THE OTHER MOTHER
Mother’s Day. This day every year fills me with so much gratitude, to the point of tears. But also, I often feel sort of melancholy on Mother’s Day--and happy too. I’m so grateful for the mothers in my life. My own mother, my grandmother, and my mother friends. My children make me burst with love and pride, and I’m so grateful for my most important job ever, to be their mother. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers.
Let’s not forget though, those who long to be mothers. Women who struggle with infertility, I would imagine, have a really hard time on Mother’s Day. Scrolling through social media seeing everyone post their Mother’s Day photos has to be so hard. There are women who never were in the right relationship, life situation, circumstance to fulfill their dreams of becoming mothers. I celebrate these women also. And there are foster mothers...those who open their homes and hearts to the most needy children, and provide what these children need most. Opening an opportunity for love and safety to a foster child is such a selfless act. People who are foster parents may only have their foster children in their homes for a short time, or may eventually adopt a child, with unique special needs. These mothers are awe inspiring.
There are women who become mothers, who didn’t really plan to be mothers at this point in their lives. The sacrifices they make to provide for their children, the unexpected and unanticipated change in lifestyle can be devastating. It certainly changes lives.
And, there are mothers who lost children. My heart breaks for these women. The horrible reality of waking up every morning knowing you have buried a child must be the most difficult thing to ever experience. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for these mothers to feel their loss when so many are celebrating. There are also those who have lost mothers.
This brings me to what most occupies my thoughts on Mother’s Day. Some become mothers by adoption. I’m one of those mothers. My daughter became part of her forever family when she was 18 months old. She is as much my child as her biological siblings. In fact, when I have to fill out a medical history for her, I start and then realize that it isn’t my biological history that is needed. She has no known available medical history. She was an abandoned baby in China. When she became part of our family, the One Child policy in China yielded many baby girls with a similar history.
My daughter has another mother. A mother who loved her and cared so much for her, but couldn’t keep her. My daughter was found within a couple blocks of a hospital, bundled against the late January cold. She was found by a hospital worker and taken to the hospital, where she was fed and cared for, and then went to live at a “social welfare agency” until she was matched with us and we were able to go to China to bring her home.
I think of her other mother every year on Mothers Day, and my daughter’s birthday, and other random times as well. She must think so often of her lost child, the daughter she couldn’t keep. When I think about her, I want her to know that her baby, who is my daughter, is thriving. She is in high school, gets good grades, is a happy, funny, energetic, independent born leader. She is a beautiful person. She came to us fiercely independent, and took charge of her older brothers, and never gave up her role as leader of the siblings. She would make her birth mother so proud and happy. To not be able to share that with her other mother makes me sad. I am not sure I would have the strength to do what this mother did to ensure her newborn daughter a better life. I hope I have lived up to what she would have wanted in someone, to be a mother to her babe.
So, today, Mother’s Day, celebrate your mother. Celebrate other mothers. Just celebrate and be grateful that some woman somewhere gave birth to you and loves you with all her heart.