another mother’s day wishes
Two years ago, I was on the brink of motherhood as a young woman decided she was not prepared to become a mama herself.
At the time, I was learning to dwell in the uncertainty of life, reeling from the recent diagnosis of my mother’s terminal cancer just weeks before another woman would decide whether I would become a mama. Then yet another family tragedy left us spinning and searching for peace. Mother’s Day was not for celebration, but reflection.
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.
I was also grateful that my own mother had survived the year, that she had lived to meet our daughter rather than joining her mother who lost her own battle to cancer a dozen years before. Still, I was grieving the vibrant woman she once was. Perhaps it was a bit sacrilegious on Mother’s Day to reflect on how I learned from her mistakes to be a better mother, but it’s true.
This year, despite all prognoses and medical logic, my mother is still with us. Two years since her terminal diagnosis — and more than a year after she nearly died — she is still here. In the past six months, she has traveled to Paris, Las Vegas, and California twice. While she is a mere reflection of the woman she once was, she is determined to do what she can while she can. She has chosen to live in the midst of dying. There will plenty of time for death, she believes. As for living, if not now, when?
So while it is heartbreaking to hear my daughter say “up!” and know that her grandmother can not lift her, or even be left alone with her, it is worlds of uplifting to see them nuzzled on the couch reading stories, to listen to their laughter while they share a meal or a joke, to hear my mother sing the song she sang to me as a little girl in the car on the way home. These are precious moments I never thought I would experience. I never knew if my mother would live to see me become a mother too.
Weeks ago on her most recent visit, my mom shared news of tests indicating her decline. For a year her reports have been stable, which shaped her approach to the life she has left. Yet her organs are ravaged by untreatable disease, her heart damaged by toxins that her liver and kidneys can no longer process. It is amazing that her body functions at all, thanks to her stubborn will. While she continues to plan movie nights and weekends away, her days are certainly numbered. She has lived more in the past year than have many, yet it is with the exhausting knowledge that she will never recover. It all takes a toll.
This year my amazing husband planned a weekend getaway to a small town on the north coast that we have visited for 20 years, though always with our dogs and never with a child. Our last visit was for my birthday four years ago, just days before our last pup unexpectedly left us. I haven’t wanted to go back, until now. We stayed at a wonderful and new (to us) inn, with unbelievable gardens and food, and llamas, horses and dogs everywhere. Baby Jaye loved camping in her tent crib, and we were happy to forgo fancy dinners for early bird specials with our very active toddler. We enjoyed an afternoon at the beach with sand between our toes, and even bought ourselves an early anniversary gift (see below, with glare). The whole weekend was very much a celebration of our wonderful little family. We reclaimed our old getaway spot, and it was lovely.
Still, Mother’s Day is still tinged with so many emotions, so much complexity, especially in adoption.
I owe my motherhood to another mother, not my own, who bestowed upon me the greatest honor and privilege when she asked me to become mother to our daughter. While she does not regret her decision, she lives with it each and every day. Each precious moment I share with our daughter is one that she does not. Every night I sing our little girl to sleep, each morning I wake up to her beautiful chirping voice, she does not. Each time my heart swells when I hear our child call me “mama,” well, you get the idea. This is the reality of adoption, of my motherhood. And while it makes me no less a mama, it gives me deeply humble appreciation, that I owe it all to another mother.
So this year, rather than celebrate myself, I will make some wishes. To my own mother I wish health and well being, though I will settle for peace and comfort. To Kaye, the mother who brought our precious Jaye into the world, I wish peace, immense joy, and the compass and wind to realize her dreams in life and love. And to our wonderful daughter — who I tell each night how lucky I am to be her mama — I wish a most joyful life with every happiness, secure in real knowledge that she is loved and cherished by all of her mothers and grandmothers, and even one great grandmother.
To everyone else who is missing a mother or child on Mother’s Day (or any day) I wish for your happiness and contentment as well.