Monday, November 20, 2006


One of the biggest changes in me since my daughter was born is my perspective on life and how I live it. It's two-fold: (1) I no longer believe in a "they" and (2) I finally feel like a participant.

(1) On "they":

I always believed in "they" who run the world and are in positions of authority. There is no "they" and I finally realized that. This world is run by everyday folks who have no supernatural powers, knowledge or ethics. (Duh!)

With how my daughter's jaundice was handled, I realized that doctors and nurses don't know everything, that they're just individuals and that I as a mother have every right to follow my instinct and that "they" are not going to come and get my daughter because I choose not to have her foot pricked for the sixth time in a week when she was never even at a toxic level. This was my watershed event, the experience that really opened my eyes to the fact that all the pressure I've put on myself in life comes from an assumed "they" who I felt needed to approve all my major decisions. Like anyone was even watching or caring! Maybe this is a result of being firstborn in my family and believing in authority, rule keeping, actions and consequences, black and white.

This realization has really liberated me. It's given me the right to be my own authority. No longer do I constantly apologize for my presence here on earth.

Part of being able to put this realization into action is having to care for my daughter. Her needs are so important that I have to be her advocate. Example: No, she isn't going to the doctor because she has a fever. Why expose her to more germs and me to unneeded stress just to be told the things I read in the books and hear from the Nurse line?

I have a newfound confidence and almost every day it is validated. I am a much nicer person most of the time, too. Rather than hoping I go completely unnoticed, I'll say hello to a person I don't know leaving my office building with me or standing in line at the bank or grocery store. I used to mumble to clerks if I had to say something like "debit" or "credit" as if I were sorry to put them through the extra trouble of a credit card rather than just handing them cash. If paying with cash, I would consistently apologize if the person had to make a lot of change for me. When a clerk told me not to apologize for giving him a $20 for a $2.50 transaction because it was his job to give me change since I was spending money in his store, I realized that he was right. Why did I feel like I had to try to make everyone else's life as easy as possible, to not be an added burden when in most cases it's just a normal course of business thing?

I also no longer care about impressing anyone or meeting unnecessary external perceived expectations. I enjoy my life - my husband, my job, our home and our one child and I am perfectly content without a Master's degree. People may share their opinion about any of these things, but they aren't the ones living my life. I don't want a different husband, a larger home, or another child. I may want the challenge of earning a Master's degree someday, but for now, I just want to continue enjoying my life because I am very grateful for all the things that are in it right now.

(2) On feeling like a participant:

I used to engage in a lot of outdoor exercise: bike rides, jogging, hiking, long walks. I always felt like I was passing people and houses where life was going on. No matter where I went or what I did - going to a coffee shop, the grocery store, the movies - I felt like I was just an observer, a poser even. When I spent time with other people and then we parted ways, my mind always asked "now what?". Even after I got married, it seemed as though I was constantly filling my life with things: travel, reading, and of course, work, where I spent well over 40 hours a week trying to prove myself and feeling like I had to do everything 110%. Yet it just didn't feel like I was living life. I felt like I was going through motions, trying to find a rhythm, a purpose.

Now that I have my daughter and through the very nature of taking care of a small child, in addition to working and dealing with the rest of stuff that makes up life, I truly feel like a participant. It's not because my life is really busy, there's just finally a sense of truly living each moment. For me, I believe this comes from parenting, that being a parent is an important part of who I am supposed to be because I no longer feel like I'm waiting for my life to start or that life is only something for others. Now I no longer overachieve at work in a futile attempt for recognition and validation, wanting to know that I make a difference. And anything I do with other people is just something else in my very full and rewarding life rather than another interaction where I hope for some sense of meaning, to feel like I belong, am accepted and matter.

And I know I had these feelings of disconnectedness and search for identity prior to being pregnant with my son, so I know they preceded the adoption. However, I think the fallout from the adoption prolonged my time in this limbo. Who knows, maybe I would have always felt this way had my life played out different up to this point. However, after waiting 14 years to parent, certain expectations cropped up that, after being unmet, made me realize the things I have written about today.


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