(Through the lens of loss, infertility, and adoption)
When I think about Mother’s Day throughout my lifetime, there are many words that come to mind: beautiful, sweet, difficult, painful, tearful, fun, frustrating, depressing, challenging, overwhelming, awesome, lovely, lonely. Not necessarily in that order.
How can one day, designed to honor and celebrate the amazing moms of the world, conjure up so many different emotions?
You see, when I was young, Mother’s Day was just about celebrating my mom. And she is a precious woman who deserves to be celebrated! We would take her out to eat (for SURE to eat Mexican food) and give her the day “off” in some way. We always enjoyed surprising Mom with gifts and showering her with love on Mother’s Day. Usually, my brothers tried not to make her cry on that one day of the year. How kind of them.
My senior year of college, Mother’s Day changed a whole lot for me because Wes’s mom was tragically killed in a car accident that year. From then on, Mother’s Day was no longer just about the fun stuff. It now included a painful and tearful trip to the cemetery to arrange new flowers on the tombstone and reminisce about a beautiful life cut short.
A few years down the road, after Wes and I were married, Mother’s Day became a time of celebrating, remembering, and now, waiting. It was my turn to be a mom. We were waiting for children. I couldn’t wait for someone to celebrate me on this special day.
As the years passed, the celebrating of my mom continued…the remembering and crying over Wes’s mom continued…AND the waiting on my part continued, too. And this waiting brought sadness, frustration, and depression around Mother’s Day. I kinda always dreaded going to church that day, because most of the time the service included some kind of “stand-up-if-you’re-a-mom” type deal which usually sent a wave of the ugly cry over me.
Of course, I loved celebrating moms, MY mom, ALL the moms. But it was painful to long to be one while heaven seemingly stood silent.
And then, in April 2010, God changed my life forever with my sweet Priya Grace. He made me a mom in the most wonderful way, through adoption. Priya was perfect. She really was. Ask my friends if you don’t believe me.
Just a few short weeks later was going to be my first Mother’s Day. I couldn’t wait. I would stand up so proudly in that church service when they called on the mamas! I was dressed to impress. Ready.
But that Sunday did NOT go as expected.
Pastor Gregg Matte preached on infertility that day.
And, you guessed it, that wave of ugly cry came over me. Darn it.
I was very confused by this wave of emotion. I WAS a mom. Finally! And I LOVED Priya. Adored her, in fact…like my heart was going to BURST with how much I adored her. So where was all this sadness coming from? Why all the depressing feelings? What was that all about?
But I put on my big girl garments and marched ahead, looking forward to the next Mother’s Day. The next one would be better. I must just be tired from the trip to India and overwhelmed with emotion, I convinced myself.
The next Mother’s Day added a new member to my brother Robby’s family—sweet Adam Daniel. It was May 12th, to be exact, and Priya and I took a trip up to the hospital to meet her newest cousin. Priya had witnessed Aunt Leslie throughout the entire pregnancy and now was present for the arrival of Adam. It was a beautiful day, and sweet little 3-year-old Priya loved holding her new baby cousin.
On the way home from the hospital that day, I looked in the rear view mirror to see Priya crying big ol’ crocodile tears. You should see this girl’s pitiful cry! I pulled over into a parking lot and took Priya out of the car seat, as she was sobbing quite dramatically at this point.
When Priya finally was able to speak, I asked her, “Sweetie, what’s the matter?”
“Mommy, did Baby Adam come out of Aunt Leslie’s tummy?”
“Yes, he did,” I calmly replied.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong? Why are you so sad about baby Adam?”
“I’m not sad about Adam. I just want to know whose tummy I came out of, Mommy.”
Oh, Lord, have mercy on my soul! Was this really happening? In the Ross parking lot? On Mother’s Day weekend, of all times? My 3-year-old adopted daughter is going to bring up her birth mother NOW? Why can’t I just have a NORMAL Mother’s Day weekend!
And in that moment, through a tearful conversation about her “tummy mommy”, adoption, the orphanage, and more…I realized something profound: This IS and FOREVER WILL BE a “normal” part of Mother’s Day for me.
…fast forward about 7 years later, and here I am, after all 4 precious kids are finally asleep…writing to tell you that I am just beginning to understand what Mother’s Day is really all about.
And BREAKING NEWS: it’s not about me. (Not to say, Wes, that I would turn down a spa day or pampering session. Let’s be clear.)
But it’s really NOT about me.
I wouldn’t be a mom without 2 other moms: Priya’s and Hope’s birth mothers.
And in order to honor them, the two women to whom I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude, I must allow my girls to go to that painful place, the spot in their souls that grieves deeply over what was but is no longer. To grieve what was lost. To grieve, in a sense, the death of their birth mothers. No, I have no idea if their birth mothers are alive or not, but I mean grieving the death of a dream. No child ever wants to lose his/her birth family. No mama ever forgets birthing a child. There is so much pain and loss in adoption.
And so, we’ve done a few different things to honor our girls’ birth moms in the past—bought flowers for the girls’ room, released balloons—but this year I felt compelled to do something more permanent. Something that would be more significant than a once-a-year gesture.
When I told the girls my idea, they BOTH got so excited. And so, here they are, planting a tree in our backyard in honor of their birth moms.
It will serve as a daily reminder of their mothers and hopefully give Priya and Hope the space to honor, cherish, and remember them. Since the girls chose a tangerine tree, my prayer is that the fruit that comes from the tree will be a sweet reminder to them of all the beautiful qualities they must have inherited from these wonderful ladies.
But more than anything, I think it will be a gentle reminder to me that my girls’ lives and stories didn’t begin with me. And it’s not about me. It’s about a God who, through His sovereign kindness, allowed ME to be a part of a much bigger (and better) story that He is writing through Priya’s and Hope’s lives. They are such a blessing to SO many, and I am convinced that heaven will be filled with so many faces of other children who were adopted because of the influence of these sweet girls.
And so…HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
To those who are blessed to have little people to call you Mommy, bless you!
Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season you will reap, if you do not faint.”
For those who are still waiting to become a mommy—we believe and wait in a great hope! Praying you find peace and comfort in the waiting this year!
Isaiah 40:31 "Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up on wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint!"
For those who have lost moms or children— May the God of peace and comfort give you the peace that passes understanding this Mother’s Day. Philippians 4:7
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of Mom.
Written by Kasey Mathew, Waiting in Hope Adoption Advisor, and contributing writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow their family blog at mathewfam.blogspot.com.