Mother’s Day – Not As Easy As It Seems
My children’s elementary school went all out for Mother’s Day this year. I was invited to a Mother’s Day Breakfast with Mia’s 2nd grade class, where I was served Merita Sweet Sixteen powdered sugar donuts (my favorite – how did they know?!), bagels, mini-muffins, fruit, and juice. We had a “guess which picture is the one your child drew of you” game. No, I didn’t guess right. Luckily, most moms didn’t! The kids then reduced us all to tears by presenting a reading of the tear-jerker, Love You Forever. What really broke my heart, though, was the little boy sitting next to us whose mom was unable to come. He said she was home with a bad tummy ache. Then he stuck out that lower lip and dropped his chin to his chest and made my little heart ache. I tried to cheer him up by telling him how his gifts would make her feel sooo much better when he got home. I don’t think it worked. There were about 4 kids in the class who didn’t have a mother there. I was relieved when various members of the school staff came in to be surrogate moms for the party. It wasn’t the same, but it did seem to help.
Then at 12:30 I was invited back to a Mother’s Day lunch with Gus’ 1st grade class. Mrs. Kirkley must have been working for weeks teaching them how to be well mannered, soft-spoken, attentive waiters and waitresses. My son took and delivered my drink order, then delivered a plate with a turkey and cheese sandwich (cut in the shape of a flower, compliments of Gus), chips (no dip, since he knows I don’t like it), fruit, and a cookie. We had another guessing game. I got this one right. The give-away was the part where he wrote that he wouldn’t trade me for legos! That’s my boy! They performed a sweet song and seemed to enjoy being our entertainers. In this class, there was only one mother who couldn’t attend. Mrs. Kirkley’s mom stepped in as a surrogate grandmother for the occasion.
It was all so much fun. I appreciated the effort and the special attention. I loved the extra hugs and cuddles from both of the kids. Apparently even little boys can be cuddly in front of classmates if it’s for Mother’s Day. Even so, Mother’s Day is such a complex holiday. Mothers get tummy aches and can’t come. Some mothers are just absentee in general. Some kids have lost their mothers. Some kids don’t have a mother at all. Some kids (and even adult kids) struggle with a sense of grief and loss over the absence of a birthmother. Some mothers, like my own, dread the holiday because of the death of one of their children. Some women have tried for years to become a mother, but are unable. The list goes on and on.
I found myself feeling thankful that Father’s Day falls in the summer. I wonder what my children would do and how they would feel if they found themselves hosting similar events for fathers? My mom recently bough Mia a Junie B. Jones book which is half book, half diary. That’s right up my little writer girl’s alley. She took it in to a restaurant that evening and was filling out the page on her family. She got to the blank for her father’s name and asked me what she should write in that blank. My heart hurt for her, because we know nothing at all about her father, or Gus’s father – not even names. I finally said, “Well, baby, our family is a little different from most others. We don’t have a daddy in our house right now, just a mommy.”
It would be easy as an adoptive mother to think that once the adoption is finalized, we’re a ‘normal’ family and that’s that. Easy, but incorrect. My children will forever deal with thoughts, feelings, and questions about their birthmothers and birthfathers and native country. I can’t fix those things or make them go away, but I can be there to listen, to talk, and to allow them to wonder and to grieve. It does make my heart hurt for their hurts. And my heart breaks for little girls and little boys with absentee moms or dads and for little girls and little boys with no mom or dad. And my heart breaks for big boys and big girls with their own complex ball of emotions concerning their own parents.
So Happy (complex, heart-bursting, heart-breaking, heart-touching) Mother’s Day!