Kidsick

Kidsick

When the boys were younger, I earned the title of Helicopter Mom. In fact, I probably could have won an award for Top Helicopter Mom. I helicoptered so good, so close, so perfectly.

But helicoptering is exhausting, and I decided that really wasn’t the type of parent I wanted to be.

So over the years, I forced myself to sit down at the playground—which is why you’ll see me read or even, gasp, look at my phone. I want them to learn independence and play with other kids. We play enough at home. I’ve also forced myself to let them go outside and play, to walk to their friend’s house in the neighborhood, to do things and go places without me.

Which is why my sons are currently on vacation. Without either parent.

They’ve spent weekends away. I’ve spent time away from them for work and to get away for the weekend with my husband. Two weeks ago, they went with my mother-in-law to my nephew’s birthday party for the weekend… and our youngest son FaceTimed me in the middle of the night in tears.

“It’s too far away.”

I reassured him he’d survive, that he was safe with his Nina. After he calmed down and we ended the call, I began to worry about the vacation he’s on right now. Not only further away, but this trip lasts longer to boot. All week leading up to their departure, I reassured him that he could FaceTime me any time he wanted to talk. He could text me when he wanted to tell me something or ask me a question. I told him the only times I wouldn’t be available: when I was working out or running (though I paused a workout today), when I was on a work call, or if I happened to be too deeply asleep to hear his call or text tone. He accepted all of this and went off on vacation without much fanfare.

I just didn’t expect for me the one to feel homesick. Or, rather, kidsick.

He FaceTimed me this morning after a bike ride with his grandparents and before heading down to the beach for the day. He said he missed me a lot. I told him I missed him, too. I let him know about my plans for the day. We talked for a few minutes, and then he ran off to get on sunblock.

And my stomach started to hurt.

Being away from my boys for work or just a weekend doesn’t make me feel much of anything, though maybe a little more ready to handle whatever parenting wants to throw at me. But my sons being away from me?

Apparently it’s really triggering.

I don’t normally have to FaceTime my sons because they live in my house. They’re either at school, at home, on the ball fields, or with friends and family. I know what they’re doing. It’s my job to know what they’re doing.

I don’t know what my daughter is doing most days. Sometimes she replies to my texts, and sometimes she doesn’t. She’s a teen; they have more important things to do than text their (birth) mothers. Sometimes she says hi as she walks by when I’m FaceTiming with her mom. Sometimes she FaceTimes me and asks me to buy her a hedgehog that lives here. But I don’t always know where she is, what her schedule is, or what she’s doing on any given day.

And not knowing what my boys are doing, what they’re eating, how they’re feeling at any given moment this week is poking at all the places I normally try to keep un-poke-able. All of my parenting insecurity, which stems from the placement of my daughter for adoption, seems to be on fire, bells whistling, up in my face.

I logically acknowledge the difference in circumstance. I was very sick and felt I couldn’t parent my daughter, so I placed her—permanently—for adoption. The two parents who live in this immediate family unit couldn’t go on vacation this year, so they jointly decided to send the boys on vacation with their grandparents and extended family. Yes, I see the differences. I acknowledge them. I recognize the undertones.

But I feel like a mother without any of her children. I feel lost. I feel scared. I feel anxious. I feel like I need to drive to the beach and bring them home. Immediately. My helicopter blades are whirring faster than I can think or type and I just want to take off. Anxiety isn’t logical. Guilt and shame aren’t either.

I miss my boys. I miss my daughter. I’m not really used to missing them both at the same time. It’s new, and I don’t really like it very much. I am grateful for time with my husband, but I’m ready for our sons to come home. It’s simply too much for me to miss them all at once.

 

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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.”