K's visit ended at the airport Monday morning with an exchange of hugs and a "Love you!" tossed over her shoulder. It was a good weekend. K interacted with Puppy more than she ever has in past visits, and he returned the favor with lots of attention and smiles. Her confidence around him seems to be increasing, which I think makes Puppy more comfortable, as well. He had a great time with her. He would wake her up in the morning by wandering into her room saying, "Hi, K__! Hi, K__!" It was very important to him that she be included in various activities; he would always make sure she was coming along as we moved from place to place. I think it helps to have visits in the familiar, safe place for Puppy right now. T and I were able to give them more chances to be alone together than we would have otherwise. Their relationship--at least from my perspective--is at a nice place for his age.
My goal for this visit was integration: continuing to bring our worlds together by having K meet some of the folks who populate Puppy's daily life and giving them a chance to meet her. It was important to me that she see Puppy in his little social network, enjoy who he is amongst friends. There is something about seeing your child play and (usually) share with friends that gives parents warm fuzzies. Puppy's birthday party was a natural place for that to happen, with the adults mingling while kids ran underfoot. There was also an impromptu dinner invitation that resulted in a relaxed Saturday evening watching football with family friends. So I got more than I hoped for in that regard.
All in all, I think it was a successful visit.
Now for the navel-gazing: It exhausted me emotionally. I am terribly introverted, so having overnight visitors tends to drain me. There are also some specific things about my interactions with K which require a lot of emotional energy. One night when T and I had retreated to the privacy of our bedroom, I broke down in tears. I was feeling empty and tired of navigating all the different needs and wanting to just enjoy Puppy's birthday. I heard myself say, "Sometimes I just want to be [Puppy]'s only mom." I was so embarrassed to have said that, especially with K probably feeling the same thing a thousand times over in the next room. But it wasn't about wishing the adoption weren't open (I don't) or that Puppy weren't adopted (he wouldn't be Puppy) or even about feeling threatened in my role by K (I'm not). It was about wanting things to be simple when they're not.
If I were someone else, I would tell me not to be embarrassed. It was where my heart was at at the time, and I needed to deal with it so it wouldn't affect my actions toward K. But I need to figure out some way to honor those feelings and work through them in a way that doesn't leave me feeling so isolated. More than anything this weekend I wanted a peer I could call who would tell me, "I've felt that way, too. It's ok. You're doing fine." Or tell me to get over myself if that's what I needed. The point is I wanted to know there was someone who had been there before me. (T was wonderful and supportive and had some great insights, but he just isn't affected by our visits in the same way that I am. Which makes my sense of loneliness more acute.) I read stories of so many adoptive parents who express nothing but joy over their relationships with their children's first parents. They make me happy. They also make me wonder what is wrong that sometimes this is all incredibly draining for me?
I've been hesitating over this post, not wanting to look like a self-centered tool. I can't seem to wrangle the words to express what I am trying to say. But I want to put it out there so that if someone else has found herself there she can know that she isn't alone.