Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll

Jaren is a junior in high school now and is starting to become more independent, which makes me somewhat nervous.  This is such a crucial time in his life and soon he will be entering adulthood.  He will be face to face with choices that I will not always be able to assist him with and I trust that I have given him the tools to make those decisions.

I remember once, after bringing Jaren to my job for “Kids Day at Work”, one of my co-workers said to me, “You know what I like about Jaren?  He is a kid.  He acts like a kid.  And I mean that as a compliment.”  My co-worker, who did not have children, went on to explain to me that she felt parents tried to make grown-ups out of kids instead of allowing them to be kids and act like kids.  She was right.  Jaren was a kid, an innocent kid in every sense of the word.  He was a challenging kid at times but nonetheless, still a kid and I liked it that way.  I wanted Jaren to be a kid and enjoy his childhood.  After all, our childhood is so short as compared to our adulthood.  Jaren would have a lifetime of opportunities to be an adult and act like an adult but he would only have one opportunity to act like a kid and feel like a kid.

When I think about all the things that I was allowed to do and experience at such a young age and how different Jaren’s childhood experience has been compared to my childhood experience, it makes me wonder sometimes what my parents were thinking.

At the end of my third grade, we moved from a small rental home in a quaint neighborhood to a newly built home out in the country.   Our closest neighbor was a mile away and the closest convenience store was four miles away.  One would think this would have sheltered us kids from the corrupt neighborhoods.  Surprisingly, I would learn and experience more than most kids my age.

On the weekends, my mother would be busy with our new little brother from her second marriage, my step father would be out drinking with his buddies, and my siblings and I would enjoy normal kid friendly activities, roaming around on our property riding our quarter horse, our mini-bike, and our bicycles.

Shortly thereafter, our new cousins by marriage and some friends formed a rock band.  They drove out almost every weekend to practice in the barn where we lived.  I was nine, my sister was eleven and the oldest cousin was seventeen.   Let me repeat that last sentence.  I was nine years old… and I was the youngest of the whole group, who’s ages ranged all the way up to eighteen years.  At first, everything was innocent but I would soon become witness as to why the 70’s is remembered as “Sex, Drugs and RocknRoll”.

First, I started smoking cigarettes.  My sister started smoking and drinking before me.  She tried to keep me from following in her footsteps but eventually I would make threats to tell our parents, and then bribes would be offered to me.  Once we both were guilty of the crime, neither one of us could rat on each other.   Mind you, all of this is going on just a few hundred feet from our parents’ home.

My mother would tell my sister to keep an eye on me.  My sister really did  try to look out for me.  But she was only two years older than me.  That was a heavy load for her, a young girl herself, to carry.

Soon, my sister and I began hanging out more with this older crowd, riding around in cars and going to Rock concerts with our cousins and the other band members.  I think I went to my first rock concert when I was around twelve years old.  It was a Black Sabbath concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA.  I can’t remember if I had smoked pot before this time or not but I remember smoking it that night.  It looked like every person in that arena was smoking marijuana.  When you walked into the arena, it was one big puff cloud.  Even if you didn’t actually drag on a joint, you could get high on the second hand fumes.

Everyone that we hung out with was drinking, smoking or doing drugs except for one cousin who was the oldest cousin.  He didn’t smoke cigarettes or do any drugs.  He just drank.  But the legal age was eighteen back then so he was legally able to drink.  The rest of us were not legally of age to drink.  I wasn’t much of a drinker.  Still to this day, I don’t drink alcohol much.  But I smoked a lot of weed.  Funny, because I never had any money to buy weed, everyone else was always offering me theirs.

Our parents rarely ever showed up at the barn.  My parents were the only ones who lived on the property until our grandparents moved out there a few years later.  But since there was loud rock music playing, they stayed as far away as possible so they wouldn’t damage their ears from the loud music they hated.  I, being the youngest, was instructed to listen to the older siblings and cousins.  And apparently, they trusted the older cousins to watch over the younger ones.

Later, the oldest cousin built a small apartment in the barn.  Lots of things changed then.  I had experienced the RocknRoll, I had experienced the drugs and now I was about to learn about sex.  I witnessed the oldest cousin go into the his bedroom with a much younger cousin, while the rest of us were out in the living room.  Sometimes my cousin would tell the other band members to start practicing and he would be out in a minute.  We all knew what was going on.  The band members even chuckled about it.  I never liked it much.  Even in my innocence, I knew something was going on.  When they came out, they acted as if nothing had happened.  They were not “a couple”.  They didn’t act like a loving couple.  They were secretly having sex.  This continued for a few years.

