Last week I ran away from a baby. Okay, back up. I didn’t exactly run away but by now my recollection of the moment has taken a full on cartoon animation to it, complete with my feet leaving the scene moments before the rest of my body caught up. I may have also been making this face as well. This is my favorite emoticon. Mr. Something and I lovingly refer to it as the “driving in the mountains” face. We frequent Colorado, and I have complete faith in Mr. Something’s driving skills but some mountain roads (unpaved, one lane, sheer drops…) require that very face. We have an understanding that I sit quietly and don’t say a word about his driving as long as I can make that face. It works for us.
Okay, running away from a baby and making the “driving in the mountains” face. The story: My teammate returned from her maternity leave this week, so last week she came in one afternoon to plan with the team so she could start wrapping her mind around teaching again after being away for three months. She brought her little guy with her and as soon as I was asked, “Do you want to hold him?” I ran away. Okay, stepped back, but the knee-jerk reaction was, “Really, no thanks.” He’s adorable but a three month old is not quite in my realm of comfort. I suppose if I needed a litmus test as to whether or not pursuing foster care adoption, as opposed to having our own children, was the path for me, that was it. No tug. No longing. No aching womb. Sure, he’s cute but so are monkeys and I don’t want one of those either. (For the record I did NOT just compare my teammate’s child to a monkey. Hah!) When I called Mr. Something on the way home from work that day I told him, “I ran away from a baby today, I think we are doing the right thing.” He was pleased.
A day after the baby incident my phone rang in the middle of the day. As always, unable to answer, I later listened to the message and was thrilled to hear that it was a licensing rep from the agency’s suburban office. Stomach flip flops and a bit of jumping up and down ensued. The rep said that she would be taking on our case and was interested in meeting us before we began the licensing classes. When could she come by our house?
When could she come by our house?
Time for a little bit of panic. It’s not that our house is a disaster but the thought of meeting the woman that could very well be choosing children to place in our home was a sudden crash of reality.
A week of frantic cleaning and self reflection followed.
I realized that, until now, I have lived life rather safely. I went to college 45 minutes away from my hometown, the college that my sister had attended, the only college that I applied to. I pursued a career in teaching, the only job I had wanted since I was in elementary school myself. Not to mention the one profession that all people get a close and personal view of for 12 years of schooling. No unknowns, no risks. I made close friends in high school and spent my college years coming home every weekend to see them and my future husband. I don’t have a single close friend that I met in college. Safe and familiar. I married a man that I met my senior year of high school and the only one I dated through college. We lived with our parents after college, got engaged, and started building a house 25 minutes away from where I grew up (7 minutes from my in-laws), 2.5 miles from my sister’s house. No surprises. I’m not, by any means, complaining. I am extremely blessed and endlessly happy with where life has taken me but, in sharp contrast, our Tiny Human Project blows my safe and predictable little life clear out of the water.
Around the time all of these revelations were unfolding I happened across this quote. It really resonated with me to the effect that, up until now, I have never left sight of the shore. I have spent my life very much on the shore. The shore can be a delightful place, beautiful, majestic even, but if it’s the only place you ever go, might it lose it’s luster? Here I was, on the eve of meeting with our licensing rep, preparing to cross an ocean.
My paternal grandfather literally did just that. In the early 1900s (our generations are very wide apart!) he was 18 years old, leaving the only home he ever knew in Italy. He boarded a ship with a simple trunk filled with his possessions, and set off to build a new life for himself in the United States. It might as well be akin to moving to the moon nowadays! He wasn’t totally alone but the key in his story, in this quote, in this new journey of mine, is courage.
The courage to lose sight of the shore.
Yesterday we sat at our dining room table with a foster care and adoption licensing representative. The ship has left the harbor and I am giddy with excitement and wonder at what lays beyond the horizon.