Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fighting on the Same Side

I don't like confrontation. I avoid it whenever I can. I know there are people who thrive on good arguments, but I am not one of them. One of the reasons I stopped posting here regularly was because, as more people read my words, I had to make a much stronger effort to not step on toes. I mean -- I didn't have to. Most of the popular mainstream blogs rely on mean-spirited humor. But I liked the people who read my words -- who left kind and/or thoughtful comments. I didn't want to say something that might be hurtful for the sake of the opportunity to turn a clever phrase.


A lover, not a fighter.

But lately I've found myself in fights. Plural. I have been confused every time -- how did this happen? -- but -- not being a seasoned fighter -- I just can't seem to figure out how to walk away and drop things. Obviously if something I did or said inspired someone else to be mean to me, then I must have been misunderstood. I try to restate, but when the antagonist just keeps striking, I eventually strike back. I'm not proud of that. I watch people who just walk away. I want to be like them. I'm not, though. Not yet. I'll learn.

Most recently I was attacked because -- although this woman and I were on the same side of an argument, my personal experience and viewpoint didn't completely match hers. Now she was young -- and maybe it's the advantage of age -- to be able to understand that I don't have to share your precise experience for your experience to be valid. She ripped me to shreds because I came at it from a different angle. No, no, no. You will think exactly as I think, or you will be wrong. Then -- THEN! -- she launched into -- well, here's the thing -- if she'd been a man, the womyns would've been shaking their fists and spitting, "MANSPLAINING!" while simultaneously lighting their torches and searching for their pitchforks.

I thought about that a lot.

I suspect that if a man had spoken to her that way, she would've lead the angry mob. Hell, I suspect that if a man had spoken to ME that way she might not have exactly LEAD the mob, but she would've probably joined it. Because mansplaining is bad. Everyone knows that. We are womyns, hear us roar! Don't dare to try to 'plain something to a womyns, because womyns don't need to have anything explained to them.

Except, of course, by other womyns.

Not being able to walk away from a fight isn't the only bad habit I'm trying to break.

I read comments.

Recently I was reading a story about the absolutely repellant Brock Allen Turner rape case. A woman in the comments expressed her repulsion with him and compassion for her by stating that she was loved. She was somebody's daughter, grand-daughter, sister, niece, friend. She was immediately attacked -- and I mean ATTACKED -- by the womyns who said things like, "Oh, so if she were a homeless orphan, it would be ok?" She said, no, of course not. It would never be ok -- but she just kept being pummeled. Our worth isn't based on our relationships to other people. Well, of course not. I agree. But I don't think attacking a woman who was in agreement -- what happened here was capital B Bad -- because of the way she chose to express her compassion was fair. She eventually gave up, by the way. But she took an awfully good pummeling, first.

For what?

It's stupid. Let's get it together, women. Womyns. The lot of us. Fighting with people who are on your side is really a deterrent in the bigger picture. We're attacking each other for using the wrong word, or having a different experience and turning our backs on all the stuff we should REALLY be fighting. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Choices We Make

Growing up, I did some regrettable things. I presume we all do. It's rebellion, it's self-expression, it's -- whatever. It's human nature. However, despite engaging in the usual non-parental/societal approved sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I was, for the most part, obedient. I did what was expected of me. Come to think of it, even my rebellion was a pretty, well, expected rebellion. As a predictably obedient kid, I had my future mapped out long before I left high school. I would get good grades so that I could get into a decent college and get a good education. I would graduate in four years -- no more, no less -- and get a job in my field. I would get married shortly after college and I would put my job on hold for a couple years to raise kids, then, when they were school-aged, I would go back to work. We would take annual family vacations and develop traditional traditions around summer break and holidays. I hadn't figured past that by the time I was 14, because that would've involved imagining myself being over 30 and, well, that was pretty much inconceivable. 

So I got the good grades and I went to college and I majored in Elementary Education because I loved kids and I was pretty good at conveying information and -- well -- that summers and holidays off thing was going to fit REALLY nicely into my family plans. I got engaged at the beginning of my senior year to a boy I'd been dating since the end of my freshman year and everything was right on track -- just like a rule-follower like me liked it.

Three weeks before graduation he broke up with me and -- in retrospect -- saved both of us a lot of heartache because we were NOT well-matched. But we're talking about a LOT of retrospect. That's another story and it's been told a million times. I won't bother to rehash it here. 

