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.

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