Seeing this must have created some mixed feelings inside me.  I was a kid in elementary school.  Is this the right message for a young girl?  Is this how a couple acts?  Is this what love is?  It also made family gatherings very awkward.  I had to maintain the secret or else.

The ironic part is there were times when my sister tried to leave the house without me.  My mother would tell her she couldn’t go unless she took me.  I don’t know why my mother was adamant.  My sister got angry and would grit her teeth and tell me to come on.  Once we left, she would tell me she didn’t want me there.  She’d warn me, more like bullied and threatened me that I better not tell our parents anything.   I was trapped in a world of chaos and there was no way out.

I saw many things over the next few years.

Then, one day, the summer before I entered high school, my sexual knowledge would change in a big way.  One of the band members who was four years older than me and my cousin by marriage, made a proposition.  He knew I was a virgin.  Not only was I a virgin, I had not hit puberty yet.  I was flat chested, looked several years younger than my actual age, and had not had my first period, which did not arrive until three years later.  I was a girl in every sense of the word.

He asked me if I wanted to learn how to “give head”.  I nodded and told him yes in an unsure way.  I didn’t fully understand the proposition.  I had never had oral sex.  I looked up to my cousins, like most younger cousins and siblings do.

He said he was willing to teach me.  We were standing in my parents’ front yard.  I guess they were out to the bar or the horse races that day.  He pulled his pants down and told me to get on my knees.  I did.  In broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon, with my knees pressed against the dirt, him standing tall, looking down on me, he began to instruct me how to give a proper blow job.  As time got closer to the climax, I heard him begin to moan and he began to grab the back of my head and thrust it, gagging me at times.  He wanted to ejaculate in my mouth and I had no choice.  He did.

At the end, he chuckled and arrogantly said, “How was that?  Now you know how to give a blow job.”  And that was that.  No love, no compassion.  He could have cared less about me.  My first sexual encounter was cold, unloving, and an uncaring experience.  And of course, I was told to not tell anyone and that it was our “secret”.

Afterwards, I felt something was very wrong about this experience.  I felt used and degraded.  With my troubled relationships with both my bio-father and step-father, this left a bad taste in my mouth for men in general.

When I got to high school, I began to experiment with all sorts of drugs; pot, uppers, downers, crank, cocaine, and acid.  It was probably my way to escape reality and deal with what happened.  I was rarely home on the weekends.  I stayed with friends and we partied the whole weekend long.  My parents didn’t know what I was doing over the weekend except that I was staying with a friend.  My parents rarely questioned me.

Looking back, I couldn’t imagine putting my son in these situations.  My sister and I were expected to make appropriate choices at such a young age with no adult supervision, being strongly influenced by older cousins and siblings who were supposed to look after us and protect us not sexually take advantage of us.

Why would a parent allow vulnerable pre-teens to hang out with older teens and legal adults who were four, five and six years older than them is beyond me.

Life has taught me some hard lessons over the years.  I was put in situations beyond my control.  I was forced to make choices with an innocent, uneducated mind in the prime of my childhood.  These choices changed me in enormous ways and would set me on the path for adulthood.

Quinton School, 4th grade

4th grade, 9 years old

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You’re doing sex ed wrong: How teaching kids about sex is like teaching toddlers to walk

You’re doing sex ed wrong: How teaching kids about sex is like teaching toddlers to walk

Great article. I wrote a blog piece last year where I shared very similar ideas. Nice to know I’m in good company.

It All Comes Down to Race

I’m one of those people who sense things.  Call it what you want; intuition, psyche, or inner guidance but earlier this week, I told my son that something felt off.  I said something was about to happen.  I felt the shift before it occurred.  Jaren asked me, “Is it something good or something bad?”  I told him it wasn’t something good.  Something just felt very wrong even though I had no prior information.

We got rid of our cable a couple years ago and opted for Hulu Plus instead.  The one plus side of Hulu is we don’t get bombarded with commercials.  Another aspect of Hulu is we don’t have local news.  Sometimes this is bad and sometimes it seems like a really good thing, especially right now when tension is high in the U.S.  And no matter how you view the Michael Brown story or what side or angle you take, it seems to me when all is said and done, it all comes down to race and the color of a man’s skin and less about an unarmed teenage boy getting shot, or a mother and a father mourning the loss of their son.  All of the sudden there are no exceptions, no “some”, no “few”.  Everyone gets lumped into one category, the white man, the black man, or however people get clustered together for a social or political statement or protest.  And I hate it!

