I should know better. I should know how to handle this, both the logistical issues and the emotions that come in waves. I should be better at this by now, all these many years later.
I am not.
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My daughter’s mom texted me with info about the Munchkin’s next show. She plays a mean electric guitar, and recently started singing at these shows. She’s been doing them for years, her talent growing with each performance. I watch each video, my jaw dropping a bit lower each time, and marvel at the beauty and talent radiating from her being on that stage.
I’ve never made it to a show.
I have tried so many times to make it work, to even just drive the nearly seven hour drive to arrive just in time for a show only to turn around and head back immediately after—but I’ve never been able to make it.
Every time I miss a show, I am filled with such guilt. And then I have guilt about my guilt. I feel guilty that I cannot be there; I want to be there. I feel guilty about wanting to be there; I should be happy and present in this amazing life I have been given.
I won’t be able to make her upcoming show. It takes place on a Saturday and a Sunday—during baseball season. And not just practice season, but during the games portion of our yearly love affair with America’s pastime. We try really hard not to miss games, save for last year when BigBrother missed his very last game because we had to leave on the vacation that we scheduled six months prior to getting the baseball schedule. The boys love baseball. We, the parents, love that they love baseball. Practices started this week, and we’ve already noticed a big difference in the way BigBrother throws. It’s going to be a great season for both boys, for us as their parents, for the grandparents that come to watch the games.
This is where fire life and parenting and baseball season and open adoption collide, and not in good ways. My husband works his normal 24-hour shift the Saturday in question, meaning that I am the responsible parent for getting kids to the field at Early O’Clock on Saturday morning for the LittleBrother’s t-ball game, to get BigBrother shuffled to his field in time to practice for his coach pitch game, to gather up one kid and all of our stuff and make it over to watch the other kid’s game—that is if we are blessed with two closer games. I will do all of that solo, save for a grandparent or two, that weekend. These responsibilities are a joy to me, save for rain and cold weather and dealing with other parents, as I love watching my sons do something they love so dearly.
It comes at a cost.
A cost I never considered when weighing the pros and cons of placing my daughter for adoption. A cost no one at the non-agency never mentioned. A cost no one was talking about at the time in online spaces, not that I had reliable, consistent Internet access at the time to use in order to research these topics. I believed what the non-agency told me, that someday I would have kids of “my own” and all would be well.
And it is well.
But the push me, pull you of wanting to be with my daughter and wanting to be present with my sons remains so hard. I physically cannot be in two places at once. My sons deserve my presence, but doesn’t my daughter too?
It feels useless, even counterproductive, to keep saying, “I just didn’t know.” But, oh, I just didn’t know.
– __ — __ —
Finding the balance of parenting and being a birth mother involved in a fully open adoption remains a constant struggle. While most things get easier as time passes, this elusive balance seems to get harder and harder to find. It was easy to visit four times a year before my husband and I had children. It was easier to visit frequently before Munchkin started school. It was harder then, but even harder when BigBrother started school and, yes, harder still this year when LittleBrother started school. Adding in the plethora of extra-curricular activities the elementary aged children are involved in, an adorable baby, weekends that are pre-scheduled for them, extended family, vacations, friends, and adults who have their own interests and desires and things to do and… it feels impossible. It is no one’s fault; it just is.
The weight of my choices feels too heavy to carry some days, especially as of late. I sit in the stillness sometimes and wonder how I’ll ever manage to endure a lifetime of this: this loss, this ache, this reality that a decision I made negatively affects my parented children, this never ending battle of logistics and emotion.
This feels like the longest December of my life, and I really don’t see it ending any time soon.