another mother’s day

As the day nears, I feel a range of emotions.

This time last year, I was approaching potential motherhood through open adoption. But clearly the day was not about me. It was about this young woman expecting her first child who, aside from some birthing preparation, determined she was in no way prepared to be a mother. Last year, we honored K as she was expecting to give birth in just a few weeks. She still could have decided to parent, despite her statements and intentions otherwise.

Last year I wrote about the people I was thinking of rather than celebrating the day myself.

This year, I am filled with so many thoughts and emotions that it’s difficult to sense them all at once.

On one hand, I am grateful beyond measure to finally be a Mama, and to this amazing little girl. Every single day I tell myself (and our baby girl) how lucky we are to be her parents. Every chance I get, I thank K for making me Mama to our daughter.

I know how many years I cringed inside at the thought of others celebrating with their families, countless children and partners bestowing love and affection and breakfast in bed to mothers everywhere, while another year had passed me by with no living children to call me Mama.

Motherhood was such an elusive and exclusive club.

While I still set myself apart in many ways — as an infertile adoptive mama — this year will be my first to celebrate, to rejoice in my own amazing little family. And that is a beautiful thing.

So the circle of life continues. As I finally experience and acknowledge my own motherhood, my own mother is slowly dying. Thankfully she has had a slight reprieve, allowing her to enjoy a bit more of life than we thought would be possible just a few months ago. In fact we’re planning a short summer vacation to bring everyone together for what will likely be the last time. Her illness is still terminal, still incurable.

I continue to grieve the woman she once was and never again will be. Yet oddly I’m finding it rather easy to point and criticize as I keep on learning what not to do. I love my mother, but I do not want to be like her. She does possess some qualities I admire — e.g., strength, intelligence, wit. She has been incredibly supportive during times of need, and I am grateful for that which has been her greatest gift. But truth be told — and here comes the guilt — she hasn’t really been the best mother. Sacrilegious on Mother’s Day? Probably. Like so many mother-daughter relationships, ours was strained and tested but grew strong over time. Yet my whole life she showed little affection, was emotionally distant, highly judgmental, fairly negative, keen on manipulation. As a new mother myself, these are qualities I unequivocally shun. I aspire to be the exact opposite of her in that regard. I’ve always said that we learn what not to do by watching others. Strange that these are some of the lessons she leaves with me. Or is it sad? I don’t even know anymore. It just is. I love her and I’ll miss her terribly when she’s gone — I’ll especially miss picking up the phone to call her and chat about life. But it is what it is. [Insert *big sigh* here.]

M’s mother, too, has been struggling with a rare condition that at her age has been quite debilitating. They haven’t been able to travel for years. She hasn’t even been able to meet her granddaughter yet. We have hope, so I’m still leaving a place open in Baby J’s baby book for a photo with Grandma and Grandpa. But we’ll see.

Meanwhile, our family is still reeling from a sudden tragedy that struck a year ago. The grief is still settling in, with no good answers to bring peace.

On top of it all, I think of how this day must be tinged with sadness for K, who nearly a year ago became a mother to our daughter before entrusting her in our care. Even though I know K is enjoying the freedom of her decision, a very real part of her is here with us, sleeping in the other room as I write these words. And it’s not just K that I think about, but K’s mother and grandmother — i.e., Baby J’s grandmother and great grandmother. While they still have a real relationship with Baby J, clearly they lost something too when K chose not to parent.

Last year we sent five Mother’s Day cards — to our own moms, to K, her mom and her grandmom. We also gave K a gift, which we can’t do this year since she’s out of town, but of course we will call to let her know we’re thinking of her. Today and every day.

This year I’ll thank K for seeing in me what I could not see in myself for quite some time. While there are no words to capture the spring of emotions I feel for her, our daughter, or our little family, this year I’ll thank her once again for making me Mama.

~ by luna on May 5, 2010.

9 Responses to “another mother’s day”

  1. Wow. This was a nice post! I would love to feature your success story through infertility on my blog. Come by to check it out. I feature one every Sunday.

  2. Oh an of course, Happy Mother’s Day!!

  3. Happy Mother’s Day. =) I know I’ve had a hard time myself, in the past, picking out cards for my mom (also a complicated figure); I don’t want one of the “World’s Greatest Mom”/”You are my best friend”/”I hope to be a mom just like you” cards, but I love her and want to tell her on this day that is also often her birthday. I hope you’re able to celebrate with your family in a way that makes you happy.

  4. You have been a mother for ages, but this year you get to celebrate it with your daughter 🙂

    Good on you for all the cards. My heart kinda aches that we didn’t have one more to send out on V’s behalf…

  5. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

  6. […] had such mixed feelings leading up to Sunday that I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Yes, it was my first real […]

  7. What a time of mixed emotions, Luna, in celebrating your own motherhood while reflecting on the woman who inspired you to be the kind of mom you are as well as the one who helped make you a mom. So many amazing women…

  8. […] on K’s side. In fact, K’s parents were the only grandparents there, as neither of our mothers were well enough to travel, […]

  9. […] One year ago, I balanced gratitude and grief as I experienced my first real Mother’s Day, while thinking of our daughter’s other mother too. I was grateful for our beautiful child and for the woman who brought her into the world, who saw in me what I could not for so long. As I celebrated with my own little family (and then some), I still could not escape the thought that Baby J’s birthmother Kaye was likely feeling her own loss that day, as well as her mother, and her mother’s mother. The blood line runs deep through this family of women. […]

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