I am not just a white woman.  I am so much more.

Today, after I dropped Jaren off at the local mall with his female friend so they could go shopping for school clothes, it dawned on me that I forgot to tell Jaren to be careful as a mother normally does to a sixteen year old going to a public place without his parent.  Then suddenly I remembered my statement I made to him earlier in the week.  I had forgotten all about it until that moment.  I called Jaren.  I felt this urge to tell him to be extra careful.  Not just as a sixteen year old but as a young man who resembles a black young man more than a white young man.  I told my son to be extra careful today because with everything going on, tempers are high and people are on edge.  I wanted him to be cognizant of his surroundings.

Never have I ever felt the need to impart this type of cautious concern on my son.  But as his mother, I need to recognize the truth about our society and that some people who do not know my son will judge him before they get to know him.

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Twenty-Four Hours in the Life of a Single Mother

I injured myself yesterday really bad.  We had some objects and boxes on the floor near the entry way of our apartment that my son and I had gathered the previous night to add some additional garage sale items for the next day.  Jaren’s godfather, Robert had allowed us to bring our stuff to sale in his garage sale.  Jaren had done an excellent job at cleaning out his room which is a really big deal because he likes to hold onto his things.  And I told my son that he could keep the money from my stuff that sold too.  I said, “This is your summer money so make it last.”

I got up in the morning, still sleepy with very little light in the apartment.  I had folded some blankets and walked to the coat closet to put them away.  Just before getting to the closet, I tripped over some of the garage sale items.  I went down hard along with our kitchen counter stool.  I knew I hurt something bad.  I knocked the wind out of myself and the first thing I thought was to tell my son that I was okay.  Because it was such a huge strain to be able to talk at first, it sounded as if I was crying but I wasn’t.  I almost cried though.  The pain was that bad.  I sat there on the floor for a few minutes, unable to get up at first.

When I was able to stand up, I knew I did some damage.  For one, my pinky toe that I previously broke a few years back had that same kind of pain so I was pretty sure I broke it again.  But that’s not what really concerned me.  It was my ribs on my left side that were throbbing.  I had a lot of pain.  Any movement was very difficult and painful.  At the same time, in the back of my mind, I knew my son was counting on me to help him with the garage sale.

Jaren and his godfather started selling on Friday while I was at work.  Sometime around lunch, Robert had gotten really sick.  He wasn’t sure if it was the flu, food poisoning or what.  Jaren took over selling for the rest of the day on Friday.  I picked up Jaren Friday night and helped him pack up and place all the sale items back in the garage for the next day.

With Jaren’s godfather out of commission, I knew Jaren needed my help on Saturday.  So I tried as best I could to put on my big girl face and push through the pain.   I told my son that I would help him get set up for the garage sale but that I also may need to leave at some point to go to the emergency room for x-rays.  Jaren understood.

We loaded the car and I drove us over to Robert’s house.  Robert was still very sick and bed ridden.  Luckily, Jaren’s godfather has two roommates and they were able to help Jaren carry the larger stuff (TV, etc) onto the front lawn.  I helped with the smaller boxes.  We got tables set up and organized.  I waited to see if the pain would subside or go away but it didn’t.  I was hoping it would.  We were trying to make money, not spend money.  But every time I reached down, sat down, or got up the pain would shoot into my side.  Not to mention walking around with my broken toe.

Here I had been without insurance for over a year.  During that time, I tried very hard to stay healthy and with God’s help, I was.  No illnesses, no flu, no injuries.  My insurance kicked in May 10th 2014 and a month later, bam!

I shouldn’t complain.  Thank goodness this occurred after I had insurance.

About four hours into the garage sale with my pain no less painful, I opted to go to CareNow Urgent Care.  They’re like doctors’ offices and ER’s combined.  They are open on the weekends, they have X-ray equipment, and the co-pay is much cheaper than the ER; mines was $35.00.  And the best part is you can do Web Check-ins which means you check-in online.  After you check-in, they call you to confirm your appointment and your illness/injury.  Then they ask you about how far away you are from the office.  This is so they will know when to call you to come in so that you don’t have to wait as long in the waiting room.

