I've been home late a fair amount recently. Either because I've been seeing family and they live a fair drive away or I've been to a show and it's finished late. So when I get back the boys are already in bed, sometimes asleep and always looking adorable. The cat miaows at me as if to say, "what time do you call this ?" and Hubbie catches me up on the post-school antics. It's how life is now I'm a working mum. This is the first time I've been at work full time since I've been a mum. I'd always worked flexible or shorter hours to fit in with childcare before and since Blue Bear came to live with us I've been home full time. It's a big adjustment for all of us, but so far it seems to be fine.
There are some things about being a stay at home parent that I won't miss. The main one is the school gate. Not the actual gate you understand - that hasn't done anything to offend me and is quite pretty really. My boys used to race on ahead and hide behind it and jump out to shout "Boo !" at me when I was on the school run with them. No it's the banter in the playground between parents. I will greet people with a smile when I'm on the zebra crossing without breaking my stride. I'll happily have a quick, "How are you ?" while still moving and sometimes I'll even walk alongside a parent I know. What I won't do is the standing 'chatting' with arms folded ignoring entirely that there are small children all around.
Then there's the whatsapp group of doom. Where one parent will ask if anyone has found their child's jumper and 30 'don't have it hun' messages will pop up. I have muted our group now as I can only stand so much inane chat about the new PE kit not being in stock. Also, don't ask other parents how to explain where babies come from on a class whatsapp group. I am completely honest with my kids. They weren't delivered by the stork, Mummy didn't swallow a magic seed and Daddy didn't 'give' her a baby FFS ! They both know that Brown Bear grew in my tummy and Blue Bear in another mummy's tummy. Thanks to an episode of friends they now also know they came out of the tummy through a cut the doctor made. See, learning is fun kids !
I am less than keen on having a 'social' with people I only know because our kids are in the same class. I've got friends and they are lovely and we have things in common. I prefer not to spend my evening listening to people complaining about the school or asking me to confirm if what they understood to be the times of forest school are correct. Of course the other side of this is the gossip. At the end of last term a few parents told me they had heard my kids were leaving the school. When I asked who they had heard this from they became coy and refused to tell me.
A few weeks ago a parent I have known for a few years and who has helped me out a lot told me she had said something to another parent. It was an apologetic message confessing she had told this Mum that Blue Bear was adopted. I don't know why it came up or how it was relevant to the conversation, but I was thrown. It isn't exactly a secret, after all the school know and a lot of parents who knew us at the time he came to live with us know already. What we had chosen was to not tell the parents in his class unless it was relevant. It hasn't been up to now and it continues not to be.
We have been asked to provide baby photos for the topic this term, 'all about me.' This is one of the things we were told about during our assessment to become adopters. How we hold and present his past to him in a way that is manageable and not overwhelming. Blue Bear wasn't with us when he was a baby so while I can get photos of him we were not in his life at that point. I have spoken to him about his early life and answered all his questions honestly. We saw his foster carers recently so we had a chat about how he lived there when he was a baby. He doesn't remember it, but it is important to hold that part of his past safely for later life when he will have more questions.
I realise that when people ask questions like, "where was he born ?" "why are his eyes blue ?" "is he like his Daddy ?" they aren't necessarily being intrusive. However, I am protective of this little boy and his past and I don't want anyone to feel sorry for him or to look sideways at me and say, "Oh, you're so good." As if adoption was an act of pity or charity. My kids don't need sympathy, they are amazing and loved and precious. I don't describe them by how they came to be in this family. They are so much more than that.
Brown Bear is a force to be reckoned with. He is smart, funny, a talented sportsman and is fiercely protective of his brother and cousins. He has a quick wit and is frustratingly direct. He has obsessions which take over his whole life (Rubik's cube, fidget spinners, Panini stickers, etc.) When he is with boys he's one of the lads and in the company of girls he listens and observes and is kind. I think he could be a leader of men (and women) in the future.
Blue Bear is my little park ranger in training. He will stop to pick up conkers, acorns and pretty leaves on the ground. He loves animals and overcame a fear of dogs to now asking if he is allowed to stroke them (so long as they are not too big). He will make sure no one steps on a worm on the ground and if I want to motivate him to leave the child-minder I can say, "hurry up there is a snail crossing the path and if we don't get there in time it will have gone." He will be out like a shot to watch the snail.
When I come home and go into their bedroom, I watch their sleeping faces and lean in to kiss them gently so they don't wake up. Blue Bear doesn't move much. Brown Bear opens his eyes, smiles at me with his fingers still in his mouth and goes back to sleep. I tiptoe out so as not to wake them.
I love these two boys so much more than I ever could have imagined.