Beatitude of the Mundane

Integrity… on my own time.

Exorcising the Guilt


Hi, I’m Becky.  And I’m a recovering Catholic.  I’m tempted to say recovered, except for that one little nagging hanger-on, that feeling of guilt.  And not guilt at having turned my back on religion, not guilt at having left ‘the church’.  Just guilt in general.  Self-imposed guilt.

For example, I’ve been sick for 2+ weeks.  I have a cold that I just can’t seem to shake.  Sleep has been less than forthcoming due to some serious teething happening in the Bug’s mouth.  So some mornings, during her nap, I find myself laying down too, giving myself some quiet time to rest or read.  And it feels lovely, until I hear her waking up, and the flood of ll the things I should have been doing rush to the front of my mind.  The voice in my head starts berating me and my lack of decision-making skills.  I should have been working, exercising, cleaning, creating.  Anything except for the thing I chose to do!  (The fact that I do tend to procrastinate doing the work that brings in a paycheck doesn’t help…)

I know I’ve written about balance before.  It’s on my mind a lot.  It’s something I am constantly striving for, and often feel like I am close to achieving.  As banal as my life is, I love it, and am happy.  I like being a stay-at-home mama.  I like working freelance.  I like wearing jeans and tee-shirts everyday of the week, going to the park to swing, playing, washing diapers, being here with the Bug each and every day to watch and help her grow.  And I do need time for myself, I get that, I really do.  So why does the guilt still find so much room to dwell within me?  How can I simultaneously acknowledge what I need to be happy and healthy, while already dismissing it as overly-indulgent?

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Best Parts 2


So, maybe I lied a little in that last post.  Not lied, exactly, but…. omitted the truth?  Didn’t want to ‘fess up to what I had been thinking about?  Because, see, I think I do know the best part of me.  She’s sleeping upstairs in her crib right now.  And the person I’ve become because of her, the person I am around her, is absolutely my best part.  Yes, I love being a mother.  And in this day and age where people are defined by their careers, where parenthood is postponed until women have become “well-established” in their workplace, postponed until the last possible biological moment, I feel like I should almost hide this feeling.  But being her mom has been one of the best, most rewarding things I have ever taken on.  And I know I’m only eight months in.  But I already think about what it would be like to have another, wonder what our family will look like 5 or 10 years from now.  And it excites me.  All of this new discovery, each day being an adventure, an opportunity to learn and grow (for both of us)!

There is still the struggle to find balance, to keep myself from being defined only as “mama”, to keep a sense of self.  But that struggle doesn’t lessen in any way the joy and pleasure I take in my every day existence with her.  And along with the struggle is the frustration of how little support women receive to be home with their children, to be there for them.  I am extremely fortunate that our family can do this, that I can work from home and be here for my babe every day, but so many can’t.  They have to hand their children over to be raised by someone else.  What does it say about our society that there is so little value placed upon being there to raise the next generation?  Fortunately for me, I was able to be here, to discover this piece of myself I never knew could exist, to learn about this best part.

Best Parts


When I was six years old, my dad took me out of school for a week and we took a trip to visit his parents, my paternal grandparents.  This was back when my dad was still “Daddy”, when I willingly held his hand everywhere we went, when he was master of the universe, could do no wrong, and could fix any problem, no matter how big or small.

My grandparents lived in Queens, in the small row home that my dad grew up in.  When we would visit, I would sleep in the small second bedroom, in one of the two twin beds squeezed in the space.  On the wall above the pillow was a set of shelves where my clothes would go.  (It’s amazing to me what minute details the brain chooses to hang onto…)  Their home was about four doors down from a major avenue, and I can still remember how much trouble I had sleeping because of the constant noise, the cars and trucks roaring by at all hours of the day and night.  At home, there was mostly silence.  It’s funny now, that as an adult, how much that has shifted; I am definitely more comfortable falling asleep to the sounds of a city.

