Archive | November 2011

Freezing mama

Well, it’s official – I’m freezing.  Hubby has made it his mission to hermetically seal us in with plastic to keep the cold drafts out.  And he’s blocked off some of the vents downstairs in the basement to keep the heat upstairs.  He took the 2nd heater downstairs as it does nothing for me in the living room.  I’ve got a Snuggie around here somewhere.  The other day he borrowed a ladder and did the skylight in the bathroom – tough job, it’s angled and it’s about 12 ft high.  Now it’s not so chilly in there.  A small heater has been placed in the Precious’ bedroom so we can lower the house temperature at night and he’s still cozy as a bug.  Hubby managed to make that sound like a science project.  He has it perfectly timed to heat up his room just after his bath, then he turns it down to coast at a suitable temperature by the time he puts him down. But that means, we can’t turn up the heat (to suit me) because we don’t want to roast him in his room.  So I’m looking for the Snuggie I have around here somewhere to hold me until bedtime.

We’ve got a lovely duvet that keeps us cozy and well, the dog has fur so she’s good.  She cuddles up on the blanket covered couch at night. Ah, the downside to an old home.  Even the wall behind our bed (we have no frame) is cold to the touch.

Now I’ve noticed that when we did turn up the heat during the day, we all did some sneezing.  So either the dust filter is not placed correctly in the furnace or the house needs cleaning.  At first, we thought the kid was getting a cold, his nose ran a little bit and then stopped after a couple of days.  Huh. Since we put the dog on a raw food diet, there is 80% less hair tumbleweeds around, so perhaps it’s mold or something.  Or perhaps I’m getting a cold.  Argh!

Anyways, the point is I’m still cold.  The kid of course, does not seem to care one little bit.  He insists on going out in the freezing dark to go the local school playground (a block away).  Lots of puddles to jump in over there.  You know, I’m not a puddle fan, in fact, I hate being outside in the cold unless the sun is out and I’m walking quickly somewhere to get OUT of the cold.  But I have to admit, once I actually got my curmudgeonly soul outside, it was fun.  We look up at the stars if they’re out and we jump in the puddles and we sing nonsensical songs and he holds my hand on the way home.  A couple of houses already have their Christmas lights up.  He gets a blast of fresh air and exercise before supper and bedtime and I get quality son and mum time.  Hubby has to start or finish dinner.  No laptop, no cartoons,  no trying to get him to sit still while I clean/pick fuzzballs out of his hair/get him dressed.

Nice.

Tougher than it looks

I had meant to write a post about this a while ago but it just never happened.  When I found out that Steve Jobs was adopted, I was curious about the details.  Lollipop Goldstein from Stirrup Queens writes about it in her review of his biography and then Harriet from See Theo Run wrote  a thought-provoking post on Adoption Guilt.

I read about some of the details in the Washington Post  (if the link doesn’t work, you can Google it).  According to the article :

“If there was one trauma that persisted throughout much of his life, and which seems somehow connected to his extreme behavior, it was the effect of his adoption.”

” His adoptive parents, whom Jobs seemed to revere, explained that they had picked him out. But through much of his life, Jobs appeared to have been on an ill-defined spiritual quest — including a seven-month trip to India, extreme diets and primal-scream therapy. And the quest at times seemed to relate to his adoption, his friends told Isaacson.

“The primal scream and the mucusless diets, he was trying to cleanse himself and get deeper into his frustration about his birth,” a friend, Greg Calhoun, said.”

The media reports that the fact that Steve Jobs  was adopted as the source of his inner turmoil, and by inference, his birthparents and his adoptive parents are to blame.  There is a lot out there about the pain of adoptees and the pain of birthmothers, but not much about the pain of adoptive parents.

Yet there is this quote from the book:

“In the book, Isaacson writes,

Jobs dismissed this.  “There’s some notion that because I was abandoned, I worked very hard so I could do well and make my parents wish they had me back, or some such nonsense, but that’s ridiculous,” he insisted.  “Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned.  I’ve always felt special.  My parents made me feel special” (page 5).”

Before the Precious’ arrival in our lives, I was reading a lot of blogs (and a couple of books) about far-ranging consequences of adoption by post adoptive parents, birthmothers and academics.  Not enjoyable reading I must say and occasionally, it was quite discouraging.  Still, I figured if it didn’t work out, I’d have a quiet nervous breakdown in a tropical locale and then I’d get on with my life.  After all, no one would die, right?  Right?  Well, long story, short, we brought him home I finally exhaled.  And cried.  I had to force myself to stop.  Everyone thought they were tears of joy.

