Normal Sadness

“He was looking at your pictures of The Kiddo, while we were watching the hockey game, ” The Hubby told me in a hushed voice as I shut off the television for the night.

I perked up from my slouched television watching position on our couch, and looked over at Potato who was deciding whether Blue and Bella (our pets) had just enough food.

“Potato, were you looking at the pictures of The Kiddo?”

A sheepish look crossed his face, and  his eyes went wide. He slowly nodded. I smiled at him, to reassure him that I was okay with it.

“What were you thinking when you looked at them?” I prodded gently.

He paused, playing with his hands when he’s nervous, like I do. He squinted his eyes in his “I’m contemplating my wording” fashion, then he asked,

“Why did it make you so sad to give him away?”

Each word hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt a sob making it’s way up my throat, and I quickly stifled it, but not before the tears began pouring down my face.

“Come here,” I managed to say. Potato quickly ran to me, and clambered up on my lap.

“Sweetie, you know how you lived in my belly? Well, so did The Kiddo. I loved him because he was my son, just like you. I was sad because I was told I couldn’t keep him. I was sad because I loved him but I was told I couldn’t bring him home”.

Potato nodded and wrapped one of his arms around my neck, stroking my hair thoughtfully.

“Why did he have to go away?”

The lump in my throat was getting bigger.

“Well, my parents made me give him away. They said I couldn’t keep him because I was too young.”

Potato snuggled into my shoulder and said,

“Oh. That’s why you were sad?”

I nodded, afraid to speak.

He hopped off my lap, and after the cat. I stood up, unsure of myself. The Hubby tried to grab my hand, but I shook it off. I had to retreat before Potato could see me completely fall apart.

I knew there was a catch when I opted to be honest with him about The Kiddo. I knew it would be initially hard, but openness is what I wanted most of all. I didn’t foresee or plan for him to randomly ask me questions as he processed the idea. I didn’t realize he wouldn’t know that ‘right now’ was not necessarily a good time to bring it up. All I thought was, “He deserves to know. He deserves for me to be honest”. I want him to ask me these questions, I want him to know the truth about the loss adoption brings. I want him to understand that I had no choice, so that he doesn’t think I would ever give him away.

He won’t want to do that if he sees that his questions hit a place that just shatters me from within, over and over.  So I must wear the brave face, and tread into areas that I’d sometimes rather just avoid or ignore. All in the name of being open and honest.

I made my way to my bedroom, I turned off the light, set my phone down in the bed, and sat cross legged against on the floor, taking a deep breath.

And I cried.

I cried as The Hubby rubbed my back. As he stroked my hair. As he retreated to put Potato to bed. I cried when he came back and softly asked if I wanted to talk. When my answer was more sobs, he began to tell me about Potato looking at the pictures. He told me how Potato would bring him a picture and asking, “Daddy, is Mommy sad in this one? Did The Kiddo make her sad?” He told me how Potato was separating the pictures into ones where I was smiling and ones where he had decided I looked sad. I sobbed as I pictured Potato carefully sorting into piles, and trying to grasp this part of his life that impacts him yet is not anything tangible for him. I cried as my thoughts raced back and forth. Over and over, repeating, bringing new thoughts with them.

I cried because my four year old comprehended that losing The Kiddo made me sad. That it still makes me sad.  All of that from some pictures, and small conversations. I cried because I shouldn’t have to explain that to him. I shouldn’t have to explain adoption loss to my four year old, but I’m forced to, because it has made me the mother I am, and it’s reflection is painted on our every day life.

As the crying subsided, and my anti-anxiety pill eased it’s way into my system, I whispered to The Hubby who had been by my side, vigilant and soft,

“They, the mothers who are further in then me,  keep telling me this grief never goes away. How do I live the rest of my life like this? Stricken with this sort of debilitating sadness, and filled with a hatred that no one should ever know. How do I make this normal? Because it’s just not, it’s anything but normal.”

I felt The Hubby’s tears on my neck, and I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

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2 thoughts on “Normal Sadness

  1. I tried to leave a comment but it didn’t go through. I just want to tell you that I’m one of those moms who is further along in this — well over two decades in/out — among the early open adoptons that closed. I seldom read birthparent/firstparent blogs anymore, and seldom comment … but am compelled. You CAN heal from this. Yes, a certain amount of pain will always be there, but you can walk through this valley to the other side. A certain degree of validation from peer birth/firstmoms is helpful, but as helpful is face-to-face sharing with women who have endured all kinds of loss. I found eldery women to be most wise. I found, outside the adoption world, the polarization didn’t exist once we had an open dialogue. They cried with me. I cried with them. Read Maryanne Cohen’s “The Words We Use.” And remember, your potato needs you.

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