Yep, it needed to happen, but it sure did send the needle skidding across the album of my life. I was utterly lost -- abandoned, with no idea how to move forward. Things were supposed to follow a formula and this wasn't it. Life was wrong. But I was still alive, so I was going to have to live it. 

My best friend had made plans to go to grad school halfway across the country -- that was her plan -- and, on a whim, I asked her if I could join her. I established residency in this new state while working a job that was not in my field and started grad school myself once residency had been established. 

Now I had a new focus.

I didn't stay there long enough to finish that degree. I took jobs in my field -- some traditional, some non-traditional -- and one of them led me back to grad school. That felt right. Not as right as that original plan. In my mind, that was still the right life, but that ship had sailed and I needed to forge a new path. If I couldn't have a family, I would have an education. It was a compromise, and not an entirely satisfactory one, but it was good. Minimally, it was a good alibi. Why haven't you gotten married? Why aren't you raising babies? I was too dedicated to my education!

So a decade later, I developed a new plan. Master's, Doctorate, publications -- I would dedicate myself to academia. I would devote myself to education. It was definitely Plan B, and I still mourned Plan A, but it was a good, sound, plan and one I could take some pride in. I wrapped my identity around it.

I had a mentor who I admired greatly and the children in my classrooms became "my kids" in the absence of kids of my own. 

So I followed the new set of rules. I finished my Master's and began coursework on my Doctorate. My academic network was solid and growing stronger every day. I concentrated on younger children and people with disabilities. I took jobs in my field and that enhanced my education as my education enhanced my employment. Plan B was going ok. It wasn't Plan A, but it wasn't bad. It was rewarding.

And then love and babies curved into my path and -- well -- I didn't even think about a new plan. This is what I'd wanted in the first place. The route had been convoluted and more adventurous than I'd planned, but here I was -- right where I wanted to be -- just two decades late. A return to a modified Plan A. I briefly tried to have it all -- continuing with my studies while raising my babies -- but sitting in an ivory tower learning about early childhood while my own babies were in the care of someone else was -- well, it was just WRONG, is what it was. For me. No judgments. I stayed home. I quit school when I was piloting my doctoral dissertation. I dedicated myself to my own babies instead of to the babies of the world.

I was very, very, happy.

I figured -- the original Plan A had me returning to the workforce when my kids were school-aged -- no reason plan A2 couldn't go the same way. I mean -- I was very educated and very experienced. How hard could it be?

But there were problems I didn't anticipate.

And now? Now it's too late. My kids don't need me anymore. The only jobs I can find in my field are in daycare. If you're not aware -- the wages of daycare workers are comparable to the wages of fast-food workers. The social status? Oh, I don't have to tell you the social status. You know. The best part? I am responsible for just as much planning/work/paperwork outside the classroom as any classroom teacher. More, really, because there are no such things as the teacher planning days classroom teachers seem to get twice a month. The worst of both worlds. Some might say -- go back to school! Get the re-certifications you need to get a respectable job! But that would be a waste of my time and money. Oh -- I could do it. Probably. But could I get hired? That's very unlikely at my age. It would just be too much of a gamble.

So. So Plan C. Plan C is where I have to spend every snow day, every holiday break, every long weekend, every damn summer working while I watch the teacher friends I accumulated along the way talk about how much they deserve their breaks. I get skin rashes and stomach issues and all manner of stress-related bullshit (as well as every communicable thing that comes along) while doing a job that offers zero sick days. Go ahead and process that for a minute.

Plan C sucks -- and I can honestly see no way out of it because -- you can say "You're never too old to start over!" as much as you want, but the truth is -- sometimes you are.

So I've given up.

This is my life. It did not go according to plan. Few lives do, entirely, I suppose. 

I don't suppose it's necessary to inform you that Plan A -- the way I always thought it should be -- is not the plan my children have chosen for themselves, either. Their lives, of course. Their choices. I gave up those dreams for them kicking and screaming, though. 

But I did give up.

One dream at a time.

I did give up.

I don't have many dreams left. Not many at all. But I don't have high hopes for them.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What? Sin a Name.

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet. ~ Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Last week, I attended a workshop called Pinot + Poems. It was a little stretch outside of my comfort zone, but that's something we all need to do from time to time, no? I registered on an impulse and considered blowing it off. It was, after all, a poetry workshop. Even when I DID write, I didn't write poetry. And I haven't written for a very long time. But once I registered, I pretty much had to follow through. It's not like I'd paid for it from it from my vast store of extra money. I'd paid for it, I was minimally going to drink some wine.

