There is a necklace made of vintage glass beads on rings of sterling silver, simple yet elegant. I adore it, or at least the image of it on my computer screen. Many mornings as I dress I picture adding it to my outfit, see its colors lighting up my drab combos of t-shirts, sweaters and jeans. I imagine it gracing my neckline on those rare occasions T and I go on a fancy date. The artist promises it will protect me from harm and create magic in my life; when I email her she calls me a superhero. I am helpless before her marketing strategies.
I have lusted after this necklace for close to two years, but have never been able to bring myself to purchase it. I am a deeply frugal person by way of personality, conviction and circumstance. It has always seemed like too much to spend on something so unnecessary and self-indulgent. No matter how much T has tried to talk me into it, I've never convinced myself to click the "order" button.
When my uncle was born, my grandfather presented my grandmother with a gorgeous silver rope necklace in a style that I've never seen elsewhere. It is weighty and solid, and has always seemed to me to symbolize all that my grandfather was feeling at that time. The awe and gratitude that his beloved had brought their son into being, had labored to bring him into the world.
I loved to see it as a little girl. It captured for me something of the romance of starting a family. Even as my grandparents transitioned into parenthood he gave her something that was just for her, a tangible reminder of the moment which transformed their lives. My mother has it now, and when she wears it I think of my grandparents living the life of young parents that T and I now enjoy. I picture them cuddling their little boy as they read, chasing him across the grass, tucking him into bed. I imagine them talking about his future, worrying about a fever, debating the timing of the second child who would be my mom. I think of those things and feel close to them, realizing how much we share in our experience as parents despite the many years separating us.
When I was younger, I played with my baby dolls and stuffed pillows in my shirts and dreamt of how my own family would start. I imagined that somehow this family story would lodge in my husband's mind, that he would know to find something special and unique to mark the occasion of our children's births. Something to commemorate the joy as we welcomed our children into the world.
Of course none of it happened the way I imagined it. I didn't become a mother in a decisive moment, but in a gradual process in which others' emotions needed to be more important than my own. I visited my own (would be) son in the hospital, an experience that would never have occurred to my childhood mind. And it was I who selected a necklace for another woman, my son's first mom, a delicate birthstone pendant that somehow didn't match the gravity of the occasion.
T remembered my family's stories as we we searched store after store for K's gift. "Can we get something for you, too?" he asked. But it didn't feel right in the midst of everything else that was happening. I was feeling my way through the conflicting mix of emotions that comes with adoption. At every exciting step there was also something holding me back: the possibility of a failed match, uncertainty about my role in the process, a baby in my arms but his other mom grieving. I was unsure about how to openly celebrate without denying the reality of what was going on, or whether that would be right. Yet at the same time there was a little boy who deserved to be celebrated wholly and completely.
When we began our second adoption I decided to set a celebration point for myself, a milestone along the way where I would let myself to just soak in the joy and possibility for a moment. Allow myself the emotional space to delight in the thought of another child without chastising myself for being insensitive to what the expectant parents were going through. It must sound terribly self-centered. But I know that my tendency to over-think situations could result in me looking back at the end of this process and realizing I had squelched out all the joy along the way. I decided that when we were matched with an expectant mom I would finally buy the beaded necklace. Just a private and tangible reminder to myself of the happiness of adding to our family, no matter how it happens. And even if the particular match didn't end in a placement, I would have it as a reminder that we had made it that far.
So when we began waiting this summer I picked up a few hours at work, set aside what I needed for the necklace, and pushed it to the back of my mind. It's impossible not to think about getting "the call" every now and then, but with a year or more wait being quite likely for us it simply hasn't been part of my daily life. But occasionally I visit the necklace online and think, "Someday..."
That someday came last Wednesday.