I’ve started and restarted this post a few times-whether on paper or in my head. This is a day we’ve been imagining and dreaming of and envisioning for almost five years…The day, for lack of a better image, that the umbilical cord for us could be cut, and that we, as kids, would experience freedom.
I can’t help but include myself in this victory day because, in all truth, nothing has reminded me more of being beaten and shattered, all physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, throughout my childhood, than being placed in the position of defending the boys in the process.
This time has been different…so so so different. I’m not alone (huge difference…numero uno difference). I have a husband who sits with me in court dates and meetings with social workers and reminds me to speak up and sends me away to take breaks. I’m not at the mercy of the courts and social services will-I’m standing on my own two feet, hand in hand with a great man who believes in the power of the Freedom Fighter, Jesus, and sees the brokenness of the system with me. He reminds me that I’m not crazy and blocks unwarranted people and numbers from my line of contact. The woman who caged me with fear and irrationality and instability as a child used to hold the same power to do the same, even when I was twenty-two, by saying things like, “You don’t remember? You gave yourself that black eye. I was always a good mom,” or “don’t you remember how much you loved me as a child? It’s a shame you grew up to be who you are, I’m ashamed of you,” and so on and so forth; and, although I could tell myself and know in my head that none of what she said was rational and true, all we want as girls, as women with these little girls still aching inside of us, is to hear our mommies say, “girl, you did good, and I am proud of the beauty that is you…”
This time around, I have used my voice-even though it shakes and trembles and fears being misunderstood or twisted to prove a point, to prove a point that my mom and her attorneys have attempted to construct since day one…that this was my master plan to get back at my mom for all the years of abuse…
I denied the lies, and fought the fear of how I would be interpreted and fought hard for what was right.
But this time we had social workers and attorneys that were for our boys, which is all we ever wanted.
And today, we watched first hand one of our cubs find his voice with great courage. He sat and joked with the judge. He told them what he knew to be true, and what he’s learned in the three months since living with us (this time around): that a mommy is never supposed to call you names and try to define you as worthless. that a mommy is someone who is supposed to make you icky food you don’t like…because it’s healthy…not let you run into a liquor store at 6am for an iced tea and taki chips, or let you go hungry at night. that a mommy is the adult and a mommy isn’t supposed to make you be the one to teach your brother to read or write or tie his shoes…because that’s what mommies do. They care for you, they defend you, they watch and love and build you up-no matter if their perfect or imperfect or somewhere in between, they do this right.
Today, my mom, the woman who gave birth to me almost 26 years ago, the woman who carried me and has pictures of me in her belly, and who bought me a bunny when I was three (named Jellybean), who took me to Europe on a whim and signed me up for all kinds of dance-but who is sick, who can’t love me because she can’t love herself, who called me terrible names and told me she hated me starting when I was ten, who accused me of sleeping with husbands of hers and exposed me to things little girls were never meant to question or understand-lost her rights to be a mommy. She had four chances, four little people put in her care starting 26 years ago, and all four are now free and cut from her opportunity to try to care.
And my heart grieves for her. She walked out of the courtroom smiling because…maybe she didn’t know what else to do with her face or thoughts. That’s been her M.O. for as long as I’ve been able to observe her: don’t face the ways you’ve hurt people. Don’t face yourself, and never apologize-it truly is always always always someone else’s fault, someone else problem…even if it’s her own child, someone else is always to blame for the black-eye or car accident or drinking.
Today, we cry freedom. Today we celebrate the new, and real, normal. And today, we grieve for a birth-mom who’s lost her opportunity to be a mommy, forever. Our feelings are complicated and our hearts are full of competing feelings. But we are grateful beyond measure for a God who stood up for three precious cubs that have forever changed how we view family and how we walk as Mommy and Daddy.
This is not our “gotcha day” yet…but this is a day where we feel like we’ve just burst through the ribbon at the end of a five year marathon, where our chests are burning from running so long and we are heaving for air and covered in sweat and tears and who knows what else because we haven’t stopped. We’ve never stopped until we crossed this line.
And all the ground we’ve ran over, all the miles that our feet have trampled on throughout the marathon, we’ve beaten it all. It’s all dust behind us-26, 17, 12, and (almost) 7 years of dust and dirt has been crushed by our running forward. And now that we’ve crossed and ripped through that golden ribbon, we’re too overwhelmed with all the feels to let ourselves look back.
Today, we are champions and they are my brave heroes.