I knew going was the right decision long before I got there. I'd fallen into a place - again - where everything about my life was pretty passive. AGAIN, this was demonstrated by the fact that I didn't drive anywhere, really. I mean -- I drive to work, and I drive to the grocery store, and -- hell! -- I'll drive to my Mom's in another state -- but if I'm going somewhere new, Tom is usually behind the wheel. Please don't misunderstand. I prefer it that way. I think he does, too. But not having driven anywhere except work and the grocery store in some time made me -- nervous about going somewhere new. And THAT meant it had been far too long since I'd done anything independent. Yep. I needed to do this.

I was on very unfamiliar ground. 


I found the place without incident, and it was amazing -- a beautiful old building that had been converted into studio space. I headed up the stairs, and they were grand in the way that only very old staircases in very old buildings can be. I found the space we'd be using, and it was perfect. Tables were set with flowers and books and craft supplies. And cookies. Fancy little cookies. There was plenty of wine and there were light appetizers. I filled my keepsake mason jar with wine, but skipped the appetizers and tucked the cookies into my purse. It's a proven fact. Nobody wants to see a fat lady eat. ESPECIALLY not cookies.

I filled out my name tag. Hello, My Name is Tam.

This? Was as bold a move as getting in the car and driving there had been. (Please don't be jealous of the exciting lifestyle that leads to driving to a new place and filling out a name tag being elevated to the status of bold moves. We can't all be international personages of mystery and intrigue.)

I don't introduce myself as Tam. I didn't even introduce myself as Tam that night, although there it was -- prominently displayed over my left boob. I like being called Tam, though. Not many people call me that, and I like the way it sounds. Familiar and comfortable -- sort of like the handful of people who DO use it regularly. I know this is because I introduce myself as Tammy and people do not want to take liberties. I get that. I'm a grown-ass adult. I should introduce myself the way I wish to be referenced, no?

I set out to rectify it with this tiny little act. Hello, My Name is Tam.

The leader of the workshop began her presentation and said, "We're going to talk, tonight, about poetry as naming." I almost reacted right out loud, which would've put a dent in the cool rep I -- Tam -- was trying so hard to establish that night, in my carefully-chosen-to-look-not-carefully-chosen-new-but-hopefully-didn't-look-too-new sweater. Poetry as naming. I had put thought into the presentation of my name. I was trying on a new old identity. Familiarity with people with whom I was completely unfamiliar. And she was going to talk about naming. Kismet. Fate had brought me here tonight. Well, fate, and Siri. Tam I am. Tam I mother-fucking am. 

Tam is going to be so much happier than Tammy has been.

*rubs hands together* Tam I am. Let's write some poetry. Go. I am ON this. I belong here.

Of course I didn't. Stupid Tammy in her stupid sweater was stupid and old and didn't fit. Everything I did was wrong. Awkward. I tried too hard. This event was beautiful and young and hip. It was for Gwens and Marleys and Ionas. It wasn't for Tammy. It wasn't even for Tam.

Whoa. That took a turn. Sorry.

It wasn't really that bad. It wasn't bad at all. It was, in fact, absolutely lovely. I just didn't fit. I'm being dramatic. Poets do that. That's why it's called poetic license.


My firstborn has decided that her name no longer fits. She hasn't changed it legally, but she has changed it socially. I think I understand her reasoning. She wants -- if I am interpreting it correctly -- to be someone other than who she's been. Her newly chosen name is a part of that metamorphosis. I want to respect it -- and try to -- but it is difficult for me. I gave her her name before she was born. It was carefully chosen, not randomly or frivolously assigned. But it no longer fits. What would a poet do? What would Tam do?

What's in a name? We carefully choose names for our children, our pets, sometimes even our possessions. We choose names that we think will suit them and serve them. We try to choose well. They might play with it -- try to find a better fit. Their friends might gift (or curse) them with nicknames that eventually supersede their given names. Does it matter? 

I don't know.

Tam didn't have any more fun than Tammy does. And I feel a little silly for attempting to toy with it at my age. 

What's your name? What do you go by? What do you like to be called? What do you wish you were called? Does it make a difference? Do names make impressions? Do certain names conjure up images for you? Fill in the blank:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Stairs

I wrote this quite a while ago, but was not ready to share it at that time. Today is the anniversary of my adoption and I've decided that it was time to share. Be gentle with me.

