I am working on the second of my posts about the upheaval in the Adoption, Loss, and Infertility community. In the first, I discussed emotional infertility and then posed some questions about how it may have affected the type of support you sought in the infertility community. The comments on that post are some of the best that I’ve ever received. Several of you mentioned how it gave you “light bulb” moments of insight and clarity. I don’t think there’s much better that a writer could ask for when someone reads his or her words. The conversation is ongoing, and you all definitely helped to crystallize some of the other thoughts that were under development in my mind. Several of you will likely see yourselves quoted!
In the next post, I want to tie these ideas into how I think emotional infertility was the underlying cause behind why the ALI community exploded the way it did, and also delve into what I think we can do as individuals and as a community to heal, reconnect, and come out stronger on the other side of it. I want to take my time with this post, though, so I’m going to word it carefully and will hopefully have it ready to publish by tomorrow evening.
Today, though, I’d like to talk about my baby girl, Kyra. She’s hardly a baby anymore, with her long legs and budding maturity. She and Jaiden will be 11 this summer. Though they’re the same age, there is something about Kyra’s aging which tugs at my heartstrings in a way that Jaiden’s does not (at least not yet). Perhaps it is because like most girls, she’s hitting puberty a couple of years ahead of her male counterparts. Maybe it is because I was a girl once, and I can identify with her growth in a way that I might not be able to with her brother. Maybe it’s because sometimes when I look at her, I get a glimpse of the woman that she’ll become, and it makes me want to hold her close to me like the child that she is for as long as possible…to protect her from the heartbreaks and angst and worldly ills for as long as I can.
Tomorrow, I’ll take her to the orthodontist to get braces. As silly as it seems, for some reason this is making me emotional in ways that I never expected. For the next three years, her smile will be different. My smile when I look at her will be different, but not because I think the braces will detract from her beauty. No, I’ll smile because I know that when I look at her, I’ll see her three years down the line, thirteen years old and a few months from entering high school. Those braces for me represent some sort of stopwatch clicking down the time closer to when I’ll have to open my arms and let her go.
I pray that she’ll take enough of me with her to know that she’s never alone.
My Dearest Kyra,
Valentine’s Day might be an over-commercialized excuse for companies to shove jewelry, sappy cards, 2-for-the-price-of-1 dinners, and stupid stuffed animals holding “I *heart* U” pillows down our throats. Don’t get me wrong; I love love and the idea of celebrating it, but the marketing sometimes leaves me bit jaded about the holiday itself. But this year, you’ll turn 11. I can’t help but think of myself when I was 11. It was the age at which I first started feeling those flutters of a new kind of love.
As you know, my birthday falls on the 11th, just a few days before Valentine’s Day. On my 11th birthday, the boy who I liked (and who I was pretty sure liked me, too) gave me a chocolate heart. It was a specially-packaged Valentine’s Day heart, wrapped in red foil and topped with a white bow. My heart exploded with powdery-pink kiddie love. I roll my eyes to think of it now, but my mom-heart thuds with an intensity that almost scares me when I think of you heading towards this same phase in your life.
I’m so in love with your father, and he’s so in love with me. I want that for you. When the time is right, I want you to feel this degree of mutual love. I want him (or her, if that turns out to be the case) to love you because you’re you, and not some painted notion of what a woman “should” be. I want you to be loved by someone who won’t be intimidated by your success, someone who is empowered by having a strong, Black woman as a partner and an equal. I want you to be respected, honored, adored, and protected. Above all, I want you to love yourself in all of the same ways, and then let that be the solid foundation upon which your love for others is grown. Your self-love is what will allow you to stand independently–whether as a single or as part of a couple.
So when you start to feel your heart thrum with those fledgling vibrations, remember to put yourself first and to love yourself the most. A chocolate heart is nice, but it won’t mean much if the person who gave it to you doesn’t cherish your heart for all that it is.
Though I think the commercialization of Valentine’s Day may be a touch blasé, I will never tire of Daddy’s shows of love for me–even when he brings me a heart-shaped box of candy and a fluffy, hot pink gorilla that sings “Wild Thing” (Tone Loc, not The Troggs) when you squish its tummy.
My love always,