I am easily overwhelmed. It takes only a perfect trickling of events for me to retreat to the shower for deep breaths and some rosemary shampoo, which is where Ken found me a few days ago – heavy eyes and sudsy hair. It was Saturday morning, and our little trio was home – in the same zip code! – for the entire weekend. Bliss was anticipated, a wide open margin of white space of which to tackle whatever we chose: housework? The zoo? An evening cookout?
What are you thinking? he asks – my soapy face is a book – and I had just been thinking that I wanted perfection, is all.
We’ve been sifting through loads of adoption paperwork lately, and I don’t talk about this process much because it has been very hard, very tricky, very heady. We are thinking and ruminating, and trying to use common sense and also faith, but are finding it impossible to do so in equal parts. Which side will win? The head or the heart?
It has been hard in the way that all transitions are, the kind where the timing is your own but also not your own, where you power through and make all sorts of progress in three days and you think, yes, we’re doing this, this is working, and then you encounter one imperfect detail and fall into a heap of indecision and doubt and promptly put the stack of papers on top of the refrigerator to collect dust for a few weeks.
The number of times I have hit snooze on the “Send paperwork” alarm: 18ish.
There is no perfect agency. There is no perfect adoption just as there is no perfect pregnancy, no perfect child, no perfect mother, no perfect human. We live in a world of deep imperfections, and yet, I am still surprised when I run headway into it. What is that age-old definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?
But I just keep returning to the stack of papers. This means something, I think. I don’t know what, maybe that I am willing to fight for the process, or that I want to make a tiny step of progress, to cross the finish line where we are a family of four in a framed portrait on our dining room wall. Maybe it just means I’m hungry and I’ve spotted the papers on my way to the almond butter.
Did you know a jellyfish doesn’t have a brain, not really? They have a “nerve net.” They cast it around to sense things, like danger, or food. Their nerve net offers protection, peace, answers. It is here and also there. It surrounds.
I like this. I like the idea of a nerve net – of the refusal to compartmentalize head and heart, questions and doubts, common sense and blind faith. Of accepting the process as one long exercise in our collective senses: fixed eyes to the paperwork, tuned ears to the phone, open hands to an infant. A nerve net of hope, and endurance, and trust.
And so, like a jellyfish, I keep swimming, or floating. I keep casting my nerve net, keep making decisions, closing my eyes, doubting my decisions, holding my breath, asking questions, accepting answers, breathing in, wondering where this all might lead.