Friday, May 13, 2011

No One Told Me

It didn't start to sink in until we bought the tickets on Tuesday: I am leaving early Tuesday morning and won't see my boy for 11 days. I had no idea the ensuing panic and worry and longing that would happen as we nailed down the details about this upcoming trip.

Of course I'm glad that the next step is happening in getting our little girl here. But Abe is so little, and what was I thinking leaving him like this? Two summers ago, I went to visit a friend for three nights, and I cried off and on the whole flight to Colorado. This is going to be on the other side of the globe.

I keep sending texts to my sister, reminding her of little things about Abe that she needs to know. Things like: wear nice smelling lotion at all times because he really likes good smells. Other things about who his favorite friends are. And things like how generally wonderful and magical he is and to please cuddle him a lot and often and tell him how much I miss him every moment I am gone.

I was exhausted yesterday after a long busy day, yet as I started to drift to sleep, the thought of Tuesday morning made my heart race. Really race. And I know there's some stigma attached to it, but I'm going to say it anyway to make others not feel guilty: I took something to calm me down so I could go to sleep.

Someone I see as a sort of mom-mentor reached out to me in my panic. Here are a few of the things she wrote, all of which made me cry, including today while sitting at my desk at work.

I would do anything to help ease those panic attacks...if I could. I totally, totally, get it. the hardest part of traveling twice to ET to get my kids was the leaving my little boys home. I mean, I broke down more than once, before and during and had a total panic attack the night before, tucking them in.

However, adn please remember this: they were fine. They got through it better than it did. And they understood and understand that I would travel across the world for my kid (one of them was the kid, the first time)...nothing would keep me from my kid if they needed help getting home.
Abe will get that. He will. His heart already knows it.

You'll be ok mama. And I'll be praying for you and for Abe too, the whole way (fwiw).

Then today, this email, the one that made me break down at my desk at work:

...They still seem so vulnerable. And your mama heart and mama bear self frets to leave them. But really, think of it, think of the hands you are leaving him in: your sis. She is family too. This will make Abe stronger and bring him, well, eventually, the greatest gift you will ever give him other than your own bottomless love: his sister. That is worth it. Worth even your xanax. Thank God for xanax. No kidding!!! Hooray for meds. Use it. No kidding.
I wish I could take away the dread of this trip. I so know it's icy grip. But it is only the hounds of hell howling in your ears.....shut them up, kick them out. You ARE strong enough to do this and you will, bc Abe is strong enough to do this, and little B needs you more, now. And therein is your first REAL step into being a mom of more than a singleton. And therein lies the triage you will do, reflexively, the rest of your life. And you can and will and must. And it's good. It teaches Abe that he is stronger than he knows too, it grows his heart. And I promise, sweet dear Lori, that you ARE strong enough to get thru t his, maybe w/ xanax and your dearest girlfriend along for the ride, ugly crying the whole way...its' all ok. These trips are EVER ever so different when you have smalls at home. They are brutal but even in that brutality and sheer ripping of your fibers at the go.....there is such beauty and you find a deeper place in yourself lori. And it's there, we all see it even when you don't. It's reflected in Abe's eyes and sureness as he leans into you.

When it gets too hard. Oh...this weekend and Monday, just do the next thing. Go on autopilot if you have to. Do the next thing. Fold the shirt, flip the laundry, fill the tank with gas. Do the next thing. And the next thing you know, you'll be in addis and then, even then, your heart will be in your throat and you'll shake and then you' the next thing. Do it. You so can. I know it.

It helped so much to know that others have felt the same way as I am feeling as I get ready for this trip. But no one told me it would be this hard. I'm telling you now: if you have a little one at home, the anticipation leading up to going to meet your next child is one of the worst feelings you will ever feel. You want to meet your next child, but you feel this angst about leaving the little, and then you feel guilt about feeling the angst because of course the new child is just as important as your current child.

It's the triage she referred to. I wasn't prepared. Not one bit.

At work today, one of my Eritrean clients came just to give me a gift to give to his daughter in Addis. This client is usually all smiles, all joy and peace. But when he handed me the small purple cloth bag and the phone number of his daughter, he looked down and covered his eyes. When he looked back up, they were red and full of tears. Parents should not live so far from their children, not even when they're almost 80.

If nothing else, these 11 days are going to give me a small taste of what these seniors feel every day. At least for me, I know my return date. For them, this is a possibly permanent separation, no hope of reunion until heaven.

I don't know how they bear it. I guess their days are filled of "doing the next thing."


coffeemom said...

Oh lori, you honor me. thank you.
But really, you DIDN'T know about this new triage…you couldn't possibly and no one could tell you.
I KNOW that feeling you have, right now, the crying the tears…but I also know the far side and that one is real too and you won't believe or know it till you get there. So…I'll never lie to you, I'm telling you the truth, you can do this.
You ARE doing this. Just right. hang in, hang on, you're gonna make it and it's all glorious. Even this.
xoxox M

Danni and Tommy said...

Yes. It's horrible. I'm so so sorry that you are going through this step. I was a big mess. Wish I had words, but know I'm thinking of you.

Cindy said...

Lori I understand! Mihiret told me she was sure I was never going to come back when I left to pick up Beatrice. It just broke my heart. I love the advice you have been given. ((((hugs)))) to you. I remember chanting "just keep swimming" to myself many times leading up to my departure and the first days of my trip :)

il panettiere... said...

Coffeemom makes me cry.

Lori, you have so many people thinking, praying, and loving on you and yours....

il panettiere... said...

Also? You saved my life and my sanity when you came out to Colorado that time so long ago (or maybe not so long ago?). I will forever and ever be thankful to you and Abe for those moments....

Claudia said...

So much beauty and wisdom here.

Bridget said...

This pains me. I feel it in my bones. This will be so incredibly painful for me. But I like the advice of do the next thing. That is VERY good advice. Even in the here and now of the life I'm living. It's good advice for all of us. Thinking of you!!! Sending love. LOTS of love.

Abby/Roger said...

Oh, how I love to read your blog. You speak my heart and mind. We leave in less than two weeks. And my wee little 22-month-old will be home without me for nine days. Please pass the Xanax this way....

Christine said...

It's amazing how lovely it can be to lean on someone who has this much wisdom, just plain truth within her. I didn't even have to follow your link to know it was coffeemom offering that loving support. Talk about being buoyed across the waves, I am very moved. Lori, I dread it so much, to leave my boy who so reminds me of your little Abe. I'm so so sorry that you are feeling this, but I know you can do it. You can do it.

p.s. this has stirred me to really push Manny into starting sleepovers at our friends' house, where he will stay while we are gone.

The Hedwall Family said...

You are such a good mama, you wouldn't be if you weren't feeling this way! I had bone crushing anxiety leaving Eva for just a few days when I my dad was very ill. Anxiety meds were my best friend! "Do the the next thing" Is great advice. It will definitely get you through the steps ahead. And by the way, Eva had a blast while I was gone! A little teary at bedtime, but certainly nothing that her sweet auntie couldn't help with. Abe has the foundation he needs to let someone else care for him a little bit, that means you are doing your job right! Cant wait to hear about your trip!

beth hedwall

Amy said...

I will also be praying for you on your trip ...One of these days we will get a chance to meet ... in the mean time, I agree completely ... just do the next thing, and before you know it you'll be home!

Mollie said...

I sit here and try to think of the words that post and the following comments evoke and... I can't. I just try to wipe the tears from my eyes so no one at work will ask if I'm ok. I am in awe each of you and can only hope and dream that one day my husband and I are blessed with the resources to join the adoption family.