This was the extent of our back to school shopping last week:
new sneakers and the hat.
Honestly, that sums things up over here.
We just don’t have room for much else that is new.
Uncle (my oldest brother) has moved out,
after living with, and loving on us
for almost five full on years.
He’s not gone too far but he’s not that near.
We’ve been preparing for this dreaded-
exciting transition for several months.
Celebrating all that is Uncle in one hand,
and grieving all that is his leaving in the other.
But rage doesn’t RVSP to an invitation.
It just crashes the party
whenever he needs to remind the world
that he is both the pinata, and the bat.
Swinging blindfolded into the unknown
like an infant wailing for his mother,
wrapped in a blanket of confusion and fear
hush hush hushed into a stranger’s promising arms.
Eight years later, and a very quiet part of you
may still remember her soft hands caressing your very small head
and for a moment maybe you are still able to hold her hand there,
woven in the flair and the tilt of your very fine hat.
Sammy was just reading this sweet book to Marcel. He is such an amazing reader. He is also a very deep and intuitive young man. With Mother’s Day approaching I asked him if he’d like to help me make or pick out a card for his first mom. His response; “Mommy I think she needs a break from you and me. Let’s just skip it. She’ll write us when she is ready.” For those of you who have not been following, the short version is that after a long distance open adoption for the last seven years-mainly through letters, and texts, Sam’s first mom “Tea” has been out of touch with us for almost a year. Despite numerous attempts to connect, to sort through what may have gone wrong, she has chosen not to respond. Sam is aware of her silence on many levels. As much as I try to shelter and protect him from the disappointment and hurt, there is only so much I can say. He is left with his own sorting out that I am rarely privy to.
I sent her a sweet, somewhat light, and very heart felt card to acknowledge all the amazing love we feel for her, and her family.
Sammy did not want to sign it.
It is his choice. It is her choice. It is still hard.
For another particularly poignant piece on the subject of Mother’s Day and the adoptive parent in an open adoption relationship please see this post from See Theo Run.
Addendum: The next day. I received several off line emails since posting this. I gather from this response that folks are deeply concerned about my well being. Sam, one commenter said seems to be doing just great. Dear readers-I am fine. I just feel some deeply intense loss, and that loss is compounded by the presence of what is already, and has always been a complicated little day for me as a mother. Like many of you, reaching motherhood was not via the path I expected or imagined. There is no “better way”, or “easier way.” There is just the way one reaches it, if one is able in this lifetime to do so. As many of us know, there are no givens, even if as little girls and boys we are led to believe that parenthood is one big stop on the line, if you get on that bus…I am rambling. Clearly there is no such thing as a neat little post about something so BIG as Mother’s Day.
I am also really looking forward to celebrating with my kids. Shrek has been planning all sorts of lovely surprises with them which is ridiculously sweet. It is just that I hold the “event” of Mother’s Day in two very separate places, and was looking to acknowledge that here. Maybe my work is to integrate it all a little better.
1. Sam had nothing but great things to say about his new school all week. His teacher reports that he is fitting right in. His favorite thing about it? “All the friends I have already.” Continue reading “Thankful on this Friday”→
Last year does not beg a great deal more reflection on my part. I reflect all year long. Today is about what’s next. Apparently being a composer is on Sam’s list.
For his birthday Sam received an incredibly generous present: a full piano sized keyboard and lessons from a bunch of loving folks all coming together. He has been leaning in this direction for months–so it was a natural next step. What has transpired since then (besides removing the couch and train table, and turning the living room into a kind of Montessori like music room with several cushions and bags of blocks etc around the perimeter) is astounding. He places his head phones on, composes, and then plays it back when he is happy with it. (Head phones were a KEY component to this purchase!) This one that I’ve included here-along with my own first attempt at a slide show movie and tribute to his depth-is remarkable to me. I started crying about halfway in. I’m not sure where the tears came from. Maybe it was because I felt so much joy that I was given this opportunity to enter into his inner life this way- and that he has found a medium that allows him this freedom.
His music teacher claimed in his second lesson ever that she’s never met a child with an ear like his. I looked at her cross-eyed. What am I supposed to do with that? I’m that friend you know who NEVER listens to music. I’m the one you make CD’s for because you are sure that there is hope somehow.. Fortunately I draw towards me musicians of all sorts. She said–just give him every opportunity he desires to hear, play and express himself musically. So I’ve started asking those musical peeps what more we can offer, invite and encourage in and around Sam’s world. Suggestions folks?
Meanwhile Marcel the architect and engineer has been busy designing future space travel, cities, and making the world a more loving place in his own remarkable way.
This picture reminds me that I have a post in me called: How parenting is a lot like paper mache.
For today I’m inviting peace and more space for creativity and unpacking race and white mind into our new year. I’m committed to trying to let go of desired outcomes and the need to get everyone else on my page. I am here to do my work. Others are here to do theirs-or not. I can open my door.
Less time for the non important, and more time to just visit with the ones we love. Can it ever be that simple? I’m committed to more and more time on our new green carpet with blocks, a pad of paper, and lots of space to explore the space between us.
