The Dumb Old Benevolent Universe

Two things happened today I would never have imagined when I was trying to envision single motherhood.

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First, I am working on a project with another producer who is  basically shouldering so much more of the work than me. She is smart and lovely.  I keep telling her I’ll take on more work, but she is passionate about the job and just goes ahead and does it. Today she texted me after I again told her how I didn’t feel right about it all. She just said that she knew I had other priorities, which she loved being able to help me with.  She actually called my being a single mom “noble.”  I am not sure that’s true, but the warmth of her texts messages was wonderful.

 

Second, I had major subway trouble and was going to be late to get my daughter from daycare. Out of nowhere I got a text from a mother whose kid goes to the same daycare, saying that she was going to be cutting it close. I told her I was in subway hell and was probably going to be like 20 minutes late, and she volunteered to pick up my kid for me. I was like, “well, okay, thank you!”  She just texted back, “sisterhood.”

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Fifteen minutes later I emerged from the subway to find her patiently waiting for me with both babies in tow. Then we all went to the park where my daughter laughed hysterically in the swing.

So I guess all that bullshit about there being a benevolent universe is true. Or at least, it was for me today.

Seriously, though, thank you, my women, for having my back. I got yours, too, whenever you need.

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A Racecar Driver?

Go back with me to eight years ago. My boyfriend of a year-and-a-half had The Talk. I’d thought we were firmly on the same page about commitment and family. Problem was, there didn’t seem to be any movement toward that. I hadn’t even met his family. So I brought up our future.

He looked panicked– not the reaction I was hoping for.  He stalled for time, telling me, “can we talk about this later, baby? The game’s on.” Again, the banality of this scene made me want to kick myself.  I couldn’t believe I had become this person.

As he kept one eye on the hockey, I told him that we were both 40, and I was ready for a real commitment and a baby.  He adjusted his junk and half-turned to me, “Okay, I’m getting a handle on this,” he said.  He told me that sure, he wanted commitment and kids too… just not yet.  He told me we were both “on the same road” but he was in a “regular car” and I was moving really fast, like in a “supersonic futuristic car.”

What?

It was in that moment I knew I had a big choice. But I made it in a split second, almost like my body made it for me.  I told him that if he wasn’t ready, I respected that, but I’d have to move on.

That finally got his full attention.  “Are you breaking up with me?” he said, incredulous. “But we get along so well! You can’t break up with me!”

Oh yes I can, I thought. I can, and I will. And I did. That was my first step toward my getting what I knew I always wanted but never thought I deserved:

love.

How It All Began

I was sitting on my bed with my boyfriend of about a year and a half in my studio apartment in Greenwich Village. The TV was on, tilted toward the bed, and tuned to a hockey game. My boyfriend has two fingers up my vagina, and is yelling at the Rangers. “Center, center, CENTER!!!!”

I realized then and there I’d become a cliche. If I saw me on a sitcom, I’d think it was too trite to continue watching. I was 40 years old, dating a man who was in no hurry to commit to me, and I knew I wanted a partner and a baby.  I had a cat. If I didn’t do something, and fast, this was going to be my life. And I didn’t want to settle.

I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Listen. We need to talk.”

Candid Camera

Probably the most important thing I’ve learned about parenting thus far: for the love of all that is holy, put your shoes on BEFORE you strap the baby to your chest in a carrier in the morning. Seriously. I am just glad there is no video feed of me in my apartment trying to lace up my boots while wearing the baby in the Bjorn. Pure comedy.

Equally important, the other day I finalized Lina’s adoption!  She is now officially my daughter! I called in to the Florida court from my parents’ office. My father was so nervous  he couldn’t sit down, and he even managed to hang up the phone on the court right before the proceeding. My step-mother cried.  I just held the baby and fed her and hoped she wouldn’t have an epic crap (she didn’t).

Here is Lina with Grandpa right before she became officially part of the Tittsy family (God help her).  Grandpa is kind of obsessed with her. It’s so sweet. I know I joke a lot, but I’m really moved by it.

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Some Pearls of Wisdom From A Neophyte Mom

Here is what I’ve learned in the first six months of mothering:

1. There are a million toys out there to buy babies, but your kid will probably just want to play with the box it came in. Or with the toy you fished out of the garbage.

2. Your baby will like the dumbest book on the shelf, and you will be forced to read it every night. Do not even try to get her to like classics such as “Eloise” or “Amos and Boris.” She just wants the stupid one about finding her bellybutton.

3. She will always pee on the changing table if you roll the dice and leave her undiapered for 15 seconds.

4. Babysitters who have been doing this for a long time know way more than you do about raising your kid. They are pros. Pick their brains and hope they don’t charge you extra.

