I’ve been meaning to write about something that happened several months ago. A few days after a bridal shower I was talking to my four year old daughter and she was wondering about the funny name of the event we had attended.
But why is it called “shower”? she asked me- both amused and confused about the name.
I explained that it wasn’t like the shower you take to get clean but that there are a lot of presents at the party. I proceeded to tell her that a shower is just another name for a party to celebrate for when people get married or when someone is going to have a baby. Then I remembered back to a year ago when she accompanied me to a baby shower.
“Remember last year when we went to the party with all of the presents for your friend’s mommy’s baby before her little sister was born? That was a shower.”
“ Like when I was in your tummy and you had a shower?!” she said with enthusiasm. It wasn’t so much a question as it was a statement.
I paused. This had never happened before and I was caught off guard. My daughter had forgotten that she was adopted despite the fact that whenever she hears the word “adopted” she proudly announces “I’m adopted!” and despite the fact that the first couple of pages in her baby book are full of pictures of her birthmother smiling and holding her and embracing us. Maybe she was confused because I also have pictures of her baby showers and when I get to those pages I always say “Everyone was so excited when you were born that we had a big party to celebrate!”
“Honey” I gently reminded her “Remember? . . . You didn’t grow in mommy’s tummy- you grew in [her birthmother’s name]’s tummy.”
“Oh” she said, with a disappointed sigh. “But I wanted to grow in your tummy!”
I felt an emptiness the moment she said those words and I don’t know if it was my own issues with infertility that were making me feel that way or if it was hearing the disappointment in her own little voice and trying to sense how she was feeling at the time that made me feel that way. But I was also very touched by her longing to have been so intimately and literally connected to me.
I went on to explain that even though she didn’t grow in my tummy she would always be my little girl and that seemed to appease her for the moment and she went on talking about something else.
I’m sure this will be just the first of many conversations to come up about where she came from and that not all future conversations and inquiries will go so smoothly (having a more open adoption would surely help to lessen some of the mystery surrounding further questions) but for now we’re just playing things by ear and trying to be as open and age-appropriate as possible.