Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Two doors opened for me yesterday.

The day started with coffee at my mom's house. Mom and my sister and I were organizing ourselves for Thanksgiving dinner and talking about the holiday. Talk to turned to Katie and her planned meeting (the first) with N. this weekend. Mom's face tightened with disapproval.

And then a miracle occurred.

Rather than absorbing her disapproval and doubting myself, I spoke up. Quietly. Calmly. Simply. "Mom, I know you don't like the way I'm handling this, but I'm doing what I believe is best for Katie and best for me."

Mom shook her head and murmured that I might be right about not going to Minneapolis this weekend to "protect my territory," but it was too much that I've invited N and her husband and her parents to brunch at Christmas.

"They're welcome in our home anytime," I said. "I want Katie to see there's room for everyone. And it may be selfish, but I want N and her family to see that we are and always will be a family. I want them to see the art projects from 3rd grade on the bookshelves and the framed drawing from junior high in the hall. I want them to see the photographs everywhere."

Mom shook her head. "Well, that's all right. But I know you. You'll give them copies of those pictures and share the art projects."

I looked her right in the eye. "Yes, I will. I've had all the joy. How could it hurt me to give them paper copies of things I've gotten to live? If they want a picture of her wearing the dress my sister hand-smocked for her first birthday, they're welcome to it. I got to help her blow out the candle. And every picture is a reminder she has a loving family, a history that can't be replaced. I hope they want them. "

Faced with calm, irrefutable logic, Mom backed down. "Maybe you're right."

I heard angels singing. Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, I believe.

Recounting the event to Bryan later, something he said opened another door. I suddenly understood that I am the voice in my daughter's head, just as my mother is the voice in mine. The voice in my head says things like, "Who do you think you are?" and "Don't get on your high horse." and "Never enough."

The voice in my daughter's head says, "You can do this." and "Keep trying. " and "I believe in you." (I know this to be true. I've asked.)

To be fair, Mom's messages to me were a good deal kinder than the ones she received from her mother. Mine to Katie were kinder still. It's a process. The real point here is that genetics is vital and knowing N gives Katie access to her heritage, but it does not and cannot replace her history.

We will not settle the age-old questions of nature/nurture. We don't need to. As my dear friend and counselor Sandy always said, "And both are true."

Dawn hasn't quite broken, but I'm ready to start cooking and I'm already giving thanks. I am grateful to everyone who has commented, emailed or called through these last weeks. You can't fully know what your loving support means, but I hope you know how grateful I am.

Blessings to you and those you love. Happy Thanksgiving to all.


mamatulip said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jerri.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Just got all caught up on your blog, Jerri. You nailed it with the mother's voice in our heads, and the progress that voice has made through the generations! Brilliant!

luckyzmom said...

I love the voice in Katie's head. And I am grateful that I found your voice here too.

Deb said...

I am so proud of you!!!! I love that you know that your voice in Katie's head is so loving and encouraging. Hallelujah indeed!!! Happy Thanksgiving and many blessings to you. May you remember that you could write this and that you could speak your truth and be heard the next time the darkness descends. Love to you.

riversgrace said...

Yep, I think you are nailing it, as C says. And, also, more than voices that have been transformed, now the original birth message is being repaired. That's deep. That's cellular.

Amber said...

Your heart always makes me cry. Happy tears.



kario said...

What a magnificent mother your girl will make, thanks to your patient, encouraging voice in her head.

I hope that occasionally you can hear other voices in your head spurring you on and letting you know that you can do it, too. I've said it before and I'll say it again; you are a wonder.