My heart is very full. Happy birthday Libby.
Dear Libby, you don’t remember the day you were born. But your Dad and I will never forget it. You should know that it is one of my most favoritest stories ever and I plan on making sure I tell it to you every chance I get….especially on your birthday. That’s one of the privileges bestowed on me by virtue of being your momma. Another is that I get to reflect on the year that has been and wonder what the one ahead will hold for you.
I am in complete denial that your birthday is only a few days away. Where have the last 365 days gone? Every time I look at you I marvel at how much change has taken place in a single year. Gone is the 7 pound newborn who didn’t know day from night, who would promptly fall into a restful sleep the moment she was snuggled into my chest, and whose cry morphed into the bleat of a billy goat when a requested diaper, feeding, or snuggle did not materialize in a prompt manner.
Nope, that Libby is just a memory now…tucked away with mental snapshots of other moments, seemingly ordinary but quietly precious – sleepy middle of the night feedings, the way you smell after a bath, the way you smile with your entire face scrunched up so that all we see is gums with two baby teeth poking through on the bottom. These are what fills my heart.
All that has made way for you to become an adventurous little person. You are developing clear preferences for things you like….and things you don’t. Your curiosity, like your energy, is boundless and it simply amazes me to watch you conquer your world.
I adore the fact that you learned to crawl so that you could chase the cat (I don’t think the cat was too happy about that development). And I’ve made it my own personal mission that one of your first words will be “cat”. It’s clear to me that you know what the word means because when I ask you “where’s the cat?”, you turn and look and point….at the cat. So we will keep playing “where’s the cat” where I keep repeating c-c-c aaaaaaaaaaaa t-t-t, cat. And eventually, something that sounds almost sort of like cat will come tumbling out of your mouth. After that maybe we can work on the idea of “gentle”? I’m sure the “cat” would appreciate that.
You are already starting to assert your independence and I can see that it frustrates you not to be able to do everything you want. All I can say about that is it’s my job to identify the boundaries. And it’s your job to push them. It’s part of the dance that we do.
And as surely as I know the sky is blue, I know that I won’t always get it right. There will be moments that I am not the parent I want to be, or the one you need me to be. I just hope that one day you will see that along with the truth of my imperfection you also saw the truth of my love for you.
Happy birthday dear Libby, I love you to pieces.
Happy Half Birthday precious girl. You have amazed me over the last 180 days with your growth and development. You’ve gone from being a cuddly bundle of newborn-ness, completely unaware of the ways of this world to becoming this tiny person who has a big personality and is beginning to tap into the power you wield. I am in awe of the fact that within moments of waking up each and every day, you BURST into smiles. Once the sleep has worked itself out of your hazelish eyes, you are on…singing, jabbering, flailing your arms and legs, just itching to launch yourself out of my arms and across the room. It is only a matter of time before you figure out that if you synchronize the arms and legs you will be mobile.
As much as you smile, it’s no wonder that you have the sunniest disposition imaginable. You seem to be happy whatever and wherever; you charm everyone you meet with your easygoing nature. I love that you sit back and take everything in. You’re an observer. But you’re also the ring leader. At daycare, you’re the one showing the other children how to scoot around, stealing the socks off their feet, and deciding that napping is optional.
There are many milestones yet to come….if your increased fussiness is any indication, you should be cutting teeth soon; before I’m ready for it you will be crawling and walking; and soon enough you will recognize that those noises and sounds that come out of your mouth have meaning and power.
But I’m in no hurry for those things to happen. I am enjoying the moments as they come. Whether it is watching you make a glorious mess of yourself and your highchair as you discover solid food, trying to comfort you during these days when all you know is that your mouth hurts, or listening to you unleash a rare belly laugh when your dad manages to uncover one in your cheeks or behind your ear or under your arm…I keep telling myself to commit these moments to memory because they will be gone before I know it.
Six months from now we will be celebrating your first birthday. And there will be cake and presents and family and friends. And I will revel in every second of that experience. But these half birthdays, they are my special opportunity to celebrate all that you are.
