It’s summer, the fourth of July has happened, the pools are open in NYC, I’ve even turned on my air conditioner.
That means Spring has passed, it was a blur for me, working too many hours, under lots of stress.
This year is the first year I didn’t celebrate J’s birthday with him – instead I sent him a present and face-timed with him while he opened it. I think he liked it.
This year I sort of ignored Mother’s Day. In part its because it’s the first year I’ve been working with the people I now work with – and these new co-workers weren’t around during the pregnancy, nor even around when J lived nearby – so they don’t understand how much I feel like I’m a Mother. I am constantly surrounded by people who don’t really see me as a Mother, even if they are aware I have a child. There is one major exception to this, the person I spend the most time with is also my friend who happened to be the person who picked me up from the hospital, the person who accompanied on my first two visits with J, and so there is still a lot of talk about J in my life with her, and very importantly she understands that I don’t necessarily have news to share, that I don’t always hear from M&P regularly, that I am sometimes sad about how distant he feels so sometimes I may interject information about him into conversations but as often I may not talk about him much.
But that doesn’t mean he is not constantly on my mind.
I have withdrawn a lot from the online world of adoption, in part because I’m not always sure what to say. My day to day adoption life is just a small part of my life now, visits aren’t often, contact isn’t often, so talking about it and putting it in the forefront just leads to people asking about J and me saying I haven’t heard from them lately.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. Its as much my fault for the lack of communication as anyone’s. I haven’t figured out how to do it better. I don’t think to try to face-time with them until it just doesn’t make sense. They are in such a different time zone and I’m not good at figuring out when to talk to them. The periods of time where I would be awake and J would both be awake and not be in school are small. So mostly our communication is emails that I send in the middle of the night for them and they return in the middle of the night for me – but those aren’t me talking to J since he isn’t old enough to write an email himself and when they aren’t about planning visits I don’t always know what to talk about. I’m just not good at the long distance thing.
So Spring wasn’t great.
But now it’s Summer. Summer is when J will visit. Summer is when I will see him. I actually don’t know if he’s in the city right now – but he is in North America. I’m hoping to hear from M&P about seeing them soon, but if I don’t I do know they are having a party I’m invited to next weekend so I will see them all then. And I know there is one other weekend where I will be able to spend a day with them, another family event I’ve been invited to. We haven’t set any days or times for just us though. Not yet. I’m sure they will do something, they are here for almost a month, spending a day with me has to fit into that time. But I don’t know when that will be. I’ll have to wait to see.
I feel lost lately, struggling about how to be a birth mother like this. I had it mostly figured out a year ago, I understood how it worked and how it fit into my life. It all made sense.
That’s not really true anymore. It’s okay that it’s not true, but it also means I have to re-figure some things out. So I’m starting to do that.
So I’ve been home from my visit with J’s family for a week. I got in middle of the day last Sunday. For many reasons I went into a sort of hibernation for a big part of the week. First of all the jet lag on the way back totally knocked me out. Simultaneously and possibly related, I also got extremely sick this week. In fact, after going to work on Monday, I then slept for 16 hours on Tuesday, most of which was during the day, then proceeded to stay up all night Tuesday night, slept all day Wednesday and stayed up until about 5 in the morning Wednesday night. Thursday I had to get back to work, and was at the office for more than 12 hours. Friday I similarly had to work at two offices and between the two did another 12 hours of work. Then Saturday I was back to sleeping most of the day. I really want to get healthy and back on NY time, but it’s been tough.
That couples with the fact the visit was emotional, it was tough for many reasons, several of which I am still trying to process. And as I’ve gotten back I’ve gotten question after question about how my trip was, if I enjoyed it, what it was like. And it took most of the energy I had left to sound like it was a good visit. Because in many ways it was. It just wasn’t easy.
