Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I took a writing class this summer, one of those adult continuing ed classes where you don't get a grade. It was a memoir class and of course almost all my material for the prompts came from the time I had my son. We had to share a four-page piece with the class at the end and have it "workshopped" where people would comment on it and the writer couldn't say anything. I didn't feel like writing something different so I polished up one of my prompted pieces where I had been purposely vague about the placement and wrote mostly about my four days with him. It was based on the fact that I could not remember feeding him. I did drop some hints - like how we took an airplane ride and wound up in an office. But when I got done, it seemed no one understood what happened.

After my initial surprise, I basked in the response of the older females (everyone save one 22 year-old was at least 60) who said, "Oh, how vulnerable, clearly a first baby." "Really captures how hard it is to be a first-time mother and you think you're doing everything wrong." Women started to talk about how they felt exactly the same way. I thought to myself, oh, they didn't understand but isn't it nice to treat his birth and the time I had him as just a normal motherhood? I was taken back to the time when I did pretend with people that I was about to become a mother. It felt nice. Welcoming. Comforting. Then one man piped up and said, "But I feel like something went wrong, but that he didn't die." I said, "That's right. I gave him up for adoption." The room was deadly silent and one woman's eyes were as large as saucers. Literally. I kid you not.

After a very pregnant pause [pun intended], the instructor said that I should probably explain it better, even be explicit about it in the beginning. I said, "No, it will cause everyone to put up their filters as they read it." The gay guy in class said, "Oh, I understand all about filters." I appreciated his support, but still the room was unusually silent. No one proffered any cliches, thankfully, but no one said anything else, either. I finally just said, "I guess I forget that what has been my reality for over 21 years isn't even on most people's radar." And we moved onto the next person.


Blogger fishknits said...

Well done. You got the validation and demonstrated the way adoption filters block it out so often.

2:09 PM  

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