Ten years ago I attempted both a time warp and a mind meld when I tried to see how things looked from inside my children’s heads. I imagined, at the suggestion of a group called the Open Adoption Bloggers, what I’d like my grown children to say about the way I felt to them, adoption-wise, in 20 years. They were then 10 and 8 years old.
We are now halfway there, and my children are adults. Baby adults, but adults nonetheless. What were my open adoption goals then, and how well has our parenting aligned with them?
When I lead workshops or consult with adoptive families, I often ask parents to do this very same exercise, which is to imagine what their end zone looks like and feels like. I ask them to write this same letter, based on the prompt given to Open Adoption Bloggers all those years ago:
Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?
Perspective & Clarity
In writing this letter, parents not only practice seeing through their children’s eyes, but they also clarify what they want of their own parenting in the long run. (Aside: every single parent I’ve worked with wants an enduring, loving, connected relationship with their child over time, and they want their son or daughter to have everything they need to be happy and successful in their lives).
Early in our marriage, my husband and I liquidated or stored most of our meager belongings, hopped a plane, and landed in one of the beigest places we’d ever seen. We set out on our first adventure together — teaching at an international school in Aleppo, Syria (known regionally as Halab).
I want to share with you what that was like. I want to remember what it was like. There is virtually nothing else I can do to help Aleppo today, other than prompt you to think about it, about the very real people who are trying to survive there, who are dying there, who are burying their dead there.
My 9 year-old son, Reed, still asks me that at bedtime. It’s at the part of the day when I just want to open up my computer and finish that post, respond to that email, look up that fact I was wondering about earlier. In other words, I’m ready to be off duty for the day.
The voice of my dad, he of the oft-repeated Dadisms, speaks softly but powerfully in my head: Love your interruptions.
I take a deep breath this night and put down the laptop, deciding to make my son’s question not an interruption but, instead, a gift.
We read a few pages of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and I declare it’s time for lights out. He pulls out his iPod and says he wants to play a song for me. I curl my body around his while he finds the song.
It’s one we’ve both been singing loudly in the car whenever it comes on the radio. It’s a catchy tune and I’ve been known to crank up the music for the kids and me to sing along as loudly as we can. It’s become our anthem for us this winter. The song is, at its core, about resilience and relying on people close to you.
May your past be the sound Of your feet upon the ground Carry on
There are some songs, when they come on the radio, that transport me to another place and time. I’m sure you have some, too. The first song I slow-danced to at the junior-high Sadie Hawkins dance. The first time a boy told me he loved me, via Commodores lyrics. Any song on the mix-tape that my husband gave me shortly after we met. Your whole being goes there — your mind, your emotions, your body. You are, instantly, 14 again, 17 again, 30 again.
I know that this song, this Winter 2012/13 anthem, will forever take Reed back to the sensations and emotions we share this night, cuddled in his bed, sharing an intimate, loving, resonant perfect moment. When he’s a teenager at college, when he first gets his own apartment, when he’s a new dad, heck, when he’s a grandfather (there I go, time traveling again), whenever he hears this song, he will feel warm, happy, loved through and through.
That thought makes me supremely happy that I chose to love this interruption.
Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.