Tag Archives: travel

The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Learn

26 Aug

Dear Little Man,

This past June I did what every 20-something should do at least once: I backpacked through Europe. Now before we get any grand ideas, by “backpacking” I don’t mean I trekked through the mountains of Europe in hiking boots with just a compass and my sense of adventure. I mean I pre-booked trains and flights and hostels and had a few minor panic attacks when I thought I was going to miss any travel connections. But I did pack a month’s worth of belongings into an over-sized REI backpack…ergo, I backpacked through Europe. Just roll with it.

No matter how you define “backpacking,” I saw some incredible places on my trip. Your Aunt S and I met up in France and traveled to Spain, Germany, and Ireland at which point we parted ways and she flew home as I continued my European exploration in England.

I climbed the Eiffel Tower (despite my paralyzing fear of heights because, um, it’s the Eiffel Tower)…

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel 2

And hung out in the Alcázar Palace in Spain….

Spain

And drank massive beers in Munich…

Giant Beer!

Glug, glug...

And went scuba diving in Nice…

Scuba Diving

And found five-leaf clovers in Galway…

Five-Leaf Clover

And ate and ate and ate some more.

European Food!

It was amazing. The people I met, the cultures I was immersed in, the daily adventures I went on with your Aunt S…it was everything I always thought it would be. I’ve always wanted to travel, especially around Europe, and my month-long excursion was definitely worth how poor I am now. I ate and I laughed and I danced and I could really breathe for the first time in months. It was glorious, and perfectly timed.

But everywhere I went, I thought of you. I wanted to show you the carvings on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe and the view of Paris from the tip top of Montmartre. I wanted you to see just how blue water can be and how fish look when you’re swimming right beside them. I wanted to tell you about the feeling you get when your legs are dangling over the edge of the Cliffs of Mohar (not entirely legal, by the way) and you can’t even breathe because it’s so beautiful and you feel so small.

But since I couldn’t bring the real you with me, I brought our story instead. But the first time I brought you up, I noticed I was a little nervous. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know how adoption translated…literally and metaphorically. How do I say, “I have a son but I don’t have him because I chose other people to raise him and be his family because I thought that’s what was best for him?” That particular sentence is not in any French phrase book. I know, I was surprised too.

The first person I told our story to was our friend and host, François — he was kind enough to let us sleep on his couch during our stay in Paris. I was going through pictures on my phone at dinner one night, and since most of my photos are of you, he glanced over and saw one. He asked me, “Is that your nephew?” I smiled and corrected him and quickly launched into the story of your adoption and The B’s. He looked surprised at first, but just for a second…and then he asked all about you. One of the last things he said to me was before we left for Spain was, “Say hello to your little boy for me. It’s things like him that make life beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.” So, hello from François :)

When I told our story to the woman we stayed with in Provence, Elodie, she started talking about how she couldn’t wait to have children with her soon-to-be husband. She told me the boy and girl names she’d already picked out.

When I told Florian, our German host, he told me he hoped that if he had any kids, he wanted them to have curly blonde hair like yours.

When I told the woman who worked in the coffee shop in Dublin on my last morning there (she stole a glance at a photo of you like François did), she said she’d never heard of anything like our adoption story, but that it was inspiring because she and her husband were trying to adopt in Ireland and they’d been on a waiting list for over a year. She said our story gave her hope and made her smile and she was glad I had walked in that morning.

I learned a lot of things when I was overseas. I learned about cultures and languages and history and methods of travel. I learned what orejas a la plancha means (pigs ears…don’t order it) and how thin hostel mattresses can be. I learned how you can live on zero sleep and still feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. But what surprised me the most was that our story did translate…it didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language or that some words only elicited confused smiles and shoulder shrugs.

Love is palpable. Especially the love I have for you and The B’s…it doesn’t need to be verbalized to be felt.

All of these people I told our story to, they have dreams of that kind of love too. They hope and they dream of beautiful, curly haired children that they want to love someday. Different people from different countries with different languages, all with the same desires. So different in culture, but so similar in heart. We are not alone. Love…it really is the universal language. That discovery — even if it had been the only thing I learned — would have made the entire trip worth it. I thank you and Europe for teaching me that.

Oh, and just so you know, ‘adoption’ in French is the same as in English. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about translating it after all :)

“The most important thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

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Goofy Minds Think Alike

18 Feb

Dear Little Man,

As I told you last week, you are always and forever my Valentine. However, with my schooling and The B’s constant desire to have you around (what’s up with that, right?), getting together on Valentine’s Day can be a little challenging.

But wait!

You see, J and I have honed our method of communication for the days we wish we could spend together but unfortunately can’t. It goes like this:

My Valentines

 

 

Picture swapping! This photo was sent to me Valentine’s Day afternoon. So in my always classy, naturally sophisticated way, I responded like this:

 

Back At Ya

 

 

See? We totally got to hang out on Valentine’s Day! You loved my photo, by the way. Apparently when J showed it to you, you said, “Nay-Nay come to Liam’s house?”

Nay-Nay definitely wants to come to Liam’s house, I can promise you that. You are incredibly photogenic, but this mama loves to see that beautiful face in person too. But thanks to J, you still got to be my Valentine and until I get to hold my Little Man in my arms again (for the 10 seconds that you’ll let me), that is more than enough for me :)

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

Little Man Turns Two!

23 Jul

You turned TWO yesterday! And lucky me, I got to spend the whole weekend with you. Friday when I got there, we played all night. We went to your party Saturday (so ridiculously fun…I’ll tell you all about it!) and then played outside for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday, your actual birthday, I woke up early — before you (I know…I was shocked too). I tiptoed into your room, sat in the rocking chair across from your crib and just watched you sleep. All I could think about was how your entire body used to be the length of what your legs are now, and how two years ago, at exactly that time in the morning, my water had just broken and I was thinking about how I was going to get to meet you soon. And then (after 11 not-so-pleasant-but-totally-worth-it hours of labor) I did! And now you’re two and I couldn’t be more in love with you or your family.

It’s the miracle of The B’s and the wonder of open adoption that let me sit there and just watch you sleep yesterday morning. I couldn’t be more thankful or feel more blessed that I have the opportunity to know you and watch you grow. I needed that opportunity — once I discovered you (seven months before you made your debut), being without you would have been an impossibility. I wanted what was best for you, but what we have has always been so much more. From the beginning, our situation has been the best thing that could have happened to me. You are my love but you have brought me my family, and I love you all more than I can say. I am one lucky lady.

And YOU are one adorable (official) two-year old — and trust me when I say that I have a ton of pictures and countless videos from our weekend adventure to prove it. Stay tuned, Little Man :)

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