After reviewing the X-rays, CareNow confirmed that I had a broken toe.  They also said that I had a rib contusion.  The doctor said that a contusion is equally as painful as a fractured rib and the treatment is the same.  She gave me a wrap for my ribs and prescribed two pain meds.  The doctor said she had prescribed Ibuprofen, 800 mg and then said she also prescribed a narcotic.  I was like, “narcotic.”  I knew it was something serious for them to prescribe that kind of pain medicine.  I guess they knew something that I didn’t know at that point.  As with most injuries, breaks or bruises, if I hurt this bad on the first day, the next day would surely double my pain.  Since I was driving, I was unable to take the narcotic pain medicine so I took one Ibuprofen which did reduce some pain.  Especially, considering I had spent five to six hours moving around, lifting boxes, setting up for a garage sale, walking around, waiting on customers, any pain relief was better than no pain relief.

So I get back to the garage sale and share my diagnosis with Jaren, Robert and his roommates.  I sat down outside with Jaren as he finished up with the garage sale.  Then, just before cleaning up, we sat on the front porch for a moment, gazing at a most beautiful tree across the street. We’ve admired this tree in the past.  Jaren mentioned how healing it was to watch the tree so much so that it inspired him to write a meditation for a lesson he was doing for his Sunday school class the next day.  We both agreed that the tree seemed to be nurturing and comforting, almost mother-like.

Then it was time to close down the garage sale and we both were less than enthusiastic about packing up the remaining items and moving them into the garage.  Jaren was both hot and tired.  I was hot, tired, injured and in still in pain.  As we were packing up, I was making requests or suggestions which Jaren was not happy about.  Okay, maybe I was barking orders a little.  We both bickered at each other and I felt unappreciated.  Despite my injury, I was helping him as best I could.  Whether it was the meds, the long day, the pain, I’m not sure but I began to have an emotional  breakdown.  I reminded Jaren of my injury and that per doctors’ orders, I wasn’t supposed to be lifting anything.  Technically, I should have been sitting or laying down, healing.  I also reminded him that I was not benefitting financially from this garage sale in no way.  I was providing merchandise and free labor service.

It was not a shining moment for either of us.   In the midst of our argument, Jaren’s god father could hear us and came out to intervene.  Calmly, he mediated our conversation and diffused our anger and frustration.  Then he thanked us dearly for all we both had done.

Later that evening, Jaren humbly apologized to me.

Today, I dropped off my son to spend Father’s Day with his father.  Tomorrow is another day…

 

Dear Unexpected Pregnant Woman

First, let me say how sorry I am that you are going through this experience.  I truly do understand.  Having an unplanned/unexpected pregnancy can sometimes be distressing with uncertainty; and possibly even more so in your tender teenage years.

I have made three different choices.  I have chosen to abort, I have chosen to single parent, and I have chosen to relinquish my parental rights.  Speaking from my own personal experience, all of these choices come with some sort of consequence.  As for your choices, I don’t want to persuade you one way or the other but I will share some of what I have learned and give you some things to consider.

If you are considering having an abortion, I do support a woman’s choice to abort for whatever her reasons are.  Women react differently to abortions, while going through the procedure and in the days and months following the procedure so I am not sure I could give you much more information that is not already available online.  But you should do what you feel you need to do to move forward in your life.

As for the choice to parent or relinquish, there are many factors to consider.  Here is a list of questions that you may want to answer to help with your choice and plan for the future:

  • Is the father of your child supporting you?
  • Is your family supporting you?
  • Does the father want to help raise this child with you as a couple or as two single parents/co-parents?
  • Is his family being supportive?

Having some sort of support system will benefit you (and your baby) greatly especially if you are still in school.

As for the adoption choice, if you feel you are unable to parent your child and are not being pressured or coerced by loved ones to make this choice, then review the various adoption plans closely and do what you feel in your heart is best.  I do believe that some adoption choices are necessary.  However, know that a richer/wealthier life for the child does not mean a better life for the child.  This is what I hear from adult adoptees all the time.  Love and security are the most important things a child needs.  I chose an open adoption.  For me, that has helped in many ways.  Know that the emotional pain from relinquishing your parental rights can be overwhelming at times.  It’s not impossible to heal but healing after your child leaves your womb and your arms can take a long time, sometimes a lifetime.

If you decide to parent your child, please honor that choice.  Make your child your priority.  A child should never feel like you gave up your life because you got pregnant.  What I am trying to say is, don’t place shame or guilt on your child for showing up unexpectedly or that you had to give up your dreams so you could parent him/her.  Nor should a child need to be unnaturally grateful that you decided to keep him and parent him.  As I said previously, having a good support system is beneficial but many of us have done the single parenting thing alone without our partner or family.  Nothing is impossible if you believe in what you are doing.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask for public/government assistance.