When I was adopted, my mother tells me, the day they made it official, I cried inconsolably as they carried me down the courthouse stairs to start my new life. As the story goes, a little more than two years later when I made the trip down those stairs again, when my sister was the newly adopted infant, I was extremely disappointed because, not only did she not cry, she slept. I wanted her to cry. Crying was what was done. My mother had told me over and over. I cried all the way down the courthouse stairs. It was my birth story, or as close as I had to one. 

I just read The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler. I shan't review it per se -- at least not here and now -- but it did stir up a lot of things I thought I'd put to rest.

One of the many things that jumped out at me -- and it probably was not nearly as prominent as it appeared to be -- was how many times stairs were mentioned. Stairs played a big part in my adoption story, and they played a part in many of the stories relayed by these women who became pregnant and relinquished their babies in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Throwing themselves down stairs in an attempt to force a miscarriage, taking their only exercise on the stairs while confined to the home for unwed mothers, and, yes, walking up and then down the stairs at the court house. A happy memory for adoptive parents, an unspeakably sad one for these young girls.

Unspeakable was a carefully chosen word. Their experiences were not spoken of.

Reading about them now, at this point in my life, was chilling.

I had no idea.

My parents had been given the company line regarding my birth circumstances. They weren't told much and -- now that I've read this book -- I doubt that much of what they were told was true. Similar stories about them were, no doubt, fabricated for my birth mother. Everyone was worried about "what was best for the child" and apparently truth didn't figure into that equation very tidily. 

I have never sought my birth mother, for many reasons, not one of which is unique. I respected my parents too much to want to hurt them with a search. I didn't want to disrupt the life of the woman who had given me up and probably moved on with her life -- maybe forgotten all about me -- probably forgotten all about me. I didn't want to give her the chance to reject me again.

I know now that that was probably misguided at best, and I am sorry.

I considered it when I was pregnant. I wanted the medical history I lacked. I considered it, but I didn't act on it. And then my daughter was born -- my first blood relative -- and I sort of forgot about it. I sort of forgot about everything. The whole game changed.

And now it's changed again. After reading the testimonies of so many women who were coerced into relinquishing their infants in that era -- not rejecting them (me), not throwing them (me) away, not ridding themselves of an inconvenient obstacle (um, me again), but instead mourning their loss (of me!) -- sometimes for the rest of their lives.

There is pain on every corner of this triad.

No-one escapes unscathed, whether we talk about it or sweep it under the rug.

I know that there are other adoptees who read my words. I know that there are adoptive parents who read my words. I don't know if there are any birth mothers who read my words or not. There is still a pretty thick veil of silence there. I hope -- by touching upon the very shallow surface of this issue here -- that I do not cause undue pain to any of them.

This book stirred things up in me.

But I won't do anything about it.

I am not brave enough to take those stairs.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Life Worth Living

Since Robin Williams' tragic suicide (as if there's another kind...) two days ago, social media -- all media, I guess -- has been inundated with tributes but also with pleas for an increased awareness of the issues surrounding depression and other forms of mental illness. I've also seen a lot of people speaking frankly about their own experiences with depression. This is a positive outcome from an immensely negative event. 

We lost a family member in the same way in the same week.

It wasn't national news. But it did cause our family circle to tighten a little bit -- to view things a little differently -- to grow as we grieve.

I have read many of these tributes and revelations and have been tempted to write one of my own, but feared that I had nothing to add to the conversation -- that it has all been said in the last two days, and far more eloquently than I could manage.

Then I remembered something from the beginning of my daughter's battle with the dementors (she'll appreciate that reference) -- when we were just beginning to fight the fight. I have seen a lot of people post links to the suicide prevention helpline. I have even seen at least one person mention that getting help can be hard, but it's worth it. We can certainly verify that. What I haven't seen discussed is the way people react.

I lost friends when I sought treatment for my daughter. 

I was judged harshly for trusting big pharma and was told that all she needed was unconditional love -- that by seeking treatment and help, I was essentially trying to change who she was. Just let her be. Just love her. She'll work it out. They implied that seeking help would make me a bad parent and a worse person. 

Other factions told me that she just needed tighter boundaries. That she needed more discipline. If any kid of theirs pulled a stunt like that... 

I was too demanding. 

I wasn't demanding enough.

