Saturday, December 01, 2007

In a blink of an eye

The first days of our vacation took us to Sanibel Island, Florida, where my Grandpa Tony and Grandma Marian reside. Most of our winter vacations of my childhood were spent on Sanibel. The tropical air scent, the salt of the surf, even the distinct taste of the water from my grandparent's faucets are lasting imprints on my senses. To see my own three children on Sanibel, playing in the surf where I played, was one of those moments in life where all the stars seem to align and the heavens themselves shine down upon us all.

A moment that, ten years ago, I would never have believed would be coming. As I sat one evening in my grandparents’ home, watching my children hunt for geckos out on the patio, I realized just how much can happen in a ten-year span.

Ten years ago, almost to the day, I was in Sanibel, reeling from the overnight changes in my life. Weeks earlier, I had been blissfully planning for my wedding to take place on Sanibel that December. That October, I had discovered I was pregnant, and while unexpected, I was at ease since I thought all was perfect with my then fiancée. Days before the wedding, I discovered that my fiancée had been cheating on me, and I realized that there was no way I could marry him. Embarrassed, terrified, unable to wrap my mind around everything, I escaped my world and headed to Sanibel.

That time was painful. Sick, scared, I cried all the time and wondered how I would ever get it together to make anything of my life. I spent a lot of time alone, and my grandparents were kind and gave me my space when I wanted it and a hug when I needed it. My wedding day came and went and with it, I thought, were all my dreams and hope for the future. I felt I would be alone forever. I couldn’t imagine my life being manageable in one month, let alone ten years.

Eventually, I pulled it together as best as I could and left. Instead of returning to Washington, I went back home to Wisconsin. I moved into the bottom unit of a cute little duplex where my sister Stephanie was the top unit tenant. As my pregnancy progressed, I grew stronger. I was over the moon to learn that I was going to have a daughter! I became more determined than ever to raise a healthy, strong, independent girl.

I remember feeling as if Logic suddenly smacked me upside the head, and at that moment I truly realized that I didn’t need a man in our life to have a happy family. Even though my ex-fiancee came around for a bit, I saw that having no dad in my baby’s life was better than having a dad with some serious issues. My mom would tell me, “Sarah, if anyone can do this, you can,” and that pushed me through the times when doubt would weight heavily on my shoulders.

Hatfield Louise was born that June, and I simply could not imagine life without her. Well, I could, but I prefer not to. In so many ways, Hatfield saved me. Saved me from an existence where I would have turned into a horribly self-centered, self-serving individual on a huge destructive streak. Saved me from spending tens of thousands of dollars on law school for a career that I would have hated (confirmed by my years working as a paralegal). Saved me from all the mistakes I would have made.

I loved that little baby so much. My world was my baby. I remember running into friends from high school during that time, who were also 22, 23, and just out of college. I remember the first time I realized that some of them actually pitied me for having to stay home with a baby instead of being able to go out to the bars. I couldn't have cared less if I ever set foot in a bar again, and in turn, I pitied them for their pitying me. I had been given such a gift, such a perfect little girl to love and take care of. I got a job to make ends meet, finished college, and got a career going. Before Hatfield turned two, I bought an adorable little house for the two of us to live in forever. I loved being a little family, just the two of us. Those years are by far and away some of the happiest of my life. I was so happy and life was so full, that I couldn’t imagine it ever getting even better. Boy, was I wrong.

Shortly after I bought my little house, Cliff and I met through Hatfield’s Aunt Carrie. Carrie is a friend of mine who I met because she is married to birthdad’s brother Eric. Cliff and Carrie were high school friends, and they had, by chance, bumped into each other and began emailing on occasion. Crazy, huh? Carrie thought that Cliff and I were similar people, so she gave him my email (first, she offered his email to me, but I told her that NO WAY was I ever going to email some guy from Seattle who I didn’t even know). Well, thank goodness Cliff’s rules of dating weren’t quite as archaic as mine, because he sent me a wonderful email, and a few emails later, I knew he would be the guy I would marry.

