This is my eighth Mother’s Day as a mom, and will be the eighth year that I’ve sobbed my way through a church service, accepted a carnation at the door from a smiling usher, and snuggled my children tight while thinking of you. This Mother’s Day as an adoptive mom, I will be having a baby dedication ceremony for our youngest child. While our church is sensitive to the many complicated feelings around Mother’s Day for so many, I don’t think it will ever be a day I enjoy, in the truest sense of the word.
It doesn’t make sense to those around me. My spouse and my extended family have struggled to understand my mess of emotions on this complicated day each spring. I am a mom to four smiling, beautiful, chaotic and giggling children. They are the center of my world. Why shouldn’t I revel in the brunch, the macaroni art, and the Hallmark festivities?
Because these children were yours first, and they are both of ours now. I can never separate my joy in parenting from your loss. Every year on social media, I share the Jody Landers quote, “A child born to another mother calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” I see this quote shared all over social media by other adoptive mothers, who understand the complexity of our motherhood. We text each other a brief, “You okay?” “Yeah, it’s almost Monday.”
So, this Mother’s Day, there are a few things I want to tell you.
What I want you to know today is that I love you. Not in the basic, generic way that word gets thrown around. And not in the way that I expected when we started this journey years ago. I love you. You are a part of our children, and I love you with a visceral and protective love. You are so important to me, you are so important to our kids, and I would fight to the ends of the earth for you. You are the only other women in the world who love these kids the way I do- with a mother’s fierce never-ending love. My heart will forever be intertwined with yours.
I heard one of the twins tell the baby this week, 'Both your moms love you so much and you smile just like your first mommy!'
I also want you to know that our kids love you. Wholly, deeply, and joyfully. You are their special people, their life-givers and their champions. They will tell anyone who will listen — teachers, grandparents, waitresses and librarians — about how special and amazing you are. Our mailman knows your names. I am sure you’ve had a million moments of doubt about your decisions, about the circumstances that brought you to adoption. Don’t ever have a moment of doubt about the fact that you will always be loved by your kids.
I want you to know that I never will disparage you to our children. The life circumstances and injustices that you have faced are something that I cannot ever fully understand, not having lived through it. I will help our kids learn to understand, learn empathy, and process their stories. I won’t ever speak an ill word against you to them- only love and compassion. And I will fight anyone who tries to tear you down or pigeonhole you into a box they have created about “birth parents.”
I want you to know that I think about you every single day. I see you in the baby’s smile, in my eldest’s love of animals, in the twins’ infectious laughs and compassionate hearts. When I catch these glimpses of you it brings me such joy. To see that our children are such a combination of nature and nurture. Each time I catch these glimpses I tell them so. It’s sinking in. I heard one of the twins tell the baby this week, “Both your moms love you so much and you smile just like your first mommy!” I hid my happy tears in my coffee.
I want you to know that you are strong. You matter. In a society that continually tries to tell you that you don’t, you matter. I see you fight and battle against the imbalance of this world, against the things that simply by my birth I have never had to face. I am pretty sure I would fail miserably at many of the obstacles you navigate — so don’t hold me up on a pedestal. I know you’ve told me that I’m “such an amazing mom.” And that comparison pains me as much as I love knowing that you think I am doing a good job with our babies. I am far from perfect, and have faced less of an uphill battle my entire life.
So this Mother’s Day, and every one after, I am going to sit in my uncomfortable and complicated feelings. Maybe they don’t ever need to be resolved, and living in the gray area is where I am called to be. I know that you are doing the same as we navigate loving and raising and celebrating these children together over our lifetimes. As we watch them graduate, become parents, chase their dreams, fall on their face, and get back up again. As we go through seasons of happy family picnics, zoo trips, and beach days. And as we navigate seasons of darkness, loss, and bumpy roads.
For the long haul, for all the Mother’s Days, all the hard regular Tuesdays, and everything in between, we love you.