So although I spent today finally getting my luggage put away and the last of my clothes from my trip washed and put away, I am no where near being able to unpack the emotions of the trip and really figure out what to say about it. At some point I may be able to talk about the trip in a way that represents all the feels I’ve gone through, but for all you that actually read, I will post some pictures today (as always password protected, send me an email if you’re a regular reader who wants to see how huge the little guy is). Note that the vast majority of the pictures are J playing soccer. For reasons I don’t quite understand I lugged my brand new camera everywhere for a week and still seemed to only take a couple pictures each day, until the last Saturday where we went to soccer practice and in an hour I took over 700 pictures of J. I absolutely love them, I have pictures of him throwing the ball, laughing, scowling, falling. So although there are a couple other shots, you will see a lot that are him in a yellow jersey playing soccer. I won’t bore you all with random pictures from the city, there are a few of them, but I’m going to stick to pictures of J.
You guys, I’m leaving tomorrow to visit J. Or technically I’m leaving at 12:15am on Friday, but that means tomorrow I need to be at the airport checking in.
For the past couple weeks, or really for the past few months, I’ve brought up my trip and instantly got the reaction “I bet you’re so excited about going”. And I’ve sort of half smiled and tried to look enthused. The truth is I’m experiencing a thousand different emotions about this trip, but if I’m being totally honest most of them look nothing like excitement.
Let me back up a second, I’m excited to see J, whenever a visit comes up I’m excited to see J. But even that definite excitement is always paired with anxiety and nerves. It’s never the same simple sort of joy that I want it to be, because I put a lot of pressure on myself each time I have the opportunity to spend time with him. That coupled with the fact that this will be my only opportunity to visit them for a year (they will probably visit me, but no definite plans yet), that ups the pressure. So although I’m super excited to get a big hug from J, that doesn’t mean that it’s not mixed with other emotions.
And more to the point, the people asking me if I’m excited about my trip actually are not talking about whether I’m excited to see J, they are almost always talking about if I’m excited to visit this new place, to eat this different food, if I’m excited to be someplace else. And I’m not sure I am. Not the way you should be when you’re traveling across the world on a vacation.
I should have been buying travel books and reading up on all the amazing things I can do while I’m there, and I haven’t. I haven’t even spent ten minutes looking up attractions.
I should have been eagerly counting the days and have been preparing for this for weeks. Instead I feel like the whole thing totally snuck up on me.
I should have been slacking off on work by surfing blogs and websites about traveling to this part of the world, but instead I’ve been overwhelmed with work and have been working late nights trying to get ahead while promising people I will have access to email while I’m away.
Instead of being excited I’m stressed, there’s a lot going on at my jobs and the idea of leaving them for 10 days is crazy in a lot of ways. And I’m nervous, I’ve never really traveled to a country where I don’t know the language at all. And truthfully I’m worried about spending that much time with M&P. Don’t get me wrong, they are good people. But when I spend that much time with people, especially when I’m in a place where I don’t know anyone else and won’t have the easiest time getting along without them. So I will be with them for 9 days straight. I’m a person who has lived as a single person, I don’t even spend that many days with my family in a row and haven’t for years. The concept of doing this sort of vacation where I stay with them for that long a period is sort of scary.
So yeah, I’m trying to get over all of that and move past it. And I will. But even if I start to look forward to my trip, it’s never going to be about being excited to visit this place. The truth is although I knew this trip would happen about five minutes after I knew they were leaving, I never felt excited that I have to travel halfway across the world to see my little one, even if it means I get to see a new place and experience a new culture. So I will have a 16 hour plane ride to let myself forget the stress of my life and instead just look forward to seeing my little boy. I will get there and realize the city isn’t that scary (even if I don’t speak the language) and that I get to have an adventure with J and spend 9 days hanging out with this part of my family. And I will have a blast. But the idea of the trip being exciting, I’m just not there.
I was reading a book the other day, Allegiant by Veronica Roth and I came across this quote:
I used to think that when people fell in love, they just landed where they landed, and they had no choice in the matter afterward. And maybe that’s true of the beginning, but it’s not true of this, now.
I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.
And oddly the first thing I thought about was adoption.
I thought about my relationship with my son and with his family.
I thought about how the moment I knew about the existence of my son I loved him, there was no going back. That part was easy, and it will always be easy. I will always love my son.
But a relationship, it isn’t just about love. It’s easy to say that if I love my son I will just get over anything and everything else, that love should be enough. But that doesn’t erase the hard. That doesn’t mean the complicated doesn’t happen. I still have to make the choice each and every day to keep this relationship going.
