Monday, June 24, 2019

God Help Get Me Through The Teen Years!

Life is not easy, and it’s certainly not always pretty. Raising adults is hard and I feel incredibly lucky that my marriage is not difficult or challenging. What a blessing! I don’t want to throw Mason under the bus, though I want other moms out there to know that even when you have a kid who in some areas of life is exceptional, they are still normal in most of the other areas. And normal means they argue, they roll their eyes, they do the “heavy sigh” and say their nonverbal communication is nonexistent. They ignore us, they say they heard us and answer in ways we want to hear and then continue to not respond, and then when we finally lose our shit and yell at them, they look at us in complete and utter amazement and ask us, “Why are you yelling at me?” This story is as old as time itself, and I know it’s normal. But then those times come when they behave so badly in front of somebody who is offering them the gift of a lifetime, epic advice and knowledge that you just want to put your head down and cry. I am truly sick to my stomach with the way Mason behaved today, and I know I should grant him grace because he’s only 15, but there comes a time when our kids have to wake up and recognize when somebody is making time for them, giving them valuable information for free. I hope he got that tonight, I truly hope tonight was not in vain. I hope when Mason reads this many years from now, he will remember when Carol Gardner wanted to help him with college applications and how to submit the best information. Carol's former husband was in admissions for Harvard and she had some really good info about how to have his applications rise to the top to the stack and he acted like Carol was being a nuisance. I'm sure in years to come I will chalk this up to him being a teenager, but right now, I am so embarrassed.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Happy Father's Day!

I'm feeling like I am the richest woman in the world. I don't have a fat bank account but we have paid our bills. I feel like I go above and beyond for the people I love, I do work that exceeds expectations, and I finally have all of my immediate family in my life. My marriage is beyond my wildest dreams and I have amazing friends. 

Yesterday was Father’s Day and it was like no other I have ever known. The first thing that was different with it is that Dave was home! I don’t recall when the last Father’s Day that he wasn’t away with work. The next thing is that Mason planned ahead and on his own and got Dave two gifts…gifts that suited Dave and not Mason. My Father’s Days as a daughter, especially as a young girl were always a challenge because though my dad was in my life, he wasn’t all that much of a dad in terms of the warm-fuzzies parenting that I think other people grew up with. When it came time to buy a card it was hard! I didn’t want to lie so I wanted a card that said, “Happy Father’s Day.” Not, “You were the best dad…” or “You made me feel like I could do anything…” Do you know how hard it is to find a card that simply says, “Happy Father’s Day?” Well, I do. I love that Dave is a plugged in dad for Mason. They do not have a television sitcom father-son relationship, but they have a good relationship. On Saturday, Dave got a card in the mail from Michael J and Sari, Michael was thanking him for reaching out all those years ago and Sari wrote a beautiful note about wanting to get to know us better. Talk about all the feels!! Finally, the cherry on the cake of a day was that Michael J chose Father’s Day to reach out to his bio-dad Mike. Mike texted me to tell me he was freaking out, LOL! I called him and he was smiling so much I could hear it in his every word. Way to go Michael J, way to go!! He hit this one out of the park! I’m so proud of him.

I will continue to be me and recognize how much I have learned and grown in the last 28 years. It's interesting, 28 years is such a long time, but in reality, there are huge changes in me stemming from the last 6 weeks. I look back and I see that I have had two great loves in my life, and a child with each of them. I’m even luckier that I am married to Dave and we have been able to raise Mason. 
Life is funny, it's sometimes hard, it's absolutely not fair, but it is what we make of it and if I do not wake up tomorrow, I will still be smiling and feel like it was all worth it. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

My Visit With Michael J and My Girl Sari

I went to Southern California with the sole purpose of spending time with Michael and Sari. I had called to let them know that I want to know them, I want to know where they live, where they like to grocery shop, and what they like to eat, all in all, I want to really know them. I asked when would be a good time to come for a day or two. I assured them that I did not want them to feel pressure, that their house needs to be clean or that they need to do anything special because I’m coming. We worked out some dates, I booked my hotel and off I went. I wasn’t nervous but I was curious what I may be walking into. Let me clarify, I was trying not to create narratives before I got there, but I was sort of preparing myself for the possibility that we may have some less-than-pleasant conversations. I had resolved to go, to be present and to talk openly about whatever they wanted to talk about. I arrived Thursday evening and we met at their house for dinner. Michael had prepped for us to make and eat sushi, It was so much fun! I brought a bottle of my favorite wine and we spent the evening eating and talking non-stop. 

On Friday, Michael picked me up and we went on a food-crawl! LOL! Michael and Sari eat a plant based diet and he works at a vegan restaurant, we started there, at Real Food Daily. We started with jack fruit nachos, then we shared a real food salad with a almond and shallot dressing, and Michael wanted to share a lasagne, but I had to say no! I pointed out that I would not be able to match him dish for dish if lunch was any indication of what we were going to be continuing the day eating. We did get the lasagne to go and they shared it the next day for dinner. He is so easy to talk with, he is smart, funny, curious, and he is a great listener. We talked about how awesome it is to be getting to know each other, how easy it’s been. We talked about religion, some politics, brain function & development, the social climate we are living in with regard to race-relations, injustices, and what kinds of things we can do to improve the world we live in. I wanted to know more about his childhood, his siblings, and his world travels. 

After lunch we went to pick Sari up from work and we went back to their house for a couple of hours and talked some more. Yes, we talked A LOT!  We then headed back out to their favorite neighborhood where on Tuesday and Friday nights, they have vegan food trucks, local music, and just a fun time out. We stopped at a market/deli and had a vegan chicken sandwich, we split one 3 ways, then headed to the food truck festival (it wasn’t really a festival, but it had that kind of cool vibe) and one of their favorite bars. We ordered jack fruit tacos and a vegan mac & cheese. Let me just say, all the food was off the hook good! The jack fruit nachos were my favorite with the whole food salad running a close second. I can’t wait to go back again and again so I can try everything on the Real Food Daily menu. We landed at the bar and had some drinks and ate the food we carried in. 

