marty had parent teacher conferences so i was solo with the kids. whenever a parent is gone, the family drops into team effort mode. i left work early to pick up the boys. bella put the finishing touches on the dinner marty got going in the crockpot that morning.
the dinner table is also a very different affair when we're down a human. most surprisingly, conversation seems much more effortful with just one of our ranks absent. on this night the kids and i somehow got talking about me being adopted. in this discussion i learned that they never heard the story about when my mom gave me my birth mother's name and phone number. previously told here:
i always knew i was adopted. handling that knowledge in any other way but with sheer honesty was outside my mother's ability, just as feigning there was an easter bunny or any other marketable figureheads would have not been acceptable. when i was old enough to understand what it was to be adopted, mom had an annual ritual with me. she would sit us down knee to knee, she would look into my eyes and after a bit of preamble say, "even though i didn't give birth to you troy it is not humanly possible for me to love you any more than i do. it's important to me that you know that." every time, at the end of that statement her eyes would flood with tears, she would tremble and cry with the power of this truth. as i got older i thought our ritual, then known to me by heart, was silly. i had always assumed all children received this treatment and it wasn't until later in my life that i learned otherwise.
when i was in my late twenties while home celebrating christmas with my folks, my mom handed me an unmarked envelope. i looked at it and asked what it was. she said it was the name and phone number of my birth mother. some adopted children spend their whole life and droves of resources in search of this information and my mother handed it to me as though it were a common grocery coupon. i glanced at the envelope before handing it back to her unopened. i leaned in, kissed her on the cheek and told her i only had one mother ... and i already knew her phone number.
the kids were fascinated by this tale which was easily discernable by their rapt attention to my words. they were confounded that i didn't want to meet my birth parents (or three siblings, three half-siblings in the least). i explained that because i was adopted i placed an accentuated importance on the care-giver role and it is more about the people who are there for you day to day. for me, that is the act that packs the punch.
the next morning, my eleven year old alex came up to me at my desk and the below conversation were his first words of the day.
you know when you told that story last night about grandma nyla giving you that envelope and you sliding it back to her saying you already knew who you your mother was.
yes. i remember that.
well, i think that was really sweet that you did that and that it made your mom feel good.
that is very possibly the warmest thing another person has said to me in a long time. and alex's conjuring my mom's side of the conversation might have left me a little glassy eyed in the minutes that followed.