Today marks eleven years to the day since we received the call from the social worker. It was a Thursday, like today. Earlier in the morning, I had written in my blog.
“Ever get that feeling that you are caught on the median with vehicles flying past both ways wondering if the pace will ever let up leaving you with space to cross?
I’ve felt that way for a couple of days now. I feel like everything is flying past me and I have to catch up except I have no idea how much longer I will be waiting.
It does not help there is one more day to push myself through before the weekend. Sigh!”Lakshmi Giridharan Age 35
The sense of anguish, the angst at being unable to build a family, the sorrow that I would be left behind in a race of some sort all built to a crescendo until that night, a call changed things. In hindsight, I had no idea what was ahead. I was singularly selfish, my needs and wants obscuring, coloring everything I saw and processed. The end goal, a baby in my hands would have changed everything, at least in my mind. The baby was the end, not the beginning.
Eleven years since, I look back on that day and the unhappy, sad person I was, pondering a life bereft of the markers of everything society around me considered success. I feel sorry for that person. I wish I could tell that that a baby changed everything. I wish I could tell that 35-year-old woman that the pain she felt then was temporary. Yes, she would have pined away for a few more years, made peace with herself and her life and moved on. I can’t tell if that 35-year-old would have found happiness. Knowing her, I hope she would have in some form.
Eleven years since, I know this. Babies are not the end. They are the beginning. They are the beginning of a life that is the whole wide unknown. There are good days and there are bad days. Bad days outnumber the good days. The angst, the pain, the question of what next never really goes away. It is a moving goal. Yes, the babies come home. Then, what?
You spend decades of your life nurturing (fun!), parenting (not so fun) and mentoring (fun!) the little beings who grow into not so little beings. The anxiety is a constant. There is never a moment when you do not second guess what you do. Most days, you go to bed wishing you had been a better parent, a better human. There is always a laundry list of things you want to do; wish you had done and and a list of things you hope to do.
Add in adoption, open adoption, trauma behaviors, this bumpy ride is now a roller coaster with no end in sight. You are nauseous, you want out but there are no buttons to push, no one to hear you scream. You push through, grip the guardrails and hope you will make it out in one piece.
Anniversaries like today make me wonder. They make me reflect on what was and what is. I wonder what is worth celebrating and what must be mourned. Is it a day of remembrance? Is it a day of mourning what was, what could have been? Is it a day of acknowledging the invisible marker where you made a turn that took you some place? Do you celebrate? Do you not? Do you mark it? Do you not?
The questions are rhetorical. Each year has its own answer. This year, I think I will remember and sit with the memories. I will let it flow through me. I will remember the pain of the barren woman. I will remember the joy and naivete of the clueless mother. I will remember the raw grief and cries of the wee ones that I mistook for hunger. I will mourn the loss of my children’s mother. I will remember the separation trauma I had no idea of and wish I had been better prepared, better informed. I will beat myself up and sit with the guilt.
I will redeem myself some day when I know my children are as whole as they can be. I will hope that even if not whole, they will be aware of the craters and will cradle them with care and know what to do. That they will have the tools to cover the imperfections or flaunt them as they see fit.
Yes, it has been eleven years. It has been a lifetime crammed in eleven years.