Mothers Day 2013 Reflections



Mothers Day continues to be a roller coaster of emotions for me. I am thankful for the many wonderful mothers in my life. My own. Jason’s. My sisters, sisters-in-law and good friends who are journeys simultaneously with me into motherhood. Ali’s first mom who gave her life, loved her, did her best for her, and then gave us her blessing to raise her precious daughter. And now there is Buzz’s mom who is heartbroken and working hard to play by the rules and get her son back. She’s been very easy to get along with and loves her little boy and he loves her too. She sent me a happy mothers day text on my way to church and I sent her one back with a photo of these two beautiful children that I got to spend the day with, mothering. I’m an exhausted, blessed, weepy mess and I’m going to attempt to use this space to sort out my thoughts tonight.

I’m not usually the type who cries reading mothers day cards, but there I was at my parents’ church this morning crying over a Hallmark card before I even got to the handwritten note from my own mom, who is relentlessly loving and encouraging. Mothers Day never used to be an emotional day for me. I wrote about that last year. I always knew in my heart that I’d be a mom and I wasn’t sad while I was childless. I haven’t lost a mom or a child or dealt with other situations that makes women sad on mother’s day. And yet these past two mothers days I’ve been an emotional wreck.

People often tell me that they’ve talked about doing foster care someday. In my head, my response is “but then you decided that you like yourself and your life, so you thought better of it.” I’m joking, but not. Because I like myself too. In a clear-headed, God-focused moment Jason and I decided whole-heartedly to surrender our plans and dreams for what our family might look like and become foster parents. We feel called to it. Most of the time. Other times, I long for my former comfortable, easy, predictable life. I certainly have my fair share of “what the heck are we doing? And why?” moments lately. But I do know why.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I can’t read this passage (Matthew 25:34-40) anymore without sobbing, because I’ve done most of those things and I’ve seen Jesus’ face in the face of one of the least of these. I can’t go back to putting myself first anymore.

Except when I do. Because I’m not perfect. I pour out my mama love until I’m empty. I’m strong until I buckle under the pressure and I crack a little. I need time to heal. To recover. To refill. This week has been hard. So very hard. And good, too. We’ve been giving this thing all that we’ve got and I feel completed poured out. Empty. I see that Buzz has made a tremendous amount of progress in a week. It makes my mama-heart so proud that he’s feeling comfortable and safe here now. Progress is tangible. Hard work is exhausting.

A woman at church yesterday told me that I’m living her dream. Huh? Her dream I think she said was “to adopt a some kids from Africa.” I didn’t feel compelled to tell her that both of these kids where born in Nashville and that one of them is in foster care. I’d love to know what my face looked like when she said that as I was wracking my brain to come up with a response. I hope I smiled politely. I kind of wanted to smack her in the face and say, “Do you have any idea what this week has been like?” But I know she’s seeing a different reality than me. I know because I do that same thing when I see a picture of a family with kids of all different colors and I think: How lovely! How beautiful! I want my family to look like that. She’s seeing the happy young white mom with the dark brown boy with crazy hair, a mischeiveous grin and a puppy dog backpack and the caramel brown little girl with a big pink flower in her curly black hair, with the infectious smile and owl backpack. And if I do say so, they were both super adorable yesterday. But it’s not all flowers and puppies and sweets around here.

There are tantrums and tears. (Sometimes from the kids.) There are butts and noses that always need wiped. There are accidents to clean up. Wanders to chase down. Slow pokes to pull along. Buckles to buckle, shoes to tie, velcro to fix, cups to fill…one thousand million times a day. In one week I’ve become the mom that’s shouting “Share! Play nice! Walk please! Slow down! Come on, let’s go! We don’t hit! Gentle please! Don’t bite people! Leave the dog alone!” way too many times a day. I’ve relied on the TV as a pacifier more than I care to admit. (Sometimes for the kids.)

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I have to stop and wonder: between me and that woman, which one of us is seeing the real picture? Both of us? Maybe neither? Perhaps we’re each only seeing one small part of the greater picture the Master Artist is creating.

Mother’s Day Hurts


I don’t usually blog on the weekends but it’s Mother’s Day and there is so much going on my head, I need this space to sort it out. (OK?)

It’s technically my first Mother’s Day today. Yay! I love being a mom. It’s even more fun than I expected. I say it’s technically my first Mother’s Day because last year at this time I was expecting. Not pregnant; we were in the midst of training to become foster parents.

At what point does a woman become a mother? Is it the moment of conception? Is it the moment her child is born? Is it the first time she sees her child’s face? Is it the day they meet for the first time? Is it when she’s aware of her child’s existence? I pondered these things one morning last Spring and I asked God. I felt His answer wrap around me, You became a mother the moment you decided to become a mother.

