Mother’s Day is right around the corner. As an adoptive mom, I consider this day special.
It, to me, signifies a rite of passage. Days when adoptive parents have earned the right to celebrate and be honored in that position.
Close to my own mom, I recall treasured Mother’s Day times with her. One that stands out to this day, presenting that infamous M-O-T-H-E-R poem--you know the --
M is for the million things something, something
O is for the (well, you get the picture)
--in crayoned drawn letters that I surely worked hard to create. Little did I realize as a youngster that my mother hated that poem--with a passion.
I never subjected it to her ever after. Nor the poem “Trees” or the song “Donkey Serenade” (we are going back here, I know—but then she is nearly 93)—things I learned made my mom cringe. I never told my mom that I was just a wee bit hurt by her frankness, and her (ahem, dare I say) insensitivity to her at-the-time only child. Don’t get me wrong: I love my mom to bits and still do but, given my experience, I resolved early on that if I was ever blessed with raising a child, I would be grateful for any gift given to me.
Happy to be spending this upcoming Mother’s Day with my daughter, I was reflecting that over these 25 years of her life that I have memories of some amazing and lovely Mother’s Day offerings. There are several I consider Mom Treasures:
- The gift of sweetness: at age 5, a clutched-to rose, slightly wilted, but given with giggles and eyes that laughed with delight and made me cry.
- The gift of thoughtfulness: a laptop desk—because she knows I love to write and be comfortable doing it. This gift I have used nearly every day for the last nine years.
- The gift of creative genius: the very best breakfast/meal of my life—hands down—served on our best china to me in bed, no less, accompanied by a vase of wildflowers she picked herself, and with a menu I still haven’t forgotten: French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage (no easy task as she was vegetarian), parfait of fresh fruit and yogurt dressing she whipped together and (of course) coffee. It was made with so much love. To this day, I can’t recall ever having tasted a meal as delicious.
- The gift of surprise: treating me to a paint-on-pottery session to share her passion for art; she paid for the experience and even brought the snacks for our hours of fun. (The cup I made is one I used for years which now graces a prominent place on my bookshelf of precious things, positioned just so to ensure that the broken handle is not visible.)
- The gift of strength: last Mother’s Day weekend, helping my husband and I move, and then making an amazingly good spread. I got to choose the menu.
But perhaps my favorite is something I look at it every day at least twice--for it is hung right above the bed. The credit for design and craftsmanship must be acknowledged. It is a plaque from the Willowtree creations.
- The gift of soul: this image of mother and child is the reflection of my long-suffering and enduring hope as an infertile woman that I would someday embrace a child of my own. Through the gift of love and the grace of God, my husband and I adopted a most beautiful child. This picture says what my meager words cannot.
As I gaze at this lovely memento daily, memories of other days that held just as much the thrill of a Mother’s Day celebration come across my mind’s garden—some that were quiet, some that were the unassuming everyday variety, and some with a little more bling:
- Cooking together—dancing around the kitchen—cranking up the music real loud (something we did when my husband was generally not at home).
- Reading her Cinderella when she was age 5 or 6 and having her say (I am paraphrasing)—“Did Ella come from her stepmother’s tummy?” “No.” “Oh. I’m lucky ‘cuz even though I didn’t come from your tummy, I don’t think you’re an evil stepmother!” (Made me smile; she said it with such resolute sincerity. Nice to know!)
- Losing sight of her at Disney World when our 5-year old went down the wrong side of a four-sided slide in Mickey’s playground. We heard her wail about stranger danger (gosh, she was listening after all) so she was not out of sight for more than a few minutes (and we could hear her). Once she was safely back in our arms, through her tears she thanked a kind gentlemen she considered her hero because--according to her--“he saved my life because he found my parents!”
- Being asked to do her hair for prom (I am no beautician but did have a trusty set of electric rollers) two years in a row (!) rather than getting it done professionally to save money and allow me to participate in this adventure.
- Having “girl’s night” together once a week when she was young—watching movies, eating popcorn or nachos in bed—and giggling or crying. Just because.
- Staying home from work when she had scarlet fever at age three and making up a game by role playing and acting whatever I could remember about the Peter Pan-Captain Hook-Tiger Lily story, something she asked to play for years after that.
- She and my husband hip replacement-proofing the house, being with me the day of surgery and during my hospital stay, and also cooking and playing nursemaid to me once I was back home.
- Watching her and her friends do summer “Olympics” gymnastics right alongside the 1996 gymnasts on TV--walking on balance beams and clearing straddle horses visible to only them, and bowing before imagined audiences when they held up cards that said “9” and “10” for each other!
- Surprising her by dropping by school to eat lunch, and her actually being glad and introducing me (with pride) to her classmates!
- Making me begin to “let go and let (her) grow” by earning a scholarship to Cambridge University in England for a summer program when she was only 14.
- Proving she was a girl of her word when she exclaimed “I want to be with you,” so much so that when I was on an extended phone conversation with a friend, she found a pair of scissors and cut one side of her hair, bringing the fistful of her locks and a hopeful smile but eyes that spoke to her uncertainty of what my reaction would be. (Let’s just say, this got my attention real quick.)
Parents have a mélange of memories: funny, poignant, scary, or over-the-top-how-do-I-handle-this one moments. They can be the small snatches of life, the tender times we might not even recognize as future memories that will comfort us.
I urge mothers to remember the pictures of life as a parent that have captured your gaze, your heart! Perhaps this could start the ball rolling.
Even if we just write them down and pull them out at future times when we need a lift or a smile, memories can be healing. Your memories can be considered gifts—Mom Treasures.
I hope this Mother’s Day and those ever after will be landmark moments for adoptive mothers to realize our Rite of Passage is noteworthy—whether this is a position we have held for years, we are just embarking on this journey, or are somewhere in the process. Congratulations. It is your badge to wear proudly.
Motherhood. Parenthood. When you are in the ‘hood, you will most definitely have memorable days—whether or not they have something to do with a Hallmark holiday. And, just to warn you, some of them will undoubtedly make you feel daze-d!