Last year was an unforgettable Mother’s Day for me (we were just bringing home our three kids from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), but this year is special in a whole new way, because I’ve spent a year being called ‘Mommy,’ and I really truly feel like a Mom.
Feeling like a Mom means knowing that for so many things, for so many people, the buck stops with you. No one else is going to clean up the vomit, get the poop stains out of the onesie, remember to bring a diaper, remember everyone’s favorites and dislikes, and carry the hearts of all these little people with you throughout your day, no matter where you are. It means being woken at all hours with all kinds of strange pronouncements (I’m sweaty, I had a bad dream, my tummy hurts, my bed is wet, my nose is bleeding, my feet itch) because THEY know the buck stops with you and they’re smart enough to go straight to the top. To the person who takes care of business. It means fighting for the right teacher, paying attention to what each one is struggling with and excelling at, and trying to pull them along with the right balance of encouragement and discipline. It’s impossible to do it perfectly. And it’s so worth trying your very best.
Today I went to the Mother’s Tea at Alex’s school for the first graders. Alex has been working with his classmates on the songs they sang today and the gifts and cards they presented, for several weeks. He’s told me little bits about it along the way, and has been really proud of his preparations. To see his beautiful face today, the only black one in a sea of white, and to catch his eye and have him shyly smile at me as he sang songs professing his love for his Mom, really affected me. I was watching him and thinking about how last year he didn’t have someone in his life to call Mom. He had had it before, and knew what it meant to some degree, but I wonder if he really hoped to have a Mom again.
A transformative vehicle for healing with our kids has been Momma Love. We have a 12-year-old Vizsla dog, Noah, who has been a snuggler from puppyhood. Sometimes he comes over just to get loved on, and I’ve always called it Momma Love. I told the kids this one day many months ago, “Oh, Noah just needs some Momma Love!” while I was petting him and rubbing his ears and telling him what a good boy he is. It was only a matter of days before my boys, who gave a lot of lip service at that time (and still do) to how they didn’t like love. Didn’t want to hear that we loved them, didn’t want to say it to us or each other, didn’t want to be hugged and certainly not kissed. No love, thanks. But Momma Love? That looks pretty good, Bring it on! So they both started asking for it by name. “Can you Momma Love?” and then we’d sit in the reading corner and I’d snuggle with them one at a time, rub their back and their head and tell them how much Momma loves them. And I remind them that we all need Momma Love sometimes, that’s just the way it is, and no one gives snuggly love like a Momma.
For many years before we even began applying for adoption, and through the two years that we were in the process, I prayed regularly for Abundant Motherhood. Specifically that. God knew what he was doing when he held us back, until our yearning for children broke our hearts and helped us to yield to a plan that was not at all our own. Our faith teaches us that we must have no other Gods before our Almighty God, because He knows that we can only truly be free when we are not enslaved by the other gods we build to take His place (success, money, beauty, the perfect family, our own ideal plan perfectly executed). As a follower of Christ I succumb to the constant struggle to keep God in the forefront; I fail regularly. But oh how one’s faith is strengthened when evidence of His answers are so clear, especially when we see how personal and specific His responses are. I know that God answered that prayer for Abundant Motherhood when he prepared these three for us. I have never felt so clear on a communication with Him before or since. And Oh how I have felt unprepared for this job, ineffective and unworthy. But I truly believes that if He calls you, He will equip you, and I feel like I watch God rise to meet my needs every day; I have only to accept His unequivocal strength and wisdom and lay down my stubborn nature and my stiff neck.
I’ve been so humbled this year by the amazing mothers among my friends and family. I never paid much attention to that role, especially as I sought to distance myself from the role of mother while struggling with the pain of infertility. But this year I’ve paid close attention to all of you (it helps me figure out what to do next!) and I’m just, well, there are not words to describe the strength and commitment of a Mom. It’s an unbelievable blessing and an unbelievable burden. And I’m so honored to have joined your ranks this year for real.
To Moms!!! Hope you all have a very special weekend.