Not quite.  Well,  love, relief , insecurity, and a deep gnawing worry for this child I was entrusted with.  Would he be happy with us?  With me?  Did he miss his birthmother?  Did he know her smell and her voice and miss the absence of it?  Somehow, did he know, just know that I was not HER.  A friend of mine did reiki on him, and told me how to do it so that he would not feel untethered in this world.  That his spirit would cry out to ME and know that I would come when he cried.  I did not want him to feel… well, lost.  I told myself that all mothers worry for their children.

I cried a lot over the next few months.  I was amazed that he was in our lives.  Giddy, really.  For a while, I actually felt FULL.  And sometimes I was just plain sad to think that our joy had come at his birthmother’s loss.  I knew in my bones that had she had any support at all, I would have gone home without him.  I would not have been surprised or even angry.  This was not about whether who would love him more.  Ultimately, she loved him enough to let him go.  Had it not been to me, it would have been someone else.   Yet daimoku brought us all together.  That gave me a measure of peace. Then again, I also felt like I had done something wrong.  How else to explain the guilt and the pain?   I had been in contact with the birthmother, listened to her pour out her feelings, tried to allay all her fears, advocated for her, be there for her as much as I could and now I was gone and I honestly felt like I had TAKEN her child away from her. It took a while for me to get over that.  When you’re an adoptive parent, you’re not supposed to complain about anything.  You finally got what you wanted after all, right?  Shut up already.

Oh, sure it crosses my mind that  one day, this child might reject us.  Or suffer some horrible emotional damage that we would be blamed for. (Of course, biological parents also get that privilege but no one ever brings that up.)   Or we would be left trying to put the pieces of his heart back together if his heart got broken by his biological parents.

I kept having to explain things to people.  Lots of people.  One day I was just walking my dog in the park and the next I had a baby in a stroller.  People want to know.  I kept getting introduced as someone who had adopted and therefore a story was owed.  Or someone felt like they had to tell me that they had been adopted.  So far I haven’t met anyone who has been pissed off about it, luckily.  I’ve heard plenty of things like, “Oh, our people would never do that.”  or they were disappointed my kid wasn’t rescued from a desolate African nation.  I’ve even been thanked for adopting a black child especially.

I remembered years ago how my mother would warn me that if anything were to ever “happen” to me, that I should come home.  That she would raise the baby with me.  As a 16 year old, I thought she was such a dork for even saying something like that.  I mean, really, I  was hardly popular with the boys.  Yet, she had let me know that she would not turn her back on me.  When I was 19 and finally had a boyfriend, I  planned my deflowering and went dutifully to the doctor’s office for the birth control pill.  I was not going to be a statistic.  I could never disappoint my parents in that way.   Fast forward decades later, and that’s what I was counting on in order for me to have a baby.  After all, if you can’t have your own, you can “just adopt”.

I’m asked often why we don’t have another child.  I smile and say that the Precious is “my miracle child” or “my one and only”.  Yet even if I was 15 years younger, I don’t know that I’d have the heart to go through another adoption process again.  But not because it’s too expensive or that raising kids is hard.  It’s because the effects of infertility, failed IVFs and even this journey to the Precious cost me more than I ever dreamed.  The last thing I need is to go through another intensive home study/profile building/finger printing, multiple lawyer cheque cashing deal again.

I hope to instill in my child that he is loved and wanted and adored.  By all who loved him from the day he was born.  I can’t shield him from all the feelings that belong to him.  I can’t protect him from “what ifs”.  All I know is that I can let him know that we’ll always be his parents, he can always come home.  It’s up to him to decide where that is.

For the record, he’s worth it all. I will keep the promises made, I will be the bridge when he’s ready to cross it, and I will love him even if he turns from me.  Frankly if I survive toddlerhood, I can survive anything.  Perhaps my journey was more than “just” about having a child.

Home chilly home

Ah, winter is approaching and the familiar discontent is in the air.  When the in-laws were still here, we got into it about the housing situation in the neighbourhood.  As in, there’s no way in hell we can afford to buy a home here.  Neither DH and I come from money so we’re not about to be gifted with any sizable “loans” or endowments and as far as I know, no one is about to die and leave us anything.  In fact, if my mother were to pass away suddenly, my portion of her inheritance wouldn’t even cover a down payment for a crappity crap house around here.  Then they started in on the house we currently live in.  How it’s going to be so cold this winter, how all the heat is escaping the fireplace, how the walls in the bedroom are cold to the touch.  How I won’t let DH put a heater in the kid’s room or seal up every flipping window in the house. It doesn’t snow a lot in Vancouver, but when it does, it mainly affects the outlying areas, suburbs and of course, neighbourhoods at a higher elevation like ours.  DH just seemed to get more and more miserable about where we are.  And this, after all the defensiveness he displayed when we first moved in and how he railed that he didn’t want to hear any “negative” or complaining comments.