5. You will buy your baby a really cute Christmas dress and take her to the family Christmas Eve party in it. Then she will throw a giant tantrum and refuse to do anything but cry so you have to take her home before you get a photo of her with Santa.

6. When you start feeding your baby solid foods, she will have the runs like nobody’s business. Then there will be a bad diaper rash that you will buy ten creams for. These creams will not work. The rash will only be cured when you remove her diaper and let her go ass-to-the-wind for several shit-encrusted days.

More on that, and the unharnessed power of poop, next time.

Someone Better Than Me!

Oh my god. I just saw this hilarious blog post on a mom blog, and it turns out there is a hilarious mom blogger who I love.  A lot of the mom stuff has not been up my alley, and I half-started thinking, “should I try to put an effort into my blog and do something I’d want to read?”  Turns out, this woman, Jenny True, is fucking hilarious and genius.

And here is the post called “Ginger Fruit Bowl and Fuck Your Baby Advice” that I love so much I want to, well, fuck it.

One Ticket There, Two Tickets Back

So this is the story of how I went to Florida and came back with a baby.

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As you might know, in every state, in adoption, a birthmother has the right to change her mind for a set period of time known as the “revocation period”.  In New York, for instance, a birthmother has 30 days after she signs the papers to decide she wants to parent. It’s fair, I think, because it’s not the kind of decision you want to find yourself regretting if you have decided to make an adoption plan for your kid.

 

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In Florida, there is no revocation period, which means that after the birth mom signs the papers she cannot change her mind. That’s awesome for an adoptive parent, and why a lot of people try to adopt in Florida.

 

The one thing is that the birth mom can’t sign the papers until 72 hours after she gives birth. It makes sense ethically, since right after birth I don’t think anyone is in their right mind to sign anything.

 

I spent three days in the hospital with the birthmother for as she delivered the baby and recovered.  She didn’t really have anyone to be there with her, so I was happy to be her support person. I also took care of Lina from the minute she was born, which was incredible.

 

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My stepmother came too, although she didn’t sleep there in her room like I did.  So the three of us just sort of hung out, held the baby, talked and generally kind of got to know one another. The birth mom is a wonderful young woman who had no opportunities in life. She’s smart, gorgeous and has my exact same sense of humor, oddly. We loved her and she clearly loved us, and the attention we gave her. The nurses helped me feed and bathe Lina and I think the birthmom liked watching me become a new mom to her baby. She was generous and helped me too, with diapering and feeding tips. It was fun and sweet and intimate, and I’m so glad we all had those three amazing days.

 

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But the night before the birthmother was to sign the papers at noon and leave the hospital– and leave Lina with me– she just broke down emotionally. She was crying hysterically, and told me to take the baby into the other room and leave her alone. After all that closeness, I just was sort of rattled.  She wouldn’t talk or look at me, even though she was just a few feet away in the other room.  It was awful, and I felt terrible for her. And I have never, ever felt stress the way I did that night and the whole next morning, because it seemed like she was going to change her mind about the adoption.

 

My stepmother came to the hospital the next morning, and I told her what was going on. She and I just huddled together on the couch in the adjoining room, holding Lina for hours and wondering what was going on in the birthmother’s room.  I’ll never forget the look on my stepmother’s face– those wide eyes that reflected my own anxiety, hurt and bewilderedness.

 

Then at about 11 am, the birthmom asked to see the baby. Both of our hearts dropped.

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I took a moment, and a breath.  Then I realized, all of a sudden, that the wonderful, sweet, unlucky young woman we had come to know and love wouldn’t give up her child without saying goodbye.  I wasn’t sure, but that’s what came to me. I was still nervous, but that thought rattled around in my brain as she kept the baby in her room for about half an hour.   My stepmother just said, “How do people go through this? How?”

 

Then at around noon, the door to the birthmom’s room opened. She had changed out of her hospital gown and was dressed in a pretty flowery dress.  She was holding the baby in her arms and was looking down at her with this truly beatific smile on her face.

 

She slowly walked over to me, gently placed Lina in my arms and said, “you are going to be a wonderful mother.”

 

I was stunned; my stepmother burst into tears, jumped up said ,”That was so beautiful!” I stood up and hugged the birthmom and said, “YOU are a wonderful mother.” We said we loved each other, and I did and I do.   Then my stepmother hugged her, and later told me that the birth mom said to her, “don’t worry. Tittsy’s going to be great.” Even in that moment she was thinking of me and not herself. All I wanted to do was to take care of her, too, but I know that isn’t possible or even helpful. But I will always love her.

 

More about the first week later after I feed this baby.

 

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