Friday, June 06, 2008

Re-Learning What You've Lost

I walked out on my piano teacher in an early-adolescent huff and never went back. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! That was 49 years ago and I was showing promise. My husband, who cannot resist a bargain, bought an electric keyboard with all the bells and whistles and a book to self-teach. So I am trying to go back 49 years and take up where I left off.

Guess what? It doesn't work that way. I have to start from the beginning again, practicing scales, finger exercises and glissando's and chords and learning the bass clef (which was a bear for me, the first time). I have managed a very "children's recital" version of "Greensleeves" and while I yearn to skip forward to "Fur Elise," I am going to slog through "Skip To My Lou" and other nonsense, looking forward to the day when I can pay a decent homage to Floyd Cramer's "Last Date." I am not as quick on the uptake as I was at ages 11, 12 and 13.

Like re-learning the piano, reunion is an exercise in re-learning what should be natural and easy on both parties. What we knew was lost to us when our babies left our arms and was just a pre-verbal trauma to our babies as infants. No wonder we sometimes circle each other like two frightened boxers. You know the old is afraid and the other one is glad of it?

While the blood bond is strong and calls to us, we are now two very different people than we were when we were separated. We have to re-learn a lot, find our way through the maze of powerful emotions and, hopefully, meet in the middle. For some of us, that happens. For others, it can be a total disaster. I'm one for one. I have a really good relationship with my daughter and a precarious one with my son.

Someone once, and very arrogantly to my way of thinking, created a list of rules for reunion. If I have learned anything, it is that you cannot follow a prescribed agenda with individuals. We are all different. There is only one constant mode of reunion behavior and that is communication that includes treating each other with mutual respect. If that is not there, then we have a reunion that is sliding downhill, fast. Preconceived notions and fantasies about what our children/mothers might be like need to be tossed in the trash, because we are not meeting a daydream..we are connecting with real, breathing, usually normal people.

My childhood piano lessons give me a little boost as I re-learn the piano. My short time with my babies gave me a bit of an edge when entering reunion. But the rest has to be practice, practice, practice. I have been in reunion for almost 15 years. It is only in the last five that my daughter has come to call me "Mom." Patience and practice. I have always been "Ma" to my son, but his need for me is not as intense as my daughter's or, at least, he will not let it be so. Patience, patience.

Now comes the part where I offend the adopters and the loyal adoptees, but this is, we are learning, one of the most important parts of reunion. Reunion, in the beginning, is between the adult child and his/her mother ONLY. Trying to immediately build a big, happy, blended "family" of sorts just doesn't work most of the time. Insecure adopters try to control the reunion, other family members try to "fix" it and everyone who has never experienced what the adopted person and the mother are going through has a bushel-basket of pedestrian advice.

There will be times when all involved will come together and then civility and kindness is the rule of thumb for the sake of the adopted person and everyone else involved. Maybe I'm a dreamer, but I would hope that adopters would realize that this is their reality check and accept it with grace and others would realize that there are some pretty intense dynamics going on with the mother and her adult child that need to be left to them to sort out.

If I had a string of letters after my name, then this post might be taken seriously by those who are re-learning how to be mother and adult child and by those who just have to stick their noses into the mix. The only qualifications I have are my experiences and common sense. I might call myself an RD...Doctor of Reality. Real life is an effective, if harsh, teacher.

Now, I am going to go practice that damn piano.

1 comment:

Cassi said...

Great post.

I think you SHOULD call yourself an RD because your experience and reality rings true in so many ways.