Some people isolate and curl inward, some people dip back into an eating disorder that’s been held mostly at bay for a long time. Some people become angry, wielding rage as power against all the things that scare them. This is what I do: I keep myself busy, for a whole constellation of reasons. I do it because I’m addicted to the feeling of being capable, because I hate to be bored, because I hate having to face the silence, because it might force me to feel things I don’t want to feel.
In those moments before dropping off to sleep, I realized something kind of cool. The four of us share no DNA. We are genetic strangers. And we are a family. Two boys, that if not for adoption, would never have known each other, are brothers. The boy that I met when we were eight, who became my husband, and I, are their parents. Our sons, who lost their first parents, and had no siblings, now have each other, two big sisters and parents. These two boys completed our family and along with their sisters are as essential to our beings as the air we breathe. Turns out we are a good story. In fact, we are a fantastic story.
It occurred to me last night as I was sitting in the hot tub and watching the sun set over the desert, that if I could travel back in time twenty years and whisper in my teenage ear: You’re going to be an author and have a wonderful husband and a firebrand, amazing child and you’re going to get to travel a lot and one night you’re going to find yourself alone in a hot tub in the desert, looking up at a glowing pink sky, I would have thought, That’s a pretty f-ing cool life. But I forget about that and from the inside, it gets to just be a big anxiety stew, with scattered moments of gratitude and joy. From the inside, it always feels like aching for something even as I’m standing right in the middle of it. It’s important to have the moments when you say- this is all right. In fact, it’s all I ever wanted.
The conversation happening all over the Internet about Rachel’s book is a very important one. And it’s not simply about the word “vagina”. This conversation is about equality in the eyes of God. It’s about the limitations that one denomination continues to subject women to simply because they are women. It’s about how a large part of the Christian culture undermines and devalues the role and words of women in conversations regarding theology, church, and spiritual growth.
Is there a PSA for parents of elementary school kids, one that tells the truth? Like, yeah, we are not alone. We are all sitting at the dining room table every night checking and double checking our children’s addition and subtraction while they write and erase and write and erase, frustrated tears dripping onto the paper. But shit goes straight downhill from here. It does not get better. Trust the ones who made it to the other side: find and book a medically-induced coma.
It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think. But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?
We Peter Pams make the first-generation of hot moms, MILFS, and cougars. Congratulations and condolences to us. For the first time in modern history mainstream middle-age dresses Forever-21 and has a proclivity for behaving accordingly. Take, for example, the Facebook timeline. Peter Pams update our vanity avatars more often than we floss, alternating between a youthful headshot taken from above—always from above—and a peek at our latest ink. We channel our rock-star within on the dance floor, at the karaoke mic, and sometimes party a bit too much like it’s 1999. Make that 1989. Sun City has no idea what’s coming, but they better amp up their WiFi, add tattoo artist to their spas, and start training their DJs.
Privacy means keeping something that is special for yourself, and sharing it when, where, and with whom you feel comfortable and close. Secrecy is quite different, for it means something that is kept hidden, usually with shame attached. She encouraged those of us in the audience to preserve the privacy of our children, to let them keep control over the sharing of their life stories. I thought it was good advice, and have tried to help my three children develop a healthy sense of privacy. At times they’ve chosen to share details of their adoption stories with people close them, in ways I perceive to be healthy. I try to support them in reaching out to others, and try not to reveal the private details of their lives to others. I’ve always felt the details belong to them, not because they are shameful or secret, but because they are private and personal.