Wednesday, May 8, 2013
My mom stood and I was caught in a mental and physical trap, starting to stand, starting to sit. Yes, I gave birth...but am I a mom? What would everyone think, knowing I had no child to mother?
My mom looked at me and pulled me up.
Mother's Day is one of the most difficult days for most birthmothers that I know, myself included, especially in the beginning. Mother's Day forces us into a corner, which can be especially uncomfortable for those of us who haven't quite figured out where we fit, and who maybe haven't told and don't wish to tell those outside our close friends and family. Despite that decision to have a level of privacy, it can be heartbreaking and a source of insecurity if Mother's Day comes and goes, and no recognition is given to the birthmother, the mother without her child.
What may be on our minds all day and the day before and the day after, may never even cross the minds of those on the outside, simply because they haven't been in our shoes and don't realize the impact of such a day. We can't blame them, but that doesn't make it any easier.
Personally, this is why Birthmother's Day, the day before Mother's Day, and the celebration dinner offered by our adoption counselors was/is a much-needed escape and comfort to me. I know there are conflicted feelings, I know it would be easier if we could just be recognized as mothers and join in with everyone else on normal Mother's Day, but for me this was the outlet I needed to get through Mother's Day as I navigated the tumultuous and unfamiliar waters of healing. As the years go on, many feel comfortable celebrating Mother's Day - and that's great, that's something I desperately wished I could have found the strength and courage to do many years ago.
Recognition, acknowledgement is what is important. Support is necessary. My heart hurts to imagine the pain of so many birthmothers who lived during the era of unwed mother's homes and silence surrounding adoption; mothers who had to return home, never to speak of what happened again. Every day would have been Mother's Day to them; uncomfortable, unnoticed, painful, confusing, gut-wrenching.
So, whether it's on Birthmother's Day, whether it's a celebration specifically for a group of birthmothers, or whether it's Mother's Day and with your family or significant other or close friends: find that recognition and support. Lean on those who care for you, whether it's people who have always been there for you, or a handful of new women that have been brought into your life because of their life-changing decision that you can relate to so well.
Birthmothers are mothers. We aren't parenting our children and we do stand apart from traditional mothers - it's okay to acknowledge that difference - but that doesn't mean we go back to who we used to be; that doesn't mean we're the same as those who have never had children. Pregnancy, delivery and the decision to give our children what we couldn't provide are things that will change us and will never leave us. In order to properly heal, it is just necessary that we, in our own time and on our own terms, open up about our experiences and feelings, hurts and progress, even if just to a handful of trusted people. It's important, especially in the beginning, to have someone else tell you that you belong, you're not alone, and what you did was important, what you experienced was big, and what you're going through is healthy, normal, and that you'll find your way out of the emotional chaos to the other side eventually.
So, don't be afraid to celebrate this Mother's Day in whatever way makes you comfortable, and brings your heart peace!