Bodhi came to work with me this afternoon. Since January, I’ve been working in a new office, here in Berkeley, after they closed my company’s San Francisco office location. I’ve been loving the new location. It has a “hip” startup feel, which admittedly can sometimes feel like a bit of a caricature of the hip startup office.Think wild colors on the walls, odd furniture, fruit water and snacks and a lot of talk of “community” —but overall, I like the new space and it’s been a welcome change of pace from my previous office, which had really gotten to be kind of tired and sad as more and more people worked from home. One perk of the new office that I hadn’t fully taken advantage of is that the office is dog friendly. So,today, I had a relatively meeting-free afternoon (a rare event!) and I thought I’d give it a try with Bodhi. Others in the building bring their dogs and they all seem to do pretty well. Most just hang out and sleep. Well, let’s just say that Bodhi is not that sort of a dog. I should have known. After thoroughly sniffing out the office and common spaces, making some friends in other offices (he’s an attention magnet for sure!), I thought he might settle down and do what he does best—sleep or chew his bone. But, he made it clear that he had zero interest in settling down on his dog bed and hanging out for the afternoon. It didn’t take long before he started with his best “I’m bored, can we go” whine and harumphing. You have to hear it to understand it. It’s a pretty good impression of what a dog-version of a teenager might sound like. Since I knew the barks were next, we called it a day earlier than expected. Honestly, I should have suspected that pups don’t like being stuck in glass walled cubicles any more than people do! My guess is that he much prefers his perch on the couch at home where he can do his “real job” of guarding the house from postman invasions and squirrels that get too close to the yard. Well, it was a fun experiment but a “working dog”, Bodhi is definitely not!
I went to my monthly adoption support group tonight. I try to go most months when I am in town. I am generally glad I do, though it’s a mix of emotions each time. It’s helpful to meet other families in the same boat, but at the same time, it marks the passage of time, another month without a match, feeling that I am stuck and that this is not moving forward, wondering whether this will work out. The mantra is always “patience”,”hang in there”, “waiting is the hardest part.” All that may be true but still, it doesn’t make the waiting limbo feel any easier and in all honesty, hearing the mantra time and time again, just starts to wear thin. There’s always a topic for the meeting, usually some informational component on one of the many, many logistical, legal or sometimes emotional ins-and-outs of adoption. Today’s topic was all about birth fathers and the rights they have in the adoption match. Let’s just say there was a LOT to process, and a lot to start to worry about. In all the training and counseling that goes on for potential adoptive parents, there’s generally a lot of discussion around birthmothers (as there should be) but comparatively less so about birth fathers. But, they are, of course, a part of this too and the legal issues around consent are complicated and the potential complicating scenarios are many. In earlier stages of this, I used to approach these types of discussions by taking tons of notes, sucking in every last nitty gritty detail, learning as much as I can to prepare myself for the possible scenarios. I’m nothing if not a good student and researcher and that’s generally been my strategy for life—arm myself with as much information and preparation in advance, so I can’t be taken by surprise. “Be Prepared,” as the Boy Scout motto goes; an adaptive strategy that probably most Type-A achievers like me learned early in life. But, as time has passed and also hearing more and more adoption stories from adoptive and wanna-be-adoptive parents, it just became clear to me that every situation and story is so different that you can’t really prepare for all the inevitable surprises. And in fact, you can drive yourself (and probably others around you) crazy with trying to foreshadow the possibilities and prepare for every scenario. The best you can do is let go and be open (there’s that word again!) to whatever happens. Of course that doesn’t mean avoid all preparation or to just let yourself be pushed along blindly or worse yet, bulldozed. It’s interesting because when I was younger, it would have been very, very difficult for me to even consider a “let it go” strategy. I think it’s only in the last five or so years, having wrestled with some difficult life challenges, that I can see the value of letting go. I think this will also make me a better parent when my time comes. I try to now listen to the stories with openness and empathy, knowing that this story won’t be my story or my baby’s story. By sharing in this common experience with others in the group, I feel less alone and more confident that whatever the road before me, I can handle it, I am prepared and it will be so worth it!
**Incidentally, the photo is part of the mural on the Women’s Building, in the Mission, where the San Francisco support group meets. The image of mother and child seems perfectly connected to all of this. The monthly meeting has been a good excuse to come into the city and have dinner in the Mission. I’ve been making my way through the various nearby taqueria’s and burrito places. My next blog may be a food blog!
My friend Noelle, her husband Paul and kids Aidan and Keira came to visit and I took the week off to vacation with them. We had a great week and packed in a walloping amount of Bay Area sights and fun along the way. Noelle and I met when we were both in graduate school at UCSF so it was a homecoming for her and the kids were excited to see “where Mommy used to live.” We spent some of the time taking day trips from my house in Berkeley and then mid-week, went up to Stinson Beach in Marin for a few days.
