Dear Jelly Bean,
As I write this on my first Mother’s Day, I want you to know that you’ll learn, as you go through life, that when you wait for something for so long…it’s really easy to be disappointed by that very thing you thought you wanted. You can build something up in your mind creating a fantasy that “everything is going to be perfect” when X happens. Then when you get that very thing…it’s actually a huge let down.
I will admit that I had spent so many “selfish” years pursuing MY dreams to change the face of obesity and decades going where I wanted when I wanted without answering to anyone. So I was slightly terrified that I’d feel “trapped” when I finally got “you”. To add to the pressure, I turned down relationships with men who might otherwise have been great…because my heart called out to “you”…and the men were past having kids. The coach in me kept questioning, “Was I just creating this big “drama” around “you” to avoid something and blame others for the fact that even multiple NY Times Bestselling books, a pile of awards and getting to hang out in circles that I could hardly fathom being in (at one point in my life), popping from tv show to tv show weren’t even enough for me? Could it be true, as so many people suggested since I wasn’t married by 32, that I was just simply “too picky” to ever be completely content in life? These were the big questions rolling around in my head as I went through the licensing process to get “you”. And yet I somehow couldn’t stop dreaming of the day YOU entered my life like it was suddenly all that mattered.
I know you’ve caught my eyes tearing up over the past 6 months, as I haven’t been the best at hiding them from you all the time, granted, with a giant smile on my face. The truth is, I’m in awe of you. You’re more perfect than I ever could have imagined in my wildest of dreams. And, yes, there are a lot more logistics to think about. And sleep is a “bit” more scarce. But every middle of the night feeding is an honor (though I do LOVE the nights you choose to sleep!). And I would contend, at my age, it actually got harder to be single without you than single with you. You’re a joy that well surpasses expectations and I actually enjoy Saturday nights at home watching you sleep even when it’s on your baby monitor from my own bed. I was never a clubber anyway!
You should know that the first 15+ people who met you all said the words, “she’s perfect”. I swear. I’m not making that up. Every person independently used those words! At the launch party for my book, Uncle Ben actually said, “I hate you” to me because you didn’t scream or cry once through the whole night and “played along” letting me dress you up in a red carpet dress. And everyone we encounter (if I tell them that I did not actually give birth to you) is shocked because I’m constantly told “she has your hair and lips”. You’ve already won over a flight attendant who made you a bed on the floor of an airplane to make sure you were comfortable. And the number of people who’ve said you look more like a doll than a human (me included) is huge. You let us pass you around the beach tennis Christmas party so all of the women dying to hold you could, let me grocery shop for hours and have literally become my sidekick! This Mother’s Day has made me realize that I can’t imagine life without you! And the craziest of it all, you look like the little girl I put on my vision board just after I was told I was likely too old to get pregnant.
As I went through the licensing process to be eligible for you, I was told that I most likely would not get to name “you” (until you were official adopted if that ever happens). And even if I could, I thought I did not want to. I dreamed of my “forever” daughter having your name for over a decade. I wanted to save the name until I knew “you” were forever. So, long story short, it was my intent to call you “Peanut” until I was SURE I could adopt you. My close friends and family even knew about “Peanut” before you arrived. And I was prepared with “Peanut” onesies. But when the social worker called November 22nd with the call that would change my life forever, she said that the nurses were saying you were an insanely sweet baby who hadn’t even been crying a lot. And then when the senior social worker showed up to my house and asked your name, “I said I was going to call you “Peanut”. She told me that you didn’t have a name and pushed for your “real name”…at which time I reluctantly decided to “commit to you” not knowing if you’d be staying. But less than an hour later, I took one look at 3-day-old you at the hospital, dressed in the hot pink onesie, that little pair of jeans and the hot pink headband that you somehow inspired the nurses (at only 2 days old) to buy for you, I instantly fell in love with you. Within hours, “Jelly Bean”, “Sweet Pea” and “Honey Pie”, were much more obvious nicknames for you!
This week, leading up to my very first Mother’s Day has been emotional for me. We’re a week and a half from the court, potentially allowing me to start the process to adopt you. And it still seems that no one will try to fight us being together. PHEW! That said, I’m not sure that everything the state reps need to do to put you up for adoption has been done. Maybe it has? Maybe there is a very busy person who didn’t quite get to it? And, though more than 8 weeks have gone by since I got the call asking if I wanted to adopt you (YES!…duh!), I have not yet heard from a social worker who can approve me for that. So things are very much up in the air. I try really hard just to keep visualizing the judge (who I’ve met at previous hearings) say, “you’re adopted” and shut down any thoughts that we could possibly get split! And, today, I tried to trust that you will be with me next year too as so many people said, “Happy First Mother’s Day”.
People keep warning me that, assuming I am blessed with you “forever”, that you may “always” wonder if you are wanted. I hope that you spend not a second of your precious life questioning that at all! I can’t wait to nurture your dreams the way you’ve fulfilled mine! After the car accident, I was “losing my light”. Two years ago, when a doctor told me that I would likely never work again…and that I would sink into a depression if I didn’t take a pile of drugs, I (thank god!) sought out other treatments. Yes, it’s been a rough road back..and I was feeling down. Since you entered my life, everyone agrees, I’m happier…and feeling content for the first time in my life! They say helping someone else does more for you than the person you’re helping. I’ve always believed this. But being your mom has added so much happiness and love (not only from you, but from my whole community), I only hope that I get to give all of that back to you. That is my gift to you this Mother’s Day.
As I mentioned, I almost walked out of my very first orientation to potentially become a foster mom when they said that one has to foster before knowing if you can adopt. And that there is no guarantee that you get to keep the first child one cares for. Knowing that over 28,000 children in Los Angeles County alone need anyone to love them, I managed to convince myself that I could look at the role as “charity”, knowing that I would be changing a precious life even if for a short time….AND that there are so many kids in the system that if I lost one, the right one would find me soon. But never, in a million years, did I suspect, that in the LA County System, that the baby girl that first “found me” would be “PERFECT” for me with such a sweet demeanor, AND that she would look so much like me and instantly bond so strongly with me that people would be more shocked to learn that you are not my biological child than are!
Jelly Bean, you’ve completely won me over. Over the past few months, the fact that you give me a big smile every time I walk to your crib in the morning and every time I get home or that you pop into the office so I can see you during my workday, touches my heart in a way you’ll never know! You truly were a missing piece! I believe, given everything I know, that you were born for me. Thank you for making my first Mother’s Day one of the most wonderful days of my life. And thank you to Rich, Kama, Jason and Mark from RaiseAChild.org for going above and beyond to help me secure you! I can’t wait to continue this journey with you!
Love and kisses!