I'm not going to lie -- I second guessed myself. Constantly.

But ultimately I continued to seek help. I dedicated myself to it. 

I left a job I loved because I couldn't do it well and continue to give my child what she needed.

I lost friends.

But I have my daughter -- and she is healing. She is well. 

So I guess that's what I want to add to the conversation. Depression cannot be loved away. (Nor can it be beaten out of someone, although that seems sort of like a no-brainer to me -- but a lot of people continue to entertain the notion...) I wish it could, but that's just not the way this particular beasty works. It takes hard work and diligence and sacrifice. 

Worth it.

We have worked our way through several hospitalizations, many meds and med combinations, many therapists, a few psychiatrists and many psychologists. It has been all-consuming.

Worth it.

When she had her very first meeting with her current counselor, the counselor told Tom and I, "This is not suicide prevention. We can't prevent suicide. If she really wants to kill herself, nothing you or I or any friend or any boy can say or do will stop her. We can't prevent suicide. What we can do is teach her to have a life worth living."

She is learning that.

I am learning, too.

I lost friends. 

I lost my source of income and a chunk of my external sense of self. 

It's a lesson that comes with a cost.

Worth it.

So I guess that's what I want to bring to the conversation. Right now the climate is very encouraging. Get help. And I want to underline that. But I also want to warn you that the world isn't always as supportive as it's been the last couple days, but it's worth it to pursue every avenue of help that is available. For you. For your loved ones.


Maybe we can love it away. 

Maybe we just need to reframe our ideas about love.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If a Picture Paints 1000 Words

Last week, my trainer started working on some back muscles I didn't know I had. They were a little weak, as you can imagine, but I'm at a good place with my training. It felt much more like a challenge than a defeat.

As I was driving to my weekend getaway, those back muscles flexed a couple times, involuntarily. It felt amazing. Powerful. Flexion laden with potential. Righteous. I mused on a conversation I'd had with my trainer earlier in the week. I told her that I could feel my muscles growing -- especially my biceps, which we don't work that hard in isolation, but they get a lot of peripheral action. My quads, too -- man are they feeling strong. I expressed my frustration with the fact that she and I are the only ones who really know how strong I'm becoming -- the extra layer(s) of ME hide the evidence pretty well from the general populous. "That's alright, babies," I assured my incognito guns, "I know you're there." I sealed my loving sentiment with a little kiss for each one. I was alone in my car. Nobody noticed. And if they did, well, then they have a story, I suppose. Crazy old fat lady in the next lane sucking on her big old arms in an attempt to satiate herself until she could pull over and buy a tub of chicken and a quart of ice cream.


I knew the truth.

I had bigger things to worry about anyway. I was on my way to camp - alone - in another state - to sleep and craft in the woods with 20-some people I'd never met. I was excited, but more than a little bit nervous. There would be a strict ban on social media for the whole weekend. That was scary enough, but I understood the desire to have everyone be fully present. If I wanted to have this adventure, I'd have to have it without a lifeline. All in. The scarier part was that the only camera I have is in my iPhone. While cameras were allowed, I knew I couldn't be trusted to not check my messages (real quick!) if my phone was in my hand. In my pics-or-it-didn't-happen world, would I even continue to exist if there were no photographic evidence?

I aimed to find out.

So I went and I lived and I socialized and I did it all without taking a single picture or writing or answering a single text. I did it without posting a status update or a tweet or an instagram. I pinned nothing. I did it. I lived an un-shared weekend. I wouldn't want to make a habit of it, but I'd definitely like to do it again. It seems very healthy (in small doses).

Now one of the things I do with my (perhaps way more than is healthy) online time is participate in a group that takes daily selfies. This is not out of any sense of vanity or ego -- it is just a practice we all use for our own purposes. My purpose is to become more comfortable with how I look -- to recognize myself -- to learn to treat myself with gentleness instead of picking myself apart. The latter is a lot easier than the former, and that just shouldn't be so. So I'm working and learning and making slow progress.

I thought I'd learned to recognize myself and not recoil in horror every time I saw a picture of myself.  I thought that -- until the pictures that other people took at camp started showing up. I am not speaking hyperbolically -- I saw those pictures and burst into tears. I recognize myself in the mirror --  I recognize myself in the selfies -- I did not recognize myself as captured by someone else's  eyes. 

Two days earlier I'd been kissing those hiding-but-existent biceps -- loving them and loving me --  and less than 50 hours later I was looking at arms as big as hams on a body they looked reconciled with. Fucking fuckity fuck.