For most of my 41 years, I was someone who was chronically early and organized. I got tasks done before they were due. I would show up at least 15 minutes early for an appointment, date, or event. Suitcases were packed days before departing on a trip. The table was set the night before a dinner party. You get the idea…I was on top of my sh!t.
But since our Tater Tot arrived in July, all that went out the window. The basic functions of our household still manage to get done…just not always in the timeliest manner. I like to think of it as adopting a fashionably late attitude towards life.
So in that vein, I would like to wish you a fashionably late Happy New Year. I am eager to see what 2013 brings as the year unfolds.
PS, Libby I hope that you will see the humor in this picture. Your dad and I made sure you were safe at all times…but boy did we have fun with this one.
I was brought up with the expectation that when I received a gift, the proper thing to do was send a thank you card. As a young child, I would sit at the dining room table and, in my loopy juvenile cursive, thank my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and great grandparents for their thoughtfulness in remembering my birthday, or sending a present down for Christmas. Those thank you notes were uncomplicated….thank you for “Where The Sidewalk Ends”. Books are my favorite thing. xoxoxo
As I’ve gotten older, the things for which I say thank you have gotten more complicated. And there isn’t always a direct mailing address for my note. Because sometimes it isn’t an individual who has given me a gift as much as it is the Universe allowing me an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime. Like the opportunity to see my dad before he passed away. Or the opportunity to get to know my grandmother as a person and not just as my guardian. And biggest by far would be for the opportunity to open my heart completely to a precious little girl.
Last time I was in this space, I was asking the Universe to give me that chance. I was asking it to eliminate the obstacles that The Mistah and I faced in our attempt to adopt. I know I was not alone in my petition. Our family, our friends, our entire village crossed fingers and said prayers.
While we waited, I did my best to let go of the fear and anxiety of what might happen. Instead, I focused on Libby. I held her, fed her, watched as she discovered something new every day and tried to think about how the world looked through her eyes.
And in what is likely the best gift I will ever receive, our prayers were answered. The obstacle that had been so daunting was simply gone. There’s no guidance from Emily Post about how to say thank you for something like that. So I have to find my own way…by announcing the news to family and friends that our family is growing, by joyfully loving this person who has forever changed our lives, and by saying thank you to everyone who has encouraged us along this journey.
It only feels right to actually write a thank you note, even if I have no way of mailing it, so here goes.
Thank you for the trust and confidence you have shown in us. Becoming Libby’s parents is a tremendous gift that we will cherish for a lifetime. As I watch her grow and develop each and every day, I want for her to have a world of endless possibilities. I delight in seeing the joy in her whole body when she smiles and I take comfort in feeling her fall asleep with her head buried in my chest. The last seven weeks have been unlike anything I’ve ever known but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. xoxoxo
It seems by now I should know that The Universe really does listen. And that sometimes when it sends Opportunity knocking on my door, it doesn’t always look the way I expect it to.
I didn’t intend to talk about Opportunity and how it showed up three weeks ago. But this space, and this community, has been my confessional where I have spoken openly about many of my struggles, including our hopes of adopting and our frustration with the process. This also seems to be the place where The Universe listens to what is in my heart…once I find the courage to put it into words. So here I am. Universe, I hope you are listening.
Three weeks ago I decided that maybe I needed to let go of some things in order to make room in my life for new opportunities. I said that I felt as though a change was coming, but that I did not know what form it might take.
Two days after I made the decision to put BAH on hold, The Universe came along and let me know that I needed to let go of more. The volunteer position that I had held for the last two and a half years was not being renewed. This hurt. It hurt a lot because I believed strongly in the work I was doing and the connections I was forging with the young women with whom I worked. And it was just taken away from me. On one hand, I could see that maybe this was something that had to happen in order for a new Opportunity to present itself. But on the other hand, it still felt shitty.
Two days after that, we got a call. We got THE call. From our new adoption agency. After our Homestudy was approved in the spring, The Mistah and I came to the conclusion that the agency we had been working with was not the right organization for us. We asked around and got contact information for other agencies and found one that was a better fit.
