Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mother's Day

I love being a mom but have often hated Mother's Day.  My relationship with my own mother has been a journey fraught with drama and heartache that exists in a functional state today only because of good boundaries and excellent therapy.   There is nothing like spending 45 minutes in Hallmark trying to find the "appropriate" card for the single most dysfunctional relationship in your life to remind you of all the reasons Mother's Day sucks. 

And then I became a mom,  and as a mother through adoption means that your Mother's Day is shared with another, and sometimes several anothers.  I am my adopted sons third mother and  I have lived this reality for nearly 11 years.

For this past year I shared motherhood of two precious baby girls with a woman who was a stranger, became my friend and today is my family.  Sunday,  I will celebrate Mother's Day with my six children.  I will honor our love and our family and  our relationships.  I will enjoy my day as their mother and as a daughter to my own mother.  But I will not forget the brutality of the reality that brought me to this point.  

Because that reality was this week. 

I stared hard at the back of this mother, while I clutched her own mother's hand. We were three mothers joined by our love of the same children.   I watched her shoulders shudder from the sobs she attempted to hold in.  I listened while she told a judge she wanted me to be her children's mother.  I heard her affirm her choice, not once, not twice but three times.   When faced with impossible opposition that most of you reading cannot begin to fathom, she chose ME.  For many reasons she made her choice but that choice was deeply rooted in her love of her daughters.

In that court room on Thursday I did not shed a tear for my joy and my gain, I shed a tear for the broken heart of another.  We walked out of that courtroom as parents, and she left, sobbing, alone and in chains.  I held her mother for a moment before we walked out of the court house together.  I took her to my home so she could pull her granddaughters, now also my daughters,  onto her lap  and apply balm to her broken heart behind a very brave face.   

"Today is a good day" she said.  "Today is a very good day"  But her sad eyes told the truth of this good day of permanency and safety and security of her grand daughters coming at a such a high cost.  Her own mistakes reflected in the life of her daughter and rippling into the lives of her granddaughters.  We were a family because of their choices and the resulting pain and loss.

Later that day, alone and overwhelmed with the enormity of what we had just experienced I glanced down at the mail on my desk.  Tucked among the bills was an envelope addressed to me.  I opened it. 

On the day she made me a mother once again, I received a card from my daughters' other mother. 

A Mother's Day card.

Carefully she had scratched the "s" off of "years" in acknowledgement of the past year of learning to trust each other. 

We will have many years, and many cards exchanged I am sure. But this Mother's Day, and every Mother's Day to come, this Mother's Day Card will always be one of my most treasured possessions. 

Of course I had sent her Mother's Day cards already. One from my husband and I, and one from the babies.   But my cards had been sent from the comfort of my home, while snuggling the daughters I would be tucking into bed that night, and every night for the rest of their childhoods.  I had sent a tiny token of my emotional riches.  What sacrifice is it for me to send a "Happy Mother's Day Mom" card from the girls when they are unaware of the sentiment, are wrapped around my waist and calling me mommy throughout the day?  In reality, it is probably "nice" of me, but it certainly is no sacrifice.

But for her?  She sent me a card that acknowledges my motherhood to her daughters from the emptiness of a separation I can imagine but cannot fathom living through.  Her gift, her thoughtfulness, is great, and so far beyond my own.  And I was awed.

So yes, I will celebrate this Mother's Day but I will not forget.   May my sense of appreciation and awe of the journey that brought me to this place as a mother of six precious, perfect, amazing and very loved children  never end.   May you share in it.

Happy Mother's Day. 


Erica Renee said...

I love that she sent you a card. For the first time in 4 years, this year I felt it right that I send my daughter's mother a card. Just to let you know, it's crazy hard to find a mother's day card for the woman who is mothering the child you gave birth to. I am glad to see that I'm not the only one with that idea.

Anonymous said...

well written and LIVED, as usual.


Anonymous said...

I'm definitely wiping away tears after reading this post!
Her courage to face her own inadequacy as a parent and strength to actually affirm your ability as a parent is beyond commendable! She is and always will be an amazing woman for making this choice. said...

I hear you, it is a bitter sweet day in so many ways.

Unknown said...

Jen, you and your boundless love for your own family and others is a constant inspiration for me. Happy Mother's day to you, in all the forms it comes to you.

HollyMarie said...

You have me all teary-eyed... even though my girls' other mothers do not celebrate 'Mother's Day' in their cultures, today is still a day that I am very much aware of the fact that I am a mom by way of another mother's pain.

Dawn said...

Awww Jen...Happy Mother's Day. And big ((HUGS)) to you from the bottom of my heart.

Tudu said...

This was beautiful. Of course, I was in tears, again. Happy Mothers Day.

Heather said...

What a powerful and beautiful gesture on her part.

Happy Mother's Day to you!

Patty said...

Blessings on that dear, precious, giving Mom.

Blessings on you too - let yourself feel the pure joy for a bit & then a bit longer again. Sometimes my heart feels a swirl of emotions over my adopted sons. Pain & joy dance together. But, there IS such joy & I WILL embrace it!

Judy said...

That's amazing, Jen.

Angie said...

Wow, how amazing!