Highlights of the week were many and included: walks to the park with Bodhi (who loved the kids!)**Stephen Curry and a Warriors game with Aidan for his pre-birthday **playing basketball in the park**Golden Gate Park via surrey (not as easy as it looks!) **first time to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park **Ghiardelli Square are ice cream sundaes with hot fudge! ** Chrissy Field and views of the Golden Gate Bridge ** visiting Alcatraz and a boat ride on the bay ** introducing kids to Mad Libs ** a perfect beach day at Stinson Beach—sun, sand, collecting sea shells and playing in the waves with Bodhi tagging along ** magnificent redwoods at Muir Woods ** curvy roads and beautiful views over the Pacific from Highway 1 ** wildflowers everywhere ** a silly song called “Daddy finger” that echoed everywhere ** more Mad Libs silliness ** ping-pong, hot tubs and bunk beds at the beach house ** donuts and chocolate croissants for breakfast ** foggy view (?) of the bridge and city from Marin Headlands ** hiking to Tennessee Valley Beach ** the Pinball Museum in Alameda (Paul was in his element!).
I had a great time with the kids and it was a great to get a chance to get to know them over a longer stretch of time and also for me to see my favorite city through their eyes. I missed them a lot this week after they left and I could tell Bodhi was also sad for losing out on the non-stop belly rubs and cuddling! Being with kids just brings out the kid in me. They are both such sweet kids, both with their own personalities. Aidan turns ten this year and it’s been amazing to see him grow from this little peanut baby into such a big-little boy. He spouts out sports statistics like a sportscaster and seems so grown up in some ways, but then he brought his stuffed animals in his carry on and cuddles with his Mom. I know in just a few short years he’s likely to be a surly teen, but for now he was still willing to play b-ball with his Aunt Katja! Keira is a sweetie–she’s this little princess in pink with pigtails and big brown eyes but at the same time can be a total goofball. Despite claiming a fear of dogs, she took to Bodhi right away and is so enthralled with her big brother, it’s sweet to see. She was in her element on the beach, a little surf princess flitting in and out of the waves. And ice cream puts her in a sugar trance! Yumm!
The house was so quiet and lonely after they left. I’m thankful to Noelle and Paul especially for making the cross-country trek for their vacation. That’s not an easy trip with two kids. Spending time with them and the kids just reinforced to me what family is all about and made me all the more eager to have a family of my own. I’m looking forward to when we’ll vacation together with my little one in tow!
I haven’t posted a stork sighting in quite a while. Storks are few and far between here in the U.S. but I did see a mural with a bird (maybe a heron?) that looks suspiciously like a cousin of the European stork! I’ll take it as a stork sighting!
The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur and so I am finally catching up on finishing some old posts. I am big sentimentalist about holidays. I just love celebrating holiday traditions. Even better when there are kids involved. It lets me be a big kid too! Easter is one of my favorite holidays. There’s the excitement of spring and the world coming back to life and color after a gray winter. Coloring eggs is a lot of fun and of course, who can’t love a holiday centered on candy and chocolate. I have great memories of Easter as a kid. I remember hunting for eggs that my Dad (aka the Easter Bunny) had hidden and how in some years “the easter bunny” did such a good job hiding the eggs that we’d be finding (or smelling!) errant eggs weeks later. I remember hoarding my chocolate bunny, not willing to eat it because that might hurt the bunny and being horrified to find my bunny, which I had carefully tucked away, eaten up by my little brother. This year I did a two-take Easter. Since I knew I’d be travelling to the east coast for Easter weekend, the weekend before Easter I had friends over to my house in Berkeley for brunch and an egg hunt. And then the following weekend, on the “real” Easter Sunday I was in Connecticut celebrating Otto’s first Easter. Otto seemed to like the Radio Flyer baby trike I got him as an Easter gift. Easter Sunday was lovely weather and we had a nice walk to their local park nearby. I’m not sure who had more fun playing with the plastic (cheerio loaded) eggs, Otto or Gary, the dog. Gary figured out the trick pretty quickly and was all over the eggs! It was a fun two weekends. I’m in the midst of updating my adoption brochure (more on that later in another post!) so the timing was good for getting some fun photos. I knew the visit to Connecticut was going to be a bittersweet weekend, with it being Otto’s first Easter but also coming up on the fifth anniversary of my Mom’s death. My Mom died just before Easter in 2011 and I think of her so often this time of year, around Easter and spring. We visited the cemetery to put flowers on my Mom and Dad’s graves, the first visit there with Otto in tow and I couldn’t help but think about how much Mom and Dad would have loved him. This year, maybe for the first year since Mom died, looking at Otto, I could really feel both how life moves forward and on in the next generation and how the memories and traditions we grew up with bridge the past and present and keep those we’ve loved and lost alive in spirit. There’s some sort of peace in realizing this.