That Holiday

Ruth and Nora call me on the day before Mother’s Day. And—I hate it. I hate “Birthmother’s Day” as understood by the adoption industry, I hate waiting for the call, and I feel awkward and sad when it’s over. So last week I sent Ruth a message asking her not to call, making it clear that if she or Cricket wants to call at any other time I’d be delighted to hear from them, but that I’d rather not talk on Mother’s Day weekend.

Ruth wrote back, said that that was no problem—and that if I feel like talking about why, I should. This doesn’t really happen; so I did.

Next Sunday, I’m pretty sure that at Mass, the priest will ask all the mothers to stand, and I’ll get to stand up with my huge belly and with Joey—I’m looking forward to it, in fact. The church is having a festival that weekend, and it seems very likely that we’ll end up going out to brunch, since my mother is a huge brunch fan and also a huge fan of Mother’s Day. I don’t know that I’d go as far as “huge fan” for myself, but I do like having a day or two to just celebrate being a mother. And while it can’t ever be quite that uncomplicated for me, I’d like to focus on the uncomplicated part for that holiday.

The adoption is sad for us, you know? It’s not sad that Cricket has you, or that you guys are family, but it’s sad for us that he isn’t with us, that the boys aren’t growing up together, and that we miss so much. That’s a grief that I signed up for, and I can carry it, but there are times when I don’t want to process it so actively—playing with Joey, or having Mother’s Day. And honestly, I’ve really come to dislike the idea of Birthmother’s Day as a way of cutting birthmothers off from access to Mother’s Day—not that you or any adoptive mom should have to take time out of her own Mother’s Day to make a call to her child’s biological family, but the segregation started to feel inappropriate to me awhile ago, and I’d rather just skip the Saturday (or go to Fiesta at Our Lady of the Assumption!) and have a Mother’s Day. Before Joey, I didn’t feel like a not-mother—I felt like a mother without a child. And as I say, it’s more complicated than it would be in the case of other women who feel themselves to exist in that category (women whose babies died, for example), because I can assume that my lost boy is doing well, and I’ve never doubted or minimized your parenthood—the nurturing parents. But I felt like a mother, not like a mother*.

No little girl dreams of growing up to place her child for adoption; it’s an important option, but it’s nothing to celebrate, from a birthparent’s point of view. It’s just the furthest thing from the stuff of holidays.

And I thanked her for asking, and sent wishes for her good health, and so on. I haven’t heard back, which is okay—she’s busy, and it’s not the least awkward thing to reply to. But I’m glad that I was able to talk about what’s going on for me, hopefully in a respectful and appropriate way, and I’m glad that she asked.

15 thoughts on “That Holiday

  1. I am SO glad you told her how you feel, that you could articulate it so beautifully, so eloquently. bravo!

    I don’t really “get” birthmother’s day. we send mother’s day cards, we call on sunday. but I can respect just not wanting to hear from us that day too. hmm.

  2. That is an amazing reply! I’m so glad you could express yourself so clearly to her. I hope it helps to open her eyes a bit to what life is like on your side of the equation.


  3. That was a fabulous email! So mature of you to send, and mature of her to ask you to elaborate. I hope your mother’s day goes splendidly.

    When are you due? Very soon, right?

  4. So happy that you started this off by setting the boundary ahead of time so you didn’t have to endure the call. And surprised that she asked you to elaborate. And really excited that you wrote how you feel about it, taking the chance to tell some of your truth, and tell it so well. Hooray for you!

  5. Beautifully put & I imagine all that clarity & kindness would make it easier to hear.
    This: “No little girl dreams of growing up to place her child for adoption” said so much.
    And as an adoptive mother I disagree: I do feel as if I should take time ON mother’s day for C. I wouldn’t be Saskia’s mother if not for her. I get so many other days, frankly.

  6. and i agree with sarah above: it’s a no-brainer for me that i should take time on mother’s day for my kids’ moms. it’s their day too.

  7. It’s so awesome that you gave Ruth some insight into your feelings. Beautifully written. I hope you have a good Mother’s Day weekend!

  8. Susie, I am in awe of your ability to put such complex feelings into such beautiful, honest and gentle words. Ruth is lucky for you willingness and ability to express yourself and I’m so glad that you had the courage to do so. I hope that your Mother’s Day is a happy one.

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