Tag Archives: fear

The Boyfriend, The Baby and Being In Love

8 Jan

Dear Little Man,

I got this picture during our giant family Thanksgiving get together a couple months ago. The Boyfriend was carrying you to the dirt flats (you can see them off to the left) and there was no way I was going to miss that. Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot.

It didn’t get too messy (aside from the one time you pitched a handful of dirt at me, and yes, I forgive you) but I can’t tell you how gooey and melty I get on the inside when I see you with The Boyfriend. I love how the two of you get along — you always have fun together and he always makes you smile.

You and The Boyfriend get along on that “boy level” that I — with my two X chromosomes — will never be able to understand intuitively. Playing in dirt? Not the first idea any girl is going to come up with when taking care of a toddler. But The Boyfriend? He just knows things like that. He knows what you’ll have fun doing and he doesn’t care if he’s going to get dirty (or soaked or cold or uncomfortable) in the process.

He is great with you. He makes time for you when you come into town and he always offers to drive with me when I mention going to visit you. If we have a road trip planned, he suggests swinging by to say hello to The B’s and he reads your letters whenever I write one. He cares about you, and for that, I love him even more that I already do.

Falling in love was always something to look forward to when I was younger. Then it was exciting when it first happened. Then it was devastating when it ended. Then it was a non-issue for a while. Then, after enough time, the hope sparked again and it started all over. None of us can give up for long.

The Boyfriend is the first man I have been in love with since your dad. I don’t take love lightly — I never have. It’s not a word I throw around. I don’t think it should be used when you want something from someone or when you’re simply having fun with someone. To me, loving someone means for better or for worse. It means no matter what. It means when you’re mad at me and when you’re more successful than me and when you disappoint me. It’s not “for now” or “until you make me angry.” It’s for good.

I’ve been called naïve for thinking of love that way. I’ve been proved naïve for thinking that way. Not because my thinking was faulty, but because I failed to realize that not everyone you fall in love with is going to see love the way you do. You may think it means “no matter what” but if they think if means “for now,” you’re out of luck. It was a clarification I failed to make the first time. And I don’t make the same mistakes twice.

I wasn’t looking for love when I found The Boyfriend. I’ve always been a very happy single woman — “looking for love” is not my thing. When I met The Boyfriend in our university library, he was just a new friend of a friend. I think I jokingly challenged him to a fight, though I forget why. But I like that it started out that way. I feel like the best love stories are always the unexpected, almost accidental kind.

Even after the L-word was said (and felt) I think it was a while before either of us let go of the fear and dared to believe it was true. I remember giving him my speech on what love meant to me. I told him what mistake I would never make again. I gave him the do-you-know-what-you’re-getting-yourself-into speech and the don’t-say-it-if-you-don’t-mean-it speech. As brave as I like to think I am, I was scared. I wrote this letter to you when I realized how fearful I really was of the L-word. But as the trust grew, the fear diminished. The feelings grew deeper and our relationship became stronger than any other one I’d ever had.

But most importantly, The Boyfriend is the first guy I have ever introduced to you. He is the first guy I ever brought over to meet The B’s. You and your family are the most important part of my life and though I am not raising you, who I bring into your life…well, they aren’t just “anybody.” Neither is The Boyfriend — he drove up to meet you on your second birthday.

In a few days, I will have been with The Boyfriend longer than I’ve ever been with anyone else. Our relationship is solid — “No matter what” is my saying with him, just like “You are not alone” is my saying with J. And we live by it, he and I. We love each other no matter how frustrated or aggravated or angry or sad or upset we make one another (which isn’t very often, don’t worry). Our friends and family think we’re nauseating because we’re so in love. One of the The Boyfriend’s brothers told me that we act like we’re still in our first week of dating. I don’t mind. I hope we’re still that nauseating years from now.

Out of the many, many reasons why I love The Boyfriend, the fact that he loves you ranks at the top. And oh, how I love him. For so many reasons, in so many different ways, for as long as I can…and he feels the same. It’s incredible. He makes me happy, and someday, I hope that will make you happy.

And just like Dirt + Toddler = Super Cute (Messy) Photo Shoot…

Your Love + The Boyfriend’s Love = The Luckiest Girl in the Whole World.

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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.”

Adoption is Everywhere

13 Nov

Dear Little Man,

I’m going to share a secret of mine with you. That secret is that I dream about being pregnant again someday.

In my actual dreams, I’m generally terrified of pregnancy and, in dream world, I find myself thinking, “I’m pregnant again? Oh my, I wonder if The B’s will raise this one for me, like they did Liam…” So, so, so weird. I’m generally thrilled to wake up and realize it was a dream because I has such a difficult time going through with placing you…I’m not sure I could do it again.

