Does This Part Get Easier?


Someone stop me. Now.

I am doing it again.

I am buying way too many gifts for Poppy, just like I have done every year at Christmas time since she was born.  Last Christmas was the first time I was truly cognizant of it, but really did not quite grasp why I was doing it. I just know I *totally* blew the budget.

This year I have figured out why I do this and it is alum to my soul.

It is over-compensation, plain and simple, driven by the subconscious need  to make up for all the Christmases I did not have with Ms. Feverfew.

I wish someone had told me 22 years ago that not only would I lose my oldest daughter to adoption, but I would lose the ability to fully enjoy another holiday season to adoption, too, that it would steal precious moments with my other children from me like a thief. I wish someone had told me that the losses would compound and grow as the years unfolded. I wish Bishop Felix or someone who knew would have told me this gets harder, not easier, as the years go by. My ability to withstand the grief has grown, too, but some days. . . some days like today when I was standing in the girl’s clothing section at Kohls with Poppy at my side ooohing and aaahing over the sparkly Hello Kitty purses, it hits me and my heart tightens and it’s hard to breathe.

I will never get the chance to stand next to a 4-year old Ms. Feverfew in Kohls as she delights in the purse selection and talks me in to buying one for her.

It is never more obvious Ms. Feverfew is missing from our family than when we are together on Christmas morning as Matthew, Luke, and Poppy dig into their stockings. Always, always, always, there is the unspoken Truth that lingers in the air between my boys and me. Their oldest sister is not there. I can see it in the flicker of their eyes when we are talking about extended family members who are enjoying Christmas morning, too. It’s a look between them, a feint of the eyes towards me, and slight shake of the head that Matthew gives to Luke, almost as if to tell him, “Not now, little brother. This isn’t the time to ask Mom about Ms. Feverfew.”

Actually, that is not the entire truth of the matter.

It is obvious she is missing every time we sit down to eat dinner together. We have a table that seats six. There is always an empty seat. Our vehicle seats six. There is always an empty seat.

It is that empty seat driving my behavior towards Poppy when it comes to gift buying.
My question is now that I am conscious of how I am overcompensating, what do I do to stop myself? I’m trying to be more mindful of my actions and working very hard to be present in the here and now, not the what-could-have-been ghost of years gone by, but it is a tenuous walk right now. Someone please tell me this gets easier as time goes on, that it gets easier to raise my sweet Poppy, that eventually the ghost of her lost-to-adoption-sister will stop shadowing the joy I have with this amazing creature who came into my life four years ago.

Does this part of adoption get easier?

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5 thoughts on “Does This Part Get Easier?

  1. For the longest time I was making meals that would feed 3…. that is until a few months ago I came to the realization that my son was the one that 3rd helping was for. Now I’ve almost got it down to 2 servings -only, most of the time. It was just the thought of who that 3rd helping was for that somehow reduced the amount of food I was making.

    It is very hard to ”be present in the here and now” … when a huge part of your heart is somewhere else. I think that it is the created mothering nurture that keeps our mother minds focused on our children whether present, or absent. When they’re absent through what we mothers experienced as a violent act/grievous loss… I think that triggers off an even more ‘protective’ and a ‘needing to care for/provide for’ mother nurture sequence in us. It’s a large part of what makes Mother – Mother. It’s not surprising that ‘overcompensation’ occurs. Even with no other children it is present. It is that empty place at the table, in the car, in our homes.
    I just had the thought, wondering if it wouldn’t be easier, if not healthier all the way around to completely acknowledge our missing in adoption sons and daughters as much as possible (journaling helped but didn’t)… What I mean is, actually buying the clothes, toys, or whatever, setting a place at the table…. I don’t think it would have left me feeling any ‘crazier’ than I did or do. A lot of folks might have thought I was absolutely nuts… but ya’ know what?, I don’t care. Maybe if mothers and fathers did do those things.. the world would get the message that this hurts! This is damaging! AND we don’t ever ‘forget’ or move on from our children. Maybe that is so very much of the grief. The no ‘permission’ to parent our child or even to say we have a child, a son, a daughter. The -no right to acknowledge- their existence as OUR son or daughter. ? I don’t know. Perhaps.
    It’s a sad sort of -funny- that I never bought anything for my son until just a few months ago in July. I bought a card and simply wrote ‘thinking of you’ love mom. I did it because I felt like it and I felt better for doing it. It acknowledged him and it acknowledged my motherhood. Go figure.

    It’s something that just 1 week and 3 days ago my son found his father and through those his father knew – me. 32 years, 11 months and 9 hours of searching and wondering and mourning every tragedy and war in the world thinking my son may be there (not knowing), and being horrified at every awful adoption story (Sandusky) or every parents loss of son near his age i.e. where’s my son! (on top of the grief of loss) ended. I know where and who he is. For that I’m thankful.
    You’re right Melynda, the ”ability to withstand the grief” does grow. I believe it does ‘get easier’… I just don’t know when. The ‘present in the here and now’ must include our missing children. Because they are ever present with us. It’s when we try to/are forced to follow the agency or others ”rules” and live our lives without parenting our missing children (in whatever fashion that parenting takes) that I think we really get ‘stuck’.

    (((((((hugs))))))) Cindy

    • Cindy – Thank you for your thoughtful response to this complex issue. I agree with your insight that when we try to follow the “rules” society has set for mothers of adoption loss and try to live our lives without mothering our missing children, we can get “stuck.” Getting “unstuck” is often so difficult because it takes a conscious awareness and deliberate effort to go against what has been engrained in our society for so long.

      Thank you again for your insight – it is comforting to know I am not the only mother who faces these challenges.

      • Melynda, what there was of insight or anything helpful came from the One greater than we. I know I feel thankful to you and to Him, for you helped me several years ago through a very dark place.

        I hope for you much comfort and healing, an ever growing joyful fullness with your children, and a joy-filled, comforting to your heart and soul reunion with ms feverfew in the day and time that it comes. I hope that day is soon.

        Cindy

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