Monday, August 29, 2011
Children. I suddenly find myself with two babies, who I love. They were not born to me, but they found their way to me, and I am their mother in every other sense of the word.
What is a mother?
I think of my own mother, and remember her as patient and loving all the time. It makes me feel as though I fall short when I am impatient with my kids, but I know that this is what I remember because it is the dominant characteristic. She kept me safe at all times, and let me explore and make choices for myself. She always spoke kindly and never criticized.
Today she offers advice only when necessary and asked for, and is always, always there for me. Although she does not read the blog :)
For myself I think about what is most important to give to my children. I know in their case it is the attention they need in order to be able to attach, the unconditional love, and consistency.
The important things are not biological. Although I am not terribly religious, I have found some value in some scripture. I was reminded of the Judgement of Solomon. In the King James Bible, 1 Kings 3:16-28, two women in the same house gave birth to a
baby within three days of each other. According to the women, one rolled over the baby in the night, killing it, and took the other baby as her own, switching them. Both denied that the dead baby was her own. King Solomon said that he would divide the child in two, and give half to each. I used to think that this was an interesting example, but couldn't possibly be true. No one would think that it was a good idea to cut a baby in half, obviously the child would die. But I do remember certain situations of thinking, "If I can't have this, no one will have it" and destroying that thing. One mother said, "Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it." The other mother said, "Oh my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it." The book says, "Then spake the woman whose the living child was," but there is no way to know if the child is biologically hers. King Solomon said, "She is the mother thereof," and she is the true mother.
At different times in our lives as mothers we need different things, and to give different things. For myself, I need my mother's experience and help, and I need to give my children love and safety. These things will continue to change as I change, and my needs change, and as the needs of these two little babies change.
I have experienced the unconditional love as a mother now. Prior to our current babies, we had two other babies. I miss and think of them every day. I love them still, and I know that will never change although I may never see them again in this lifetime. When I hear the song, "For Good," from the musical, Wicked, I think of them. "It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime...so much of me is made of what I learned from you, you'll be with me like a handprint on my heart." These children were never mine to keep, but I loved them like my own.
I'm not going to talk about the struggles of adoption, the process, the emotional side of it, the reasons we chose adoption, and the agency we used. Just that I have something that I always wanted. I missed out on a lot of things. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, ultrasounds, stretch marks, looking into little faces determining which features are mine and which are my husband's. These things are not important to me now. A friend I knew a few years ago adopted, and as people congratulated her on the new baby, I remember her saying over and over, "We couldn't be happier." I never forgot that, and now I understand what she meant. I didn't need all these things in order to be blissfully happy when I met my children. I knew at once that they were mine.
True mothers are those who love their children unconditionally. Some people have more than one mother. Some people are blessed enough to have conceived, given birth to, and raised their children. Others find their children much later in life. I know so many children and mothers who have found each other in so many different ways. I feel certain that in my case, my children found me just at the right time for all of us. And I couldn't be happier.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
For those of you who are not originally from Fresno, you may have had the same experience upon moving here that I had. I was advised to move north of Shaw, anything south of Shaw was dangerous. I wonder now at the people who advised this, what they could possibly know about their hometown.
I took the advice and moved to a little apartment at Maple and Herndon, which I liked. But I hated Fresno. I couldn’t wait to get out. I looked for jobs outside of the city and even outside of the state, traveling for job interviews, and eventually landing a good position in Fresno. That was okay because the company I worked for was large and had locations all over the country. I knew I had a good chance of being able to transfer once my job became open at another site.
Then I met Hank, a Fresno lover. I asked him what he could possible love about Fresno. It was boring, new development everywhere, chain restaurants, nothing to do. “Oh,” he said, “I’m not talking about North Fresno, I’m talking about Fresno, Fresno.”
Now, to be fair to North Fresno, we have had some fun there. I have to admit that I occasionally shop at River Park. I love Michael’s, I’ve had fun at Boomers, Wild Waters is a pretty fun water park, there are some good libraries, Sal’s Mexican restaurant has the best salsa in town, and my own engagement ring is from a shop in North Fresno.
A lot of people live there. And that’s about it.
Hank lived in the Tower. I had heard about “The Tower.” It’s a dangerous place to live, with lots of crime. The weirdos, liberals, and gays live there. But I was curious to see his place, so one evening I went over to see his house. It was surprisingly charming, and I felt completely safe there.
When we got engaged and began looking for a house to share, we started in the Tower. We then asked our real estate agent to find some good matches closer to the CSU Frenso campus, where Hank works. We hated them. We went back for a search in the Tower.
People were concerned. “It’s so dangerous.” “You can’t stay alone when Hank is traveling for work.” “Don’t you want to at least look in Clovis?” I started looking around my neighborhood. I saw lots of McCain signs, and Yes on Prop 8 everywhere. I knew I didn’t belong in North Fresno anymore.
We found a house that we loved, and I recognized it the moment we walked in, as my “dream house” (quite literally, a fireplace I had seen in a dream of an older, brunette me, with children. I am now a brunette, and older, and children are looking imminent). I feel safe here, and I now see campaign signs that match my own political views.
But that’s not why I love Fresno. I love Fresno because there are things to do. Sure, there’s Shakespeare in the Park in North Fresno once a year, but we constantly have plays at the Broken Leg Stage, 2nd Space Theater, Roger Rocka’s, and other venues. We could go to Applebee’s Bar and Grill on Friant, or we could go to The Landmark, Livingstone’s, or Starline. There is a lot of live music, or we could have a quiet dinner at Rousseau. There are shows at the Tower Theater, locally owned interesting shops on Olive, from games, to witchcraft clothing, to antique shops, and more.
We live on a block with a variety of colors and styles of houses. Some are pink, or the lawn is littered with statues, or it’s like a forest in the front yard, but there is nothing identical or similar from one house to another. They all have character and individuality, just like the people who live there. On our block are teachers, graphic designers, other professors, and an architect. There’s a couple of guys, I like to call “the homeboys” around the corner, and I don’t know what their occupation is, but it must be great, because they are always hanging out in their driveway smoking and drinking beer in the middle of the day. I love those guys.
Why do I love Fresno? In addition to the things I just mentioned, how about the Rogue festival, Wednesday night swing dance, Willey Farms, PechaKucha, CSU Fresno, Creative Fresno, Tri-Tip contests, Fulton Mall, comedy night, Fresno Film Night, Battle of the Bartenders, Arthop, the Saroyan theater, Monster’s hockey, and Reel Pride, just to name a few?
And I never would have discovered all of this if I hadn’t traveled south of Shaw.