But during my waking hours, sometimes I think about having a baby when I’m ready for one. I love you so very much…in that “beyond words” kind of way…and I hope to be able to someday have a little half-brother or -sister for you to meet, that I can love just as much. I never thought I wanted kids, but once I discovered I was carrying you, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be the best mother I possibly could. Hopefully I will be able to be that mother someday. Hopefully you think I am that mother today.

Yesterday evening, Miss Manhattan (one of your many aunts, a fellow blogger with a wonderful site, and one of my oldest friends) sent me a link to a blog called Arielle Elise. This blog is mostly (beautiful!) photography, but this particular post was about a couple going through an adoption in Uganda.

In my many talks/discussions/speeches given at Bethany functions, I have heard a few stories of international adoption, though most of the ones I’ve heard have been from Asia. Though I don’t know much about international adoption (I am studying it!), I still love that adoption spreads its influence so widely. The love that adoption encompasses can span oceans…how beautiful is that?

The couple featured in the Arielle Elise post are twenty-somethings, married for 5+ years and in the process of adopting their own Little Man from Africa. Their photos are all about them and love and how love creates family (oh how I can attest to that!) Their blog, This Beautiful Truth, follows an incredible, emotional journey through adoption and their daily lives. Like one of my favorite bloggers, Infertility Awakening, these journeys fascinate me. People who have the hearts and souls for adoption never fail to astound me with their openness and their love. I always find them to be very brave, courageous people who have decided to open their hearts and look on the bright side of life…just like The B’s!

I love sharing stories of people like this, mostly because I feel that somehow, we’re all connected through this adoption experience. Birth mothers, adoptive families, adopted children…though we’re all different a spread far and wide, I somehow feel like we’re all connected at the core. I get to share our story and other couples and birth mothers get to share theirs and together, we form this network, this collaboration of people who want nothing more than to love their children and families as much as humanly possible.

And I understand. Though I am the birth mother rather than the adoptive mother, I think I get it, or part of it at least. I understand that longing to be a mother, to create a family, to want to share your love with a child you have the privilege of calling your own. Though I certainly can’t empathize with the frustrating, upsetting, sometimes devastating effects of infertility, I think I realize the desire that drives it. The desire to hear someone call you “mom.” It sounds like a small thing, but it means something so much bigger to so many people.

And that’s why I still have my dream. My dream of being “mom.” That’s why. someday, I’d like to give you those half-sibling(s) that call me “mother.” It’s a small thing, but that tiny act of love can fill a heart to the point of bursting. I would know. That’s what I feel every time you call me “Nay-Nay.” It may not be “mom” outright, but I cherish it as though it were. Because though you may not call me your mother, I will forever call you my son and I will be proud. That’s just how love works.

So enjoy this tiny piece of your expansive network, Little Man. I hope you enjoy reading the stories of this family as much as I enjoy telling the stories of my own little boy, my shining star, my bright light at the end of all of my dark tunnels.

That would be YOU, in case you were wondering ;)

Have No Fear

23 Apr

There are not many times when I wish I was a little kid again. I am enjoying “emerging adulthood” as they call people my age. The independence, the self-sufficiency, the in-between state where you get to be on your own but don’t have too many responsibilities just yet. The only time I tend to wish for childhood is when I am assigned my “college homework.” I miss elementary school homework more than you know.

But today I thought of you and I realized that there is another time when I wish I was little. It’s when I’m scared.

You are a fearless little guy. You run head first into everything: new experiences, new places, new things. You love all things new – they’re exciting to you. There is nothing scary to my Little Man because you’re just ready to take it all on. Right now, that is scary to me because there are certain things you should be afraid of, like climbing on top of counters or jumping in swimming pools. Those things could actually hurt you (since you don’t know how to properly balance or swim yet) and I really would rather you be afraid of those sometimes.

But as I thought of you and your fearlessness today, I realized I wished I was like that too. I wish I was just like my little boy. Running head first, throwing caution to wind, taking a chance, and all of the other clichés that basically say, “Don’t be afraid to jump.”

You see, as you get older and you learn and experience more things, sometimes you become afraid. Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of being sad, afraid of losing things. In that blissful period of childhood that you are experiencing now, none of those things matter. Pain is temporary, sadness is curable and the things you lose are all but forgotten after a few days. But us adults don’t tend to see things that way. As we get older, we learn that we are fragile, breakable. And the pain may be temporary, but even so, we’re afraid of being left with the memory of it.