On this trip I was speaking of my dad took me all around New York, to all the places he loved as a boy growing up there, and to all of the things that make NYC great.  He would tell me stories as we rode the subway into town, of the many adventures he had, of the trouble he caused.  I could listen forever.  One of the places that we went to was to see my first Broadway show.  By this point, I was already a few years into ballet lessons, so we went to see A Chorus Line, and I loved it.  I kept the program for years.  Looking back, I think this may have been my first time going to ‘the theatre’, and it instilled in me a love of live performance.  I still become excited to go to a show, even as an adult.  There is something magical to it all, and seeing a show never fails to leave me feeling like dreams can come true…..


This afternoon I watched the documentary Every Little Step, which looks at the process of casting and creating the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line.  It follows a number of the 3,000+ who came to the open casting call, telling their stories, seeing their lives unfold, mirroring the story behind the musical.  At one point, one of the auditionees is asked what she will do if she doesn’t get a part, and she answers that she will continue to dance, however she can, because that is what she is meant to do, that is the best part of her.  And I had to stop, rewind, watch that part again….. what an amazing concept, what a beautiful thought…. doing what you do because you feel compelled, that you have to, because it is the best part of you.  THAT is how you should live life.  THAT is what should drive you.  But how do you define such a thing?  What about the rest of us, who aren’t ridiculously talented in one field, who haven’t been obsessively devoted to a passion our whole lives?  How do you find your best part?  And once you figure it out, how do you give it enough room to ensure growth and allow it to breathe?

I’ve been thinking about this all day, all evening, trying to pin down my “best part”, trying to flesh out what I feel I was put here to do.  It’s something I think I’ll be thinking about for days/weeks to come.  And I’m glad.  It’s a great way to continually evaluate life.   And I feel like I should end with some big revelation, but I’ve got nothing.  Yes, I’m creative.  Yes, I have a story I think is worth sharing and a voice to tell it with.  Someday, perhaps, someday….    But for right now, I have this space, and once in a while, I use it.

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A thin red line


It’s 6.75″ long, starting on the right side as smooth silver for about an inch, followed by a half inch of smooth pink, another inch of silver, with the remaining 4.25 inches raised and red.  It curves down slightly, with the lowest peak about 2.75 inches from the right.  It’s sort of like a smile on my belly.

It’s funny – I never considered for a moment, not once, that my pregnancy would end in delivery via c-section.  I know, the national rate is over 30% (appalling!), but I sure as hell wasn’t going to become part of that statistic. I was strong!  I can tolerate pain!  Hell, I have “Tough Girl” tattooed across my back, cause I’m, ya know, tough, damnit!  For months, Tim and I worked through all sorts of labor scenarios.  Pain management without drugs.  Working through contractions.  Best pushing positions.  Relaxation techniques.  You name it, we talked about it, and how we felt would be best to deal with it.  We hired a doula to guide us through.  We felt comfortable with our midwives.  And not ever did the idea that I would end up on a table in an extremely bright operating room cross my mind.  Not ever did I consider what it really means to have a c-section, that you are undergoing surgery (something I had never done before), that it leaves you permanently altered.  Scarred. Which is particularly ironic, given the fact that I have chosen to permanently alter my body a number of times, with both piercings and ink.

On the one hand, I feel, nay, I know that we did everything within our power to have the natural birth we had hoped and wished and planned for.  All of the labor scenarios we had worked on came into use – for over 30 hours, I labored drug-free, with Tim by my side the whole time, holding me and talking me through each contraction, reminding me to move and take sips of water and breathe.  And I am so indescribably grateful for those 30 hours.  While they were hands-down the hardest thing I have ever done, they also reminded me in the most drastic way possible how incredibly fortunate I am to have Tim by my side, in any situation.  I couldn’t have gotten through it without him, and to know that we work together so well in the hardest of times is amazing.  It is an assurance I will care with me for the rest of my life, and never will I doubt that if there is something we need to get through, that we will, that we can, no matter how hard.

But at the same time, I’ve started doubting myself.  At the time, after the 30+ hours, I felt sure that I had done everything I could to labor naturally, and that it just wasn’t in the cards.  I had nothing left, physically or emotionally, with which to draw on to get through what might have been hours upon hours more.  I just couldn’t do it.  I know that.  I know I gave it my all.  I signed that surgery waiver confident that it was the right next step for us, to become a family.  And I know I should just hold on to those thoughts, that feeling, cause it’s right.  But that doubt…. the questioning.  What if I just pushed a few more hours?  What if I was able to just keeping going?  Would it have worked?  Why couldn’t I just be a little stronger, a little tougher?  Each morning as I pull on my jeans, I look down and am reminded that I couldn’t hack it.