I truly hope that your loved ones are supporting you during this time.  But more importantly, I hope you understand that this is your decision about your body, your baby, and your life.  Do not allow anyone to tell you what is best for you.

I know you have a lot to consider.  And I trust that you will make the best choice for you.  Sending you much needed blessings and prayers, asking God to guide you in this choice, and wishing you all the best as you move forward in your life.

Supporting Women

When I say I support women and their reproductive choices, I mean it, wholeheartedly,

Recently, I received a personal message from a woman, who was in the midst of a dilemma, in a group I follow in BabyCenter.com.  She had seen one my comments that I shared on a post where I touched briefly and lightly on all three of my choices.  She asked me to elaborate.

At first I was hesitant.  I waited a couple days before replying.  I needed to gather my thoughts.  Since I have made three different choices due to unplanned pregnancies with three varying outcomes that led to a multitude of emotional residue, I didn’t feel it would be fair to build up one choice as a better alternative than another.  I also didn’t want to convince or persuade her in one way or another of what she should or shouldn’t do.  That’s not my place.  It would be no more fair of me to glorify open-adoption then it would be to glorify single parenting.

I strongly believe that I have no right to evoke a thought that may persuade any woman to make one choice over the other.  However she decides to move forward in her pregnancy, she is the one who will live with her choice for remainder of her life.

I know what it’s like to have others pressure you into making a choice that is their preferred outcome.  It makes one feel insecure and inadequate.  When someone forces or coerces another person or tries to paint a picture that is not based on facts but on their own limited perception, it’s all about control.  It’s one person trying to take another’s power away.  For some, they want to create their version of the perfect outcome of someone else’s life, as if they are God.  While others are conveying  from a personal point of view, as if this had happened to them, this is what they would choose or maybe have chosen.  But the truth is, it’s not happening to them.  It’s happening to the woman who is pregnant and is faced with a choice about her future.

Who am I to tell another woman what is best for her.  I have no right to tell another human being that she should end the life that is in her womb.  Neither do I have a right to influence her to surrender her newborn infant.  And I surely don’t want to guilt someone into parenting.  My intent is to provide as much information as possible for a well-rounded image.  Not all rosy, not all dark.  Not all positive, not all negative.  But always the truth.

I will say that I do understand and sympathize with the women who have become anti-abortion or anti-adoption because of their own personal experience and emotional trauma more so than coming from a man or woman who has never experienced a similar circumstances or choice in their life.  Woman who have lived through these experiences and life alterations are biased because of their involvement.  As sisters, we may not want another woman or mother to have to endure the gut wrenching pain that becomes a part of the aftermath of such turmoil.  We feel it’s our duty to protect other woman from this heartache and emotional mind game.

I guess that’s why I wrote One Woman’s Choice.  And I’ve had people upset with me because I discuss abortion and they do not approve of abortions.  Others who didn’t know me or my story before reading One Woman’s Choice said they were sad when they came to the page that told of my signing relinquishment papers because they were hoping that I had decided not to go through with the adoption.  While others felt I glorified adoption as a wise, religious choice.

The three most important things that I want people to understand after reading One Woman’s Choice are these:

  • Men are equally as responsible for unplanned pregnancies as women.
  • No one has the right to suggest, force or coerce a woman to make a choice (aborting, parenting or relinquishing)
  • God is a loving God.  And despite what some think, even after abortion, God is a loving God.

Truth is, there are no easy answers, no common outcome.  The issues are too complex and every circumstance is unique.  And if we choose abortion or adoption,  the road to recovery is experienced in many different ways.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve or heal.  My experience may be very different than someone else’s.  It doesn’t mean that either one of us is right or wrong, or weaker or stronger; we’re just different in our human experience.

In the end, I respect woman enough to know that with honest feedback, knowledge (pro’s and con’s), and compassion, we are very capable of making a well informed decision.  And when all is said and done, I will be here to support my sisters as best as I can, no matter what choice they decide to make.

The Birth/Biological Family

My oldest son, Jaren was talking to his younger brother, Noah over the holidays. I heard Jaren say something about “my mom” and then in the next sentence he tells Noah that he went over to “our dad’s” for Christmas. I was thinking, “Really?” After he hung up, I said, “So your dad is our dad but I am your mom? Even though, I have done more for both of you than your dad.”

