I’ve written a bunch about my mad, bad family and I hope if I’ve got anything across it’s the idea that they are not exactly “normal” but I’m really rather fond of them. For example, I don’t believe in the Grateful Adoptee trope (for who are we apart from… y’know, individual humans?) but I do also feel a fair amount of gratitude in just being part of my crazy mad lovely family.
Anyway as you know, last week I decided to throw myself a bit of a boo hoo pity party. Usually I give short shrift to these, I mean, they really are a bit self indulgent – but if you can’t be self indulgent on your own blog, where can you? (Answer: stop being so self indulgent and do something nice for someone else… You’re even boring yourself!) So this week, buoyed by all your good wishes, I started as I mean to go on: with a bit of Happy.
I had arranged a while back to take my mum out for her birthday. It was a trip to spend a day together – she doesn’t live in London but now she’s an OAP (hilarious!) she gets cheap train fares so I said I’d take her out for a day in London. She wanted to wait until the schools were back and it was a bit quieter, and also she’s had a couple of ops to recover from. So I took Monday off and we arranged a little day just for her.
Here are some pics from the day.
Buckingham Palace. Once a year it’s open for a couple of months for the public to visit. They do a different exhibition each year and this year it is the state rooms where they hold banquets. You can’t take pictures inside but it really is amazing. If you look online it doesn’t really show the scale of the whole thing. This year we got to see the banqueting hall all laid out for a state banquet. There were gold plates, engraved crystal and huge candelabra. We also got to find out how they set it all up – days in advance! They even have measuring rules to see where to place things! It is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. There is an audio tour where you can listen to the info on headphones, which led to some funny moments when my mum did that speaking very loudly thing… Oh well! If you are ever in London at the right time over summer then you can reserve tickets here. I highly recommend it!
Claridge’s. After the tour of BP we headed off to Claridge’s. For those of you not in the UK, Claridge’s is an institution. It is a very posh hotel. I’m a bit of an afternoon tea fan so I thought I’d have to take my mum for afternoon tea. Unfortunately she couldn’t walk far as has recently had an operation on her foot so we didn’t get to wander round the shops as I had planned… Which meant we went straight there and arrived two hours early! We asked if they had an earlier table and they said they’d let us know if we waited in the bar. So we decamped to the bar for two of the most expensive drinks I’ve ever bought! Total cost for these: £35! And there were even drinks at £80 a glass! We did get free snacks… The cheese straws and nuts were nice (though possibly not worth the money!). We decided we’d stick to one drink rather than bankrupting ourselves but fortunately we managed to get an earlier table for afternoon tea… My wallet was saved! 🙂
We went through to the dining room. This picture doesn’t really do it justice as it’s very nice. There were huge floral arrangements everywhere. Pink hydrangea in huge bunches and smaller bunches of roses. There was also a pianist playing accompanied by a double bass. The lady on the double bass looked topless from where we were sitting as she was obscured by a piano and wearing a strapless dress! (I assume – perhaps she really was naked!) It all felt very decadent. Which is what you want for afternoon tea!
We ordered our tea. I had fresh peppermint tea as I don’t like tea. (Obviously not a true Brit. Maybe it’s the adoption thing…) Then our savouries arrived. Lots of yummy sandwiches, quiche and free refills! I’ve noticed a lot of places do this now. It means you feel duty bound to make the most of it! The quiche was cheese and onion – very dainty and tasty. And the sandwiches were from L-R: Smoked salmon (yuck!), free range egg (v traditional), chicken with a ceps mayonnaise (v tasty), cucumber and cream cheese (also v traditional) and ham and celeriac remoulade. They were all very nice apart from the salmon which I switched with my mum as she doesn’t like the cucumber ones!