And that last line is pathetic, cause it’s not about whether or not I was tough enough.  Our little babe wasn’t interested in descending.  She just wasn’t.  She never dropped, and if 2 days of labor wasn’t enough, I’m fairly certain that a few more hours wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference.  But then I scratch my belly, and can’t feel it, and I cringe.  Such a stupid, mixed-up, irrational bunch of emotions, all attached to this thin, red line across my abdomen.  On the plus side, it’ll be there for the rest of my life, so I have plenty of time to work through all those thoughts and feelings and get comfortable with it.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.


It had been a long time, but this weekend, I pulled you out and reacquainted myself to you.  You were pretty dusty and I was pretty rusty, and we didn’t spend nearly as much together as I had hoped.  But now you’re all clean and sitting there on my desk, ready to go.  Each time I pass you on the way to the bathroom, you’re there, shiny and white and far too new looking for the 5 years you’ve been mine.

We’ve made some nice things together over the years, but I know I hold you back, I know you’ve been sitting patiently, waiting for me to catch up to everything you have to offer.  Well, maybe this is that time.  Maybe it’s finally here.  I have patterns, I have fabric.  I have ideas, oh, so many ideas!  (Although I never lack the ideas, it’s just the follow-through.)  And I have a mother-in-law who plants seeds of thought so often, little encouraging, ridiculous seeds of things she thinks I’m capable of, and in my fear of disappointing – her, myself, whomever – I start thinking more and making plans.  And these days, all of my plans focus around you.  Around getting to know you like the old pal you should already be.  Of learning how to better finesse your features, learning to build my skills.  And said mother-in-law has a sort of craft-fair festival thing in 2 short months (less, really), and my plans include having things to show and sell at said festival.  So, you and me, babe, we’re going to become fast friends.  Starting right now.

I will follow you into the dark.


I’ve been thinking a lot about loss lately.  What that means, in so many aspects of everyday life.  What it means on a grander scale.  Loss is something we all experience and have an intimate relationship with.  We each deal with it differently, as individuals, as cultures, societies, but there is not a single person that has not been touched by loss on some level.  And the spread of those levels is amazing – to some, the experience of loss is so minimal that it is not even considered; to others, it is so great that it is felt at a catastrophic level, wrenching breath from body.

I consider myself to be a somewhat logical, stable person.  Yeah, my mood can occasionally swing faster and harder than Barry Bonds on the ‘roids, but overall, I think I present myself as a pretty functional member of society.   One of the manifestations of my particular brand of depression is my ability to imagine loss – to mourn the imaginary.  A movie in which a family member dies has me in tears over the inevitable death of my own parents.  A song presents that truth that one day Tim and I will be separated similarly, and I can’t decide which would be worse, to die first, or to be left living without him, and I find myself a blubbering mess.  It’s almost comical, really, the ways in which I let myself lose control, let my imagination go crazy, and the emotionally-wrought  Becky that follows.  It doesn’t happen often, thankfully, but it almost always surprises and embarrasses me.  As if there aren’t much larger issues in the world to spend one’s emotions on.  Alas.

We took our baby girl to the pediatrician last week for her four-month checkup.  (It’s hard to believe it’s been four months already, and yet, it’s equally hard to believe we ever existed without this joyous being in our life.)  When the doctor mentioned that we could start feeding her cereal, it was like a hand reaching in and squeezing my heart.  No, we cannot start feeding her food.  To do that means admitting that the wonderful place we are at with breastfeeding will someday come to an end.  And soon!  And those half dozen times a day that I share with my bug – nurturing her in a way that only I can, as she looks up at me with those big blue eyes – would be one step closer to ending.  I refuse to transition into having a baby who eats!  And as I’ve come back to this over the last few days, I’ve slowly been coming to terms with the fact that this is what parenthood is.  It is loss.  Continual loss.  Of who that little person is right now.  Of who she was yesterday.  But it is also discovery.  Of who she will be tomorrow.  Of watching her come into her own, watching her realize she is her own being, developing and growing into what that means.  And these realizations are helping me remember to be present with her every day, every hour, every smile and giggle and wiggle, to enjoy her for who she is, and be okay with the loss of who she was yesterday.  I still don’t have any intention of starting her on food yet, we’ve got time, but I know it’s coming.  And knowing that is helping me put loss into perspective, and helping me understand that letting go, slowly, is also what parenthood is.

