What we talk about when we talk about family

November 22 is National Adoption Day. Did you know that? Before this time last year, I wouldn’t have.

But life,  I continue to learn, is full of surprises. No plot twist is too farfetched to be true. The story of my nephew, Waylon (aka “Spud,” as we affectionately called him in his potato-faced pre-adoption days, when we couldn’t use his real name), is one of those farfetched-but-true ones.

November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013

The folklore has been repeated over and over again the last two years, usually ending in a response of disbelief and declaration that he is a “miracle baby.” I first met Spud on Christmas Eve 2012. At that point he was barely past his due date, though he’d already been alive since August. Weighing just 19 ounces, born to a family who couldn’t take care of him (a lot of those details have to remain vague—but this is the Ozarks; you can probably venture a guess), he spent his first four months in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit—this acronym another bit of trivia I didn’t know until I had to) at Mercy Hospital, where my sister-in-law is a nurse.

Baby's first Christmas Eve

Baby’s first Christmas Eve

Daniel and Lindsey had only been engaged since September at this point—another kind of too-perfect story, ps: My brother proposed in Central Park, one year to the day after they met…at a wedding. (I won’t cut it out! I won’t!) They had discussed the possibility of this kind of adoption, maybe years and years down the road, since stories like Spud’s are sadly more common than they ought to be. But none of us anticipated this sort of timeline.

Our family was fast-forwarding at an unheard-of speed, but still the whole process felt unbelievably normal. It felt normal to accept this little guy into our lives. It felt normal just a few months later, when we found out they were having a baby of their own (Spud’s “Big Brother” onesie temporarily stumping Mom & Dad: “Like the TV show?!”).

Surprise!!

Surprise!!

It felt normal when I officiated their wedding that June, outside on the farm where my mom grew up, on my brother’s birthday, on an abnormally mild and perfectly sunny June day. And it felt normal one year ago today, when I sat in the courtroom and heard the name “Waylon Lee Jenkins” spoken for the first time. (Daniel Lee and Lindsey Lee and Wayon Lee, ps—I won’t cut it out!) I remember the judge said something about being pleased to witness such a happy ending—I imagine his days are too often filled with kids who aren’t so lucky.

Aunt Sarah

Aunt Sarah, willfully holding a baby. Do not adjust your screens.

So here we are, a year later. Waylon and his sister, Jolene (yep. We’re well on our way to a honky-tonk Brady Bunch at this point), are healthy, happy, dare-I-say just unreasonably adorable kids.  They bring joy to so many people just by being alive…and they both still poop in diapers. Imagine what they’ll be capable of once they’re potty trained, y’all!

Too often, life’s unpredictability adds up to more curse than blessing. But then sometimes it all makes sense.

Announcement: I am not a tween.

Today I tried to listen to 5 Seconds of Summer. (5SOS, as the kids call them. I know this now! Hashtag relevant!)

…Why?

Because I like to punish myself musically with deliciously bad pop music from time to time? Perhaps.

Because I heard something last week about how this band might be bigger than One Direction, but I had no idea who they are, and this made me feel old and out of touch? More likely.

I say “I tried to” because I didn’t make it past the first song on their Spotify. But that 3:58 of nouveau boybandery did fill me with both nostalgia for my teenage self and definitive satisfaction in my current state of adulthood.

First of all: The album cover. Those jeans are so tight, they make my lower half go numb just looking at them. (In MY day, boy bands’ pants were so baggy you could store provisions in them for the long winter.)

5SOS_album_cover

“We can’t feel our feet, ladies.”

nsync-matching-overalls

“Hey, girl. I got room for you in my pants. I mean, not like that. but. you know. whatever.”

Second of all: The name. Think about it…five seconds. Leave it to teenagers to glorify such a short span of time. You have your whole life ahead of you; you have no idea what it feels like to have a Tuesday in June feel just like a Tuesday in February—in terms of routine, if not weather. (Entirely possible the name has some significance that I’m not grasping, but I don’t care to spend the 5 Seconds of My Life it would take to google it and find out.)

Third of all: The song. (Oh yeah! The music; that’s something.) The top single on Spotify today was “Amnesia” (see above.) And I’m pretty sure IT COULDN’T BE MORE MILLENNIAL IF IT TRIED. Observe:

The pictures that you sent me, they’re still living in my phone.
I’ll admit I like to see them, I’ll admit I feel alone.

OH THE FEELINGS! And OH the…unrelatable technological situations responsible for those feelings. I had a cellphone in high school, but the closest it got me to emotional anguish was bumping into my own tail during particularly tense rounds of Snake.

It’s not an original thought, I recognize, but I’m still ever so grateful that social media and smartphones didn’t exist in my formative years. Girls can be mean. Boys are confusing. Online life makes those realities all the more immediate and unrestricted.

Kids these days, is what I’m saying. Please pass me the clicker and an electric blanket. It’s almost time for “Murder She Wrote,” and I don’t like to miss my stories.

For the Rest of Us

Hung out with an old friend for the first time in a while. One of those people whom I only see a handful of times a year (shameful, as we live in the same city for crying out loud), but still, no matter how long it’s been, when we finally get together we inevitably end up giggling like middle school girls at a sleepover.

Tonight, he introduced me to the magical land of Tinder—the “swipe left” / “swipe right” dating app phenomenon that has led to millions of hookups and, who knows, maybe a couple of actual meaningful relationships?

(For the record: I didn’t join.)

I’ve never been ballsy enough to try online dating. No matter how desperate I may have felt between boyfriends, I just couldn’t make myself follow through with signing up. Besides, it seems to me that online dating works for people who either want to get married tomorrow or get laid, like yesterday.  And I’m hovering somewhere in between.

Got me wondering: Why isn’t there a dating site for the rest of us?

Instead of doing what dating sites normally do, allowing you to put your best face forward, The Dating Site For The Rest Of Us would cut through the bullshit and get down to brass tacks.

(I’m 31 over here. Momma doesn’t have time to waste.)

No more well-lit selfies or slimming side-view photographs. On TDSFTROS, your profile picture is an honest “I woke up like this” mug shot. Bed hair, makeup smudges and all. Because, if everything goes according to plan, that’s the version of you they’ll be seeing anyway.

We forego all the niceties like, “My favorite film is Casablanca” or “I consider myself outdoorsy,” and instead tell the cold, hard truth. Like “My favorite movie is actually Stick It” or “I’m outdoorsy…by which I mean I don’t wear deodorant or own a car.”

(Wouldn’t that be helpful? You hang out in the dating world for the better part of a decade, and it’s time to get real.)

Your personality profile includes all the shit you keep carefully concealed in the early stages of courtship. Such as:

I’m afraid of commitment.

I’m reaaaaaally into cats.

Whoops! I’m gay!

I enjoy The Big Bang Theory.

But it also contains all the good stuff that you keep hidden at first. All those idiosyncrasies that truly endear you to someone when the timing is right.

Your shameful binge-watching habits.

Your shared secret prejudices.

Your favorite 2:00 a.m. snacks.

The jig is up. We all have our faults. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally own up to them, and find a special someone who can actually handle them, rather than pretending to be normal for months, only to have it all unravel once the truth comes out?

Once upon a time, I was an idealist. I have watched a lot of Meg Ryan movies. And in spite of personal evidence to the contrary, I still love the idea of love.

Meg Ryan You've Got Mail

“What will NY152 say today? I wonder.”

But maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get real. The truth hurts, but the truth also helps. (Cheez-its. My 2:00 a.m. snack is Cheez-its.)