I recalled with perfect clarity a conference I'd attended when I was in my 20s. I'd zoned out a little bit because I was distracted by the woman in front of me. She was a big woman. That wasn't shocking. I'd seen big women before. But her arms -- her arms were shocking. They were -- SO big. I remember thinking initially -- and quite uncharitably -- that she had no business wearing a sleeveless dress. As the conference ran on and I became more bored and squirmy and hot, I remember becoming more sympathetic rather than less. If I was that uncomfortable how uncomfortable must she be? This was so many years ago, and I never even spoke to her -- yet this memory came flooding back so clearly I could hear the speaker -- I could smell the room -- and I could visualize every flower on her faded shift dress.


I'd become what I'd judged.

All that work I'd done -- in the gym and in the mirror and with the rear-facing camera -- obliterated in an instant. Strong, emerging, offbeat -- yes, even beautiful -- replaced in less time than it took to blink by old, fat and ugly.

I'd been kidding myself, and quite successfully.

Let's rewind a moment. 

Months and months of working my way up to a place of self-acceptance. Months and months of getting stronger -- physically and emotionally. Months and months. Was I really going to let one moment -- no matter how undeniable the evidence was -- take all of that away from me?

This morning I made myself do my hair and put on make-up before I left the house. I didn't want to. I couldn't imagine why it would matter. Lipstick on a pig, and all that. But I did it. And it felt sort of good. Then I took my daily selfie. I hadn't been able to manage that yesterday. And it took a couple tries, but I recognized myself.

Tonight I will run.

Tomorrow I will train.

Because old fat and ugly cannot win. It cannot own me. How I look through someone else's lens isn't as important as how I look through my own. I've had a setback. But through my own lens, I am still strong. And oh, I am still emerging.

Have I written 1000 words? I think probably not. Have I painted a picture? I hope so. And I hope it is somehow -- in some offbeat way -- beautiful.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Button, Button

I have been working on decorations for Lea's graduation party for a couple days now. I really shouldn't be. There are more important things to be done. But creating is what I do. I can do this part. I can control this part. This part keeps my hands busy and allows my mind to slip subconsciously into a state that is damn near Zen. This is good -- because left to it's own devices, my brain has been an absolute mess for a couple weeks. The prevalent themes are: I can't believe my baby is graduating and I wish my dad were here to see this -- my dad should be here to see this, peppered with a lot of wondering how much food is enough because whose brilliant idea was it to have an open house with no head count, anyway?

Screw it -- let's make paper flowers and bunting. Activate hands; deactivate brain. It's better for everyone this way.

I was working on a project that was missing something, but I couldn't decide exactly what. Flowers weren't right -- but it needed something colorful; dimensional, but only subtly so. Eureka! Fetch Momma her button box!

I dumped the buttons I'd amassed throughout the years on top of my party notes and lists and started sifting through them, looking for the best ones to suit my need.

It was a happy chore, unlike the dusting and vacuuming that I was neglecting in order to do it.

And then I saw it.

I bet you know what's coming...

Peter Rabbit.

Peter Fucking Rabbit.

Peter was a leftover button from a sweater I'd made when I was expecting Lea. We didn't even know she was Lea, yet. At that point, she might have been Evan. Peter seemed sort of neutral to me. I remembered standing there in the fabric store in front of all of the cute buttons, trying to find something that would be just right for a little person I'd not yet met but who already owned my heart. The sweater was simple and white -- the only color was from these little buttons.

I picked up this button and promptly lost my shit.

I mentioned that I've been kind of a mess for weeks -- and Tom and the girls will certainly vouch for that. I tear up over nothing and lose my train of thought -- but I'd not actually cried.

Until I held that stupid button in my hand.

Ugly cry? Oh, you don't even want to know...

I'm glad, too. 

A good cry is cathartic, more often than not.

I had a sweet baby. And now I have a beautiful daughter standing on the brink of adulthood. She worked so hard to get here -- overcame so many obstacles -- it is such an accomplishment. And she did it.

Damn, I'm proud of that child.

I wondered what button I would choose to put on a sweater for her now. And then it hit me -- I wouldn't choose. She would choose for herself. And it would be perfect.

And some day -- 20 years from now -- when a spare one rolls out of my button box -- I will probably weep, remembering this time -- when the whole world was in front of her.