Thursday, November 28, 2013

On Turning Five: Learning, Living, and Loving Through Memories


I awoke this morning to the muffled sounds made by my two early-risers down in our kitchen.  My husband quietly sang "Happy Birthday" to our oldest son.  Today is my son's fifth birthday.  A string of memories played out in my mind.

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I remember my own fifth birthday like I remember no other birthday.  I awoke the morning of my fifth birthday in our green apartment where we lived until I was ten years old.  I threw off my bed spread and slid down the side of the mattress and box spring until my feet hit the cool, wheat colored hardwood floor.  I excitedly bypassed the enormous refrigerator box at the end of my bed that housed what could only be described as a "ball pit" of stuffed animals.  Normally, I would wake each morning and spring from my bed into my heap of stuffed animals.  That day I did not; I was simply too excited to delay.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Being Adopted and Mothering a Preschooler: The Family Trees Have Started Already

"I thought I would have at least two more years before I would have to do this" I huffed in my husband's direction.  He looked puzzled.  I was performing my nightly comb-through of our oldest son's preschool bag, a canvas tote that I had carefully hand-painted with red and black swirls.  I had pulled out his penmanship practice papers, a mixed media collage shaped like an apple, and then I saw it.  A tree.  A large, finger-painted, green and brown tree on an oblong sheet of paper.  The instructions clipped to the top of the tree paper explained that parents were to paste on to the image pictures of family members to create a "family tree."  I held the tree up for my husband to see and he nodded.  He has witnessed my several-years-long effort to educate others on the acceptance of a person's family as they identify it, including my own right to include my original and adoptive families together in my own tree.

Why did I have such a reluctant reaction to my son's project?  The image of one singular tree with no roots suggested in my mind the image of a traditional family tree that involves children who have two parents, who each have two parents, who each also have two parents.  Although social, psychological, biological, and nurturing connections may be represented in one singular family in one singular tree for many people, they are not for me.  Which means: they are not for my children either.