Mothering

Everything changes in a year. This time last year we were on staycation prior to starting our second cycle of IVF, in the hopes of having our rainbow baby. 

This year, our rainbow baby is here. 

Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day at the weekend. It will be my first Mother’s Day as a mother. 

I still equate Mother’s Day with my mum, the only mother I’ve ever known (since I was adopted at a few days old). Every other year I’ve just been me – a person with no biological relatives. This year, I have my first biological relative in B. I have a child! I’m a mother. It still feels surreal. 

I’m sort of amazed by motherhood, in that I never really saw myself as the maternal type. I knew I wanted a kid, but I expected this first part to be the tiresome and boring part – before the baby turns into a toddler who can express himself. But here’s the thing – B can express himself just fine! And there must be some sort of hormones, or biology, that makes you love your own child. 

I’ve spent years primarily being defined by my work. After over a decade of infertility I never defined myself by the typical female traits. Instead I was always about achieving stuff in a mainly male world. I was the female of colour in a white guy’s world and I ploughed my own furrow. 

And now I’m “one of the mums”. And to my surprise, I don’t hate it. I relish it. I find it all the more precious because I know I have less time than the others. Most women in the UK take a year off when they have a baby. More than a year because they accrue holiday when they’re on maternity leave. I could take a year – I’m entitled to it – but because I started my job pregnant, I am unpaid by my company for all the time I’m off. And I can’t really afford more than the four months I guesstimated we could do without my salary. 

Mum life is fun. And it’s even easier because T is off at the same time as me. Although we realised that a lot of stuff is geared just towards mums and babies and not dads. On the one hand I think that’s unfair, but on the other – I’m only just seeing how there’s a biological imperative and it makes sense for the mother to be the primary caregiver.

I knew it intellectually but I never really knew it. B knows I am his mother. He looks for me, and he’s comforted pretty much only by me. He likes T, but after a while he will look for me. And I’m the only one who can feed him. That’s such a big thing I hadn’t really fully understood. I see with B that instinctively he searches for me and wants to be with me. 

It’s weird to think that I was once his age and that even before I was the age he is now (just two months old!) I was taken from my first mother and given to a new one. Because I see now how B knows me, knows my smell, is comforted by me. Quite aside from looking like me. He knows me from being inside me for nine months. It’s a real big thing to think that happened to me at such a young age, a fraction of the age B is now. I wonder what that must have felt like to me as a baby. 

The funny thing is, I have almost a deeper relationship with my parents now because of B. They want to see him every week. We bond over our shared love of him. They don’t love him any less than their biological grandchildren – they are super proud grandparents of all of them. And I feel like we’ve had deeper, more critical conversations lately, especially about adoption. The fact they’re able to do that and to listen to my musings without getting defensive has been really a bonding experience for us. 

Having my own biological child has thrown up all these thoughts and feelings. I’ve had time to think and I’ve had time to bed into the idea of having a biological relative. It’s still so new and yet he feels like he’s always been here. It’s so huge in one way and so little, quotidian in another. In one way I feel like I’m still just me and in the other, I feel like everything has changed. 

I’m still active on adoption groups and lately a lot of adoptees I know have found their birth parents and families. It makes me wonder about looking for mine. I’ve thought about it a lot. But also I’ve seen how it doesn’t seem to make them happy. It seems to make them sad a lot of the time and yet they feel compelled to search.

For me, I don’t feel compelled to search. I wonder if I should feel it and there’s something wrong with me that I don’t. I wonder if I found my birth family whether I’d recognise myself in them. I’ve seen pictures of adoptees and the family resemblance and I wonder about that. Maybe B is enough for me. I feel like my birth mother would be like me – accepting of life, not really looking back. Not expecting me to go back. I don’t want to drag up difficult feelings because I don’t want to ruin the happiness I have now. And I hope she’s happy and I don’t want to ruin that either. 

T is also adopted and I wonder how much his experience has shaped mine. He found his birth mother a long time ago. They’ve only met a couple of times. It’s like they just needed to do it and then go back to their lives. Since B was born, we were supposed to see her and it seemed really difficult to arrange it. Lots of tangled communication. Then she cancelled. 

