P is for Pop

P

pop
päp/
verb
make a light explosive sound.
go somewhere, typically for a short time and often without notice.
noun
a light explosive sound.
a patch of bright color
adverb
with a light explosive sound.

In 2006 The boy was turning 8 years old. I have always liked the road trip to Maine, it seems to get more deeply green as you go further North. When you enter Maine the welcome sign declares that you have gotten to the place where life is as it should be.

welcometomaine

The boy has always been into science and all of his gifts tended to reflect that passion. Over the years, he had received dinosaur skeletons to assemble and clear engines to build and run, owl pellets to break apart and examine. I have always tried to get him neat gifts along that line. It’s a weird thing to be someones’ birth mother, there just isn’t any road-map for your place. It was still awkward, I think mostly because I am awkward. The Maine crew is nothing but friendly and welcoming and it was a slow stilted path towards integrating me into that fold. I am much more prickly, but I gave neat gifts as a bizarre apology for my weirdness.

This year I got him a science kit that included a water bottle rocket. This was a quick attention grabber and caused an immediate plan to set-up at the parking lot by their house, a small neighborhood gang appeared out of ether to accompany us.

bottlerocket

We set-up, and he started pumping, and just as maximum pressure was reached, he turned the spout and got me, full force, soaked! After two more attempts and two more soakings I threatened to drown him if he tried it one more time.

Guess what? 8 year olds don’t take threats to seriously, but I always do. POP! He got me one more time and I grabbed him in a headlock. I doused him with all available water while laughter and screeching commenced. There was threats and running and more laughter.

It was the first time I touched him without thinking. I don’t know if people think about touch as much as I have, about its importance and connection to love and intimacy, but it was an ever-present thought for me most of the time. In trying desperately to respect boundaries, to make them for myself, to protect myself and him and this wonderful family, it was all tangled up into unbreakable knots for me.

Yet, this time, I didn’t think. I laughed and it was joyful. To this day our relationship can be marked by this friendly fighting, of instigation and attack.  I don’t know what that means and I don’t feel much need to poke it, somehow it has worked to build a fragile bridge that has slowly gotten stronger, and that is also, joyful.

joy1 (1)

 

 

B is for Baby

B

ba·by
ˈbābē/
1. a very young child, esp. one newly or recently born

 

I took the bus from Whole Foods in Montclair, down Bloomfield Avenue to the State Street Diner stop in Bloomfield. Sometimes I stopped in for something to bring home, I loved the old diner with it’s ancient cigarette machines, regulars that seemed to permanently occupy the stools and booths and waitresses well past their prime in heels, thick make-up, long nails and teased hair. Most of the time I passed it by and walked down to Broad street, made a left and headed towards home. I passed the library on my left and frequently made a stop there too. The college was across the street and I wondered what it felt like to just be a student somewhere.

diner corner

It was a mile from the bus stop to my door. My belly was just starting to harden but not yet sticking out and I couldn’t help but hold it like it might disappear from my body or be attacked my tire-iron wielding madmen on the uneventful walk.  I still didn’t know how I felt about the life inside of me, or more accurately I didn’t understand the feelings I was feeling.  I was pretty sure this was euphoria mixed with madness. I was up and down but surprisingly cheerful about it all.

I had found an agency, Friends in Adoption, up in Vermont. From what I gathered, it was run by hippies that thought adoption should be personal and easier than most agencies made it, for everyone involved.  I had received a pile of pamphlets from them too, but this time they all met my criteria and apparently I didn’t require constant counseling and a go betweens to be trusted to make a decision. I could contact these families as I saw fit, and having that bit of control felt much better to me.

I walked and thought about babies and families. I was not a baby person. I did not get all gooey and weird at the site of infants, I had limited interest in holding them or caring for them. They seemed like very needy, cute, wiggly, moist creatures that might eventually be human.  I liked older children more but had limited experience with them as well. All of the younger foster siblings I had, had were more like me and cynical by 4 or 5 and I could relate to them; most normal children were a complete mystery to me. I had even less experience with families, though I had been a resident within several over the years, it still felt like my childhood was a sociological study I made and not so much a true life experience.

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

By Lennart Nilsson : A Child Is Born, published by Jonathan Cape

I walked and held my belly and felt the faintest butterflies inside of myself. Was it the baby? I didn’t know and there wasn’t anyone to ask, but I liked to think it was. For this time, while my body did its thing and created another human ( and how bizarre is THAT?), this baby was mine and I had a secret I was trying keep even from myself. I loved it. It was like a perfect secret inside of me. I was at peace about giving the baby up, it was never a choice to keep it, not for me; but this part? This weird parasitic, brilliant, miraculous, shifting, morphing, awkward experience? This was mine and no one could have it or take it. I knew I wasn’t cut out for the after part, the crying, pooping, comforting, insanity of parenthood, I knew that in my bones. Not now, maybe not ever, despite how much I desperately WANTED a family, I knew I wasn’t selfless enough for that right now.  I hoped I would be one day. What I could do, was give this life a chance and share it with people that were ready. For right now I could secretly revel in every change, every shift every tiny butterfly, because I was giving this baby away to people that would make sure it was never alone I could love it now, wholeheartedly, and not be afraid. I could chat with, sing to and hold my belly and for a little while, and not be alone.