Tag Archives: turning point

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 :)

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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.

Yikes.

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.

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