The me I might have been

A co-worker/friend and I were discussing adoption last week. We discuss (talk incessantly) about lots of things but adoption comes up fairly often for obvious reasons. This particular conversation came up as "my search guy" had called and asked if I'd heard anything from my biological mother since writing her the last letter.

The circumstances surrounding my being adopted was one of the things my co-worker and I were once again discussing and I was explaining to her that some adopted people refer to themselves as bastards and how although I have no problem with that and kind of understand why they would, why they can, but because of this it's occurred to me that had I not been adopted, it's very likely I would have been thought of and treated like I was a bastard, in the true sense of the word.

Having been born 47 years ago to a woman who was very involved in the Catholic religion, fathered by a man who was married but separated, would not have likely been the occasion of celebration most births are. I think it's safe to say that had I been kept and raised by an unmarried woman under these circumstances I would most assuredly have a different feeling about myself now. I would have grown up that grandchild, that niece, that cousin, that sister who was illegitimate, that unwanted stain of shame. I've been told that being adopted doesn't make me chosen, that my parents would have taken any child that had come up, and, I know this is true, but I was wanted and was treated by everyone in my family as if I was.

My personality type is very sensitive to negativity. I can't stand it when I think someone's mad at me although as I've matured I realize not everyone likes everyone and sometimes some people just aren't worth the effort or compromise it would take for them to like me.

I am relieved to have grown up wanted, to have grown up without an undeserved stigma, to be adopted and wanted rather than an unwanted bastard. I shudder to think of the me I might have been.


The ABC's of mom and daughter....starting with Z

I really like my post from yesterday.

This morning while I had my coffee, ok well first cup, I got to thinking about it and how it's amazing that something that can really make me nuts (I'm talking knots in the upper back in between the shoulder blades and stomach pains) was able to give me some tears in the eyes, belly laughs when I thought/wrote about it in a humorous sense. I'm not kidding, I've reread it several times and got at the very least a smile upon each read.

There's a guy who has a twitter account called shitmydadsays. He has 1,322,011 followers....and I'm one of them. Justin, the guy, has a book out now with shit his dad says, called, Sh*t My Dad Says. Now, in Justin's Twitter description he says he lives with his dad and his dad is awesome so, in comparison to my mom and I, that's a huge difference in itself. I won't live with my mom or have my mom live with me. Oh I'm not opposed to some short overnight visits for a good reason and have done it, but never anything permanent. I just couldn't and remain the sane same person.

Now, before you think wow, what an ingrate! what kind of daughter would not let her mom live with her? there's something special my mom has done for me regarding this. See, my mom's mom, my grandma, used to ask my mom repeatedly to live with her and my dad. Thankfully, for me, my mom always made it quite clear that there was "no way in hell that she'd ever have her mom live with her". Ahhhh....just writing that gives me a sense of peace. It lets me so off the hook, gives me a pass in a sense. I mean, what else could be more absolving of guilt than that?

But, I digress. What I'm trying to get at here is that perhaps the key to a difficult parent is to try and see some humour, or if I'm being truly honest, take a hammer and pound some humour into our relationship and our interactions. Obviously it can be done, I did it with our pre MDay outing. I didn't come home that evening laughing and feeling all "oh, mom, you silly bird....the things you do just crack me up". In fact, I drove home kinda grouchy and shaking my head in annoyance, all ready to moan and bitch to my poor husband.

Fortunately for both him and I (especially him) the look on his face when I shuffled out of my car with those big, dumb, disposable sandals had us both laughing and thwarted me poisoning him with my rendition of shit my mom says.

Yesterday was one of those visits that went pretty well. There were moments of near derailment, like when the topic of computers came up. Mom announced how she'd had the poor IT guy from our local internet provider on the phone forever with him attempting to help her get her address book back in alphabetical order. Just her mentioning the word "computer" is enough to make everyone in the room turn and look at me in anticipation of what might happen next. It's like, uh oh, here we go again....

As mom went on to explain how the guy was so great to help her and that what a shame it was that he'd gone so fast that she'd not gotten a chance to write it all down so she'd know how to fix it herself next time I reminded her that I'd been there done that at least once before and showed her how to deal with an address book gone wrong. She wasn't having any of that, nuh uhhh, anything she's ever been told about the computer she writes down and then is able to not bother anyone, just fix it herself. Like the other day, when she lost her "tool bar on the top" she was able to figure out all on her own how to get it back.

Umm, mom? Don't you mean all on your own with me on the other end of the phone for half an hour while my dinner waited? C'mon, remember? Remember when I kept saying, well, sorry I guess I'll just have to swing by and fix it, this isn't working over the phone...no, what? what did you just click? ok, so where are you now? what do you see now? Mom, what do you see now? K, do you see the X in the top right of your screen? Is your email open? No, not is your computer turned on, I'm assuming it's turned on, I mean is your email open? Your email...the thing that says outlook....the place where your address book starts Z...


