The Night Before

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‘Twas the night before
The birth mother visit
And all through the house,
Every creature was stirring
(but hopefully not a mouse)

After months of anticipation, tomorrow is the big day.  Katie’s birth mother and her two children are making the trek to Chicago.  As expected, Katie’s behavior has steadily deteriorated as the visit draws closer.  She has been sullen and rude for the better part of a week.

It’s 9:30 pm, two hours past Katie’s bedtime.  I just left her room, where she was crying because she couldn’t fall asleep even though she is tired. 

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked, as we lay in hr bed.

She shook her head, tears pouring from her eyes.  “It’s all mixed up in my mind,” she whispered.

“Is it because of M’s visit tomorrow?” I persisted.

She nodded and buried her head in my shoulder.  

“Anticipation and anxiety feel very similar.  You are probably feeling excited and scared at the same time, and it makes it difficult to sleep,” I explained.

“But I’m tired.  And I want to go to sleep, but I can’t.  It’s so hard,” Katie sobbed.

“Want me to read you a book?” I asked.

“I want Barfburger Baby; I Was Here First.”

Hmm.  Interesting.  This is a book my mom gave me for Annie Rose when Cleo was born.  It is a story about a jealous older sibling.  

After I read the book to Katie, she started talking.

“I hate being the oldest.  Cleo is so lucky.  She gets to be with you all day.  I want to be Cleo.  I never get you to myself.  I want to be the youngest.”

I pointed out to her, “Who am I here with right now?  Who do I bike with to camp each day?  There are still times when it’s just you and I.”

She replied, “I want a whole day with you.  Nobody else.  But Cleo needs to be there because she nurses, and it’s not fair.”

I thought about it.  “Katie, Cleo is so little right now.  She needs the most from me.  But it won’t stay that way.  She won’t need me in the same way, as she grows older.  In the meantime, let’s plan some more special Mommy-Katie dates.”

Katie perked up when she recalled that I am taking her on a long-awaited special date in a few weeks.  We will be having dinner together at the American Girl store with my friend Jen and her daughter Isabella, and then we are taking a boat ride on Lake Michigan to see the fireworks.  Neither Annie Rose nor Cleo is coming with us.

Katie was calm when I left her room.

My guess is that Katie is feeling very conflicted in her loyalties.  She is excited about seeing her birth mother, but she probably feels a little guilty about it, and therefore she is clinging to me at the same time.  

She has mentioned many times lately that she would be the youngest child in her birth family, and that idea is very appealing to her, as she struggles with two baby sisters who get a lot of attention.  Sometimes she escapes her current situation by imagining an idealized life with her birth family.  

But she is way too young to understand that it would not be the life she envisions.  People do not place children for adoption unless there are extreme circumstances surrounding the birth.  Katie is years away from being able to hear and comprehend the sad story that led to her placement with us.  

It is all mixed up in my mind.  Sleep will probably elude me, too, tonight, as I wonder how the weekend will go.  I expect it will go well, as our interactions with M have always gone well in the past.  I will probably walk away from the weekend feeling happy and relieved that Katie had a great time.  

Still, it is hard not to be nervous.

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