Category Archives: Being Enough

Weekend Visitors

This weekend our donor’s parents are coming over to meet our daughter for the first time.  I have no idea how it will go.  I trust our donor 150%, otherwise I would not be up for this meeting.  Before I could even say the words, he articulated what I was going to ask for: that they follow our lead after this meeting.  We’ll see how it goes and how we’re feeling and we’ll be in touch if we’d like to get together again.  This could be the start of our daughter having two additional people who become part of her web of loving support- which includes my parents, my spouse’s parents, my siblings, my spouse’s siblings, my auntie, a long line of cousins, and a few friends who are integrally involved in her life and have thus been named “Uncles.” Or, it could be one meeting.  I just don’t know.

It’s strange- I don’t feel trepidation about this meeting. I just feel like we’re walking into the unknown.  I was not necessarily ready to take this step before this time, thus our waiting for nearly three years.  I think it’s a culmination of the trust we’ve build up with our donor, my spouse and I working on strengthening our relationship and communicating with one another until we fully understood and respected each others’ concerns about meeting them.  I could be being naive, but I feel safe about this meeting.  A big part of me feels like my daughter can never have too much love.  It reminds me of when I did my first ten day silent meditation retreat.  It was hard- brutally hard.  My ass hurt, my brain was driving me crazy, my back ached, and I convinced myself that I was getting lock jaw because my jaw kept clicking every time I would eat during meal time.  In the silence of that mess hall I listened to that dull click in my head and I was sure I was walking out of that retreat center not talking even after silence was broken.

But I also had great epiphanies and moments of such ecstatic joy I am certain that I had tiny glimpses of what is referred to as nirvana.  In one of those moments I had such a clear, intense thought that it kept beating through me like a pulse coursing through my body: you have an infinite amount of love to offer. you have an infinite amount of love to offer.  you have an infinite amount of love to offer.  It wasn’t even words really.  As I sat there with tears streaming down my face, my eyes pressed tight, but my neck wet with tears, I had a knowing in my entire body.  There I was at that center because I had suffered a heartbreak I was convinced I would never heal from and I could see more clearly than I ever could before that one’s heart is never fully broken.  Our capacity for love is infinite.  So I take that into this weekend.  I could latch onto my insecurities around not having carried and birthed our daughter… around the fact that she doesn’t carry any of my genetic material or biology… that she doesn’t look a thing like me, even by a stretch.  And yet, I choose to not take that path.  I choose to be open to the possibility of even more love in my daughter’s life.  Or at the very least, exploring the option.

– Charlotte

On Being Adequate

Sometimes, being a stay-at-home mom is really hard.  It is not the taking care of my son part that is hard (though sometimes it is), but it is the taking care of me part that is really hard.  I know I am incredibly privileged to be able to stay home with my boy and I am really grateful for the opportunity.  Also, some days I feel lost.

Last night, I was reading an article written about the mother of one of M’s friends.  She is an all around bad-ass homesteader, blogger and author of several books.  So, I was reading this great article about her and all I could do was feel totally inadequate.  I have spent years working on my many hobbies and trying to make money doing them: rug hooking, embroidery, photography, writing.  Now, it seems that most days are so full of dishes and laundry and entertaining an energetic two-year old.  And some days, I just feel like not enough.  Some days, I feel like I should be able to do it all.  I should be able to keep my house spotless, make art every day, write every day for this blog and on my book project, make great food for my family, exercise daily, blah, blah, blah.

And then I write a blog post like this and I re-read my expectations for myself.  I realize that I just can’t.  I can’t be all things at all times to all people, including to myself.  I just can’t.  And that is ok.  I am ok.  I am still an artist even if I don’t have time to make my own art everyday,  I am still a good mother if I go to sleep with dishes in the sink and clothes on the bathroom floor.  I am still a writer if I skip blog posts for two days.  I am all of these things everyday even if all I do is hold a sick boy and wipe his nose.

-Betsy

Cutting Myself Slack

I am sick.  Again.  I just got over a three-week long virus last week and now have caught S’s cold.  Usually, my mom watches M two days a week so I can get stuff done, but she is preparing to have surgery in a couple of weeks and has been instructed to stay away from our germ-fest.  So, I don’t have any help during the day.

I have a lot to do.  Deadlines I have missed, laundry that needs to be folded, bills that have to be paid.  And today, I am cutting myself some slack.  I am giving myself permission to not get everything done.  I am giving myself permission to feel crappy, write a half-ass blog post, drink some tea and go to bed.  Sometimes, as parents, I feel like we don’t give ourselves this sort of permission enough.

