It was July 4th when I begrudgingly left my adopted family’s Tahoe rental house to pick up Dominic and his friends. The house stood high above the lake, it’s wrap-around deck glowing in the evening light. My best friend and her fiance were cooking a meal for everyone. I had just finished a game of dominos with one of my sisters and her boyfriend after spending the day at the lake with our parents and family friends - reading magazines, paddle boarding, and laughing with one another. When I’m with my adoptive family, I get to be just another kid. The stresses of my life wash away under the protection of their love and unconditional acceptance. It’s a safe place where if even for a brief meal or weekend, I feel normal.
As you know, my life is anything but “normal.” My roommates had taken Dominic and his friends the night before, but I would spend the rest of the day at the mercy of teenage humor in my backseat. I was angry I’d miss dinner with everyone at the house in Tahoe, angry I wouldn’t see fireworks over the lake, and feeling sorry for myself as the the fallout from yet another dating fiasco swam in the back of my thoughts. There’s something about spending time with my sisters and their partners that unintentionally reminds me of my nagging singledom.
I should be grateful. I wouldn’t have even been able to go to Tahoe if I didn’t have such amazing roommates and such a supportive Deaf community. As I drove through town sulking, being tested by the teenagers I was chauffeuring, all I could think of was my adoptive Mom and how many times she gave up what she wanted to drive us kids around. Hell, she still does it, except instead of driving from house to house, she’s more often picking up 4 almost-thirty somethings from the local bar at Christmas. I thought of my own biological parents and how they failed my biological siblings and I. Parents sacrifice so much for their children. Parenting takes grace, commitment, and love. It requires utter selflessness; a tall order for some.
Dominic and I ended the night with sparklers in the street, watching the Auburn fireworks from the fairground peak at us from just above the trees. While it wasn’t what I wanted, he had a great day. When we are children we forget that our parents and the adults around us are people too. People with feelings and their own damage. It's a parent's job to shield their children from their own emotional turbulence. It's their job to keep them safe.
I went to sleep hoping that the home my roommates and I are creating gives him the same comfort and safety I feel with my adoptive family. I hope that he can tease and goof around as the kid that he is, even if it is only for a couple more years. His life has already been so hard. Everyone deserve to breakaway from the pressures of this world and find peace in the love of others.