Monday, December 30, 2013

The gift of space; the gift of closeness

We've had the usual whirlwind of travel and gifts and family, part of the normal Miser Mom family traditions.  (We've also had a few unusual extra adventures, like a Christmas night trip to the Emergency Room for a possibly-broken-but-fortunately-only-sprained ankle, but we're not intending to add that to our list of annual traditions).

Now I am appreciating two kinds of gifts.  J-son is off visiting the foster mom who raised him before he moved in with us.  These quiet days without him here are an odd reminder of a different kind of "normal", and it's good to remember that life can be like this.  We put a pile of change on the dresser, and we don't worry about where it will go.  I get ready for bed, and I don't have to wander through the house locking each of the cabinets and bed stands.  I wake up, and I do not bother to search J-son's bedroom for the latest contraband.  Even N-son, who loves having a brother in his life, is quieter and more content.  It is definitely a guilty kind of pleasure we are all experiencing.  It feels wrong to be happy that J-son is not around . . . but I do appreciate the tranquility that this particular respite is bringing us.

If one of my gifts is the gift of space, the other is the gift of closeness.  I spent a day or two recently pulling together photographs and souvenirs to make a "memory book" for K-daughter.  Because I first met her when she was 6 years old, I can't go back to birth, but I found some pictures of an 8-year-old version of this kiddo, and I also added in recent events of importance (like the day she got her driver's license).  I must have spent an hour or so at the copy place.

K-daughter knows there are photo albums from her early years, but they might have gotten lost in the upheaval that followed her grandmother's death.  And losing those early photos would be hard on her -- I know from all those foster-care classes I've sat through, that that's one of the more difficult losses that many itinerant kids face.

By making my own album for her, I know I'm rewriting her story.  It's not the story of the kid raised first by a single mom who loved her fiercely and then by a grandmother who had lost her daughter to cancer.   The story that I can tell is the one about the child who appeared magically in our lives, at first on the periphery of our lives, but becoming more and more woven into the fabric of our family so that now she is there at every major moment, every big event.  And as much as I know that K-daughter needs to find the early photo albums so that she can reclaim that first part of her story, I'm so glad for all of us that the second story is the one I get to tell.

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