I walk around the house mid-morning, my eyes scanning for things to put away or trash. I am tired of the disorganized mess I live in. I am too tired to fix it. My eyes fall on a ring on the floor of Ammu’s room. I pick it up and tuck it into my pocket. I then change my mind and put it on her side table instead. In another life, I would have rushed to put it away with my jewelry, under lock and key, the way I guard all things precious to me.
The ring is something Mommy B gave our children when she visited us last summer. I kept it safe, away from careless baby hands until one day both girls demanded that they have it. “It is ours,” they said and I agreed. I let go. I watched them slip it on and off their fingers and tuck it into their pockets.
Artifacts from their birth family are always precious. In the beginning, I methodically saved every scrap of paper, every envelope with addresses on them, every note of love from their great grandparents. I did so because I was insecure, unsure of my place in this triad, unaware as to how long this tenuous connection would stretch and stay. Over the years, I have become lax, disposing of envelopes and holding on to cards and sometimes finding cards I put away in the girls’ rooms.
The letting go, the unclasping of my rigid fist has been gradual. It reminds me of the blessings that continuous, unregimented contact has given us. It has normalized the relationship in ways that parallel our relationship with my family. I do not remember the last time I treasured anything my mom or siblings gave me. They lie, taken for granted in parts of my home ready for the taking. They lie not because they are any less dear but because I know the people are not going anywhere.
I hear sounds of a map being stretched on the floor in the living room. The girls’ voices are excited. They are pointing to our home. I listen, my ears primed to hear what comes next. I almost smile when they trace their fingers to the town they were born in. Their Appa joins in, tracing the path and reminiscing about our trip there. They next look up a new city that will now be part of their lives. There is a pause and Pattu speaks up. Where is Daddy D’s home she asks? They go back to their birth state and trace their way up.
I marvel at how the conversations have changed. I look back on the years and realize this is a changing, evolving dynamic. A gift that keeps on giving. When I talk to people about openness, I struggle to encapsulate this experience in words. This seamless back and forth, this sense that this is forever, this unclasping of the grip I have on things, the way our children take this access to both their lives for granted, the notes on genealogy I receive from their great grandmother detailing family connections that go back two or more generations.
In the years past, I have had well-meaning friends ask me if it is for the good of the children to be conflicted all the time, to have the promise of two families instead of the security of just one. I have dithered, not knowing how to answer. I still do not have answers. I just know and feel that this is right, for us, for now.