Mother’s Day, these past few years, has been bittersweet for me. I’ll celebrate the day by honoring my mother, Big Papa’s mother, my sister and close friends who are moms, yet mourn that I am not amongst them. This year the sting is especially keen because I was absolutely certain I would finally be a mother myself.
I’ve thought about motherhood for a long time: whether I wanted it or didn’t, and why. For many years, I just didn’t feel the proverbial ache. Maybe it was decades spent single, where I either couldn’t envision or couldn’t afford to be a single parent. Or, possibly, it was the tense and somewhat distant relationship I had with my own parents. Whatever the reason, my urge to be a mother didn’t kick in solidly until my early 30s.
Unfortunately by that point, and then for the next fifteen years, during a time when I probably should have been working on making a baby, I struggled with boyfriends who didn’t want a baby, already had children and weren’t up for more, or weren’t able to sustain a commitment to me, much less to me and a child. Motherhood was in my sights, yet remained out of reach.
Then I met Big Papa. While he wasn’t driven to be a dad, I saw the way he interacted with my niece and children of our friends. He was stable, reliable, and he loved me. He had good sensibilities and, maybe more importantly, a good sense of humor. We are a great team. I could envision a chick in our nest. And, thankfully, so could he.
I knew the road to adoption would be filled with twists and turns, but never- in-a-million-years did I imagine what lay ahead for the two of us as we embarked on this journey. Who does, I suppose, when it comes to parenthood?
My friends sometimes try to soothe my angst and the heartache I’ve encountered by reminding me that being a mom is no picnic. On occasion, they’ll even offer to loan me their children. I’m regaled with stories of meltdowns in the supermarket, attempting to function after weeks with only four hours a night of sleep, or trying to take a private moment to poop and being followed into the bathroom by a wee observer. I get it, and I’m sure there will be days when I wonder “What the heck was I thinking?” Call me crazy, but I still want to experience motherhood.
Like any relationship, motherhood won’t be perfect. And truthfully, I wouldn’t want it to be. Some of the most rewarding moments in my life and my relationships, have been those that were hard to come by, where I waited and struggled and cried and questioned and learned.
That doesn’t mean the recent events with our adoption haven’t given me pause to think. It has been a lot to bear, that’s for sure. People frequently ask how we are navigating through all of this and whether we intend to continue.
“Are you sure you still want to keep going down this path?”
“Do you think you’re up for this emotionally?”
“Maybe you were meant to do something else?”
With all we’ve been through, why do we persevere? What is it about being a mother that I want so badly?
As an adoptive-mom-to be, I’ve had to answer the “Why I want to be a mother” question more than once between our home study and all the adoption paperwork we’ve completed. I’ve written and talked about how I plan to raise a child, what I’ll do about discipline, my views on religion, the role of extended family in parenting and how I’ll honor my child’s birth culture. But I don’t think my answers to those academic questions reveals the depth of my emotions and my desire to be a mom: the passion and longing that lie deep in my heart.
For me, the truer reason why I want to be a mom is the yearning I feel when I talk to that little girl at the gym.
“Is that your baby?” I ask her, referring to the dolly she just tucked into a storage cubicle.
She ducks behind her mama, shy.
“Aren’t you going to take her with you to daycare?”
“She’s napping now” is what she tells me as a small smile creeps onto her face.
Soon she’s prattling on with me and then she’s gone. My stomach gets a knot and feels like it does when I need a snack: hungry. I want more.
I want to be a mom when I’m outside doing something I love, like gardening. I wonder what it might be like to show our child the first signs of spring, to discover the world together. I long to share those parts of myself that make me—me—with a child, and to see the world anew through the eyes of my child.
Who is this child? How will the mystery unfold as she grows? This is another fascination I have with motherhood. Nature, nurture and life circumstance: how these forces come together and turn my baby into a child and then into a woman. I look forward to watching her bloom.
I imagine the difficult days too. Long nerve-wracking nights when my baby can’t sleep yet I am able to soothe her and meet her needs, or being there to help my child find her way through some of the sticky moments in life: indecision, love lost, and struggles with identity. Even though there will be times when being a mom is going to challenge me in ways I can’t even begin to imagine, knowing that I might be able to make a difference, give love and security to a child who needs love and security is another reason why I want to be a mom.
And perhaps the most potent answer to why I want to be a mom is this: for a short time, I was lucky enough to spend time with a child who might be ours. During those days, when I held her close, mothering just felt so right.