I wonder if she’s cancelling on purpose because it’s too much or whether the excuse she said is true. I feel slightly defensive and miffed on his behalf and on B’s behalf because I don’t understand why someone’s biological mother and grandmother doesn’t seem to want to see them. Maybe it’s too much emotionally. 

Part of me feels like she’s not entitled to see B because she’s not his “real” grandmother, as she hasn’t been an involved mother to T. But that’s just me being defensive for him. I guess I don’t understand why she doesn’t want to see this beautiful man she made. I think maybe a lot of adoptees have complex and angry feelings towards birth parents and we can’t know the circumstances. 

I feel compassion towards mine but it’s easy because they’re abstract and not real right now. If they were in this country and easily accessible I would feel mad if they didn’t make the effort to see me. And I kind of think feelings like that are why I have never searched. I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole of hope and disappointment. I’m fine and happy with life as it is. I kind of can’t believe how it’s worked out lately, how I have these three amazing guys I live with (if you count the dog as a guy!) and why would I want to change that, to drag up difficult feelings? Maybe that makes me a wuss.

So those are the thoughts that have been at the back of my head. At the front of my head have been the happy thoughts. The “I can’t believe that title now belongs to me” thoughts. The thought of my first Mother’s Day. On Saturday we are seeing T’s parents. And on Sunday (Mother’s Day) we are going round to my parents’ house with B and having a double. 

Mother’s Day still feels like it belongs to my mother, because I’ve had thirty-odd years of celebrating it as an honour for her. This year my dad is taking us all to a restaurant for lunch for my first Mother’s Day, so it’s about me too. And it’s about T’s mum, my mother in law, and her first grandchild. And it’s our time to think of our first mums who gave birth to us all those years ago. And I think of the mothers without babies too. The unacknowledged mothers. They matter too. 

As a new mum, I know I’m not special – hundred and thousands of women do it every day. And yet this year I have joined that circle of life, of women who have given life, our ancestors and the women to come down the line. I imagine I’ve joined that lineup of women, a line I never thought I’d join – through not inconsiderable effort and medical intervention – and I feel significant and insignificant at the same time. 

I am me. The child of two mothers, a shadow mother and an everyday mother. The partner of a wonderful, kind, funny man. The flatmate of a brilliant dog. The mother of baby B. 

Life is good. 

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24 comments

  1. sewingbutterfly

    So happy for you and Happy Mother’s Day!! It isn’t until May here in Australia. Baby B is so lucky to have parents who love him. My stepdad and mum are like yoir parents, the grandkids are just that, whether biologically related or not, they love them all the same. They have 14, 2 bio related to my mum, 9 bio related to my step-dad and 3 not bio related to either.

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    • Nara

      I find it so weird how they have all different days for Mother’s Day! And also for grandparents day. Apparently it’s meant to be in October here but everyone just tacks it onto Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Looking forward to seeing both sets of grandparents at the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. EmilyMaine

    Happy Mother’s Day! The first with a baby to hold is always very special and surreal. You know my mum gives me a present every Mother’s Day since I became a mum. Such a sweetheart. I hope I’m a mum like her 🙂 Have a great day with the fam. I found the adoption musings intriguing so thanks for sharing 🙏

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    • Nara

      Thank you! Your mum sounds so sweet. I bet you are an awesome mum! I’m looking forward to the weekend. We are taking T’s mum to the local nursery cafe for afternoon on Saturday so we have two mothers days in a row! I think it’s weird that I now count as a mother because I still see myself as a daughter and my mum as the mother!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nora

    Enjoy that special Mother’s Day! It is so heartwarming to read your about your happiness – thank you for sharing.

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  4. My Perfect Breakdown

    Happy Mother’s day my friend! I hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating the mother’s in your life and being celebrated for being an amazing mother yourself!
    And, as always, I appreciate your thoughts on adoption.

    Like

    • Nara

      Thank you! I still feel more like a daughter than a mother. I’m perfectly happy with that though! When is Mother’s Day in Canada? I hope you guys are all well! X

      Liked by 1 person

      • My Perfect Breakdown

        I get whag you mean. I still find it weird when other people call me mom!
        Canada’s Mother’s Day is the same as the usa date. Sometime in May, I don’t know the actual date off the top of my head.

