Also we looked ripped. I'm just saying....
And kinda like hippies
On New Year's Day while Emma and I were on the couch, she arose from her nestled coziness to ask, "Mama, will my China mommy come and try to take me away?" And right there, my heart shattered into a million little tiny shards. Not because of the question, but because of the look in her eyes, the true concern and fear I saw. All those things you read and hear and talk about raced through my mind, "...talk from a place of love, don't victimize, don't create drama, don't talk above their level of comprehension"... So I smiled at her and said very matter-of-fact, "No Honey. Your Daddy and I will never let anyone take you away. Together we will be a family for as long as we live. It will never happen". And this brief response seemed to appease her. I, however, began internally preparing for what I knew was coming, what I've known was coming since day one. Emma has begun to process her adoption.
We have approached her adoption, both before getting her and after bringing her home, with great pride and love. We have always tried to make the word and act itself a cause for celebration. I've never freaked out when people have been curious about our family. I've never whispered or placed a feeling of taboo on the word itself. Adoption has been the greatest gift ever bestowed upon us. Without it, we wouldn't have a family, it's as simple as that. So we've tried to always make it something special, to give it the respect it deserves and to teach Ems that families come in all shapes and sizes and forms. From the time she was a little baby I've told her that adopting her was the best thing that's ever happened to us. That I am soooooo lucky to have her as my daughter....over and over and over. Usually at bedtime when we're doing our evening cuddles and we oogle at each other. Inevitably, even though this has been a nightly ritual for years now, crying a little as I look into her big, glorious eyes.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little ... well, I'm not even sure of the emotion. Scared? Maybe, I don't want to mess it up. I'm keenly aware of how large this information is and how important it is for her to be able to take it all in and process it in a healthy manner. Sadness? Yeah probably that too. Vulnerable maybe? While I am pretty sure we're doing everything we can to help her, I know that on some level, even if it's not now, there will be pain involved for her and that there won't be much I can do to soften the impact of that journey.
And yet, there is also a part of me that is so amazed and impressed with how this is unfolding. The human psyche...it's truly miraculous. It's astounding to me.
A week or so after The Question, Emma approached Mark with her Barbie's (I still hate them but they were gifts) and began to explain a complex game she wanted to play. She would be the mommy in China and Mark would be the mommy here and the China mommy would try to take away Baby Emma. A rip roaring Barbie fight would ensue with many "No, she's my baby!" flying around. Mark in all his goofiness played it like a pro, with love and compassion, never victim or villian. He knew exactly what she was doing and didn't miss a beat.
About two weeks ago she began a new "game" (and that's what she calls it). She'll crawl to one of us like a baby and say "I'm a baby in China. I have no home or a mommy and daddy" and she will act scared and timid. We respond with great hoopla while scooping her up and going on and on about wanting to be her mommy and daddy and can we take her home? We have so many toys and clothes for a little girl! There's a great big doggy to protect her and a kitty she can chase and oh please?! Can we be your mommy and daddy?! And she loves it and laughs and giggles and throws her arms around us.
That analogy I occasionally talk about, that having a child is like having someone scrape off your skin leaving you exposed and vulnerable, nerves raw as they forge ahead of you. Yeah, it's kinda like that, except with the mantra of "Oh please god do not let me fuck this up" because I know we've only just begun.
So, umm, have I mentioned I make soap? Well, soap and other bath-y stuff? It started because I was in search of something that would help with Emma's eczema. The approach of our doctor seemed so reactive (i.e., hydrocortisone! All! The! Time!) and I wanted something, oh I don't know, call me EXTREME, proactive. So I began researching and reading and reading a little more and then I got to experimentin' and lo I became good at it. And it's fun and challenging and really just the perfect blend of science and art. I've even started my own little snarky boutique side biz'ness because CLEARLY this economy is begging for another bath and body purveyor.
But as is custom for me when I get all high and mighty and toot ye ol horn that HEY! LOOK AT ME!, something goes terribly awry and I am humbled violently and question what the fuck? And, you know, I'm gonna share my fail.
Allow me to memorialize this phenomenon of suck via soap photographs. These were taken last night, very late because I was fretting and you'll understand momentarily why....
Freshly cut and pretty. I call it "Giggling Teenage Girls" and there's some snark which may or may not include the words "...wants to run their butts over with my car". But pretty, right?
Then there's this...
[overt your eyes if you're feeling squeamish]
Clearly it's dark chocolate with strawberry swirls. God! you couldn't tell that?
Umm, ENTRAILS People. And I use expensive, expensive oils ya'll and this...this would be umm, not what I was going for. Want some? I know you want to rub it all over your body.
So look, I wanted to quickly address the folks who wrote me private emails to say I had betrayed the sisterhood and was, in a nutshell, making my daughter into a 50's-type stereotype who will believe she needs a man to be happy and should just start her homemaking skills right away. You know, because we gave her a princess dress and some play shoes for Christmas....
I did not get my girl tattooed or her bellybutton pierced. She wore some silk and plastic. Piss off haters.
The Child, she is not pigeonholed.
I had a grand plan before we brought our daughter home. I wanted to give her the gift of discovering herself. The self free of sociological expectations and burdens or 'expected to's'. So I took great care in decorating her room cheerfully, but gender neutral. I refused to buy pink clothes and I put her in little tennis shoes instead of baby mary janes. There would be no princess crap/Barbie crap or anything with GLITTER - it was a steadfast rule. In my mind I imagined I was raising a confident, spunky, punk rock, tomboy.
Well, we got the confident and spunky right.
Turns out Emma's 'self' is a princess dress loving, fairy wing sportin', sparkly shoe wearing, PINK girly-girl. Oh she is foo-foo. Don't ask me how it happend, not a clue. The Ramones and Sex Pistols t-shirts clearly did not stick. I mean I fought it for the longest time, tooth and nail, NO! Not my daughter!
Then...then she got sick, and I found myself more scared than I have ever been in my life, more scared than I EVER want to be again. And somewhere between the oncologist office and the ct scan, I decided, well, in the grand scheme of things, wanting to wear a pretty pink dress and sparkly shoes was not that big of a deal....and I let it all go.
My girl is healthy again, but in my eagerness to do RIGHT by my daughter, I had forgotten a very important lesson. The largest part of discovering who you are, in finding your own voice, is the ability to try on many hats to see how they fit. It just turns out this go-round happens to be pink jaquered silk with an organza veil. I can live with that.
I'm sorry baby girl, I didn't realize how happy this would make you.
Mommy loves you so much!