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Monday, March 3, 2014

Hindsight and the Power of Decision

Close to twenty years ago, when our daughter was barely walking, a friend convinced me to attend a gathering of local adoptive moms.  If you read my last post, you know that in many ways, I’m a chicken.  People consider me outgoing, but on the inside I’m pretty much a wuss.  If my friend hadn’t picked me up in her car that night, I would never have gone.  But I did go, and in a strange living room, I met a collection of women who all began, or added to their families through a process that brings indescribable joy, heart shattering love, and a lifetime filled with complexity.   

I’d like to tell you that I jumped in, though back then I worked at least forty hours a week, and busy trying to make family time I declined a lot of group invitations.  But I showed up enough that it stuck, and together, we raised our kids through grammar school, middle school, high school and beyond.  We offered each other suggestions as our children dealt with the complications inherent in their origins…the ever circling, smart-Alek comments from peers, ("How come your birthmother didn’t keep you?”) that triggered painful self-questioning on  the part of our kids.
Through the years, we dealt with ordinary parenting issues too, driver’s licenses, first dates, college applications.  We’ve supported each other as our children grappled with perceived rejection, as they struggled to form their own relationships, in some cases as they met birth families, or discovered that they never will.  As the mothers who love these children with passions that bleed with every beat of our hearts, we’ve cried with each other, we’ve howled with laughter and for the most part, experienced every emotion in between.  It seems to me, that while our children have been growing, we have been, too.

Recently, seven members of the group, women who met almost twenty years ago as mothers of infants and toddlers, sat around a restaurant table.  The topics ranged, as they always do, but with an openness I’ve come to count on…a trust.  I struggle here, to define what I’m trying to say.  We are different women.  We don’t all see each other between gatherings.  But in the same way we never know anyone as well as the people we are raised with, a connectedness exists between us.  No one who hasn't clambered our specific road, can climb into our skin the way we do with each other.  For three hours we sat at the round restaurant table yacking, advising, supporting, and spilling coffee together (Our poor, patient waiter…we tipped him well.), and when I finally dragged myself away, I understood something.
You never know when you might make a decision that will alter your life for the good.

What if I’d never gone to that first meeting?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good thing you did! Sounds like it was the perfect support group through the years.

J.B. Chicoine said...

It's amazing how one event can have a domino effect on our lives. In fiction, we call it an inciting incident!

Robin said...

<<<----You never know when you might make a decision that will alter your life for the good.

I think that up until my early 30s, when I got involved with my now ex-husband, I made good decisions. Or mostly good decisions. Starting with him and carrying on long after him... it has been one bad choice after another. By the time I started blogging, I was crippled with fear whenever I was forced into making a decision. My migraines were raging and I decided "I make bad decisions." So, that led to breaking down in anxiety attacks at places like the DMV... you know, where everyone wants to melt down in public.

But the bigger and more true thing was that I changed my internal belief system from "I make good decisions" to "I make rotten, terrible, horrible decisions." I didn't trust myself. At all. And that led to two things... a desire not to get involved with anyone new (because that would inevitably turn out to be a disaster) and allowing my mother to run my life. She is a good decision maker, after all.

This went on for years. Until recently. Until I understood that I don't make terrible decisions. For a while there, I made some very bad choices. The debilitating migraine did nothing to help with that. But, I mostly make good decisions. So, after not having made ANY for a long time, I am back to making decisions for myself again. Why?

<<<----You never know when you might make a decision that will alter your life for the good.

I know that was completely off the topic, but it was what I thought of when I read that sentence.

Moving back to your ACTUAL topic... I think that people who are in the habit of making good decisions (excluding addicts and criminals) tend to end up in the groups where they belong. This belief is reinforced when someone (like you) who doesn't normally go to these sorts of things sticks with it for 20 years. You were meant to be there. You continued going because that group filled something in you that you needed.

As I think about that group, I am somewhat surprised that parenting groups aren't more popular. Raising any kid is tough. It would be easier if you could bounce ideas off of other people going through the same stuff. As you say, you addressed "adoption-related" things, but you also just talked about raising a kid. I think it's wonderful that you had those women available to you and they benefited from you, too.

When you look at these sorts of things, can you see how interconnected we all are? Isn't it astounding and miraculous and joyous???

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It sounds like fate took you where you needed to go. Glad the journey brought you joy.

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy that one decision was such a blessing for your life!

Cara H said...

I'm glad that you were able to make connections like that. As a person with mental illness, connecting with other people is very difficult for me. People tend to judge me very harshly before they even know the first thing about me.
I believe that whether kids are adopted or brought into the family biologically, it makes no difference. They are still family, regardless of how they got there.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I saw a play called 'Happenstance' when I was a teenager and that started a real interest in me about how one decision leads to another and another. I do believe we have the people in our lives that we are meant to know and I also see that sometimes certain life things only drag on about as long as we let them. There is a lot in every decision we make. I'm glad this one worked out so well for you.