Saturday, March 31, 2012

Me vs. me

Last week while I was writing, I contacted college friends through facebook to ask some logistical questions - names of bars mostly.

What was interesting to me is that I'm finally at a point where I've been working on this for so long that saying, "I'm writing a book..." no longer felt like a big to-do. What I mean mostly, is that I didn't feel the need to justify it or explain it or get into it. I felt secure enough with the concept to just say, "hey, I'm doing this thing, can you answer some questions for me." I no longer have to justify it to myself. I no longer need to convince myself that "I'm a writer." It's not about that. I'm writing, for better or worse, I'm writing and that's just the way it is.

It also made me realize that in writing a memoir (now I guess, "true story" is the preferred term), I'm going to be saying lots of things about lots of people, and that not everyone might be thrilled with the idea of me writing about them. Friends, old boyfriends, and so on - I'll have to explain to them about what they're in and what they're not and hope they're okay with being part of my story. It's hard enough admitting all kinds of things about myself. But talking about other people - good, bad and indifferent, feels a little much.

The one person that I'm talking the most about, of course, is Kate. We've talked extensively and repeatedly about the danger (and thrill) of writing completely honestly.

We agreed on the outline many (many) years ago and started writing on those events. And we had an agreement - she doesn't see what I write, I don't see what she writes, until we're "done," (and it's been fun trying to figure out  We can ask a logistical question, like, "was so-and-so at that party?" But even then, we try to keep that to a minimum.

I think that this project is interesting on so many levels. One is just trying to delve into two people's memories of the same events. It will say so much.  is the obvious and the impetus of the book: what is reunion really like from the perspective of the birthmother and from the perspective of the adoptee? What is the impact on their lives? Why are the implications?

But, crap, is it a risk. Kate's an established song-writer, so, let's face it, the risk is far greater for her. But, still, there are moments when I wonder - is our stories going to work together? Will they gel so that when the reader gets their hands on it, will it form one story?

But so much of our relationship has been based on trust. Hoping that it all just works out. We never had much to go on. But just trusting that telling the story is enough - but not too much.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Another birthday is coming up for me.

Last year was the big one, the one where I felt like I was crossing over from "adult" to "old," 40 (I know, you who are older are thinking 40 is young, but, admit it, when you turned 40 your felt old too).

What's interesting is that Kate is only eighteen years older than me where my parents are a full forty years older than me. They're two completely different generations. Kate could have been their child, if going by the standard age of parents at that time period.

Now, being new parents at 40 isn't very unusual. When you look at an older person walking down the street with a young child, it's often hard to guess if it's the parent or the grandparent (and just as you never ask a woman if she's pregnant, this is another question better off not asking). But, it must have been peculiar experience for my parents in their time to be having kids so "late in age." Their friends kids would have been off to college by then. My cousins were all significantly older, so much so that my brother and I were closer with second cousins, so then they were too much younger than us for us to really be close.

And, although Kate will introduce me as her daughter, it doesn't raise many eyebrows, though I'm sure some people wonder at what age she had me.

It gets more complicated when I'm the one introducing, since, as I've mentioned before, I introduce Kate as my "birthmother." This often gets us a blank stare, and an awkward smile, and questions later on.

Once, though, it got me a really great friend. We were at a bar when I had been laid off from a different job, many years ago, and I was there with my co-workers. I had invited Kate and when she came I introduced her to everyone as my "birthmother." When I got up to go to the bathroom, one of my co-workers pulled me aside on the way back and asked, "did you just say she was your "birthmother!?!"

I could hear the excitement in her voice and did a little mental eye-roll. At this point, I was learning not to be so open about my story because it felt "sensational." It often raised more questions than I was comfortable answering to the average acquaintance. And to me it wasn't sensational, it was just life.

But it turned out she wasn't an average acquaintance. She too was adopted and had just had reunion. We became great friends after that, the initial fulcrums of our friendship being that we were going through reunion together.

However, the best response I got to introducing Kate was at my son's daycare when Kate was visiting last month. I had taken the day off from work so Kate and I could write together, and she came with me when I went to pick up Reed at the end of the day. My favorite teacher there, Katie, was standing outside with the kids. She's only 22 (I had Reed bring her in a 22-ounce beer when she turned 21 and she laughed so hard to see the little three year old with the big bottle of beer), but she's bad-ass as anything - country girl, goes hunting, knows about animals, grew up on a farm.

When I introduced Kate as my birthmother, she just asked simply, "Did you say birthmother?"

"Yeah," I said.

"That's so cool!" she replied, looked at Kate and said, "Right on."

