My children each stumbled down the stairs this past Sunday morning and came into my bedroom to give me a hug and whisper a sleepy wish for a Happy Mother’s Day. They were heavily directed by their dad, of course, but each whisper was sweetness for my heart.
As Leah hugged me, she said, “I wish I could hug you and Z**** (her birth mom) and say Happy Mother’s Day to both of you.”
I pulled her close and whispered back, “Me, too, baby. I wish that, too.”
Then I asked her if they celebrated Mother’s Day in Ethiopia.
“I don’t know English in Ethiopia. What is “Mother’s Day” in Amharic? What would we have called it?”
“I don’t know, honey. I don’t know how to say Mother’s Day in Amharic. It would have been a day that you did special things for Z****. Maybe give her an extra hug or say thank you for being my mom.”
“Oh. Well I don’t know if we have that day in Ethiopia or not. Z**** was always gone. So she never told me if we had a Mother’s Day.”
Joy and pain. Thankfulness and sorrow. Bitter and sweet.
That is how my Mother’s Day felt this year – my first Mother’s Day as a mom to 6 precious children.
My children miss their first mother, but they have me to love them – if they will allow that love in.
My heart if full of thankfulness that God chose me to mother these 6 beautiful children, but it is also worn and tired because this job is hard.
And I cried because this is the first Mother’s Day in 35 years that I have not spent time with my own mother.
Adoption is an undertaking that affects the entire family. Not just the people in this home, but our whole extended family. Adoption causes growing pains for everyone. It is figuring out new roles and how all the pieces in this new family puzzle fit together.
I have heard many stories of a fractured relationship that stemmed from an adoption. Husband and wife. Sister and sister. Mother and daughter.
But, I never expected to experience that for myself.
I will not share the details. My mom and I love each other. We have always had a close relationship. And, right now, we don’t. She has done things wrong. I have done things wrong. And we need the Lord to heal the hurt.
I include this only because it is now a part of our story. It is the real-life effects of the hard road that we have chosen to walk. It is satan doing what he can to derail God’s plan and steal God’s glory. Satan is the great deceiver, after all, and he loves to whisper lies that take our attention away from what really matters.
I know, deep down in my soul, that my mom and I will find our way back. And I eagerly anticipate that. But, for now, this situation has given me even more insight to the pain my children must feel. We ALL so desperately want our mother’s approval, don’t we? We ALL long for our mother’s love, don’t we? And even though I do my best, even though I love my children from the depths of my heart, even though God has chosen me to be their mother now, it does not erase their need for their first mother.
So, this past Sunday, I enjoyed spending time with the precious children that God has given to me. We laughed. We swam. We played games. We made daddy do all of the cooking.
My children each gave me a beautiful rose. And they each bought a rose for Z****. I have 12 beautiful roses on my counter – a mixture of love for two mothers.
My children also gave me a card that I will treasure forever. I am going to share each of the lovely things they wrote (or spoke and had Daddy write, as the case may be) inside my card. They capture my children’s personalities so perfectly.
“Mom. I love you. P.S. I picked out the card.” ~ This from my oldest, Joel. So eloquent! He loves deep and big, that boy, but he has no time to waste on long sentimental card entries.
“Have a happy mether’s day I help you have good day.” ~ This from Miss Independent, Leah, who did not need any help writing it all by herself. And she did pretty darn good on the spelling! But, she couldn’t quite write I love you, yet. Not yet. But someday.
“Dear Mommy, I love. Love Naomi. Dear Mommy.” ~ Yes, Naomi, you do love. Your sweet heart would worry too much about hurting my feelings to not write I love you. And your handwriting is beautiful, as always, because I know you want so desperately to please me. And you do, dear one. You do please me.
“Mom, I love you so much. You are the best mom ever. Thank you for helping me. I hope you have a good Mother’s Day. I hope you like this card. Love, Hannah.” ~ My baby girl. My child who wants to cuddle, and lie next to me, and rub her hand along my arm, and lean against my side, and sit in my lap with her head on my shoulder. She is a little piece of me, walking around outside of my body, growing older by the day. I pray she will always want to be near me.
“I love you Mommy. Happy Mother’s Day. You are the best mom ever.” ~ Micah, my boy who doesn’t like to call too much attention to himself. The one who takes the longest to open up about what he is really feeling inside. Who maybe finds it easier to answer the same way as everyone else is answering so that no one notices anything different about him. My son who waited to see what everyone else might write before he wrote anything at all.
“Thank you being my mommy. I love you, my mommy. Thank you to come Ethiopia and bring to America. Happy Mother Day.” ~ Levi, my little peanut, who barely remembers any other mother. Levi, who lives life to the fullest, laughs from his belly, never stops moving from the moment he wakes up until his head hits the pillow at night, and loves whole-heartedly.
Each of my children is a gift. I treasure them, each and every one. They are unique, perfect creations and I am honored to be entrusted with their care.
A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy & the depth of that privilege are not lost on me. -Jody Landers