I can now report that the days leading up to Fathers' Day were the most difficult I had to deal with this week. That is, however, not entirely for apparent reasons. There's been a lot of tumult in my life these days. My health has been flagging for a while as I've been combating an infected wisdom tooth for a little over a month now. I haven't been able to work in that time which means no money has been coming in. Similarly I haven't been getting out of the apartment much at all so the only social contact I've had is Athena. Don't get me wrong. I love spending time with her! But it's important to see other humans too. Reading other authors' blogs has helped assuage that a bit but as we all can recognize it isn't the same as a face to face conversation with a good friend.
As a result of not getting out and seeing people, having my daily routine demolished, I've lost a sense of grounding. As Athena put it, "all the cues you normally use to tell yourself that you're fine and life is okay aren't there." Very astute of her to point that out. So I've been feeling emotionally chaotic. It is typical that when I lose a sense of routine and regular little doses of accomplishment (I just built a wall, a bike, a 30' pile of stage-ready rubble) I tend to focus on the negative and dreary side of things. That really came out this week and relates to future plans for the blog here, which is why I mention it.
I've decided that I need to get more regular into my regular life and less digital. So I'm going to be reducing my posting schedule a bit. I've been trying to get something up every day and succeeding in posting at least every other day. I'm going to be stepping to something more like two to four posts per week. There will be a new balancing act going on for me as I attempt to integrate writing regularly about adoption into my normal routines, which presently have been completely supplanted by blogging. Another change you may notice is more focus on the contemporary. So far I've written mostly about the pregnancy and a few examples of the extremely difficult experiences Athena and I had during that time. That was very cathartic. It will continue to be a regular subject but I'll be adding the contemporary experience. The adoption process was a very difficult one, but also extremely successful! Athena and I are quite happy with our decision and have great relationships with Ms Scarlet, Prof Plum, and Festus. In the future I'm going to try to present a more balanced view of what adoption actually means to my daily experience. The subjects I've written about here to date have been very important. It's not surprising to me that I chose to write about what I did. Those were some of the most troubling experiences I had during Athena's pregnancy. In a Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs sort of way it makes sense. I had to get the most pressing issues of my chest first. Now I feel better prepared to move on and proclaim there is light at the end of the tunnel. Because it is true that things get better. My life was never harder than when making an adoption plan. Similarly I've never felt better in who I am than as a birthfather.
I was worried for several days. Not knowing how I would experience Fathers' Day was a bit nerve racking. This was my first Fathers' Day as a birthfather. I went on a tear of reading about adoption and infertility. A part of me I couldn't admit to believed that if I became well informed and well adjusted enough in my understanding of adoption I could avoid any pain Fathers' Day would bring. So I kept reading. I was digging through everything I could find on the experience of adult adoptees and the reckoning that comes with infertility. But there was something that drove me more than wanting to avoid pain this weekend. As I read page after page of anger, hurt, and confusion something kept tugging at me. There was one thought that kept popping up; "don't let him feel this way." I kept reading. I kept going again and again to these archives of rage, pain, and poisonous revulsion. If I read enough I could understand. If I understood thoroughly enough maybe I could empathize with Festus. Maybe he wouldn't have to feel this angry and hurt. If I became an expert on everything related to adoption I could rationalize and explain away every iota of hurt and confusion. Maybe if I knew enough he wouldn't have to hate me.
That was a very difficult idea for me to admit to myself. I was three days deep in my research before I was so upset that I had to look it in the face. It took a long conversation with Athena before I could bring that to the surface. But there was a big surprise in store for me later.
The next morning I awoke feeling better than I had in a week. Athena and I spent a long day relaxing and enjoying each others' company. We purchased a card for her father. Athena also bought a small journal for me to use as a wine journal for Birthfathers' Day. On Sunday morning we planned to make a day trip to her parents' house to celebrate Fathers' Day. First thing that morning I asked Athena what she wanted for breakfast. "Just eggs, I want to leave in the morning." I chose to exercise "dad's prerogative" and made pancakes too. It was a beautiful day. We drove to Athena's parents' house and hung about. We spent time stretching on the carpet, playing in the garden, getting chair massages (her mom is a massage therapist and is learning some new techniques) and eating a fantastic dinner. It was a wonderful day. All except for the drive home, which construction doubled in length.
My closing thoughts on Fathers' Day; Festus will be as he will be. He will love me as he can, and be just as surly as any other adolescent boy. He'll be frustrated by me "not getting it" both when it is and isn't appropriate. There will be many things in common with my own experience. There will also be new challenges that I have made the choice to face. I don't know what they'll be. There isn't much out there about the experience of adoptees who grow up in open adoptions. We're making it up as we go. Today, as a father of sorts, I'm okay with that.