mother’s day

What a loaded day. I mean, seriously, it’s just a day meant to honor your mother. Everyone alive has a mother in some way. A mother who is alive, deceased, bio mother, stepmother, someone who stepped up to be like a mother, etc. What could possibly be so complicated about a day set aside to honor this person? Well, our connections with our biological mother simply affect us, and our psyche, much more than we can fathom. Even if you never knew or met your birth or bio mom, you feel some connection. (I’m not sure how children of moms who used carriers feel about their carrying mom vs. bio mom, but I assume there is still a deep connection.) We are an intricate part of our mothers, the ones who grew us in their wombs or contributed half of our DNA, and especially to the mothers who raised and loved and mothered us. The simplest part of this holiday is honoring them.

The day is much more complicated for women who are mothers in a less than traditional sense. Some of us are baby loss moms. We never parented our children outside of the womb. But we know, deep down in our very bones, that we are mothers, because we nourished and cherished our babies, and we would have given our very lives for them. We loved with a “mother’s love” that is intertwined with our very existence as women who have procreated. We loved with a passion unknown to anyone who has never parented a child. We were mothers, no matter for how long, no matter that the child did not survive outside of our own bodies.

Mother’s Day is also complicated for foster moms. We love our children, but often they have bio moms who love them, too. We have no legal rights to these children, no shared DNA, no pregnancy, birth, or otherwise hormonal or biological connections, and yet we perform every function of motherhood, including love and protection. When I had Moose I may have accepted a “Happy Mother’s Day” with a smile and nod to what I did for him, but in my heart of hearts he had a mother, and I was more like an Auntie, a devoted, loving relative caring for him in her absence. Many foster mothers express ambivalence toward accepting Mother’s Day accolades, but I say they should accept them whole-heartedly, for the function of “mother”, for whatever timeframe,  is deserving of every praise and recognition.

Avalon made me a mother. Moose gave me a parenting experience, but Avalon gave me that gut-wrenching, heart-rending knowledge of what it means to love with “mother’s love”. As my own blood gushed out of me, and pain rippled through my abdomen, I thought of nothing, absolutely nothing, but the comfort of my child. I thought of nothing but her well-being since the first moment I knew she existed. I looked upon her face with a love that rocked me to my core. I didn’t even know her, in a conventional way. Her personality, likes, dislikes, quirks, habits… I knew so little. And yet,  I knew her, deeply, in my soul. I knew her like I know my own hand or foot. An awareness that is innate and as absolute as the universe existed within me. She was my world, my sky, my sun and moon. She brought me to my knees and raised me higher than the clouds. She made me a mother, even though I had already been a mother in the functional sense. I never changed her diaper or filled her belly with milk or saw her smile. Still, with every certainty that exists, she was my child and I was her mother.

Now I have Jo Jo, and I feel absolute and completely comfortable in being told, “Happy Mother’s Day”. But it’s because of Avalon that I accept it so easily. Of course I’m a mother, too. I had a daughter, and now I have another daughter. I love both my girls. Moose had a loving mother and she did everything in order to parent him successfully. Jo Jo, though, feels like my own. Not as much my own as Avalon, admittedly, but the desire to be her mother in every sense (even legally) is extreme. I love her, my family loves her, and it seems as natural as if she really was my second daughter.

Today I want to say, happy Mother’s Day to Jo Jo’s bio mom. Whatever happened or happens, you created and sustained a beautiful little being. You birthed her and then nourished her for 5 more weeks. Whatever hurdles you overcame to sustain as much as you did from your habits and addictions in order to bring this child into the world, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You gave her life, you gave her enough to be a healthy little girl. You brought her, inadvertently, to me. You are a mother, too. I wish you peace and strength in your life. I wish you happiness. Happy Mother’s day, Jo Jo’s bio mom. We are both her mothers, and we are sisters now in this world.

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Categories: baby loss, foster care

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