Thursday, September 30, 2010

T minus 15 hours.

This time tomorrow, it will be October. October 2010 is a month I've looked forward to for a decade, even before I could name the month. It's the month we are going to try. We are going to try to do something that has happened on "accident" to me 3 times. We are going to try to get pregnant. On purpose. Like, unprotected sex, during the "dangerous" time. We are going to hope my period doesn't come. We are going to smile whenever (God willing) we get a positive HPT, instead of, well, cry like I have the last 3 times.

I have been looking forward to this since about 10 minutes after Colin went to his forever home. This itch wasn't cured by my pregnancy/birth/motherhood to Jeb. Jeb was a pleasant surprise, and so when I was pregnant with him, I had a really really hard time shaking the identity of the pregnant teen. Bennett would say to me at times You know, Patti, you're not 17 anymore. This is really OK. No one is mad at you. I knew it, but I didn't know it.

So, I've fantasized about this time, about this month. In my fantasy I have zero fear or ambivalence, only a long awaited sense of right-ness, of correct-ness.

In reality I am terrified. I am so freaked out. I am excited, but nervous, and ready to back out at any minute. I started feeling like this about a month ago, and actually hoped I'd get pregnant on "accident" last month so that I wouldn't have to really actually make this decision.

Imagine my shock and horror at how I am feeling about this! I have been so disappointed in myself! Here I am, 30 years old, and FINALLY at the exact moment that I have been dreaming about for YEARS! What the fuck is wrong with me?

And then? The flood:

Am I ready for this?
Will I ever be ready for this?
Well, the kids will already be almost 4 years apart and I know I want more than 1 and I'll be 31 next year so I'd better just do it already.
Do I really want more than 1?
How can I meet the needs of 2 when I already doubt myself with 1?!
What if it takes a long time?
What if I miscarry, I am 30 after all, and many of my friends have experienced m/c.
What if I have post partum anxiety again?
Am I ready to nurse 24/7 again?
What the fuck is wrong with me?
I'm just thinking about growing my family, that's not so weird.
Maybe something is wrong with me.
What if I am not a good enough mother to have 2.
Have I proven myself good enough to have another?

Ok, this might sound really stupid, but I never expected any birthmother-y shit to come up. Now, I'm smacking myself in the head---- Um, PATTI! How did I not expect giving BIRTH again and becoming a MOTHER again not to bring up any BIRTHMOTHER stuff? Duh.

So there you have it. Motherhood will forever be intertwined with feelings and anxieties over being worthy/deserving/good enough for children in a more intense way than people outside the triad. Of course every mother should strive to be a terrific mother, but in my world? It's been more literal. Colin's parents had to prove to a shit load of people that they were worthy/deserving/good enough. When I was pregnant with Jeb, I had these weird feelings like I had to prove to someone that it was OK that I kept him. I would have dreams that I had to ask Colin's mother's permission to NOT give this one to her. Even now, day to day, I am constantly looking for signs that I am doing well with Jeb, or signs that I am a total failure. (this drives batshit crazy, btw). So now that I'm going to do this on PURPOSE? Well, I feel this enormous amount of pressure to come up with a very concrete and objective report to hand in to someone so the can stamp "APPROVED" on my paperwork. And the 17 year old in me would nod, and put my head down and accept it if that stamp came back "REJECTED".

Yay. There is no pretty bow with which to tie up this post. It's been floating around in my gut, and I just had to vomit it. That's all I have to say about that (for now).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Oh, hello there, Autumn.

I'm feeling tired and disorganized (ok, and hormonal). My house looks like it usually does at the end of my heavy work-week: also tired and disorganized. We had some family visiting from out of town this weekend, so the usually small amount of down-time was even smaller -- filled with more dishes and less house work. I struggle without my regularly scheduled down-time. Hello, my name is Patti, and I'm an introvert.

Suddenly it is Fall. I didn't notice Summer waving goodbye, it was so subtle. Just a few degrees here, a few moments of sunlight there. Throw in some busy days and errands, and poof! It was the middle of September and Jeb was wearing pants-jammies instead of shorts-jammies. I do feel a twinge of sadness, mostly in the evenings when I look at the clock and immediately do the math for when daylight savings ends. Wow, is it only 6:30? Soon it will be this dim at only 5:30. (sad face) Our Summer was so terrific, but by the end of August I was really looking forward to exactly this. Mums on the porch. Watching the trees for signs of change. Digging my (super cute) jean jacket out of the closet. Enjoying my runs again. Visiting the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard. Snuggling my husband under the covers instead of trying to get as far from each other as possible. Fires in the chiminea. Dinners in the slow cooker. Halloween decorations, which are my favorite decorations of ALL TIME. Pumpkin flavored coffee. The County Fair. Is it too early to make Witch Hat Cookies?