Then we had scones. These are a bit like what Americans call biscuits as far as I can tell, but we have them with jam and cream. (And what we call biscuits is what you guys call cookies! Can you imagine the shock when Brits find out you serve scones for breakfast with gravy!) Anyway there’s a whole debate over whether you add the cream Devon style or Cornish (from Cornwall) style. Clotted cream tastes like cream but it’s the consistency of butter. I can’t remember which style I use but I add the cream first, in place of butter, and then the jam on top. They usually serve scones with strawberry jam in England but this jam was something made from tea. Considering I don’t like tea, it was really delicious! We had fruit scones and plain scones. I could only eat one as I was so full already! They were quite small as scones go but quite frankly I couldn’t even manage both of them, so it really wasn’t a problem!
With afternoon tea you also get a selection of cakes – the main event. All the posh places now compete to do the fanciest ones. These were rather fancy but quite traditional (no theme, like some do themes like the Pret a Portea at the Berkeley – where they do cakes inspired by this season’s fashion collections! Or the Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea at the Sanderson, which is my favourite). I really was stuffed by this point. I had the hazelnut choux bun on the far right and the chocolate raspberry one. They were both delicious!
Then as I had asked in advance if they could do something for my mum’s birthday, they brought out a birthday plate! This was complimentary and she was really chuffed. It definitely got me Child of the Year award! 🙂
Finally – just in case you’re not stuffed enough, you get little boxes with fresh chocolate truffles. They really give you a very spoiled experience.
As we couldn’t eat everything, they boxed it up to take home. My mum insisted I take it all as she has my dad on a strict diet! He was always quite skinny when we were younger but now he’s older his metabolism has slowed down but his appetite hasn’t! He’s not really fat or anything but he has a very sweet tooth. I got into trouble for smuggling him some contraband sweeties last time we met (and I sent him a small care package of my favourite cheese and a small fruit cake for his birthday – last year I sent him a giant personalised pork pie!). So I took home the extras to T. He was very pleased! Dog tried to get in on the action but was sadly denied!
Overall we had a really nice day. I think if you’re one of four especially then it’s nice to spend some 1:1 time with your parents. Of course we haven’t always seen eye to eye so don’t get the impression we are the kind of mother daughter who make you want to vomit with their “best friends” schtick. 🙂 My mum is definitely my mum and my dad is my dad! But I think now I’m in my late 30s we can relate on a more adult level and I am a bit less selfish and self absorbed than I was in my 20s! Plus they’ve probably calmed down their expectations a bit as the options of becoming a doctor / lawyer / President of the United States are all no longer open to me!
One thing we did actually get to discuss was the whole forum and adoption thing. We didn’t discuss in any depth but we did touch on my latest experiences (of adopted people who had a bad time of things and now feel upset about having been adopted), not in the context of anyone being right or wrong but more in the way of saying how I don’t feel that way. We discussed how we were always treated as “their children” and the adopted ones weren’t treated differently – I am glad that we were and never felt we might get taken back or anything. I even told my mum about this blog in the knowledge that she’s only just managed to master SMS and Skype and is unlikely to go looking!
Interestingly my mum said that she did feel they had been a bit naive and hadn’t expected there to be such a big deal about race – we were brought up largely in this kind of “colourblind” mentality to which I think there have been pros and cons. Like I truly didn’t grow up thinking there was anything inherently differentiating in personality or needs based on the colour of people’s skins. I didn’t think I was inferior because I had non white skin, but then again, I did learn that people would treat me differently because of it. I know now that the tide has turned on people’s feelings re race and I’ve learned from the forum that in America at least, skin colo
ur is a very big deal. I think the colourblind thing gave us benefits in one sense but also left us quite ill prepared to face racism in the big wide world… but then I guess it depends whether you blame adoption, parents, upbringing etc for that or you blame the world. Personally I blame the world for being racist rather than my parents for being white, but that’s just me!