These two humans are so easy to be with, they are open, articulate, and fun. After we ate dinner, they took me to the back of the bar to play a game called “ting.” It’s a simple concept, a large washer on the end of a string that one holds, lets go, and swings toward a 4x4 post with a hook on it. When played for points, you get a point if your washer hits the hook, making the “ting” sound and more points if you actually hook the washer. This is actually a skill based game and I’m proud to say, their instructions were good enough that I hooked my washer twice! We made our way back to the table and talked until I swear, we couldn’t talk anymore! Not really, but we covered all the important life topics; politics, life, family, sex, marriage, relationships, health, nutrition, religion, education, immigration issues, how they met, where they’ve traveled, money, child rearing, budgeting, cooking, you name it, I believe we touched on it. It was an epic day and as tired as I was at the end of the day, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted another day with these amazing people. 

As the time we spent together plays again and again in my mind, my favorite part of the visit were the hugs and the sincere eye contact. Physically being with Michael and holding him close to me just feels so good. I am feeling more and more confident that I will have the rest of our lives to continue to connect. I don’t mean that to sound like I have had doubts, but one can’t all the way know what is the right things to do or say. I’ve done what I know to do, I’ve called or texted when I’ve felt like calling or texting, I’ve asked questions, I’ve answered questions, and I’ve just been me, all the way. I can’t wait until we can see each other again, my heart is bursting with love.

Monday, June 3, 2019

School's Out For Summer!

Mason’s Freshman year of high school is over. While he is growing up so fast, too fast, I am learning things about myself. It’s always seemed to me that those who have financial resources tend to have an easier time in life. From security to meet monthly expenses, to family vacations, lovely things, and opportunities that those of us who have just enough to make ends meet typically can’t afford. As I’ve grown up I’ve been able to recognize that middle class families like the one I grew up in and currently share with Dave and Mason, are not any less a “happy family” than those who live with more money. In fact, I would say that my ideas about more money being better were completely off base. As a single woman I heard the adage on more than one occasion, it’s as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is to fall in love with a poor man, but is it? And is how much money someone has or makes really a factor at all? For many people the answer is absolutely! I believed this all my life up until I met the men who showed me otherwise, yes, men. Dave Partak and Michael J, my husband and my first born son. Dave showed me first when we married with each of us having virtually nothing, no money in the bank, no assets, no investments, no money. We married with me having a pile of credit card debt and Dave having a few unpaid debts. We married financially in-the-hole as some would say and worked our way out of it - together. We still have debt, so what? We'll continue to pay it off. The other man is my son, the man who lived with and was raised by the people I chose for him, the people with money. Yeah, he had a life with no worry in terms of a roof over his head and food on the table, but he didn't have the safe environment to talk about how he felt, what he wanted, his thoughts, his fears... he didn't feel like he could speak up. When one doesn't feel safe to speak their piece, they don't feel like they are important, they don't feel like their voice matters, they don't feel like they are loved. This may be a simplification of a bigger picture, but it is the situation in a nutshell. It is how he felt. My belief that money was the answer to an easier and better life was simply not true. It's clear to me today that the idea that those with money provide a better life is simply not true.

Almost 29 years ago when I gave Michael up for adoption, first and foremost I wanted to chose a loving family, but I also wanted a family who was financially secure. It seemed to me that any couple who was going to the lengths that are needed to adopt a child, the love would be there, how could it not be? But I also wanted them to be financially set. Life is complicated and humans are complex so there is no simple answer to how this kind of story plays out. As I navigate life, I’ve learned that we all have a journey to travel and there are lessons we need to learn. For what, I don’t know. Do we have another life to live and these are the things we need to learn so going into the next one, we’ve advanced somehow? Could it be that we need them to find our highest purpose and the real reason we are here so we can take action and make a difference somehow? I don’t have these answers, but Michael did not have the upbringing that I had hoped for him, that I believed I set him up to have. That disappoints me to my very core. I want to tell him I am sorry I gave him up for adoption, but I can’t, I’m not sorry. Ultimately, I am who I am today because I made that decision. There were a number of times I found myself wanting to backslide and go back to my party life and the friends who supported me in many poor decisions. Each time I thought about it, I looked at myself in a mirror and said out loud, “No! I am not going back. I will not have given my baby up for nothing.” The bottom line is that I am the person I am today because I gave him up, had I kept him, who knows who I would be and what kind of life we would have had. The proverbial what if?  

I can’t tell him I am sorry but I can be my best self, today and every day from this day forward for him. Here is a beautiful irony, as challenging as I’m learning his childhood and upbringing may have been, he has not let that consume him and fill him with resentment and negativity. He is much like me in that he recognizes what it was but has made the choice to live a better life, and be a better human. Who does that sound like? Our reunion has been weird and wonderful. It’s odd to feel so connected and love toward a stranger, but it’s wonderful that he feels the same way. I’m going to spend a few days with him this week and I’m so excited. I’ll share more in my next post. I am going with an open heart and mind, I will be present and available for whatever he wants to know or talk about. If it gets hard, it’s okay, I will stay the course and be there for him…I will be there for him from this day forward. I can’t wait to embrace him and welcome him into our middle class family, the place where we do not always have enough money, but we always have more than enough love, hugs, kisses, and laughter, and space to say whatever we feel, good or bad. It's my goal now to show this amazing man what a life filled with, "I'm proud of you's," "You are amazing!" "What do you think of this?" feels like. Yes, we have the rest of my life to share amazing things.