Explain that one to me?

Jaren was very apologetic. I told him I knew he didn’t mean it the way he said it but I wanted him to understand how it sounds and subliminally what it says. He said he doesn’t know what to say sometimes (when he talks about me and his dad to Noah). I told him I understand.

I reminded Jaren about the time our extended family met Noah and his family for the first time on the east coast. I said to Jaren, “Heck, when we were all down the shore with grandmom, she referred to me as “your aunt” when she was talking to Noah.”  I saw this funny look on Noah’s face. I didn’t say anything but I was thinking, “It’s not like he doesn’t know who I am.” Noah has always known that I am his birth/biological mother.

I have a friend; I guess I can call her my friend even though we haven’t met yet. But I feel like she’s a friend. Anyway, she has a blog and writes about adoption and exposes some real issues. As a birthmother, sometimes I feel like she’s linked directly up to my brain and downloading my thoughts. Other times, it’s like she can somehow see right into my heart and feel its emotions. Maybe that’s because she is a birthmother too.

I like it when someone else says exactly how I feel or have been feeling. It makes me feel less crazy.

For me, one of the hardest parts of processing and reconciling with my choice all these years later is how people and by people I mean, family, friends, co-workers and strangers view me as a birthmother. Yes, even my own family.

I remember that very moment when I learned exactly how my mother viewed my role as a birthmother. We were sitting on my back patio. Mom (who came to visit for Jaren’s 8th grade graduation) and I were having a conversation.  Then we got to talking about Noah’s family who also came to visit for Jaren’s graduation. She had commented many times over the years at how lucky and blessed I was that I was permitted to be a part of Noah’s life and how gracious his parents are. And I don’t disagree. I am very thankful. But also, mom wasn’t aware of any open adoptions.  She believed our situation was rare.  So we were having another one of those conversations and my mother emphasizes again about how blessed “I” was. And to be honest, sometimes it sounds like she thinks I’m a vagabond and they are royals. So I tell her, “Well, I think they (adoptive family and Noah) are pretty blessed to have me [and Jaren] in their life too.” I mean, I could have walked away entirely but I didn’t.  I think I’m a decent human being. My friends think I’m kind of cool and special.  And after twelve years of knowing Noah’s family, I’d say we have become fairly close, like family.

Mom said, “No, they are not blessed to have you. Noah is blessed to have you in his life but not the [name of family].” I knew right then and there just how she measured me up in this relationship. I was somehow less worthy; her own daughter. Not some stranger, not a friend, not a co-worker…her daughter.

This is the same mother, who praised me often for the wonderful job I was doing as a single parent raising Jaren.  Who said she thought it would have been easier to abort than to “give up” my child (which she has never chosen or personally experienced either choice as far as I know).  Who came to Texas to help me with my “choice” when I gave birth to Noah.   AND who couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just leave behind my precious new baby boy, alone, in the hospital, without his mother.

I still have a hard time processing this.  The same person who promoted the relinquishment is the same person that now judges me to be the lessor of.

The sad part of all this is Jaren lost his brother too.   

I can handle people treating me callously.  I don’t like it but I realize it’s part of the territory.  That’s my penance.  But when others treat Jaren, an innocent child like a second class citizen because of my choice, it’s inexcusable.  When adults refuse to acknowledge that my two sons are brothers, when brothers can’t be treated like brothers for a few days every few years because people feel like they have to be careful of what they say or how they say it, or when family members consider the feelings of adults over that of a small child’s feelings is downright wrong!

But the part that REALLY bothers me is their father, who stated he didn’t want any more kids, who was MIA (as well as his entire family) during both of my son’s  birthing experiences, who became physically and emotionally detached when I was making these hard choices, and who never verbally objected to the relinquishment to me is somehow “our dad”.  And my mother [and other family members], who was the driving force behind my choice to relinquish, is somehow “grandmom”.  But the mother who was alone, scared, deciding the future of her two sons and listening to and believing the critical words, who has remained loyal to her second son and his family in their open adoption agreement, was stripped of all her titles.

I know why I don’t get to be mom, but tell me how does the rest of the family get to reap the rewards and keep their original titles, (grandmom, poppy, granny, grandpop, aunt, uncle) when that was the one thing they either initially refused to acknowledge or adamantly fault against.  And I’ve often wondered how Noah’s real grandparents and aunts and uncles feel about sharing their earned titles with these biological family members.

