“Don’t write about writing.”
Except that I need to in order to move myself—and my writing—forward. Over the past two years, my writing frequency declined. I left a beloved, long-time job just over two years ago. After leaving another job almost one year ago, I found myself unable to write.
It’s not that I didn’t have things to write about at the time. Oh, I did.
However, some things simply couldn’t be written about at the time. Some things still don’t lend themselves easily to the page, though I’ve been working on how to write about certain topics solely from my point of view. It’s hard.
We write so much about the early stages of parenting. Of poop and sleep and leaky breasts. Of best parenting practices and how to make mom friends and how to make your baby a genius. And yes, thanks to our generation of writing moms, we even talk about loneliness, fear, and depression, postpartum or otherwise.
We’re allowed to keep up this talk, this back and forth of learning and teaching, through some point in elementary school. We can write about school trials and tribulations. We’re allowed rant about unnecessary testing. We’re still okay to share our kiddos pics.
Until we’re not.
Until the dreaded tweendom takes hold.
Suddenly and silently, we’re on our own, and quite honestly, it sucks.
The sudden lack of anything in Blog Land regarding parenting of tweens feels much like the Blogosphere when I started writing about open adoption as a birth mother. In 2004, no one wrote about birthmotherhood, open adoption, grief, loss, happiness, visit, or anything in between. In 2005, when I started Chronicles, I did so solely out of a need to share my truth.
It grew into so much more, of course. It grew until those who didn’t like my voice worked tirelessly to silence me. I do not regret that I “let” them “win.” Chronicles, as it existed in its then form, outgrew its purpose. My experience at that time could no longer be used to help others. I recognized the approaching tweendom wall with my daughter, and if no one’s writing about parenting tweens, let me tell you this:
No one is talking about birth parenting tweens in open adoption.
That’s not really good for anyone, our children included. While birth parents can muster through their grief and loss without much direction or support when their child is but a wee babe, doing so without support or empathy from others during those tween years (and beyond) seems like a bad choice.
I’ve spent the past year silently wishing for help. My therapist—not a birth mother, not an adoptee—can only offer so much insight. I’ve learned a lot from the vocal, helpful, beautiful adoptee contingent on Twitter over the past year, both publicly and via Direct Message. And still, I felt very alone.
It wasn’t until I reached out to another first mother involved in a fully open adoption earlier this year that I learned some of the things my unique family unit is currently experiencing are not abnormal or unique. I literally felt like the only birth mother on the planet going through what we were going through until that moment.
I felt that way because no one is talking about it.
No one is talking about it out of fear of stepping over boundaries, out of habit of walking on eggshells. Out of being silenced by other birth parents; trolled by adoptive parents; dismissed by a society which wants to believe we’re the bad guys in a good versus evil situation.
It’s time to start talking.
It’s time to start talking about how birth parents involved in open adoption can help their child address the trauma caused by relinquishment. To start talking about mental health and illness and suicidality among adoptees and birth parents. To let other (birth) parents know they’re not alone when a(ny) child becomes a tween and the relationship dynamic shifts drastically.
It’s time, once again, to break the silence. Doing so requires careful attention that we, as first parents, discuss how it feels for and affects us, to avoid projecting our feelings. It requires sharing about our experiences, not our children’s experience.
It means knowing what is our own issue, what is not, and a careful use of language and writing skill.
I plan on being part of this next wave of change in how we share about our experiences in open adoption. (I also plan on sharing more about the tween(s-to-be) who live under my roof.) I share all of this now, in this long post about writing and not writing, so that when I jump in soon, readers have a frame of reference.
I sat silent on topics pertaining to adoption for two years because it hurt too much. For the past two years, I’ve dipped my toe in the waters but stayed out of the surf. I’m ready to share, to ask, to learn, to help once again.
All this to say: Hi. Let’s talk about the realities of parenting and birth parenting again.