Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For me, it’s all the family-ness and festivity of Christmas without the frenzy, excessive packaging and Santa drama. (Yes, I love Jesus and I’m happy that he was born, but I am just as happy about this on a random Tuesday morning as I am on December 25.) Thanksgiving is gratitude and turkey and tractor rides and relatives passing around your baby so you don’t have to supervise for one entire blissful day. And, in our family, a piñata. Because, of course.
I know some adoptive parents get all worked up this time of year. We don’t like when people tell our kids that they are lucky to be adopted. We don’t like when our kids are expected to be any more grateful for a family than any other kid. It’s true. They are not lucky. They don’t need to be extra grateful. And also, it’s ok to chill out and eat some turkey.
Here’s what I know on my fifth Thanksgiving as a mom by adoption:
Not every moment is an education moment.
Adoption education and adoption advocacy are great. I do both of them like they are my job. Because, in fact, they are. But not every moment is an education moment. Most of the crazy stuff that I hear about adoption comes from strangers. And sometimes, I just smile and nod. Or, you know, avert my gaze and walk on. Because not every battle is mine to fight. And sometimes a quick whisper to my babies of, “you know I’m the lucky one, right?” is honestly the best choice.
The people who matter know what’s what.
Parenthood has narrowed my world considerably. I’ve never been much for small talk, and with two busy little people buzzing around, you have to really love me to get a moment of my time. I know this will not always be the case, but right now it is. And it’s ok. These are the folks who are there when the rubber meets the road. They are my people. And they don’t say stupid stuff because they love me and my babies and have worked hard to learn about and respect their stories. I am infinitely grateful for this safe place.
It’s ok to feel how you feel.
The first Thanksgiving that my daughter and I spent together was also my first Thanksgiving without my Pop Pop. I still grieve that he never got to meet the great-granddaughter for whom he prayed for almost exactly one year before he went to heaven. That Thanksgiving was also the first one that my daughter remembered without other important people in her life. There is no one right way to grieve the loss of your roots. It’s ok to feel how you feel. And to let your kids feel how they feel. Let go of the expectation that it has to be happy (or you’re letting other people down). And also the expectation that it has to be sad (or you’re “betraying” the loved ones that you lost). Do what feels right. Eat pumpkin pie and laugh at silly board games. Or go cry in the car. Or both. It’s all ok. For real.
I’m doing a good job.
When I watch my daughter respond to adoption-ignorant comments with grace beyond her years, my heart swells. She is smart. She is articulate. She is courageous enough to speak her mind. To me, parenting feels like one thousand judgment calls a day. Adoption adds an extra layer of complexity and questions. I don’t get it all right. Some days I feel like I am failing miserably. I’m not. And, I’m pretty sure, neither are you. We’re doing the best we can. And our kids will be all right.
Most of all, as I tuck my babies into bed, I know that I am exceedingly blessed. Tired, disheveled and sometimes grumpy, but also overwhelmed by the beauty in these moments that fly by too quickly. Overwhelmed by the beauty in these two who call me Mama.
And so, this week, I’m going to watch Little One get passed from relative to relative. I’m going to cheer my big girl on as she bashes a piñata with all her might. And I’m going to chill out and eat some turkey.