Ten years ago in Sanibel, I never would have believed that I would eventually end up marrying a man who birthdad’s sister-in-law set me up with!

So fast forward through the next few years: eloped with Cliff, had a beautiful baby boy, then a beautiful baby girl, then began adopting two beautiful little boys. We moved out of the little house in Green Bay, survived 3 years living in a rough neighborhood in Milwaukee, then on into a larger home in the Green Bay ‘burbs near many other members of my family. We have made the most wonderful friends, found a wonderful church family, became a homeschooling family and are growing closer than I ever thought possible.

Ten years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I think that life would be this full.

And ten years ago, when each day in Sanibel seemed like an eternity, never would I have believed ten years of days would go by as quickly as they did.

My biggest challenge of today, and every day for these next ten years, is just keeping conscious of the day that I am in. On one hand, days go by in such a blur that I can’t grasp it. It seems that upon waking up each Monday morning, I strap on a safety helmet, sit down in a catapult, and propel myself into the following weekend. Where do the days go? On the other hand, when waiting to bring your children home, days and weeks loom, larger than life ahead, and it is hard to truly envision the day when the paperwork is done and I’ll be on a plane to get my boys.

Yet, I know, in a blink of an eye, they’ll be here. History proves it. Tonight, I picked Paloma up out of the bathtub in a big snuggly towel. While drying her off, the towel slipped and there she stood, a long, lean-legged little girl. Where did those chubby little toddler legs go? I swear they were here during her Friday night bath. I took a good look at the slippery little monster in front of me, baptizing herself and the entire bathroom in a dust of sweet baby powder, and I realized that she is about 4 inches taller than what I recall her to be in my mind’s eye.

Then again, my mind’s eye has some serious farsightedness. I can’t quite see Atticus as a 5 year old, because in my mind, he’s still not quite 3. I so clearly recall holding little Hatfield on my chest, with her head tucked under my chin, and my hand resting on her back and little bottom, just inches lower. Such a little peanut all tucked between my chin and heart, I can feel her weight and warmth. I have to squint to realize that she’s not a 21 inches anymore, but rather a tall, beautiful girl on the verge of turning the big 1-0.

When I think of what the next ten years may hold for us, it nearly takes my breath away. We have been so blessed with resources, and our potential is only limited by our lack of vision. Opportunity oozes from all corners life, and we commit ourselves to seizing it, for it all goes by too quickly.


Cole Twins - Wisconsin said...

I found your blog just cruzin' around. I live in Appleton. I am also a Stay at home mom of 2 set of twins. All under the age of 5!!! UHHGG!
I am also adopted. Just thought I would drop by to say HI!

Look foward to reading more about your beautiful family!

Small Town Girl said...

Thank you so much for your story. Sometimes the hardest thing about being a single mom is not buying into the pervasive negative attitude about this kind of family that is "out there". I only cripple myself if I allow that weakness, however momentarily. I have learned to surround myself with friends and family that are supportive, as you did. I admire your strength, honesty, faith, and
your gratitude. (Also your organizational skills and ablity with the written word!)

Can't wait till your boys are home, and congrats again on being out of ISBER

Aves @ Call of the Phoebe said...

Your description of what Hatfield brought to your life is what I feel Tuki has brought to mine. My thought is that kids restore us to what we were meant to be. At least for me nayway, Tuki restored me.


Jen said...

Your life sounds a lot like mine... I think the time we spend alone, away from our parents, not yet married is a wonderful and ever so important time in our lives. I know for myself the few years I spent just Kelsey and I were some of my favorite times. I learned a lot about myself during that time and the confidence I gained from knowing I could "go it alone" was an integral part of the confidence I have now.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Sarah.

Michelle M

A Blessed Life said...

Your strength and courage at such a young and vulnernable time in your life is amazing.

ania said...

I am so glad that you are where you are, and that your family has you specifically.

Take care.