When I was young, I loved to babysit and was sure I would have 4 or 5 children when I grew up. Life didn’t turn out that way – but I had good friends and a rewarding job and the fun life of a single working woman in DC. I had briefly flirted with the idea – in my mid-30s – of having a child on my own. But single motherhood seemed a huge time commitment and very daunting, so I put that idea aside.
But yet this Sunday, for the 3rd year in a row, I will be a mom on Mother’s Day. And I will be filled with joy and pride and gratitude and a myriad of other emotions. I am forever so glad that I took a leap into the unknown and first fostered and then adopted my mentee. I frequently tell people, and I feel compelled to say again here: becoming a mom to my amazing son was by far the best decision I ever made.
Has it always been smooth sailing? No. Like most relationships, it is not like a Hollywood movie. (If eye-rolling and tongue-biting were Olympic sports, I’d have some nice looking medals!) We have had our share of typical mom-teen interactions in which the teen asserts his knowledge and competence in any and all topics and situations, and the mom tries to refrain from saying “you have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m your mother, listen to me.” I have learned that walking away when I feel like saying that is the better part of valor, and that the walk-away speaks volumes as well. I have been accused of being a nag and a worrier (I consider that part of a mother’s job description!). But through a number of challenges life has thrown our way, we have not just survived but thrived and created a family unit. It didn’t happen overnight, by any means (I knew my son just shy of 2 years before he moved in as my foster child, and he was with me over a year before he asked about adoption), but it happened just as sure as it happens with those who adopt an infant, and with those who carry a biological child through to delivery.
Foster children deserve to have a family that they want, people who they love, trust and rely on; not just whoever might offer to adopt them. And they know the heartbreak of people changing their minds, people who are in their lives temporarily (though often they say otherwise). So it can take a while to be sure that unlike other placements, this one is for the long-haul. But my son now knows that I am his mom – not his biological mother (with whom he maintains contact), but his mom. I am the one he calls with the successes, the joys, the questions about situations he hasn’t encountered before, and the sorrows. And the fact that he shares all that with me is one of the great joys of my life.
So on Mother’s Day what will I be doing? Well, luckily for me, I will be with my son, together for the weekend to celebrate his god-brother’s graduation. Seeing their bond is heartwarming – they’ve known each other for 7 or 8 years and are truly there for each other, no matter what. I am proud of them both and glad for that friendship. And then my son and I will drive back home, and I will rejoice in the time we will have together, all-too-rare now that he’s away at college. It’ll be just the two of us on the road, talking about all sorts of things, from the mundane to the deep and philosophical, and I’m sure debating over what music to listen to. I will be thrilled each and every time I hear him use that word he uses more and more: “Ma.” And when we get home, we will call my mother / his grandmother and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. It will remind me once again of how appreciative I am for all she taught me about unconditionally loving a child and the unimaginable richness that adds to one’s life.
I will be forever grateful to my mom for showing me an incredible example of motherhood which I strive to match, to both of my parents as well as my brother and my close friends for their incredible support of me as a mom, and to my son, whose choice it was to become family with me. I am a very fortunate person. I am a mom.