Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

To be brutally honest, this is not a holiday I thought I'd ever celebrate, except as the de-facto "mom" of ornery cats, whose only use for me was as food provider, litter-box scooper, water-bowl filler, and the occasional skritch-giver and warm lap.  Oh, and the one who gave the cats all their cool stuff, like "their" queen-sized bed, "their" couches, "their" floor rugs, tv, windows, and birdfeeders (for entertainment purposes).

For five agonizing years, Hubby and I tried to have children.  I have friends who have suffered heart breaks for them, but I don't even have a miscarriage to prove I could even get pregnant.

In those five years: my best friend JJ conceived twice, a close high school friend conceived twice, my oldest nephew and his wife conceived only months after their wedding, Snarkydad and Supermom had one (if not two) of their youngest kids, my sister and her husband announced they were expecting, and my brother and his wife conceived...twice.

Pa'ani (aka Weasel), not a kitten now...
It was heartbreaking.

I cried a lot.

One month was so bad that Hubby came home with a kitten we didn't really need, but that I wanted, just to cheer me up.  (Hello, Weasel.  Yes, I'm talking about you.)

And while I was happy for my friends and family, my heart ached.

The fact that JJ was my best friend before she got pregnant and still is now speaks volumes of her gift of friendship.  She walked with me through it.  She let me cry.  I'm pretty sure she understood why I never felt the baby move.  She understood my deep hurt and deep delight, occurring all at the same time.

Then the unexpected happened.

Our lives got invaded.

And I've never been the same.

(I still think I've got it all over my sister, because I got my kids in one fell swoop, and she got hers one at a time, and had nine months to prepare for each.)

Fries, June 2008
Three little imps, one who was not quite three and twins barely 18 months old.

I really don't know who was more scared: them, or me.

My college roommate Peppermint asked me not long ago, as I recounted the loooooong story as to how the girls came to be with us, how long it took me to have the feelings of mother-love for the girls.

A matter of days, I told her.  Days.  If that.

How could I not?  Their entire little lives were now in my hands, and they desperately needed love and security.  While I cried daily for several weeks, being totally overwhelmed at times, I knew my fear and insecurity were nothing compared to how they must have felt.

Heaven help whoever might think of hurting them.

Fries, Easter 2009
By the time the Fries had been with us for a year, what love I had felt in those first few weeks was almost laughable when compared to how fiercely I loved them at that point.  It's something that has only grown, not lessened.

They were, my mother said, the "children of [my] heart."

So much so, in fact, that I did what some might think were some pretty crazy things.

I scoured the internet, searching for a specific Baby Gund retired duck, for Medium had latched onto hers as her security "blankie."  Mom had bought three of these little ducks at the Christmas Tree Shop for Easter of 2008, and it had gotten to the point that Medium had basically annexed all three of them.  If we couldn't find a duck at naptime or bedtime, there were problems.  (Read: major meltdown.)  The day that all three of them got misplaced and I had to conduct a search to find one for nap was the day I started looking online.  Mom had paid the outrageous price of $1.50 each.  I bought five ducks online, ultimately costing me about $7 per duck.  Plus shipping.

Downtown Disney, May '10

We took them to Florida and endured countless watchings of the "Shamu" DVD and nearly a year of praying for Shamu at every mealtime and the occasional bedtime.

I bought fleece fabric and had Mom make blankets big enough to cover the crib mattresses, because Medium, my soft-and-fuzzy addict, was griping about her crib sheets in garbled not-quite-two English and had completely stolen a pink chenille throw pillow so that she could have something soft to lay her face against.  The blankets went on top of the sheets, so that Medium could rest well.

I had my mom make fleece pillowcases because Medium was so much my soft-and-fuzzy lover that regular cotton percale pillowcases weren't soft enough.

We filed suit to protect the Fries when their own biological parents, in a fit of pique, revoked the powers of attorney we'd been operating under and transferred guardianship to someone who would, undoubtedly, put the children in danger.  We fought in court for custody, because we felt that our home, with a stable marriage, was a far better environment for these children than either of their biological parents, who were splitting up.  And it was the only home the twin Fries knew.  (We won primary physical and shared legal custody in August 2010.)

I had my mom make fleece pillowcases again this spring, this time for standard-sized pillows, because I knew Medium would still want something soft against her cheek.

We opened our home to these little ones, not being parents, understanding and yet not really understanding the massive change we were about to experience.

In the worst moments of the custody fight, in the moments of my deepest doubt, in the agonizing pain of barbs flung at us by my brother and his estranged wife...always, there were these three.

This is now my third Mother's Day with my girls.

I love them so much it scares me.

I love them so much that I've actually teared up when I see them playing happily in the yard, safe, secure, and knowing that they're loved.  That this is their home too.  That our kitties are their kitties.  Knowing that we'll always love them.

I love them so much that there have been nights that I've not turned on the tv, not turned on music, and just listened to the sounds of their breathing, and been filled with so much emotion I thought I'd burst.

I still have my days when I count myself out, when I think I'm screwing up this most important job I'll ever have, when I don't think I'm cut out to be a mom, and when I think somebody ought to just pack me off to the rubber room and leave me there because I totally don't get it.  And I think that, golly, my husband should hate me because I can't give him his own children.  And that I'm somehow letting my parents down because I can't give them more grandchildren.

Hula Fries, March 2011
And that's usually when a pint-sized person runs at me pell-mell, hugs the stuffing out of me, and happily chirps, "I love you!"

And when my husband tells me that he married me for me, not for my ability to bear children, and that these girls--to whom he has no blood tie--are just as much his children as I feel they are mine.

And when my parents eloquently remind me that more grandchildren is nice, but to know that these precious children are safe, secure and loved is worth far more than my ability to pop out half a dozen more grandkids.  And that, as far as they're concerned, I'm their mom.  Regardless of birth certificate. 

Because, after all, adoption--no matter what its form--is when your children grow in your heart, not in your tummy.  (A very wise little first-grade girl says that's the only difference between adoption and birthing children.)


  1. love it. just love it...
    i have read similar bits like this, though not as long, from my mother's journal, back when she adopted us (my sister and i)...
    and, as the adopted child, all i can say is that i have always understood that i was adopted, and have always known how loved i was... that is a security your three girls will have. it is quite a beautiful security.

  2. Your post made me tear up - Couldn't help it. I understand so much of what you said, as well as what you didn't say. I wrote mine before I read yours, but it's interesting how we echoed each other to a certain extent.

    You guys those those girls and they love you... and they know you love them - You are a great mom, Joy! {{{{{Hugs}}}}}


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