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The Silver Thread

The Silver Thread

Last week at Gymboree there was a parachute catastrophe. Well, maybe not a catastrophe, per se…maybe more like a debacle. Whatever it was, it changed me as a mom. And it may have scared Zoey, my one year-old, away from parachutes for life. It was a big class (twenty or more kids) with their “accompanying adult” (our good friend Niki and her daughter Charlotte included). It was such a big class that the big parachute was removed (for those of you unfamiliar with Gymboree, the appropriate response to the big parachute is ‘Oooooh! Ahhhhhh! Ohhhhh!’). The parachute is supposed to be the highlight of every class. It is supposed to be the most fun. And we, as accompanying adults, are supposed to think it’s the cutest thing. Ever.

So there we are: twenty kids and at least twenty adults, all abuzz with big parachute excitement. We arrive the part where the kids are supposed to sit in the middle of the chute while we, the accompanying adults, lift up the edges, walk in a circle, and sing a song about a monkey. But this time, the kids were scattered all over the parachute instead of the center as there were so many. When we lifted up the edges, several of the kids (Zoey among them) went tumbling. The highly trained Gymboree teacher assured us this was okay…although it seemed less okay to me as the kids continued to tumble over each other. It was a giant pile of babies — which might have been cute if many of the babies hadn’t been screaming (Zoey among them).

Zoey looked up at me from the center of the melee, tears streaming down her face, and wailed, “Na-na!” (The fact that she can’t yet say Mama is the subject for another bitter piece.) My vision tunneled and there was only Zoey, scared and needing me. If anyone has gotten in my way at that moment they would have been leveled. Leveled. Her little butterfly of a hand closed around my index finger and that invisible silver thread which connects us, that always pulls her back to me whether or not we touch, became steel. Just as I was about to do a slow motion, lay-up jump into the parachute screaming, “GET AWAY FROM MY BABY,” Niki grabbed Zoey’s other hand and we pulled her out. (In case you’re wondering, Charlotte was unharmed and remained very serene during the parachute madness.) We will be getting a bronze statue of Niki installed in our front yard later in the week.

These nine seconds were one of the most intense and best experiences of my Reign as Mom. I say best because a) no one was hurt and b) Niki prevented me from making a fool of myself at Gymboree. Another reason I say best is because there was a time I didn’t know if I had the capacity to do what I did: the tunnel vision, “mama bear” thing. And as hard as it is to admit this, I worried that maybe I wasn’t a “mama bear” because Zoey was adopted.

Did I love Zoey the first moment we met her? Yes. Did I feel connected to her? Not so much…I felt overwhelmed and scared – like I had to hold part of myself back in case the adoption didn’t work out. Even after she was legally ours, I felt like the “other” and wrong and like I wasn’t the good-enough mother. Post-partum/post-adoption depression is real. Hormonal, Situational…whatever. It’s a dark and lonely place to be. And it’s one hell of a hole to climb out of.

But deep in that muddy, messy hole is where I started to weave that silver thread. I often fumbled it, had to tie knots, had to start over. It’s hard to weave when you can’t see. But I got better at it; I learned to go by touch and by heart. The thread became longer and stronger and I climbed up to the light. I climbed out of the hole and was ready to kick butt at Gymboree for that same little baby I used to hold at night, numb, thinking I can’t do this.

Zoey’s little butterfly hand is getting bigger and bigger. Already, sometimes instead of reaching for me, she swats me away. Even though that silver thread will have to get longer and longer – and maybe one day even stretch across continents – that thread is forever. And we both know it.

Author:  Josylne Decker

Learn more about the adventures of Josylne Decker at her blog: Zozo’s Mom

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