During the years when I longed to be a mama, but wasn’t, I felt like an outsider to a secret society: The Commune of Motherhood. I sat–metaphorically–on the sidelines at my neighborhood ‘Moms Night Out’ and ‘Mamas with Cameras‘, a monthly meet-up. I consciously chose to participate in both of these groups, despite my mama-wanna-be status, in an effort to make some mama friends, which I did, before I became an adoptive mom.
Of course, I didn’t think I’d be “expecting” for four years, but that’s how it my journey to motherhood played out. It wasn’t easy to be a fly on the wall as moms debated sleep schedules, shared parenting woes and tips or passed around photos of their adorable children. I was envious.
Being a paper pregnant adoptive mom isn’t the same as being belly pregnant, in a number of ways. For one, nobody “knows,” unless you tell them. Strangers might approach a pregnant woman,even if sometimes she wishes they wouldn’t, and ask “So…when’s the baby due?” I wasn’t sporting a visible bump, so no one had a clue I was hoping to be “in a family way.”
Slowly, while I navigated the interminable wait, I made my way to a small nucleus of moms who had adopted children from Armenia or, like me, were in the process. Some of us found each other through our adoption agency’s closed Yahoo chat group, and one or two contacted me via my blog.
Before I knew any of them, I was an adoptive family lurker. I’d spot an obvious, or so I thought, adoptive family ‘in the wild’ (read: park, grocery store). Occasionally I’d muster up enough courage to say something like, Where’s your child from? Sometimes this tact led to a supportive conversation though not infrequently I ended up with my foot in my mouth: I’m the nanny or My wife is Chinese, said to me, with obvious annoyance, by an older Caucasian dad at a park when I tried to show I was a kindred spirit, “What part of China is your daughter from? My sister adopted a girl from Guangzhou.“
Four years passed before I was able to meet any of these amazing women in person, save one, who coincidentally grew up in Seattle, and even more coincidentally happened to be in Armenia on one of our trips. In the meantime, we emailed each other, sometimes frequently. Threads with a hundred or so emails over the course of a week were not uncommon. Through our email conversations, we became friends, and some of us became very close friends.
These women saw me at my worst, through loss and dark times as I waited and waited and waited. Until one day I was–at long last–a member of the club, wiping my daughter’s snotty nose, shoving morsels of food in her mouth, hoping she wouldn’t fall to her death at the playground. I was a mom just like the rest of them.
So on this, my third Mother’s Day, I want to express gratitude to the Commune of Motherhood, mama friends –adoptive or not–who stood by me before I became a mom, and who keep me afloat now.
And to Sherri, Maribeth, Shelley, Denise, Bev, Theresa, Molly, Vivian, Elizabeth, Jackie, Carrie and Katie: You are my tribe.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Take the road less traveled, Beth