Please, let me know if you are able to keep a dry eye while watching This is Us, because I sure can’t. And yesterday’s episode has me crying and eating cookies. Hands down, this episode was by far the most emotional. Each week, I see a reflection of my life. As Randall’s story unfolds, I see bits of his fictional life playing out, in real time, in my own family room. This week’s episode, however, laid out some of my biggest fears. And it was beyond difficult. I’m still wrapping my head around this episode, mulling it over, looking at how I need to change my own direction with our children. What am I doing wrong that will mess up my kids?
I love Jack. He has such a clear head. For those who advocate for open adoptions, Jack is our voice. He understands the need for each of us to understand our roots. He gets it. He says the things that we try to explain to our friends and family when they question why having a birth family involved in our lives, our children’s lives, is crucial. Jack understands that there are always missing puzzle pieces that only a birth parent and/or birth family hold. The puzzle is never complete without those pieces. Sure, if we don’t have access to those pieces, the puzzle is still recognizable and looks great. But for a child, to never have those pieces, ever…. Jack gets it. I am Jack. At least, I want to be Jack.
Jack understands it all, though. Even when things are painful, he stops to see the other perspective. In that way, he is a beautiful example of the head of the Pearson household. He understands Randall’s perspective. He understands Rebecca’s perspective. OK. There will be those who argue that he doesn’t really understand it because he’s not living their actual experience. OK, but he tries. And that effort goes a long way, does it not?
Our entire identity and hearts are consumed with being their mother.
So here I am, all gushy over Jack, when in so many ways, I am Rebecca. Maybe that’s why I cried so hard during this episode. My storyline is different from Rebecca’s, but at the core, we are very similar. We are both mothers who adore our children. We love them with all our hearts. We think of them non-stop. Our lives revolve around their care and happiness. We cry over them, worry about them, stick up for them, take the heat for them, try to teach them, and want them to avoid heartache. In fact, we’re willing to take the heartache, if possible, so they don’t experience it. Our entire identity and hearts are consumed with being their mother.
Can you relate to this so far? Perhaps how we go about protecting and loving our children is different. Some are more inclined to keep secrets in order to “protect” those they love while others would rather be open. It’s a gamble either way. Potentially hurt them now, or later? Not for one second do I believe Rebecca lived peacefully knowing she kept such a life-altering secret from her son. In fact, I think it was a constant fear she lived with. Constant. Somehow in Randall’s hallucination, Jack understood Rebecca’s desire to keep this secret – and her fear. No, it was Randall’s subconscious…he, himself, understood his mother’s actions, though hurtful and wrong, were done out of love. He knows his mother loves him. And yet, it is through Jack, the rock of the family, that he was able to hear what his heart already knew.
Still, there is pain and a lot of healing that will need to be done.
I already accept that our family isn’t enough for our adopted children.
So I wonder, as an adoptive mother, am I doing enough? Rebecca, in her fear, begged Jack to somehow make their family enough for Randall. I already accept that our family isn’t enough for our adopted children. I know that they each have different back stories and that is a part of them. I wouldn’t dream that we could ever be enough. That doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is constantly wondering if I am doing…enough. Am I saying…enough? Am I sharing…enough? Am I respecting their stories…enough? Am I…enough…at least in order for each of them to be happy? And I wonder how much I’m messing them up. I worry about a day like we saw on the television screen between Randall and his mother. I worry, even as open and honest with the kids as I am, that one day, they will say that I didn’t do enough…and that in retrospect, I’ll know it. I never want that to happen. I don’t want to hurt my children.
We all keep secrets for different reasons, but I have found that the quietest secret can be the loudest crash that shatters a soul. Sound dramatic? The phrase, “He dropped a bomb on me today” sounds dramatic too, until you are the one hearing the news and you feel as if your life just exploded. I’m not sure I will ever be enough. In a way, I don’t want to be, because I want my kids, as they grow, to need other people in their lives.
But in the meantime, I will be appropriately honest with my kids at all times so they never are shattered because of something I did or didn’t do. I want them to have the choice of seeking out their birth family or not. They need to steer their own ship of life’s voyage; I’ll be there for the journey, but not the captain. Hopefully, in that way, what I say, do, and am…will always be enough.
Did you catch last week’s This is Us episode? Catch up here.