Under pressure


I, like many others out there, am my own worst critic.  This isn’t news to the 5 of you who read this and know me.  I can tear myself down quicker than a child ripping open a present on Christmas morning.  I defend this as a way to build myself up – I can be brutally honest with myself, and then figure out what needs to change or happen, what my next steps might be.  Most observers just see it as uncomfortable and overly-harsh.  And, as I’m sure more than a few of you could point out, I am often critical, with no follow-through, no next steps.  Just self-deprecation.

I bring this all up because lately I have been feeling a lack of self.  A loss of who I am, or at least, once was.  I used to be an artist, I used to be driven and engaged and creative and funky.  I used to have style, albeit a little strange.  I felt like all of my pieces fit together correctly.  Which is funny, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever felt that way, but looking back, it seems that that is who Becky of 5  or 8 years ago was.  So what changed?  I’m not sure.  Was it getting a desk job?  Turning away from the world of an artist?  That may have been a step towards this, whatever this is.  This feeling of not fitting in my own skin.

Another big change is Calliope.  73 days ago, I gave birth to a baby girl.  The most beautiful baby girl.  She is incredible and I love her more than I can even imagine putting into words.  And I had 9 months to prepare for this life change, of becoming a mother.  But I never thought about what it would mean to be a mother to a girl.  I suddenly realize what a task it could be, to raise a girl in this society, to teach her that being skinny, being blond, being all those things that the media tells us we need to be is just not so.  That beauty can be defined and imagined in countless ways.  That self-worth comes from within, not from what anyone else ever says.  These thoughts, these weighty thoughts swirl around my head as I tell her how beautiful she is, as I kiss her cheeks and pinch at her chubby little thighs.  And I realize that to be that momma, to be the momma who can instill confidence and worth, I need to feel those things about myself.  I need to work out whatever this feeling of lack is, and change it, turn it on it’s head.  I need to teach by example.  And never in my life has something seemed so important.  I want nothing more than for my daughter to grow up healthy, in every sense of the word, of knowing full well that she is worth any dream she could possibly imagine.  To never limit herself.  And so, I need to understand that about myself.  To stop limiting myself.  To get off my lazy ass and start, whatever that entails.

And today, I did.  I took a first step.  A small step, but one forward, which is the only way to go.  Today I took her shopping.  Not at a big box store, not at the mall, where all the trends are set, where a season is defined by what’s “hot”.  No, we went to a thrift store.  I picked out a few random pieces of clothing, she helped me decide which seemed right for me, and then we were done.  My whole life I shopped at thrift stores.  Going to one was a special time for my mum and I, and I grew up loving them.  But somewhere in the last 5 years I lost that desire to go hunting for finds.  I’ve been taking the easy way out, letting the shiny store windows tell me what to wear.  But no more.  This love of thrift stores is something I want to pass down to my daughter, and it started today.

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“Find My Family”? – Find some boundaries.


A new show debuted on ABC last week – Find My Family.  The premise, according to the show’s site, is simply “to bring families together”.   With the help of a dedicated team of researchers, hosts guide people searching for lost loved ones through the emotional journeys that will change their lives forever. On national television.  Yeah, that’s appropriate.  Is there nowhere that reality television will stop, no line at which producers will stop short and say “Hmm, maybe this isn’t really fitting for a national audience”?