I look forward to sharing more of the journey with all of you. It is an honor to be part of your world, and I look forward to learning more together in this new year of possibility.
The decision to go visit and then not visit Sam’s first family last summer, is one I am working through today.
We’re all still working out way through this one. Perhaps the hardest part for me is the not knowing how this impacted Tea*, and her relationship with him. I sense she may still feel angry at me–hurt–frustrated? I did not tend to our relationship in the aftermath in the way I should have. I retreated so hard and so fast after it happened, because I felt like I had done something so wrong–publicly and privately by putting so much energy into that trip. And, although I am certain (because of things I have chosen not to talk about here-those moments in our childrens lives we must protect) that I made the right choice for Sammy**-I sense I made a very wrong choice for her and her other kids, and her parents. All of this wondering is coming up for me so hard because for the first year in Sam’s life we have not heard from her at his birthday or Christmas. Everyday I race to the mailbox and feel my heart sink when there is nothing there. Continue reading “An end of the year ache-and a call for wisdom from first/birth parents”→
At 4:45 the agency called. His first mom had decided that she did want to meet me. Our closed adoption was now going to open right up.
She was waiting to hear from me.
She was what? Welcome to parenthood: make no assumptions or plans.
Sam’s favorite part of the story is when I ran all around the house screaming; “He’s born. My son is born. Oh my God. He’s born. He’s here. Oh my God. My son.” Or something like that.
I was the only one there.
But, not for much longer.
His Tia spent the night here last night to help celebrate #1 this morning. She is the one who joined me in our 36 hour (due to weather , not distance) traveling adventure to Sam. The first time I held him was at early on the morning of December 24th.To read an account of that day, you can go to my essay called; “Taking Care of the Sad Part.”
Right now Sam is playing “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight..” on the keyboard.
Sam’s goals for the coming year:
Drop in at the big bowl (skateboard park lingo).
Play all the songs I want on the piano.
Go to the bounce house.
Go to the roller rink.
Snow board better than anyone.
Read a chapter book.
Talk to my birth father.
Eat candy whenever I want.
Happy Birthday Baby. This is the anniversary of one of the two happiest days of my life. And, it always will be.
post script: This is my 400th post, on the 7th anniversary of Sam’s birth. Dag gone cool.
Although I haven’t listened to it yet (something about listening to my own voice on the radio..) I wanted to pass along the link to the interview with me on Safe Space Radio “a live forum for courageous conversations” last week. The topic: inter-racial adoption. Here is the summary from Dr. Anne-the show’s host:
An interview with public school teacher, poet and blogger, Catherine Anderson about adopting her son Sam. Catherine describes her decision to adopt and how she thought she understood racism before parenting. She describes her experience of those “grocery store moments” when she has to respond to other people’s surprise and inappropriate comments in front of her son. She speaks movingly about her relationship with Sam’s birth mom and how strong the pull is to keep proving to her that she is doing a good job. She describes the ways that she talks to Sam about race, and the ways that she, as a white woman, feels she can and cannot prepare him to be a black man in Maine. Catherine reads her beautiful poem, Black Enough to open and close the interview.
It was a hard interview for me going into it, because I knew that I was offering myself up as the slide for the transracial parenting race related microscope-something I am more and more comfortable doing for the most part. I remember wondering afterwords “was there any content in that half hour?” But in retrospect that is because I was evaluating my own story as story teller as a memory in the setting of microphones, engineers and a powerhouse of a host. My goal was to put myself out there in a way that might allow someone else to do the same, in their own journey. Enjoy my interview with Dr. Anne. When I have the ability to listen to it, I’ll come back and offer a little more meat to what it feels like to me to hear the exchange. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you–because that is who I was talking to.
Last week I read a very moving post about adoption guilt at See Theo Run. I have been thinking about the post since then, and returned to the site to leave this response:
I’ve been thinking about this post for some time. I feel both inspired and eased by your honesty. Guilt is perhaps not the word I would embrace for me. Perhaps the word has some limitations. Let’s come up with another? A word that can capture all this guilt: about having our family come together in direct relation to another family coming apart. Our-this is my family guilt–built on a world where there is no social justice if a woman/man must choose for a certain handful of reasons (economic based often–and not always by any means) that she does not have the support to be able to parent. Guilt that the child we have chosen to parent had no choice in his or her story being written this way. Guilt that we are not allowed to ever forget that these two factors collide so that we could realize our deep and unwavering desire and longing to love and parent this child for the next fifty or so years. Continue reading “Adoption guilt, safe kid gratitude and birth father surprises (a Mama C mixed bag)”→
A few days ago a reader contacted me with a request for help in preparing her daughter to meet her first mom for the first time. I know precious little really. But, I have the amazing fortune of being connected to many who know much more. So I asked her if I could share this story out here on the ether in case you all had some great wisdom to share (names have been changed). At the end of her story, I’ve included what I took away from this summer of not meeting Sam’s first family, and of the ease in meeting Tree. What resources, suggestions, or lived wisdom can you share? Continue reading “A reader asks for help: How to prepare a 3 year old to meet her first mom?”→