1999 Momma and boys

How is that for irony?  Please tell me the moral justice in that.

Expectations

I think there is a big difference between high expectations and unrealistic expectations.

I worked for my previous employer for 15 years (among mergers and bank name changes).  You might say I knew my job fairly well.  I was the senior employee that the others came to for answers to their questions and was the one who trained new employees.  I had high expectations placed upon me because of my experience and expertise.  But sometimes, in life, we can have unrealistic expectations placed on us or maybe we have placed them on others.

Like the time my best friend, Chrissy and her five year old daughter, Kayla joined Jaren and I for a day at the Texas State Fair.  After a long day of walking in the Texas hot sun, we stopped by a local diner to get a bite to eat.  While we enjoyed our meals, the kids colored on paper and Jaren was jibber-jabbing.  He used to make this screeching sound that to some, may have sounded like crying but it wasn’t.  This was the way he babbled.  As we were eating and chatting, a couple comes in and sits in a booth behind us. At some point, the man began complaining to his female date about us.  I couldn’t hear every word, because of my hearing, but he got loud a few times.  I asked Chrissy if he was talking about us.  She said yes and repeated what he said.  I tried to quiet Jaren down, using my “ssshhh” sounds but it didn’t work.  Now mind you, Jaren was not screaming or crying.  He was babbling and some of those babbles went into a higher pitched note.  Then the man gets louder (so we and other patrons could hear him) and says something about having kids like that out in public.  I said, “Give us a break, we’ve been at the state fair all day and the kids are tired.”  Chrissy, perturb by his rudeness chimes in and says, “Single mothers deserve a night out too.”  To which he responds, “Not with kids like that.”  That’s when I had heard enough.  I scolded, “He’s not even two years old, what’s your excuse?”  The man was speechless.

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It seemed the other patrons were not amused by this nameless man’s rudeness towards two mothers and their children.  Even the waiter came over to apologize to us and gave us a free meal.

Another time was when we went to visit my birth son, Noah and his family.  This was our first time seeing them since Noah’s birth, six years earlier.  Everyone was a bit on edge.  And Jaren and Noah were getting to know each other (as brothers) for the first time.  The male sibling rivalry didn’t take long and began after only a day of bonding.

Noah’s family wanted to go on a bike ride.  They asked me if Jaren knew how to ride a bike.  I told them he did but that he was still in the learning stages.  He had not entirely mastered the bike riding skills yet.

The day of the bike ride, I was somewhat uneasy.  But Noah’s family promised to go slow.  Now mind you, we were riding with three boys (ages 6, 8, and 14), one adult male and two adult females.    Managing all these people on sidewalks, stop signs, street crossing is not an easy task, especially for the youngsters and my inexperienced bike riding son who was only eight years old at the time.

All went fairly well until the two young boys wanted to try and compete with each other.  They are boys and this is what boys do, especially siblings.  The two young brothers lose control and Noah’s dad gets angry, hops off his bike and growls at my son.  My first born son, who is a guest in his home; my first born son, to whom everyone was aware wasn’t that good at riding or balancing a bike; my first born son, who hadn’t had the training wheels off for that long; my first born son, who’s feet couldn’t quite touch the ground on this unfamiliar handle bar brake-bike, who had previously only rode small kids bikes with one gear and peddle brakes; my first born son, who had never rode in a neighborhood or on a city street before; my first born son, who never rode with multiple bike riders, not even with me.

I heard several comments made to Jaren about him being the older brother to Noah, as if Jaren should have known better or for that matter, understood what that even meant.  Of course, Jaren didn’t know how to be a big brother.  He had never been a big brother in the physical or emotional sense, only in the biological sense.  But biological sense does not give one experience to learn a skill.  It does not allow for trial and error and guidance or disciplinary actions by the parent when necessary.  And one day or even one week certainly is not sufficient time for one to learn this type of skill.

That’s what it’s like when someone has unrealistic expectations placed upon them.

Contrary to my earlier experience with the man in the restaurant, this time I withdrew completely.  Internally, I was hurt and mad as hell.

The next day however, Noah’s dad seemed remorseful for his actions and adjusted the bike so Jaren’s feet could touch the ground.  He took Jaren and I on bike trail ride.  We rode slowly, gave Jaren some one on one instructions and guidance and as a result, Jaren did so much better.  Once the expectations were realized and modified, Jaren was able to excel more easily with his bike riding skills.

