I bought a bike a couple weeks ago. I’m working a different schedule than I had been, which has been requiring a lot of commute between the two offices I work out of – the two offices which are off two separate train lines that don’t intersect anywhere convenient. It meant a lot of walking and commutes that would take me 20 minutes by bike taking me 45 minutes or more by train or bus. I knew that with how busy I was, how stressed I was, that the least I could do for myself is try to make my commute simpler. A bike seemed the best answer.
I’ve been riding to work most days. There is one part of my commute that I sort of dread. Within two blocks of my apartment is a hill, this uphill climb is several blocks long. It’s a real killer, making the first few minutes of my ride pretty darn horrible.
The first day of riding was by far the worst, not just because the hill was hard, but also because while I was climbing the hill I had no idea what was on the other side, I didn’t know if the rest of my commute would be 20 more minutes of uphill, if it would just get harder. But honestly, 10 days into riding, I’m still a mess going up that hill, it is still incredibly hard – I have no momentum going into it, and it just seems to keep going.
What I did learn the first day and what has helped me get through the hill each day since is that after the hill, the ride is so much better. It’s not all easy – it’s not all downhill, it’s not even all flat and there are stop lights, even areas under construction – but it feels doable, I actually enjoy it. Because for every additional uphill section there is a downhill section. And every time there is a stop light it’s usually at a point where it’s easy enough to get going again and get my momentum back. In fact, in general the momentum I have during the second part of my ride is the key to it, it’s easy to keep going and even the big climbs don’t feel so hard when you have forward momentum going into it.
Today, as I was making my climb, I suddenly saw the correlation with openness. During the first period – the getting to know you and the setting the boundaries period which for me were the first 16 – 18 months, openness was an uphill climb. There felt like no relief, it felt like if I stopped pedaling, stopped putting effort in that I would start sliding backward or worse. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would get past that first hill, and worse I didn’t know if I got past the first incline what else I would face, whether it would ever feel easier.
But after that initial difficulty, things have started to feel better. They aren’t necessarily easy, there are still inclines and stops, there is still moments that are hard, but I stopped feeling like I wouldn’t be able to do it and I should just give up and go home, instead I just feel like it’s hard but at some point I will be able to coast again. I know there are hard parts ahead of me, but I can honestly say I think the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to make and I should just give up are behind me.
Lately, I’ve been having a hard time blogging. There’s a lot of reasons for it, my worry about boundaries, my worry about just repeating the same thing over and over, and at this point it feels like writing about being a birth mother is just coming second to actually living as a birth mother. But as I was thinking about this something hit me. The reason I started blogging was very selfish, it was my own version of therapy and some days writing was the only time I let my emotions out, it was my greatest tool to deal with my reality. But now I’m in a much better place dealing with my reality, I have many people in real life who have helped me and continue to help me, I don’t need this tool as much anymore. But today I realized the other reason I write and that is to show that there can be times where openness gets easier. I’m not trying to say that having others see my story means theirs will mirror mine, no one else is on my path so my struggles the first year or two giving way to the experience I’m having now in no way predicts someone else will have that experience. But it’s an example of the way things can work.
I talk often that the thing lacking most in the world of adoption is a lot of examples of what openness can be. People who claim they are in an open adoption hear about my situation and are blown away by the amount of contact we have. People who have similar contact to what I have are blown away by relationships where a birth mother moves in with the adoptive family for a period of time when she needs a place to stay. But those examples of openness are not very common, and not very obvious in our culture. The more examples we have in front of us, especially examples that allow for real relationships between children and the biological parents, the more it will challenge others to go farther and to try harder. So maybe that is the new motivation for blogging. To normalize not only what a birth mother is, but also that my son’s parents, my son, and I can form our own version of family.