Commercials have promoted searching for birth parents as well as long lost siblings.  I can’t speak to long lost siblings, but I do know that the search and potential reunion between a child and birth parent is an extremely loaded and emotional journey.  It is a series of months or even years filled with hope and then disappointment, dreams and then nightmares, questions, histories, hugs, tears, fulfillment, and insecurities.  To simplify this search into an hour long program, to belittle the journey, to bottle it into the predictable routine of 44 minutes of programming plus 16 minutes of commercials belies not only the producers lack of sympathy, but also their willingness to take advantage of someone so desperate to find answers to their questions.  It falsely glorifies this reunion, which can often be hurtful, harmful, and nothing short of life-shattering.


I was reunited with my birth parents over ten years ago.  Which is hard to believe because my relationship with both my birth mother and birth father still feel new and raw.  We are still learning about one another, trying to figure each other out, to understand choices made, to accept personalities, to find room in our hearts and homes for this new family, to look beyond the often awkward interactions to try to see who the other really is, beyond the qualifiers of “birth mother”, “birth father”, or “birth daughter”.  Will we ever become completely comfortable with one another?  I don’t know.  I certainly hope so, but I can’t say for certain.


I can see some positives to this show, I understand the opportunity tis might afford someone – the resources made available to participants, the time and money and expertise in seeking out lost people.  It may be their only real chance, their last chance, to find answers.  But the sacrifice you would make, to have to share your story, in cliff note version, to a judgmental audience, is not one I can wrap my head around as being “worth it”.  And you may read this and think that I am being overly judgmental, so let me leave you with this last little tidbit about the show….  After 50 minutes invested in someone’s story of loss, the reunion is held in a manmade field, with perfect lighting and weather.  There is a small hill with a path leading to the top, where a picturesque tree stands alone against the horizon.  The reunion inevitable always takes place here, under this tree.  Which, I shit you not, is called “The Family Tree”. {Groan………}

This isn’t about helping people.  This isn’t about individuals who have suffered enough.  This is about ratings.  This is about the next marketable product, and each person on the show is just that, a product.

role with it*


Or: Navigating the unchartered waters of adoption, the relationships that ensue, and the lack of definition within newfound family as I create a family of my own.

One thing that has been made repeatedly apparent to me as an adoptee who has been reunited with birth families is the lack of guidance or precedent available. What exactly is the relationship you have with your birthmom? Or birthdad? Is there such a thing as being too close, too open? When are you being too aloof and distant? How do you integrate whole new sets of family into a life you’ve been living for years? How do you integrate whole new sets of family into the sets you already have? Guess what! No one can answer these questions for you. And most days, even you can’t. Unfortunately, in the past ten years since meeting my birthparents, I am often only made aware of where the boundaries are when I cross them, or don’t come near enough. Basically, when I’ve somehow upset someone, or someone has upset me, in trying to figure this tangle all out.

Girl Time
For the most part, I have been much closer with my birthmom. As a child, envisioning being reunited, I always pictured meeting her. I guess part of that was encouraged by the fact that I knew there was interest in her meeting me too, thus, no fear of rejection. And maybe part of it was playing into the fairly biased stereotype that single women who put their children up for adoption due so in part because of the father being a deadbeat who doesn’t want to be part of the picture. Whatever the reasons, I would daydream about meeting her often – what she would look like, how she would react to seeing me for the first time, would we hug, laugh, cry, etc etc. Once we met we kept in close contact, and she has been extremely generous in sharing her life and her story with me. (At times, I feel too much so, but that is a whole other post….) We’ve gotten together countless times over the years, making day trips to visit one another, traveling to a common point for a girls’ weekend, even going overseas together, sharing an amazing trip to a land new to us both. Our interests run in a very similar vein, which has made it easy to bond over common interests such as theatre, books, and a continual quest for peace within one’s self. I often introduce her to others as my godmother, because we both find that to be a fitting description of the role she plays in my life.

