An Evolution

An Evolution

If you want to get better at talking about adoption, your role as a birth mother, and your family as a whole, start a business with your daughter’s mom. Your hand is kind of forced.

But really, it’s been good. And I’m not even talking about the business.

I used to play my birth mother card close to my chest in real life. I didn’t tell people I met about my daughter right away. I waited to feel people out, to create a sense of trust, and then I laid it gently in their lap. It usually went really well. I only occasionally got my heart slammed in the car door by people with small minds.

I don’t really have that option much anymore. Since Dee and I run the business together, I’m asked questions about why my business partner lives in Philadelphia. I’m also asked how I got into selling leggings, and the answer is that my daughter and her mom came to visit and I said, “Feel my legs.”

No, really.

I tell the story without batting an eyelash. Other people? Well, they sometimes bat eyelashes. It’s kind of funny watching them wrap their heads around what I just said. I’m actually finding great amusement in the process. Most people let it drop and don’t poke or prod further. Most of them want to know more, but simply won’t ask.

I’m an open book though. Even more than I used to be. But only in person. Online, well, things have changed.

Face to face, people want to know the basis of our story. My closest friends ask the deeper questions, know the harder parts of our story as it exists right now. But the rest of the people just want to know how all of this came to be. At a party last week, the hostess came outside afterward and asked me a series of normal, to-be-expected questions about my pregnancy, placement, and our open adoption. She said once, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” I want to. I want people to see my family as valid, valued, and, yes, even normal. So I answer. I talk. I put it out there when I’m not even necessarily asked. It’s a part of my story.

But online? You see, some people online don’t care about the basics. There’s something happening online in the blogosphere, specifically within niche families, in which strangers think they have a right to all the details. If I withhold something, for whatever the reason, people accuse me of only sharing part of the story.

Guess what? I’ve always only shared parts of the story. Ask any writer if they tell the whole story, and they’ll say no. Those who tell you that they do are probably lying. The whole story is boring. Do you really need to know that during a visit we sometimes just sit around and watch Catfish or that we eat waffles and cereal for breakfast? No. Neither do you need to know the parts of the story that are not mine to tell. Neither do you need to know the parts of my story that are mine but that either don’t quite make sense yet or are too triggering for me to address.

When it comes to normal, everyday parenting of my sons, I don’t tell it all here either. They kind of dictate what’s okay to share, what they might not want me to write in this space. I adhere to their rules, their requests. They’re human beings with stories to tell too. Our stories intersect, and every day I learn more about what’s mine and what’s theirs. Every day we grow together.

All of this is to say: I really enjoy being more open about my daughter. I talk about her at will. Those people who balk at our story for their own personal reasons are not my concern. My concern rests with my daughter, her family, my sons, our family, and making sure everyone involved knows they are respected and loved.

My daughter and her mom will be here next week. I’m really excited about it. So are the boys. So is my husband. The dog is probably the most excited, but this is to be expected. I’ve told all my friends and their mothers, who are also often my friends. While I once used to feel anxious about their visits because I “might have to explain things,” I now get excited to tell everyone, “She’s here. She’s really here.”

 

Daily Boutique Deals at Jane

Why I Climb #ClimbOut

On Saturday, I’ll join with other Warrior Moms in Newark, Ohio and around the world to Climb Out of the Darkness, the largest event in the world raising awareness for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. I’ve already written about it, but I’m joining with a bunch of others to tell you why I Climb.

I’ve written about my journey with postpartum depression and anxiety before; I’ve shared about my intrusive thoughts. I remain open about living life with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression.

But I have a good story about Why I Climb.

Late in the school year, the fourth grade social studies teacher put on a Market Place. Teams of three or four worked together to create something with their own hands, market it via signs and word-of-mouth, set up a display at the market, and sell their goods.

BigBrother worked with three other great students to create an inventory of rainbow loom bracelets. In the first letter that came home to parents, the teacher asked us to help—but not do all the work. Following these instructions, I reminded BigBrother to work on his bracelets in the evenings when we watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune together.

The final weekend before the big event, I sat and worked on a number of bracelets with him. I couldn’t get the actual loom process down, so my oldest son walked me through the process of making a bracelet on my fingers. His hands guided my hands as he helped me put little rubber bands on my fingers, helped me count enough to make a bracelet, helped me latch that first one. And the second one. And most of them; I wasn’t very good at latching. We spent an hour, just the two of us, working on bracelets, picking out colors, and generally enjoying each other.

We arrived at the Fourth Grade Market Place right as it started that morning. Our kid and his three teammates grinned from ear to ear. I picked out a few bracelets—ones I didn’t make—and paid for my purchases. All four students thanked us for coming and supporting their project. We walked around and checked out what each group of kids made. We congratulated them all on a job well done.

That afternoon, about an hour or so after the boys got home from school, BigBrother came into my office.

“Mom, when we split up the profits, we each got to keep ten dollars!”

I stopped typing and turned to him. “That’s great, Buddy. You worked really hard!”

“Our teacher suggested saving some or donating it to a charity. So I want to give mine to your charity to help moms.”

And then I couldn’t feel my toes.

You know that thing where you talk a lot and you think maybe your kids aren’t hearing anything you say? Or, maybe hearing but not retaining any of it? I live in that space. I talk a lot. I talk about big topics because my husband and I have this giant desire to raise kids with awareness and respect for their world. When I changed jobs last year, they asked questions about the work I do. I answered them. I said that I worked for a charity that helped moms. I explained more; I included talk about my anxiety of which they are already aware. They asked on and off for a few months, and then I thought they forgot or didn’t care or maybe it finally stuck, but I didn’t expect the latter.

Turns out it stuck.

I gathered my son in my arms, which seems increasingly harder as he won’t stop growing, and hugged him so tight. I then took us straight to my CrowdRise page, explained each step of the donation process, and had him enter his information. In his donation note, he typed, “Thank you for helping moms.”

If you had told me ten and a half years ago that someday my oldest son would stand next to me and type those words as he made a donation to Postpartum Progress, I would have laughed at you. Or not laughed really. I would have stared blankly at you. I would have worried you had it all wrong, had me confused with some other mother who knew what she was doing and could raise a child to ten, let alone one.

But here I am. Here we are. I Climb to help all moms so they don’t have to suffer in silence like I did.

Why I Climb Out #ClimbOut

I Climb for all three of my children. I fought hard to become the mother I am today, and I hope as they grow, they too know they’re never alone in anything they face.

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You can still register for Climb Out of the Darkness. Find a Climb and register today. It’s free and you don’t have to fundraise. If you can’t make it to a local Climb, I’d be honored if you’d donate to my Climb.