My hope from that small interchange is that younger people aren't so uptight about what and how families should look like. There was no judgement in Katie's voice. Her reaction was genuine and non-sensational. Just, "cool." I felt similar reassurance when Dane asked our five-year-old son, Quinn, if his friend had a single mom and he replied, "dad-mom, mom-mom, dad-dad, single-mom, whatever." It really is no big deal for him.

And us being "older" as parents probably isn't a big deal to them, and really, Kate's age or my parents age isn't that weird to me - just interesting. One thing that's fun is that Dane is nine years older than me, so I get to tease him. Dane could have dated either Kate or me and have had the same age difference in the relationship- nine years in one direction or the other.

He loves when I point that out ; )


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Expecting Expectations

With triple the sets of parents, there are triple expectations. Or is there? Or is it the expectation of expectations? I'm fighting against these imagined expectations and trying to follow what feels right to do, rather than do what I am "supposed" to do.

Since the switch in jobs after being laid off, we've been struggling financially. So when I explain to my dad about quitting the extra project I took on, he asks me if Dane was looking for other work (after all, the expectation is for the man to provide). I had to explain that Dane is happy with his job where they give him flexibility to be a good parent. Besides, he is better in the parental role. I love my kids, but I don't so much like the parental expectations that come with the job. There's lots of chit-chatting. PTA, parties, volunteering at school and going to soccer practice. He likes all of that, and I would rather not. I will gladly offer to clean the house on a Saturday afternoon if Dane will take the kids to the bowling birthday party, and we both feel like we're getting the better end of the deal.

Dane doesn't have the inclination or ambition to do more in his career. I don't care. As long as he works, and he's happy, it's good with me. His work-life doesn't effect our home-life much. But I practically can't help myself from trying to do more.

It's been a struggle for me to slow down at work and do less. I quit the extra job, but I still seem to take on more. In the time since I quit the extra job, we launched our new website for the department, got an online application system going for the college and I designed tees and buttons for a robotics event. The first two things have been in the work for awhile, and they weren't solo projects by any means, but all of them are way beyond my job description.

I know it was because of my Nike upbringing. That's where I learned to work. You don't say, "no," at Nike, you say, "how?" I literally would coach my staff not to say no to projects, but to explain to the requester what could be done and what couldn't. Today, I had my boss telling me to say no to a project that was unreasonable (that he was asking if I could do). He had to tell me to say no about three times before I actually would do it, and even then it was, "well, I COULD do it, but it would be better not to this time,"

When I first started working this job in the university, I didn't think about how it was a government job. I stood out, asking why things were done a certain way and questioning why something couldn't be done. It's been almost two years now (holy crap), and I'm trying to instead see the advantage of the slow-go. Instead of being puzzled by not being able to rile people up to do more, work harder, strive farther, I'm trying to slow down and see the perspective from their pace. Instead of doing more because I can, or because I have an idea, I should ask why. Why should I do more? Is it something I want to do? Will it help me in what I want for my life? Or is it for someone else expectations?

As for Dane and me, it was the first time I fessed up to my parents. No, he's not going to look for another job, but I am, and I'm okay with that. It was one of the first times where I actually put it out to my parents in a way where I wasn't justifying it. It's okay if you're not okay with it, I'm okay with it. It's our natures, not what roles we were thrust into. There's a balance, even if we've somewhat switched expected roles (which, come on, really? In this day and age, I have to explain this to anyone? Really? But, still, it persists somehow. Stupid).

Meanwhile, I disappointed Kate on another front. I was supposed to pick up and deliver a gift for Dane's birthday. I didn't. Dane and I are not great about birthdays, celebrations, presents. We're pretty low-key (mind you, I had a big bash for my 30th in Vegas, but that was ten years ago and two-kids later, times have changed). I told Dane there was a gift at the store waiting for him and that he should go get it (because with planning for his party it wasn't my priority). But it wasn't his priority either. He was happy to pick it up whenever, he knew it wasn't going anywhere.

But then it did go somewhere - right to our house when I hadn't picked it up. Someone from the store delivered it and Kate sent a message asking me to confirm getting it since I hadn't picked it up as she hoped. It wasn't my priority, it wasn't Dane's priority, but it was her priority, and I didn't meet her expectations.

I don't want people to be disappointed in me, and I wish I didn't care, but I don't want to be a self-absorbed ass either. I'm trying to figure out the balance. I'm not doing what my boss wants. I am not doing what my parents want. But, I figure it's worth trying to figure out what I want.

After all, that was the point of this job. It was supposed to be my perch - a place to rest (from the exhaustion of the job hunt in a recession) and a vantage point where I could survey my surroundings, find what I wanted to pursue and then strike. Now, two years later, I'm at that place where I know what I want to go for, and I have to leave the perch, but it's going to take a little while to build up the courage to fly.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!