There it is.  That is all I have for you.  Cut yourself some slack sometimes. Goodnight.

-Betsy

Twinship

There is a term I learned in graduate school: twinship.  This simply put means the search for commonalities in another.  For instance, the bonding that might take place when you are far away from home and meet someone from the same area or when you share a poem you wrote about how much you hate beets after you discover your new girlfriend has written a song with the same theme.  Twinship.  I will come back to this.

The other night when we were out to dinner (we don’t really eat out that much), I had the experience of feeling really gay.  I felt like I was wearing pride rings and a shirt that said “HEY!  I am super gay!”  I find that this feeling overtakes me sometimes since moving back to the south.

So, we are in this restaurant where we have been often and never had any issues and I suddenly felt like everyone was looking at us.  I could almost hear their internal dialogues, “That poor child.  I think those women are…dykes.”  Of course no one said anything.  People were probably actually thinking about how well behaved and beautiful my son is.  At any rate, I got up to go to the salsa bar.  As I was returning I noticed this big, white biker dude with black and gray tattoos all up and down his arms.  In that moment, I knew that if I just found some twinship with him, common ground, he wouldn’t kill us or cause a scene.

“Your work is really nice,” I said on my way back to our table.  “I made the mistake of getting full color tattoos.  I like your black and gray so much more.”

The funny thing is, I like my full color tattoos.  I pulled some bullshit out of my butt because I wanted that guy to think I thought he was better than me.  Somehow, this made me feel safer and made me feel like I was protecting my family.  Disingenuous twinship, but twinship just the same.

The whole way home, I kept thinking about how not only did that whole scene feel really forced, but it also made me feel a little bit dirty.  I don’t like to lie.  I never have.  Today, three days later I am still wondering why I did it while that guy, who barely grunted when I paid him a false compliment, probably has no memory of me or that entire scenario.  He was too caught up in his 3000 calorie plate of enchiladas.

It is a peculiar feeling, to feel like a flashing neon sign in a dark room.  Peculiar, yet not too unfamiliar.  I bet that dude with tattoos has felt the same way at some point.

-Betsy

This has little to do with non-gestational parenthood and a lot to do with my reality as of late.

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Crap.  It’s happened.  I have become the mother I always said I would not be- I have become (gasp!) the un-cool.  I promised myself up and down that I’d be the hip mama- stylish if not slightly exhausted with a bambino strapped to my back and adventure awaiting in front of me.  I looked down at myself in the office today and I saw it.  That is to say, my outfit: BORING.  Plain grey skirt, cranberry cowl neck sweater, black boots I’ve beaten down for the last four years, and black tights. The earrings my lovely spouse got me for Christmas were the only piece of interest in my otherwise lackluster canvas.  Oh wait, it wasn’t a canvas, it was a check off of the morning to do list.  And you know what my second thought was- lord help me- “the world should be so lucky that I look even this good.”  And truthfully folks, many mornings, I really do feel that way… like, heck, I actually slapped a little make-up on my mug, my hair is sort of cute, I wrangled a stylish top from the dresser.  Snooooozzze, I bore myself.

But it could be worse.  I have stood on the equator for awhile in this regard- teetering between eating up fashion, loving interior design, recognizing it is art on your body, cultivated in your home, and also feeling disturbed by the materialism of it all… impressed by and aspiring to be more like certain friends of mine who truly live the ideal of simplicity and making a low impact. Their clothes are minimal and basic (mostly secondhand and many free), their homes tidy, compact, no-nonsense, and functional.  But I’m not even that cool (and isn’t that the real cool?).  I’m just sort of tired.

I told myself today that it would be better in the summer time.  Winter is all piles of clothes and poofiness… flat hair for this curly-headed girl.  But I’m kidding myself a little there too.  Summer is about shedding all those layers and with my skinny body I feel all sharp, exposed edges and appendages.  There is no va-va-voluptuousness in this lanky frame.

But that’s my fashion state of affairs, at least at this point in my life.  I am starting to accept it (is that part of the sad reality?).  I kicked and screamed about not being sure I could handle having a baby before we had one, even though another part of me really wanted one.  Then she was on her way, and I sank into the reality and I was elated.  And now that she’s my little girl, that projected image of myself seems so…. unimportant.