Yes, it’s true the heating is inefficient to be sure.  It’s either piping hot when the furnace comes on or cold when the preset temperature has been reached and the fan shuts off.  Downstairs, it is actually warmer, I suspect that since that was “renovated” (and I use that term loosely) more recently, the temperature stays constant.  DH has put up that plastic on just about every window  and skylight (cause they’re single paned of course) and the only ones I didn’t let him do was the ones that open up in our bedroom and the kid’s bedroom.  Cause god forbid, I like to crack open a window when either room starts to smell stuffy.  We do have a dog and a poopy diapers to contend with. I had someone come in to check the gas furnace and I put in a carbon monoxide detector for safety.  The heating guy said the furnace was working correctly but the main issue was that the house had single paned glass (which all the old houses have).  Of course, the owner has no intention or installing double paned windows.

The Precious refuses a blanket over him, so we put him in footed pajamas and he cuddles the knitted wool blanket his grandma made him.  One night we put him a in new fleece pj’s and he woke up with half of it off and a heat rash.  From the time he was an infant, we could never overwrap him.  So finding the right temperature, not too hot, not too cold has always been an issue.  (A tip for parents –  knitted wool breathes better than those luxurious plush blankets you see everywhere.)  We did buy a couple of heaters, after DH carefully researched them for child safety and what not. We’re testing them out to see if they work well.  We’d like to be able to lower the temperature at night so our heating bill doesn’t go through the roof.

I suspect that we won’t be staying here too long, of course, yet that really depends on how work goes for DH.  We knew already that this was far from our dream home.  I feel my toes curling at the thought of making another move to a house that is not ours.  Yesterday, I was trying to rake leaves  – the kid and the dog milling about – and this realtor comes up to me and hands me her card and asks if I want to sell my house.  Haha.  This happens a lot in this neighbourhood.  Realtors and strangers actually go door to door asking if you want to sell your house.  Particularly if you live in an old house on a corner lot.  No, I smile, we’re fine.  Good place to raise kids, eh?  Yes,  I smile, it is.  Just the one?  Yes, he’s my one and only.

Of course, I know there’s plenty of great places  around this city to raise kids.  Not just here in the “creme de la creme” neck of the woods.  If it were just the two of us, it wouldn’t matter so much, but when you have a kid, you suddenly have to start thinking about schools and neighbourhoods and quiet, tree lined streets.  I want to know my neighbours, put down roots, unpack once and for all.

I’m getting old, eh?

Hooped

Just when I think I’ve got this kid figured out, he changes. He seems to have stopped napping the day we got back.  Or at least at his regularly scheduled time.  If he naps in the car or on a walk, even if it’s only ten minutes, we’re “hooped”.  That’s a Canadian expression meaning “we’re screwed”.  It means I can give him warm milk and put him in his bed and he screams and sobs for 45 minutes straight or until I can’t take it anymore and let him out.  I’ve tried letting him cry it out.  I’ve tried explaining to him that he needs a little rest and he can play later.  I’ve tried a later nap time.  And though I can see he’s tired – he tends to be more easily frustrated or loses his balance more – he presses through til about 7:30 or 8pm.    This is the kid who just a few weeks ago, went gently into that good nap and still went to bed on time.

Oh, sleep, sweet sleep.  I had a nap this afternoon – a very rare occasion.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve taken an afternoon nap in the past two years.  Even after the kid started yanking my hair and throwing himself on my chest, I went back to sleep.  Don’t worry, hubby was there keeping him company on the couch on a very rainy afternoon.

On the day we left to come back home from our trip, I was feeling absolutely crummy.  I thought it was a hangover but I was really coming down with something.  A cold.  I seem to be over it.  I had the help of Neo Citran and Nyquil.  I love Nyquil when I’m sick.  Seriously.  It’s like an instant coma.  And I get a brief buzz before I slip off into Land of Nod.  What can be better than that?!  I remember when my mum had her stroke and I was visiting her in the hospital at least two or 3 times – a day.  I got insomnia and that went on for 2 years.  I could always fall asleep but I could never stay asleep.  This was why I never minded getting up at 2 or 3am with the kid when he was an infant.   I was up anyway.  These days, I do actually mind quite a bit because once he’s up, the day is busy and if I am to get through it with balance, it helps if I’m well rested.  Now I dream of getting a cold so I can use Nyquil.