He's here because he wants to be

This last week has been an odd build up to today, Mother's Day.

I was supposed to be off on a driving trip today with my husband. This meant any MDay celebratory activities would need to be taken care of early. My stepson and daughter-in-law came Thursday to do Chinese food with us and brought me a great card and very thoughtful gift, a bag of trip related things-to-do, crosswords, magazines, and a trip agenda book. I was thrilled. I love gifts that are thoughtful and my stepson has a way of just pegging me when it comes to gifts.

I did pedicures with my mom on Wednesday and bought her dinner after. The pedicures were a gift from my daughter-in-law and stepson from Christmas so mom and I decided to use them together (like this was ever in question). I'd had a long day at work so although the pedicure was nice, the company was trying, especially when I stupidly announced that I'd heard there was to be a big announcement May 5th that some celebrity was going to come out in a well planned media campaign. Ahh, yes, I bring it on myself. This of course led to my mom talking about how there's too much homosexuality on tv these days, why even on her favorite show now they have a bunch of gay men, and, oh the men are so much worse than the women......which leads me to feel compelled to embarrass my mom as much as she's embarrassing me and say, "oh c'mon mom, admit it, the guys bug you more because two women kind of turn you on".

After we (not my mom) had a laugh at that, the beautiful young woman doing my pedicure assured me that she could hear her dad saying just the exact same things as my mom.

When we were done and kinda dry but not dry enough to put shoes and socks on I realized I'd not brought sandals so shuffled out to my car in the big, dumb, disposable sandals they'd given me hoping my nails would be dry by the time we got to the restaurant. They weren't.

As I fussed and fretted about wearing these ridiculous sandals into the restaurant my mom assured me it was fine, it would be dark, nobody would notice, so I sucked it up and shuffled my way on in. Immediately upon entering, the young woman seating us eyes darted down at my feet (yes they did, YES they did, YES THEY DID!) but quickly looked back up and led us to our table. Upon sitting, my mom announces she'll be right back, she really must get to the bathroom and PUT SOME LIPSTICK ON. But...it's dark..nobody will notice....

After ordering, our waiter tells us to help ourselves to the soup bar...what!?!? I have to get up and walk around again?!? Mom assures me it's not so bad, nobody will even notice, it's dark, blah blah blah, so I'm hungry and let her talk me into it. We head over and make our selections, I'm slower and mom has already headed back so as I turn to shuffle back to our table as inconspicuously as possible there's mom, chatting with some guy. As I walk toward them with the intent of movin' on by without stopping they both look at me and the guy says, "ahh I see both you and your daughter got pedicures". Sigh.

So back to today. I'm still here, and, it's still Mother's Day. After telling my mom yesterday that we were not going to be able to leave today, that the stuff she's sending with me to give to my sister can be brought today and why doesn't she stay and have pancakes since it's MDay. Needless to say she's thrilled, "it's just not right that you be away on Mother's Day". When I reminded her that SHE'S been away on Mother's Day, that I packaged up a bunch of special treats for her to open and have on her special day one particular year she was away she replied, "oh, I guess I should go out and get you some stuff for your trip" to which I said no mom, you don't have to do anything for me on Mother's Day, I'm not your mother. She'll bring me something anyway.

The delay in plans was helpful to my son, for which I'm glad. I hate people doing things for me out of obligation or missing out on something else because they had to do Mother's Day early for me, because of me. He and his girlfriend had plans yesterday which they were able to keep and now he'll be here with me, my husband and my mom pigging out on pancakes and bacon. He better not spend a bunch of money that he doesn't have on gifts because for me the true gift on Mother's Day is having my son look at me with love and truly knowing he's there because he wants to be, not because he has to be.


To be more clear

In a post I made yesterday I linked to your blog (here). I just discovered you yesterday in an attempt to find resources that address the myth of instant bonding and/or love of all mothers. I am trying to bring awareness to this issue but am sorely lacking in experience and knowledge regarding it. In my limited understanding it’s my feeling that there is a societal expectation that women are expected to automatically, upon giving birth, perhaps even prior to, be magically attached/bonded/in love/perfectly competent, or whatever and this is not always the case. The fact that society expects it, or pretends it, attaches a stigma to the mom who is not feeling all these things immediately which exacerbates the problem by forcing her to be silent for fear of being judged, for fear of being imperfect or incapable.
My question to you is am I off base here? And would you ever consider writing me a “quickie” guest post addressing this myth?

Thank you for visiting my blog, for taking the time to post a comment, and esp. for linking to my post about infant bonding! Instant bonding is indeed a myth, which only serves to worsen a mother's postpartum experience. If she has postpartum depression, well, that just aggravates her feelings of guilt all the more. Your comment agrees with the gist of my post about debunking the myth of instant bonding. You are not off base. It's society in general that's way off base, and putting all that mythical stuff out there to cause first-time mothers to have unnecessarily high expectations is something I'd like society to stop at some point. That can only happen if there are enough voices out there in blogs, the news, magazines, books, etc. join together to speak the truth.


