After talking last week about milestones, I have spent some time reflecting on ways I cope with these hard times and work through the emotions. My son’s first day of school is tomorrow! I cannot believe how quickly he has grown and we are at one of those huge markers in his life. It has definitely hit me hard facing this moment alone and not being there by his side. I have had to look into myself and at those around me for different ways to help get me through this time. I have found over these past few years that there are certain things I can do that just help me when I feel like I may slip into a deep sadness. Other people may have different things they do that help them, but for me allowing myself to feel involved and to feel the emotions I have has been very helpful.
When my son was born and we all agreed on an open adoption plan, I promised myself I would always allow myself to stay involved. While it can be difficult at times when I feel as though his family sees me as a burden or I worry about trying too hard, the reality has always been that it brings happiness to my son. I have sent little gifts in the mail, cards on special days, or even for no reason at all. I have made special gifts which include pictures of me and the rest of his birth family to show him all the people who love him. Anything I can think of that gives him a special surprise and helps him to know he is always on my heart; these are things that give me peace. It is just something little, but has always been a helpful way for me to show him my love, even when I cannot be present. For his first day of school I prepared a little backpack filled with after school or lunch snacks with special notes on them, along with a few school supplies and special pictures my girls drew for him. I always take pictures of the gifts I send, so that someday, when he no longer has these items, he can still have a memory of those special things I tried to do for him.
I have also allowed myself the opportunity to celebrate! I have been blessed to spend every birthday with my son, and we celebrate special holidays, but often not on the exact day. When I am away from him on special days or events I allow myself to celebrate here with my family, even though Aidan is not here with us. I feel like I have every right to feel happy for special events in Aidan’s life, and doing something special gives me that sense of being included, and including my girls and other family as well. This doesn’t make the pain go away, but it gives me something to do, and gives me some peace. So tomorrow as Aidan wakes up and goes off to school, I will take my girls out for a special breakfast. We will talk about “bubba” and pray that he has an amazing day at school. I will enjoy the pictures I receive and I will celebrate the day with my girls. My heart will still ache, but this is my journey, and part of surviving it is learning to live with the heartache.