You are different. I don’t see a child-like fearlessness in you – you know, the kind that will fade as you get older. I see in you the kind of bravery that will persevere throughout your life. You are a “go for it” kind of kid, and I’m so proud of you for it. I would love to believe that you got that from me, and maybe you did, but I have come to the startling conclusion that I get scared sometimes too. I learned a few years ago that I was not, in fact, as invincible as I believed myself to be. Your mommy dearest has a heart that breaks, as it turns out. Saying it that way sounds so “wishy-washy” to me, so I kind of hate admitting it. But being scared isn’t anything I ever want you to be ashamed of, so I will admit it to you. If there’s one thing I don’t like to be, it’s a hypocrite.

So here’s the truth: sometimes, I get scared. I get scared of failing. I get scared of letting people down. I get scared of letting people in. I get scared of broken hearts, having had one before. And though I have learned there are things to be scared of, I have also learned that maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. I once heard that being afraid means you have something or someone to lose, and that can be worth a lot more than the fear itself. And as you may have been able to tell, I survived. I braved the storm. I toughed it out, and though I have changed, I’m better for all of it.

And now, when I get scared, I think of you. I think of my beautiful baby boy and all of the happiness you’ve brought me. I think of The B’s who would let me cry on their shoulders anytime my fears proved correct. I think of your adorable laugh and how you call me Nay-Nay and I find that I’m a little less afraid. You inspire me. After all of my tough-talk, here I sit, admiring my two-year-old for his moxy. It’s one of the many, many ways you make my life better. Hopefully one day we’ll come full circle – your youthful fearlessness will inspire my grown-up fearlessness, so when you grow up and start to doubt, I will be there to hold your hand and remind you of the brave boy you’ve always been. I owe you one, after all :)

Have No Fear, Love Is Here…Right?

2 Mar

As you know, I started these letters for many reasons, most of them for you. I want you to know how you got to where you are. I want you to know how many lives you’ve touched just by being you. I want to be able to document the things I learn about you as I learn them, so that one day you can look back and appreciate your childhood self the way the rest of us do. Mostly I want you to know how loved you are.

 But I’m going to make a confession: even though the letters are for you – from me to you –   they’re actually for me too. Because even though it’s good for you to know that I love you, it’s almost better for me to know that you know that I love you.

 As I told you yesterday, The B’s would never dream of the day when they would let you forget how much I love you. I know that if some how, some way, any doubt of that entered your mind, they would correct it in an instant. But before I found them and really got to know them, that was probably my biggest adoption concern as a birth mother: that if you grew up away from me, you would never know how much I loved you. Or even worse, you would assume that since I “gave you up,” I didn’t love you.

 I think that is a universal birth mother fear – that if we’re not around, there won’t be anyone else around to remind you that we honestly did what we thought was absolutely best for you in the long run. That it was because of love that we chose adoption, not in spite of it, or due to our lack of it. We want our children to think the best of us and sometimes we feel that if we’re not with you 24/7 to encourage that, no one else will.

 It’s one of the weird conundrums of adoption – I feel that, as your mother, our love for one another should be innate. But since I went through with adoption – even though it was a decision made lovingly – sometimes I feel like my love is something that I need to prove to you. My love for you is guaranteed, but since I’m not raising you, your love for me doesn’t have to be – sometimes, I feel like your love is something I will need to earn. 

 I honestly used to think that I was a selfish person for choosing adoption. That if I had just been a little more selfless, I could have sacrificed more – “manned up” a bit – and kept you as my own. A little therapy and constant support from friends and family cured me of that relatively fast, but it doesn’t keep the thought from creeping up every now and then. It’s a strange paradigm to try to describe.

 I actually came up with the idea for these letters way back then, when the adoption first took place, but I wasn’t as healed then as I feel now. I wanted to be able to sort through my feelings before I started telling them to you because I wanted our relationship to be a source of clarity for you, not confusion. And also, funny enough (the people who know me will laugh at this), I was actually afraid I would run out of things to say.

 As it turns out, my letters to you almost write themselves. I start off with a little thought or a funny story about you and suddenly, I’ve written hundreds of words – paragraphs filled with stories I want you to know, stories I love; feelings I have for you and your family, a thousand memories, a million and a half things I want you to hear. Writing to you isn’t a job, it isn’t work – it’s freeing. Every time I write one, I feel a little lighter. And even though you’re no where close to being able to read them, I feel closer to you and The B’s every time I finish one.

 It’s yet another way you have brought love, peace and meaning to my life.

 My fears of you not knowing that I am madly in love with you have been long assuaged. I am sure you will grow up knowing that I love you because The B’s wouldn’t have it any other way, and because I am going to come around as often as humanly possible to tell you so myself. And some day later on, you will have these letters to tell you how loved you are, too. But even so, you should know that even if I don’t have to, I am going to spend the rest of my life proving it to you anyways.

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