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Throughout the day...

Pretend you were there that day, watching me from a window, observing my activity morning through night.  What would you see and what would you conclude if you knew nothing further about the details of my life?

You would have seen this:

A house full with me, my husband, three kids, a dog, friends and neighbors stopping by (and later that night--my aunt and uncle), holiday decorations and new toys.  There was a flurry of non-stop social activity.  Shared meals. Diapers changed.  The mundane details of an otherwise ordinary life.  

You would also notice that in each and every opportunity between feedings, laundry, and conversations with others, I was engaged in a most obsessive pursuit: checking my email.  You would have seen me on my iPhone, scrolling madly through my online mail.  You would see a middle aged woman, surrounded by her domestic obligations who took each and every spare moment to check her phone again.  And again.  And again. 

And except for those captured moments--me, looking frantic and wild for something on my iPhone--for someone--you would be otherwise bored. There's not much intrigue associated with washing baby bottles.  

But...you'd want to know what was going on with all that checking of my phone. You'd probably think I was having some secret love affair--waiting for my lover to make contact!  It would explain the compulsive checking behavior.

But you would be wrong.  I was waiting for Kendra to reply to my last email.  I would calculate the passage of time between our previous correspondence--Kendra had always replied quickly and within the same calendar day--and I did, in fact, suffer from a feeling of abandonment by nightfall.

When my aunt and uncle arrived that evening, bringing with them a homemade Italian feast, I was so grateful for the nourishment and the distraction.  We ate and we laughed.  My aunt held Lily most of the night, and again, as I had noted during my mother in-law's visit, I realized I was more able to "share" Lily with others than I had been with TJ and Sara during their newborn stages.  Again, I wondered whether this indicated that I loved Lily less than I did my biological children?  Or, maybe all mothers hand off the third child with greater ease? Perhaps it was simply a matter of exhaustion. 

After my aunt and uncle left, and all the kids were sleeping, Tom practically leaped into our bed.  "Come on, what are you doing?  Let's go to sleep already."

"One sec," I told him, as I checked my email again.

But there was nothing from Kendra.  I plopped down beside Tom. 

"Goodnight," Tom said.  "I love you."

"Kendra hasn't written me back from last night."

Tom rolled over to face me.  "She's probably just busy.  Don't forget, she still has two little boys she's caring for.  Let's go to sleep.  I'm sure you'll hear back from her tomorrow."

"But she always writes back the same day."

Tom sighed.  "Jen, come on, I'm exhausted.  She's probably exhausted.  Forget it for now."

"Okay," I said.  "I just hope she's alright."

As I closed my eyes, I wasn't just worried for Kendra.  It was more complicated than that.  I felt the anxiety of a cast-off lover.  I felt the pain of rejection. There was something humbling and humiliating about being chosen by a birth mother and then, in a mere day's time, feeling neglected by her.  But what exactly did I expect from this younger woman--a daily ongoing partnership? What more could I possibly want from a woman who had already given me her baby!  

To Be Continued...


Unknown said...

Hello Jennifer, I can understand your feeling of wanting reassurance that she thought of you and held you close to her heart every day - and would respond soon after you wrote. A lot to expect, I know, but I am guessing you are a bit like me in that you wanted reassurance not only that she was OK but that she viewed you and your actions in a positive light.

I seek that approval constantly, with Nina's mother Rayna. I sometimes think that as the mother of someone I care so very deeply about, Rayna has power over me like no passionately loved boyfriend ever did.

Jennifer said...


Yep--anyone who has power over our loved ones has power over us too.