Saturday, May 12, 2018

EVERY Child Deserves a Mother

On the cusp of our pending adoption of our newest blessing, I've found myself reflecting on motherhood.  Mother's Day is tomorrow and it is always a bittersweet day for me.  It tends to bring longing for what isn't as well as gratitude for what is.  As we completed our autobiographies for our most recent homestudy, I found myself digging deep to put words to why we've continued to foster kids and subsequently adopt them should the need arise. 

At nine years old my world as I knew it stopped.  My mother made the choice to end her own suffering, inadvertently magnifying mine.  Thirty years later, as I've worked through many of my feelings surrounding this time in my life I look back and I see a young girl who is lost.  She is burdened with worries and circumstances too heavy for her to carry, in an effort to make sense of what she is feeling, she simplifies things in her mind.  

You see, though I know my mom struggled with mental illness, I saw her suicide as my own failure.  Deep in the pit of my soul I longed to know why I wasn't enough.  Why wasn't I worth living for?  This set me up for a lifetime of fighting for my worth.  I've heard it all before, I understand mental illness, I understand brain chemistry and the agony of depression and anxiety, I am aware of the way trauma from one's childhood can haunt them all their life and that was for sure true of my mom, but as a nine year old girl, all I could see was that my mom did not love me enough to stay for me.  If she didn't, who would?  

I spent my childhood overachieving at most things in hopes that it might be enough to keep me from being an orphan.  I was painfully lonely.  My adolescence was much the same.  As time went on, I built a wall.  I'd fight to be worthy of love but I'd not allow anyone close enough to hurt me so deeply if they left.  My college years were much of the same.  I looked for love in all the wrong places and continued being independent enough to count only on myself.  

Two years into college, while home on break, I met a guy who stayed.  I was just looking for a fun time and maybe a few dates, but a few dates turned into him calling from the pay phone just outside my apartment nearly three hours from his home.  He was different.  He wanted to know me.  I was terrified for him to know me so I continued to maintain the wall as long as I could.  Eventually he broke it down.  He continued to show up even when he didn't have to and even when I didn't deserve it.  He made me believe maybe someone could love me without my striving to earn it incessantly. As each brick from my wall fell and he saw what was truly behind it, he loved me harder.  I'm sure I'll never know just why he fought for me.  No one had really ever done that before.

Howard and I walked through some tough stuff in the first years of our marriage and seventeen years into that marriage I am still a work in progress. Insecurity still sometimes gets the best of me. Here in our home I feel loved and safe, even at my worst.  I never really felt that as a kid, not because my dad and grandparents didn't try, but because I was wounded and that wound became a thick and callous scar and I didn't let them.  When I think of other kids out there, fighting for their worth, fully knowing how exhausting and agonizing that is, I can barely stand the thought.  The foster care system is full of kids just like me.  They feel abandoned and unworthy and seek love where they can find it.  That trauma begins often times prenatally.  It shapes our brain networking, and continues through generations unless it is dealt with and healed.  

It's taken me a long time to heal my wounds and I'll probably be a work in progress for my whole life, but every kid deserves a mom.  They deserve someone who loves them in spite of themselves, for who they are and not who anyone else wants them to be.  If I can be that mom for my kids, it all somehow seems worthwhile...all of the pain and suffering wasn't for nothing.  If I can use my pain to lessen the pain of someone else and be the mom I didn't have, that will be the greatest honor of my life.  I am far from perfect, but I am one hundred percent devoted to making sure my kids feel acceptance, love and belonging.  I need for them to know how valuable and wanted they are.  I want them to know, especially my kids who came to me through adoption, that while the default may be to feel abandoned and unwanted by their first moms, that was never ever the case, I will speak of their families of origin with love and respect and I will forever fight for them to know how amazing they are, just as they are.

Foster care and adoption requires a lot of hoops to be jumped though, hoops that aren't typically required when you birth children of your own.  It is a lot of work, it is exhausting mentally, physically and spiritually.  It is a battle, and frankly all kids deserve a parent who would go to battle for them, who would jump through every single hoop necessary and who won't stop no matter what.  Not all parents can do that.  Sometimes the trauma runs so deep that healing cannot happen quickly enough to not drag the child down too.  The first parents of my youngest three kids are amazing people.  We love them, we honor them, we speak highly of them.  They are still working on healing themselves.  It was never a matter of them not wanting their children, it was a matter of them not wanting to pull their children down with them as they fought for their own lives.  

I consider it a great honor to stand in the gap for a day, a month,  year or lifetime and help heal the cycle of trauma.  I didn't have that.  I didn't get to have a mom, but I sure do get to be one, and as long as there is breath in me, I will love and fight for each of my kids with all that I have.  

Mother's Day can get me down.  This year I am choosing to just see it as another day of battle.  I will  allow all feelings to be felt, I will miss my mom and some of my kids will miss their first mom, I miss Isaac and Asher deeply and I will be sad as I think of all that might have been, but I will also choose joy, and hope and grace as I get to do the most sacred job of mothering each of my children.  The mere fact that I've come far enough to be able to do that is enough.  I can't fight for my worth anymore.  I am tired and I am worthy and I am a mom.  Even a pretty good one.  ;)

1 comment:

krueth said...

Bless you for opening your hearts and home to children who need another mommy and daddy. In our extended family we have 14 adopted children, who are all my nieces and nephews. I have a niece and my sister who did foster care for many years. My heart hurts for those little helpless ones who did not choose that life, but like you, we are very open that their mommy's and daddy's couldn't care for them, but that doesn't mean they didn't love them, they chose to better their child's life. I had tears reading your blogs. I, we, were blessed with a loving home, that always had an open door for anyone who needed a place to come visit, stay a few days, even a day. Thank you for being so honest, so we can all have more empathy for others who suffer mental illnesses. Wendy