It’s funny though, my mum even said she didn’t think people of my ethnicity got much trouble in the UK (to which I put her straight! She does know of previous incidents but she forgets!) and also we just talked about how people deal with stuff. Like I’m definitely one of those people who doesn’t really dwell on things – I even said about dad’s saying (“There’s no point worrying about things you can’t change”) and we had a little giggle about it. (We were drinking an early G&T at this point!) We talked about sibling #2 and how happy we are that the earlier problems seem to have gone away (#2 was also adopted and had quite a few issues growing up but is super happy and settled now, engaged to be married, all good!). Plus we talked about how the world is hopefully changing – in the context of my gay sibling and how we don’t expect there to be the level of homophobia in the past. I guess we all have our things. (Apart from #3/RFB who is just the archetypal white hetero one!) What is fundamental to happiness, I think, is our ability to process the unfairnesses and injustices and grievances and make the most of our lives.
For me that means not focusing on the bad stuff. For sure I do have to deal with any number of small irritants and a few big ones, but I find that it’s unproductive for my life to focus on them. I’m just too lazy to go around feeling bad all the time… It takes effort! I think that may be down to my personality or it may be down to my upbringing, or it may be a bit of both.
Today I went to my follow up occupational health appointment. The doctor had said last time that she thought I should come back and see her in a month’s time as she was a bit worried about me. But it’s now a month and a bit on from the last time (took a while to get the appointment at a mutually convenient time) and we really seemed to have moved on hugely since then. She asked if I still felt sad about PB and I said yes, but not debilitatingly so. I think my first pregnancy and miscarriage after IVF will always be a big experience in my life, but I am not the kind of person who’s going to be doubled up in grief for the rest of my life… I will always carry that sadness with me, but I’ll be okay. Because I really feel like I will. I feel a lot better, and maybe I’m in denial or something or maybe I’m just pretty quick at moving on. I’d like to think it’s a coping mechanism that I’ve got honed to a fine art!
I think for me it helps to focus on the stuff in the future. Like, I know I can’t see anyone about my fibroid until October, so there’s no point in spending a lot of time thinking about it before then. We can’t restart IVF until that’s sorted out, so I won’t try and get in touch or schedule anything before then. We’re off to the Magic Kingdom / USA next month so that’s what we’re focusing on and looking forward to… booking restaurant reservations, organising fun surprises for T and our schedule for the parks! (Squeal!) And buying cheap Disney clothes! I have a haul of them and I reckon I can get through the entire week with only wearing Disney clothes. 🙂
And before then, this month, I have a large wedding cake commission for a friend’s wedding so that’s exciting too. And after our trip to the US (our favourite place even disregarding WDW!) we will be looking forward to Christmas. I really love autumn (fall!)/winter when everything gets a bit chillier and cosier and we can have hot chocolate and cinnamon and wear awesome winter coats and everyone’s getting excited about Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year. I mean, I do enjoy the sun but autumn’s the best because it’s all about getting ready for Christmas!
And more immediately: We’ve been looking at houses. It’s all very exciting even though we probably won’t do anything about it for months and months but it’s nice to dream.
And I guess that’s the thing: I’ll never stop dreaming, or enjoying the happy stuff. Life’s too short to feel miserable for long. We all have a little wallow once in a while but I don’t want that to define my life. My task is just to keep adding fun things into the schedule to look forward to, and to enjoy the happy things when they happen. Which, when you have a T and a Dog, is pretty much all the time.
I know that a lot of you have been recipients of some pretty crappy news lately and I want to say: I’m thinking of you. I know that discovering this community was a lifeline to me – almost a lifetime ago! back in April I think it was – and I want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you. You are all making a difference to people’s lives, people like me who felt completely alone and logged on one day and wrote a little something and put it out there, and got all this love and care back. And when we were going through the dark days you were all there for me (and us) and sharing your own experiences and making me feel like there was someone out there who cared. Some of you have even become my “IRL” friends (okay, we haven’t yet met in real life but we’re a part of each other’s virtual lives and I feel like I know you!). I mean, that’s pretty awesome. If I was going to be Pollyanna about it (I’m not) I’d say that you are making the world a better place, one friend at a time! And that’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?