more grateful for your existence or for the wonderful family you that surrounds you.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”

Thanksgiving and Morning Sickness

29 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Thanksgiving was last week, but for the past three thanksgivings I enjoy my turkey, stuffing and apple pie with a little bit of reminiscence on Thanksgiving 2009.

I was in Alabama that year visiting my sister, your Aunt B. We always went to her place for Thanksgiving back then. She has two girls — my nieces — and I would hang out with them and relax as much as I could. We’d all spend the holidays sleeping in, reading books, watching movies, and occasionally walking to the local coffee shop for a caffeine jolt. Mostly, it was just enjoyable because we got to visit family and your Aunt B and her girls are as close as I get to family biologically.

On Thanksgiving Thursday 2009, we had finished our meal around mid-afternoon. It was delicious as always and we had spent the rest of the evening recovering from the food binge. However, it was nighttime now and we were all settling in to watch the Polar Express (one of my FAVORITE Christmas movies. I will make you watch it someday). I had worked up enough of an appetite to go in for seconds before we all settled in to turn on the TV. I got some leftovers out of the fridge, scooped them on to a plate and put them in the microwave to heat up.

I distinctly remember pulling myself up to sit on the counter as I waited for my food. As it heated, the smell of our Thanksgiving dinner filled the kitchen and inevitably reached my nose.

I thought I was going to vomit right there on the kitchen floor.

I pushed off the counter and headed for the bathroom that was just around the corner from the kitchen, if not to throw up then to get away from the smell at least. My first thought was that apparently, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought. I must have still been full from dinner because mere hours earlier, that same smell had smelt heavenly.

But the nausea didn’t let up. For the rest of the trip, the smell of food grossed me out. I think I ate a little more turkey, but I didn’t heat anything up in the microwave anymore. I distinctly remember talking to Grandma M about it. I remember telling her how it was so weird how all of a sudden, I just couldn’t stand the smell of food.

A little less than a month later after a particularly life changing doctor’s appointment, everything made sense. After I found out about you (and recovered from the shock of it) I thought back to those microwaved leftovers and practically felt the light bulb clicking on in my head. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that you never really forget.

And I haven’t forgotten it. One year later, I was spending Thanksgiving 2010 with my four-month-old and The B’s at their house in NC (and my definition of “visiting family” had extended quite a bit!). Last year, The B’s came down the weekend after Thanksgiving and we went to see gingerbread houses together. And this Thanksgiving, of course, you spent with me, my family and The B’s at The Boyfriend’s (totally gorgeous) farm house. It seems to be quite the holiday for you and me :)

And even though I think about you every single day, I always think about that “first” Thanksgiving with you when the end of November rolls around.

Especially when I’m getting leftovers and I realize that this time, I can actually eat them.

Thanksgiving 2010. The first one we spent together when you were on the outside of my body and not preventing me from getting leftovers ;)

Dirt for Dinner?

26 Nov

Dear Little Man,

I hope you had a wonderful holiday! This past Thursday was Thanksgiving, and on that lovely holiday I reminisced on how thankful I was for you. Your existence was and always will be my own little miracle. Though I’m thankful for you every day I was reallllly thankful this past Friday because I got to see you!

You and The B’s came down to The Boyfriend’s farm in North Carolina and our families spent the day together. There was a tractor so you were all set for most of the visit, but I was able to tear you away to play catch with one of the dogs when you first got there. You actually spent most of the day with Pop Pop, and if you weren’t with him, you were asking for him. He was definitely the favorite on this trip. You wanted him around for everything. It was actually pretty adorable.

However, during the few minutes I was able to get you off the tractor, The Boyfriend and I took you to play in some dirt flats out by their driveway. You had a ball — you were picking up the dirt and watching it sift through your fingers, totally fascinated by how it felt, your little face screwed up in concentration as you tried to figure out why you couldn’t keep a hold of it. It was one of those “little kid moments” that adults witness and it makes them pause for a minute. And as we watch how filled with wonder our children are at the small things in life, we smile and realize how the small things really are what matter the most sometimes and how the world is filled with magic in places that we’ve forgotten to look as we’ve aged. I was having one of those moments as I wanted you dig your little hands into the dirt.

And then you ate it.

The magic was pretty much gone after that, but it was replaced by laughter and a familiar fondness that I’ve always had for your adorable quirks. You seemed pretty surprised that the dirt tasted bad…or maybe it tasted great and it was just the texture that threw you off. Either way, you made one of your ever entertaining funny faces and The Boyfriend helped you get the dirt out of your mouth.

I fed you some ham later. You had a better reaction to eating that.

But I just wanted to remind you that I am always, always, always thankful for you and your existence. You are the smile on my face and the warmth in my heart and I am thankful every day that I get to write letters to someone I love as much as you.

xoxoxo

Little Man and Michael Jackson

15 Nov

When J and I first met, we clicked on a lot of things:

– We both love Jane Austen and LOVE the movie Pride and Prejudice (yes, we’re girls. Indulge us.)

– We both use Jergens Healthy Glow tanning lotion in the summer because J burns and I just like to tell people I spent the summer in Aruba or somewhere exotic

–  We were both pregnancy book nerds — she read What To Expect When You’re Expecting from cover to cover when she was carrying Sports Man, and I hit Barnes and Noble less than a week after I found out about you.

However, one of the other things we discovered we had in common was dance. I played tons of sports in elementary school, but once I got older (and got braces…and terrified Pop Pop by getting hit in the mouth one too many times…), I took up modern dance and ballet instead. I danced all through middle school into high school and once I hit college I took up ballroom dancing and a teeeeny bit of contra dancing. I was never quite as flexible as I wanted to be, but oh it was fun! It was nice to find out that J and I shared such a passion.

But do you know what’s better than finding out we shared that passion? Discovering that we both passed that passion to youAnd thanks to J’s lighting fast iPhone filming skills, we have proof that you will probably hate us for in 10-12 or so years. And may I just say, you have incredible, prodigious skill. It’s overwhelming. You even pose like Michael Jackson. Next time we’ll get you gloves and you can do the moon dance.

But for now, it’s just another thing that J and I can commiserate over :) P.S. — The thing you do with your legs at the end is my favorite.

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