The Jacket

Gifts and their meanings when we adopt

I love this jacket. It so suits the girly-girl who is wearing it. But I didn’t buy it for her. It came with several other absolutely lovely dresses as part of a birthday present. It was sent to her by a woman who doesn’t like me. It was sent to her by her grandmother on her father’s side.

It’s possible to count on both hands the number of times we’ve had any interaction since all this started 3 years ago. It’s also possible to count on both hands the number of times those interactions have gone badly, most often due to outside circumstances it seems to me. But to her…well, she seems to blame me.

I have twice been shocked by phone calls that have seemed extraordinarily hostile to me. She has no recollection of the first one. I expect she’ll never forget the second one.

When I looked at my daughter wearing this jacket over the weekend, the best thing I can say is that I am still processing all the feelings from the last time we talked. I am trying to operate on good faith that things can look very different in a year.  I don’t know if this will, but it can. And it might be something that will matter to my youngest daughter one day.

I can tell you that the phone call was full of accusations and a blinding hostility. It was full of emotional response and betrayal. No investigation of the facts. Just emotional reactions and snap decisions. And victimization. What it wasn’t full of were any questions about why I suddenly felt that adoption was what was in her best interest. That was the simple question that was  never asked.

It’s a beautiful jacket.

This Hat…

I live in this hat. Everyday, or almost.  It represents a lot of things. Like how I don’t have the time or the energy to care for 8 people full time, and how I choose them over the time it would take to take better care of my appearance, and how a huge portion of my life has been dominated in one form or another by appearance, though you’d never know it by looking at me now.

It also represents that I no longer believe that my only value lay in my appearance. Now I have all this other value, but no kind of appearance at all. That’s called “Irony”.  I bathe in irony. It is my life’s blood

It’s probably a crime of some kind here in Southern California, but it also hides the fact that I missed my biannual haircut. Again. That my hair is showing it’s gray.  That I won’t look at myself in the mirror again till night.  I guess it represents my complete removal from myself in the midst of raising all these young children.  I miss being pretty, and I wonder if I ever will be again. Logic tells me it will be attainable again some day, but my emotions are a bit fragile about it all I guess.

I have travelled from one side of the pendulum swing to the other when it comes to appearance, and as usual, I rarely reside at the bit in the middle where good mental health resides.  As a very young girl, I would spend a couple of shaky hours in front of the mirror, painstakingly applying “the mask”. I was very, very good at using makeup to enhance my appearance. I thought of it as armor, not me. I still do in ways, and so my carelessness about wearing now has some homage to better mental states to it. The  “Me” underneath was always an awkward, unattractive mess and the make-up hid that.  It took two hours to cover that person and the fear that she would bleed through.

17 years old = 2+ hours
44 years old = 5 minutes (maybe)

I am a creature of extremes.

I miss the days when I had a hairstyle.  I miss looking better than I do. But to accomplish what needs to be done and not be under enough stress to wholly guarantee a stroke, I have elected to surrender make-up and hair for now. (I surrendered exercise as well of late).  But I miss it. And the best I hope for is to be kind of invisible as I facilitate my kids through their day.  It’s one of the things that I hope will pay off…and will still be there when I come back to it again.