We pick up the boys each Friday-every week feels like we are entering a war-zone; there is no way to predict how they will act, or react; what things they will say, what feelings they are possessing. But we are there, and present, and ready for battle-because, to us, they are worth getting a little beat up. We see this fight worthy of some scratches on our helmets. We can take it.
But then there is the pain of every Friday at 9pm when we have to say goodbye. This is where my defenses seem to fail me. The Littlest looks at me and says “But I don’t want to go, I want to be with you,” and sometimes the middle runs to his birth-mom with arms open, yelling out “Mama!” Even though he just got done telling me an hour ago how they’ve been evicted again and he’s scared.
In those four hours, we let them see their home, their familiar things-none of their things have been thrown out, removed, or changed around. We offer them the gift of consistency. The Littlest goes to his craft table, always ready for him, and the Middle searches for Rex to tell him a latest “impressive” story.
Sometimes, we lay on the floor with them while they release some of their pain of disorientation through a tantrum, sometimes we go to the beach, or sit around the table, say a prayer, and eat a meal together. Sometimes we lounge on the couch and cuddle close to watch a favorite movie.
For almost two years, I gave these two a good home (not perfect)-safe, full of laughter and learning. I bathed, bottle-fed, diaper changed, potty-trained, homework monitored, nightmare-soothed.
I was their mom.
I was their Mister.
I did all the mom hard work, but then I would drop them off for visitation once a week for two hours, and birth-mom would bring them presents, do the fun things that made them want to call her “mom”-like it’s a favorite cartoon character instead of a hard job.
And then, in a day that moved too fast with a rush of confusion and concern, I was told the boys would go back to live with their birth-mom.
Their “mom”-the one who caused my brother to be in a life-threatening car accident.
Their “mom”-the one that calls them names like “stupid” or “annoying."
Their "mom”-the one who roughly handles these children that have a “fragile” sticker in their eyes, the way they look at the world.
My heart sank, and my mind flooded with things I needed to do to make this easiest for them–because that’s what mom’s do. They set aside their own feelings and beliefs and smile because sometimes our babies just need to see us smiling to know that they are going to be okay, too.
And Mother’s Day comes and it’s just a day–but it’s just that, this day carries so much for me every year. To have a “mom” who sees me and sees the wretched in me, and speaks out bile to me. But then to have Moms who shower me with love and hugs and surprises-who I sit up late with and drink tea and talk about boys (now, marriage) with.
To have been a Mom day in and day out, only to say goodbye to that piece of me, that chunk of my heart, all too quickly, is a wretched loss.
I’ve lost a part of myself-and any Mom [whether you’ve birthed, adopted, miscarried, nannied]–any Mom can attest that once that precious person, whoever they may be, is suddenly gone-physically or emotionally (and they all suddenly grow too fast), our entire self is shaken; and a day placed to celebrate who I one day was is just a wretched reminder, like sandpaper to my heart, that I don’t have two little people on either side of my leg, and they are hurting and celebrating the one who hurts them. This day, the roses, the prayers–it reminds me that I am Forgotten, and a piece of me is lost.
Moms (Women): Listen to me. Whether you have birthed,adopted, fostered, miscarried, child-care-worked, sistered–whether you are married, divorced, man-hunting, happily single, widowed, or waiting–…we all have this in common:
We are all Daughter’s First. This is the bottom line of our creation and identity and standing… We are Daughters, we belong to an unshakable kingdom-even when our “self” and world seems to rock in a storm of uncertainty, we can firmly move forward in this hope.
So, here’s my Happy Daughter’s Day to you. Whether you are single, married, rich, poor, a student, a friend, grieving, smiling–you all deserve to be celebrated and enjoyed.
I am taking a stand and taking a day to grieve what should be, what once was, and to celebrate what is truth and what’s to come: I am a Daughter. I am treasured, restored, esteemed. I am adopted.
and so are you.