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      • Nara

        Haha! You’ve been a mum/mom for ages now! 😂 I find it weird how Mother’s Day is on so many different dates! How are you meant to know which one’s which?!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Marixsa

    Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you have a wonderful day! Motherhood seems to be agreeing with you. 🙂

    I totally hear ya on conflicting emotions about MD. I never knew my mother either (death, not adoption) so I imagine how a first MD with a baby would be a unique experience full of conflicting emotions for you (well, your first MD to a human baby—Dog totally counts hehe!).

    On the adoption front, I can see it from both sides. My mom gave up my one brother for adoption. He grew up with a sister who was also adopted (not bio-related to him/us). My brother wanted to search for his bio fam and found us, but his sister was perfectly happy not looking her bio fam. Well, *they* found *her* last year, much to her surprise! She ended up agreeing to meet them, but like you said, just to do it and kind of check it off a list. She’s not interesting in having relationships with them, but my brother has spend the last few years developing relationships with us. Just goes to show that people are wildly different when it comes to that, even two people raised by the same parents!

    Anyway, celebrate away this weekend!

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    • Nara

      Thanks so much! I think it is agreeing with me although possibly it’s more the time off work that is agreeing with me! 😂

      I’m sorry you never knew your mum. That must be really hard. Although being adopted shortly after birth I never really knew my birth mother, I at least think she is out there somewhere (or was).

      I’m glad you think Dog counts! Haha. I do see him as my first baby although I don’t pretend he’s human… often! 😂

      That’s so cool your brother found you. I bet that’s a lot of conflicting emotions. I totally see my parents as my parents and my siblings as my siblings… I don’t know what it would be like to have other siblings. I still feel ambivalent about finding my bio family. I think I would be interested but then I think if something negative comes of it, you can undo it. If you get what I mean. Yeah my sister and I are completely different, even though we were raised by the same parents!!

      Looking forward to this weekend – hope you have a great weekend too! Xx

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  6. circumstance227

    Lots of mixed emotions. I remember my time as a young mother as the most romantic period of my life. And I totally understand your feelings about biological connections. But as a mother of adopted children who feels that there is no way I could feel more love than I do now – and as a teacher who deals regularly with children neglected, ignored, mistreated by their biological parents, sometimes I recoil at the idea that there is some kind of natural difference between “real” and secondary parents. I know you grapple with the same issues. A lot of your post deals with this.
    More important is that you enjoy every moment of motherhood. These times go by so fast!

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    • Nara

      Thank you. I definitely didn’t mean to suggest that parents love adopted children any less… I know my parents love me a lot. My mother is kind of nuts about it! I think it was more a musing on how dependent B is on me right now. I haven’t left him yet (other than for maybe 15 minutes when I went to the local shop) and it seems an odd thought to think about leaving him when he’s so tiny… but I was separated from my first mother at that age, forever. I definitely think that adoptive parents can love their children just as much as bios. But there is a knowledge in babies that is to do with the biological connection… B can even tell the difference between me and T because of smell, and he has a strong preference for me. I realise this will change as he gets older and less dependent on me! And I know I’m very attached to my parents so it can happen – it just has a different starting point. B came out of the womb knowing my voice, and that’s a big thing. Of course I know there are some terrible bio parents out there. Hopefully I won’t be one! (I’m fairly bad at putting him to bed at a decent hour… I want him to stay with me!) I love how you talk about the early times with your girls. I’m sure that’s how my mum feels about me! Although I was fairly annoying as a toddler so she got over that soon enough! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227

        I love the back and forth between you and me. We understand one another while learning from one another at the same time – at least that is how it seems to me.
        My second daughter pushed herself away from me at our first meeting. One week later she had become glued to me (to my infinite delight!) and stayed that way for the next 6+ months. Her papa had to do a lot of work to win her over.
        Today – 14 years later – she is so talkative to him whereas she and I are often silent together – but not in a bad way.

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      • Nara

        Yes! I feel I can speak openly and not worry about you taking offence. And I like hearing about your experiences as I think that must be how my mum feels about me!

        Liked by 1 person

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