Throughout this entire process we have known that our lives could change instantly. And it did. Our agency was working with a birth mother who had just delivered. The birth mother had consented to an adoption plan but there were complications with consent from the birth father. Without consent, a child cannot legally be adopted.
It was as though the decisions of that week culminated in Opportunity opening the door ever so slightly to see exactly how much we wanted to welcome it in. Would we take a chance on a risky placement or would we wait for a sure thing?
The Mistah and I talked about this well into the wee hours of the morning and decided that we were willing to take the risk.
We were advised to think about the situation as though we are providing foster care until we know how the legal situation is going to play out. In our heads, that’s what we’re doing. But in our hearts….well, in our hearts we are her parents. We shower her with hugs and kisses. We do our best to let her know that she is loved even though she has no idea what that means. And it frightens me to think there is a real chance that we will not have the opportunity to provide her with a loving home and allow her to become the fullest expression of herself.
We’re trying not to make this about us. To keep it about what is in the best interest of the baby. But we have agreed that we are in this for the long haul, even if that means pursuing parental rights directly in the courts. So Universe, I am here to tell you that what is in my heart is that I want to be this child’s mother. I want to take this leap. I want this responsibility. I want this Opportunity.
“It’s not you. It’s me.” How many times have you heard that one? Have many times have you found those words tumbling from your own mouth? Often, we use that line in an attempt to gently extricate ourselves from a situation. We verbally try and reassure others that the reason the relationship is ending is solely on our shoulders. Which is usually a big bunch of hooey. Usually, it’s both you and me, at least to some degree. But it’s easier to shut a relationship down with a mea culpa and a (hopefully) graceful exit.
I’ve been considering a graceful exit from Bon Appetit Hon. I had hoped that putting the blog on autopilot with my draft posts would magically get my head, and heart, back in this space. But here I sit with all those “freebies” used up and I’m no more ready, or able, to dip my toes back in the water that I was a few months ago. So clearly, that didn’t quite work out as planned.
I’m not sure what “it” is that is missing; I was never good at solving for “x” in equations, except in the most basic of problems. And the ins and outs of life are anything but basic.
It’s not so much that I feel as though I’m being pulled away from BAH as much as it is that I’m not being pulled to it. Five years is a long time to find new things to say to engage with readers, develop friendships, and reveal enough about myself to keep things interesting without veering into “clearly this lady is nuts” territory. And between Exit 51 and BAH, it’s been almost five years to the day.
It would be overly simplistic to say that the events of the last year are responsible for this shift in my attention. But it would be a lie to say that they had no impact at all. Yes, there’s been some (ok, a lot) of reflection and introspection. But just as none of that has told me it is time to put the brakes on this online journey, it also hasn’t told me to hit the gas and get moving.
If I look at the situation through the lens of my astrological sign, it makes perfect sense. I’m a Cancer. The crab. Oh lord, am I ever The Crab. I tend to come at things not exactly head-on, but from the sides. I carry around an armored shell studded with barbs and accessorized with mighty pincers ready to clamp down. And when I have outgrown my shell, I slough it off. But I need to find the protection of a rock or a hiding place because once that shell comes off, I am vulnerable. After my new shell hardens and I am safely ensconced in armor once again, I’m back on my way skittering around.
It’s the strangest thing to say but I feel as though change is afoot and I need to get myself someplace protected in order to leave this old shell behind. I have said it a million times…Change is scary. So part of me is still trying to hold on with both pincers while the rest of the shell wants to pull away. Eventually, I will shed this carapace and leave it on the sandy bottom…a mere reminder, an outline, of what was.
So what does all of this mean? Is BAH the old shell? Is it the rock under which I will seek protection? I have no idea. It could be either one. Or it could be something entirely different, something completely off my radar at the moment. For the time being, I’m going to let this space just be. It’s the one thing in the grasp of my pincers that I just can’t release just yet. Maybe once this old shell is discarded I will find my way back to this spot. Or maybe the tide will take me someplace different to grow into new my new shell.
Wherever the tide takes you, and me, I hope that our paths cross again.