You know what I do miss though?  Thrift store shopping.  I love me a good vintage score.  One of my aforementioned friends was over recently and he walked into our kitchen and stripped off his jacket to reveal a treasure of all thrift store fashion finds: a soft brown leather vest that had all the old timey flare of a well-worn banjo.  He looked great in it.  And it suddenly registered in my brain- seeing my friend who is one of the most conscious, thoughtful, low-consuming, low-impact people I know, decked out in this rad vest- that maybe it’s not completely one or the other.  Maybe the key is upholding these ideals, but also finding creative ways to be, ahem, creative in the midst of parenthood.  I think of my friend, who I will call Y, who also lives with beautiful simplicity and she is one of the most creative, funky people I have ever met (and of note, she’s a mama)… she makes the world around her art.  So I think more the bummer that I present to you, dear readers, is that lately as a mama, I feel that I have a low mental supply of time and creative fashion spark.  Most of my creative bursts happen after the kiddo has gone to bed and I am pushing myself to string words together as I tap away on the computer.  Maybe someone knows of a vintage shop that is open late on the weekends and sells caffeinated beverages?  Until then, let’s hope for some occasional strokes of magic in the morning.

– Charlotte

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Last night, my terrible sleeper slept from 7:30pm until 6 a.m. OH MY MOTHER F***ING GOD!  Really!  He did that! For the first time in his life, my son slept through the night.  I know I shouldn’t be writing about this because I am sure to jinx us, but I couldn’t help myself.

The irony in all of this is that I have had more consolidated sleep the last two nights than I have had since he was born and I feel exhausted.  It is like my body now remembers what it is missing and it is pissed.  Last night I was asleep by 9.  Tonight, I am writing from my bed and it is not yet 8.

Tonight is night seven of sleeping training.  While I have been the trainer the previous six times we have attempted to trick our son into sleep, S seems to be the one in charge now and I like it!  I can sit back while she makes him cry.  Sometimes I put headphones on, just because I can.  That way, I can detach myself from his angst.  Tonight, after S moved further away form his bed as he attempted to put himself to sleep, he became very upset.  He was jumping in his crib and yelling for ‘Ima’.  After a couple minutes of hootin’ and hollerin’, he says, “I am very frustrated.”  My two-year old (just turned two, by the way) identified that he feels frustrated.

He is just about asleep now, if the damn squeaky door hinge would stop waking him.  Right now, I feel proud.  Proud of us as parents for listening to our son and to our guts all those other times we tried to sleep train and it felt like too much.  Proud of my baby who can tell us how he is feeling, in a full sentence no less.  Proud of myself for surviving up until now.  Just proud.

-Betsy

PS. Please remind me to grease that hinge tomorrow!

That Feeling In My Stomach (not the preggers type)

My little girl is sick today.  Nothing that won’t be cured within a few days, but the poor thing looks awful.  She went to bed seeming fine last night and woke up this morning with a nasty case of conjunctivitis and an ear infection.  It happened that fast- went to bed healthy, woke up touched by the hand of yuck.  By the time I got home from work this evening her eyes had gotten so bad (yes, she went to the doc’s this morning and is now on antibiotics) that not only were her lids puffy and swollen looking; her eyeballs red and all sorts of goopey; but she also had these racoonish, red, rash-like marks under her eyes from rubbing at them so much. Luckily that little spark plug doesn’t let much break her stride.  She was marching around the house wearing a mismatched pair of PJs; a white, scratchy Easter type of hat that is meant for her teddy bear (so it’s a size too small); and a pair of old school, strappy roller skates.  She looked like an elderly drag queen.  Still, when I took one look at her my stomach did that thing.  Parents, do you know the thing I’m talking about?  Does this happen to you?  Ever since that little peanut crept into my heart I have had this thing happen when I even think about her being hurt or sick or in discomfort, never mind when she actually is, my stomach does an uncomfortable dropping thing.  It’s weird.  It’s a visceral response to this awful feeling that as much as I want to do everything humanly possible to protect this small person I love more than almost anything else in the world, I can’t.  It makes me sick.  Tease me all you want for quoting what might seem like a cliche, but I really do get this particular one since she entered my life: “Making a decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”* Hell yeah.  It’s like having your heart when it’s head over heels in love walk outside your body and into a six lane stretch of rush hour traffic on the beltway and your brain is on the side lines screaming, “Be careful!  Watch out!  Be careful!!!”

Sometimes I worried before my daughter was born that I wouldn’t feel this deep attachment to her because of our lack of biological, genetic or gestational connection. Yet when I have that feeling in my stomach- as uncomfortable a reminder as it is- I also take a tiny bit of solace in knowing that she is so much a part of me that I feel her in my body.  And that makes me realize the power of our bond goes much deeper than any trace of biology.

– Charlotte

*quote by Elizabeth Stone