This past spring, though, there was a bit of a meltdown, which led to a questioning of her role in my life. A questioning on her part, I might add, not mine. And this is just one of the many (MANY) sticky areas that comes with adoption, which is unique and different for every single person. I felt that our relationship was pretty stable. We talked on the phone with some regularity, emailed, wrote, and visited whenever our lives would permit. I am, admittedly, one of those people who gets easily distracted by the life in front of them, sometimes neglecting the lives of those they love that are physically farther away, for no other reason than I don’t see them on a regular basis and fall out of habit of keeping in contact. Lame, I know. Well, this had happened some with Birthmom. And when I dropped the news on her – over the phone, I might add – that she was going to a grandma….. well, things got quiet. And awkward. And ended up with her emailing me the next day, confessing feelings of confusion as to where she fits in my life, and the life of this child. Is she part of my family? Is she her own family, that I sort of belong to? Do we just flit in and out of each other’s lives? It was a tough email to read and process. And once again, questions with no answers.

The best I could and have come up with since that time is that yes, I absolutely see her as family. But how that is defined is completely fluid and ever-changing. And is something that we both need to reevaluate with some regularity to ensure that both our needs are being met. How we (my husband and I) are going to introduce our child to her is yet to be determined. What will she want to be called? What role does she see herself playing in this little monkey’s life? I don’t know, and I don’t think she does either. But we have both come to terms with letting such decisions breathe, keeping it open and loose, and letting what feels right inform us as we go. (I know, so hippie-dippie. But really, with so much of this, it’s about feeling things out….) Only time will really tell if this is a workable solution. And if not, we’ll regroup, try to think of what comes next, and proceed with caution as we continue to redefine this relationship. This amazing, wonderful, confusing, emotional, hard, sweet relationship.

A Man’s World
My relationship with my birthdad has been much more…. scarce. (As such, this section will be much shorter, and filled with many more unanswered questions.) He’s shown some interest, as have I, but we have both been hesitant over the years, tentative in our outreach. We’ve gotten together around holidays every year or so, and always enjoy our time together, but somehow that does not lead to more frequent contact. I know that he feels unsure of how to proceed, and I do too. And I’m ok with this casual relationship we’ve developed. For the most part. Most of the time. But in the times when I wish we had more, I’m uncertain of how to make that happen, of what that next step is. It’s so much harder with men. So much harder to read. Emotions don’t play into it nearly as much, and neither do outpourings of the heart, which leaves me a little lost and unsure. Not that I need outpourings, mind you, I really don’t. But without some sort of hint or indication that he wants more also, it’s hard to determine where we stand or if we wish to stand closer, and so we continue on, keeping each other at arm’s length.

He knows I’m pregnant, and has expressed heartfelt congratulations. And sometimes I think to myself “You’re going to be a granddad”, but I know that’s not really true. He’s not, cause I don’t think he sees himself as even a dad, or birthdad. Did he father a child? Yes. Does he care for said child very much? Yes. Has he ever reached out in a way that would indicate paternal instinct? No, not really. But then again, I don’t know him that well, so this whole post might be entirely unfair. It’ll be interesting to see how he interacts with the monkey. I am trying very hard to be better about keeping in touch with people, now that it’s not just me, but my family, and he is one of the people I am most hopeful about furthering our bond. As for what his role is? I could only guess at how he might answer that. I think he could only guess at an answer. And that’s ok. For the most part. Most of the time.

*No, I cannot help myself when it comes to a bad pun. Consider yourself warned.

fail whales


So, here we are again, it’s been 2 months, and nothing. I’ve been accused of creating an orphan blog. Which I think is fairly ironic, considering that one of my main goals in starting this was to have a platform to write about adoption and families, and in doing so, try to make some sense of the multitude of family that I have due to my reconciliations with both maternal and paternal biological families.

I recently came across this blog post and found myself nodding along quite a bit. Not with all the nonprofit hub-bub, but the larger idea, about fear of failing. And thus, a lack of starting. I am notoriously guilty of this. Holy crap, am I guilty of this. My brain is always whirring with ideas, things i want to make and write and share and create. I carry a small sketchbook with me at all times to capture ideas, to scribble and visualize, etc. But I would say only 5% of any of my ideas make it into production. And that’s just sad. Pathetic, even. I have this blog set up, easy as pie, just waiting for me to give it life, to add content and thoughts, to create stories. I have no excuse for not posting more often. And ok, I have been busy, what with the gestating, but it’s not as if this hasn’t just created more ideas over the last 8 months. It has! So many ideas! Now I just need to act on them, need to stop thinking so much, and stop being afraid.

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