You Gave Her Birthdays: A Letter to My Daughter's Birth Mom

Dear Anna,

She's four today.  

But you already knew that, because you've been loving her for longer than we have.

I remember cradling her in my arms during her first few months of life and whispering into her little ears, "Stay tiny forever."

She didn't listen.

How is it already happening that this baby who made us both mothers will be off to "big school" in a matter of weeks?  Sometimes I wish that I could hit a pause button and savor these early years for awhile longer.

Piper geeks out about birthdays.  I guess she's like me in that way.  She's like you in a million other ways.  Since January, that kid has been making a wish list, talking about which friends to invite to her party, and planning what she will do when she is finally four.  It seems safe to say that this is her favorite day of the year.

We bought a small swimming pool as a birthday gift for her and her sister (whose birthday is also this summer).  She's mildly obsessed.  I can't decide if she likes it or the light-up Frozen shoes that my parents got her more.  She would spend all of her time in both of them if she could.

Today, we're celebrating by grilling her favorite "hamgubbers", and we'll likely let her stay up past her usual bedtime and eat way too many treats.  Today, we will give her more gifts that she will treasure for a moment.  Eventually, though, she will outgrow her light-up shoes, and the toys and swimming pool will no longer hold the same allure that they once did.  Today, we are giving her things that grow old.  Forever, you gave her birthdays. 

You didn't have to do that.  

It pains me to think that you could have pursued other alternatives, but you totally could have, and many of them would have been easier than adoption.  

Piper will get to turn 4, and 14, and maybe 104, because you chose life on June 28, 2013, and every day afterward.  I know that you signed some papers to legalize your decision in a single moment but that you have woken up every morning since and bravely faced the consequences of those signatures.  I pray that Piper grows to understand how much you sacrificed.

Every June 28th, she gets the festivities, but you're the real hero.  From one mom to another, thank you for giving her birthdays.

Love,

Her Adoptive Mom

The Gifts of an Introvert

Several weeks ago, my friend, Jill, was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.  She's fit, she's 36, and she has three little kids.  Cancer is no respecter of persons, which is one of the many reasons why I hate it so much.

Shortly after her diagnosis, one of our mutual friends set up a time for women who know Jill to come and pray for her.  Nichole's living room was full.

Jill and her family moved to Norman less than two years ago, and it seems like she already knows more people here than I do after a decade.  

She's bubbly and outgoing, the kind of person who makes you feel at ease with being yourself, and she can probably have a better conversation with a wall than I can with an actual human.

Hence, the ladies who gathered on her behalf were from a variety of Jill's many walks of life, including her running group, church, kids' school, neighbors, and random acquaintances.

Jill and one of the aforementioned random acquaintances, Laura, met at the public library one day...the first week that Jill moved to Norman...because Jill and Laura are both the kind of people who meet people. You've probably figured out by now that I am not.  If you were to Google the definition of "introvert", you would likely find my head shot next to the word.

Sometimes, I get down on myself because I am not a Jill Perry or a Laura Piersall.  I love people, but I am awkward and slow to get to know them. Some of you reading this may have been to a church where there is a "meet and greet", usually before the sermon begins.  I hate that part of the service.  During the "meet and greet" at our church, Jill is inevitably hugging someone and flashing her huge, inviting smile at a complete stranger.  I'm in the bathroom, or refilling my coffee...or hiding behind the stage curtains.

I've learned to come out of my shell somewhat, and I'm fairly adept (now) at having one-on-one conversations with people who I've recently met, but these skills still do not come naturally for me. It often feels like our society was created for extroverts, so after forcing myself out of my comfort zone for even a few hours, I am ready for a nap. It is easy to convince myself that the way I was constructed is inferior to the way others were.

I know in my mind that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made", but there's this voice that sometimes tries to tell me that I'm not as fearfully and wonderfully made as people with personalities like Jill's.

If you were a body part, which one would you choose to be?

The heart?  Eyes?  Mouth?  Brain?  Hands?  Those are all great choices, and obviously very important.  I bet I can tell you which body part didn't come to mind.  The bladder.  Right?  Nobody picks that guy.  But guess what.  

You would die without your bladder.

Also, have you ever met anyone with two hearts, two brains, or an extra set of eyes?  No, you haven't, because that would be excessive and impossible.

I need to learn to be okay with exactly the gifts that I have.

They're not inferior or unimportant.  Most likely, I won't make friends with you the first time I see you at the public library.  But I might after another time or two, and then I'll be your friend forever.  If you climb up in my dental chair in a few years, I'll ask you about yourself and listen to your answers.  (I really like listening.)  I am not the life of the party, but I can sure organize a good one.  And if you come to our house for dinner, my husband will carry the conversation, but I'll cook my mom's amazing spaghetti recipe, play with your kids, and make you feel welcome.

Perhaps the world does not need another Jill or Laura, as wonderful as they are.  The world definitely does not need Jill or Laura impostors.  Maybe today is a really good day to just be Mary Rachel, in all of my introverted glory, and to trust that the genuine version of myself is far better than a pretend version of my friends.