Backward insight and empirical evidence? Don't ask me, I'm with stupid.

 The following is commentary from one of my posts. Baby blues and postpartum depression are not something that should be dismissed or ignored. THAT'S when it becomes dangerous. Included are links to as many seemingly legitimate sites (that I could dig up in twenty minutes) addressing the myth of all mothers bonding instantly at first sight of their newborn.

"The emotional side is different - mothers are not supposed to "unwant" their children. Most generally experience hormonal changes in pregnancy that nurtures the instinct to love and care for their children."

I don't mean this to sound condescending, please believe me, but this statement is fairy tale like. Forever and a day women have been saddled with children they do not want. Pregnancy does not conjure up some magical love potion, in fact, it's been known to invoke quite the opposite. Giving birth does not a "mother" make. Many mothers do not feel an immediate love for their newborn and the stereotype you describe can be the cause sometimes, I think, of a new mom being unwilling to admit she's exhausted, or just plain "not feeling it" because of the pressure to be this perfect maternal model. It's funny actually, the "rainbows and unicorn" label given to adoption can easily be applied to the act of giving birth and the euphoria and love that's expected to be automatic and "natural". Being a new mom is damn hard work and any chance I get I'll tell them to accept the feelings of exhaustion, that it's ok to feel like you want to chuck your baby out the window because they just won't stop crying and you haven't slept for days. It's when new moms have to pretend these feelings don't exist or that they feel pressure to hide them that they end up doing things I don't even want to go into here.


If it ain't broke, you can't fix other things?

I quite often wonder why my experience of being adopted hasn't made me hate adoption. I mean, the obvious reason why I don't hate adoption is because my being adopted worked. What I'm talking about is WHY did my adoption work out, seemingly for all concerned.

My parents, although not happy with me all the time, seem to have enjoyed what they got. Not that that is really all that important since they actively sought out another kid to raise, and paid a whole $25 . I'm just saying, I think they've gotten their moneys worth out of me. I think they're satisfied customers, happy campers, so to speak.

My biological mother, well, she told me herself she's had a good life. She's gone on to have other children and didn't spend her life regretting giving me to someone else. I'm afraid my recent attempt for communication via snail mail has likely made her wary of being outed, something for which I'm sorry, but didn't expect since I was led to believe she was interested in further communication, albeit anonymous which it no longer is.

Biological father, don't know anything concrete about him and can't without biological mother's help. He's likely dead though now anyway. In fact, who knows if he even knew about me, so I can surmise his life was/is good enough.

My siblings, they seemed to like me enough. I've never felt they weren't "real" nor have they ever given me any indication they felt any different toward me. None of us were blood to each other, didn't make a damn bit of difference as far as I can tell. My sister, the other adopted one , is fine enough with being adopted too.

I, with the exception of the usual bumps in the road of adoption.... finding out my sister wasn't biological, realizing it wasn't a nurse that had babies for people who couldn't and that there was a real person out there somewhere who might not be as happy as me (did she have anyone to love her? did she have enough food?), and such other moments of realization, am at peace with the situation and feel no sense of rejection or abandonment. I have no resentment toward my biological parents or jealousy toward half siblings. With the exception of mild curiosity and a slight annoyance at not having heard back from my biological mother again, I'm cool with it all.

At this point, it leaves me with a big fat why. Why am I cool with it?

I don't have a storybook relationship with my mom, but, maybe my dad made up for that.

My parents were not wealthy by any stretch, but, money's not really ever been that much of a priority to me. I'd love to have scads of it, win a lottery or something, but as long as I have enough, I'm happy.

I don't especially look like anyone in my family, but have kind of told myself that I look like my dad's side, if I didn't have dark hair that is.

My personality isn't markedly similar to anyone in my family, but, there are things I have in common with lots of them and I've always been very relieved to have not inherited any crazy genes, that I know about anyway.

From my understanding, in 1963, they tried to match people up. Kind of find family similarities and values although I think there was likely lots of lying and omitting going on so how much this did to contribute to the success of my adoption is debatable. I was NOT adopted into a family of a different color or culture or from another country. These things, I think now, can make a huge difference between adopted people's experiences.

I've had my moments in life when I've felt  inferior, made bad decisions, behaved recklessly, but for the life of me I cannot connect that with my being adopted.

I've been told my good experience makes me privileged, and I guess that may be so, but I can assure you it in no way lessens my compassion and concern for those less fortunate, makes me any less determined to do my small part in addressing adoption dysfunction.

Thing is, I think it would be so helpful in fixing what's wrong, if I could just figure out what went right.....for me.