Which brings me back to my first point.  The kid is resisting naps with a vengeance.  Now when I make his milk, he runs away from me to close his bedroom door cause he doesn’t want to go IN.  Usually if we’re up early and I keep him busy and active with lots of fresh air, it’s not a problem, but I can’t always spend the mornings simply just playing with him, particularly if it’s cold and miserable outside.  And if I don’t have the car, then we can’t get the community centre.  Oh, it’s within walking distance but if he even catches so much as a ten minute nap in the stroller, then it’s game over.  Of course, it seems as if he’s sleeping through the night better.  But that means I don’t get any time to myself.  Even half an hour would be nice to make phone calls, or do laundry or read. So I’m not sure if he’s truly done with his afternoon nap or just screwing with me.

It’s after midnight and the only reason I’m still up, is because I took a nap.  But the morning will come soon and I’ll be tired again.

I’m hooped.

Gift horse

On Tuesday,  we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a two day trip to La Jolla, CA.  Before the Precious, we were going to return to Bali, but of course, a 20+ hr plane ride is out of the question, not to mention, out of the budget.    I thought DH had something special in the works, but apparently, he didn’t, so I got involved.  There was a seat sale for LA, so we fly there, picked up a rental car at the airport and drove to a very lovely resort in La Jolla.  It had a spa and I was really looking forward to that.  We had a couples massage and then went for a light dinner.

The next day, DH treated me to a little shopping spree and then we went for a romantic dinner on an outdoor patio.  Cue sunset.  He gave me a really beautiful Hallmark card and I wept, I was so touched.  I had a little surprise of my own, but I waited til we got back to the hotel room.  I presented my dearest with a new wedding ring to replace the one he lost earlier this year.  Now, I have to tell you, I thought of the idea pretty late in the game, and then I found how just how expensive it was going to be and not every jewellery store carries 18 kt white gold.  I went to at least 6 jewellery stores and only B.irks had it in 18 kt white gold at a sky high price.   I found out just how much gold went up in the last couple of years.  Yikes! I decided that I would check one more place and then I would settle for a 14K one at a substantially lower price.   But you know me, I’m determined (stubborn) , if nothing else and at the last moment, I found a small jewellery store who could MAKE one in the pattern I liked in TWO DAYS for several hundred dollars less than B.irks.  So, all excited and giddy, and incredibly drunk, I presented it to DH who was….underwhelmed.  Yep.  Basically, he said I didn’t have to do it, he wasn’t into wearing jewellery anyway and the one he had been wearing (a silver spinner ring (broken) that I gave him in the first flush of love) meant more. But really I had bought it because I wanted him to have it, it was not something he would want as a gift.  But it was nice. Thanks.

Yes, he did.  And then faced with my disappointment at his lack of enthusiasm at such an extravagant gift, he proceeded to justify his response by saying he was just being honest.  HONEST.  Like there was something wrong with ME for being upset.  After all, it would be like him giving me a CAR.  A CAR?!!!  All I could think was that I had no idea who the man was who took me on this wonderful trip, bought me two entire outfits, high heels, a bracelet and a cute hat and treated me like GOLD … and  then just looked at a 10th anniversary 18 kt white brushed custom made gold ring like it was a tie from K-Mart.  Heaven forbid he should shut his mouth for the sake of my feelings.

Oh, yes, it occurred to me that this colossal P.O.S. just made me feel like an idiot for all the running around I did, spending money on something I really couldn’t afford  because I had this crazy idea that HE WAS WORTH this symbol of love and devotion and family unity.

Needless to say, I went to sleep quite angry and hurt, plotting ways I could take the ring back and sell it at a pawn shop.   The next morning, he apologized and blah, blah, blah.  Yes, it occurred to me that he was upset at the extravagance during this “working from home” period, that he OBVIOUSLY had not given me a reciprocal gift.  But really, it would be more accurate to simply believe what he said as he is not in the habit of sugar coating ANYTHING.

I tried to avoid the topic of “the ring” the next day.  I was still upset but I actually missed the Precious and was ready to get home. I also wasn’t feeling well (ie. hungover).   On  the plane, we hit turbulence, and as usual, I got nauseous and weepy.  Then I just told him how truly upset I was and  he actually LISTENED.  As in his lips weren’t flapping back.  He apologized sincerely from his heart  and said he just didn’t want me to spend any money on him, and this time I believed him.

For Christmas, he’s getting a vacuum cleaner.

 

 

And then I told him I was always going to ask him for exactly what he wanted