Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Forget the Invisible Mothers

Maybe Mother's Day weekend would be a bit more bearable if it weren't so commercialized. Maybe it would be easier to navigate if every talk show, advertisement, and radio segment wasn't discussing it. I guess in the end it all comes down to the fact that it would be easier if I could hug my baby on Mother's Day. Or if I could do her hair, paint her nails, or color with her on Mother's Day...or any day of the week, really.

The entire "holiday" is such a catch-22 for me - as I can imagine it is for other birth moms (or natural moms, or first moms, or whatever you may refer to yourself as. I personally prefer 'mother,' no adjective or qualifier necessary, but society seems to require an extra word to be able to differentiate). It's hard to be a mom in your heart and be a 25 year old childless woman on the outside. I'm still new to this. This is only my third Mother's Day. And while enjoy a day where I can celebrate motherhood - because, yes, I am still a mother - it's also gut-wrenching to say the least when I can't celebrate it in the way I want to. I can't celebrate it by taking silly pictures with my daughter or hanging her little scribbled pictures up on the wall. Her father isn't going to make me breakfast in bed while I snuggle with her. No, not at all. Granted, for the past two years he's given me a card, but it's far from the same. Mother's Day, like most other holidays as well as her birthday, are beautifully happy as well as painfully sad.

I'm grateful for the chance for this day to mean something to me. In my heart, I know I'm a mother and as tough as life can be sometimes, I thank God every day for her and I'm in awe that I am a part of her, as she is a part of me. What did I do to deserve playing a part in a beautiful, happy soul such as herself? Yet - as grateful as I am - this day is also torture. It's hard to escape. It looms everywhere, to the point where it's almost downright taunting.

The way I see it - I can look at it one of two ways. I can be bitter about the fact that another woman is celebrating and embracing motherhood with my child because I'm not, or I can look at it like my child is loved by two mothers; two mothers who reflect on the day in different ways. That being said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous that her adoptive mom gets to spend the day with her. In reality, it's just another's just Sunday. It's only 24 hours, ten or eleven of which I'll be sleeping.

There's no black and white answer. One 'birth' mom will not always share the same views as another 'birth' mom. So let me say this: if you know someone - anyone - who has lost a child for any reason (adoption, death, estrangement, etc.), acknowledge that they might need a little extra TLC on Mother's Day. Or acknowledge that they may not. They may want to deny that the day even exists. Or maybe you could read this article. I've had friends who have come right out and asked me (and believe me, I appreciate the straight-forwardness) how they should handle Mother's Day when it comes to me. Should they wish me a Happy Mother's Day and therefore acknowledge my child, or should they just treat it like any other day, because they know it's hard for me?  If you know someone who is an "invisible mother," you aren't reminding them of something they aren't already aware of. Commercialized holidays such as this are everywhere. Chances are, you won't do any damage by saying "Happy Mother's Day;" in fact, they would probably appreciate the recognition. I totally understand why people feel as though they are on eggshells around birth moms or moms of children who have passed away. Personally, I don't mind either way. I do appreciate the gesture but I am not offended by it's absence.

Remember: being a parent means doing what's best for your child, even at the cost of your own happiness. So birth parents are parents no less than traditional parents. It's just a different kind of mother & fatherhood.

So when you think of the mother in your life who, for whatever reason, is no longer raising their child or sharing this day with their child physically, remember this:

and never forget the "invisible mothers."

Monday, May 6, 2013

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

When will I be strong enough to forgive? I'm in tune enough to realize that holding onto anger and resentment is hurting me far more than it's hurting the people which I am angry toward. I just want to know when I'll acquire the strength needed to forgive. It's been over two years. Such a short time, but also such a long time. How do you forgive when the issue that you're so angry about is a recurring issue? How do you move past something that makes you angry when that "thing" is ever-present? What if it's not one simple action that angers you, but someone's constant choices and entire state of being that frustrates you?

I live every day of my life with anger in my heart. I don't want it there anymore. I never did, but now I desperately don't. I'm living in the past, in a constant state of anger and jealousy. Then I get to thinking about how the person I'm angry at isn't angry at all. Or at least he's never shown it. That fact alone gets me even more angry.

I got to Skype with my baby this past weekend (the 4th). It was my belated-birthday Skype date and it was simply amazing. Miss A is two and a half now...two and a half going on twenty. She speaks in full sentences and carried on a few conversations with me. It was surreal! Last time we Skyped, it was for her birthday, and she had a pretty diverse vocabulary but not many of her words strung together to make sentences. What a difference six months can make. Her hair is longer and curlier than ever, and she is already miserable when it comes to the maintenance of it (sorry little one, but that's your birth father's fault)!  It's so crazy to see her mannerisms 'live' and in real time. Her personality mimics mine in so many ways. She loves to draw and thinks she's a singer. Her mom told me that when they put her to bed at night, she's very quiet for a while and they think she's fallen asleep, but then they hear her little voice singing herself to sleep. It's so bittersweet to hear these things. On one hand I feel so grateful to be informed; on the other, my heart hurts because I don't get to be the one experiencing these things with my child.