So, you see, a year ago, I already felt like a mother in a lot of ways. I had a car seat installed in my minivan, for crying out loud. I just didn’t have any kids to buckle into it yet. But I could feel their existence like an ache inside of me. I prayed for them and cried for them as I arranged childrens books on ledges, painted a nursery and stretched a sheet over a new crib mattress. Last Mother’s Day was full of excitement and preparation.

Mother’s Day has never been a hard day for me. Never a sad day. I know it is for a lot of people… women who long for children, children who long for mothers, mothers who have lost children or lost touch with their children, children who have lost mothers or lost touch with their mothers. I’m not one who was brokenhearted on my childless Mother’s Days because I never doubted that I’d be a mom one day. I was not in any hurry. I knew God put it in me to be a mom and I didn’t care that much when and how it happened.

This Mother’s Day is sad for me, though. I am crazy in love with my little girl. She fills my days with joy with her sweetness, giggles and gigantic smiles. Her baby browns pierce into me and melt my heart. She’s everything I could ever want in a child. She is a blessing. But I am her mother because she was taken away from another mother. And that is why I am sad this Mother’s Day. On my way to church this morning, I’ll drive past the hotel where she lives—the woman who carried my precious daughter for 9 months, who decided not to abort this one, who brought her into the world hopeful she could parent this time, that she would be able to be the mother her daughter needed. But it didn’t happen. She messed up. Again. And a child was taken from her. Again.

(photo: beth rose photography.

I have an irrational amount of respect for my daughter’s biological mother, her first mom. “How could someone give up such a beautiful child?” a friend once asked me, without thinking of the implications. Before I met her, it was much easier for me to judge her, too. She wasn’t a “real” person to me yet. I knew on paper what she had done and I was angry about what had happened to Precious, what she had been put through. However, getting to know this woman forever changed me and my perspective about the parents of children in foster care. She was not a monster. She was not an evil child abuser. She was not a heartless, selfish, careless person. We all make mistakes, some with more serious consequences than others. I can say without a shadow of doubt that she loved, and still loves, Precious deeply. She has dreams and hopes for her future. She misses her terribly and I hate to think of what she might do to try to cover the wound left by the children that were ripped from her. She’s a hurting woman—just like many others on this day—and my heart breaks for her.

So that is on my mind today.

Then, there is the problem of orphans. There are thousands of kids in this country who have no mothers to celebrate today. I’m not even going to try to carry the weight of that burden because I would be instantly crushed. Lord knows I can only handle so much. But I weep for them, too. We’re making more room… I whisper into the wind. Our new house will have 4 bedrooms. FOUR! But there are so many motherless kids. So many more than our home will hold.

I read this awesome blog post on Friday called Where is the Mommy-War for the Motherless Child? and wanted to run around shouting, YES! YES! Why are we moms not more outraged about the number of motherless kids around the world? I get that stay at home moms are offended that working moms think they don’t work hard and working moms are offended that stay at home moms think they’re doing better for their children. I get that some moms advocate for breast feeding while other moms choose formula for valid reasons. In all these situations, these kids have moms who love them and are providing what they believe is best for their financial, nutritional, emotional needs. In light of the fact that there are thousands and thousands of kids WITHOUT mothers, IT DOESN’T FREAKING MATTER. Kristen says it better than me, so please read her post.

So there’s my broken heart this Mother’s Day.

I will be happy today, I promise. I will savor the sloppy wet kisses of my baby girl and hug her a little tighter, endlessly grateful for the blessing she is to my life. I will thank my mom for setting an awesome example for me and for continuing to love, encourage and support me as an adult.

Who knew Mother’s Day could become such a tangled mess of emotion?

A Mother for Choco


A sweet friend recently gave us a copy of this book, A Mother for Choco. It’s the best kids adoption book I’ve seen, not that I’ve seen many. (My bloggy friend and fellow adoptive mom, Annie, recently sent me a long list of suggestions so I have many more to check out in the future!) But back to Choco and his search for a mother. It starts out sounding a bit like the P.D. Eastman book, Are You My Mother?, which I loved as a kid, mainly because of the way my big brother would read it to me and “SNORT!” for the crane at the end. But then A Mother for Choco takes a brilliant twist when Mrs. Bear helps Choco identify the qualities of a mother aside from physical resemblance. I won’t tell you the whole story here but it’s super sweet. I just read it again to Precious yesterday and she humored me by acting like she really understood the story. At the end she looked up with her big baby browns and melted me. I’m so thankful to be her mother. We don’t look alike and it doesn’t matter.

“No matter where Choco searched, he couldn’t find a mother who looked just like him.”

Just in time for Mother’s Day: A Mother for Choco. I highly recommend this one for foster and adoptive moms or ANY moms, really.

BONUS: There is an Ally the Alligator character in this book! (Ali-gator is my favorite nickname for Precious, whose real name starts with “Ali…”, in case you hadn’t guessed that.)