A few days later, after returning home, I was quite happy during a phone conversation, when my mother asked, “Did the boys get along or did they fight like brothers?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJaren and Noah’s 1st reunion

Looking back, I can see how even I have put unrealistic exceptions on my age appropriate son’s actions, choices or behaviors.

Have you ever had unrealistic expectations placed on you or your family?  How did you respond?

The Blame Game

I’ve had many conversations with my teenage son about the blame game and taking responsibility.  I think we all, at one time or another, have looked for someone to blame when something hasn’t gone our way.  We start pointing our fingers, “You’re to blame, and you’re to blame.”  It’s understandable, especially when the incident causes a ripple effect that sometimes creates added stress, hardship or disappointing consequences.

Most of us have seen someone driving recklessly on a freeway, rubber necking on someone’s bumper to urge them to move out of their way because they are in such a hurry.  The frantic driver will torture some other driver on the road, trying to bully them into getting out of their way because in their mind, if that one driver would move, they could get where they needed to be so much quicker as if the blame belongs to that one driver in front of them.  The truth is, more often, it has nothing to do with the car in front of them.  The frantic driver didn’t allow sufficient time to get to where they needed to be and the innocent driver just happens to be the subject of this frantic driver’s irritation and rage.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

A friend of mine relinquished her parental rights two times.  It was during the late 70’s to the early 80’s.  I don’t remember her telling me why she chose to carry her child instead of choosing to abort, as abortions would have been legal at that time.  She told no one of her pregnancy.  When she went to give birth for the first time, alone and scared, she was only fourteen years old.  She said the nurses were very cruel to her, which back then was not uncommon for nurses or society to harshly scold and blame women as the problem for unintended pregnancies.  They chastised her for getting pregnant and told her she should be ashamed of herself for sleeping around at such a young age.  But what the nurses didn’t know is that my friend was not sleeping around and was not to blame for getting pregnant.  You see, her own father was having sex with her.  He made her pregnant.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

I was visiting a birth mother’s community group page the other day and read a post from a new mother reaching out with her deepest emotions.  She was struggling as to whether she should go through with relinquishing her parental rights or not.  Many concerned individuals commented (from birth moms, adoptive parents to adoptees) with similar advice, “Do what you feel is right.”  I, too, did not try to convince her to parent her child or to relinquish.  However, one poster became very angry with her.  The poster was harsh in her comments that I felt were irrational.  She gave no consideration to this fresh new mom whose heart was heavy with a choice.  The poster tried to guilt this woman for wanting to keep that which was naturally given to her and was rightfully hers to keep.  Then she made assumptions about the hopeful couple and began blaming this new mother for the anguish the hopeful couple had surely endured while waiting to adopt and the grief that was surely to come.  But maybe, just maybe this poster herself has been waiting to adopt and now she needed to disperse her anger and bitterness towards this innocent young female as if this new mother was to blame for the childless couples who have no baby to hold in their arms and no child to parent.

That’s what I call misguided blame.

Likewise, just as the driver wishes to remove the vehicle from his path, and the pro-life campaigners wish eliminate the abortion clinics; there are also many birth parents who desire to eliminate adoption agencies.  Some birth parents blame the adoption industry for relinquishing their parental rights of their newborn baby.  And while I don’t defend unethical adoption practices, I know that the adoption industry itself is not to blame for mothers and fathers choosing to relinquish their parental rights.  Aside from the baby scoop era, women now-a-days have options.  Based on our unique circumstances and support, we can choose to abort, we can choose to continue our pregnancy for the next nine months and then parent or we can choose to give birth and relinquish our parental rights.

When I chose adoption, I had already experienced an abortion.  I had already experienced being pregnant, giving birth and parenting my first born child as a single parent.  I consciously made the choice to consider adoption for my second born.  The adoption agency or the adoption industry is no more to blame for me choosing to relinquish my parental rights than the abortion clinic is to blame for me choosing to abort my unintended pregnancies.

The truth is, there are too many people and politics involved to disburse blame at one target.  I’m not saying it is wrong to experience the blaming emotion.  But what I am saying is that sometimes, we don’t have all the facts.  Other times, we refuse to acknowledge our own misguided judgments.  And occasionally, we deny our own choices that resulted in the consequence.  We cannot control others who wrongfully throw blame at us but we can control how we choose to blame.  Blaming someone or something else can make us feel better.  I get that.  But when we hold onto the misguided blame and resentment, we become stuck in a place and our mind becomes a prisoner of our past.  If we want to heal and grow, we must be accountable for our part of the choice and the process.