She told me that she was going to go to a "birfday" party, but her friend got sick and had to go home with her mommy before the party started but that the party would be next weekend instead and then said "do you wanna come to the party miss Elizabef?" TEARS! Oh my precious little girl, I wish I could come to the party with you. Soon after, she found a piece of paper and a pink marker and started doodling all over it while her mom was telling me silly stories about her. Suddenly, she interrupted and waved the paper in front of the camera and said "I MADE A PITCHA FOR YOU! I made a pitcha for you Miss Elizbef!" ...more tears. Her mom promised to mail it to me (I'm crossing my fingers as we speak).

After she proceeded to undress and show me how she "makes peepee in the potty," (you guessed it...more tears being held back), her mom asked if my mom wanted to see her and say hi to her. Of course she did! So I went to get my mom, and she sat down in my seat in front of my laptop. I was standing right there, and could see the screen, but I was out of sight. Suddenly, my little girl stopped coloring and looked at the screen and got a really confused look on her face and said: "but where did Miss Elizbef go?"  Oh my goodness. Who knew your heart could break and fill with happiness at the exact same time? It was, hands down, one of the most adorable moments in my life. I'll never, ever forget the sound of her voice when she said it or the look on her beautiful little face.

The call lasted nearly an hour and I cherished every second of it. Last night, I got a text from her adoptive mom that said "Great to chat with you." I wish she knew how great it was for me to chat with them. Of course I've told her, but it's impossible to put into words just how much it means to me.

Throughout all of the happiness I felt this weekend, there was a part of me that was sad. Not the obvious part of me that is sad because I'm only seeing my child through a computer screen or because I don't get to see her every day or do her hair or be the one she calls "mommy." I was sad that her birth father has the opportunity to have these same exact experiences - he knows he can write her, he can email, he can get his own set of photos, he could probably even Skype with her - and chooses not to.

Let me rewind a few months: I haven't seen her birth father since October (when we gave her babysitter her power wheels car for her birthday) and haven't spoken to him since January. The last time we spoke, which I'm not going to sit here and mull over or summarize, was a real eye-opener for me and within an hour of hanging up the phone, I had changed my number and have since safe guarded it pretty well. As far as I know, he may not even know that I changed it. We mutually agreed that speaking, even if just about our daughter, wasn't in either of our best interests anymore.  This is the longest I've gone without speaking to him and I remember, way back when, knowing that this day would come. I thought I would wither away and perish if I couldn't speak to him, but it's proven to be the opposite. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I do still miss him at times. I do still have to stop myself from sending him a text to tell him something cute she did, or sending him a cute photo of her. But what matters isn't that I need to go through the motions of telling myself "DON'T." What matters is that in the end, I DON'T.

It just makes me so frustrated to think that he is missing out on this by choice. I know he's his own person. I'm not him and he's not me, and my feelings are not his and his are not mine. But the fact remains that she is just as much him and she is me, and I can't fathom having the opportunity to be involved in her life in the way that I am and not taking full advantage of it. He hasn't seen a photo of her since October, to my knowledge.  Her adoptive mom has told me that he hasn't reached out but he is more than welcome to.

I try my hardest not to let these things bring me down. I'm over our relationship and I've let go of what it used to be and realized that it's not like that anymore. Too much has changed, and it will never be the same. I don't even want it to be the same. I just want him to wake up and realize the opportunities he has before it's too late. I don't want him to come crying to me for pictures, but I want him to grow up and develop a relationship with her parents. I don't know if that will ever happen.

I want, more than anyone will ever know, to send him her professional preschool portrait or the picture I got of her skiing. You know, things like that. It feels twisted that I am more excited to show my friends, who never even met her in the hospital, her photos than I am to show her own flesh and blood. But then again, my friends are the ones who deserve to know. They're the ones who are happy for me when I'm happy, and sad for me when I'm crying. They're the ones that ask about her. They're the ones that get upset or angry for me when I don't get my promised updates. Her birth father did a great thing in terms of bringing her to this earth, but my friends and family have been the ones to pick up the emotional slack.  So, when it comes to reaching out to him, I always stop myself. He doesn't make the effort and therefore doesn't deserve to know. I'm fully aware of this! But that fact in and of itself makes me angry. It's a vicious cycle that I feel trapped in the middle of. I'm trying to work through it, but I really don't know how. When will I be able to look at her, and not be flooded with thoughts of him?

I've heard people who claim that birth moms must be some kind of super heroes. Super heroes usually have the ability to fly and have the strength to lift entire communities up to save them from disaster. So why can't I have the basic ability to forgive?