So, last night I was watching Sex and the City 2, which, quite frankly, sucked. But it really made me want to travel (despite its ridiculous portrayal of Abu Dhabi) and even made me want to return to Dubai, which, quite frankly, I didn’t love.
As it turns out, I have the Travel Bug. Again.
And? I have my kids to thank for that.
There are several things — more than I can count — that adopting my children has done for me.* Even during the hardest parts, I’ve always been able to appreciate that.
Night after night, month after month, of Mattix not sleeping more than half an hour at at time? That taught me that I was physically and emotionally capable of more than I ever dreamed. It also taught me that my little “I survived law school, I can survive anything” attitude was complete and total total bullshit. Law school was awesome fun and allowed ample opportunity for sleep in comparison.
Catching scabies (skin parasites)? That taught me that my formerly prissy ass, ew-bugs-are-gross self wasn’t so prissy at all. In fact, I didn’t care. It didn’t phase me. It itched, and that was annoying. I covered myself in pesticide cream. Twice. But all that I really thought about was how miserable my baby must have been, for ten months, to be infested with it. My little man…he suffered. I had scabies on my hands. For a few weeks. Please. Perspective.
Washing load after load of laundry infected with giardia? After being up all night, stripping the bed five times, washing a baby from head to toe, changing diapers with rubber gloves? Alone? I handled it. Me, the girl who used to gag at the sight of human waste, handled an excessive amounts of it — everywhere — for months. It didn’t even take long to stop gagging. Because? As much as that sucked, imagine what it must have been like to have it. My poor girl.
I could keep going.
One day, I’ll talk more about all of the amazing things my kids have done for me — not intentionally, not even because I’m their mom and they are my kids, but because of the circumstances under which they became my kids.
But today, I’m going to share how they changed me in a way that makes me open…and desperate. Open to life and to experiences. Open to opportunities that I likely never would have been open to otherwise. Desperate to have those experiences.
Before my children were…my children…I wasn’t so open to traveling overseas. I wasn’t opposed to it, but it wasn’t on my “to do” list. It wasn’t part of my plan. It scared me a little. If you’re entirely healthy and traveling is a matter of packing your clothes and shampoo, then it might not make sense.
If you’re like me, traveling means a whole lot more. It’s overwhelming. It means an entire carry-on full of supplies, insulin, prescription medications. It means an *extra* $6,000 pump, just in case yours breaks (or, as I learned last month from a server at our favorite pizza joint, in case it is stolen off of your body in a crowd, as hers was in Uganda). It means extremely heavy travel insurance, so that if you catch what everyone else catches -a stomach bug, for example – something that most people can recover from, but you cannot — you can be airlifted to the nearest “first world” country for medical care. It means a lot, actually.
And that scared me.
When we first committed to adopting, we chose Ethiopia. Yes, before we were “in line” in the Vietnam program, we were part of the Ethiopia program. There were several reasons we backed out (an agency we felt very uncomfortable with, for one), but among those reasons was my doctors, all of whom said, “You can’t go to Ethiopia.” So I didn’t. We went somewhere that seemed “safer.” We went to Vietnam.
And then a whole world opened up to me. From the minute our plane touched down in Hong Kong, I realized what I wanted to do in life: I wanted to experience it. We boarded another plane and a few hours later, arrived in Vietnam. And at that point, I did it. I began experiencing life. Maybe for the first time.
I stepped off the plane into an oven — a damp one. We went to the hotel, checked in and made our way up to the rooftop restaurant, full of history. And I thought, “This is going to be amazing.”
And it was. Every part of it. 30 hours of travel, no sleep, looking like hell, and I can still view this picture and see the excitement in my face, not the overtired, no-makeup, you-need-a-shower look that most people probably see.
Obviously meeting Mattix was the highlight, but seeing Vietnam – a lot of it – changed my life. Experiencing it. Being open to the experiences. Doing things that were outside my comfort zone.
I’m scared to death of drowning. I don’t “do” water. I did lots of water. With a baby strapped to my body.
Before we went, I was a pain in the ass picky eater. I tried all sorts of things. I didn’t know what the fuck I was eating half the time. And when I did know what it was, it might have scared me a few weeks earlier. But when I opened my mind? It was amazing.
I did things that scared the everliving hell out of me. Small to some, yes, but not to me…phobias. I dealt with real phobias on stupid little tourist stops because I didn’t want to miss out.
I did what I do best — shopping.
I saw beauty
I saw hardship
I felt pain
I didn’t lose my sense of humor
I made friends that mean more to me than words can convey…even thought we live on opposite sides of the country and even though life gets in the way…the will always mean that much to me.
I became a mom.
For some people, adopting internationally means becoming a parent, bringing that child home, and living life. For me, it meant so much more. It opened up an entire world to me.
I’m not done. Come back tomorrow for more.————————————————————————————————————————————————-
* If you know me, or if you've read my blog for any length of time, you realize I'm not all about me when it comes to adoption. Not even close. I know that many like to jump on adoptive parents for sharing for their point of view, or for "making it all about them." It's not all about me. At all. But if you think that some part of it isn't about me, you either haven't taken any time to learn about me, have no idea what life is about in general, or you're too embroiled in your own situation/opinion to see that it does have something to do with me.