As of 7am I am off for 5 nights. Thank goodness because I really miss my family.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Big Love might be on to something...

I might have dropped the ball tonight. I won't know until the morning, if husband is upset that I spent much of the evening outside on the phone with a friend. Sure, my friend needed an ear, but our evenings are precious (esp on the weekends), and I am the first one to get upset when he sacrifices them for work --- or phone calls. Oops. He's now in bed and I'm feeling kind of rotten about it.

It's so hard to find that balance. There's that tricky word again, I know I've written about it before . Ok, more than once . Being a wife and mother and employee and business owner and landlord and friend and birthmom and sister and daughter and aunt and and and...? It's hard. It's hard to feel like you're doing anything awesome instead of feeling like you're doing everything half-assed.

Thankfully husband is pretty terrific, aaannnd it doesn't hurt that I have a birthday celebration planned for him tomorrow that will hopefully smooth over any sore feelings.

This was one of those evenings when I really could have used a clone, to made sure everyone was getting the support they needed. I've started to think that having sister-wives would be fantastic. How great would it have been if I could have talked with my friend, while 1 sister wife kept husband company, and yet another sister wife folded the laundry? Not too shabby ;)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nature v Nurture: A Big Issue Even in Bio Families

Obviously adoption puts an additional spin on the nature v nurture discussion, but it's also a very interesting phenomenon within non-adoptive families.

I think about it a lot. I am coming to the conclusion, more and more, that Jeb has more influence on who I am as a parent, than I have on him as a child.

I'll say that again in another way: My motherhood adapts to Jeb's personality/needs/tendencies, it has not formed Jeb's personality/needs/tendencies.

I started having this feeling in the first couple months of his life. I had all kinds of academic parenting philosophies. And then I was blessed with a child who would not be put down. And slept like shit. And wanted to nurse non stop. So I became that mom in short order; the one who held her baby all the time, and also slept like shit, and nursed her baby anywhere and everywhere. I didn't turn Jeb into that baby, he was born that baby.

He is still that kid. His favorite place is in my lap. I'm sure he would still be nursing had I not weaned. He still sleeps like shit. It's just him. Bennett and I have abandoned many of the theories-that-sound-awesome-until-you-know-the-reality-of-day-to-day-parenting. We've become the parents who Jeb needs, not the other way around.

We actually have had very little effect on who the core of Jeb is. Sure, we've taught him good manners, and appropriate behavior ect, but that doesn't have much to do with who he is as a person. I haven't created his fantastic temperament, or concern for people in distress, or his sense of humor. I like to think we've given him a strong, secure foundation, so that his best traits can shine. I believe that we've created an environment where he is not stressed, but rather curious and playful, which contributes to the development of his smarts and imagination --- but it doesn't create those qualities, those are his.

I was musing to a friend (who has 2 daughters) about Jeb's absolute obsession with basketball, and she made an off hand comment about "conditioning" boys' love of sports. It wasn't mean spirited, but it couldn't have been more wrong. I could care less about basketball, and I don't think my husband has shot a basket since junior high gym class. We've never even followed March Madness. I had nothing to do with 10 month old Jeb pointing at every single basketball hoop in the neighborhood. He is passionate about basketball. And skateboards. And backhoes. And so many other things that I also had nothing to do with.

I wouldn't even dream of crediting myself with this stuff, I love learning about him, I'm not interested in molding him in that way. There are things I do want to "mold": compassion, respect for others, healthy self esteem, determination, you know... all that good stuff. But not his interests. Not his personality. Not his goals.

The other day Jeb said something to my husband that was incredibly sweet and compassionate, and I said to my husband (like I do about 20 times a day), "Isn't he just amazing?!" And my husband said "That's all you, babe, he's so great because you do such a good job with him". I loved the compliment at the time, but the more I thought about it, I couldn't really take credit in good faith. Jeb could have been a tough kid, but he's not. My next kid could be a really tough kid. Hopefully I'll be able to create the same environment and boundaries to instill the same values I'm trying to instill in Jeb, if that's the case.

My mother in law constantly want to assign Jeb's traits to one of his ancestors. He loves cucumbers! His great grandmother loves cucumbers! That's where he gets it from!! So, if the neighbor kid loves cucumbers is he surely a distant relative? I don't really play that game; it kind of annoys me.

Being a birthmom, I sometimes think about what Jeb would be like if he had been parented by other people. It's not a weird thought since my reality is that other people sometimes raise my kid. You know what? He'd be basically the same kid. Any other woman who raised him in a loving home would marvel at his mild temperament, and his love of snuggling. And I'm sure someone in that family would like cucumbers.

It's a comforting thought, to me. My job is to guide, love, and support. I can do that.

(In the unlikely even that my MIL reads this: that wasn't a dig :))