Things are complicated now, They are complicated with J living so far away. It’s hard because when I think about him I miss him, a lot, so I try not to spend time thinking about him. But not thinking of him is making a choice against having a relationship, it’s not the choice I want to make. I want to make the choice to put effort into our relationship, even when it is hard.
And it is hard right now when he lives across the world and I can’t even picture what his life is like. And the point where I wake up and realize I will spend one more day without hearing from him because I wake up with no email and know they are heading to bed already, well that’s hard too. And knowing that as excited as I am that I will see him this month (!) after my 9 day visit I will go four months without seeing him. I have never gone four months without seeing him in person, heck if you could ultrasounds then I haven’t gone four months without seeing him since he was conceived. And that will be really REALLY hard.
So I could say that all of this is too hard and I could throw in the towel. I could just send a Christmas card and a birthday card and tell them that visits are too hard when I won’t see him for months at a time. I could tell them that maybe we should just put off having a relationship until they are back in the States full time because what we are doing now is just too hard. And even as I type those words I can’t even picture being in a state to make that choice, being in a state to turn away from any part of a relationship with my son, even if it’s not on my terms. Today, I look at us and know that I don’t want to be the reason my son and I don’t have a relationship. But that point, that part of it, it’s still my choice. It is my choice to feel that way, my choice to look past the hard to the good, to the love. And it’s a choice I will need to keep making, it’s a choice I will need to make everyday.
So after writing a little bit of where I came from, to get to the point where my son lives halfway across the world, I have to catch up a little on where we are now, then I promise I’ll write a few posts about other subjects.
So in December I saw J twice, first at a Christmas party at his parents house that was so busy and had so many people at it. I had an okay time at the party, I got to talk to P’s family and spend time with friends of theirs, some of which I had only met at the baptism. It felt like a sort of frantic night and one that wasn’t exactly how I wanted my time with J spent, but it was what it had to be and I appreciated being there.
The second visit was with my sister and brother in law in tow. For that visit we met up with M&P separately first at the request of M&P, I think they just wanted to answer any questions and have a chance to talk to them before they met J. We then spent the next few hours together, My sister got some time to talk to J, I got some time to talk to him too, it was a really nice time for all of us. J was on pretty good behavior and was pretty charming which was really nice for my sister. But it didn’t feel real, it didn’t feel real that this was our big goodbye.
I know I know M&P didn’t want a bunch of crying relatives to be surrounding J in his last days in the states. And I’m not the person who would probably break down anyway, but I wanted it to feel substantial, Instead we had lunch, exchanged Christmas presents, and J made us tell him Greek Myths. Then we walked outside, said goodbye and as we were about to leave my sister asked if she could get a couple pictures, so that’s what we did. A picture with my sister, brother in law and J with me as well as a picture with just J and I. And then J insisted he wanted to take a picture so he did of the five adults he had spent the day with, its sort of sweet that he got to take a picture of these adults who all love him very much.
So that was the goodbye, we went our separate ways and not long after my sister, brother in law and myself drove back to my parents for the holidays. J spent it with extended family saying goodbye and then before 2015 was rung in he was on a plane.
It still doesn’t feel real.
But what has happened is my trip to visit them has been planned. After they got to their new place I wrote them, thanking them for the suitcase they gave me for Christmas to make visiting them easier and telling them that I could potentially visit in February or March. P wrote back right away saying if I came in very late February or the first weeks of March it would work, until then they won’t have furniture still waiting for it to be shipped from the States. Within two days my plane tickets were bought and I had a countdown going until when I would see my son.
So we are at less than five weeks until I’m on a plane, and in 36 days I’ll be looking at my son again. I’m excited, I’m happy that I’ll be there this quick, even though it means after this trip it will be four months until I see him again. Because this trip will be the calm sort of visit I love, the one where we can settle into each other a little, do the little stuff like make lunch together or go to a bookstore. Being there for 9 days means I will have the time to not feel rushed through a visit. December didn’t feel that way so I’m glad I will have that opportunity sooner rather than later. I’m also grateful that I will have the chance to know what his life is like, know what his house looks like, his school, know all that so when they talk to me about things I know what they mean. It will give me the chance get to know his new life so I don’t feel as removed from it.
So 36 days people.